Friday, September 13, 2013

I am a value meal.

I don't eat fast food unless I have to, but a lot of people do. No judgment, I believe in free will. I'm more of a burrito truck kind of guy, myself. Actually, I eat a lot of bananas. Cheap, those delightful yellow tubes. But this is not about burritos or bananas. This is about a question that I face on a daily basis. A question many of my fellow writers face on a daily basis. Am I or what I create worth less than a value meal?! Seriously? 

OK, so here's the deal. I write several short stories and usually an article or two a week. I don't get paid for any of it. What I DO get paid for is the novels I write. And occasionally, my collection of short stories gets snapped up. I'm always a little afraid when it does. It's like seeing a snake in your living room. Cool, but disconcerting.

Sorry. Value meal. So, I haven't been in a while, but I'm guessing that a meal (of processed, disgusting "food") from the value menu runs you around $5, depending on whether you want to 'supersize', or 'go large', or 'contract diabetes', or basically take advantage of any of the value meal options. I watch people with their bags from McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, whatever walk by my window all day long. While I eat a banana and a piece of turkey plain. Because I like my organs. But also because that is what I can afford. Which brings us to the point. Despite the optimism of the title, I am worth less than a value meal.

All my novels are $3.99. I don't pressure anyone to "supersize it" (although I could add those ten thousand words I axed back in if you want). This is not a guilt trip. It is, hopefully, a realization for those who enjoy reading and the idea of literature as an art form.

My books are good. I'm no Michael Chabon, but I can hold my own. That's bragging if you want to see it that way. I don't. It takes me about eight months to write a novel. It costs money to have it edited. It costs money to have it formatted. I read the thing at least 50 times, myself. When I am done with the eight months of bliss, misery, happiness, and insane frustration that writing a novel entails, I have a product. A product that costs less than the processed "foods" many people eat every day. Hell, my novels would be the cheapest things on most value menus.

Now, you might be thinking that I'll bitch about how more people should buy my books and blah, blah, blah. I'm not going to do that. I simply want you to think that there are TONS of great authors whose work can be had for the price of a latte, a value meal, a six pack, a bottle of wine, a pack of smokes, and on and on.

It is an interesting time to be a writer and a hard time not to be a bitter writer. People go to movies they know they are not going to like for the price it would take to pick up a few independently published books. People go to the movies every weekend. I know a lot of "our generation's" finest writers who can barely pay their rent. This says something about all of us. Something that should make learned people sad.

Here is a good example of what I mean. I wrote a piece in a collaboration called "Seasons" with my friends (all excellent writers) David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, and Jo-Anne Teal. It is a tale told in four short stories. It's a pretty dope piece of work. We priced it at 99 cents and decided to donate the proceeds to suicide prevention. We've sold enough copies to buy the suicide prevention folks lunch - maybe, as long as they don't get all uppity and order off the value menu. But here's the messed up part. On my fiction blog,, my contribution to "Seasons" is my "most read post". Same with Antrobus last time I checked. In the last three months, it has been read 895 times. That's a chunk of change that could be doing some good.

See, before we published it, we wrote the pieces on our individual blogs. So, a thousand-ish people have gone to each or our blogs to read the rough draft/original pieces instead of contributing 99 cents to a good cause. THAT blows my mind. Not on an ego level. On a human decency level.

But let's get back to the value meal. My books are all priced at $3.99. I think that's pretty darn fair. But other people don't. People who will spend $5 on sandwich that is consumed and forgotten  in 15 minutes blanche at spending $4 on a book. Not just my book. Lots of people's books. This ain't just about me.

There are not as many people who like to read as there are people who like to eat cheeseburgers. I get that. But this is a disturbing trend when it comes to e-books. People want them. But they want them for free. Or for a dollar. Someone has to write em, though. And they'll probably write better (and MORE) if they aren't delirious from hunger or worried about paying the health insurance bill.

Again, this is not intended to be a guilt trip. I took a walk with my girls the other day and there were a bunch of kids selling lemonade for $1 a cup. They probably made more in that day then I make in a week. So, no guilt trip - I swear, I just want to put it out there. What we need to think about is "value for money". A book is something you can escape into. The entertainment can last for days, even weeks - a lifetime - depending on the book and the type of reader. Why should readers expect to spend less than five bucks for something that took almost a year of blood, sweat and tears to create?

Now, maybe this is just the death of "literature" as we know it. And that's fine. Things change. Traditionally published writers are bummed because indie writers undersell them, but we set our own prices. And we set them cheap. Because, fair or not, we are on the value menu.

Now, BIG STRETCH, think back, if you're old enough, to what eating a burger, fries, and a shake meant before value menus existed. Did we pay a little more? Maybe. Did it take longer? Hell yeah. Was the food better? You bet your ass.

If you have read this far, you probably care about the state of reading and writing. I do. And it's not looking good for a lot of people (and I'm not sure people connect the dots). I think eventually we'll punch through to the other side, but it will take a while. All revolutions take a long time and leave many casualties. This one won't be any different. I don't know what to do about it except to keep on writing. And try to sell a few books now and again. That's all any writer, "value meal" or not, can do. In the mean time, readers are getting a heck of a deal. No side of fries, though. But zero calories unless you know something about the Kindle I don't know.

If you feel like checking out any of the authors above, all you have to to is click. If you want to see my books: CLICK HERE.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ruth Jacobs - 'Soul Destruction'

Ruth Jacobs writes a series of novels entitled Soul Destruction, which expose the dark world and the harsh reality of life as a call girl. Her debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, was released on 29 April 2013 by Caffeine Nights. Ruth studied prostitution in the late 1990s, which sparked her interest in the subject. She draws on her research and the women she interviewed for inspiration. She also has firsthand experience with many of the topics she writes about such as post-traumatic stress disorder, rape, and drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to her fiction writing, Ruth is also involved in non-fiction for her charity and human rights campaigning work in the areas of anti-sexual exploitation and anti-human trafficking. This is her second visit. You can read her first HERE.

Soul Destruction: Unforgivable
Enter the bleak existence of a call girl haunted by the atrocities of her childhood. In the spring of 1997, Shelley Hansard is a drug addict with a heroin habit and crack psychosis. Her desirability as a top London call girl is waning.

When her client dies in a suite at The Lanesborough Hotel, Shelley’s complex double-life is blasted deeper into chaos. In her psychotic state, the skills required to keep up her multiple personas are weakening. Amidst her few friends, and what remains of her broken family, she struggles to maintain her wall of lies.

During this tumultuous time, she is presented with an opportunity to take revenge on a client who raped her and her friends. But in her unbalanced state of mind, can she stop a serial rapist?

Extract from Soul Destruction: Unforgivable by Ruth Jacobs

Chapter One - The Dead John

“There’s only one kind of dead, the not moving and the not breathing kind, and that’s the kind of dead he is.” Despite her hysteria, Shelley Hansard tried to whisper on the phone from The Lanesborough.

