I recently came across an interview I did for Read Tuesday, a Black Friday-type event in the book world, a couple of years back. The Twenty Questions were really unusual and fun but they were lost when my website was changed so I thought I’d post again.
Twenty Questions …
- Fire rages in your house. Everyone is safe, but you. You decide to smash through the window, shielding your face with a book. What is the book?
Delirium will probably be sliced and unreadable afterwards but it’s probably the best ending for a plot revolving round a surgical cure for love.
Asleep in your rebuilt house, you dream of meeting a dead author. But not in a creepy stalkerish way, so you shoo Mr Poe out of the kitchen. Instead, you sit down and have cake with which dead author?
Guess William Shakespeare could offer some interesting advice about writing in changing times.
- Would you name six essential items for writers? If, you know, you were cornered and threatened with torture.
- Pencil – super sharp, for stabbing my tormentor where it hurts the most.
Pencil sharpener – to ensure above item stays at optimum working efficiency.
- Hardback Dictionary – two possible uses: as protective stab-proof vest or to hit my captor round the head.
- Paperclips – not sure how to pick a lock with one of these but everyone seems to be able to do it in movies. How hard can it be?
- Laptop with internet connection – to Google how to pick a lock with a paperclip just in case it’s harder than it looks in movies.
- Dictation machine – I’d make sure my last request would last as long as possible.
Who’d win in a fight between Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, if you were writing that scene?
I’d probably let Frankenstein win. There are far too many vampire stories around already.
It’s the end of a long and tiring day. You are still writing a scene. Do you see it through to the end, even though matchsticks prop your eyelids open, or do you sleep on it and return, refreshed, to slay that literary dragon another day?
If I had the scene all planned, I’d write like the wind to finish. If I have no plan, no amount of matchsticks would keep me from my sleep.
You must introduce a plot-twist. Evil twin or luggage mix-up?
Evil twin … evil anything wins every time.
- Let’s say you write a bunch of books featuring an amazing recurring villain. At the end of your latest story you have definitely absolutely positively killed off the villain for all time and then some. Did you pepper your narrative with clues hinting at the chance of a villainous return in the next book?
Absolutely, positively, definitely not. If for some random reason the villain has to be resurrected in the future, I wouldn’t want to give my readers any hint.
- You are at sea in a lifeboat, with the barest chance of surviving the raging storm. There’s one opportunity to save a character, drifting by this scene. Do you save the idealistic hero or the tragic villain?
The Hero would be saved every time. No one loves a dead hero, only a dead villain.
- It’s time to kill a much-loved character – that pesky plot intrudes. Do you just type it up, heartlessly, or are there any strange rituals to be performed before the deed is done?
Day 1, Denial … I’ll think of another way to fix the plot without killing that much-loved character. Everything will be all right.
Day 2, Anger … Why can’t I think of another way to fix the plot? I am such a bad, stupid writer.
Day 3, Bargaining … Maybe I could use that character again in another book. So he wouldn’t really be dead? Would he?
Day 4, Depression … I can’t write this book any more. I’m going to the shop for chocolate and several boxes of ice-cream.
Day 5, Acceptance … Make sure the house is empty. Do not sit so close to keyboard that tears induce water damage. Keep character memory alive by thinking about him every night before sleep.
- Embarrassing typo time. I’m always typing thongs instead of things. One day, that’ll land me in trouble. Care to share any wildly embarrassing typing anecdotes? If, you know, the wrong word suddenly made something so much funnier. (My last crime against typing lay in omitting the u from Superman.)
Not admitting any. My typing is god.
- I’ve fallen out of my chair laughing at all sorts of thongs I’ve typed. Have you?
No. God typing is serious stuff.
You take a classic literary work and update it by throwing in rocket ships. Dare you name that story? Pride and Prejudice on Mars. That kind of thing.
The Hunchback of Starbase Sector Nine.
Usually the book with the exception of Isaac Marion’s ‘Warm Bodies’ which turned out way better as a film.
- Occupational hazard of being a writer. Has a book ever fallen on your head? This may occasionally happen to non-writers, it must be said.
No, but I’ve tripped over a pile of books I’d stacked at the side of my chair so I didn’t have to stand up to get them from my shelf. Penance for laziness I guess.
I acquired Kate Cann’s ‘Shacked Up’ which was the second Hard Cash Trilogy, liked it, so then I went back and read book one and then book three.
- You encounter a story just as you are writing the same type of tale. Do you abandon your work, or keep going with the other one to ensure there won’t be endless similarities?
Mayday. Mayday. Abandon ship.
- Have you ever stumbled across a Much-Loved Children’s Classic™ that you’ve never heard of?
Far too many to have heard of them all.
Hands up who remembers ‘The Queer Adventure’? ‘Rambles with Uncle Nat’? Or ‘The Saucy Jane Family’?
- You build a secret passage into your story. Where?
I’d sneak into an alien stealth ship via my secret passage. How else would I get there?
Umm, would probably go with Saucy Jane. Hey, it worked for Enid Blyton.
- On a train a fan praises your work, mistaking you for another author. What happens next?
Them: (turning three shades redder) “Umm …”
Me: (rushing on without waiting for an answer) “I’m Suzanna, not Suzanne. Williams, not Collins.”
Them: (stammering) “Oh, I’m sorry.”
Me: “Please don’t be sorry. Because if you loved Katniss and Peeta in her book, you’re going to love Joe and Sarah in mine.”
If you made it to the end of this post, I’m sorry about the unashamed plug of my own book in that last question.
They were fun questions to answer and you can read Author’s Twenty Questions from the other participating authors here.