Hurricane Gustav

Just when I was beginning to be a good blogger again this thing comes and screws everything up. Life has been chaos for everyone down here in New Orleans lately so none of us have gotten much done aside from worrying and making plans to get out. As our plans stand, we’re leaving tomorrow morning to head up to Baton Rouge to weather the storm out there. Gustav is still expected to pass close through Baton Rouge, but it’s much better inland than here on the coast so we should be ok. I just really don’t want to be here in New Orleans when a possible category 5 hurricane hits. After that I may have to go up to Tennessee where the hospital I work for is evacuating to. It all just depends on what happens and how long it takes before we can come pack. I just really hope that this isn’t another Katrina thing, but as it is right now the damn thing looks worse than Katrina. Our always well poised mayor, Ray Nagin (can you hear the sarcasm?) has these words “this is the mother of all storms, you all need to get your butts out of New Orleans”. So that’s what we’re doing.

I do want to thank Debi and Nymeth so so so much for the Super Commenter award. That was so incredibly sweet and I think that award means more to me than any one I’ve gotten. Sorry I’ve been a bad blogger and haven’t left a comment yet in response to getting it 😦 I’ll give out the award to a few more people as soon as things settle down some. We’re taking my mom’s computer to Baton Rouge with us, so as long as I have internet, I’ll try to keep people updated on what’s going on with us and Gustav.

And of course I’ve packed a few books to read for the RIP challenge 😉 I’m most nervous about my books flooding again…that would just suck. I’ve just now built my library up again. I’ve raised them as much as I can but there’s so many of them that they can only go so high. We’ll see what happens!

Until next time guys…hope to talk to y’all soon.

Interview with John Lawson

As promised, here is the excellent interview with author John Lawson, author of Witch Ember and The Raven, both of which would make excellent RIP Reads by the way! It’s just a day late :/ Enjoy! I apologize in advance for any annoying formatting errors…Wordpress is giving me one hell of a time trying to put in an interview format. But you know how this works…my questions are in bold, his answers are not.

How do you typically describe your books to people who ask what you write?

If they’re just being polite, I’ll tell them Fantasy. Although I’ve been told enough times that my work is really dark, so sometimes I say Dark Fantasy, but Dark Fantasy doesn’t tend to deal with swords and sorcery, so that might not be the right genre either. To be completely accurate, I think I would say Science Fiction that takes place in a pre-industrialized society.

Actually, I think I’ve accidentally slipped into the trendy new Steampunk genre, though I haven’t read of it to be sure.

What did you envision when you set off to write Witch Ember and was it what you ended up with?

The first words I wrote for Witch Ember were “Poor little witch girl.” That was back in 1999. It was a completely spur-of-the-moment action, and I’m not sure where it came from. But once I started writing, I found it difficult to stop.

I have no preconceived notions about how the books take shape, story-wise. I begin writing, and I see where the journey takes me. I take notes fastidiously, and usually by the time the second or third chapter is complete, I have a general outline for the entire book. For the most part, I do very little rewriting.

You create extremely complex worlds in the two books of yours that I’ve read including entire cultures, mythologies, and languages. How long have these books been stirring in your head?

I have included elements that have knocking around for 20 years or so, but most of the content is either gleaned from research or pulled out of thin air at the time of writing. Some of my ideas come from comic books I read as a child, or movies, or novels. Some of them come from conversations I’ve had with friends.

For the most part, the core elements of my cultures are based on real peoples and then given a twist or two to make them special. Some of my cultures are more transparent than others.

I’m no expert on mythology…how much of the mythology of your worlds was taken from traditional myth and how much was created by yourself?

I’ve been a fan of myth since I read my first Greek myth in grade school. I’ve read Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, Chinese, Indian, Babylonian myths… you name it. Its all log jammed up there in my head.

When I started writing Witch Ember, I wanted it to have an Arthurian feel to it (I’m not sure if that actually came through though). I did a lot of research on the Arthurian romances, Chretien de Troyes, the Mabinogion, The Decameron, etc.

The Raven was obviously heavily influenced on Norse mythology, and I read every Saga and Edda I could find, which amounted to hundreds of pages of Norse fable and history.

For a prequel book I’ve been working on, I did a lot of reading of Brothers Grimm and other original fairy tales.

For the most part, I endeavor to make my myths and fables unique while still lending them an authentic flavor. I hope I was successful.