“Not necessarily.” Marianne’s voice squeaked down the line. “Just because things seem a certain way, it doesn’t mean they are.” 

“Sometimes it does. Sometimes things are exactly as they seem – and right now, this is one of those fucking times.” Shelley sat rocking on the edge of the bed in the Regency-styled suite. “I’m telling you, he fucking died on me.”

“You’re not a doctor. You can’t go around pronouncing people dead.” 

“If you don’t believe me, get off the line and I’ll call someone else.” 

“Don’t you dare. You don’t tell anyone. Do you understand? You come straight here.” Marianne grunted. “Have you got the money?” 

“What the fuck does that matter now?” A hot tear landed on Shelley’s thigh. 

“Get a grip, Kiki. Start acting like a professional.” 

Fighting the urge to look at the motionless body spread-eagled next to her, Shelley pushed herself up from the bed. Her neatly folded suit lay by her feet. She stood, staring down, burrowing her toes into the plush carpet. She knew she should get dressed, but clean clothes didn’t belong on skin that felt unclean. 

Taking a step towards the bathroom, she felt unbalanced. Her legs shuddered and her backside hit the floor. Reunited with her brown, pinstripe suit, she reached for her skirt. With trembling hands, she dragged it towards her. Shuffling on her back, she shimmied into it. Her fingers grappled with the hook and eye. Making a hasty exit was important, but making an exception to her rule was impossible. She couldn’t do it.

She managed to stand but, stepping out of her skirt, she collapsed again. Pressing down on the carpet with her palms, she tried to lever herself back up. Her jolting arms gave way. The last limbs to surrender to the convulsionary rhythm that had overtaken the rest of her. 

She didn’t have control over her body. Instead, she had a helpless feeling of being completely powerless. The rush to leave the hotel and the corpse was over. As a periodic convulsionist, she knew the beat could monopolise her for hours. She just had to wait. She knew what to expect. Soon she’d be gone.


On regaining consciousness, her shaking had reduced. She staggered to the walnut bureau where earlier she’d left her handbag, took out her mobile and checked the time: nearly midnight. Two hours lost to another world. 

Slipping the mobile back inside her cream handbag, she shut her eyes, realising what she’d done. She’d called Marianne from the phone in the hotel suite. Under the circumstances, that wasn’t the phone she should have used. 

After a shower, with hair wet, she dripped a track back to the bed. She dressed, trying not to look to her right but as she buttoned her jacket, she couldn’t help it. She breathed in deeply, as if inhalation through her nose would draw the tears back through her ducts from whence they’d sprung. 

Quietly, she said aloud, “God bless you.” 

What was his name? She tried to remember. She couldn’t. She didn’t know him, not in a real sense, only biblically. The last few hours they’d spent fornicating, high on a combination of crack and GHB. In the midst of proceedings, he’d complained of a chest pain. So, when he asked her to make him another pipe, she refused. On gently reminding her who was paying for the evening, and whose desires were to be met, he took the crack pipe from her hands and on the ash-covered foil, prepared himself a rock. The rock that would emerge to be the last ever smoked by the late, greying-blond john. 

“Come to me, you... you... you nymph,” he said, beckoning to her as he exhaled his final pipe. “Come over here and pleasure me— my penis. I mean, pleasure my penis. Would you, with your mouth, please?” The client reclined on the bed, unaware that his last words had just been spent on a bungled request for fellation. And from a young woman whose name he didn’t know – at least, not her real name. 

Some time in, Shelley became aware that the penis in her mouth was lifeless. She stopped to look up and saw the fixed expression on his face. It wasn’t changing. He wasn’t moving. He looked like a waxwork from Madame Tussauds. 

“What are you doing?” she asked, prodding his chest. “Stop fucking around,” she shouted through the hairs in his ear. 

After a vigorous shaking failed to extract even the slightest reaction, she put her fingers under his nostrils. He wasn’t breathing. That was when she called Marianne.


From the console table, Shelley removed the remaining rocks. She wrapped them inside clingfilm then stashed them in her cigarette box. She dismantled the crack pipe. The smaller parts – elastic band, tin foil, broken biro – she put in her handbag. The abused mini Evian bottle, she put in her small suitcase. 

Crouched down by the side of the mahogany bed, she methodically repacked her work paraphernalia. Two vibrators, one black strap-on dildo, handcuffs and another set of underwear were all she’d taken out her case. 

Inside a crystal jar on the bathroom shelf, she found cotton wool. She wetted half a dozen pieces and, in the absence of eye makeup remover, added hand lotion. She scrubbed at the black around her eyes and the dark-grey lines that streaked her face. To stop her bloodshot eyeballs burning, she splashed them repeatedly with cold water.

Her face clean and dry, she evened the tone with powder foundation. On the blank canvas, she swirled pink blush on the cheeks, brushed black mascara through the blonde lashes and drew a line of black on the upper eyelids. To finish, she painted red on the lips, perfectly matching this week’s manicure. 

After drying her hair, she was ready to leave. She scanned the room, checking she hadn’t left anything behind. Suddenly, she thought of fingerprints. She ran into the bathroom and grabbed a towel. 

Keeping her head turned away from the dead john, she wiped down the telephone on the bedside table. Next to the phone stood a champagne flute – red lip prints on the rim – the one from which she’d drunk a Buck’s Fizz. She picked it up inside the towel and polished it. 

Flitting around the suite, she cleaned the bedside tables, the console table, the bureau, and everything else from the headboard to the ornaments in case she’d touched something unknowingly. In the bathroom, she wiped down the marble surfaces and glass shelves. Remembering the cotton wool in the bin, she fished out the blackened, wet balls and dropped them down the toilet. She flushed, watching them disappear. Then she flushed again to make certain they were gone. She wiped the cistern handle before throwing the towel in the bath.  

Turning to leave, she looked in the mirror. The feeling that someone had put a stitch in her upper lip and was tugging at the thread looked as strange in her reflection as it felt on her face. This delayed after-effect didn’t always occur but when it did, it always outlasted the shakes – sometimes by a day or a few, other times by months. However, on judging the catalytic incident – and considering the tsunami convulsion was already a weak breaker – there was a chance she’d be restored to an untwitching state in time for tomorrow night’s dinner.  


Shelley stood in the hallway, closing the hotel room door behind her. Waiting for the lift, she brushed her fingers through her thick, blonde hair. Though freshly washed and dried, that didn’t stop its tendency to knot. Also knotted was her stomach. She pulled it in with a deep breath and raised her shoulders, standing straight, and taller than her natural five-foot and six-inches in her high stilettos. 

