Have you always wanted to be a writer?
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends. Sometimes books take years and other times it can take exactly one month. However, that's just the first draft. Add six months to a year for corrections and tweaks, then there's the professional "okays" which can normally run one to three YEARS until the final drafts are scheduled to hit the shelves. Publishing is not for the impatient or faint of heart.
Why so long?
Publishing is a business whose speed is comparable to plate tectonics. And I think it has something to do with yetis.
Do you get to choose the cover art? The actors for films? The voice actors for audio books?
In a word: no.
Where do you get your ideas?
In my head. Richard Peck once gave the scathing answer, "As if we can't think of them ourselves." (!!) My Muse, Maggie, helpfully comes by and thwacks me upside the noggin now and again; usually when I least expect it and when she can get the most laughs at my expense as I scramble to write them down. She's a pistol. Often pointed at my head.
Who is Maggie?
Maggie is my Muse. The Muses were nine classical Greek g-ddesses who inspired the creation processes in the arts. While I don't really believe I have a drape-dressed sylph peeking over my shoulder, I nicknamed my bouts of inspiration "Maggie" because I needed someone to blame. I call her a variety of nicknames ranging from"Mags" to "Meg-riffic" to "Old Moggy" depending on my mood and how she's treating me at the time. Maggie can be very fickle and finicky, so I try to sway her with dark chocolate daily.
You can learn more about me and Mags by reading my blog, Officially Twisted.
Why do you put a dash in words like "G-d"?
It comes from a religious belief that one shouldn't invoke the name of the L-rd lightly (you never know if S/He'll answer!). I include in this the writing of those words and use a dash instead of an "o" as a sign of respect. (The book text is adjusted thanks to someone kindly hitting Find/Replace.) Even though I write about bizarre paranormal beings and dark, twisted faeries, that doesn't mean I don't know where my real bread is buttered!
Who/What are your influences?
Mostly life and the people in it. I find both things absolutely, mind-bogglingly brilliant. But then there are lots of artists, writers, actors, puppeteers, singers, dancers, performers, etc. that have influenced me in many ways – both subtle and enormous – without whom I might have lived a completely ordinary existence.
Some of these visionaries include: Spider Robinson, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Joan D. Vinge, Mercedes Lackey, Terry Pratchett, Jim Henson, Joss Whedon, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Phil Foglio, Alan Moore, Harold Ramis, Tim Burton, Nick Park, Mike Jittlov, Rick Reynolds, Eve Ensler, Susan Seddon Boulet, José Guadelupe Posada, Rainer Maria Rilke, Monty Python (Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin), Cirque du Soleil (Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gautier), my family & friends (you know who you are)!
My advice to artists: go to a museum, an open mike night, a crafts fair, or theater under the stars – get inspired. Or just hang out at your local mall and People Watch. Humans are endlessly fascinating!
Are your characters based on anyone real?
Thankfully, no. However, I have borrowed gestures, phrases, habits or other nonsensical errata from folks I know and love. Often they know about it and laugh with/at me afterward. Sometimes, as in the animated book trailer, I'm asked to pick some famous person that the animators might reference during creation. I chose America Ferrera as Consuela, Milo Ventimiglia as V, and Chord Overstreet as Tender. For the Twixt novels, I'd go back in time and snag young Johnny Depp and young Joan Jett for Ink and Inq, and possibly Ellen Page for Joy.
Where's your playlist?
I don't have one. Firstly, because I type in silence; secondly, because I'm now so old, anything I'd reference would only make you laugh and shake your head.
Do you have any other hobbies besides writing?
Sure! Does websurfing count?
Reading and writing top the list, but are closely followed by karate, baking, gaming, improvisational theater, and making elaborate clothespin dolls.
Are you really a black belt?
Yes. I received my first degree black belt (Shodan) in Shaolin Kempo Karate in 2001 and recently received my second degree black belt (Nidan) in April, 2011. That's right: ten years. There is no timeline for awesome.
Can I write to you? Can you come to my school? Can you write my report for me?
Yes! Yes! No – do it yourself.
Stop by the Contact Me portion of our show and ping me with any questions. I can't guarantee I'll respond – writing, you know – but I always read my mail. I'd love to hear from you as long as nothing I say is Cut & Pasted and then graded. As a former teacher, that would make me grumpy. You wouldn't like to see me grumpy.
I love doing school visits and workshops for writing groups, teen groups, libraries and other organizations. Please email for details. I am also available for visits via Skype, Google Hangout and FaceTime. I do 20-minute online author visits for FREE on selected weekdays between 10-1:30 EST. I also am available for longer virtual visits at $100-$200 for a 45-60 minute session during certain dates/times. Check Skype An Author Network or email me for details.
What are you working on now?
Usually, I am embroiled in 1-3 projects at a time because otherwise I go crazy(er). For specifics on what I'm doing right now, please check out blurbs on the Books page.
Do you mind fanfic?
Mind? No! Have at it – enjoy! However, I can't read any of it for intellectual property reasons, so if you send me a link, I'll mostly likely smile and delete it.
However, fan art, playlists, book trailers, filk, parodies, puppet shows, improvisational skits and other assorted mayhem is totally encouraged: please send me your stuff! I'd love to see it!
Can you read my book?
Alas, alack, no. Not only would that suck away more of my time that should be used writing, parenting, or being otherwise responsible, but my agent and editor both frown upon it and 'tis not wise to make them grumpy, either.
Keep reading, writing and making stuff up!
All the best,