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Meet the author Monday: Maggie Stiefvater July 26, 2010

Posted by kmcalear in Author Interview.
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Repost from October 2008

Monday again.  Weekends are just too darn short I tell you, but today we have the exciting pleasure of another author interview this one from the one and only Maggie Stiefvater, author of Lament and the upcoming Ballad.

Remember to comment to enter our weekly UF October contest and the big grab bag at the end.

Let’s talk Maggie.

Moi by Telltale Crumbs.Vital Stats
Lives:  Yes, unless homicidal fairies have caught up with her.
WebpageMaggie Stiefvater
BooksLament (This month!), Ballad (2009)

Do you have a day of the week that is your most creative day?  Or do all the days just gang up and attack you all the time?
I was tempted to say that all the days attacked me at once, because it certainly feels that way sometimes, but I think the truth is that Monday is my most creative day. Because I don’t let myself do any work on my novels on Sunday, I’m usually busting with impatience by the time Monday comes along.

What is your favorite supernatural critter and why?
I think my favorite is the water horse, the each uisce. I’ve always been horse crazy anyway (I rode jumpers and dressage as a teen) and when you combine the bloodlust and November-centric aspect of the water horse legend, I’m so sold. Here’s the basic idea: the water horse lives in salt water and comes out onto land in either the form of a horse or a young man, often in November. In either form, he lures young women or children closer. If it’s as a horse, the water horse will act docile so the children climb on board. If it’s as a hot young guy, he’ll act docile so the chick will let him rest his head in her lap. Either way, as soon as the victims (that’s foreshadowing there, baby. Notice how I said “victims” instead of “woman” and “children”?) are lulled into a sense of security, the water horse plunges down with them into the river. And the next day, just their lungs and liver wash up on the shore. Say it with me: ewwww.

We all know it’s easy to get distracted when a project is taking its own sweet time to bubble.  What is your Achilles heel when it comes to getting distracted from writing?
Sigh. The internet, music, and cookie dough. It’s easy to get distracted reading industry blogs (because who doesn’t want to sound clever?), and it’s easy to convince myself that I could focus if I would just pick the right music for the mood. And cookie dough. It’s hard to convince myself I don’t need to make some cookie dough. Right now. In fact, how long is this interview . . . ?

With the holidays coming up and October being a good kick off, what is your favorite Halloween activity?
Carving pumpkins! Perfect combination of Halloween and art stuff. Plus I love watching creepy movies. Not horror flicks, but moody things like The Village and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Van Helsing. Well, maybe not Van Helsing. I’m not that desperate.

I’ve heard of inspirational eating, so when you’re settled in to get things done is there a particular food that you just have to have on hand?
Hee. I think I already mentioned it at least once in this interview. Cookie dough and sweet tea, babe, all the way.

What does it take to write a really good villain?  Do you ever find yourself in a mental space that scares you or makes you wonder if that really came out of YOUR head?
All of my villains are me. Well, they’re a tiny part of me, exaggerated (hopefully) beyond recognition. But I think that the truest villains are the ones you can sympathize with. That you can see why they’re being evil. I don’t have any truly vile creations (well, I guess Aidan from LAMENT is kind of vile) so I haven’t had to be horrified yet. Or maybe I just have a high horror titer.

Which of your characters gave you the most trouble and was the hardest to write for?
In LAMENT, the hardest character was the faerie Queen herself. Readers will understand this when they read the book, but there’s a character close to the Queen who totally stole the show and became the real powerhouse of Faerie.

What is your most favorite murdered darling from any of your books?

Oh, man. For every book I write, I have a companion file called “outtakes.” This file contains all the scenes I brutally murdered in order to finish the novel. I cut out a scene from BALLAD where James meets the king of the dead early on in the novel. There’s lots of good stuff in it that I want to explore in a later book, but most importantly, there was the word “hubris.” I wanted to use that word so badly, and it was even in a complete sentence. And now it’s gone. Forever. Or at least until the next book.

What is your worst writing habit, the thing which you keep telling yourself you’re going to change and you do it anyway?
Using “was”. It’s not passive construction, but it’s not as active as a proper verb either. Like . . “I was walking down the road” instead of “I walked down the road.” But sometimes I just can’t stop myself. I love it. That and describing how people smell. I do this all the time in my novels, because I notice it in real life, and I’m afraid people will think I’m creepy and want to eat them.