Chameleon-like, she was adept at entering and exiting hotels at all times of the day and night without drawing attention. To blend in, she gave the impression of a guest, wearing business attire and carrying a case. She appeared to know the way to the lifts, and when she didn’t, she could feign it. 

Indelibly stamped in her memory was the floor plan of her exit, even though this was only her third visit to The Lanesborough. She hadn’t had to rely on it as often as The Hilton, The Dorchester or The Four Seasons – the Park Lane hotels to which she was most often called – but The Lanesborough was stored with The Ritz, The Savoy, Claridges and numerous other London hotels she worked in less frequently.

With the air of confidence she’d mastered in faking, she strutted across the main hall. Tunnel vision for the grand exit. Her heart pounding so hard in her chest, as if preparing for its own escape, was disregarded. 

She’d just made it into the drizzle outside when a low voice called out from behind her, “Good night, madam.”  

The uniformed porter startled her, but her calm exterior remained intact and she replied, “Good night,” without a backward glance.


Approaching her Mercedes on Grosvenor Crescent, Shelley muddled through her handbag to find the key. She heard a banging noise. In fright, she looked up and down the street. It was devoid of people.

She opened the driver side door of her vintage 350SL. Keeping both feet on the pavement, she sat down sideways on the low seat. Then, with knees together, she lifted her legs, rotated her body ninety degrees and slipped her feet into the footwell. She believed this was the proper way for a lady to enter a sports car. Although she didn’t feel like a lady, she maintained an outward appearance that was contrary to her internal turmoil. 

Locked in, with her case and handbag on the passenger seat, she leant across to open the glove box. She took out a tatty, pink sponge meant for cleaning the windscreen. From a cavity inside the sponge, she drew out a white envelope. Sliding her hand underneath her skirt, she reached for her earnings tucked safely under the elasticated rim of her hold-ups. She counted out two-hundred pounds and put that in her purse. The remainder, she put in the white envelope, shoved the envelope back inside the sponge, and returned the sponge to its home in the glove box. 

She looked out of her window. No one was there. She checked her rear view mirror. There was no one behind. Where were the voices coming from? Sometimes she heard voices in her head, but not these ones. There was one low and one higher pitched voice. The conversation was unintelligible, but something was funny. They were laughing. Now the voices were getting louder, getting closer. A screech pierced through her. Her head twisted brusquely to the side. Her neck felt whiplashed.

In the middle of a terrace, a young couple were kissing. The man was positioning the woman against the white-stuccoed wall of a townhouse. They didn’t seem to notice Shelley in her car. Their Friday night was happening somewhere else. Another world. A world that Shelley no longer lived in, nor did she want to. Her experience of that world had propelled her into the one she inhabited now, and though she didn’t care for her new world, she’d acclimatised to it. The emotional shutdown she’d acquired had brought her there and it left her stranded. 

Robotically, she turned the key in the ignition, switched on the headlights, put the car into drive, checked her mirrors and pulled out of the tight space. She drove towards Chelsea, where Marianne lived off the King’s Road, not far from The Lanesborough at Hyde Park Corner.  

At the first set of red traffic lights, she dipped her hand into the side pocket of the door and blindly selected a CD. The Hue and Cry - Bitter Suite album calmed her for a moment, until she began worrying about her earlier mistake. What would Marianne say if she found out Shelley called her from the hotel phone and not her mobile? At twenty-one years of age, and after nearly three years of working, she should have known better.

Further information and contact details:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An interview with Richard Godwin.

NOTE: Richard Godwin is a good friend and an amazing writer. I basically asked him to do this interview so I could throw him off his insanely prolific path for a second. I don't think it worked. Godwin is a must read for lovers of the horrific served with a side of literary genius.


Fiction is a malleable, play-state of the mind. If we can accept this notion as writers, are we prepared to accept the inevitable capacity for self-devastation this invites? Or is the premise false? How easily do you excuse what your writing demands?

I refuse to accept any premises when it comes to fiction. Novels are so many things, they are genre and hybrid, they are narrative and innovation. If you look at the huge range of novels in literary history, and how similar or dissimilar they are, it shows you quite clearly that literature exists beyond the kind of deductive reasoning so often wrongly applied to writing. How similar or dissimilar are Tristram Shandy and The Godfather? They are both telling a story but in such different ways they throw any attempt at the kind of definition that industries need out of the window. And that may be the problem for publishing. It has made quantitative decisions and assessments of something qualitative. Writing and reading are subjective. Publishing attempts to create a body of profit from a model of understanding that is based on profit while attempting to ensure quality, but it derives its definitions of quality from often internally appointed arbiters of taste in the form of reviewers who habitually fail to understand the books they are reviewing. This is clearly illustrated by the countless examples of classics now established as such by history that were slated by reviewers when they came out. This approach by the industry is ultimately an insult to the public.

I think the second part of your question only applies to someone who has a tenuous grip on their identity and reality. If someone is going to self-destruct they are going to do it anyway regardless of whether they are a writer or a plumber.

I do not accept that you have to write what you know. That is one school of thought but as with many schools of thought its adherents limit understanding. I make things up. I write narratives. Doing so may be an attempt to create order or it may equally be a matter of subverting existing structures. We play with paradigms and with the way we look at the world. There is also the problem of PC patrolling the fringes of writing. It has no place there and never did.

Literature can never serve a political agenda. If you look at the kind of art created by the Third Reich or Stalinist Russia, it was not art; it was merely a manifesto. Writers have always been subversive. No excuses need to be made for it.

I agree with you completely regarding the issue of subjectivity. I also agree that 'write what you know' is the worst advice you could ever give a fiction writer. I've never understood it, but perhaps I am taking it too literally. Obviously, fiction writers don't write what they know all the time. Science fiction would not exist, nor would any of our novels (as I assume you've never killed anyone). I am anti-censorship as well. Can you make a case for selective censorship or do you believe in complete creative freedom? And why? What effect does it have on us as writers and people?

The first thing to say about censorship is that censorship of writing is different to other media. So my answer applies purely to writing. The short answer to your question is no. While there are a few themes I would not touch as a writer nor wish to read about, they are few. I believe if you look at the history of censorship where literature is concerned then we have the ridiculous ban on Lady Chatterley's Lover as an example of how dumb the establishment is when it comes to the arts. Add to that the furor over The Last Exit To Brooklyn, it is salutary to note that the case marked a turning point in British censorship laws.

The things that can be learned from it are that people who do not read have a parochial moral agenda they wish to inflict on others. Hollywood is a good example of censorship. Show as much violence as you want but be careful of sex. That is an interesting concept if you bring social engineering into it. The mentality is let’s make killers and stop everyone fucking because sex is dangerous.

Frank Zappa famously said the campaign that led to the absurd warnings that appeared on CDs in the 80s "was generated by a group of bored Washington housewives." "Who are these select few who have decided what we will or will not listen to?" he said.

