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Combs & Underland Down The Rabbit Hole With...

KJ Aartilla

By Proud ViM ProductionsPublished 29 days ago Updated 23 days ago 12 min read
Dallee and Canva cobbled

Our lovely mod for PViM on Facebook, Keila or KJ is a wonderfully supportive voice within our community. A talented writer and equestrian with a penchant for anything chocolate we were super excited to catch up with her this week! And we were not disappointed.

(All the hello jazz)

MC: Ok, then let's get started! I've always wondered about your name, what's it mean?

Keila: My name -- my Mom picked from out of a magazine of people's pictures and names - so I have never found it much - it gave me a lot of heartache growing up as no one could pronounce it or spell it - that was way before unusual names were common - hated it then, but like it now - recently found out it may be a more common Brazilian name meaning "resilient" which I find suitable, as I've been called resilient often

Underland: I've always really liked your name, it has a lovely sound to it!

Keila: Thank you!

MC: Is it pronounced to rhyme with Sheila?

Keila: Yes - rhymes with "Sheila", but better remembered when I say "sounds like TeQuila."

Underland: Much better! So how did your writing journey start?

Keila: I've always been a writer - but started to take it seriously about 5-6 years ago. My first memory is a writing assignment for our journals in 5th grade when I wrote a story about a turkey becoming a rock so as not to become T'day dinner ...

MC: I'd love to read that!

Keila: I still have it in a box somewhere, I'm sure = my Mom is a big "saver" of things

Underland: That's so cute! If you were to sum up your style what would you say?

Keila: My style for writing? Hmmm... I'd say or I like to think it leans toward honest and poignant and maybe thought-provoking. I like to speak truthfully and candidly.

Underland: Do you have a piece that you think represents that the most on Vocal?

Keila: Let me see - I have many now…Probably a poem, though

MC: If you had a piece that you think everyone had to read of yours, what would it be?

Keila: Maybe this - it's probably most "me":

Although, I guess this one falls under more, I would say, “dreamy” or “surreal” which I tend toward, also.

Here;s another - probably leans more toward my more typical “In Your Face” style - many find it offensive, though:

Underland: I think my favourite of yours is Hibernation, it's just so poignant and beautifully done.

Keila: Thank you! I like that one too - it's sort of an experiment in letting my voice flow - I like where it’s going.

MC: Your favorite author?

Keila: Fav author? I dunno - I read many and a lot of nonfiction, but I go to Stephen King a lot as a reliable voice for entertainment, and I love his character-building - one of my favs throughout has been his "Dark Tower" series.


MC: Favorite Dark Tower Character?

Keila: Oh, gosh - has to be Roland - but I love them all so much - they were in my dreams frequently and they felt like real people!

MC: I've found myself lost in his world several times myself. What's your favorite book?

Keila: But I love Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou and Faulkner and etc. .

MC: I love Faulkner too!

Underland: I love all of them!

MC: Just not King, huh, Cel? lol

Keila: I know not everyone is a fan - and some of his stuff is quite poor - but some is brilliant!

MC: Not everyone likes the tea he pours, but that's ok, there's billions of books out there

Underland: I'm just a chicken!

MC: He has a few non-horror, Cel lol

Keila: My fav book changes all the time - depending on what I'm reading

MC:I can understand that.

Keila: - a couple of recents at books my daughter gifted me which I never would have chosen. One called "The Girl with all the Gifts" about zombies ..."The Book of Lost zFriends" = an historical fiction about slavery. I’ve read “ The Horse Whisperer '' a lot but I don't like the last quarter of it - the movie by and with Robert Redford is much better.

Underland: Do you have a particular book that you have read over and over?

MC: You know, I never read or watched the Horse Whisperer

Keila: The movie is awesome!

Keila: King's book "Fairytale" is awful -- but I recommend “Lisey's Story” and "Bag of Bones" - now that I think of it - “Bag of Bones” is probably one of my favorites because when I pick it up, I can’t put down - I’ve read it several times and it has many pages - and, NO, Celia - I wouldn't call it scary - maybe creepy.

