Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author Christopher Golden

15816406Get to know Christopher…

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN is the New York Times bestselling author of such novels as Of Saints and Shadows and The Boys Are Back in Town, among many others.  His current work-in-progress is Cemetery Girl, a graphic novel trilogy collaboration with Charlaine Harris.  He has co-written three lavishly illustrated novels with Mike Mignola, the first of which, Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was the launching pad for the Eisner-nominated, New York Times bestselling comic book series, Baltimore.  As an editor, he has worked on the short story anthologies The New Dead, The Monster’s Corner, and 21st Century Dead, among others, and has also written and co-written video games, screenplays, and a network television pilot.  His original novels have been published in more than fourteen languages in countries around the world. Visit his site here.

Let the conversation begin!

What is your worst scar? How did you get it? (Mentally or physically) 

We don’t talk about the mental ones. Physically, the worst one is from a small surgery but it’s the least interesting one. The others are more interesting. One is a small scar on the web between thumb and index finger on my right hand, which I got at the age of six or so while walking through the Massachusetts State House with a friend of my father’s. My dad was a State Representative and so was this friend of his, Bobby Donovan. You could smoke anywhere in those days and Bobby was walking me back to my father’s office, cigarette dangling in his hand.  You can see where this is going.  The ash stuck to my flesh and the burn was tiny but nasty enough that it’s still there now, almost forty years later. 

How did you choose the genre you write in? 

I write in several, but I didn’t choose them. They chose me. Silly, I know, but true.  When I was a kid, my mother asked me why I didn’t write something “good,” by which she meant something normal.  I explained that I’d written western stories and romantic stories and science-fiction stories, but that somebody always died. I’m a very upbeat guy, but that dark streak is there, deep down. 

How do you recharge your creative batteries? 

Time with my wife and kids.  You know what does it for me, more than anything?  The ocean.  I hate the sun because I burn in a heartbeat, but I love being by the ocean, walking on the beach or reading a book under an umbrella or body surfing with my kids. 

Is any material in your books based on real life experiences or purely imagination? 

There are bits and pieces of my life woven into nearly everything I’ve written, but usually not in any obvious way. THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN taps into my high school memories quite a bit.  WILDWOOD ROAD has some autobiographical stuff in it.  The BODY OF EVIDENCE series has a ton of characters and observations taken from my college days and the university in the books is based on my alma mater, Tufts University.  But STRAIGHT ON ‘TIL MORNING is the most autobiographical.  The first half of the book is 90% true stories, just reworked to serve the larger story. 

Are you a person who makes the bed in the morning? 

Every morning?  Gosh, no.

What is your very favorite part of the day? 

I usually really hit my writing stride in mid-afternoon. When my consciousness kind of checks out and it’s just brain to computer communication, it’s like painting.  But the best time of day when dinner is eaten and the dishes are done and there’s a little time to watch TV with my family or go for a walk.  Time to breathe. 

How did you celebrate your first book being published? Has the excitement worn off with each book you publish? 

It’s the twentieth anniversary this year of the publication of my first book (a non-fiction project), the sale of my first novel, and the day I quit working a real job.  I’ve written and published dozens of books since then, so the novelty has certainty worn off.  Still, I love receiving a new book of mine in the mail and I do take a little time to admire it before I put it on the shelf.

Are there certain characters you’d like to return to?

Jenna Blake, the protagonist of my BODY OF EVIDENCE series, and the characters from my series with Thomas E. Sniegoski, THE MENAGERIE.  Someday. 

Any advice to share with aspiring writers?

More than ever, in the chaos and unknown territory that is modern publishing, you just have to get your work out there.  Get known.  Start a writing blog, post your work for free, get attention.  Then start posting stories for sale as ebooks and try to bring that audience with you. 

Would you rather plan a party or attend one? 

I’d rather just have a nice dinner out with my wife.

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Author Interview with Elle Strauss

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Get to know Elle…

Elle Strauss writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She’s a married mom of four, and lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, famous for beaches and vineyards. She’s fond of Lindt’s sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather.

Her Young Adult rom/com time-travel CLOCKWISE series and contemporary/otherworldly Middle Grade IT’S A LITTLE HAYWIRE are now available on Amazon and other e-retailer sites. CLOCKWISE is free on AmazonSmashwordsKoboitunes

Let the conversation begin! 

What is your very favorite part of the day? 

