Friday, October 05, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Kristin Billerbeck - Give the Girl a Trophy

Kristin Billerbeck is just plain sweet. I'm awarding her the first Dregs Perseverance Trophy. Not only did Kristin, best-selling, uber-busy author agree to an interview...she answered the questions more than once since a file got lost during her final look-see. She came out of her deadline induced stupor, answered them again, took a break to hang some curtains and finally sent off the tres amusant answers to the dregs questions. Bravo, Kristin. And thanks.
Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

Bathsheba Everdene in “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy because she’s hard-headed, does everything wrong and finally gets it by trial and error. That’s sort of my modus operandi.

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?

I would ask Leo Tolstoy if he regretted his version of Christianity towards the end of his life. He was very legalistic and heartless and though Anna Karenina remains an incredible book on one man’s journey to Christ, I find his own interesting, to say the least.

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

It’s not that weird. I have to have espresso to sit down at my desk, oh and I really have to work on a desktop, I’m not a laptop kind of girl and I don’t read generally read fiction when I’m writing. I use that time for study.

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

Okay, I realize this would significantly alter the conflict and destroy the book, but I’d give Scarlet O’Hara to Ashley. He married too boring (like himself) and she married to volatile (like herself). Not enough passion. Too much passion.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?

Pink because I’m fresh and happy. Midnight blue because when my brain is out of it, it’s gone, there’s not enough light getting in. I have bad mental days with my MS and it’s blurry – like hiking in the dark.

Pick one…..Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why? Can be negative or positive.

Periwinkle giraffe because I love giraffes, and periwinkle is a peaceful color.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

“Go sell crazy someplace else, we’re all full-up here.” Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets

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.

It would definitely be chick lit. I’m a girly-girl through and through and it would be about something that interested me. I’m fascinated by the human genome project locally and when I pass their buildings on the way to work, I think that would be an interesting world to enter into. I thought the same thing about physicists – did you know there’s really only four places in the world a physicist can work? Don’t know why, that kind of thing fascinates me.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

Victorian era.

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)

I would write a sitcom – but that’s a team effort and based in LA, so chances I will ever do that are very slim. I don’t really have an interest in screenplay writing, but I would also like to write a family-friendly humorous movie.

What makes you feel alive?

Driving in a convertible on a perfect California day.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

Humor. I’m not really a tearful type person, it’s pretty hard to make me cry. My best friend wouldn’t go to movies with me for years after I rolled my eyes in the middle of “Titanic” and said, “Yeah right, he’s gonna chase them with a gun when the boat’s going down.” She looked at me open-mouthed and said, “Something is severely wrong with you.” LOL

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.

I would take the Bible and my book of Thomas Hardy poetry given to me by a fan. It’s a book I’d love to spend more time with (he was my favorite author) but I don’t really have the time necessary to discern what he’s trying to say through poetry.

I’d take my son Seth because he is the happiest little bugger and just a light to be around. We’d have fun on the island and we’d eat hamburgers, because that’s his favorite.

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

I would like to go to Italy to the Amalfi Coast and Greece just because I think I’d do well in a slower pace with beautiful surroundings with good food. Italians and Greeks know how to live.

Favorite season and why?

Spring – the darkness changes. I love the sun! Which is why I’m stuck in California or better for where I live.

Favorite book setting and why?

England. Just fascinated with English literature and did a great tour by myself of Bath and the wonderful settings of Jane Austen before I lost my mom’s camera and couldn’t prove a thing.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?
Frank Weimann of the Literary Group told me he could sell my “What a Girl Wants” in two weeks. He said he roared, and he was an older Jewish man – his 40 year old, never-married assistant said the same. That made my life because it told me that I could be funny to people who weren’t necessarily my target market. Plus to have a NY agent say he can definitely sell your book, you don’t get that too often.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

There were two. One was that I was a racist – because I live in a place where I’m practically the only white person, so if I were a racist, it would sure make my life hard. That said, I think it’s racist not to notice how Koreans differ from the Chinese/Vietnamese/Taiwanese in culture. It’s rude not to notice, but if you’re white and you notice (and by the way, I notice because my different cultured friends TELL me), you’re called a racist, and there’s no way to defend that.

Some website reviewed “What a Girl Wants” and said that Ashley, who is soothing a friend who has just lost a baby was heartless because she was trying to talk her friend out of adopting that week. She was trying to keep her friend from making an abrupt decision. But in the review, she said, “I wonder if Billerbeck has ever lost a pregnancy.” Okay, what does THAT have to do with what my 31 year old single character would do? It just seemed so stinkin’ judgmental and out of place.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

Go on vacation with my family and spend whatever I could to make our time issue free. : )

What is your favorite word?

Narcissist. I just love the way it sounds. It’s so beautiful, which I guess is what Narcissus thought, as well. LOL It’s a pretty ugly word, but it’s powerful, don’t you think? It’s like subtexting within a single word.

What word annoys you more than any other?

Irregardless because it isn’t a word though people use it constantly.

Favorite chore

Doing the dishes. As close to taking a bath as a chore can get.

Anything you’d do but don’t because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.

White Water rafting. Did it once, and it hurt.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

People who judge others’ motives vs. actions. It drives me nuts when someone assumes you’re trying to tick them off, just because they have “issues”. In other words, Christians who go out of their way to be offended at everything. Sheesh, go work, and stop looking at everyone else.

Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….


I’m not sure how I ended up in this situation. I’m a brighter girl than this, much more careful with my emotions. “I should go,” I tell him, but the way he stares down at me, I know I’m not going anywhere. I’m waiting to see if what I feel has entered his mind.

“Where will you go?” his voice is low and riddled with intent.

I point back to the dorm, “I just thought I might do some homework. Big test on Tuesday.” He keeps his blue-eyed gaze steady. “Big test,” I repeat.

“So I heard.”

I start to back up, pointing again behind me, “So I’ll just be going.”

Like a cat, he doesn’t follow my finger, nor does he take his gaze off me.

“You’re making me nervous.”

“I’m trying to,” he says.

“You admit it?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

I cover my face with my hands, “I can’t take this kind of pressure. Are you going to kiss me or what?”

He steps forward and takes my face in his hands, “Definitely going to kiss you. Definitely.”

I close my eyes and wait until I feel the warmth of his firm lips on my own. “Big test,” I murmur. He silences my weak protests with another kiss.

Lauren stared at the clock. Eleven forty-five, if only it read ten forty-five. Everyone should be allowed one do-over hour in life. And why shouldn’t it start right now? She dropped her head to her desk and dreamed about the way the day should have gone. He would have arrived on time. With flowers and his telltale smirk.

“I’m not fooled by your outward charm, you know, you’ll have to work harder than that.”

Then, he’d grin and pull out the velvet box. “Was this what you had in mind?”

She’d feign surprise, as though she never saw it coming and when he dropped to one knee, her eyes would sparkle with tears of joy.

One do-over, is that too much to ask? She stared at her roommate’s empty desk and wondered if the humiliation would ever leave her. Wasn’t the fact that she’d been dumped enough for one day? Couldn’t he have waited a mere hour to ask Elise to brunch? One hour changed everything. And not in a good way.