If you were going to interview another UF author, whose brain would you want to pick…or consume, we’re not picky.
Depends on how you smell . . . kidding. Diana Wynne Jones. She’s sort of UF, kind of, though probably more contemporary fantasy. And I wouldn’t want to interview her. I’d like to take her out for tea and some really tall, layered pastry with creamy bits in it, and just talk.

From the mouth of James, Dee’s best friend and humorous sidekick from LAMENT.

Homicidal fairies?  Do you ever wish life was just normal?
Normal is highly over-rated. However. I have nothing against homicidal faeries — and yes, I was the one who came up with the term — but I’d really like for them to bug someone other than Dee. Seriously, with her mom and her aunt — oh man, her aunt — she has enough problems. You think homicidal fey are scary? Just wait until you meet Aunt Delia.

Since no one seems to be able to stay out of gore covered trouble how do you get the blood stains out?
I don’t. They add character. And they’re great conversation starters.

It seems most UF characters get a wardrobe I’d kill for.  So what is your favorite article of clothing?
Toss up between my Audioslave T and my t-shirt that says The Voices Are Telling Me Not to Trust You. You mean those hot skimpy outfits that UF girls are always wearing? I gotta admit, it would be good times to see Dee in leather, but I can’t see it happening any time soon. Her trading in her cardigan for a bodice would be a sign of an approaching apocalypse.

What did your author screwed up most about you?

Dude, she made me perfect. Okay, maybe my ego’s a bit big. But other than that, I’m The Awesome with a capital Awe.

Is there true love on your horizon, or is true love only for those sappy romance books?
I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. No, really, I can leave you with this touching sentiment: the way to true love is paved with kisses, tears, eviscerations, car crashes, bagpipes, and bonfires. And you’ll find out more about me and that true love thing in BALLAD.

And there we have it.  Thanks Maggie and James.

~J

Meet the author Monday: Caitlin Kittredge July 19, 2010

Posted by kmcalear in Author Interview.
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Repost October 2008.

Welcome and well met to another Meet the Author for UF October.

<<Snipped Out of date>>

Getting right into the meat of things our UF author up for today’s Q and A is Caitlin Kittredge author of the Nocturne City books with at least two other series coming fast.

Vital stats on Caitlin:

Lives: On the west coast, go Pacific

Webpage: Caitlin Kittredge

Books: Pure Blood, Night Life, My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, Street Magic (coming), Black and White (coming).

From the mouth of the author:

Do you have a day of the week that is your most creative day?  Or do all the days just gang up and attack you all the time?

I write full time, every day, so ideally today is my most creative day, in the sense that today is the first day of the rest of your life and missy, you’ve got a deadline so get to it.  I tend to stay home on the weekends now, and go out during the week because things are quieter and traffic (a thing of nightmarish horror tales in the Pacific Northwest) is much better.

What is your favorite supernatural critter and why?

I love shapeshifters because they have such interesting implications for fiction with duality, nature vs. nurture and the rest.  Also, shapeshifter myths are wonderfully interesting, and shapeshifters tend to be tricksters, so there’s an edge of mischief there that I can really get behind.  I also love ghosts and urban legends, but those aren’t a critter, per se.

We all know it’s easy to get distracted when a project is taking its own sweet time to bubble.  What is your Achilles heel when it comes to getting distracted from writing?

Definitely the internet, but I’m easily distracted by shiny things on and off line.  I have shiny ADD.

With the holidays coming up and October being a good kick off, what is your favorite Halloween activity?

Costumes.  I love deciding on a costume, sewing or finding the pieces, and dressing up (although now I go to parties instead of trick or treating.)  One year I painted myself blue and went as Mystique from the X-Men, and this year my friends and I are doing a DC Comics superhero theme.

I’ve heard of inspirational eating, so when you’re settled in to get things done is there a particular food that you just have to have on hand?

Oh, hell no.  If I had food at the computer I’d weigh roughly twice what I do now because snacking and writing?  A wonderful combination, truly.  I once heard the advice that you shouldn’t include anything in your writing day that you weren’t willing to have become part of your routine, be it smoking, drinking or nibbling.  I turn on music instead.  However, I do reward myself when I finish a book by going to the best greasy spoon diner near my house and pigging out.

What does it take to write a really good villain?  Do you ever find yourself in a mental space that scares you or makes you wonder if that really came out of YOUR head?