One criticism that I’ve seen of your books on some reviews is the language that you developed for the different cultures. I personally enjoyed this aspect, but some are frustrated by it. What made you decide to introduce an extensive vocabulary to your characters and add a glossary? (By the way, I’ve become a big fan of the word *boduus*)

Yäh, whenever I read those reviews, I have to mutter “Yä boduus ard-vitchoors…”

I include those languages because that’s the way the world is. I live and work in Silicon Valley, CA, one of the most integrated places in the world. At any one time on the street or in the workplace, I can overhear conversations being conducted in Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Filipino, Eastern European, English, or more likely, a mishmash of multiple tongues.

The world of Witch Ember is multi-cultural, and Cliffs Reach in particular is a major trade center. Like the London or Shanghai of old, people from many countries travel there and settle there. Its natives will be multi-lingual. The aristocrats will be versed in the “cultured” tongues, while the working and lower classes will have a more functional pidgin tongue. To ignore or gloss it over would remove an important part of the characters’ lives.

Lemme give you a case-in-point. Some years ago, I picked up a book written by a very famous sci-fi/fantasy author. It had a unique, exciting premise, so I was eager to read it. The book was ultimately a disappointment on a number of levels, but one in particular really galled me. The main character began the story in a relatively obscure location and through events in the plot, ended up traveling across much of the world. He passed through many nations and kingdoms, met countless cultures, and everywhere he went, everyone spoke the same language. There was never any trouble communicating or understanding each other.

OK, fine, this was a fantasy world. That can be explained. Maybe this world hasn’t experienced any kind of “Tower of Babel” event or other mythic reason for the fragmentation of tongues. Fine, whatever.

Except for the fact that this main character had a sidekick. And that sidekick spoke everything with an accent. An accent of what??? Everyone spoke the same language!

I tell you, it made me nuts. So I resolved not to do the same thing when I wrote my books.

To those who experience difficulty and frustration while reading my books, I apologize, but I gotta do it.

There’s no denying that your books are dark and horrifying at times. Characters that we fall in love with go through extreme tortures. Esmeree, main character of Witch Ember, faces trial after trial from her days as a small child through adulthood. What do you hope your readers gleam from the trials that your characters face if anything?

Breaking the things you love certainly leaves an impression, doesn’t it?

I dunno, maybe I write Horror? Is there such a thing as Dark Horror Fantasy Steampunk?

I don’t necessarily feel the events are extreme when you consider the time and settings in which they take place. Cliffs Reach is much like 18th century London, and the events therein are in many ways pale caricatures of what really happened in our own world. If I was completely accurate, I think I would have stretched the limits of credence and come across as unnecessarily sadistic (actually, based on one review I’ve had, I was still too accurate and too sadistic–go me).

Besides, to my mind, it’s not what my characters overcome, but how. And perhaps why.

Esmeree can overcome circumstances that would kill or crush a normal person through her talent, ingenuity, and intellect. And in doing so, she grows stronger, either through experience, magical power, or influence with other people. By virtue of her character, she draws others to her. Enemies become allies. She is a unifier, and perhaps through that unity, she can bring about change.

Besides, all that turmoil gives her street cred. Representin’, yo.

(Maybe it’s me, I dunno. Recently I shared one of my future projects with my wife. I told her I thought this story was really uplifting, and she replied, “Oh my god, it was the most depressing thing I’ve ever read!” Obviously she is not part of my demographic.)

I’m currently reading a book that has a setting somewhat similar to Witch Ember. It takes place in a large city and revolves around the lives of some homeless youths. But this book is like Mr Rodgers Neighborhood compared to Witch Ember, and I’m having a really difficult time getting any sense of danger or tension from the narrative. How hard can life be when the only punishment for an orphan arrested for theft is adoption? It’s like the cast of “Annie” meets “Camelot”. (A hard knock life, indeed.)

But hey, this book’s been published by a major publisher, one of a series I believe, and I’m still struggling. So there ya go.

Some of the creatures and beings that you created for your novels are just mind blowing! Are these creatures that have been with you for a while? How do you come up with them?

I don’t think there’s an answer for that question that doesn’t make me sound nuts.

Generally speaking, I try to take stock fantasy beasties, and I try to make them more, well, realistic… if that’s the right word for it. My elves aren’t androgynous she-males that prance through forest glades. My dwarves aren’t short, cranky Scotsmen with axe fetishes.