Underland: How scary on a one to ten are they?

MC: Not scary at all, I'd say a 3

Keila: Not scary - but surreal and interesting. Hauntingly metaphorical. More mind-bending now, I’d say.

Underland: I might give it a go!

MC: Did you read King's Sleeping Beauties?

Keila: I have not.

Underland: You're from the US right?

Keila: Yes - northern WI not far from Great Lakes - Lake Superior or Lake MI. It's winter today.

Underland: That sounds beautiful!

Keila: It is beautiful - except for winter cold and wind! But I love nature - the woods and water. My husband and daughter are both avid hunters and fishers = I'm the "cooker" of things.

Underland: You're a horse rider as well as a writer, right?

Keila: Yes - I have 10 horses currently - 1/2 older, retired broodmares - I have a stallion and used to breed. I started "riding" before I could walk..

Underland: Wow! I love them at a distance - I tried riding once and it was terrifying!

MC: Horses are so beautiful

Keila: They are! And mostly fun - but they eat a lot.

Underland: Do you do competitions and things?

Keila: I used to do shows and endurance rides, but haven't for a long time.I'm trying to get back into the endurance rides. though, as our daughter graduates. It takes lots of time and $$.

Underland: That's brilliant!

MC: You said you are the cooker of things at your house. What's your favorite recipe to cook for your family?

Keila: Oh - crockpot chicken enchiladas! We also make our own corn tortillas - sooooo good! I also love to make various soups, but the daughter hates soup.

Underland: That sounds so delicious! What's WI known for food wise?

Keila: WI = cheese.

MC: I love cheese, too!

Underland: Cheese is amazing!

MC: I'll come out an ask, Cel will just beat around the bush lol, do you want to collab on the WI around the world issue?

Keila: Oh, is that it?? I sure can - just let me know.

Underland: Actually wasn't asking for that, was curious but now you say it! Yes great!

MC: I know you Cel, thought of it seconds before you lol

Underland: So you joined the ViM mod team, how did that happen? How's it been so far?

Keila: Excited to have been asked to join ViM as a Mod! I'm figuring it out and enjoying it - the camaraderie and the role of support. It feels like a purpose. I like purpose.

MC: My gut told me that Keila: would be an excellent addition to our mods. I'm glad I was right. Favorite movie?

Keila: The Horse Whisperer -

MC: lol duh. *sometimes I'm dense Any others you like to watch if that's not on?

Keila: I also love The Black Stallion for nostalgic reasons., and the Rocky movies for inspiration and Matrix and coming-of-age things and 80's. Very many!

Keila: and Horror flicks.

MC: Speaking of inspiration, what do you do to help inspire you to write?

Keila: Music - mainly heavy metal! Love Tori Amos (though she does not fall under heavy metal),, but also Styx and Rush and Altar Bridge and Mammoth, and Shinedown and Limp Bizket…Husband and I have about 3000 CDs ..Love 90s Alt….grunge, not a fan of Death Metal, though.

MC: If you had to pick one band, one cd, which one would it be?

Keila: Geez - that would be so hard! But probably early Tori Amos "Choir Girls Hotel" or "Little Earthquakes."

MC: Your dream date?

Keila: Dream date? I'm too old! But likely it would involve a campfire, fresh fish and wine.

Underland: My kind of date!...Minus the date, that is!

Keila: Oh, and star gazing.

Underland: Do you have any plans with your writing? Novel in progress or anything like that?

Keila: I have a completed Middle Grade novel looking for a home - I fired my pub. about a year ago - and another 1, maybe 2 novels, in the works right now.My plans are to sell books.movie rights and make tons of $$$. Like all writers, right??

Underland: That's so exciting! What are they about?

Keila: The one finished is about kids and bullies and mental health and horses, the others also lean toward coming-of-age and heavy truths.

MC: They sound so interesting. We know you have horses, what other animals do you have?