I have a couple of times, although it was actually a hero’s thought processes that troubled me.  To write a great villain, you have to understand them.  Villains who are “cardboard” are there for the sake of having an antagonist.  Villains who are memorable would exist with or without your protagonist, they just happen to be on the same page.  I love villains–so much so that they usually turn into main characters and I end up writing the weird, twisted stuff that I do.

Which of your characters gave you the most trouble and was the hardest to write for?

The best character I came up with was also the most stubborn and insistent that I get it right.  Jack Winter, the hero of my forthcoming novel /Street Magic/, gave me fits when I was writing the first draft because he would /not/ shut up.  He bugged me until I wrote the book, bugged me until I rewrote and got it right, and is still around and still chatty, so I’m working on Book 2.  Jack’s had a hard road and exploring his story forced me to confront some things that I hadn’t properly dealt with in my own life, but I think we both came out the better for it.  (For the record, Jack is the only character of mine who makes me talk like a Crazy Author with Characters Who Are ALIVE!!!  He probably thinks it’s hilarious when I ramble like this.)

What is your most favorite murdered darling from any of your books?

That’s a good question, really…I had a description of a magic shop that I never got to use because the scene was cut, and I always hoped I could re-work it into something else because I enjoyed the scene, even if it was rather pointless.

“She smelled lamp oil, saw them hanging from the ceiling at regular intervals.  Incense and cloves tickled her nose, and the air was thick—not heavy, just thick—with the scent of spices and sorcery.”

What is your worst writing habit, the thing which you keep telling yourself you’re going to change and you do it anyway?

Waiting until the last minute.  I’m the queen of all-nighters to beat deadlines.  Normally, I like to take my time finding my way into a story and balance between meeting my goals and really hearing the story and writing the best zero draft I can (I say that everything is in my first draft except what isn’t.)  Sometimes I don’t have that luxury, though, and I have to do a marathon to get something done.*

If you were going to interview another UF author, whose brain would you want to pick…or consume, we’re not picky.

Neil Gaiman or Robin McKinley.  And eating brains is so 2007.

From the mouth of Jack, the mage hero of /Street Magic/ (which comes out in June 2009.)  Jack is English, ill-tempered and sarcastic.

Boxers or briefs? You know I had to ask.

Wouldn’t you like to know.

Since no one seems to be able to stay out of gore covered trouble how do you get the blood stains out?

Don’t.  I tell people I spilled a curry on myself.

It seems most UF characters get a wardrobe I’d kill for.  So what is your favorite article of clothing?

My trousers.  You get funny looks if you don’t have those, I’ve found.

What did your author screwed up most about you?

For an American bird she did an all-right job.  But she didn’t get me good and piss-drunk hardly at all in the first book.  Bloody shame.

Is there true love on your horizon, or is true love only for those sappy romance books?

Mate, what makes you think I WANT to know something like that?  I can barely keep a plant alive, never mind a relationship.  If I’m an old married sod at the end, you can keep that to yourself.

And that’s a wrap for us today…no mummy reference intended…really.

~J

Meet the author Monday: Jaye Welles July 12, 2010

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Repost: October 2008

Morning…bad….stupid morning…  No snappy intros in my brain, so we’ll get right to our next issue of Meet the Author and UF October.  <<Snipped: Out of date>>

Today we’re chatting with the delectable Jaye Wells, author of the upcoming Red-Headed Stepchild.

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Vital Stats on Jaye:
Lives:  We’re pretty sure she does.
Webpage: Jay’s Blahg
Books:  Weirdly Volume II: Eldritch, Red-Headed Stepchild (2009)

From the mouth of the Author:

Do you have a day of the week that is your most creative day?  Or do all the days just gang up and attack you all the time?

Since I write full time, every day has to be a creative day. Except for weekends. Those I reserve for personal stuff, unless I’m staring down the barrel of a deadline.  Oddly, though, Mondays are usually pretty productive.

What is your favorite supernatural critter and why?

I’d have to say vamps. Yes, I write about them, but I’ve always been fascinated. It started pretty young with The Count of Sesame Street. Sure, he was purple, but that accent! Then Count Chocula got his fangs in me with his sweet, sweet  cereal. As for the other reasons I’m still fascinated, well, I’m sure a therapist would have a field day. We’ll leave it at that.

We all know it’s easy to get distracted when a project is taking its own sweet time to bubble.  What is your Achilles heel when it comes to getting distracted from writing?

