Category Archives: Life Beyond Writing

Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Kevin Guilfoile

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have KEVIN GUILFOILE, author of A Drive into the Gap, The Thousand, and Cast of Shadows.

Drive-into-the-Gap-254x3001. Rename yourself.

KG: Barry Manilope.

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

KG: “Barry Manilope?”

3. Give us an A+ summer song.

KG: “Bag of Hammers” by Thao with The Get Down Stay Down [Soundcloud]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

KG: Full body, ventral bruise after being launched from a sled in Brian Boyer’s back yard, righting myself in mid-air, and making spread-eagled, pancake impact with the side of Luke Sampson’s clubhouse. 

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

KG: Ray Davies. John Prine. Syd Barrett. Demi Lovato.

6. What was your best Halloween costume?

KG: Nakatomi Towers security guard, the first guy killed in the original Die Hard. Had to explain that one a lot, but worth it.

7. Tell us something you built.

KG: A loft in college that was somehow not the cause of my grisly death. Other than that, most of my construction has been in the medium of Lego. In fact, I’m a little bit famous in my house as the go-to guy when you have to put stickers on those tiny bricks. Fortunately, I live next door to the man who built my house.

8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

KG: Minotaur, right? Does anyone ever say anything else?

9. What do you like to grow?

KG: Mold, from the looks of my refrigerator crisper.

978140007827110. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

KG: This. I wish it were longer.

11. How would you like those eggs?

KG: Two of them, over easy, hash browns, bacon, Greek toast, OJ. Wait 15 minutes, then bring me a Mountain Dew in a to-go cup.

12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

KG: The radio station that, starting just before Thanksgiving, plays the same 20 Christmas songs over and over. And I say to my wife, “I just put 300 cool Christmas songs on your iPod. Sufjan Stevens, William Bell, Diana Krall…” and she says, “No, this is fine.” But it isn’t fine. It really isn’t.

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

KG: Titanium, a man with really strong knees. Super strong, I mean, not just for his age. His nemesis is Paison, who always orders exactly the right amount of pizza. I’m talking uncannily. Even if extra people show up. Kids. Neighbors. Whoever. Exactly the right amount.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

KG: If you were asking my brother this question he would surely say it is the memory of the night I went sleepwalking, grabbed an (unloaded) deer rifle off the wall, jumped up onto his bed and woke him up by gently pressing the barrel into his forehead. If you’re asking me, it’s not whatever I was dreaming that night. I awoke in the morning quite refreshed.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

KG: A portcullis.

16. What are you up to this weekend?

KG: Guitar and drum practice. Two soccer games. Turning the guest bedroom into a music room. Overseeding the lawn. Not laughing when the kids accidentally swear. Grilling. Shiraz. The Wall Street Journal Saturday puzzle. Hockey playoffs. Elmore Leonard’s Riding the Rap. Tapping in on video games when one of the boys has to go to the bathroom. Cleaning the garage. Top of the Lake

978140007826417. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

KG: La-Z-Boy Blue. Crippling Magenta.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

KG: I was a “houseboy” on a large private estate for three summers. It does make watching Downton Abbey feel more immediate. Also I only just realized this year that my job description (which actually appeared on my paycheck) is probably horribly racist.

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

KG: Erasable pens. 

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

KG: A cassette recording of me, Rob Crampton, Karl Hartmann, and Sam Barwick playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1981. I would rest easier knowing where it is and that salt, water pressure, and the loamy secretions of prehistoric Kraken have rendered it unplayable.

Kevin Guilfoile is the author of two novels, Cast of Shadows and The Thousand, that have been translated into more than 20 languages. His latest book is a memoir, A Drive into the Gap.

Official Site
Kevin on Twitter

Previous Q&As may be found HERE.

Buy Kevin’s Books:

A Drive into the Gap
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The Thousand
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Cast of Shadows
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Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Kate Southwood

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have KATE SOUTHWOOD, author of the novel Falling to Earth.

Kate Southwood Falling to Earth1. Rename yourself.

KS: Elizabeth Jarvis. This is from the “what is your romance novel author name” game. Take your middle name and the street you grew up in. I grew up on a corner, so I could also be Elizabeth Sheridan.

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

KS: “You’re up.”

3. Give us an A+ summer song.

KS: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” [Youtube]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

KS: A really dumb cut on my inner forearm. Basically dragged my arm across a rusty nail head and it never even bled, just unzipped the skin on my arm.