And that is a good point. Who judges?  Writers need to be free to explore. If people don't want to read it, then don’t buy it. Then there are the prurient moral crusaders who go looking for things to complain about. They need to be incarcerated with a group of censors.

The notion of the 'harm' that results from exposure to sexual themes v. violent ones has always baffled me. I mean, you can't show sex on TV, but some of the violence and gore is so extreme (I don't watch it. I have a weak stomach for images, not so much for words). How do you think this bizarre stance plays out in society? And what would be the effect if we embraced sexuality and demonized violence?

I think sex is business and I don't mean porn. Religion uses sex all the time for business. The Pope advises AIDS bearing nations not to use contraception and takes a stand on morality. Just think how warped that is.

Wilhelm Reich may have gone a bit barmy but he did stand up to fascism and devised a good working theory based on orgasms. What is wrong with pleasure? Nothing, unless you have a pain principle built into it. And that is at the root for the sex haters - their pain principle is embedded in their sexual drives. If an entire industry encourages violence it is arguable it is in the sweating hands of the war mongers. 

Generalizations are dangerous, but let's make some. Are writer's narcissists?  Do you feel that there is an element of narcissism in all creative ventures?

I will resist the generalization. There is an inherent danger of narcissism in writing but not necessarily more so than in many fields. Narcissism is a prevalent modern condition. Interestingly, in the middle ages, authors did not put their names next to their works. The Pearl poet is anonymous, we do not know who wrote Njal’s Saga. The concept of writing was different then. And I think that shows that consciousness has changed. It does not apply simply to writing. I think it depends on the writer. Is there narcissism in writers? Yes, but not more so than in an actor or a politician or many other areas.

How would you feel about publishing anonymously? Is recognition an important piece? I find that many writers claim it isn't, but not too many publish anonymously.

I am not sure my publisher would like that. Recognition is important to people in many ways but I do not think it is the same thing as narcissism.

Certainly, your publisher would not like it. How, then, do you feel that the desire for recognition differs from narcissism?

Recognition is the identification of something previously known or understood. Narcissism is an extreme and pathological form of vanity based on an addictive need for constant self-gratification to the point where people become your mirror.

I have painted an extensive portrait of narcissism in my novel Mr. Glamour. The beautiful wealthy people in it only see themselves in each other. They are incapable of appreciating that anyone else exists. But the killer changes that.

How do you think your writing would be different if you had been born and raised in the US? Or would it?

I don't think it would make any difference at all.

You are extremely prolific. I know this is the most boring question to be asked in an interview, but I have to know...what is your writing schedule like?

I write every day.

Your characters are real and flawed. Your stories bleed. There is a delicacy to your prose that makes the darkness...deeper. How important is this juxtaposition in conveying your stories?

Juxtaposition is everywhere. Stylistically I think it conveys the ambiguity of the situations I am writing about, and it engages the reader.

The literary world is changing. E-books and self publishing are big game changers. It seems that people are reading more than they used to...perhaps that is wishful thinking. How do you envision the future of literature and publishing?

I think in many ways people are reading less because they want shorter forms. I think the big publishers are struggling to contain the situation largely created by Amazon. They have been dragged before the US Supreme Court for price fixing and rightly so. I think it is going to become extremely interesting.

Apostle Rising provides an interesting commentary on religion and its hypocrisies. What role will religion play on a global level in the centuries to come? Will we (the collective we) shed the trappings of our mythologies or become more didactic in defending them?

Religion will need to use alternative mythologies to stay abreast of the technological revolution.

Identity is being subverted.

Art is the only thing that can reverse that.

I refer you to The Mustard Man.

Thank you, Richard, for the opportunity to pick your brain. If you are not yet a fan of Godwin’s work, I highly recommend you rectify that unfortunate happenstance.

Richard Godwin is the author of crime novels Mr. Glamour and Apostle Rising and is a widely published crime and horror writer. Mr. Glamour is his second novel and was published in paperback in April 2012 by Black Jackal Books. It is available online at Amazon and at all good retailers. Mr.Glamour is Hannibal Lecter in Gucci. The novel is about a glamorous world obsessed with designer labels with a predator in its midst and has received great reviews.  Apostle Rising, in which a serial killer crucifies politicians, is available everywhere books are sold. It is also available for the first time as an E-Book with some juicy extras, an excerpt from Mr. Glamour and four deliciously dark Noir stories, like the finest handmade chocolate.

He is an active member of the CWA and HWA.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rich Meyer - Self-proclaimed 'Harbinger of CHAOS'

Rich Meyer is a friend of mine and a damn solid individual. He is also a fantastic writer. He is also one of the funniest bastards I know. And he knows a lot of useless shit. You’ll see.

Rich, you’re legitimately fucking funny. One of the most ‘natural’ funny people I know. Here’s an opportunity to say something that probably won’t live up to the build up I just provided. Go for it, funny man.

A man walks into a bar. He says “Ow!”

You know I don’t work well under pressure, you bastich!

JD, here. That wasn't the most auspicious start, but knowing Rich, I would guess that the answer is an anagram for "JD, you stupid fucker. Enjoy the cookies I'll be sending you. Eat three at least."

I know you love comics. For whatever reason, I never got into comics. I loved Tom Swift and the Hardy Boys and whatnot…I’ve often wondered why I didn’t get into comic books. What’s your theory, and why did you? (Girls, right?)

I think you were probably a bit more gregarious as a kid than I was – I’ve always been a geek and borderline nerd, so that’s probably why you picked actual books over comics. I read a lot of Tom Swift myself at least 4th grade, though I never got into the Hardy Boys. I do have to admit that Nancy Drew’s issue of Playboy was pretty damn sweet.

I got into comics, I think, because they were a cheap way for my mom to make me shut up. Plus, I was a sickly youngster, in that I was in the hospital for months at a time – almost died a couple of times from high fevers brought on by earaches, pneumonia, and a rather nasty reaction to the rubella vaccine. Every day my mom or my grandfather would visit me, I’d end up getting a new comic book. I’d usually end up leaving the hospital with a HUGE stack of comics. Comics were the major way I learned to read. I remember having library consisting of a Fireball XL-5 Little Golden Book, a hardcover copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and comic books out the wazoo.

I'm sorry, I was thinking about the shenanigans my gregarious friends and I used to get up to. Stealing cigarettes was easier than stealing comics now that I think about it.

What authors are you currently excited about?

I don’t necessarily read a lot of newer authors. I’ll re-read anything by Bill Burroughs or Hunter Thompson if the mood strikes. Conan Doyle and Dickens are my favorite classic writers. Among current indies, I really like Alan Hutchinson, William Meikle, C.J. West, and George Shirer. I still haven’t gotten around to reading your books or those of that woman Laurie Boris (but I will; you both scare me because you’re too fucking good). I also think Donna Dillon and Stephanie Myers have a lot of potential, from the books that I’ve read. I’m sure there are loads of other folks that I’m forgetting and will be un-Friended by as soon as this is posted. Remember folks, I remember minutia … but nothing that’s actually useful in the real world.