Mornings, I love the quiet before the rest of the house wakes up. 

What is your worst scar? How did you get it? 

I have a round scar the size of a nickel on my left ankle from when I got hit by a car while riding my bike. 

How did you choose the genre you write in? 

YA wasn’t hot when I started writing it. I didn’t even realize I was writing it until another writer friend pointed it out. 

How do you recharge your creative batteries? 

Hiking, yoga, reading. 

Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning? 

Yes, but my husband and I have a deal that the last one out of bed makes it. Lately, I’ve been getting out first, so it’s a good deal for me. 

Best writing advice you’ve ever received? 

All first drafts are crap. Expect your first draft to be, too. 

Any advice to give to aspiring writers? 

Finish creating the first draft before working to refine it. Check out my writing & publishing tips page on my blog, particularly the PDF of the power point presentation I did on Entrepreneurial Authorship- the three brains of the Indie Author: 1. The creative brain, 2. The critical brain, 3. The business brain. 

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published? 

Clockwise is about a teen time-traveler who accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward. It went through two agents and several rounds of submissions before I decided to send it out into the wilds myself. I’m so glad I did!

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Author Interview with Lana Krumwiede

Get to know Lana…  

In third grade, Lana wrote in her autobiography that she wanted to be a mother, a writer, and the church organist. The church organist thing hasn’t worked out very well, but she can live with that! 

Lana’s work has appeared in Highlights, High Five, Spider, Babybug, The Friend, and Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul. Her first novel, Freakling,will be released October 9 from Candlewick Press. It takes place in a world where telekinetic powers, called psi, are commonplace. 

Lana has tried psi many times, particularly when it comes to household chores, but she could never make it work. She does have a few mildly supernatural abilities, which include untying knots, peeling oranges, and winning at board games. Her perfect day would include reading, writing, cooking, telling jokes, spending time with family, and pie. And maybe a board game or two. For more info, visit her site.

Let the conversation begin! 

You are chosen to make dinner for a very special guest. What will you cook? 

I do love to cook! I’m famous for my homemade breadsticks and mint brownies. As far as dinner goes, I like to fix a spicy pork roast with pineapple salsa and creamy coconut rice. So good! 

If you could ask God a question what would it be?

What do you need me to be? 

What is the best writing advice youve received? 

Try everything. Some things will work and some won’t. Writing is not like brain surgery or skydiving. Those things you have to get right the first time. 

Also this: Don’t get stuck with one story. If you’ve written the best thing you know how to write, move on and write something else. If you don’t get any nibbles from publishers, you can always go back to it later and see if it’s worth revising. In the meantime, write something new and keep developing yourself as a writer. 

What is your writing process? 

My writing process is evolving and I think it always will. I am a different writer for this book than I was for the last book. One story may demand something or affect me in a way that the previous story didn’t. When a new story comes to stay, it is the guest of honor and I do whatever I need to do to help my guest feel comfortable enough to open up. Some things are going to be the same with each guest (make room for them) and other things are going to vary (how you relate to that guest).  

How long does it take you to complete a novel? 

My first novel took two and a half years to complete on my own. Add another year to that for the wonderful revisions that took place after my agent and editor got involved! I learned TONS during those three-plus years and I hope that I’ll be able to shrink that time significantly. Right now, I’m in the middle of my second novel and it’s going much more quickly. 

Name one important characteristic you admire in a friend. 

Compassion. I place a high value on that. My most inspirational moments are when I witness compassion in action, especially when I see my children showing compassion. It’s a powerful thing. 

What’s the worst trouble you got into when you were young? What did you do?

I sort of accidentally (long story) let myself into the school building after hours when the security system was on. The alarm went off and scared the pb&j out of me! I thought the best thing to do was to wait for the police to come and apologize nicely. Which I did. The policeman was not happy. Nor were his dogs.

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Author Interview with Rebecca Serle

Get to know Rebecca…

Rebecca Serle is a full-time writer, which means she gets to wear pajamas to work. She went to the University of Southern California, then got her MFA from the New School in NYC. (She likes New York much more than LA, but don’t tell anyone that.) Rebecca loves shiny hair, coffee, yoga, and pretending to be British. She, too, experienced heartbreak once. It worked out okay, though, because she turned the experience into her first novel, WHEN YOU WERE MINE. Find out more on my site and follow me on twitter!

Let the conversation begin!

What is your writing process? Do you work from an outline?

