Friday, January 21, 2011

The Novel Road Interview: Greatest Hits #2

    The Novel Road Interviews are FUN! I enjoy my guests. These are good, extremely talented people allowing us all insights of varying kinds through their great answers to questions. 

    I do research before sending my questions off to my guests. You may have noticed most, if not all, get certain question. These are baseline questions I think will answer the questions of writers about writing.

   The other questions are based on things I find as I dig into who these amazing people are and try to give a glimpse of the humor that each guest possesses in enormous supply.

   Here are some great moments from my guests:

Brian Haig's take on writing a strong female character: 

Me: After three strong male characters, are you thinking about a strong female protagonist? If so, please describe her for us.

Brian: I have to be very careful here. One of the things reading has taught me is that real men don't write real women all that well--or vice versa. I mean, when I read a female author presenting a male protagonist, the guy just ends up too sensitive, too caring, too introspective to feel genuine; you know, like how women wish men were. Alas, that's not how the creator made us--we're pigs. Shallow pigs, actually. We love boxing and football: we think they're beautiful and graceful. We know Nicholas Sparks is a pussy. Hugh Hefner, for us, is right up there alongside Picasso and Rembrandt; he's an artist for Godsakes. Why can't they see that? And male writers tend to create these idealized women who are needy, a damsel always in need of a good manly rescue, the weaker, fairer, more squeamish sex. Or they go too far with opposite strokes, and create a rugged, crotch-scratching he-man trapped in heels and a short skirt. There are mysterious subtleties to each sex that tend to elude the other. That's what makes it interesting. Also dangerous. I mean, over fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, and God knows how many that stay together are suffering mutually-inflicted PTSD, which is a warning about how well we know each other.
    I always try to include a female in my books. I approach it the same way I do fire. Or maybe the same way I got through two years of calculus in college; I didn't really understand it, I just regurgitated the derivative and differential formulas and prayed they fit the situation. Like throwing darts in the dark.

Author Robin Becker's take on Zombies:

Me: Give me your definition of Zombie as a metaphor.

Robin: Zombies offer great metaphorical raw material for writers and filmmakers because you can make them a symbol for most anything: consumerism, addiction, contagion, consciousness, immortality, religion, ontology, desire, death. All the big guns are contained in waking corpses. That's why zombies will never die.

My friend Norb Vonnegut and his dream lunch date:

Me: You get to have lunch with any author, from throughout literary history or present. Who would it be and why?

Norb: I probably change my mind ever five minutes. Sometimes the answer is F. Scott Fitzgerald. Other times it’s Ernest Hemmingway. Or it’s a working author like Carl Hiaasen, Tom Wolfe, or the writers I’ve linked to on the home page of my website. But when push comes to shove, I’ll go with Dorothy Parker.

I can’t imagine a better way to spend lunch than drinking wine with DP and listening to her zingers. She probably has the sharpest tongue of all time. I am so taken with her venomous wit, in fact, that I created a character with a DP backstory in The Gods of Greenwich.

It wasn’t hard mixing DP into a thriller about hedge funds. She was always weighing in on the subject of money. Here’s one of my all-time favorite quotes from her: “I don’t know much about being a millionaire, but I’ll bet I’d be darling at it.”

The extremely talented Ben Greenman on information overload:

Me: In a line from an essay of yours “Age Comes On” posted on “We have years of intense receptivity and then years of trying to make sense of what we received.” Has the immense amount of information available now, caused a lack of learning from the past, in favor of taking current definition as a less thought out reality?

Product Details
Ben: I think so. How could it not? So much happens in a rush now, and it's difficult just to keep up with it. Imagine reading all the tweets and blog posts released in any given day. You couldn't. I don't read much new fiction anymore, and I try to limit my receptivity to pop culture, which isn't always easy, because I want to make sure that I understand what I already have in my head. This means, as I get older, that I do more rereading. I see more old movies for the second time or the third time.

 A debut author I'm a huge fan of, Sean Ferrell and his view on "Wash and Wearables"

Me: I hear Jeff Somers has sworn off alcohol, become a vegan and that you and he can be found wondering the city streets at night singing songs from "West Side Story"... Care to comment?

Numb: A NovelSean: You've got some of the details mixed up. While on a bender, Jeff was found on the West Side swearing. He was wearing nothing but a sandwich-board advertising a neighborhood cooperative organic garden project, of which he knew no details when questioned by police, referring repeatedly to his sandwich-board as his “wash-n-wearables.”
Seriously, Jeff is a talented and good friend, and if it weren't for our mutual restraining-orders against each other we would probably get into a lot more trouble together.

Jeff Somers view of Sean Ferrell as a screenplay writer:

Me: Hollywood and Jeff Somers. I hear your suggestion that Justin Bieber play Avery Cates in the film to come was shot down, though Sean Ferrell is still considering an offer to write the screenplay. Any other news on the film front?

Jeff: Ferrell’s screenplay was bosh. He tried to go all Charlie Kaufman and wrote himself into the story as some sort of observing angel, floating around glowing or something—it’s unclear. He gave himself all sorts of funny lines commenting on the action, too. By page 350 of the screenplay it’s really just Ferrell sitting at a park bench chatting with the audience. It goes on for hundreds more pages. At one point he starts singing “Pennies from Heaven” while dressed as a clown in the moonlight. A CLOWN IN THE MOONLIGHT. Think about it.

My own casting suggestions involve me, playing mutliple characters. My emails and phone calls are no longer returned.

The news on the film front is that there is, in fact, still a film front to get news about, which is pretty damned exciting. I know they’re very close to a first draft of a screenplay. Beyond that it is blissfully out of my control, and I like it like that.

n525707128_1473760_172Author Dan Krokos on why Sean and Jeff don't exist:

Me: Breaking News! Dan Krokos has told me he is the actual author of the brilliant novel “Numb” and the incredible Avery Cates novel series. Sean Ferrell and Jeff Somers are actually pseudonyms he borrowed from his gardener and plumber. Care to tell us more Dan?

Dan: When I first signed with Janet, she recommended I develop different facets of my personality. That way I could release books in many different genres. We decided “Jeff” would be the lovable but gruff author, a throwback in some ways to the pulp novelists of yore. People would debate if he was homeless or not. He would refuse to learn how twitter works, and routinely bomb people’s timelines. It’s been working great so far.

“Sean” would be the crazy literary type. People would wonder if he saved his urine in jars, that kind of thing. Sean and Jeff would argue publicly, but no one would physically see them together. The arguing came easy, as my personalities attempted to mesh.

They’re both equally popular, so I’m thinking about killing one off in the near future.


Here's to my great guests and if you think I'm not having a great time
doing this... You Be Nutz!