Friday, February 15, 2008

Serials and Scenarios - My Name is Michael Snyder

Of all the interviews I've ever had the pleasure of cutting and pasting into Scrambled Dregs, Mike's holds the distinction of making me laugh out loud the most. Thank you, Mike.

Readers, if you have pathetic Kegel muscles, take a potty break before reading any further. And have a great weekend.

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

I think the guy who had the golden-egg-laying goose. First, I could go on Letterman and do Stupid Pet Tricks. Next, I would have my agent negotiate all outrageous film and memoir rights. Then I’d hold a widely publicized auction on eBay and get rid of the silly thing before I too succumbed to all that greedy temptation.

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

I’d like to find the guy who came up with the idea of slavery and ask, “Really?”

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

I’m not sure that I can, in good conscious, use the word ‘ritual.’ That would imply something other than the controlled randomness I employ.

My writing probably has an element of jazz to it, meaning—there’s enough structure or sameness to qualify for a routine. But then I allow for a certain amount of improvisation as well.

Imperatives include: my computer, my clothes, my broken chair, a hot beverage (usually orange spiced tea), and MUST be running in the background.

After that, it’s all up for grabs. I don’t outline. Music is optional. I prefer the door closed, but can live with it open. And I find that I’m usually inspired when there’s an assortment of cereal within reach.

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

Hmm…I think I would put a warning label on page one of Andre Dubus’ House Of Sand And Fog. Something along the lines of: “Don’t get your hopes up, people!”

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

Probably gray, so long as the tip is somewhere between really sharp and really stumpy. Gray is sturdy, necessary, and reliable as opposed to flashy and out front. So…as meager as it seems, I think I’d be content as the self-sharpening gray crayon in the back of the box.

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

“Son, you’ve got a panty on your head.” From the Coen Brothers film, Raising Arizona.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

The period beginning in April of 1965 and running through (approximately) one minute from now. Not only does my memory stink, but my brain has virtually zero capacity for history. On a good day, I can put the two major World Wars in chronological order. (It helps if the Roman numerals are supplied.) I’m not all that interested in the future either, save for the fact that I hope to be in it. That said, I am working on a sci-fi historical novel in which a couple of neurotic time travelers are thrust into some ordinary existence in the early 21st century. The girl is from, like, the Civil War era and the guy maybe commanded a funky spaceship in like, 2184. But neither has any memory of their respective lives other than what’s happening to them right now.

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.)

Not to be a smarty britches, but hopefully exactly what I’m writing now.

What makes you feel alive?

I feel most alive when I’m breathing. Naps are a close second.

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

Okay, that is one fantastic question. I’m guessing my answer is a combination of all of those. But there is a special (and large!) place in my heart for humor. But I’ll keep thinking about this one for a while…
Favorite season and why?

It’s a tie between Spring and Fall, mainly because I’m a big fat sissy and don’t like to be uncomfortable. Summer and Winter are simply there to keep the longing alive in our hearts. In a sense, they reaffirm our belief in heaven. I’m no theologian, but there will be neither frostbite, nor sunburn in heaven. And if they do happen to make a cameo, they’ll

Favorite book setting and why?

I love normal settings—work, home, restaurants, etc. My favorite authors make those normal scenes vibrate with conflict and intrigue, somehow milking humor and pathos from seemingly ordinary locales.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?
What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I put these two questions together to remind myself of something. I vowed long ago to take it all with a grain of salt. My theory is that if I buy into the praise, then I have to accept the criticism as well. It’s like a swinging saloon door—once it starts flapping, I can’t control who comes and goes and how much trouble they cause when they start drinking together. So I can’t see where it’s entirely healthy or helpful to put too much stock in either. The temptation would be to accept the praise and ignore the critics. Hopefully, I’ll be able to enjoy and learn from it all. It sounds good in theory. But we’ll see how it goes…(I really do love the praise though…a lot!)

What word annoys you more than any other?

Packet. I’m not sure why, but that word has always bugged me.

Superhero you most admire and why?

