In support of READ TUESDAY, I’m answering my questions on other people’s blogs. Writers chatting to each other on writing. Tedious or devious? Let’s have twenty questions, and find out.
1. Fire rages in your house. Everyone is safe, but you. You decide to smash through the window, shielding your face with a book. What is the book?
MASTERPIECES OF CLASSICAL CHINESE PAINTING, by Shao Qingqing. If there’s one book worth saving, it’s this one. It’s also large enough to use as an escape-slide.
2. Asleep in your rebuilt house, you dream of meeting a dead author. But not in a creepy stalkerish way, so you shoo Mr Poe out of the kitchen. Instead, you sit down and have cake with which dead author?
Mark Twain. I charge him for the cake. He charges me for his time. We call that quits, but he knows that we both know different.
3. Would you name six essential items for writers? If, you know, cornered and threatened with torture.
We can still operate the old-fashioned way. With that in mind, pen, paper, a book to lean on, a dictionary, time, and quiet in which to operate. Failing quiet, a storm. Not on that list? A typewriter. Hell no.
4. Who’d win in a fight between Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster? If, you know, you were writing that scene.
The Invisible Man.
5. It’s the end of a long and tiring day. You are still writing a scene. Do you see it through to the end, even though matchsticks prop your eyelids open, or do you sleep on it and return, refreshed, to slay that literary dragon another day?
I’d say see it through to the end. But. Recently I stopped a scene mid-sentence and went to bed. Ultimate answer? Depends on the nature of the tiredness.
6. You must introduce a plot-twist. Evil twin or luggage mix-up?
Both, revealing the twins are really triplets.
7. Let’s say you write a bunch of books featuring an amazing recurring villain. At the end of your latest story you have definitely absitively posolutely killed off the villain for all time and then some. Did you pepper your narrative with clues hinting at the chance of a villainous return in the next book?
If so, by accident rather than design.
8. You are at sea in a lifeboat, with the barest chance of surviving the raging storm. There’s one opportunity to save a character, drifting by this scene. Do you save the idealistic hero or the tragic villain?
What if I discover that, in saving one, I create the other? I save the nearest, and hang the consequences.
9. It’s time to kill a much-loved character – that pesky plot intrudes. Do you just type it up, heartlessly, or are there any strange rituals to be performed before the deed is done?
The only strange ritual I employ is the act of just typing it up heartlessly.
10. Embarrassing typo time. I’m always typing thongs instead of things. One day, that’ll land me in trouble. Care to share any wildly embarrassing typing anecdotes? If, you know, the wrong word suddenly made something so much funnier. (My last crime against typing lay in omitting the u from Superman.)
Originally I wasn’t going to answer these questions myself – I’d just put them out to other writers. Since then, nothing topped my crime against Superman. Gives Kneel before Zod a whole new view.
11. I’ve fallen out of my chair laughing at all sorts of thongs I’ve typed. Have you?
Hey, I was TYPING thongs, not WEARING them.
12. You take a classic literary work and update it by throwing in rocket ships. Dare you name that story? Pride and Prejudice on Mars. That kind of thing.
DombeyandSon.com. I hate to say that’s an improvement on Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation. But, er, it is…
13. Seen the movie. Read the book. And your preference was for?
I’ll try to keep the list short.
The Great Escape. Paul Brickhill’s book wins over the film by John Sturges. Filming everything that happened in the book would make for an unbelievable film.
Goldfinger. The movie wins over the book. Main problem with stealing gold? Shifting it. Something Bond points out in the altered movie.
L.A. Confidential. Tricky choice. You could film the dropped sub-plots and you’d have a different movie. One I’d like to see.
14. Occupational hazard of being a writer. Has a book ever fallen on your head? This may occasionally happen to non-writers, it must be said.
I’ve slipped and tripped over numberless books. Another occupational hazard.
15. Did you ever read a series of books out of sequence?
Len Deighton’s spy stories. Game, Set, Match, Winter, Hook, Line, Sinker, Faith, Hope, and Charity. Len declared these books could be read in any order, being self-contained. That was a lie. Read them in order.
16. You encounter a story just as you are writing the same type of tale. Do you abandon your work, or keep going with the other one to ensure there won’t be endless similarities?
I keep going with the similar story, just to see if that tale is in the same line of country. The so-called same story always plays out in a wildly different way. We can all write zombie tales.
17. Have you ever stumbled across a Much-Loved Children’s Classic™ that you’ve never heard of?
(Hides head.) I sat through a trailer for The Dark is Rising, not realising it was based on The Dark is Rising. All I can say is this. I hope Susan Cooper was well-paid for the whole affair.
18. You build a secret passage into your story. Where?
I was sneaky, and placed the secret door on the outside wall of the tower. Yes, high up. Why would you even ask that?
19. Facing the prospect of writing erotica, you decide on a racy pen-name. And that would be…
Thor Thong, Prince of Porn.
20. On a train a fan praises your work, mistaking you for another author. What happens next?
We exchange murders.
For Stephanie Stamm’s answers to my questions, visit REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.
Here’s a blog post on READ TUESDAY.
You can find RLL at http://rll-reportfromafugitive.blogspot.co.uk/
- Twenty Questions For Read Tuesday (legendsofwindemere.com)