After meeting John Urbancik and finding out he had the gall to skip MY BIRTHDAY while writing his September Ink Stains, I decided he had to visit the Isolation Tank. Seriously though, I think everyone should have a vacation for my birthday.
Why writing? What drew you to it? Why do you continue?
I’ve been writing so long, it’s almost impossible to answer this. I’ve been making up stories for about as long as I’ve been drawing breath. I’ve been imagining scenes, sometimes for other people’s characters, since the day I first saw a scene. I’ve been stitching words together from the time I learned to hold a spoon. In fact, I hold a spoon correctly, and a pen incorrectly, despite that I use pens with much more frequency. I suspect I’ll continue writing until I can no longer put words together, and even then I’ll still see unexpected cities and inconvenient women in my mind.
If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last? (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)
If I was freezing to death, and especially if I wasn’t alone, no books in the library would be safe. I have to assume a few things: that there are other libraries, and therefore other copies of most of these books, in other places. Also, since I live in Florida, I’m assuming either I’m somewhere I’m not supposed to be, which means I cannot read any of these books so have no way of determining the value of one over another, or that the world is taking its final breaths and it won’t matter to anyone what is left behind. However, I would likely burn the rarer books, the first editions, last, if there’s any hope of rescue.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice))?
My InkStains project: write a story a day every day for a year. By hand. With a fountain pen. Quite a challenge. With one day off per month, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for illness, for socializing, for day jobs, for anything.
What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts? Why?
Like I’d reveal my greatest weakness? Okay, I do hate the word “ginormous”, because it sounds to me like someone decided half way through to say something different from what they started.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve created? If so, who is it and why?
That’s like picking a favorite child. Could you do it?
I mean, I could say Cool-Eyes, who appeared in my novellas Babylon Rising and House of Shadow and Ash (and will appear in other stories), but I know if I ever met her in real life, she’d kill me.
I could pick Uncle Knuckles, from my Midnight stories, simply because I love the name.
I could choose Jack Harlow, the hero in DarkWalker, because he’s got a long and fantastic story arc that no one has seen yet and I love the idea of holding onto secrets.
But I might be inclined to nod toward characters who exist in the mythologies of my worlds, like Serica, Keeper of Keys and Secrets. She knows where Jack is headed.
Creepiest place you’ve ever been? Has it appeared in your fiction? Why or Why not?
Port Arthur was a penal facility in Tasmania, Australia, and also an orphanage, because of course those two things go together. The ghost tour there, at night, was one of the best I’ve ever been on. The guide was animated and knowledgeable, the stories unique, the location utterly remote. I have never written about the place directly because no story has demanded it.
But I’m not sure, in terms of eerie and frightening, anything compares to working in Corporate America. Maybe that time I was snorkeling off Key West and found myself the center of attention of a half dozen barracuda?
What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?
There is no such thing as a best rejection. However, I had an editor once reject a story, hear me read it at a convention just a few weeks later, and change his mind.
How did you get that scar?
The one next to my eye? Hand-to-hand combat. The one on my wrist? During an emergency, I had to break glass. The one on…do you really want to know all these?
What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?
Today? Because this probably changes frequently. Today I’ll go with Billy Joel’s “The Stranger”. But yesterday, it would’ve been AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”, and tomorrow may be Nina Simone’s version of “I Put a Spell On You”.
Promote yourself and/or your writing
My latest novel, Stale Reality, set in Sydney, Australia, has a main character who, when Reality shifts, was never born – never met his wife, never fathered his infant son – but was left behind. Which means it starts with him as an intruder in what had been his own flat in Sydney. He soon discovers he’s not alone, and someone suggests there may be a way for him to reclaim his Reality.
In 2017, we should also see The Corpse and the Girl from Miami, which is crime noir and horror and magic, as well as a re-release of DarkWalker and, finally, DarkWalker 2: Inferno. On top of a new set of InkStains. Next year ought to be busy.
Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?
I consider four things to be most important, not just in my writing but in my life: Magic, Mystery, Romance, and Passion. I try to engage fully with all of this in all aspects of my life. I’m also a big fan of whimsy. And I think, if you read just a bit of my work, you would know this. (and here’s a link to all things John Urbancik.)
Thank you, Mr. Urbancik, for joining me in the Isolation Tank. I’ve trained my cats to lead my victims…er…visitors back to their real lives. But given the jingle balls rolling through the hallways, don’t be surprised if it takes a few hours.