I work off more of a bullet-pointed list. Generally my process goes like this: I will be awoken at 3 am with a crazy idea and think “I guess it could be a book? Sure, why not!” Then I will spend about 30 pages “writing my way in,” which means I just explore— who should tell this story? Where should it be set? What’s the best way to get across what I’m really trying to say?

After those 30 pages I’ll take stock and make a list of about 20-30 plot points I think I have to hit before the novel ends. My stories are not well behaved, though. They are quite disobedient. To say I plot ahead would just be a blatant lie. 

Do you enjoy speaking engagements? Or would you rather stay locked in your office, writing?

Mmmm, this is a good question. I’m fairly new at this, and frankly, yes, speaking in front of an audience scares me—as do a multitude of other things I’ve done in the past few weeks: Being on TV, doing radio tours, giving readings, etc. But I will say this: it’s getting easier. With each public thing I do I become a little more sure of myself, this book, and what I’m really here to say. For me, this part has been surprisingly fullfilling. I find I’m learning more and more about myself, and why I’m a writer.

Who was your hero when you were a child?

Any author. Really anyone who wrote a book. I also loved Jennifer Love Hewitt. Yeah— she was my girl crush for sure.

Who inspires you and how are you a bit like them?

My friends inspire me. I’m so blessed to know and work alongside incredible authors. My dear friend Leila Sales is also my writing partner and she’s so funny and witty and wonderful. The thing I respect the most about Leila is that her books always deal with something— they’re always in pursuit of an idea that hangs just a bit higher that the individual story at hand. I’d like to think I do that, too. I really wanted to explore the dialogue between fate and free will, so I wrote When You Were Mine. It’s not just about a girl and a boy. It’s about what heartbreak means, how it’s linked to destiny…that, to me, is the meat of our work. I really learned that from Leila.

How did you learn to ride a bicycle?

My best friend’s older brother taught me. I have a scrapbook filled with pictures of it, too!

Based on something you’ve already done, how might you make it into the Guinness Book of World Records? 

Greatest caffeine intake. Without a shadow of a doubt. 

When was the last time you did something for the first time? What was it? 

I walked in a fashion show a few weeks ago. It was terrifying, but a lot of fun. You can see it here. That’s my family cheering.  

If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

Sing on Broadway. If there is a different answer to that question, I am not aware of what it is. 

What is your definition of a productive day?

Words on a page. Any number of them. The more, the better. 

What is your definition of a relaxing day?

Some form of physical exercise and maybe enjoying the sunshine with friends. 

Have you ever jumped out of a plane? If you knew you would survive, would you do it?

No, I never have. I don’t think my fear of that comes from not surviving—I think it’s more from the free-falling minutes. So, yeah. Probably not. But, you know, I never say never anymore! 

What was your nickname growing up or now?

Rebecca has a lot of nicknames, but most of my friends call me “beccs.” No offense to any of you out there—but I never liked the nickname “becky.” When I was younger people would try it out and it just wasn’t me. I think if you’re Rebecca you are either a “becca” or a “becky.” I’m definitely a becca. Not sure what that says about me? Comment away!

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Author Interview with Neesha Meminger

Jazz-In-LoveGet to know Neesha Meminger…

Neesha was born in Punjab, India, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and currently lives in New York City. She holds a BA in Film and Media Arts from Ryerson University (Toronto), and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School For Social Research (New York). SHINE, COCONUT MOON, her first novel, made the Smithsonian’s Notable Books for Children list and was selected for the Top 100 Books of 2009 by the New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age. Neesha’s second novel, JAZZ IN LOVE, was picked as a top YA selection by the Pennsylvania School Librarians’ Association and was selected for Bookslut’s Recommended Summer Reading List. INTO THE WISE DARK, a time-travel fantasy, released March, 2012. For more info, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin!

When did you want to make a career out of writing? Is it everything you dreamed? 

The first time I discovered work by women of color authors, it was like the gates of Heaven opened up for me. I had no idea women of color could write books and be published and sold in stores! As soon as I realized there was space for me, that my work could be valued, that what I loved doing as a child (reading!) and what quite literally saved me in adolescence (books!) was open to me as life work, I was off and running. Is it everything I dreamed? Not exactly. The road has been much bumpier than I ever thought and I’ve had to revise my dream several times. But the reward – reaching young readers and opening their worlds, expanding their Possible… that has been everything I dreamed. 