The Internet, no doubt about it. It’s a tool of the Devil. Between Facebook, Twitter and blogging it’s a miracle I get anything done.

With the holidays coming up and October being a good kick off, what is your favorite Halloween activity?

Besides consuming my body weight in candy? I like pumpkins. We go to a local farm every year to pick ours out. Plus, you can’t have Halloween without roasted pumpkin seeds. And did I mention the candy?

I’ve heard of inspirational eating, so when you’re settled in to get things done is there a particular food that you just have to have on hand?

I’ll eat anything. Really. But I have to have coffee and lots of it. In the afternoons, I switch to diet coke, but caffeine is a must.

What does it take to write a really good villain?  Do you ever find yourself in a mental space that scares you or makes you wonder if that really came out of YOUR head?

For me, the best villains are manipulators. They find the protag’s weak spot and use it to achieve their nefarious ends.
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I stopped asking myself where this stuff comes from a while ago. I’m just thankful I’ve found a way to earn a living off my warped imagination.

Which of your characters gave you the most trouble and was the hardest to write for?

It’s not that one character was particularly hard to write. It’s more like certain situations were hard to write. Sometimes it’s difficult in first person to remember that your choices are not necessarily those your character would make. So in situations where I would run, Sabina would charge forward with fists flying.

Stephen King says we should kill our darlings.  What is your most favorite murdered darling from any of your books?

When I was writing Red-Headed Stepchild I had this idea. What if a vampire accidentally ate a whole pan of pot brownies. Not run-of-the-mill pot brownies, mind you, but special faery cannabis, which is far more potent that the stuff mortals use.  For some reason this idea cracked me up, but ultimately I had to cut it because it didn’t add anything to the story.

What is your worst writing habit, the thing which you keep telling yourself you’re going to change and you do it anyway?

I’m a procrastinator. Without deadlines I’d never get anything done. It doesn’t help that I usually do my best work when I’m under the gun. I hear there are people who pace themselves and don’t become stress beasts when deadlines approach. But I think that’s just an urban legend.

If you were going to interview another UF author, whose brain would you want to pick…or consume, we’re not picky.

I have an author crush on Christopher Moore. The man is a genius. I know he’s shelved in general fiction, but most of his stuff is totally urban fantasy.  Sure, he’s laugh-out-loud funny, but he also manages to slip in brilliant, heartbreaking prose every now and then. Plus his characters are just brilliant. Minty Fresh, anyone? And now I’m gushing, so I’ll stop.

From the mouth of Sabina:

Boxers or briefs? You know I had to ask.

Hello? I’m a chick.

Since no one seems to be able to stay out of gore covered trouble how do you get the blood stains out?

Are you asking if I do laundry? Seriously? I’m an assassin, lady. I don’t have time to separate my whites from my reds. Stains are part of the job. Deal with it.

It seems most UF characters get a wardrobe I’d kill for.  So what is your favorite article of clothing?

Fine. I’ll go with my gun. You got a problem with that you can take it up with my demon cat, Giguhl. I wouldn’t mention clothes to him, though. He’s so touchy ever since he lost all his hair. And I don’t care what he tells you, it wasn’t my fault.

Anyway, where was I? Right–guns. My favorite is a semi-automatic custom-made to shoot apple cider bullets. Any idiot knows the old wives’ tales about garlic and crosses are bullshit. You want to smoke a vamp, you gotta deliver a dose of the forbidden fruit.

Cider bullets–they’re the new black.

What did your author screwed up most about you?

Sigh. Where to begin. First of all, Jaye seems to think I have “layers.” She’s always trying to get me to get in touch with my feelings. Dude, I’m not an onion.

Second, I don’t care what she tells you, I’m not attracted to Adam Lazarus. Okay, I’ll admit he’s kind of a hottie. But I don’t have “feelings” for him. He’s annoying. Plus, he’s a mage. Hooking up with a mancy is the last thing I need. After all, look where it got my mother.

Is there true love on your horizon, or is true love only for those sappy romance books?

True love? What a pathetic mortal concept. Love makes you vulnerable. Weak. Not an option.

Can I go now? This interview is lame.

Thanks so much Jaye and Sabina!