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

KS: Does the Muppet Band count?

6. What was your best Halloween costume?

KS: Frida Kahlo. Complete with mono-brow and bike handlebar coming out of my stomach. This was when I was an Art History student, and one of my friends dressed as The Sack of Rome.

7. Tell us something you built.

KS: Drawing a blank, although I do know how to use tools and must have built something… Does Ikea flat-pack assembly count?

8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

KS: Tiger, please. I really want to pet a big cat before I die.

9. What do you like to grow?

KS: I have a balcony garden in Oslo, Norway where I grow what I can, which is mostly flowers and herbs. I want to grow potatoes.

Kate Southwood Falling to Earth10. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

KS: Minimalism. I live with packrats, and even the cat has too much stuff.

11. How would you like those eggs?

KS: Scrambled, moist, and salty.

12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

KS: Thanksgiving, and that I now live in Oslo. Norwegians don’t do it, don’t get it, don’t get that Thursday off, plus three members of my four-person family are vegetarians, so there’s no point.

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

KS: I’m Intergalactica, and I clean up space junk. Do I have to be lousy? My nemesis is NASA, who keep putting more junk out there, so maybe I’m just overworked.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

KS: That I would never publish a novel.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

KS: An office. View of trees, bookcases, big comfy chair with ottoman, and a door that stays shut unless you ask nicely.

16. What are you up to this weekend?

KS: Hopefully something to do with St. Patrick’s Day. Again, difficult to do in Oslo. [Editor’s note: this Q&A was done a few weeks ago, obviously.]

17. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

KS: Most comfortable, probably blue. Most anxious, red. My mother had red carpet in her bedroom briefly in the 1970s, said it was emitting energy and keeping her up at night, and got rid of it. I’ve been mildly suspicious of the color red ever since.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

KS: Part-time secretary for a State Farm agent in Chicago when I was 17. He never really taught me to do anything. His dad was the other agent in the office and his dad’s secretary would show me stuff occasionally. I felt I had accomplished something if I got him to put his cigarette in the ashtray before he accidentally ashed on someone’s policy.

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

KS: Oreos. But not really.

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

KS: Well, obviously, it has to be intelligent life sitting there with a smug took-you-long-enough smile.

Kate Southwood received an M.A. in French Medieval Art from the University of Illinois, and an M.F.A. in Fiction from the University of Massachusetts Program for Poets and Writers. Born and raised in Chicago, she now lives in Oslo, Norway with her husband and their two daughters. Falling to Earth, a Barnes & Noble Discover pick, is her first novel.

Kate Southwood Official Site
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Previous Q&As may be found HERE.

Buy FALLING TO EARTH:

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Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Eric Devine

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have ERIC DEVINE, author of Tap Out.

Eric Devine Author1. Rename yourself.

ED: Liam McCallister. Protagonist of a novel that didn’t make it.

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

ED: “You’ll do.”

3. Give us an A+ summer song.

ED: “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”. You just need the windows rolled down and a trip to anywhere. [Youtube]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

ED: ACL and LCL tear of my left knee during a football game. Almost severed the artery. Separately, I broke my back at L5.

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

ED: Jim Morrison, obviously — his darkness was astounding. Eddie Vedder, because he is die hard. Clapton, because…Clapton. And Dave Grohl. Dave can do anything.

6. What was your best Halloween costume?

ED: Train conductor, homemade, complete with giant cardboard train wrapped around me, held up by my suspenders.

7. Tell us something you built.

ED: A paver patio in my backyard. I’m not handy but can follow instructions, almost too well. The pitch on the blocks is a bit too severe.

Tap Out Eric Devine8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

ED: I love hedgehogs, not that I’ve owned one or would know how to take care of it, but they are adorable, with a capital A.

9. What do you like to grow?

ED: The grass. I detest mowing.

10. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

ED: Poetry, mostly William Stafford. No one even likes poetry.

11. How would you like those eggs?

ED: Scrambled with spinach and cheese, and about a half dozen. Bacon, too, if you have it.

12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

ED: The lack of sleep and my inability to put toys together at Christmas.

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

ED: Self Deprecator. I am at odds with myself.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

ED: I’m not good enough. At what is open to interpretation.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

ED: A detached writing studio. My home has an open floor plan and no basement, so my office is semi-permeable.

Eric Devine16. What are you up to this weekend?