What advice would you give a younger you? 

Don’t worry about external validation; you may never get it. Don’t focus on “legitimacy” or stamps of approval or awards. Just create the best work you can and keep studying your craft, honing your craft, refining and polishing until it’s the best it’s ever going to be. And then study some more, hone some more. Keep refining and polishing and putting new work out. Remember: What we create creates us. Keep creating and the rewards you find will be more valuable than any external validation, “legitimacy,” or stamp of approval could ever be. 

What is the worst part about writing? Best part? 

The best part is the work. When a book is published, I stare at it sometimes, thinking, “Wow – I did that. All that came out of me from I-don’t-know-where and now it’s out there, affecting lives and shaping perceptions.” (I do this with my kids too – almost the exact same sentiment). And I am always, ALWAYS, a different person after writing a book than when I began it. Better. Always a better person. Worst part? At one time I might’ve said the loneliness and isolation, but I have come to realize that I crave that space. I like being alone with myself. Not to mention the fact that I am now hooked into a wonderful community of writers who know, almost exactly, what I’m going through as a writer. So the worst part now might be the business end. I don’t mind conferences and traveling and school visits because I love people and I love to socialize, but I do avoid numbers and sales percentages and other forms of math. 

Are you messy or organized? How does this trait affect your writing life? 

I’ve learned through observant friends and neighbors that I am extremely organized. I think this has been tremendously helpful in my writing life because it lets me get multiple things done at once. I’m a mom, too, and to be quite honest, I don’t know how else anything would get done. 

If you could remove one thing from the world, what would it be? 

Injustice. 

What is your best personal characteristic? 

If you ask me, which you are, I would say my best personal characteristic is my passion. Sometimes that gets me in trouble – like, deep dog doo-doo kind of trouble – but I still think it’s my best characteristic. 

What is your favorite quote? 

“Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.”

~ The Talmud 

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do? 

I would probably sit in on all the President’s meetings and whisper subliminal “suggestions” in his ear. In fact, I might fly around to every world leader’s meetings and do the same thing. 

What is your favorite weird food combination? 

I used to love rice crispy treats slathered with crunchy peanut butter then microwaved on high for a minute-and-a-half. I don’t do that anymore, but now I put salt on my watermelon. I also cannot eat apple slices without salt. Is that weird? 

If you had to be a flower, which one would you be and why? 

A rose. Because roses are stunning and perfect and hardy, and they’re still beautiful even in their decline. Also, you can eat them. You can make rose syrup, rose water, and candy the petals to eat with ice cream! 

What is your biggest pet peeve? 

People, especially of the grown-up variety, who don’t clean up after themselves. 

Name a turning point in your life that makes you smile. 

The best turning point in my life was also the most tumultuous. It literally turned my world on its axis. It was when I cut my hair. As a Sikh, Punjabi, teen girl, this was a HUGE no-no in my family (even though my brothers and father – and all my uncles and male cousins – had their hair cut ::sour face::). If you want to read a muted version of how this went, read the makeover scene in Jazz In Love. My personal experience was a zillion times more explosive. But the chutzpah and courage of my sixteen-year-old self still makes me smile. And the fallout is something I can now laugh at, even though it was an unmitigated disaster at the time. 

Think of the craziest What If question. Do you think you could write an entire book based off of this question? 

The last What If question I had resulted in my most recent release, Into the Wise Dark. The question was, “What if four exceptional girls – three of them of color, two of them a couple, and one of them Punjabi and Sikh – saved the world from evil?”  

What is your worst personality characteristic? 

The flip side to being passionate is that I can be extremely impatient. I have been working on this, especially since having children, but I can identify it in myself, even when others can’t. It’s definitely a characteristic I am constantly wrestling with and trying to guide into more creative and positive channels. 

What was the best thing that happened to you this year? 

The release of my first fantasy YA novel! I’m so, incredibly excited about Into the Wise Dark. It’s the first fantasy I’ve ever seen out there featuring a Punjabi, Sikh protagonist and four teen girls who, through collective action (as opposed to individual heroism), save the world. I also made a conscious effort to incorporate South Asian mythology and the sunken land mass of Kumari Kundam into the story. Seeing this book out in the wild has given me the motivation to get more titles out there featuring mythologies that people often don’t hear or read about. 