Friday Flashback: Art Connections July 9, 2010

Posted by kmcalear in Friday Flashback.
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Repost from: April 18, 2008

Well now that Wizard of Oz is almost over, I’m back to having more time to keep up with blogs. Woohoo! I’ve been helping to direct our school’s Spring Musical which has been taking up a lot of time and creative energy (15+ hours a week on top of the 40 hour work day! Yes, I am crazy!). The kids are really learning to own their roles and our Lion, who has been my personal project, is finally learning how to step beyond just what’s written on the page to adding his own unique touch to the role. He had the audience in stiches with his whimpers and shivers. It was a great joy to help the students learn about the acting process.

What does this have to do with writing? Everything! Watching movies and live theatre shows an entirely new way to use words to create images. In a book, we write so the reader can create a mental image. When you add the visual element of theatre, you can see just what image those words create. It’s a great exercise. The same goes for music and viewing pictoral art. Anything that inspires creativity or stirs emotion is a great place to gain ideas.

I’ll confess a secret: I’m a frustrated artist! In the genetic dice roll, my sister got all the painting and drawing talent. I started writing in order to express what I had been trying unsuccessfully to paint! My mother has one bedroom full of my sister and brother’s artwork, she had to look for 2 months to find anything of MY painting that she kept! (And it was a pseudo collage, I traced different images from books and put them together, then colored with cray-pas…) Hah. Alas, It’s hard to frame a story, it just doesn’t look the same!

But the joy of theatre is that you can paint an image… with people! You can tell the talented artists what you want to see, and they create it for you. Then, you bring it to life with color, music and movement. I love that about theatre. And it teaches you how words relate to visual images, which is great for novel writing.

~Kris

Book Review: Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson July 7, 2010

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Review, Children Books, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Hey folks!  Hope everyone in the stats had a great 4th of July weekend.  For our family it was a time of fireworks, memories and really good food.  Beyond that we also finished the book we’ve been reading together, Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson, so I decided it would be a good review today.

We’ve been reading Alcatraz a chapter at a time for about the last 2-3 months.  My husband is our reader and myself and our two boys, ages 9 and 13, are the erstwhile listeners.  To give credit where it is due I think part of the joy of this reading is listening to my husband who is a very good reader and creator of various voices, but it certainly helps that the story he was reading was a delight in and of itself.  Alcatraz is told from a first person point of view, but it’s from a future version of Alcatraz looking back to tell how his story got started.  The narration is irreverent, humorous and filled with delightful forshadowing of upcoming events in completely unexpected ways.  Sometimes a rutabaga is far more than just a rutabaga.

Alcatraz himself is a character walking the line of deciding what kind of person he is going to be.  He addresses the bad things he does with the same honesty that he acknowledges bravery and love.  He’s a boy who has been raised in the foster system and who has an unnatural ability to break everything he touches.  Come to find out that the ability is a Talent and his whole family has them.  His thirteenth birthday begins with a present in the mail, the arrival of his grandfather, who has the Talent to be late, and a gun toting librarian because…of course…the world is not what we think it is and Alcatraz is thrust into the middle of a war between the Hushlands and the Free Kingdoms all while learning more about himself, his talent and what it means to be a family.

The book was delightful.  Some folks might get annoyed with the interjections by the narrator and moments when he’s purposefully poking fun at writing conventions, but I found them hysterical.  The language of the book is very accessible for middle grade readers and young adults, but there are enough twists to how the language is used that adults can be delighted by a whole other level of what’s going on.

We’re buying book two and three now cause we have to know what happens next to the boy that breaks things and his family.  And we’re still curious about the sacrifice on a stack of outdated encyclopedias!

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians

Genre: Modern Fantasy

Age: 8+

Content: Minor violence

Overall: 5/5 paws

Meet the author Monday: J. F. Lewis July 5, 2010

Posted by kmcalear in Author Interview.
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Repost October 2008.

Good morning spooks and spookettes.

<<Snipped out of date>>.

Okay, housekeeping done.    Today’s interview is from Mister Jeremy F Lewis, author of Staked.  Haven’t heard of it?  Shame on you.  Let’s get going.

Vital stats on Jeremy:
Lives:  In the red clay of the United States south east
Webpage:  Author at Large
Books:  Staked, ReVamped (2009)

From the mouth of the author:

Do you have a day of the week that is your most creative day?  Or do all the days just gang up and attack you all the time?

A: Day?  I have no creative days, just nights.    I charted my most creative portions of the day once and I have three “best” times.  One is relatively early, followed by another in afternoon, and then again around nine o’clock.  Since I have a day job, I do most of my writing during that last time slot.