Keila: Right now - 2 cats, 2 guineas, 1 chicken and one German Shepherd Dog. We are down to only 1 dog because he is old and jealous - we've always had 2-3 - and we are buying 4-5 more chick as future egg layers this spring.

Underland: That's super! Who takes care of them all?

Keila: It's a family effort.

Underland: Your daughter recently did her final ice dance show, how did that go?

Keila: Excellent! But sad - but she did really well - so proud of her! She's been in the Skate Program for 11 years!

Underland: Wow! She must be so good at it! How old is she?: Does she write as well?

Keila: She just really enjoys it! She is 17. Going to Northern MI Uni in the fall. She writes and paints and draws, but has lost interest now - she has a boyfriend. But she is quite talented when she puts her mind to it.

Underland: What is she going to study?

Keila: Studying Biology and NaturalResources. I have a degree in Biology, so does hubby and he also has a Masters in Entomology. He just retired from WI Dept. Natural Resources as a supervisor for many years. She is interested in going in that direction right now.

MC: It's almost spring. What's your favorite flower?

Keila: Not peonies… Lilacs!

MC: Lilacs smell so wonderful

Underland: So how did you and hubby meet?

Keila: At DNR - he was my boss - but we didn't become romantically involved until I left there. Sorry - TMI - but people get weird when I say he was my boss.

Underland: I think its weird that they're weird about it What was your wedding like?

Keila: We got married on the beach at Mackinac Island by the Justice of the Peace (my hubby is orig from MI). Our wedding was gorgeous and special --

Keila: Mackinac Island has no cars, only horses.

Underland: That sounds perfect! How long have you been married?

Keila: Almost 19 years now.

Underland: Wow! That's a lifetime! Did you have a honeymoon after the wedding?

Keila: It's something - I’d do it again. 😀. No honeymoon - too many animals!

MC: I empathize with you there lol

Keila: We did stay overnight on the Island, though.

MC: What is your favorite color

Keila: purples

MC: I should have guessed with the lilac flowers, lol favorite dessert?

Keila: Anything chocolate!

Underland: What wine do you usually go for?

Keila: Love Pinot Grigio or Chianti, but it's hard to come by up here, so usually it's Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. So mostly Red, but I'm flexible!

Underland: Yeah I can't drink white for some reason so it's always red! I think I’m out of questions…

Underland: And also thank you so much for taking the time to do this and for all the amazing ViM stuff you are doing! I love our little team!

MC: Thank you so much for taking the time to this interview and for being part of our team. Have a good day

Keila: And thank you so much!

A few hours later…rumbling in the rabbit hole

Keila: Ladies ( ) - I do believe you've inspired me. I am lacking the brain power to seriously act upon it at the moment, but the ideas are swirling.

Underland: ?

Underland: With what????

Keila: Stories - continuing something I started - one of those being the "Hibernation" story.

Underland: Aw that's awesome!

Keila: WE shall see.

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Note: Queer Vocal Voices is only accepting members of the LGBTQ+ community at the moment, we will open up to allies in time!

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About the Creator

Proud ViM Productions

Alone, we are letters floating in the wind. Combined, we are an Opus. We hold community in our core, "We all rise when we lift each other up"


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Comments (7)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran29 days ago

    I'm the same as Keila's daughter, I don't like soup as well. I enjoyed this interview so much!

  • Caroline Craven29 days ago

    Great interview guys. It's awesome to find out some more about you all.

  • Jay Kantor29 days ago

    Dear Creators - As I ride 'Bareback' at sunset I often wonder, "If it ain't Chocolate why bother." 'j' in l.a.

  • ROCK 29 days ago

    I am happy to have a glimpse into KJ's world; I love Tori Amos also, btw! Fun interview!

  • Thank you for sharing yourselves with us. Great interview

  • River Joy29 days ago

    What a great interview! Awesome to get to know Keila and her work more! Great job!

  • Judey Kalchik 29 days ago

    Another banger from the prosaic duo!

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