Hello there. Wanted to do something a little different for tonight's piece. You see, I have some people here who wanted to ask me some questions. Or maybe I told them to ask me questions because I wasn't sure what to write about. But they wrote some questions, and they're very amusing. I'm going to answer them now. Askers are credited before their question the first time, then abbreviated.
If you too want to ask me a question, just send me an email at email@example.com with the heading LRS Q&A or something like that. I'll assemble any and all questions I receive and answer them as fully as I feel comfortable with (and sometimes moreso) when I get enough to fill up another day's post. I guarantee that your question will be answered, even if it isn't the mostly timely response.
Tony: What was the first book you ever read, or the earliest you can remember?
Answer: There was one of the Choose Your Own Adventure series about these two kids who broke into this house and they found out the woman who lived there was a witch. Not only was that the first book I actively remember, but it was my first love affair with the written word.
I kind of want to track that book down, but I'm also kind of afraid to.
T: What is the one strength you maybe admire in others that you wish you were better at?
Answer: I always admired people who were able to shrug things off and put on a happy face when things are rough. I'm not good at hiding my emotions or not indulging them. The best I can do is just let them ride. The people who let things not bother them are like mystics, if you ask me.
Kris: Has your hair ALWAYS been supalong?
Answer: No, no it has not. The supalong thing started in 2002 or 2003. The supalong look was my foray into the world of hair growth after having my hair buzzed close to my head for my entire life. I decided to start growing it out, and I kind of never stopped.
Hoping to get a trim this weekend, though, and only be hellalong.
T: If you had to name three books that would be with on you a desert island, which three would they be and why?
Answer: The first would be Robinson Crusoe. Because of the obvious, and because it's a wonderful story. The second would probably be The Divine Comedy, because the better part of the useful bits of human experience are pretty well packed into that, and it's worth reading again and again. I'd try to commit it to memory. For the last one, I'd have to go for the entertaining and meaningful, and say Musashi, by Eiji Yoshikawa. That book makes me believe almost all things are possible.
Worth noting that two of those books are huge. I'll have free time.
T: What's one of your guiltiest pleasures?
Answer: I don't typically do guilt about most of the things I do. The one thing I do enjoy that I really shouldn't is ... hrm, causing unhappiness in people who are unprepared for what I can do. That's really fun, and it shouldn't be.
K: If someone paid you tre' fiddy to suck on a homeless guy's ear, would you?
Answer: Probably not. I wouldn't suck on most normal, clean people's ears. Unless tre' fiddy is some sort of slang for a number with at least three zeros behind the 3 and 5.
[ blogger's note: the original question was not about a homeless guy's ear, but about a banana. Kris asked I change it when I mentioned I had another question about a banana, though who knows if it'll make the cut this round.
In case you're curious, I have sucked on a banana for less than tre' fiddy. In fact, I've done it for free, just to amuse people with my slowly diminishing deep throating skills. Unless banana is euphamistic for something ... y'know, not grown on fruit trees. In which case, see answer to above.
What can I say, I'm poor. I can be bought. ]
T: Name the two greatest influences on your work--one positive and one negative.
Answer: The best positive influence I ever had on my work would have to be .. um ... whew, let's see ... there are a lot. Right now, I think my work most channels the sensibilities of someone like Murakami. Very boundary-pushing, forcing people to accept the absurd as part of everyday life. My novels definitely go for that kind of feel.
The worst influence, and I hate to say it because I love him, is Stephen King. I caught elephantitis from him. I'm very content to just sit back and shoot the breeze with my characters and just let them go on and on and on and on about nothing at all. I try to fix this.
Though, to be fair, I actually count King among my greatest influences, too, so ... yeah.
T: You are given a 30-second sound byte that is guaranteed to be transmitted and translated to every man, woman, and child on Earth. What would you say?
Answer: We can never be sure of anything save for what we believe, so believe what you want. Oh, and remember the secret to life. And then I would laugh and laugh until the time ran out.
K: "Don't you want me baby ... don't you want me, oohhhhhh, ooohhhhhh ..." ????
Answer: If you mean in a come-take-a-road-trip-on-thursday-evening kind of way, then I really don't have the resources. Sorry, sugar. I've also got plans this weekend.