ED: Whatever my wife tells me we’re doing.

17. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

ED: I love black. As a teen my walls were painted this color. Orange and teal are unnerving, separate or together.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

ED: Figure model for an artist. Yup.

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

ED: My fashion sense.

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

ED: Something he can’t use to turn into a movie. Something more profound.

Eric Devine is the Young Adult fiction author of Tap Out and This Side of Normal. His next novel, Dare Me, will be released in the fall of 2013. He lives in Upstate, NY, where he teaches high school English and tries to be the best father and husband he can be.

Eric Devine Official Site
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Previous Q&As may be found HERE.

Buy TAP OUT:

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Buy THIS SIDE OF NORMAL:

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Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Robin Sloan

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have ROBIN SLOAN, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

Robin Sloan1. Rename yourself.

RS: John Eliot Sinclair

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

RS: “Work harder.”

3. Give us an A+ summer song.

RS: “Merey Mathay” by Kiran Ahluwalia [Youtube]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

RS: Involved the feet; gruesome; footprints of blood.

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

RS: I like the idea of a collaboration between past and future selves, a la Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I’d like to assemble the Paul Simons of 1972, 1986, 1990, and 2011 and have them all sing in harmony.

6. What was your best Halloween costume?

RS: A member of the Borg. Unfortunately, nobody in my school knew who the Borg were.

7. Tell us something you built.

RS: In my first apartment, I built a bookshelf… out of… BOOKS. Think about it!

8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

RS: I want an octopus. They are super smart.

9. What do you like to grow?

RS: Sourdough starter.

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore10. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

RS: Cheez-Its

11. How would you like those eggs?

RS: Fried, with the yolk still runny

12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

RS: It’s usually quite cold (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere).

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

RS: I am DOCTOR PANTS. I fight the shadowy international organization known only as 34/34.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

RS: Mostly it tends to be the heightened awareness of my heart beating, paired with the knowledge that, although they are vanishingly rare, there do exist maladies that cause it to just suddenly… stop.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

RS: Secret passageways and/or tunnels

16. What are you up to this weekend?

RS: Going up to Sonoma County

17. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

RS: I don’t really respond to colors that way.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

RS: My very first job was slightly strange in its simplicity, I guess. I worked at a greenhouse, where I was in charge of the dirt pile. When customers ordered potting soil, woodchips, peat moss, etc., I would carry it out to their car. That’s all I did. I moved dirt.

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

RS: …a smartphone? (Allow me to report: yes, you are!)

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

RS: Unimaginative, but: aliens, alien, always and forever aliens!

Robin Sloan grew up near Detroit and now splits his time between San Francisco and the internet. His first novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2012.

Robin Sloan Official Site
Robin Sloan Twitter

Previous Q&As may be found HERE.

Buy MR. PENUMBRA’S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE:

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Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Kevin Fanning

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have KEVIN FANNING, aka kfan, author of the newly released Magical Neon Sexuality, as well as Let’s All Find Awesome Jobs and Jennifer Love Hewitt Times Infinity. (See below for purchase links.)

KFAN1. Rename yourself.

kfan: My main nickname is kfan but people are always confusing me with the sports radio station, so maybe a better nickname would be kfanAM1030.

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

kfan: You again?

3. Give us an A+ winter song.

kfan: “Valley Winter Song” by Fountains of Wayne [Youtube]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

kfan: I guess maybe 8th grade, when Jen stopped me in the hall on my way to Bio to inform me that Keri had broken up with me? Like no phone call or anything? And people nearby were just stopping to watch this conversation and delight in my heartbreak. And then in Bio Ms. Bazzolo gave us a pop quiz. It was something about planets which was weird because it was supposedly an EARTH SCIENCES class. So I never even understood why we had that unit. Or what I had done to make Keri break up with me after only 2 weeks of “going out”, which basically just meant we talked on the phone after school. Personally I had enjoyed our conversations.

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

kfan: Aaliyah, Shiina Ringo, Susanna Hoffs, Astrud Gilberto. This band is apparently all singers so I don’t know if that really makes it a supergroup.

magical-neon-cover-222px6. What was your best Halloween costume?

kfan: The year I realized I was too old to go trick-or-treating even though I still really wanted to, I went to my friend Matt’s house and handed out candy while wearing a pair of his father’s extremely large bright red corduroy pants. They were super comfy and I wish I’d kept them.