Although we both managed to remember to post this shit, which is a fucking miracle. You SHOULD be scared of me and Laurie. We've been plotting. I won't divulge the details, but there is a hairless cat, some vegetable oil, and butane involved. 

If you could use your super powers to render ONE author incapable of ever writing again, who would it be?

Oooh, toughie. There are so many that go up and down in quality as they get older and lazier. I think I gotta go with Stephenie Meyer; I’ve honestly tried to read her books and they just fall flat. I have to agree with the Stephen King comparison in which Harry Potter is about overcoming adversity and Twilight is just about getting a boyfriend.  Maybe kids need different inspirations than they did in my day, but that series is just so bland. And sparkling vampires are the root of all evil in the world today.

You know I agree with this. I'd also go with whoever writes the pamphlets for the Westboro Baptist Church.

I like Captain America, but that is some serious propaganda, ain’t it?

It used to be, back when he was walloping Hitler and Mussolini. But after some stuff in the seventies when Cap got to watch Nixon commit suicide (which was one of the best damned comic book stories in history), he had a couple of decades where he wasn’t quite as jingoistic; he was just a guy in a mask with a fancy shield. Now that they’ve brought Bucky Barnes back … fucking Bucky – the one goddamned link that comic books had to reality in that someone died and stayed fucking dead -- and killed him again, Cap is pretty much a sad joke and will remain that way no matter how they revamp him..

I SAID there would be no discussion of 'fucking Bucky'. They had Nixon off himself? Suddenly, my balls feel like raisins. I need to see that.

I happen to think more of my cat than I do most people. I know you’re a pussy guy, too. Why? Why don’t we have pit bulls? We’re gay aren’t we?

Not last I checked. Well, last I checked myself, anyway. Oh, Sela Ward, you hot mama. Err. I can’t do the mean dog thing, since that would involve being mean to the animal. Dogs fight because of hunger, because they’re in heat, and because human beings teach them to fight. This bitch don’t do that.

I’ve got two small dogs, one of which is smaller than most of my five cats. I would have absolutely no problem owning a pit bull right now, or any particular breed, but we don’t have the room right now.

Aha, you go both ways. I'm learning here. Fuck a Bucky, I'm LEARNING.

Everyone is always kissing Laurie Boris’ ass (see previous interviews). Take her down a peg.

Oh, sweet Laurie. How I love the way the moonlight glistens off the sheen of oil on your latex suit with the intriguing cutaways as you prepare for your nightly run through the gauntlet of hoboes you have captured in your cellar, each hoping that tonight – please make it tonight – he or she will be the victor and receive their reward of slippery poignant love, followed by at long last by the hollowpoint bullet that brings freedom from life’s ills!

If you could spend one night cuddling intimately under a quilt and watching a movie with me, what movie would we watch? Would there be petting? HEAVY petting?

Hmm. Very hard choice <rimshot>. I can only narrow it down to two films:

·      Rashomon (1952), one of the single most beautifully photographed films ever made, or
·      Deliverance (1972), because you got real purty lips.

Without using any (ANY!) reference materials, tell me what a Tom Swifty is and give us three good ones.

Oh jeez. I hate having to explain things like this. I know it, but I can never put it into the right words without sounding like an idiot. I know they go something like ‘“We’ve got to get there real quick!” said Tom swiftly’ or something like that.

“Damn it, Jim! I’m a doctor not a boxer” Bones said punchily.
“I’m not taking off my hood!” Josie yelled clitorally.
“Oh Sweet Lord! My foreskin is caught in my zipper!” Fred screamed serratedly.

Not bad, but I believe all the words have to be real. Although I completely think that clitorally and serratedly should be added to the OED. "I like crack rocks," Tom said stonily. That's the shit right there. From 'Tom Swift and his Motorcycle', I believe.

You get to vaporize three people. Who are they?

1.     The guy who invented the Autotuner.  
2.     Whoever decided to bundle Windows Millennium with any computer.
3.     The person who green-lighted Highlander 2: The Quickening.

You get to bestow upon three people the credit they deserve but don’t get. Who?

1.     Frank Zappa, for being one of the last people of the 20th century to actually compose and record actual music.
2.     Douglas Adams, for being one of the three coolest people in history (the other two, for the record, are Falco and George Takei).
3.     Steve Ditko. He wouldn’t probably take the credit, but he deserves it because he’s Steve GODDAMNED Ditko.

If you had a choice: Wake up in the morning to a kick in the balls from an NFL place kicker (every morning) or punch every third person you see without offering explanation…cop, old lady, baby, it don’t matter…which do you pick?

Cops, old ladies and babies are all inherently evil, so yeah, I’ll do the punching. Am I allowed brass knuckles?

Hell yeah, you are. This is America. You can use brass knuckle DRONES.

(NO LOOKING IT UP!) Why do seagulls have red spots on their beaks?

I bet it’s to bring in the babes. You know what they say: “Big red spot, big nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more squire!”

Ouch. There is so much failure in this answer. It's almost like you didn't spend your sad, lonely childhood gregariously reading bird books voraciously to stop the torrent of self loathing. THE BABIES PECK IT TO GET FOOD...same reason I had a red dot tattooed on my lip. Pink Dot? That's entirely different and may not exist anymore, but, man, it's sweet to have a fifth of bourbon and a carton of cigarettes delivered to your door. Ah, the good old days. I don't remember them.

What books have you read in the last few years that rocked your shit?

Recent books include Boomerang by Alan Hutchison and Dawnwind Last Earthman Standing by George Shirer. Both of those are indie-written novels that surprised me beyond belief – they could’ve easily been from any “traditional” publisher. Dawnwind is actually now one of my favorite science fiction novels of all time, as it is a rare contemporary space opera.

Finally, the most boring question of all (good ending). What do you make of the ‘indie revolution’? Will it live on? Who is our Che?

Oh, yeah. It is definitely here to stay. This is both a high- and low-watermark for the first flames of the revolution, as people out there everywhere are realizing how easy it is now to publish books that matter to them. Unfortunately, a lot of those same people don’t realize how easy it is to put out complete crap. Once people start realizing that what they write has to be readable to get readers, things will even out and I think we’ll start losing a lot of the bad press that indie writers have been getting. Hopefully, we will also learn to take news and events in the industry with a grain of salt before we go off half-cocked at the slightest bit of fear-mongering.

We don’t have a Che, or any real leader yet. I know a lot of folks would say Mark Coker, but until he adopts a much less venom-filled attitude toward Amazon (y’know, the biggest bloody e-book marketplace on the planet?) he’s not really fit to be any sort of representative for independents as a whole. Will someone rise to take that position? Who knows … we could use someone or something as a point to start the groundswells of support for indies, as soon as we can reach some sort of consensus on what form that support needs to take.

