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. I’ve already answered these questions here: STEPHANIE STAMM. And I’ve given the same questions different answers here: MISHA BURNETT. Also here: CHARLES YALLOWITZ.
Time for some alternative answers…where possible.
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?
This is getting harder and harder, as I keep answering these same questions in different ways. Okay. This time, I choose the book lying at my feet. The Book of Kells, curated by Bernard Meehan. It’s a real window-smasher.
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?
Sir John Betjeman. The crisper the accent, the dirtier the story.
3. Would you name six essential items for writers? If, you know, cornered and threatened with torture.
By this stage, I’m almost plumping for torture as one of the six items. I should have answered more questions by other writers. But constantly answering my own, on different blogs, is a real challenge. Six items.
A stretch of countryside to walk across as you hold imaginary conversations with yourself.
Even in this digital age, bookshelves.
A key which fits no known lock, spurring the imagination into conjuring a story from that key.
Movie soundtrack music – not as distracting as playing songs.
The ability to resist everything except the temptation to steal from Oscar Wilde.
A made-up word. For all words are made-up words.
4. Who’d win in a fight between Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster? If, you know, you were writing that scene.
This fight could be posed as the supernatural versus the superscientific. The only real winner in that case would be the reader.
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?
Sleep is for fools and those who write coherently.
6. You must introduce a plot-twist. Evil twin or luggage mix-up?
Dinosaur. With an evil twin.
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?
No, I smeared the narrative with chocolate and unleashed the ants.
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?
Yes, well, it’s an opportunity…
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?
I don’t recall ever typing heartfully…
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.)
Sadly I typed my answer to this, but it was so full of typos…I think you see where this answer is going.
11. I’ve fallen out of my chair laughing at all sorts of thongs I’ve typed. Have you?
Sometimes I type without using a chair. Fingers are handier. Yes, I like to live dangerously.
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.
The Thirty-Nine Escalator Steps.
13. Seen the movie. Read the book. And your preference was for?
That book. You know the one. They ignored the writer and the fans, changed the end, and ruined the movie. Now you are all thinking of different books that happened to.
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.
The house was being rewired. I moved bookcases downstairs on a railway porter trolley. One of those fancy models with a cluster of wheels where a normal wheel would sit – for ease of bumping things up and down stairs. (It’s the business.)
I carted fully-laden half-bookcases down with great ease. What a time-saver. Then I carted fully-laden bookcases down with great ease. Wow. Fantastic.
Then I considered the massive bookcase. The one housing those massive books. Tricky. Can it be done? Should this be done? What’s the worst that can happen?
I negotiated the queasy move, just reaching the top of the stairs. It’s all downhill after that. I lowered the whole arrangement, step, step, step. Every time I did, I neared the collision-point. Bookcase versus awkward ceiling-projection. Then I reached the point of no return, and the shift in balance put the full weight on me.
Seconds seemed like months. Can I hold this when I bump over the next step, or will I just bomb the stairs with runaway books? I had a decision to make. Try to hang on. Or just let go and save myself. I made it down the stairs. That’s the most strain I’ve faced from books. I carted an empty bookshelf back up, later.
15. Did you ever read a series of books out of sequence?
I am running out of answers to this question. Sometimes I wished I’d read the last book first, and saved myself the bother.
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?
Let’s answer this a different way. From a reading viewpoint. Often I’ve set aside a book with a similar topic to the last book I read. I decided to read both biographies of Ian Fleming, but not back-to-back.
17. Have you ever stumbled across a Much-Loved Children’s Classic™ that you’ve never heard of?
I formulated this question with a book in mind. This is a book I’d not heard of – until advertising told me there was a movie based on the classic tale. What classic tale? I’ve never heard of that one. And now? Still haven’t read the book or seen the movie. The Polar Express. A classic. So they say.
18. You build a secret passage into your story. Where?
Behind a grandfather clock? Too easy. Behind a grandmother clock? Trickier. The fireplace, if the house has one. In the cellar. One of those giant casks…I think that’s been done. Where else? Fake stack of books in the library. Inside a picture frame, leading downstairs – and the picture must be of the owner descending steps.
Where else? Back of the wardrobe. Behind a mirror, or looking-glass. In the gym, beneath the vaulting-horse. Under the grating in front of that statue at the centre of the garden maze. These places are too obvious to search. Which is why you must search them.
19. Facing the prospect of writing erotica, you decide on a racy pen-name. And that would be…
Delicia Brazen. With BRAZEN taking up half the book-cover, every single time.
20. On a train a fan praises your work, mistaking you for another author. What happens next?
I deny that I am Delicia Brazen.
For Lisa Capehart’s answers to my questions, visit REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.
Here’s a blog post on READ TUESDAY.
And here’s a funny one on CONTACTING PEOPLE FOR READ TUESDAY.
Thanks, RLL! All great answers!