7. Tell us something you built.

kfan: An extremely solid Headbanger’s Ball playlist on Spotify.

8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

kfan: I can’t tell you how uninterested I am in a lifelong companion that doesn’t clean up its own poop. I really just want to be left alone and not have to clean up an animal’s poop, fantasy or otherwise.

9. What do you like to grow?

kfan: I live in the city, eat at restaurants, and value my time, so I guess I mainly grow  non-attachment to the idea that spending time in a garden is at all useful.

10. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

kfan: “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” by The Four Freshmen. [youtube]

11. How would you like those eggs?

kfan: Eggs are the best, I’m down for whatever. Super into eggs lately.

lafaj-cover-222px12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

kfan: My favorite holiday is Easter because it has the best candy, but I am allergic to dairy and get super sick from eating it. But the worst thing is all the religion.

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

kfan: The Anecdotal Lead, whose powers are useless against The TL;DRer.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

kfan: Sometimes there are neighborhood teenagers having conversations in the courtyard behind my apartment at 2 am and I just want to yell at them to shut up but then I think “Well what if they remember which window my face was poking out of and they begin forming a plan to exact revenge of some kind” so then I just lay there being afraid of teenagers all night.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

kfan: If I had a bunch of money I would never add anything to a home, I would just buy a new one whenever I got bored of the current one or too tired to climb the stairs.

16. What are you up to this weekend?

kfan: Finally thinking of better answers to these questions, probably.

jlhxi-cover-222px17. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

kfan: I’m fairly colorblind so pretty much any color gives me low-level anxiety.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

kfan: One where I sat at a desk in a cubicle all day and had to pretend like I was typing things so no one would get suspicious about me not having any actual work to do.

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

kfan: Human emotion.

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

kfan: Some really great movie footage that people will talk about for years to come. Something that the rest of us can really build memories around.

Kevin Fanning writes the most perfect fanfic in the internet.

kfan’s official site

Buy his books!

Previous Q&As may be found HERE.

Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Nathan Kotecki

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have NATHAN KOTECKI, author of the YA novel The Suburban Strange, released today. (See below for purchase links.)

1. Rename yourself.

NK: Daniel Craig

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

NK: “Read Goethe?”

3. Give us an A+ summer song.

NK: “She Sells Sanctuary” by the Cult. There is no better soundtrack for cruising down the highway with the sunroof open.” [Youtube]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

NK: I’ve been quite fortunate in the physical injury department, so in all honesty, I’d have to say a broken heart – worst pain and longest recovery time.

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

NK: Elizabeth Fraser, Hauschka (Volker Bertelmann), Brendan Perry (but he doesn’t get to sing), and Brian Eno

6. What was your best Halloween costume?

NK: I was R2D2 at some point in the early eighties. A big cardboard box and a reprehensible amount of aluminum foil.

7. Tell us something you built.

NK: A couple half-hearted forts. A wall of silence. A house of cards.

8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

NK: I’m so allergic… Panther, maybe? One of the big cats.

9. What do you like to grow?

NK: Nephews. I just got my second one, yay!

10. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

NK: “L’Année Derniére à Marienbad” by Alain Resnais.

11. How would you like those eggs?

NK: The best egg dish I’ve ever had was an appetizer at Blue Hill in NYC – a farm fresh egg served easy with periwinkles. Amazing. But everything I’ve ever eaten at that restaurant has been amazing.

12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

NK: That it (Thanksgiving) is never going to be the way it was when I was a child/teenager. The mix of people, a pair of houses in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, the food, the leisure, the unassuming joy – over ten or more years I accumulated a Platonic ideal of Thanksgiving by enjoying it in real life. But then the people dispersed, the places are now inhabited by strangers…

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

NK: I am the Hipster. I arbitrarily decide I like things, commonly because everyone else thinks those things are gauche, and then I rescue them from obscurity and deliver them to Urban Outfitters. My nemesis is Anna Wintour.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

NK: I won’t figure out my purpose before it’s too late. Or I’ll never figure it out at all.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

NK: A Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe

16. What are you up to this weekend?

NK: Slaving away at a grant proposal (day job). Writing something amazing. (Hah!) Loving the nephews.

17. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

NK: There’s a happy place between grey and indigo that really does it for me. Worst is neon orange.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

NK: I worked for a concert promoter one summer back in college, and they threw a kids festival. I helped other college kids get into these massive cartoon character outfits, drove them out to the festival grounds in a golf cart, picked them up after they’d been at it for a while, and then tried to revive them from heat exhaustion before they had to put the outfit back on and go out again.