For example, take the therm from The Raven. They were based on centaurs. I recall reading once that the legend of the centaur possibly originated back when Greeks saw a band of Persian cavalry. From a distance, they couldn’t discern the riders’ torsos from the horses’ heads, and so they thought they saw creatures with a horse’s body mounted by a man’s torso.

I just took the concept in the other direction. What kind of animal would give the same impression? And then, how would such a creature behave? How would it live? What would it believe?

What can we look forward to for the future of the series? I’m hoping for more! Do you have a plan for how many books will be included in the complete series?

Presently, I have a book coming out around the end of this year through Drollerie Press. It’s not a sequel, but it does take place in the Witch Ember/The Raven “world.”

(For those who objected to both my languages and my book length, this book was written to address those concerns. It’s essentially the first part of my standard 3-part format, so it’s short, and it takes place in a relatively insulated location, which means not so many funny words.)

I’m also in negotiations to publish a Witch Ember prequel. (Which isn’t really a negotiation. I told him I couldn’t accept his contract unless he made a change, and he’s hasn’t responed, which probably means “no.”) And currently I’m writing a true sequel to Witch Ember, picking up Esmeree’s story once again.

Of course we all want to know what inspires you. This can be anything…art, books, music, pancakes…

History inspires me. Literature inspires me. And so one can extrapolate that historical fiction and historical literature inspires me. I read fables or myths, and I think, “OK, let’s pretend that really happened. How could it have happened?” or “What would that creature really look like? How would it live?” and then I begin to work it over in my head.

I’m not too visually stimulated. Art or multi-media don’t do much for me. Neither does music. But reading, wow. It’s like adding gasoline to a bonfire.

And since this is a book blog, we also all want to know what your favorite books are! What are you currently reading? What would you say your top 5 6 favorite books are?

The Uplift War series

Catch 22

Foucault’s Pendulum

Footfall

Mythago Wood

Waiting for Godot

I’m currently reading two books that I’m not really enjoying right now, so I’m not going to name them. (I don’t know why I do this to myself other than the fact that they were gifts from my wife, so I feel obliged to finish them.)

Top 5 favorite films?

Bladerunner

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Nate and Hayes

Glory

Alien/Aliens

Skeletons by Ray Bradbury and Other Stuff

His teeth began to chatter. God All-Mighty! he thought, why haven’t I realized it all these years? All these years I’ve gone around with a – SKELETON – inside me! How is it we take ourselves for granted? How is it we never question our bodies and our being?

What a great way to start off the RIP Challenge. I had finished last years RIP Challenge with The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury which I highly, highly recommend to anyone as a read this year, so I wanted to start this years with some more Bradbury who’s writing I’ve just fallen in love with.

Skeletons is a short chapbook that was published by Subterranean Press that contains two short stories, both entitled “Skeleton” that were written by Bradbury in 1945. The first is much longer and in my opinion, much better. The book has numerous illustrations on each of it’s 44 pages by Dave McKean which add to it’s creepiness. The story focuses on a man who suddenly begins to be bothered by the bones in his body. After seeing his doctor and being blown off, he goes to another “doctor” with no MD behind his name that puts the idea into his head that his skeleton is what’s bothering him and he’s heard of this before. What follows is a journey into madness as the man feels invaded by the skeleton within his body as if it is a separate being from him and he’ll do whatever it takes to overcome it’s “control” over him. Another Bradbury great and a great start to the RIP challenge!

In other news, please keep your fingers crossed that this bitch of a hurricane, Gustav stays the hell away from us. It’s projected path takes it right to us right now on Monday as a category 3 or 4 hurricane and it’s now being dubbed “Katrina 2” down here. Not a good sign…Please no…

In better news, Megan is down here for a few days! It’s nice to get some visiting time in with her and to hang out a little bit. Her mom had her gall bladder removed today so she flew down to spend some time with her for a few days. We went and had dinner and talked for awhile after work tonight and that was really nice. Good to see that we have no problems falling into conversation and old times.

Stay tuned tomorrow for what I promise is one hell of an interview with author John Lawson who wrote Witch Ember and The Raven which I reviewed earlier this year. You don’t want to miss this great interview!