The old adage that everyone has a book in them can now be realized, for good or for bad.

I agree. That is all.

Oh, and give us a trivia question for our readers. You can leave your guess in the comments, readers. I, of course, will not particpate because I know everything and it would be unfair.

Okay, I’m going to write one of the kinds of questions my trivia team would be asked in any of the big internet/radio contests we play in. Remember: Google or any other resources are definitely ALLOWED.  Here we go:

“A big screen character was seen conversing with his young daughter, who he affectionately nicknamed ‘Squirt.’ The young lady’s birthday was coming up soon. What did the young lady want for her birthday present?”

Leave your guesses in the comments, folks. I recommend you don't blow it off. Rich can do things. Computery things. Things that frighten me. And I don't frighten easil...WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT? Oh, cat's tail brushed my neck. What were we talking about?

Rich Meyer lives in the wilds of Pennsylvania with his wife Mona, two small (but vicious barking) dogs and five cats. He writes trivia quiz books for the Kindle and other e-readers, as well as being a contributor to Indies Unlimited and a volunteer with the Old Time Radio Researchers Group. 
Rich watches an ungodly number of old TV shows and bizarre movies and reads way too many comic books in order to both research his books and prepare to play in various internet/radio trivia contests. He's also working on a science fiction novel, set in a world of superheroes, and a collection of odd short stories. 
Comic Book trivia Quiz Book #3: 1,001 Comic Book Trivia Questions
The Music Trivia Quiz Book 
The Golden Age of Radio: 1,001 Questions about Old-Time Radio

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The River

I don't know Edan Aldridge. He shares a passion for pocketknives that means we end up on the same forum sometimes. A piece Edan wrote struck me, and I asked him if he would like to publish something on my blog. He promptly produced this awesomeness. Oh, and Edan is 16

The sky looked like death that day, not that it mattered much to him. He kept his eyes on the mottled gravel below his feet as he followed the meandering path down the river. The gazebos and seesaws of the WPA park that had stood there had long ago gone to seed, and the rough-hewn track that lay nestled on the bank was all the remained. He walked it slow and steady, knowing where it began, and where it ended, and what would be there to greet him.
On occasion, the long way gave him solace, but today the river path gave him no comfort. That morning he'd woken up to the same aches and bruises, as well as some new ones that had appeared after the previous night's altercation, if you could call it that. The man had made good on his drunken threat yet again and, as the boy had come to learn, there would be more to come when he got home. The home in question was a tired, cramped mill house bolted to a sparsely wooded hillside on the fringe of town. The view from the small, listing porch was disheartening at best. Off to the right, the wide, green river with it's ponderous barges and soot spewing mills wound out of sight among the hills. On the opposite bank, the sharp rim of West Virginia jutted high into the gunmetal sky. To the left of the house, the oppressed downtown clung to the flattest land that the Ohio valley had to offer and extended slightly up into the hills away from the river.  It was a dark place. He ran these scenes through his head as he walked, and managed to stay preoccupied with them until he scaled the hill and found himself standing before his blue, weathered door. He looked into the narrow front window, braced himself, and stepped into the house.

He'd never quite gotten used to the smell. It assailed him as he shut the door. The stench of cheap cigarettes, mildew, and one hopeless, worthless old man. He felt it settle on his clothes and in his hair. God, he hated that house. When he first entered, the air was still and dank, but the silence was soon fractured by the man (as long as he could remember, he'd been "the man", never much of a father) lurching up from his chair and swaggering toward the boy. Long years of practice had told him what was coming, and he ducked the initial blow. The man let go an inhuman growl, and took another swing. By then, however, the boy had run down the hall and was in his room, door shut and the homemade barricade set tightly in its slots in the door frame. He huddled on the bed, listening to the wind buffeting the outer walls, and the man battering the door with his huge fists. Eventually the barrage ceased, and the room was silent.

The young man sat pensively on the bank, examining the pistol. It was a week later, and he had two less teeth, and had decided he'd had enough. The new cut on his cheekbone had begun to heal, but his right eye was still black and both were bloodshot. It had been days since he'd had any real sleep, and he hadn't been back to the house on the hill in almost a week. After the last onslaught, instead of running to the safety of his room, he'd gone to the man's small dresser and retrieved the pistol. It was a Smith and Wesson Detective Special. The barrel was scratched and rusted in places, but the original bluing was intact in spots, the checking on the walnut grip was worn almost smooth. He palmed it, along with a small box of .38 cartridges, and ran out the door. He'd been sleeping on the path by the bridge since then, slowly eating down the $5 in his pocket and biding his time. He wanted the man to be sober for this.

The 9th dawn after his exodus was a long time coming. When it did come, he hopped on the road at the end of the bridge and followed it into town. He went past the hardware store and into the small diner next door, spending his last quarter on a cup of coffee. He drank meditatively, and, when he finished, he got up slowly and headed back to the house on the hill. He loaded the pistol carefully as he walked. Soon, he knew, there would be no more little, weathered house with its murky windows, no more endless showers to relieve himself of the stinking smoke and sweat, and no more man. At this thought, he quickened his step. Soon, he told himself. Soon.

He stood on the porch for what felt like a century. The pistol hung loosely in his right hand, hammer back, waiting. He should be up soon. And then he heard him. A faint rustling in the front room, a muffled curse, then the sound of him banging around in the small kitchen in the rear of the house. Enjoy your last meal, old man. Then the slow, steady steps. Coming from the back, growing louder and closer till they were just to the other side of the door. Then it opened, and the young man fired.

The first blast knocked the old man back into the living room. The shot had been carefully aimed, and hit him  just over his left knee. He staggered back and fell against the small couch that squatted by the foot of the stairs. The second shot hit him square in the stomach, and the next two shots hit a few inches higher and to the left. The last one caught him three inches above the right eye, and, just like that, it was all over. The young man looked at him for a moment, then rolled the body over and grabbed the wallet out of his back pocket. He went back into the kitchen, grabbed the keys and the coffee can from under the sink, and walked out of the house for the last time. The sage green Plymouth Duster cranked after the fourth try, and he rolled down the hill and toward the river. When he reached the bottom, he wound his way down the road leading toward the river, and crossed into West Virginia. The car ascended the switchbacks laboriously, until he was finally at the top of the bluff. The road kept to the edge, a thousand feet above the river. Eventually, he came to a stop, and left the car on the side of the road. He went to the edge and looked across the river into town. Only then did he look down at his hands. He had always been pale, and this made the blood look particularly fresh and nauseating as it slowly dried on his palms and under his fingernails. He wiped them on his jeans, and looked across the water again. He could see his street through the trees, and he watched as two black and white Fairlanes with bubble lights climbed toward the summit. It was then that it occurred to him that he was on borrowed time, but this didn't detract from the flood of relief. The man could never touch him again and, at least for now, he was free.