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

NK: Fear

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

NK: Since “his death” has already been taken, I’ll change it up: A deep and enduring sense of remorse.

Nathan Kotecki has a degree in architecture, has DJ’d at the largest goth club in New York City, and has shown mixed-media artworks in a gallery in Chelsea. (Two and a half of those things are true.) Nathan lives in North Carolina.

Previous Q&As may be found HERE.

The Suburban Strange Tumblr

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Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Tony Abbott

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have TONY ABBOTT, author of the novel Lunch-box Dream, Firegirl, and The Postcard. (See below for purchase links.)

1. Rename yourself.

TA: Sandoval Harper

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

TA: “It’s time.”

3. Give us an A+ summer song.

TA: “‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” [Youtube]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

TA: Falling off my bike and landing on my hands

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

TA: Charles Mingus (double bass), Ginger Baker (drums), Norah Jones (vocal and guitar), and Orpheus (lead guitar)

6. What was your best Halloween costume?

TA: I don’t like to dress up, though I realize that doesn’t answer your question.

7. Tell us something you built.

TA: A Nativity scene using cedar shingles when I was nine

8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

TA: A tiger

9. What do you like to grow?

TA: My lawn

10. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

TA: Stacks of books on the floor

11. How would you like those eggs?

TA: Over easy

12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

TA: The gifts

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

TA: Elbow Johnny. He battles evil with lightning-quick elbow action. His nemesis is named Nemesis, played by Truman Capote in the lost film, Elbow Johnny and Nemesis’s Sisyphus Symptoms.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

TA: I work for myself.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

TA: A wall around the yard

16. What are you up to this weekend?

TA: Answering interview questions

17. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

TA: Comfortable: Green. Anxious: Skin color.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

TA: Dishwasher. Or plongeur, as Orwell has it.

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

TA: Censorship

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

TA: A sealed container holding manuscripts of two undiscovered Faulkner novels from the period 1929-1936

Tony Abbott (born 1952) is an American author of children’s books. His most popular work is the book series The Secrets of Droon, which includes over 40 books. He has sold over 12 million copies of his books and they have been translated into several other languages, including Italian, Spanish, Korean, French, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, and Russian. He has also written the bestseller Firegirl.

Previous Q&As may be found HERE.

Tony Abbott’s Official Site

Buy his books:

Lunch-Box Dream

IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

Firegirl

IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

The Postcard

IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

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Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Matthew Dicks

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have MATTHEW DICKS, author of the novel Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, released today, as well as Something Missing and Unexpectedly, Milo. (See below for purchase links.)

1. Rename yourself.

MD: First name Steel. Same last name. I’ve been trying to get people to use this name for years. I’ve also used David Lincoln Stock and Gunner (no last name) as aliases at times when I was younger and meeting girls in faraway places.

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

MD: Dead again?

3. Give us an A+ summer song.

MD: Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams. [Youtube]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

MD: A tie. Death following a bee sting and death following a car accident. Thankfully, neither time stuck.

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

MD: I would just bring The Beatles back together and strand all their wives and girlfriends on a desert island until they cut a few more albums.

6. What was your best Halloween costume?

MD: A baseball player. We were jumped by a group of kids and the aluminum bat came in very handy.

7. Tell us something you built.

MD: My desk. I was not able to purchase the floor model at Ikea so I had built it myself. My friend claims that I merely assembled it, but I used tools, therefore, I built.

8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

MD: I’ll stretch the rules a bit and say a Decepticon from The Transformers. One of the flying ones. I’d like to be able to get into New York City quickly, and although there are a number of fantasy creatures that fly, they’re all too slow and would not fare well in the cold and rain.

9. What do you like to grow?

MD: A third arm. Still working on it.

10. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

MD: Tackle football.

11. How would you like those eggs?

MD: Over-medium if I have toast. Scrambled if not.

12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

MD: The Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are on television every year.

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

MD: Minimalist Man. I seek to eliminate unnecessary clutter from the world. My wife is my nemesis.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

MD: Death. Short and simple. I will die someday. Nothing scarier than that.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

MD: A bulldozer.

16. What are you up to this weekend?

MD: Reading. Writing. Golf. Meeting with my book club. Playing with the kids.

17. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

MD: Black makes me feel the most comfortable. White makes me the most anxious. I’m a messy eater.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

MD: I was once paid $50 to strip down to a thong (provided by the host) for a bachelorette party being held in the crew room of a McDonald’s restaurant. Then I was paid to do the same thing again three months later (same thong).

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

MD: Name brand labels plastered all over your clothing.

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

MD: One of those automatic food machines from The Jetsons.

Matthew Dicks is a writer and award–winning elementary school teacher. His articles have been published in the Hartford Courant, and he has been a featured author at the Books on the Nightstand retreat. He is a Moth storyteller and two-time StorySLAM champion. He is the author of the novel Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend and two previous novels, Something Missing and Unexpectedly, Milo. Dicks lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife, Elysha, and their daughter Clara and son Charlie.

Previous Q&As may be found HERE.

Matthew Dicks’ Official Site

Buy his books:

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

Unexpectedly, Milo

IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

Something Missing

IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

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Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Shane Jones

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have SHANE JONES, author of Daniel Fights a Hurricane, released this week, and Light Boxes. (See below for purchase links, along with a Daniel Fights a Hurricane book trailer.)

1. Rename yourself.

SJ: Jocular Ford.

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

SJ: Not sure.

3. Give us an A+ summer song.

SJ: The only thing I think of when I read this question is that song that goes “summer summer summer time, summer time…” which is Will Smith maybe?  [Youtube]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

SJ: I’ve been really lucky. I’ve never had stitches or broken any bones. When I was a teenager I remember crashing my mountain bike into a tree. I can still see the moment where the right handlebar hit the tree, and I can still feel the fear when I flew over the handlebars and landed on my back. Wind-knocked out of me, I remember lying on the dirt path trying to breathe in the middle of the woods.

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

SJ: Oh, wow. I’d like four identical versions of David Byrne at different ages on the same stage. Like David Byrne age 15, age 35, age 45, and age 60. I’d like to see them looking at each other and interacting with each other. This may or may not be a music video already.

6. What was your best Halloween costume?

SJ: Robo-Cop when I was a little kid. My father and mother spent weeks on it. The legs and arms were these plastic pipes spray painted silver and like molded around my arms and legs. The mask was really expensive. The gun was from my laser tag set.

7. Tell us something you built.

SJ: Tree fort when I was maybe twelve years old. It’s a sentimental and sappy story I’ll probably tell kids when I’m nuts and super old, but the entire neighborhood kind of came together to build this really elaborate tree fort in my backyard. There were different levels and balconies and something called a “Yo board” which was a board that bounced up and down and was painted with the word Yo in dull orange. Eventually it got so out of control that a neighbor, a man who looked like a giant bird and who loved to use a leaf-blower while shirtless, complained and we had to tear it down. Building it was really fun, but breaking it apart was amazing.

Daniel Fights a Hurricane8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

SJ: I first thought sloth. But they are a bit creepy. Can you imagine waking up and a sloth is slowly crawling across you? I don’t know. Probably just a huge fucking pig that fills an entire bedroom.

9. What do you like to grow?

SJ: Crack cocaine motherfucker!

10. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

SJ: That’s a really good question. I’m thinking hard about it. I guess I love my personal mind/dream/space where I go and think up ideas. Who else would love that? It’s egotistical and selfish and doesn’t make any money. But I love it. I love sitting and thinking and going deeper and deeper into my mind, digging around for ideas. I don’t know anyone who loves that.

11. How would you like those eggs?

SJ: I usually say scrambled. But scrambled can get boring. Maybe over-easy. A nice pair of over-easy eggs. That sounds really nice.

12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

SJ: I actually really like The Fourth of July. I don’t know why exactly. There’s something so disgustingly patriotic and beautifully ridiculous about that holiday. The drunkenness, our sad country celebrating for the sake of celebrating, the fireworks, the lotioned skin of people, the grilling of cheap meat. It’s somehow the best holiday and worst holiday simultaneously.

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

SJ: I don’t know.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

SJ: I’m alive.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

SJ: Gold coin filled room Scrooge McDuck style.

Light Boxes

16. What are you up to this weekend?

SJ: My sister is going to her high school prom. So I’m going to visit my parents and see her and take pictures and stuff and just be a supportive brother.

17. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

SJ: Blue makes me feel comfortable. Red would be the most anxious. That answer seems pretty boring.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

SJ: I worked as a lifeguard at a really shitty motel when I was 19. This was a place just filled with alcoholics, deadbeat fathers, drug addicts, people killing themselves in their $40 a night rooms, etc. It was amazing. I remember one guy, out of his mind, at the pool wearing black shorts. He had long black hair and wore sunglasses. All over his body he had written in black ink about how he was a pilot. Like, he had written types of planes, engine details, ways to fly from one airport to the next, etc. That was strange. I let him swim. He went down the slide and it was like someone had just pushed down a sack of potatoes.

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

SJ: The bag of chips I just ate.

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

SJ: I don’t know. I guess just something really weird and new? A new breed of horse maybe?

Shane Jones lives in upstate New York. His first novel, Light Boxes, was originally published by Publishing Genius Press in a print run of 500 copies in 2009. The novel was reviewed widely, the film option purchased by Spike Jonze (Where The Wild Things Are, Adaptation), and the book was reprinted by Penguin Group in 2010. Light Boxes has been translated in eight languages and was named an NPR best book of the year. In August of 2012 Penguin released a new novel, Daniel Fights a Hurricane. Shane is also the author of the novella The Failure Six.

Previous Q&As may be found HERE.

Web site: Daniel Fights a Hurricane Facebook Page

Buy his books:

Daniel Fights a Hurricane

IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

Light Boxes

IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

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Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Joshua Allen

Twenty questions for authors, none about writing. Some questions are not in the form of a question. (Previous Q&As may be found HERE.)

This week we have JOSHUA ALLEN, author of Fireland.com and the Best Twitter Feed Ever.

1. Rename yourself.

JA: Gary Burrito

2. Satan hoofs up and says two words to you. What are they?

JA: Up top!

3. Give us an A+ summer song.

JA: The coda of “Rock Lobster” where they’re doing marine life sound effects and the guitar gets ominous like a late night party in some stranger’s backyard. [YouTube]

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

JA: Probably getting my hand slammed in a car door. I don’t put myself in situations where physical harm is a possibility. Never broken a bone. My one scar is from when I sliced off a little part of my finger while peeling a peach. I am hardly even a man at this point.

5. Form a supergroup using any four musicians, living or dead, that would be thoroughly awesome to experience, for better or worse.

JA:  Prince, Sleigh Bells, Animal from The Muppets.

6. What was your best Halloween costume?

JA: SIGH! I already wrote about it here!

7. Tell us something you built.

JA: A scale model of a castle complete with turrets made out of coffee cans, a working drawbridge made out of tongue depressors and dental floss, and a blacksmith’s fire made of red and orange cellophane. This was like third grade, right before I decided it’d be easier to just write things.

8. If you could safely have one non-domesticated animal as a lifelong companion, what would it be? (Fantasy creatures are allowed.)

JA: A gay centaur. Is that redundant? A centaur. Regular centaur.

9. What do you like to grow?

JA: Luxuriant ear hair, evidently.

10. Name a thing you love that nobody else you personally know also loves.

JA: Sinbad. The comedian, I mean.

11. How would you like those eggs?

JA: Harvested for $$$

12. What’s the worst thing about your favorite holiday?

JA: Nothing. On Opposite Day! Which is not my favorite holiday. Or is it?? No.

13. You’ve just been turned into a lousy superhero. Who are you, and who is your nemesis?

JA: Quiet Man, who uses his power of Silent Glaring whenever Loud Man whips out his WOOHOO ray.

14. Name a thought that has profoundly scared you in the night.

JA: I’m going to die of a heart attack before accomplishing anything worthwhile in this life.

15. You’re stinking rich. What’s the first thing you add to your home?

JA: Fancy cocaine.

16. What are you up to this weekend?

JA: Normal cocaine + Bejeweled marathon.

17. Which color makes you feel the most comfortable? The most anxious?

JA: This one time I looked at a bottle of the Sea Minerals scent of Method hand soap and, no joke, thought: That is the most beautiful of all the colors. I guess Pink Grapefruit makes me the most anxious.

18. What is the strangest job you ever had?

JA: Dealing with complaints about porn that old people found on the internet. Also the best job I ever had.

19. I mean honestly: aren’t you better off living without ___?

JA: Caring.

20. James Cameron discovers something new at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What do you hope it is?

JA: Alien from The Abyss to be my lifelong companion! Forget what I said about the centaur.

Joshua Allen writes increasingly short stories on the internet.

Web site: Official Author Site and Fireland Twitter

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