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Author Interview with Michael Northrop

Get to know Michael…

Michael Northrop is the author of two YA novels—Gentlemen, an American Library Association/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, and Trapped, an ALA/YALSA Readers’ Choice List selection and an Indie Next List pick—and the new middle grade novel Plunked. He spent 12 years chasing stories at Sports Illustrated Kids, the last five of those as baseball editor. His articles and stories have been published widely. For more info, visit Michael’s website

Let the conversation begin!

What initially drew you to writing? Do you still have the same passion you had when you first began?

Well, I’m dyslexic and repeated second grade, so I didn’t begin writing with passion as much as just sheer wonder that anyone would want to read what I pieced together. There was a writing contest at my school when I was a kid, and we all had to enter. I wrote a little rhyming poem about a knight and won first place in my grade (sixth, I think). I got a fancy-looking certificate for it—probably my first one ever—and it meant a lot to me. By the time the contest rolled around the next year, I’d been waiting for it for months. I think that’s when I started to think of myself as a writer. And I still have some of that same wonder about it.   

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?

I usually just waste it online. I can be so weak. 

If you could do anything and get away with it, what would you do?

Who’s to say I haven’t gotten away with it already? 

If you had to be a teacher of something, what would you teach?

I’d teach English. I love it. I thought about doing that anyway, before I became a magazine editor and then an author. 

What did you like best about your hometown?

I still love my hometown, Salisbury, CT. I’ve lived in NYC (not such a bad place itself) for more than half my life now, but my dreams and, to a large extent, my fiction are still set in some proxy version of Salisbury. It’s a small town in northwestern CT, where the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains begin. It was a great place to grow up because it had woods all around, a lake I could bike to, and a great library I could walk to. 

Something interesting you might not know about me is:

I used to be the baseball editor of Sports Illustrated Kids, and I once lit Albert Pujols’ bat on fire during a photo shoot. We coated it with rubber cement, which burns quickly and brightly, and Pujols (one of the best hitters in the history of baseball) gamely agreed to swing the burning bat for the shot. 

What is your most favorite pair of shoes ever?

Disclaimer: I’m a dude and this question confuses me a little. I guess maybe an old pair of Reeboks that I wore until (and shortly after) they fell apart in high school. I had a Reebok t-shirt at the time, too. I’m not sure if that was because of the sneakers or just because it was the 80s, and we wore all kinds of ridiculous, branded things back then. 

What’s your favorite sport?

This question, on the other hand, makes perfect sense to me. I’d have to say football. I love baseball, too, but I played football all through high school and almost went to college for it. And the Patriots break my heart less often than the Red Sox, so yeah: football. 

Which member of your family has had the greatest influence on your current way of thinking?

My mom. My parents got divorced when I was eight or so, and my mom raised my brother and me. She was an amazing person and had a huge influence on me. She passed away when I was 28, but I still sort of consider myself a momma’s boy (and proudly, too). 

What punctuation mark best describes your personality? Why?

Parentheses: I qualify everything (well, almost everything). 

What is something you have that is of sentimental value?

I take some small memento from every person I kill—I mean, uh, please ignore that last part. I have a beat-up old Hartford Whalers cap. I was a big hockey fan and loved the Whalers when I was growing up, but they don’t exist anymore. 

Listener or talker?

Talker, I guess. I’m definitely “highly verbal.” I think I’m a pretty good listener too, though. 

Can you comfortably eat in a restaurant by yourself? Go to a movie?

Oh, yeah: can and do. I generally enjoy my own company—I have all the same interests as me—and work from home anyway. A lot of times I’ll sit at the bar in a restaurant, or go at a random time, like 3:17 on a Tuesday afternoon. I don’t go to many movies, though. Sticky floors, chatty people, and all those little things get under my skin. If there’s something I really want to see, I usually wait until it comes on cable/pay-per-view. 

What was the first car you drove?

It was my aunt’s rusty old Dodge Omni. She taught me how to drive in the cemetery behind our house. It was perfect—all those roads and no traffic—but the first time we tried driving on an actual, two-lane road, I headed down the wrong lane and almost ended up back in that cemetery for good. 

What is one modern convenience you cannot live without?

How modern are we talking? If you mean, like, indoor plumbing, electricity, and The Plague not really being a thing anymore, then yes: those. If you mean cell phones, Twitter, 207 TV channels, and that sort of thing, then nothing. I really feel like I’d be fine in the 1950s or 70s or any of those. Heck, I might prefer it. 

If you could meet anyone from history, who would you meet and why?