Bonk by Mary Roach

I’ve had my eye on Bonk by Mary Roach ever since reading Dewey’s review awhile back. It seems that I’m one of a handful of people who had never heard of Mary Roach before. She’s done some interesting research in her short time as an author. Her past two books explore human cadavers and links between science and the afterlife and her latest research now takes her into the field of sex with Bonk. The full title of the book is Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex and let me tell you, it makes for one hell of a read.

If you’re looking for a “how to have great sex” book or something erotic, this is not it. What Roach gives us is a truly entertaining look at the science of sex, the inner workings of sex, and all of the extremely interesting research that goes on in order to learn those things. And she gives us all of this with a laugh out loud sense of humor. Sample chapter titles include “The Princess and her Pea”, “Re-Member Me”, and “The Immaculate Orgasm, Who Needs Genitals?” among others. The book is not for those who are not open minded to say the least as many scenes are “graphic” if you want to call it that, but the fact is, it’s all a part of life. I personally have never had a problem talking about sex so this wasn’t an uncomfortable read for me.

Roach gives a great history of sex research starting with the early days, pre-Kinsey…stuff I didn’t even know about! And then going on to Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson. While reading this, I learned that the hospital that I work at actually used to have a Masters and Johnson clinic where Masters and Johnson actually came and trained the clinicians to treat sexual disorders! How cool is that? Roach then goes on to describe modern sex research sometimes actually taking part in the research herself to get the research done! Talk about a woman committed to her work! I have to say that some of the research being done out there is truly bizarre…but who am I to question it. It at least makes for entertaining reading.

I think what I enjoyed more than anything about this book was Mary Roach’s footnotes. They are absolutely hilarious and had me laughing out loud. If you read this one, make sure you don’t skip them over. This girl really does her research! Another one that I highly recommend!

RIP III is Here!!!

Autumn is by far my favorite time of the year. It has been since as long as I can remember. The summer tends to put me into a funk as you may have noticed as I sort of dropped out of blog land for the last couple of months. But just in reading Carl’s announcement that the RIP III Challenge has arrived I feel newly invigorated! Top that off with a day that has been rainy and in the mid 70’s and it’s starting to actually feel a bit like Fall. Time to pull out the horror books, gothic classics, dark fantasy, and thrillers and truly enjoy what’s in my opinion the best season of the year. And kudos to Carl for the most kick-ass challenge banner I’ve ever seen 😉

I love the new option of just listing a big pool of books rather than committing to a list of books as that’s exactly what I’ve been disliking about challenges lately. It’s been bogging me down big time. So I’m going for Peril the First which is to read 4 books by Halloween in the “RIP genre”. Here’s the pool (I’m warning you, it’s long!):

-The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (of course)
-Skeletons by Ray Bradbury
-Summer Morning, Summer Night by Ray Bradbury
-Tales of Moonlight and Rain by Ueda Akinari
-Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
-Blaze by Richard Bachman
-The Thief of Always by Clive Barker
-Strange Roads by Peter Beagle
-Strange Birds by Gene Wolfe
-Tithe by Holly Black
-Currency of Souls by Kealan Patrick Burke
-Lye Street by Alan Campbell
-Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast
-I’ll be Watching You by Charles de Lint
-Duma Key by Stephen King
-The Stand by Stephen King
-Midnight Days by Neil Gaiman
-Angels and Visitations by Neil Gaiman
-The Bat Poet by Randall Jarrell
-The Dead Zone by Stephen King
-Freaks by Annette Curtis Klause
-Whispers by Dean Koontz
-Gossamer by Lois Lowry
-Baltimore by Mike Mignola
-In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami
-A Soul in a Bottle by Tim Powers
-Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
-The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia

I told you it was long! I basically just pooled everything that fit the criteria from my TBR shelf. I’ll probably add more too as the challenge goes by. Can’t wait to see what everyone else is reading!

A Review, A Winner, And A Storm

I’ve been wanting to read something by Steven Millhauser ever since seeing the film The Illusioninst which was one of my favorite films that I saw last year. Many people were critics, but I was a fan. The movie was based on Millhauser’s short story of the same name and I knew that I’d enjoy his work after seeing it. So I’ve finally gotten around to reading something of his with his Pulitzer prize winning novel, Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer.

