Friday, November 16, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - James Scott Bell - Tolls...Uhhh Tells

If you love a dry sense of humor, and references to current culture, you are in for a treat. Keep reading and enjoy the fun answers to the Dreg questions. James Scott Bell -- loads of fun. Thanks, Jim!

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

Phillip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's private detective. Yes, he got beat up and abused from time to time, but he always had the right thing to say at the right time.

That's why I wrote the lead in Try Dying the way I did. I sort of get to be him through the writing.

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

I'd ask William Shakespeare if he ever used an eraser. It was said that what he wrote didn't get changed, by him or anyone else. I suspect he had a lot of crumpled paper around, with lines like, "What light through yonder window shines, peeps, gets in my eyes…breaks."

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

Starbucks. Sip. Sit. Type. Repeat.

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

I'd change the dog in The Call of the Wild and make it a lawyer who gets kidnapped and sent to the Yukon to pull a sled.

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

What's periwinkle?

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

From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away. – Raymond Chandler, The High Window

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.

Poetry. Remember Rod McKuen? I could write that in about ten minutes and sell a million copies. Now that's what I call a good return on an investment!

What period of history intrigues you the most?

1920's America. I wrote a novel called Glimpses of Paradise that takes place in Hollywood at the height of the silent movie era. It's a fascinating period when the country was trying to figure out who we were.

What makes you feel alive?


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

I'm a truth guy. I love the idea that some things are actually true and others are not and that our God given noodles can help us figure out which is which.

But then I like humor, too. Like Steven Wright, who once said he went into a restaurant that said it served breakfast, any time. So he ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

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

I'd bring a Dickens, cool jazz, my wife and several cans of Trader Joe's Rosencrunch & Guildenpop clusters.

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.

Scotland, where my ancestors are from. I'd like to dress in a kilt and eat haggis and fight some English king.

Favorite book setting and why?

Los Angeles. My writer friends who are smarter set their books in Hawaii or Europe. They get nice tax write-offs for research. Me, I stick around the city I was born and raised in. I actually love my town.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

I admit it, I do like it when people say "I couldn't put it down!" It means I'm doing job #1 as a novelist, which is to keep the readers flipping pages. If I don't do that, nothing else gets done, does it?

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I've always believed what one writer said, that criticism of your work is not personal, unless it's accompanied by a punch in the nose. I've only had one unfair review in my career, and it reflected much worse on the reviewer and publication. Also, the book was a bestseller.

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

Type faster.

(A line I lift, unapologetically, from Isaac Asimov)

What is your favorite word?


What phrase annoys you more than any other?

"I could care less," which of course means the precise opposite of what the speaker intends.

Superhero you most admire and why?

Hercules. I used to love the Steve Reeves Hercules movies. The guy was so cool and ripped. I always wanted to be able to lift a boulder and throw it on a ship.

Favorite chore

Making my wife coffee in the morning.

Anything you’d do but don’t because of fear of pain?

Fighting Chuck Norris.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Phone ear pieces. It gives people the illusion they are the sun and everything and everyone else orbits around them.


Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….


He bent down. His lips got close to hers. Closer. A shot rang out. She didn't hear it. Closer, closer…


She pulled a gun and pointed it at him. "Kiss me or die."


It was a soft torrent, a Tsunami of lips and moonbeams, of oceans and desire, of Fabio dreams and pirate fantasies. In other words, a pretty good kiss.


He kissed me. I guess. If you could call that flapping yapper of his a kisser. He actually talked while he kissed! I decided then and there never to date a ventriloquist again. I was the dummy!


She stood there, amazed, rooted, seeing the grain of the wood of the barn clapboards, paint jawed away by sleet and driven sand, the unconcerned swallows darting and reappearing with insects clasped in their beaks looking like mustaches, the wind-ripped sky, the blank windows of the house, the old glass casting blue swirled reflections at her, his lips edging, even, in the first moment, feeling the wet press of his mouth against hers and hearing the bright sound of blood spurting.

(With apologies to Annie Proulx)


In his onyx-walled room in the occupation tower, Hulann -- a naoili -- disassociated his overmind from his organic regulating brain and allowed Paoo to contact his oral regulators.

(With apologies to early Dean Koontz)

Happy weekend one and all!