This question makes me nervous. Living in NYC and working in magazines for a long time, I’ve met quite a few famous people, and they are often disappointing in person. So basically, my mind translates this question into: Which venerated historical figure would you like to be utterly disillusioned by? So I’ll play it safe and say Secretariat: the greatest racehorse of all time. A quick pat on his muzzle and I’d be happy—and there’s zero chance he’d say the wrong thing.

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Author Interview with Stuart Gibbs

Get to know Stuart…

Stuart Gibbs is the author of the comic mystery novels Spy School and Belly Up and the time-traveling adventure The Last Musketeer.  He has written the screenplays for See Spot Run, Repli-Kate and some other movies too embarrassing to even mention.  Before all that, he worked at a zoo and studied capybaras (the world’s largest rodents).  At one point, he was one of the world’s foremost capybara experts — although this was because he was also one of the world’s only capybara experts at the time.  He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife and  two children.  His next book, Traitor’s Chase, the sequel to The Last Musketeer, with be out on June 26.  He is has just finished Spy Camp, the sequel to Spy School (which will be out in 2013) and is at work on a sequel to Belly Up.  For more info, visit his website.

Let the conversation begin!

How old would you be if you didn’t know? 

Probably around 18 or so.  My friends often tell me that I don’t behave like an adult much (which I choose to take as a compliment).  My own four year old daughter seems to agree with this.  Recently, she asked me what I was going to be when I grew up.  I told her that 1) I am a grown up and 2) I have a job.  I don’t think she believed me on either count. 

What’s your passion? 

Traveling.  Especially to places I can see animals in the wild.  I’ve been on a lifelong quest to see every large animal on the planet in its natural habitat.  (Although I’m perfectly happy to see smaller animals as well.) 

If you could live anywhere for one year, all expenses paid, where would you live? 

The Okovango Delta in Botswana.  Although the Serengeti in Tanzania is a close second.  Basically, I’d love to spend a year on safari. 

What was the worst smell you have ever smelled? 

If you’ve read Belly Up, you’re familiar with the scene with the hippopotamus autopsy.  I’ve actually seen a hippopotamus autopsy.  The innards of a dead hippo are a smell you never really forget, no matter how much you’d like to. 

If you could have one super human power, what would it be?

Flight.  I’m not sure that this would really come in handy for fighting crime, but I’d certainly save a ton on airfare. 

What is the craziest (or stupidest) thing you’ve ever done? 

I have a very long list of potential answers for this.  But my high school friends all like to remind me that I used to break into the zoo at night on a regular basis.  I never did this to cause any harm to the animals.  I did it because I really liked the zoo and had figured out a surprisingly easy way to get over the fence.  I brought friends along much of the time.  Usually, we just checked the animals out, but once we climbed into the elephant pit to pet the sleeping elephants, which was pure idiocy.  Kids, never ever do this. 

Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?

Michael Crichton.  Why?  When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer, but I had no idea how you became one.  I absolutely loved Michael Crichton’s books.  (Especially Congo.)  Crichton started out studying to be a doctor and wrote all the time on the side.  Eventually he got published and became an author.  So I set out to follow exactly the same path.  I barely made it through a semester of pre-med before I realized there were other ways to become a writer, but I think I’ve still always been influenced by Crichton’s determination to write — not to mention his fantastic storytelling and his desire to work science into his novels.  Oh, and I should probably point out that Carl Hiaasen has been hugely influential, too. 

What cartoon character best represents your personal philosophy? 

Bugs Bunny.  That rabbit travels the world, embraces life and always stands up for what he believes in.  When I was in college, a friend of mine pointed out that Bugs Bunny never says ‘Why should I do something?’  He says ‘How can I do it?’  My friend was probably drunk at the time, but the point is still valid.  We could do a lot worse for role models than Bugs Bunny. 

What is your favorite way to waste time without getting caught? 

I compulsively check my book sales on line.  It’s terrible.  I should probably get help. 

When was the last time you did something for the first time?  What was it? 

I tried out a new way to scuba dive.  You sit on a propeller sled and have it push you through the water.  It sounded a bit complicated, but it was extremely intuitive and turned out to be absolutely amazing.  It really felt like flying through the water.  Apparently this is the wave of the future for scuba diving, which means I will probably be diving a lot more.  Plus, we encountered a pod of spinner dolphins and they swam all around us.  So all in all, that was a pretty good day.

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