RLL is a self-published author of speculative fiction. I really find it hard to say more, perhaps the following series of questions will clarify matters (but I rather doubt it.) Because of technical reasons involving a local disruption of space-time causality, I actually have forty questions and answers to share–twenty of mine and twenty that RLL wrote (that I answered here.) I might point out that sharing questions between authors was all RLL’s idea, and so far I’m having a lot of fun with it. So if you want to answer silly questions on my blog feel free to message me. Now, without further ado,
Twenty Forty Questions With RLL.
(The RLL Questions)
1. 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?
COMPLETE NONSENSE, by Edward Lear. If you are to be found in a garden with wrecked legs, ask yourself who wrecked that garden’s legs. The only book to clutch in your hand under the circumstances? This one.
2. 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?
Branwell Brontë. He states, plainly, and with some degree of irritation, that no, he did NOT write Wuthering Heights. Talk turns to the Duke of Wellington, and calm is restored.
3. Would you name six essential items for writers? If, you know, cornered and threatened with torture.
Who, what, where, when, how, why? I may have stolen the concept from Kipling.
4. Who’d win in a fight between Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster? If, you know, you were writing that scene.
In a shocking twist, we discover Frankenstein wasn’t involved in the creature’s creation. Instead, low-rent Frankenstein wannabe Doctor Orlando Watt bursts in on the scene. With a cry of “FRYING TONIGHT!” the good doctor disturbs Dracula’s concentration. Dracula recovers 90% of his lordly dignity by leaving the stage in the form of a wolf.
5. 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?
Come the morning, I’ve regretted writing past the point of coherence. Often I’ve wondered where the pixies hide. The ones who come out at night and finish my chapter for me. I couldn’t have written that stuff, half-asleep. Damn those pixies, and their elfin ways!
6. You must introduce a plot-twist. Evil twin or luggage mix-up?
Evil twin, trapped in the wrong suitcase. All the best villains end up trapped in the right suitcase, so this twist would keep the audience guessing.
7. Let’s say you write a bunch of books featuring an amazing recurring villain. At the end of your latest story you have definitely absitively posolutely 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?
I restrict use of pepper to soup and scrambled egg – which I once had in the same bowl.
8. 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?
Surely if I save the tragic villain I take on the role of idealistic hero…
9. 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?
As the writer, I am in no position to determine which character is much-loved. I am reminded of one of the harshest pieces of literary criticism ever committed to paper. In response to the death of Sherlock Holmes, this fan’s comment, aimed squarely at Doyle, is hard to top.
10. 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.)
Sometimes the accidental omission of a word will reverse your intended meaning. Consequences should be far from disastrous. The Wicked Bible of 1631 carries the classic typo Thou shalt commit adultery.
11. I’ve fallen out of my chair laughing at all sorts of thongs I’ve typed. Have you?
The greater danger is in drinking and spraying coffee at the keyboard. I’ve been told that my writing has that effect on people. No one lost a computer yet.
12. 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.
For the Twitter crowd, #Bovary.
13. Seen the movie. Read the book. And your preference was for?
The Thirty-Nine Steps is a creature a few footfalls away from Mr Hitchcock’s movie, The 39 Steps. Unusually, I like both equally. If you get the chance, catch the stage adaptation for four people. It’s a comedy. “HE’S ON THE RRROOF, SIRRR!”
14. 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.
Don’t get me started on paper-cuts from coffee-table books.
15. Did you ever read a series of books out of sequence?
The Chronicles of Narnia. This blunder is easy to forgive, as the order of publication didn’t match the reading-order.
16. 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?
Never stopped the movies. “OTHER volcano film?!” Pierce Brosnan’s 1997 volcano flick hit screens about two months ahead of the other volcano movie starring Tommy Lee Jones. Who knew 2013 would be the year of TWO besieged White House movies…
17. Have you ever stumbled across a Much-Loved Children’s Classic™ that you’ve never heard of?
Familiar with The Box of Delights, by John Masefield, I had no idea that it was a sequel to The Midnight Folk. #CLUELESSATTIMES.
18. You build a secret passage into your story. Where?
The best place to construct your secret passage is inside another secret passage.
19. Facing the prospect of writing erotica, you decide on a racy pen-name. And that would be…
20. On a train a fan praises your work, mistaking you for another author. What happens next?
The train plunges into a tunnel. One of us is gone when the light returns.
(and now my questions)
1. You are building your dream house. Choose three characters from three separate fictional works (not your own) to head up your construction crew.
Dracula handles the night-shift, for Stoker tells us the vampire has the strength of twenty men. Leaving Wonderland, stepping through a looking-glass, Alice is on hand to argue with H. Dumpty – the contractor.
2. What album do you play when you are depressed that can be guaranteed to make you feel better?
This question is clearly front-to-back. When I’m in a stormy mood, I play Verdi’s Requiem. It’s not designed to make me feel better.
3. You are on a first date with someone that you find attractive. Your partner picked the restaurant, and it is an ethnic food with which you are not familiar. When you get the menu you realize that you don’t recognize the names of any of the dishes and there are no descriptions. What do you do?
I convulse, bending over double under the guise of a fake sneeze, knocking a gilt-edged monocle into my lap. Recovering, I wave airily at the menu and utter the immortal lines…
“Could you ordah for both of us, dahling? I appeah to have left my reading-glasses in the Bayswater flat.”
4. What character from fiction do you wish that you had invented?
Raider of tombs, Lara Croft. Think of the cash she raked in.
5. Have you ever based a character on that character?
No. Much to my regret. Though if I had, the creation would have been much to my shame. Tigers are endangered, Lara.
6. How do you backup your work, and how often?
An autosave kicks in periodically. I’ll save a file if I must leave the keyboard, even for the briefest stretch. Typically, I won’t get through a paragraph without saving. I’ll save much sooner than that if I type something vital, complex, or an item that is vital and complex.
Microsoft Word is set to back up a copy of each file. When the world was younger, I had fiction archives. Now I have fiction folders inside annual archives.
But that’s basic management of files, and not backing stuff up. Generally, files are copied to a mirror archive on an external hard drive once a file is created or added to. Come the half-way point of the year, I used to create a DVD of the year-thus-far – that was before I had an external hard drive. The archive is copied to DVD come year’s end, and the DVD is lodged in a fireproof safe.
That’s all changing now – I moved to the internet. I follow my own blog via e-mail so that an archived copy exists in an e-mail folder. Just in case Blogger decides to chew up a few pages. Now I have the option of cloud storage to mull over.
Electricity let me down once – by adding data to a file. I was chopping the hell out of a chunk of writing and the power went. So all the stuff I cut -without saving – was back again when electricity resumed.
The other form of backing stuff up is publication. I thoroughly recommend that to writers. Don’t store your tales in a digital drawer. Publish them. My early blog entries were written for collection and publication. That’s the ultimate version of backing something up – putting it out there.
Placing your work on file at a Library of Record, to fulfil legal obligations, is another way of backing things up. You can walk into the British Library – between Euston and St. Pancras, and request access to a digital copy of Neon Gods Brought Down by Swords, for example.
If you are hard-pressed and all other methods fail, you must rely on recreating material from memory. This is a poor solution, but if it’s all you have then make use of what marbles time has left ye.
7. If you had the power to “uninvent” an existing device and make sure that it would never be made, what would it be?
I would uninvent the Uninventotron™, an insidious device which makes possible the act of uninventing existing devices. People, bless their hearts, hate everything. If you handed a universal wiper to someone with the loftiest of intentions, we’d all be mired in our own blood mere seconds later. Using the Uninventotron™ to uninvent the Uninventotron™ would not be done out of lofty intentions. Low morals come into it.
8. If your life was a sandwich, what would it be?
It would be lying in the middle of an icy road, dieseled up, with a tyre-tread through the pickles. Come on. How many people are going to write HERO SANDWICH…
9. What song from a Broadway musical best describes your ideal relationship?
Sondheim or non-Sondheim?
10. If you could choose a pet that was a reincarnation of a historical figure, who would it be, and what sort of pet?
After removing sick, sad, twisted answers to this question, I’m left with nothing but a sick, sad, twisted smile.
11. A comic book superhero approaches you for help in defeating a villain. Who is the character, and how are you able to help?
Too Much Coffee Man. I point him in the direction of Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman. Though my contribution is minor, it leads a new-formed Dynamic Duo to defeat Lex Luthor.
12. If three were four, what would five be?
Three are what’s left of the Fantastic Four when Ben Grimm leaves in the huff to join the circus. When Ben returns, the Fantastic Four become five once Sue gives birth to her first kid.
13. If you had the power to make everyone on Earth read one book (not your own) what would you pick?
With great power comes great responsibility. If I refrain from using that power, people will read more than one book.
14. If you were a professional wrestler, what would your ring name be?
15. Would you rather have an action figure or a Pez dispenser based on you?
I’ve yet to see a dispenser come with its own DEATH STAR THRONE ROOM, so I plump for the former.
16. What one superpower would make you a better writer?
Exposure to Writeronium would grant me the power to type faster than the speed of cliché.
17. If you could spend one day living in the world of a movie, what movie would it be? What would you spend the day doing?
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I’d studiously avoid falling into pools which contain golden items.
18. What one emotion more than any other would you like your readers to experience while reading your books?
Incarnadine, which, for the purposes of this answer, is an emotion.
19. If you could send one object that you own to your ten year old self, what would it be?
Kyle Reese, who would help me defeat the internet – preventing the posting of these answers.
20. If you could live anywhere on Earth, where would it be?
It would be orbiting the sun, where it is now.