Robin, but only for his abject loyalty. He’s always in Batman’s shadow. I can’t tell what his powers are supposed to be, other than like Super Valet, or maybe Super Errand Boy Flunky. Plus, he has to wear panty hose and a yellow cape. Come to think of it, those red vest and green shoes aren’t helping much either. Maybe I should add Super Decoy or Super Moving Target to his list of powers. I think Batman made him dress like that on purpose so he’d have time to duck and hide when the sniper picked off the more flamboyant target.

Super power you’d love to borrow for awhile?

Batman’s precautionary thinking when choosing sidekicks.

Favorite chore

Folding laundry, I think. Lawn-mowing is okay too for about twenty minutes.

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

I was supposed to go skydiving with my uncle when I turned eighteen. We talked about it but it never really worked out. I would love to say the reason I don’t do it now is because I’m a father of four and all that. I think I’d probably be too chicken now. Or maybe just too apathetic.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Whichever grammatical errors I make.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Another tie…when people flick their cigarette butts out the window and/or when people just leave their grocery carts all over the lot. I’m as lazy and selfish as the next guy. But somebody has to clean up after those folks, right?

And if racism counts as a pet peeve, then I guess I’d like to solve that issue by tossing racists out the window (only after igniting them and breathing bad breath all over them) and running over them with shopping carts.

Pick any of the following and have fun with it.
Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….

DISCLAIMER: The following snippets are in no way meant to impugn any particular genre (yours, mine, or anybody else’s). If there’s any impugning going on here, it’s aimed at me, and my lack of ability to write across genres. Besides, the instructions said to ‘have fun with it.’


Basement lights dim.
Eyes close.
(Soundtrack orchestra clings to a brassy—and ridiculously long—minor chord, as the POV cuts to a handgun on a dresser.)
Lips pucker.
Fatherly footsteps approach from above…


As the burning helicopter plummeted toward the scorched earth, the ruggedly handsome archeologist took the brilliant barista-cum-triple-spy in his bulging-but-recently-lacerated arms.

Their eyes met.
He shot somebody.

They tilted their heads to the side (to make room for their perfect but dirty noses) and locked their lip coordinates on FULLY ENGAGE, then hit their respective thrusters, and …


“Excuse me, miss?” the pool boy said handsomely. “Is your bodice ripped?”
“You fool! Shut up and kiss me!”


Austin made a smoochy face in Victoria’s general direction. She smashed him in the schnaz with her (brand name) purse, kicked him in the shin with her (brand name) shoes, made a pithy remark to her homosexual best friend on her (brand name) cell phone before sashaying to her convertible while sipping from her (brand name) low-fat but really super expensive coffee-based beverage.


The music box sits, unopened on the scarred wooden table.
Her moist lips glisten like two bulbous slugs. He cups her neck, his fingers braided through auburn tresses of her delectable strandiness. The raucous palpitations of their respective hearts beat together as one lone drummer in the marching band of love. The chalkboard sky parts as the joy of the heavens shower them in petals of tender consent.
He pauses, willing his mind to banish the image of his abusive, alcoholic, not-very-affirming father. Her entire sad childhood crystallizes in the single tear springing from the corner of her azure eyes and rushing down her cheek like liquid fire. The heat of his passion breaches the void between them.

They pause to think about something meaningful, but that in no way seems relevant to the rest of the story. We just know it’s supposed to be really deep and over our heads.

Their lips meet.

He dies and she has to move away, still very sad and very lonely, with more questions than she started with at the beginning of chapter one.

She leaves the music box on the table. We’re not sure why, but we know it’s somehow fraught with significance, like the scars on the wood. So we pretend to understand, so we’ll feel as smart as the critics who praised this otherwise inexplicable tome.


Harzimok watches Danelctro dematerialize, her shiny, one-piece, pajama-esque spacesuit glistening in the artificial light of the transport chamber as she vanishes in a minor electrical storm into some other world that sort of parallels earth, but with lots of funny names and strange creatures and, like, it’s own sort of gravity and symbolism and stuff.

“Dude,” he says to his crater-faced buddy, Zoink. “It was like making out with a bug zapper!”


“That was amazing,” she said as the Nazi fighter planes shook the sky.
“Yeah,” he said, cleaning his musket. “I guess it was pretty good. I don’t really remember.