Archive for September, 2009
In an effort to make up for a lack of interviews a month or so ago, I will be doubling up weekly interviews for the next couple of weeks. Enjoy and thanks for your patience.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch, as detailed at her website, is “an award-winning mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy writer. She has written many novels under various names, including Kristine Grayson for romance, and Kris Nelscott for mystery. Her novels have made the bestseller lists–even in London–and have been published in 14 countries and 13 different languages.
“Her novel, Diving into the Wreck, will be published by Pyr in November. The sixth in her Retrieval Artist series, Duplicate Effort, appeared in February. Her next short story collection, Recovering Apollo 8 and Other Stories, will appear from Golden Gryphon in spring of 2010.” As informative and interesting as her website clearly is (given how much I just quoted it), I was curious to learn more about her via an e-mail interview. My thanks to Kevin J. Anderson for getting me in contact with Rusch, and even more thanks to Rusch herself for her valuable time.
Tim O’Shea: What can tell folks about your new short story, “Flower Fairies,” which just appeared in the new issue of Realms of Fantasy?
Kristine Kathryn Rusch: I usually let the stories speak for themselves. So I hope people enjoy it!
O’Shea: From 2000 to the mid-2000s, you wrote several books under the pseudonyms “Kris Nelscott” and “Kristine Grayson”. Also you and your husband (Dean Wesley Smith) wrote under the name “Sandy Schofield” in the 1990s. Were the choices to work under different pseudonyms more of a business logistical decision as opposed to a creative choice?
Rusch: It’s both. I am a voracious reader, and I’ve learned that readers don’t always care for everything a writer does. So when I do something radically different, I put an open pen name on it. That way, my Grayson readers who are expecting a light funny romance don’t get surprised by The Fey novels, which are violent fantasy novels with no romance at all.
Before I start this interview, I have to apologize to author Bill Keaggy. This interview was completed in early 2008–and I promptly misplaced the interview. Don’t ask me how. But I still think, while it’s late, it’s still a great interview (thanks to Keaggy’s answers) and an interesting book. So here’s the interview. But first some background (from the publisher, BlueQ) before getting to the questions: “Bill Keaggy witnesses and documents tired and tossed chairs in downtown St. Louis. Each image is a mixed bag of forlorn and funny, a veritable commentary on our culture of consumption (at least as it relates to chairs). 104 pages.” The book’s a real bargain at $5.99 and is available from the publisher or Amazon.
Tim O’Shea: How did you come up with the idea for the book? Did this project predate the grocery list book?
Bill Keaggy: The sad chairs project predated the grocery list book but the grocery list project predated both the sad chairs project and book …the project started in — as they all do — a moment of silly serendipity. This is what happened: 1) I saw a broken, beat down chair. 2) I pulled out my trusty pocket digital camera. 3) I took a picture, thinking, “Wow, what a sad chair.” 4) I liked the ring of the phrase “sad chair,” but I knew that I tend to get carried away with my projects so I decided to put parameters on this one. I’d only take 50 pictures of 50 sad chairs. About 500 chairs later (I posted the first 50 to my site) the weird and wonderful folks at BlueQ asked me if I wanted to turn the project into a book. I said yes.
Dan Abnett is a writer I’ve followed for years mostly through his work in comics. When I heard he had a novel coming out next month, I contacted him for an interview. The novel is Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero, the first installment in a three-book deal with Angry Robot Books. Set to go on sale on October 1, the book is described as: “Sir Rupert Triumff. Adventurer. Fighter. Drinker. Saviour? Pratchett goes swashbuckling in the hotly anticipated original fiction debut of the multi-million selling Warhammer star. Triumff is a ribald historical fantasy set in a warped clockwork-powered version of our present day ! a new Elizabethan age, not of Elizabeth II but in the style of the original Virgin Queen. Throughout its rollicking pages, Sir Rupert Triumff drinks, dines and duels his way into a new Brass Age of Exploration and Adventure.” My thanks to Abnett for his time and thoughts.
Tim O’Shea: How challenging was it to write this novel while also meeting your monthly writing commitments at Marvel and elsewhere?
Dan Abnett: “Triumff” has been in production for a long time, and this slow burn means that it’s fitted very nicely behind more pressing and urgent day-to-day jobs. Having said that, I do break my working day down into prose and comics: a chunk of the latest novel before lunch, and a batch of the next comic after. Obviously, sometimes really pressing deadlines throw that careful plan out of the window, but it worked well here.
I fancied myself fairly well-informed about the art of comedy and the folks who practice it. But then I started reading some of Mike Sacks‘ And Here’s The Kicker: Conversations with Top Humor Writers About Their Craft, and soon realized I was not as informed as I thought. Sacks, who is presently on the Vanity Fair magazine editorial staff, interviewed 21 humor writers as well as a variety of editors and entertainment executives for the book. I was really impressed with the variety of writer he was able to interview–and I consider myself fortunate to get to interview him about the book. Please be sure to visit the book’s website as Sacks provides excerpts from each of the book’s interviews. With that in mind, I linked to each interview excerpt (and/or their respective website) when they come up in the discussion.
Tim O’Shea: Before your book, I had never even heard of Irv Brecher, and I considered myself a fan of the Marx Brothers (clearly not a well-informed one). Why do you think his name is not more widely known in comedy circles?
Mike Sacks: Well, I do think he was known within comedy circles, but only among those in a certain age demographic–or those who were very knowledgeable about Hollywood’s past. I guess it’s similar to younger baseball players not knowing much about the great players from the 30s and 40s.