What is your favorite supernatural critter and why?

Hmm… I seem to like Oni a lot.  I keep putting Tiko and/or his brothers in my books.  I obviously have a certain fondness for vampires and werewolves, but for a favorite I think I’m going to have to go with the little dust gremlins from several of the Miyazaki films.  Well… those and dragons.

We all know it’s easy to get distracted when a project is taking its own sweet time to bubble.  What is your Achilles heel when it comes to getting distracted from writing?

Television, Books, Video Games…  all of them steal valuable writing time, but I think the most dangerous thing to me is the alluring new idea that I have while working on whatever my current project is.    I tend to work on more than one project at a time, but when I’m on a deadline, it’s tortuous.

With the holidays coming up and October being a good kick off, what is your favorite Halloween activity?

We have a tradition of not putting up any decorations until the sun starts to set, and then BOOM by nightfall all the decorations go up as if sunset has wrought a spooky change upon the house.  We have a Halloween party at our house every year (except this year, because I agreed to be the writer Guest of Honor at CrisisCon) where we all dress up and take the kids trick or treating and then come back to the house for homemade potato soup and sausage-laden cheese dip.  We trade out the boys’ contaminated candy collections for nut-safe assortments their mom packs ahead of time, and then we watch It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and Disney’s Icabod & Mr. Toad or The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Once the kids go to bed, the grownups will usually vote on a episode or two of Buffy or Angel (usually Hush, Once More with Feeling, or Smile Time wins).  It’s all fun.

I’ve heard of inspirational eating, so when you’re settled in to get things done is there a particular food that you just have to have on hand?

I used to eat popcorn while I wrote, but not so much anymore.  No, I settle in with some Crystal Light Peach Tea and get to work.  Music and setting the right mood to “get in the zone” of a given character are much more important.

What does it take to write a really good villain?  Do you ever find yourself in a mental space that scares you or makes you wonder if that really came out of YOUR head?

With few exceptions, villains have to have understandable motives, and we need to like something about them.  I can’t think of anything I’ve written that gave me the creeps, but I *have* had other people read something I wrote and be surprised that it came out of my head.

Which of your characters gave you the most trouble and was the hardest to write for?

Tabitha, because I’m a guy and she isn’t.   I had to keep reminding myself to keep Tabitha thinking.  Which, I believe is the main difference between men and women.  Women’s brain are so busy.  They are always thinking about hundred different things and guys… just… aren’t.   At the first con I ever attended as a guest, I was on a “writing the opposite sex” panel and I was talking with my wife about the panel beforehand.

“Well, for example,” I said, “What are you thinking about right now?”

She thought for a moment and reeled off a litany: “I’m wondering if I should have gotten a different sandwich.  I’m wondering if your parents had any trouble tucking the boys into bed.    I thinking about tomorrow and if I can get up early and find a store that has the right kind of stands so that we can display your book cover better.  I’m trying to decide if my mom and I have time to make up some more flyers…  Why? What are you thinking about?”

I finished my bite of sandwich and said, “I’m chewing.”

Stephen King says we should kill our darlings.  What is your most favorite murdered darling from any of your books?

In one of the early drafts of Staked, I killed one of the characters (Roger) in the first line.  So it read:

“ Somewhere in the middle of my rant it occurred to me that I’d killed Roger, so arguing was no longer important.“

The problem was, that I really needed Roger around to make the book work, to give us someone that could pick on Eric in that annoying way that only best friends can pull off.  So he eventually got added back in and I killed somebody else in the first line and used the line to let give an example of how bad Eric’s memory could actually be.  The new line became:

“Somewhere in the middle of my rant it occurred to me that I’d killed whoever it was I’d been yelling at, so arguing was no longer important.”

The new line worked better, fit the story more, let us know more about the character, but I still miss the other beginning from time to time.  There’s another section from early on the in the book that involves Eric unclogging a toilet, but let’s face it, it was too gross.  I wanted to show Eric as a guy who would do whatever needed doing without being squeamish about it, and it was inspired by a real life occurrence, but it was over the top.  A splinter of that scene is still present, but it’s brief and he uses a plunger now instead of his hand, so I think it works out better for both the reader and for Eric the way it is now.

What is your worst writing habit, the thing which you keep telling yourself you’re going to change and you do it anyway?