Edan Aldridge lives in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina and began writing and drawing comics at a very young age. An overwhelmingly negative response to his initial work led to a transition into songwriting. He soon tired of this as well and has been honing his craft as a writer for the past five years. He also likes to call himself a photographer, and operates the blog, "Moveable Feast." He hates cats.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Interview with LB Clark! AKA Ms. Cranky McCrankypants?

Full Disclosure: Laura is a friend of mine. And a great writer. Hence, she gets to be on my blog. Ta DA!

What's the best song ever written (no copping out, pick one)?

“Best song” can mean a lot of things – technical greatness, sales power, etc.  But for me, the best sorts of songs are those that touch something inside of you, that wrap around your heart or mind or soul and leave you changed.  There are a lot of amazing songs out in the universe that have that power, but if I have to pick one, it’s going to be Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.”  

JD, here. That is a seriously random choice. I like it. I would have gone with something by Justin Bieber.

You love music and writing, why?

You know, I think the main character from my Jukebox Heroes series, Elizabeth Morgan, explained the music thing pretty well:
“For some people, music is just noise, pleasant sound to fill up the silence or drown out what they don't want to hear. To me, it's much more than that. Music can energize me, soothe me, motivate me. Make me laugh, make me cry, make me see things in a new way. It can make me think or quiet my mind.”

With music, it’s about connecting with other people’s thoughts, experiences, and emotions.  Writing is the flipside of that: connecting by sharing my thoughts, experiences, and emotions.

So basically, I love writing and music because they allow me to connect with people, to know that others have felt and thought the same as I do, and to let others know that they are not alone in their thoughts and feelings.

As for writing about music...that’s a whole different animal.  Originally, I had this idea that I wanted to present musicians as ‘regular people’ because folks have a tendency to treat them like zoo animals.  Musicians are often adored in spite of who they are, or at least with a disregard of who they are.  They are also often despised for ‘having it made’ (the Money for Nothing myth).  So instead of playing into the mythos and the glamor and all that jazz, I make a point of pointing out the ups and downs, the good and the bad of both the musicians in my stories and of the lives they lead.

That's important, I think. A lot of people don't realize that there are many successful musicians that work tirelessly and carry their own equipment.

What makes you happy enough to drink in celebration?

Not that I’m much of a drinker, really, but I’d have to say it’s those moments when someone sends me a message on Facebook or writes a short review on Goodreads or Amazon to let me know how much they were moved by something I wrote.  I might actually, really, honestly drink in celebration if I actually graduate in May.  

You'll graduate. Then, I suggest some kind of fancy mixed drink. Like 'Thunderbird' and Sprite.

What makes you angry enough to consider injecting alcohol straight into your vein?

Dealing with my university.  Also, being treated like I am stupid or inferior.  Bitch, please.

I know people can be annoying, but injecting alcohol is crazytown. I can't believe you even suggested that.

What author do you want to stick with a pitchfork because they're so good - I'm going Chabon myself (with a pitchfork of love)?

I don’t think I want to stick anyone with a pitchfork for being good.  That doesn’t add up in my very weird brain.  But if I did want to stick someone with a pitchfork for being just that damn good, I think it might be Laurie Boris.  Reading her books always makes me feel like I need to step up my game.

The pitchfork is metaphorical, G. Really, I'd like to cuddle quietly with Chabon while he reads 'Where the Red Fern Grows' to me. And then we cry...the crying gets desperate...almost breathless...let's move on...

Do you think Indie writers will win the war of juvenile bullshit (WOJB)?

You know, I really do think we will.  And you know why?  Because we’re tenacious.  As indies, we have to be.  We have to have that rare and precious ability to just hold on to our dreams and keep plugging away, and that same bullheadedness will see us victorious in the WOJB.

We will attack in Red and Black!

What is the weirdest thing anyone has ever said to you?

People have said a lot of weird things to me.  I’ve had drunk people call me at work and say some really random shit.  But the things that strike me as really weird are those things that are so unexpected they take my breath away.  To that end, I’ve have to say the weirdest thing was said to me last April.  I had posted on my Facebook wall on what would have been my dad’s 80th birthday, and my buddy Ryan – who I barely knew at all then and have never even spoken to – told me my dad would be proud of me and that I had the kind of courage that any parent would be proud of.  I’d never seen myself as particularly courageous, but the bigger part of what made that ‘weird’ was that my dad was always, always telling me he was proud of me, even though most of the time I had no idea what there was to be proud of.  

You live in Texas. Why? In the name of God, why?

I was born in Texas.  My family and some of my friends are in Texas.  And um...I haven’t made it out yet.  Though I have to say that Galveston isn’t really like the rest of Texas, and it’s been pretty awesome living here.

Dallas frightened me. I don't want to talk about it.

If you had to punch David Antrobus in the face or kill a kitten, which would you do?

I couldn’t kill a kitten, and Antrobus wouldn’t want me to.  Besides, I hit like a girl.  I’d totally go with punching Antrobus in the face.

He would totally WANT to be punched in the face, too. (And he TAKES a hit like a girl).

What makes you want to write?

I’ve loved writing stories as far back as I can remember.  A lot of that was inspired by my teachers, who gave us writing assignments and made a point of reading aloud or posting the best ones, my mom, who instilled in me a love of reading, and my older brothers, who were always writing stories and poems and parody songs.

Honestly, though, the thing that got me writing and sharing my work was fanfiction.  I read a lot of fan fiction in a particular fandom (Harry Potter, if you must know), and some of it was brilliant.  Some of it was crap, though, and I knew I could do better.  So I did.  

Many years later, I learned that indie writers could self-publish, and so I decided to give it a try.  People liked it.  Some people loved it.  And that love, that connection, gives me a whole new reason to want to write.

Mainly, though, I have to get the stuff that’s in my head out somehow.  When I don’t write enough, my brain gets cluttered, and I turn into Ms. Cranky McCrankypants.  It’s not pretty.

I can so relate to that. Only I call myself 'Sire" or Admiral McCrankypants. But never late for dinner.

You get to vaporize three people...who are they?

See, if I was going to vaporize people, I’d probably want a time-machine first (goodbye Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and Stephenie Meyer), but without the time machine, it gets a little tougher.  I’d probably pick a state-level politician, a celebritard, and some assholish foreign dictator.  Or maybe some of the dipshits in the media (don’t get me started!).  Or maybe the next three people who cut me off in traffic.

LB Clark currently resides on Galveston Island, where she spends as much time writing as possible (when she's not being distracted by her roommates, her friends, her day job, books, or random shiny objects). She has loved both writing and music from an early age, so combining the two seemed like the thing to do. In addition to her stories in Music Speaks, LB has published three books in the same series.