I want to get my hands on everything Millhauser after reading this book. It required a bit of suspension of disbelief, but it was obvious that it required that and that he didn’t expect you to accept everything as reality. Martin Dressler is a novel that portrays itself as extremely factual, almost biography-like, but is dream-like at the same time with hints of the fantastic darkly buried in the corners. It was genius, really.

The book opens with Martin as a very young boy working in his father’s cigar shop in New York around 1870. It’s a normal cigar shop, but Martin wants it to be bigger and better and has the idea to create a cigar tree that will attract customers, so his father lets him. This is just the beginning of the hint of a creative mind that is bigger than the city of New York itself. Martin soon gets the idea to start delivering cigars to a nearby hotel to increase sales. After a few months of doing so, he’s offered a bellboy’s job at the hotel, leaving his schooling behind for a working life split between the cigar shop and the hotel. He finds the hotel life to be extraordinary and sees endless possibilities in what a hotel could be as he works his way up the chain of command, meeting a wide array of enchanting personas along the way including a mother and her two alluring daughters whom he forms a unique bond with.

What follows from here I won’t give away, for it’s an amazing story of invention that took my mind for a ride. In the last 100 pages of the novel, we see Martin’s lifelong dreams and visualizations finally come to fruition, but we also see the hunger for more, more more. For it never being enough. And while “the sky is the limit” can be a good thing when it comes to an imagination, it can also be a torturous and grueling thing, a thing that unravels us as there’s no limit to reach.

What impressed me more than anything about Millhauser’s novel was his amazing descriptive ability. He sets a mood like no other author I’ve read and creates a fantastic atmosphere. I could’ve imagined myself in any of the locations that he described. I easily saw myself sitting in the lobby of a beautiful 19th century hotel in Manhattan, eating lunch on a patio outside of a cafe on Broadway, walking through a night-time labyrinth and coming across a boat on a lake that would take me to a tea room in the middle of the lake. He paints his scenes in colors of browns and yellows and reds, sepia tones that are just perfect to the time period that he writes in and I just can’t wait to read more of his work.

So we also have a winner to announce! You might remember that I did a review of J. Scott Savage’s Farworld and in that review mentioned that Savage is giving away a copy of his book! I also did an interview with him if you’re interested in reading that here. The winner of the ARC is Nicola! Nicola, if you want to send me your address at chrisa511(at)gmail(dot)com, I’ll forward it to Mr. Savage and have the book shipped to you. Congrats!

Finally, I’m enjoying Tropical Depression Fay today. I actually enjoy tropical weather believe it or not as long as it’s not a hurricane. Especially after Katrina. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been enthralled with weather and I’ve always loved the rain and the wind. It makes for perfect reading days. Today, Fay is sitting right over us and not causing too much trouble except for some guaranteed good reading weather. So I’m going to finish Bonk by Mary Roach I think. I do feel for all of those people in Florida though…they got some horrible rainfall totals and I know that some of them had to have had their homes flooded. My heart goes out to them. It’s no fun.

Interview With J. Scott Savage

I had the opportunity to do an interview with J. Scott Savage after my review and I must say that he gives an excellent interview! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Don’t forget that you still have until this Saturday to enter the drawing on my review post to win a signed ARC of his first book in his Farworld series, Farworld: Water Keep.

1. Where did the inspiration come from for Farworld? When the idea struck you, did you start planning out the whole series or just jump into book one?

Most of the time, I don’t start writing a book until several ideas have gelled together. That usually takes anywhere from six months to a year. With Farworld, though the process was actually several years, because, although I’d been fleshing out the story in my mind for a long time, I was convinced that I would never write it. I had never published a YA fantasy. When I did start writing it, I thought I knew where the series was going. But I quickly came to realize there was a lot more to the series than I had realized. For example, I knew my characters were going to go in search of four groups of elementals. But what I hadn’t considered was what are the elementals? Where did they come from? What role to they play in magic? Why don’t they cooperate with each other? What is the end to their means? When I thought it all through, there was much more to the stories. I think a good fantasy series has to have the background or it turns into a fairytale.

2. I’ve worked with kids with disabilities for a long time and loved the fact that your main hero had a disability. It’s not something you see often (or at all) in fantasy literature. Aside from making his “tragic flaw” as a hero quite obvious, what was the inspiration for that decision? Is Marcus based on anyone you know?