Also, Brecher worked on two Marx Brothers movies (“Out West” and “At the Circus”_ that are lesser known than “A Night at the Opera” or “Duck Soup.” But I think anyone who is a professional humor writer (or even just interested in comedy) should acquaint themselves with Irv. He was an amazing man with an incredible career: from writing for Milton Berle to writing for the Marx Brothers to punching up the script to “Wizard of Oz.” He was also very bawdy and incredibly honest. It was great talking with him and I’m really happy I got the chance to before he became very sick.
The past few days have included two of my interviews running at Robot 6. In the first one, I got a chance to speak with Shawn Martinbrough, about both his book How to Draw Noir Comics: The Art and Technique of Visual Storytelling as well his current work on Marvel’s Luke Cage Noir. Then yesterday, I enjoyed a discussion with writer Christopher Yost on his writing of DC Comics’ Red Robin series.
In other news, I’m working on more pop culture interviews for this fine blog. Until the Internet logistical stars align and I have some new interviews to run, I will try to boost the level of unique content I have at this site. With the recent upgrade, I find it much easier to update the blog and give it the look I prefer.
I was never a fan of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. When he retired, and Conan O’Brien took over, it was the first time I could watch it since the retirement of the late, great Johnny Carson. I sincerely doubt I could objectively review an episode of Leno’s new show. Heck I cannot even bring myself to link to it in this post. My personal dislike of Leno originates with his late former manager, Helen Kushnick. As amazingly detailed in Bill Carter’s The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night, Kushnick set the wheels in motion for Johnny Carson’s early retirement and for Leno to take his place.
Leno always claimed he never knew the mercenary tactics and stunts she pulled to get Leno where he wanted to be. But really, Leno avoided knowing about her methods until her conduct got so out of control that NBC had to fire her. In my mind, Letterman should have been the only one to replace Carson. And as evidenced by the fact that Carson never again appeared on the Tonight Show, but made appearances on Letterman’s CBS show, that’s what Carson thought as well. I always loved that toward the end of his life, Carson actually started writing jokes for Letterman’s monologue. Letterman waited (in accordance with Carson’s wishes one assumes) until after Carson’s passing to acknowledge this arrangement.
Anyways, I think I’ve established I’m no fan of Leno’s. So it warmed my heart to read the following line in LA Times TV critic Mary McNamara’s review of the first episode: “It’s not a good sign when the Bud Light commercial is funnier than the comedy show it interrupts.”
On another note, in double-checking Kushnick’s spelling of her name, I ran across this amazing EW piece by Dana Kennedy about Kushnick’s final years (she died in 1996)–where to her credit she made peace with family and friends from whom she’d been estranged for many years. For years, I always regard Kushnick only in terms of her conduct managing Leno, so to see her in this light (as a genuine person, not just an entertainment executive) was valuable perspective.
I’d really like to thank GoDaddy for bailing me out the other night. As you can see, the blog has a new look. Hope you like it.
Unfortunately, I’m still trying to rebuild the inventory of interviews, as I have several in the pipeline, but none to post this week.
Over at Robot 6, I interviewed Joshua Hale Fialkov, so please visit that interview to tide you over for this week.
And for my wife, because she always supports this blog, a Beatles performance to celebrate the re-release of the Beatles music this week. And my way of thanking her for all she does for me and our family.
I have installed the new version of WordPress, for the first time since I started the blog, back in 2007. And I thought everything worked fine, but it appears that while I have correctly installed the new version of WordPress, there is a severe disconnect between the main page and my posts. I am working on it, and I apologize for the snafu. Please bear with me over the next few days as I troubleshoot things. Your patience is appreciated and I hope that once things are done I will be able to revamp the site visually a smidge. Thanks for your support and understanding in the interim.
I don’t often quote The A-Team, but given the nature of this novel and this interview, it’s apropros. As they used to say on the show: “I love it when a plan comes together.” Earlier this week, I found out about Adam P. Knave‘s new pop culture road novel, Stays Crunchy in Milk. He and I discussed the possibility of an email interview, I developed the questions and he got back to me the next day. I wish all my interviews were this fun and easily assembled. As detailed at his website, Knave is “a New York-based writer who has published numerous works of comics, fiction and non-fiction. APK was born and raised in Manhattan where he still lives.” Before jumping into the interview, here are the vital details on the novel:
“They were four: Wereberry the strawberry werewolf, Choco-Ra the chocolate mummy, The Creature From the Fruit Lagoon (his friends call him ‘T.C.’), and Cherrygeist the… well she was a ghost. At least, until she wasn’t. One day, she wasn’t there at all. And then they were three.
Three friends who have sworn to search for her to the ends of the world and beyond – to find and save her.
Through familiar lands to places startling and unknown – across looming castles, endless battlefields and simple brick roads – these three friends will hunt and search and scour every inch. Along the way they’ll have to rely on a whole lot of luck and a little bit of charm, but mostly each other.
A fairy tale for the super-sugar generation, Stays Crunchy in Milk is a road novel packed with 100% of your recommended daily allowance of essential action and adventure. And it’s a delicious part of a nutritious breakfast.”
My thanks to Knave for his time and thoughts–and his kind words about this blog.
Tim O’Shea: How did the concept of this quirky novel evolve into being–and how long have you been working on it?
Adam P. Knave: I was sitting around discussing ideas with my oft-times comic writing partner and POPGUN boss, D.J. Kirkbride. He wanted to write something prose, longer than a short story. So I tossed the raw idea off to him to use. He didn’t think it was right for him at the time, but suddenly I realized I could make a novel out of it. Just pure dumb luck, really. I realized, at the core of it, that the old Universal monster cereals were the only characters that each had their own cereal and yet seemed to cross over and talk to each other. You never see Tony the tiger chatting up Toucan Sam, after all. Once I had that I turned it into a quest and set out the front door.