Friday, July 11, 2008
Did I expect to laugh out loud at some of these answers after reading his great, deep Wind River? No. Nice of him to share a lighter side.
If you haven't read chapter one of Wind River, do it. Click on his face to visit his website, and scroll down for my review.
Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?
One of my fiction characters? Probably Beck Easton, because he has it so totally together and I so totally do not. Plus the Beckster's younger than me.
If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?
I would like to ask James Madison why he put those two extra commas in the Second Amendment. Ever read it? It makes sense without the first and third commas, but with them, it's gobbledegook.
Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.
Well, it always irritates the neighbors when I get up at sunrise to kill the goat. Actually, my only ritual is time; I have to write early in the day, well before sunrise, because the only thing worse than the phone ringing while you're writing is thinking that the phone might ring. And at five AM, it ain't gonna.
Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.
In The Departed, Jack Nicholson, playing a mobster, executes a woman gangland style, then leans over her and observes, "She fell funny."
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 would like it to be an Amish romance involving a Navy SEAL team preventing a corporate takeover in the end-times. That way it would contain the five story elements I see most often at writers conferences, and it would vindicate all those would-be novelists.
What period of history intrigues you the most?
World War II, because it was the great adventure of my father's life. I've visited some of the islands he was stationed on in the Pacific, and those have always been very powerful experiences.
What makes you feel alive?
High speeds and loud noises. Which is probably why I love my Harley.
How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?
When my wife is involved, it's through silence. As soon as she clams up, that's my cue to ruminate. Also, I think I'm like most people in that I can make myself impervious to reports of just about anything -- war, famine, natural disaster -- until you put a human face on it.
Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.
In my day-to-day life I am editor at large for a scuba magazine, so I take very long trips all the time. The one book I always take with is the Bible (there actually are a few hotels that the Gideons haven't gotten to yet). Music and food are whatever is waiting for me at the destination; that's part of the adventure. And the person is my wife; I don't get to travel with her nearly enough. The yes really are the window of the soul, and when you see eyes full of sorrow or pain, it's impossible not to respond.
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.
My brother is traveling -- like right now -- to Ireland, where my family is from. As long as he doesn't encounter anybody we owe money to, I'd like to go there sometime. So far, all I've done with Ireland is fly over it on the way to England.
Favorite season and why?
Winter. But you have to understand that I live in Florida, and winter is the dry season and the season with the truly mild temperatures that most parts of the world associate with late spring. It's the best time to do anything here (except go to the beach; that can be a bit chilly). And besides, when it's winter in Florida, you can remember what it's like when it's winter just about anyplace else, and get this smug, superior feeling.
Favorite book setting and why?
When I set Dark Fathom in Bermuda, the people there just sort of adopted me. I was traveling alone on research, but never ate a meal by myself. I'm currently working on a book set in Key West, and I've gotten much the same reaction there.
Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?
Elmore Leonard was very kind to me the morning after he read my first novel. Unfortunately, I was never able to use his quote as an endorsement, because what he said is. "Hey, Tom, this is pretty good s**t..."
What criticism has cut the deepest and why?
I hate it when they rave about the book and then qualify it with "readers of Christian suspense will enjoy it." As if Christian readers aren't at grade level or something. A lot of Christian fiction today is more than ready for prime time, and I, for one, would like to be reviewed in the secular press without the qualifier.
What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?
I would start working on a short story, rather than a novel.
What is your favorite word?
"Finished." Unless it applies to my earning potential, my marriage or my credit rating.
What word annoys you more than any other?
"Nigger," because it is a word of pure hatred. And I think back on two people who were very kind to me as a young writer -- Gwendolyn Brooks and James Baldwin -- and I know in my heart of hearts that they each had that word thrown at them more than once by white-bread Midwesterners like me.... Wow. That they would turn around and pay attention to my writing, and invest their time in me, was one of my first lessons in the elemental principle of grace.
Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?
I dunno. Is there a superhero who doesn't have to sleep?
Isn't that an oxymoron?
Anything you'd do but don't because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.
If you have even a passing knowledge of my avocations, you know that this question absolutely does not apply to me.
Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.
"Employee's only behind counter." Employee's only what?
Societal pet peeve…sound off.
People using those Nextel phones with the walky-talky feature: the kind that make that irritating "Cherr-URP!" after every transmission. I know -- I just alienated every reader who is also a Nextel customer, but really ... it's 2008. If you don't want to call 'em, just text 'em, and spare the rest of us the cell-yell and the sound effects.
Pick one of the "story starters" below and give us a sample of your voice.
If Alex had known the body of the senator was in the bathtub, she would've taken Jim's offer for coffee.
Jim, of the stale-macaroni-and-cheese breath. Jim, who wore only black shirts and colored the frayed cuffs with pungent Magic Marker when they got too old. Jim, who thought scintillating conversation was telling you about how he cut himself shaving, and then showing you the little red-dotted squares of tissue stuck to his throat, just to prove he wasn't making it up. Jim, who seemed proud of the fact that he owned neither comb nor hairbrush. Jim, who asked on their first (and only) date how she felt about -- his words precisely -- "tongue kissing."
Alex stood in the doorway of the bathroom and collected her thoughts. As long as the water in the tub was really, really cold, having a dead senator in there might not be all that bad, after all.