Otherwise, you better believe it. ;)
T: Some say the eyes are the windows to the soul. What do you think when looking in someone else's eyes?
Answer: I actually try to avoid eye contact. Something I'm not comfortable with. I'm not sure why. When I do venture it, it's typically because I have already found some sort of affinity for that person, and I want to confirm it. The people I care most about have that look. When you get that look, you know you've won. Won what? Hard to say. But I don't want to look at people I don't care about. Too easy to get attached to someone's eyes.
T: A banana and a cucumber walk into a bar. What happens next?
Answer: The potato bounces them into the street. "No fruits" says the sign. The cucumber realizes that he's hanging with the wrong crowd and joins the lettuce and carrots over in the stodgy vegetable hang-outs.
[ when running my answer by Tony, the question came up of whether my social commentary was deliberate. I explained that I actually had an image pop into my head, and abbreviated it to be cute but short. The true answer is as follows (though don't tell the cucumber's parents, they'd be mortified their son was hanging out with that fruity crowd again):
"Hehe. the only thing I could think of was of them getting bounced by a potato, with the image of the sign. In all actuality, the cucumber argued that it wasn't a fruit and scored a victory for the strange and abysmal, and the banana ended up finding the tomato which blew the banana's mind and the banana's banana for tre' fiddy and they went off and had weirdly beautiful but violent adventures." ]T: You are driving cross country on a vacation and can pick any one person, alive or dead, to join you on the week-long trip. Who would it be and why?
Answer: Hunter S Thompson. That would be an enlightening trip, my friend. In every sense of both words. I can't think of anyone else offhand or onhand who would provide a more engaging, challenging experience.
K: If you had your choice of writing one novel, having it be a smash success with riches and fame but you'd never be able to write again, or writing as many novels as you desired but only ever achieving minimal success and accolades, which would you choose and why?
Answer: I would choose to ... well, can I pick the novel? Ha. Yeah, nevermind. Screw that. I find that my reasons for writing change all the time. They're the same set, let me clarify, but I prioritize different things at different times. However, if I was guaranteed no success? I would still do it. And I'd do it with a crazy sort of half-mad gusto, since there would never a fanbase to support.
I can achieve my other goals in other methods, but I still want that writing high. Which leads us to...
T: Why do you write?
Answer: This answer deserves a book. I might actually write a book on writing someday, if I'm ever famous. I even have a title. But that's neither here or there. I need to answer this completely-ish (because I only half understand it, most of the time) but shortly. How about this, broken down into pieces that ARE NOT in order of importance.
1. I love to write. Seriously. Writing's a pain in the ass but it gets me higher than a kite when it goes well. Pure nirvannic bliss. Better than sex. Better than chocolate. Better than sushi. Better than sushi followed by chocolate-covered sex. No joke. It is my all.
2. I want to achieve a legacy. Something that should I meet an untimely demise, will mark my passing in the truest way. To me, novels are the answer. Better than kids or biographies or movies or art at large or anything else.
3. I need to indulge in creativity. I'm an artist at heart. I want to sing and dance and play and sculpt and paint and perform and poetize and all the othe things. But the one I'm best at? Writing, specifically long fiction. So that's what I do.
4. I want to affect people. Novels are the art form I respond to most. A good novel will get under your skin and explode your mind. It will cause the expansion of consciousness. It will make you a different person than you were when you started. I want to share that kind of experience with people. I want to cause it.
5. I want to bring about change. My philosophies are grand and full of madness. The best way to package madness is in fiction. Easy to believe in the Force when its in a galaxy far far away. It would be harder if George Lucas was some wandering priest spouting neo-mysticism. Wrap it up better, and people will digest it better. Show them examples, don't preach, and let them make up their own minds.
So there you have it. The first of potentially more Q&A sessions with I, the Literary Rock Star. If you have a question, or if you've asked one and have thought of another, feel free to shoot me an email and I'll add it to the list to be answered in the order I receive them on days when I have nothing better to blog about (or regularly should I some day become popular).
Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on editing for the first time plus randomness I think up then. Same bat channel, same bat writer, doubtful it'll be the same bat time.