Rumpole family is coming to Slovenia
Karen Mežek Hunt is an American writer and a good friend of Slovenia. Her love of our Alpine valleys and lakes dates back to her childhood when she visited for the first time and stayed here in many ways until this very day. The first book "Christmas at Rumpole Mansion", one of three from the Rumpole series has just been published in Slovene by the publishing house, Ebesede. A Christmas story with a nostalgic touch is the perfect telling of friendship and appreciation that we owe to each other.
Your life is partially connected to Slovenia and you have spent quite some time under the Alps. What brought you to our part of the world?
Surprisingly, I first came to Slovenia when I was ten years old and I loved it and remember it quite well. Growing up, I was fortunate to travel the world as my father is a writer who wanted to give his family the experience of learning about many different cultures. When I was eighteen, my family found ourselves once again at Lake Bled, staying in the camp ground. I really fell in love with Slovenia at this time. Amazingly, I married a Slovene singer and my daughter, Katja, is half Slovene.
You've experienced life in Europe and now you live and work in LA. How would you compare the two continents and their lifestyles?
I have lived in England, Slovenia, Switzerland and France and have travelled off the beaten track. I have learnt, no matter where you live, happiness is found within yourself. Having said that, I appreciated the slower European lifestyle, the history and culture, being able to travel short distances and find oneself in a completely different environment. I hate big malls and supermarkets and am quite content with a market down the street, organic garden. I have always loved forests and mountains-although I have to say I especially love the mystery of the desert. My dad's idea of a vacation was to climb the Sierras carrying backpacks, sleeping on the ground, catching fish. So I know a little bit about mountains. Since returning to Los Angeles, asides form my daughter who is half Slovene, I have two sons and two grandchildren. One great thing about LA, it's an international city and my kids have friends of all nationalities. The mix of kids sitting on my sofa can be Persian, Israeli, Mexican, black, there is no distinction, they are all friends.
The Slovenian translation of your book "Christmas at Rumpole Mansion" has just been published. It part of a trilogy, featuring a family of mice and their life. Tell us more about it's meaning.
The stories have a 1920's kind of nostalgia. The Rumpoles live in a mansion so they are quite snobbish. However, they learn that their Barley friends are well worth knowing and no one person is better than another. In each story there is a message, as in the case of the Christmas book, the joy of giving. The artwork is in watercolors, with a lot of detail. Children can look at the pictures over and over and always find something new. In a world with so much sorrow and violence teaching our children to love and appreciate each other is crucial.
You are becoming known in Slovenia. Would you consider living and working here?
I would absolutely consider living in Slovenia—and definitely want to spend more time there! I visited last year with my daughter and it was wonderful to see so many old friends and family! At the moment, I am writing a fantasy series called Night Angels which takes place between Los Angeles and your part of the world. The first book is completed, so you never know, perhaps I might have to move there in order to gain inspiration.
How does the working environment and status of a freelance writer look like in California these days?
Being a freelance writer is never easy, I don't think it is easy anywhere in the world. But somehow, miraculously, I have managed to live my life as a freelance writer. In Los Angeles, I was inspired to create a writing program for incarcerated youth called InsideOUT Writers, which is now a nationally recognised program. Last year I received a writing fellowship to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland and I used some of my time to research how at-risk youth are treated in Europe, as opposed to in the United States. You can see the resulting essay, LA to BELFAST: Art, Gangs and the Stiff Kitten, published in the Fall 2012 issue of www.theadirondackreview.com. Life is tough for our children growing up—and it is tough for freelance writers! I am fortunate to be able to do what I love.