My biggest fear in giving Marcus that physical disabilities he has was that people would view it as a kind of gimmick. “Hey, I know. I’ll write a book where one of the protagonists uses a wheelchair.” I would never have written the series if that was the case. What I envisioned was a series with two children who most people would overlook as unable to be conventional heroes. But if you’ve spent much time around kids with disabilities, you realize that outsiders view them as much weaker than they really are. It’s like they make up for their disabilities by stoking an inner fire. I imagines my villains overlooking what was inside the boy and girl. In my book, the wizard tells Kyja that the most powerful magic is what’s inside her. But couldn’t he have told Marcus the same thing. Marcus may not be physically strong. But the most power strength is not the bulging biceps. It’s what is in your heart.

3. So how much fun was it for you to write the character of a master wizard?! I loved the character of Master Therapas and he had some of the most incredible lines in this novel. Do you see this book as something that will hopefully not only entertain kids but inspire them as well?

As you know, I am a huge fantasy fan. And I don’t know if there is any more classical fantasy element than the wizard. We may call him/her something else, but essentially he is the wise keeper of power. Even before I knew I would write Farworld, I considered what my ideal wizard would be. He has to be wise, but also funny. I don’t want him to be a warrior character per se, but I want him to be powerful. I kind of envision MT as the gunslinger who was once the most feared in the west. Now most people think he is past his prime, but no one is quite willing to pull on him either. I believe that the very best fantasy novels I have ever read leave me feeling inspired as well as entertained. Hopefully Farworld can do the same thing.

4. Do you suffer from horrible nightmares? 😉 You came up with some incredible villains in this novel and I was wondering where the idea for them came from?

Yeah. I have a pretty vivid imagination which makes for some scary nightmares. I think the scariest stuff though is what you imagine when your awake. I never go into a hotel room without pulling back the shower curtain. Just to make sure nothing is lurking back there.

5. Where did all of the names come from in Farworld? The names of the villains and towns were all extremely unique. How did you come up with them?

Again, one of the benefits of writing fantasy. You almost never get to have a bad guy named Bonesplinter in a high-tech thriller for example. A lot of coming up with the write name involves knowing what sounds are good sounds and what sounds are bad sounds. This is the case with even normal names. Chet has a hard feel to it. It is a good name for a bad guy. Marcus is a softer name. Just hearing the two names, you can generally say which one sounds more likable to you. Unless the author is tricky and gives a bad guy a good guy’s name. But I’d never do that. Wink.

6. I’ve been a fan of Brandon Dorman’s artwork since I discovered the first Fablehaven book and the work he did with your book is simply phenomenal! What was it like working with him?

One afternoon I was out to lunch with my family when me cell phone rang. It was Brandon asking for some additional details about Water Keep. That was especially cool, because the waitress kept eavesdropping and finally asked my wife, “What does your husband do?” It was a kick. I’ve been involved in sales and marketing for most of my adult life, and you quickly come to realize that there are three kinds of vendors you work with: those who fall short of expectations, those who do exactly what you ask of them, and those who take your ideas and blow you away. Brandon blew me away. Not everything he did was the direction I was expecting, but his finished products were so amazing, I couldn’t believe it.

7. Of course we all want to know…what are your favorite books of all time? And what are you reading right now? Favorite authors?

Gosh, that is such a hard question. I love so many things about so many different authors. I love the depth of Card’s stories, I love the storytelling of Stephen King, I love the pure writing of Peter Straub, and I love the incredible imagination of Gaiman. I just finished Neverwhere and it absolutely blew me away. It’s inspiring to see that kind of imagination at work.

8. On a related note, I know from your blog that you’re a big movie fan too. Favorite movies??

Yeah, I am a big movie fan. And again, the thing I look for is a movie that totally exceeds my expectations. I love LOTR. I honestly think it is the best movie series of all time. I know a lot of people hated Speed Racer, but I found myself going, “Wow!” a lot. Just off the top of my head, movies that totally exceeded my expectations include Princess Bride, Finding Nemo, The Fugitive, Raiders (all three movies, but definitely not the fourth), Star Dust and the fifth Harry Potter movie.

9. What is your writing process like? Computer? Pen and Paper? And when is the best time for you to write?

Since I am not yet a fulltime writer, I have to write wherever and whenever I can. I am typically a laptop guy, but I can use pen and paper when that’s all I have. I typically plan on paper because I can flow chart, draw pictures and get really creative. But I tend to do my writing on a computer so I can actually read it later.