If you don't want to get sucked into Eric's novels do not read the rest of this post. He gives some great answers, with some supreme writing samplers...thanks for playing in the dregs, Eric.
If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?
Assuming the dead could speak, I’d love to ask Einstein why he wore his hair like that. I mean, come on--you’re a genius, admired by millions, and yet you have this image to overcome. You look like a bit deranged. A simple comb could’ve solved everything.
If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?
I love the Barbara Kingsolver novel, “The Poisonwood Bible.” It shows the destruction brought about by dogmatic religion, as opposed to the reality of a relationship with Jesus. My only complaint is that each of the story’s four missionary daughters (told in distinct and masterful voices) turn their backs on their childhood beliefs. I wish Barbara would’ve shown the balance, using one of the daughters as an example of coming to terms with the past and learning from it.
Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.
In the Jim Cavaziel version of “The Count of Monte Cristo,” there’s a scene that is so simple, yet so powerful. After years of serving an unjust prison sentence, he tells his mentor: “I don’t believe in God anymore.” “That’s okay,” his mentor responds, “God still believes in you.”
If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.
I hope to write a spiritual memoir someday, titled, “Finger in the Sky: One Man’s Struggle to Know the God of the Bible,” referring to two different fingers I’ve raised in my life—and the lessons I’ve learned from those experiences, good and bad, a work in progress. Here’s what I’ve written so far:
Oh, this is just beautiful, God!
In November 1985 I got the call that my uncle had committed suicide. He’d funneled the exhaust from the tailpipe into the cockpit of his Dodge Rambler, then climbed behind the steering wheel and smoked a joint while the engine’s fumes sucked the life from his body.
He did it for the sake of others, his letter claimed.
People who try to fit death and suicide into tidy little religious boxes really have no clue. My uncle, years before, had become a follower of Jesus. He read his Bible, met with other believers, prayed and put on his shiny church face.
He’d been saved, baptized, redeemed and sanctified.
So why, he wondered, did he still want to have women half his age? Was he beyond even God’s help? Was he one sick puppy?
After years of failure, despite the presence of competent spiritual counselors in his life, he found a way to end the sin raging through his limbs.
Call it selfish, call it the unforgivable sin, call it what you will…
He believed death was his friend in those final moments.
“Honey,” my mother said, “there’s something I need to tell you.”
The call found me in Vienna, Austria. The next morning I would be going into communist Romania with medical supplies, children’s clothes, and hundreds of smuggled Bibles.
I’d graduated from high school six months earlier. My best friend and I had saved up money for a trip to Europe. I’d worked late hours as a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver, scarred my arms loading sharp blankets of sheet metal in a factory, and frozen my fingers to the bone washing FedEx vans in a windswept lot on the west side of Eugene. We were idealists, with Jesus in our hearts and spiritual activism strapped to our belts like loaded guns.
My throat clenched as my mother spoke. I knew my life was about to take a turn. I heard it in her voice; I sensed it in my gut.
“Go ahead,” I said.
“Uncle John,” she said, “is dead.”
All that stuff about denial, about how you go into emotional shock to deal with pain, must be crap. Before she could say another word, I had tears streaming down my face. The fact of his death was the worst of it, but the fact that I couldn’t share in the grief with the rest of my family was no picnic either.
En route to Romania, the rutted road through Yugoslavia shook the tears from my head the way a dog might shake the life from a captured rodent. I was helpless. I loved my uncle, and I would never see him again.
Not in this life anyway. And I don’t know about the next.
Of course the loss of a loved one can be a huge stone plunging into the heart of a family, rippling for years across the family’s otherwise calm surface. His decision triggered other things, good and bad, in the Wilson clan. Our reactions ranged all over the place.
On my end, stuck halfway across the globe in sub-zero Romanian temperatures, grief and despair turned into a stronger spiritual commitment which served to mask my deepest doubts and questions. People were dying in this battle between darkness and light--people like my uncle, victims of sin’s strangehold--and God needed my help to fight the good fight.
As long as I kept swinging my sword, I wouldn’t have to think about the wounds piercing my own soul.
Just keep swinging, I told myself. Keep swinging.
What makes you feel alive?
Air, hot showers, hiking in the mountains, good books, firm mattresses, playing basketball…oh, and my wife’s unbelievable kisses!
Where would you most like to travel and why.
Some remote island in the Caribbean, a place my wife and I could have to ourselves for, oh, a month or two. We would read, write, swim, sunbath, eat, drink yummy beach drinks, and have a second honeymoon. We’ve been dreaming of it for a long time. We love to be with each other, but our attentions are diverted and distracted most of the time.
Anything you’d do but don’t because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.
Oh, man, I would love to dive off a hundred foot cliff, or bungee cord jump off a five-hundred-foot bridge, or skydive from ten thousand feet. I guess I have a thing about heights. I still have dreams that I can fly--that sense of freedom, soaring, weightlessness. One day we’ll get that feeling, caught up in the air with the Lord, but for now I’m scared to death of heights. I try to be manly, though, and face my fears. I’ll be one of those eighty year olds who goes bungee jumping for kicks (or to straighten out my gnarled limbs!).
Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.
When I speak, I’m not as precise as when I write. In fact, I throw in slang, dangling participles, all that stuff. The one that annoys me, though, is when someone says, “Do you wanna come to the store with Johnny and I?” No. It sounds right, but it’s not. “Johnny and me,” I want to bark back. If I say, ‘Come on over and have dinner with me and Carolyn,” someone is bound to pipe up with smug satisfaction and make the correction, “Carolyn and I.” Does that bug you? I, too. LOL
Societal pet peeve…sound off.
Yeah, this one is easy. Cell phones are like a plague: people driving under the influence of cell phones, talking loudly in public places, holding up the line while finishing a conversation, even gabbing on their cell while talking to you on their landline. Stop. Enough. Agggh.
Pick one of the “story starters” below and give us a sample of your voice.
Lauren stared at the clock. Eleven forty-five. Oh, if only it read ten forty-five. Everyone should be allowed one do-over hour in life.
And why not? Lauren wondered. If golfers were allowed mulligans, if kids on the playground were allowed take-backs, then adults dealing with serious issues should be allowed a second chance. Especially when it came to marriage.
“You ready to get ‘er done?” Darrell asked, touching Lauren’s shoulder.
She turned, felt the weight of the wedding veil on her head. His words blew across her coals of tension, rekindling a dull glow of anger. She raised an eyebrow. “Get ‘er done? Honey, you’re not even supposed to see me. Not yet.”
“That’s just silly tradition. Anyway, you look incredible.”
“Maybe we should skip the ceremony, save some money, and boogie on outta here.”
“To get ‘er done?”
“Now you’re talkin’!” Darrell winked.
For one second, with his right eye closed, he was reduced to half his charm. Lauren had melted into those deep blue eyes when they first met, fallen prey to his playful humor and old-fashioned manners. Now that The Big Day was here, Darrell was strutting around like a conquering hero. Like he had her right where he wanted. Like she was his for the taking.
“No, we’re done talking,” Lauren whispered.
Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.