Kristen Caven Made a Movie
Kristen Caven, our featured member at Sunday’s meeting, needs no introduction to this club. After she retired from the president’s position last June, she dove back into her writing with a vengeance. Although Kristen has a novel to sell about women’s rights and realities, and a memoir to polish about a transformative trip to Italy, she spent the summer rewriting a play about her German heritage with an imaginative twist.
In The Dirndl Diaspora, seamstress Savannah James is on the brink of going big with her “mashup dirndls”—traditional German dresses made with ethnic fabrics that reflect the ancestry of the wearer. Her basement shop fills with customers, and a journalist arrives to learn what she’s about. Meanwhile, her husband waits impatiently to talk about starting a family. Ten dresses tell the stories of their wearers and, if you must know, a cartoon version of CWC president Karma Bennet shows up in the third act to completely steal the show. The Dirndl Diaspora made a splash at Oaktober2020, the online version of Oakland’s annual beer festival, last month. The show closes on Sunday, so get your tickets while you still can!
Interview with Filmmaker, Novelist, and Comic Artist Kristen Caven
If you could truly be the writer you wanted to be, what would your career look like?
There are so many ways to be in the world as a writer, and in my enterprising heart I want to do them all. The writer I want to be magically has all the time in the world time to develop every spicy idea that comes to mind, and the energy and resources to make every a smashing success. I dream of the fabulous and intriguing happenings that enliven and enlighten my stories. I see myself on stage speaking and teaching at writers conferences, doing TED talks, and conferences around the world, inspiring deeper understanding and engagement with creativity in shaping a world where we all can thrive. By night I’m a bon vivant, of course; an international woman of mystery, butterflying to all sources of inspiration. (Also in my dream career I’m traditionally riding horses, diving from cliffs, and waltzing.)
My books are made into movies; my musicals play on Broadway; my poetry is inscribed on sidewalks; people impulse-buy my swag and spinoffs. My brands (Uplift Press & Programs, Little Pig Productions, The Flourishing Artist, Generous Muse) flourish through deep collaborations, the efforts of a talented team, and meaningful engagement with audiences. I wake up every morning eager to get to work, and stay up late reading or having deep philosophical discussions—and somehow still get enough sleep and time to play.
In my dream writing career, every genre and art form is fair game for my fearless imagination, and there’s no problem switching gears. My audiences look forward to each leap into a new realm, confident that my work will be interesting and excellent and make them want to dance. I fulfill my working freely and laterally, like so many of my art heroes: Anna Deavre Smith, Amy Sedaris, Stacy Abrams, Spaulding Gray (and many more). I win a MacPEGOT* as well as the Ig Nobel Prize but am roasted at the Kennedy Center for my astonishing humility. I start trends galore (adding to this year’s #dirndldiversity prize, last year’s write-ins, and of course the Sex Cymbals of the Boulder High Marching Band). Organizations beg me to work with them, using the leadership skills I’ve honed in this club, to create positive change in arenas of consequence. I also, in my dream career, I also bring shine to worthy artists and great ideas.
Truth is, I already am the writer I want to be, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished since I joined the Berkeley Branch of the California Writers Club in 200—7? (ish.) I’ve written a decent poem, published a book, or accomplished a unique work each year since then. I’ve developed my creative talents, a growth mindset, and business skills that give each project more scope and success than the last.
How would you like to engage further with the club?
I am interested in the idea of creating a club presence in Joaquin Miller Park, where the roots of this organization took hold during the New Deal. I am hoping the Green New Deal will revitalize the park for those seeking inspiration through “The Minister of the Woods” and the creative souls that came before Miller. What shape this will take is not known yet, but I hope it includes a way to engage with future generations of California Writers. Until then, if anyone would ever like to do a writing date in our new “The Poets Nest,” hit me up!
Where can we keep in touch with you, Kristen?
Subscribe to my “museletter” and stop by www.kristencaven.com often; things are always changing. You can get posters, greeting cards, read my nationally published blog, and even dance with me there! Of course you can purchase my books there, or anywhere books are sold! My compiled missives to the Berkeley membership are collected in The Wind in Our Sails, which is available for a donation to the club of 99¢ or more on the club’s website. I’m on Facebook at @kristen.cavens.imagination and on Instagram at @generous_muse.
Any last thoughts?
Thank you, CWC, for this creative writing exercise! Nothing becomes real without first being a dream, and a present tense vision has the greatest power. Please please please leave me reviews on Amazon or Goodreads or Facebook! You know that feels like applause to a writer. And I hope you get a chance to enjoy The Dirndl Diaspora this weekend
*MacArthur Genius Grant + Pulitzer + Emmy + Grammy + Oscar + Tony.