When I get really involved in my writing, I tend to leave out words and if I’m super excited about a chapter, then I zap a copy off to two of my *really* *really* first readers to get their comments.  It’s the essence of laziness on my part not to read back through it carefully at least once, and I’m getting better, but I still do it.  I also have to learn to stop talking about sections of the story that aren’t written down yet.  I think it steals some of the impetus to actually write the scene by satisfying my storytelling urge verbally.

If you were going to interview another UF author, whose brain would you want to pick…or consume, we’re not picky.

Several of my top picks have been bumped down the list because I’ve gotten a chance to speak with them at cons since the release of Staked, so I’d have to say C.E. Murphy.  I did meet her briefly at San Diego Comic-Con, but she was covered up by fans so I was mostly a “Hello/Goodbye” thing.

From the mouth of Eric and Talbot:

Boxers or briefs? You know I had to ask.

The vampire wearing jeans and a “Welcome to the Void” t-shirt blinks twice before answering.  He turns to the bald man in the designer suit next to him.  “Who the hell is this chick and why is she asking about my underwear?”

“It’s for an interview, Eric.”

“What kind of interview?”

“Just answer her question, okay?”

“No, it’s not okay, Talbot.”  Eric’s eyes flash red.  “I’ve already got enough woman trouble…”

Talbot smiles, row of white teeth standing out in contrast to his ebony skin.  “You don’t remember do you?”

“F*** ***.”  Eric tucks a thumb under the front of his jeans and tugs them away from his body an inch, before peering down.  “Briefs.  They’re Fruit of the Loom, if you must know.”

“You still wear tighty whiteys?”  Talbot asks.

“Yes.”  Eric narrows his gaze at Talbot.  “Why?  What do you wear?  Silk boxers or something?”

“No.”

“Briefs?”

“No.”

“What?  A thong?”

“I believe in a certain amount of freedom.  I like to have space and…”

“Next question,” Eric says.

Since no one seems to be able to stay out of gore covered trouble how do you get the blood stains out?

“Well,” Eric begins.  “I used to pay somebody to clean it up, but now I have this c…”

Talbot slaps a hand over Eric’s mouth.  “Uh-uh-uh.  That doesn’t happen until book two.”  He smiles politely at the interviewer.  “First of all , you got to make sure that you don’t use hot water.  That will make your stain start to set in.  If you have an Oni handy, get him to spit on the stain.  Human saliva or even my saliva works well, but Oni can generate a copious amount of saliva and the enzymes in their spit are even more effective at breaking down proteins.  I keep a little stash of Resolve carpet cleaner around, but vampires and well, my kind, have sensitive noses…  you have to pick a cleaner that doesn’t annoy you.”

“I think the Resolve smells okay,” Eric says, pushing Talbot’s hand away from his mouth.

“I know, that’s why I keep it around.”

“Wait… are you telling me that you’ve paid Oni to spit on my carpet? And what do you mean book two?  What book?”

Talbot pats Eric on the head.  “Next question.”

It seems most UF characters get a wardrobe I’d kill for.  So what is your favorite article of clothing?

Eric gestures to his shoes, blue jeans, brown leather belt, and his black Welcome to the Void t-shirt.  “I pretty much wear this all the time.”

“We all know that, Eric.”   Talbot shakes his head, clucking his tongue disapprovingly.  “I like to wear a nice Italian bespoke suit, a Brioni or a Kitton, with some of that nice super 150’s fabric, but let’s face it-  Unless I’m going out on the town, it’s better to wear a suit from Men’s Warehouse.  I still look good, but I’m not out thousands of dollars if I get into a fight and my suit gets torn up.”

“You spent ‘thousands’ of dollars on a suit?”  Eric eyes Talbot warily.  “Are you out of your little Mouser mind?”

What did your author screw up most about you?

“Author?”  Eric throws up his hands.  “Seriously, what the hell is this chick talking about and for that matter why can’t I see her?”

“I’ve got this one,” Talbot says, gesturing for Eric to calm down.  “I think Jeremy did a good job.  He didn’t give me enough screen time in the first book, but I kick some serious butt in the second one.  I even get to go into my full on combat mode, so that was a lot of fun, even if Eric’s… let’s call it aim… in that sequence did leave a little something to be desired.”

“Dude,” Eric butts in, “You’re hard to throw.  You may not have noticed this, but you’re bulky.”

“I’m bulky?”

“Hey, nothing personal, but though you may be bald, it’s not like you’re a baseball.  That’s all I’m say’n.”