When she's not busy with writing or work, LB's favorite pastimes include travel and music. Much like writing and music, she has often combined her love of music with travel, usually with her best friend and co-conspirator, Erin McGowan, by her side. The two have visited a wide array of places in order to attend concerts, including Natchitoches, Louisiana; Nashville; Orlando; and Albuquerque. The most interesting and insane adventure they undertook for the sake of music, however, was a road trip from Texas to California in the summer of 2011.

LB dreams of one day being able to combine her three big loves - travel, music, and writing- into a career. In the meantime, she'll just keep weaving her travels and love of music into her writing.
Check the books out: Amazon Page!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Interview with Laurie E. Boris!

Full disclosure: Laurie is a good friend of mine. I have friends who can't write for shit. Laurie can write for shit, so she gets interviewed. Hate the game, not the player.

What do you dislike most about doing these kinds of interviews?

I can’t hide behind that little giggle-hair-flip-cross-and-uncross-my-legs-like-Sharon-Stone thing. And often the questions are the same. “Tell us about your book.” Jeez. Like I haven’t seen that one a hundred times already.

Tell me something that you are too embarrassed to tell most people…

I read the Twilight books. Every single one of them. Of my own free will. I even paid for them. Okay, let the mockery begin.

[JD here; I am appalled.]

What writers are you jealous of?

Well, you, of course. And the guy who writes the Richard Castle books. That’s one cool gig. Also Joyce Carol Oates, because she can write three-quarters of a brilliant novel while she’s at Jiffy Lube waiting for her oil change. She writes the rest during the ride home, on an iPhone using her left foot.

[We should totally kneecap her...she's too good.]

Who would you rather spend eternity with: Mark Twain, Michael Chabon, or Sue Grafton and why?

Hard one. Twain and Grafton probably have mad survival skills. But I can talk about comic books with Michael Chabon. So I’d choose him.

[Always the pragmatist!]

You have to eat one meal for the rest of your life, day in, day out. What is it?

Pad Thai. It has a little bit of everything, and I never get tired of it.

How important is writing? How high would the stakes have to be for you to quit?

Considering the lengths I’ve gone through to continue writing despite multiple and recurring health problems, pretty darned high. It has literally saved my life. I try to repay that gift by moving heaven and earth to continue writing and “giving back” to other writers. So. Not quitting. Ever.

How is writing like the first day of school?

When I start writing a book, I don’t know any of the other kids. I don’t know who will end up being my best friend and who will try to stuff me in a locker. Everything is so big and confusing and overwhelming. Mainly I want to run away and hide in a drainage pipe.

[You just need to do more locker-stuffing yourself.]

Do you write barefoot? Why do you think I asked you this question?

Because you want to know if I’m secretly multitasking using Joyce Carol Oates’ foot-operated smartphone? Or if I wear a toe ring? The answers are no and yes.

[WRONG! That's not the reason I asked. You lose five interview points. Go back to 'When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?']

Would you rather be a super-rich, mediocre writer or an outstanding, poverty stricken writer?

I am a recovering perfectionist. Being told I’ll have to settle for mediocre at anything horrifies me to the point of cutting myself and eating my hair. Besides, if I win a Pulitzer, I can pawn it, right?

[Cool, you take the high road, I'm selling out at the first opportunity.]

What would you write if no one else could read it?

There are a few people I want to put through fictional woodchippers. One day…one day…

Have you ever smuggled illegal lollipops across international borders?

Yes, but the evidence is gone now. By the way, you owe my mother ten Euros.

[I have no idea what this is all about. But I do owe lots of people stuff.]

If you could get any one person to sit down for a day and savor your book, who would it be?

Now, I can’t mention any names, but there’s a local author, much revered, much sought-after, with about a zillion FaceTwit friends and a ton of contacts in Hollywood. When she likes a book, she will tell EVERYONE. Repeatedly. In italics. With jazz hands. But it’s really hard to get her to sit down and do anything. So that would be a major coup. Or, if this author is totally unwilling, I’d choose Oprah.

[You don't CHOOSE Oprah, lady. She chooses YOU. Tell your local author to buy 7K copies of my novels please.]

Where do you feel you are in your development as a writer?

Somewhere between a giant tree sloth and a small primate. I’m starting to become sentient, but I don’t always remember why.

Do you think Twilight gets a bad rap?

I think it does. Okay, it’s not Shakespeare. It’s not even Anne Rice. But somebody loved the idea of sparkly, vegetarian vampires enough to write a series about them; a huge audience waxes rhapsodic about the romance. It has power. It’s hard to deny that. Twilight inspired a friend’s dyslexic daughter to read for the pure enjoyment of it. So I gently make fun of it, but not too hard.

[Stop the 'Twilight' propaganda. When Stephenie Meyer interviews you, you better be pushing my books on her.]

Do you like soup? Do you feel it can compete with chewable foods?

I have an uneasy relationship with soup. It’s often disappointing, and I spill frequently. No comparison with, say, a pastrami sandwich and curly fries.

Writing is hard, what’s harder for you?

Writing a synopsis. It’s a vital part of marketing, to actually be able to articulate what your book is about, to talk about grown-up things like theme and metaphors and story arcs. But it’s so frustrating. Steam comes off the top of my head when I draft those things. Mainly because I don’t normally write tidy books with neat little plots. I would rather hand the book to someone and say, “Here. Just…just read the flippin’ thing.”

[You got that right lady. Fuck a synopsis.]

Is the creative process like a voyage or an escape?

For me, it’s an escape. I feel no pain when I write. All the lousy stuff no longer exists once I escape into a novel I’m writing. The rest of my life is like a voyage, sometimes a bad one, with big waves and seasickness and manatees that look like mermaids.

[Can you hook me up with your 'novel' connect?]

Who do you think would win in a fight between me and John Grisham and why?

Oh, he’ll totally kick your ass if you’re not careful. Just ask James Patterson. It’s that southern-gentleman lawyer thing. Those guys fight dirty. Bring a knife and hide it in your boot.

[You are wrong. I am offended. And I always have a knife.]

Why should people read your books and what will you do to them if they don’t (be as graphic as you like)?

Read my books because the dialogue is pretty good and the characters are real and honest, with heartbreaking flaws. I’ve made grown men cry. Plus if you don’t read by books, I will send JD Mader to your house and he’ll mess you up.

[It's all too true. I'll cut you.]

Laurie! Thanks for the interview. And for plugging the author that doesn't need plugging over and over and over. Read Laurie's stuff people. You won't be disappointed. She bleeds writing.

Bio: Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She is the author of three novels: The Joke's on Me, Drawing Breath, and Don’t Tell Anyone. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, cooking, reading, and helping aspiring novelists as a contributing writer and editor for She lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her illustrator husband and a lot of dust bunnies.

Links and stuff: