Describe your latest project.
My newest novel is titled Monster. It's about a guy named Monster who catches monsters for a living. See how creative I am! I wrote the novel with a few goals in mind. First, I wanted to explore a truly contemporary fantasy setting. Usually, the urban fantasy genre isn't really urban fantasy at all. It's fantasy with a modern-day candy coating. So Monster is my attempt to really blend the modern and the fantastic in a "realistic" whole. Our hero uses magic, for example, but he isn't a wizard for hire or vampire slayer or anything even remotely glamorous. He's just a dude with a job he doesn't like trying to make his way through the world like most of us.
I know it sounds contradictory, but I wanted to create a world of mundane fantasy, where magic and monsters are around every corner but it's still mostly about paying your bills and finding something to keep you going after punching the clock after quitting time.
I also wanted to write a novel where the male and female protagonists argue a lot, but not because of romantic tension. It's a rule somewhere that if you have a story with a male and female lead, they must fall in love at some point. And if they're fighting, it's because of sexual tension or passion or whatever. I've never really been a fan of that. I usually find people fight because they don't like each other, but it's so unexpected in fiction that it's sort of surprising, even if it is realistic.
What else? Monsters! Lots of 'em! Anyone who is even remotely familiar with my work knows I love weird beasties. This is my chance to throw some beasts into the mix and have a little fun. It's an "everyday" fantasy, but "everyday" doesn't have to mean boring. And a hydra or Inuit walrus-dog here and there is sure to keep the story jumping.
What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
She-Hulk, the Marvel Comics character. She's a green-skinned beauty, and that doesn't hurt. But I also love her personality. She's an accomplished lawyer, intelligent, funny, and fun-loving. I'm not generally into tall women, but for her I'd make an exception.
How do you relax?
I play games. Lots and lots of games. Computer games. Video games. Card and board games. I'm a Renaissance gamer. Just a few games I'm into now: World of Warcraft, Monsterpocalypse, Small World, and the Starcraft board game. I'm not a tremendous fan of abstract games like checkers or chess. I like my games to be a little flashier than that.
Monsterpocalypse is a great collectible miniature game about giant monsters smashing cities in mortal combat. Did I mention I liked monsters?
I also watch movies, read a lot of nonfiction, and usually waste a few hours a day polishing my solid gold robots. Everybody's gotta have a hobby.
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
Monkey Girl by Edward Humes. It's a nonfiction book about the evolution trial in Dover, Pennsylvania. Good read. It ended the way I expected, considering I knew the outcome at the beginning. But the way the story is told is very informative and just plain compelling. It ended up in my hands after I read a review in a magazine.
Fiction-wise: Well, I just don't read much fiction these days. Only so many hours in the day, and I'll usually pick a nonfiction book over a novel in these last few years. Don't know why, but that's just how it's worked out.
Why do you write?
Why not? Everybody has to do something, right? And as long as someone keeps sending me checks every so often and I'm enjoying it, it's a good way to make a living. I don't think I'd write for free now. I spent 13 years doing that, and while I'm glad I did, it's not something I would go back to.
I write stories I would like to read. That's important because I think if the writer is excited by the novel then the reader will be, too.
I write because I'm good at it. Or, at least, good enough to get paid for it. Whether that means I'm a good writer or not is up for debate, but as long as the checks come, I'm happy to keep writing.
What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Ooh, I always want to say something cool like absinthe or extreme cliff-diving, but truth be told, I'm pretty dull. I don't drink, smoke, or do much of anything someone would consider edgy. My favorite indulgence is probably just spending a day playing World of Warcraft or, even better, getting together with some friends, playing some board games, maybe Rock Band, and then watching an obscure movie together.
But let's stick with that absinthe answer instead. Gives me some writer street cred.
Who's wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
Well, I've never been on tour with a rock band, and I've never toured myself, either. But I'm going to go ahead and say that rock 'n' roll beats writing's ass in the wild-and-crazy department.
Writers are not exciting. I'm just going to go ahead and admit that. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I'm not one of them and neither are any of the writers I know.
If you could have been someone else, who would that be and why?
Does it have to be a real person? Because I'm not sure I'd care to be anyone else. It's not that I think I'm that awesome. It's just that every life comes with its own perks and disadvantages, so it seems like everything is a tradeoff.
But if fictional people are on the field, and you're very loose with the term "people," I'd probably choose to be Slag, the triceratops Dinobot Transformer. You might think I'd pick Grimlock, the tyrannosaurus Dinobot leader, but you'd be wrong! Although I'd prefer Grimlock over Swoop, the pterodactyl.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Books about Science That Everybody Should Read (In No Particular Order):
Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson
(Great collection of fun and informative essays.)
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
(Classic musings on the universe. Never really understood the theory of relativity until this book came along. Challenging at times, but very accessible.)
The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking
(Everything I just said about A Brief History of Time applies here, too.)
The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins
(Great down-to-earth exploration of a widely misunderstood subject.)
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
(A fascinating read into the forces that really drive our decision making. You'll never look at your "rationality" in quite the same way.)