“Why aren’t you cursing more?”  Talbot folds his arms.

“Huh?”

“I just noticed.  You would have normally said, ‘it’s not like you’re a f***ing baseball,’ but you didn’t.”

“So?”  Eric rolls his eyes.  “I said, f*** a minute ago, but it came out with  asterixes.  Besides, I don’t curse all the d*** time.”

“You do.”

“I do not!”  Eric jabs a finger at Talbot.  “Look.  I was in World War II okay?  And Korea!  And just because they didn’t curse on M*A*S*H* or in any of John Wayne’s war movies doesn’t mean that movie makers were depicting the realistic speech of the time period.  And let me tell you something, pal.  If you think that the f-word hasn’t been In use for hundreds of years then you are sadly f****** mistaken, my friend.”

“I think I heard it first around 1400 A.D. or something very much like it… from a monk of all people.  He was writing a poem about these other monks and…”

“Wait a minute.  I’m only like eighty years old.  How old are you?”

“Next question.”

“No,”  Eric puts a hand on Talbot’s shoulder.  “Screw the next question.  How old are you?  You’re not a vampire.  You’re a frick’n mouser!”

Talbot takes a breath, opens his mouth as if he’s going to answer, closes his mouth again, smiles, then says, “Next question.”

Is there true love on your horizon, or is true love only for those sappy romance books?

“I miss Marilyn,” Eric says.

“Wow!”  Talbot jumps.  “That’s a down beat answer.”

“What?  I miss Marilyn.  I’m not gonna whine about it or anything.  Things might work out with Tabitha… or Rachel.  What about you?”

“Me?”  Talbot is visibly taken back.  “My… kind… doesn’t have that emotion.  The closest we get is a deep abiding fondness, like I feel for you.”

Eric takes a long hard look at Talbot.

“It wasn’t a pass, Eric.  I know you’re strictly het.”

“Het?”

“It means that you like the opposite sex.”

“Good.  That’s right.”

“And so do I… mostly.”

Eric’s eyes widen.  “Seriously?”

Talbot laughs.  “The look on your face is priceless right now.  Seriously.”

“Is that seriously about my face looking priceless right now or is that seriously about what I asked seriously about?”

“Oh, look,”  Talbot waves at the internet,  “the interview is over.”

Thanks to Jeremy, Eric and Talbot!  <<Snipped as out of date>>

Friday Flashback: Women leaders July 2, 2010

Posted by kmcalear in Friday Flashback.
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Repost from April 9, 2008.

I’ve been working on a science fiction short story which brought an interesting question in our writer’s group. I decided to go with a male protagonist who is a submarine pilot. I chose to make the submarine’s captain a woman. Her name is Naomi and I haven’t gotten very far with her characterization, save that I wanted a softer edge to her personality. I wanted a woman who smiles, laughs, jokes with her crew and also can be a tough disciplinarian if needed.

One of the women in the group asked me, “Well… she seems too flirty and happy, I mean wouldn’t the crew mutiny?” What that translates to is… if she’s not this hard-as-nails ice queen would men actually listen to her?

That’s a scary question! Essentially it’s bringing up a subtle belief that if a woman doesn’t act like a man, she’s not a good leader. But if you examine leadership in the real world and literature, men don’t act ‘no nonsense’ and ‘emotionless’. You look at George Bush whose sense of humor is one of the most memorable traits of his leadership. Bush is a man who can laugh at his own mistakes, joke with his cabinet at the same time as directing the nation in one of the most difficult times in our history. Do we complain that Bush is too ‘flirty’ and he should be more serious? No. (Okay,  so we complain about his unintentional comical errors… but we never actually complain when he laughs about them with us!)

What about in literature or movies? You look at the series Firefly (oh so short lived…) and you see a Captain who can joke with his crew, tease them and relate to them, while still keeping a clear control of his ship. But then with Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek Voyager, whenever she ‘lets her hair down’ figuratively in the series, fans begin to criticize how friendly she gets with her crew? Hmm.

So why is it that we believe that men can lead with humor and familiarity, but women have to be austere and aloof? Why is Bush allowed to joke when Margaret Thatcher is expected to be severe and humorless? That’s a question I certainly am not sure how to answer, but I intend to explore the idea of a female leader who leads a coed crew without sacrificing warmth and femininity. Maybe it’ll fall on it’s face, but I hope not.

~Kris