Writers, who’s your fashion icon?

Flavorwire has a regular feature called “Sweetest Debut” in which they interview emerging authors to “find out about their pop culture diets, their writing habits, and their fan-fiction fantasies.”

On February 15, they featured Teresa Messineo (“The Fire By Night”), on February 14, the column’s author, Sarah Seltzer, talked to Ethel Rohan (“The Weight of Him”), and on February 9, the focus was Kathleen Kent (“The Dime”).  The interviews begin with the question: What is your elevator pitch to folks in the industry describing your book?

fashionOkay, fair enough, “elevator pitch” is today’s jargon for a short, logline kind of statement that quickly explains a novel without getting boring. The point is, you’re in an elevator and have just moments to speak. If the whole “elevator pitch” thing has value, it teaches authors to get to the point, whether they’re trying to sway an editor, movie producer, or a reader.

I’ll stipulate that Flavorwire is a pop culture magazine. The column is, no doubt, supposed to make writers human, to dredge up fun facts about them that everyday folks (e.g., non writers) will find absolutely fascinating. That said, I stumbled when I saw that the column’s guests were being asked to name their fashion icon as well as the name of the TV show they “binge watch” when they’re not writing.

Since these are emerging authors, they’re a lot closer to being everyday folks than, say, the Hollywood celebrities who try to pretend like they’re regular people even though they own two or three houses with a combined value of $50 million. After all, most debut authors haven’t had a chance to get filthy rich and start acting, well, uppity.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m not really drawn to an author who has a fashion icon. I don’t even like the term “binge watching,” because it sounds like a slovenly thing to do. Worse yet, since the authors being interviewed are younger than I am, they’re listening to music and watching television shows I’ve never heard of. One of them did say The Great Gatsby is overrated, and so I crossed her off my list immediately, though I was pleased she mentioned a book that wasn’t about the rise and fall of the little black dress.

I don’t know how long “The Sweetest Debut” has been running because, the columns I saw didn’t interest me enough to drag me back to past months. I did hope to see a man interviewed to find out if he would get a different set of questions, I dunno, something stereo-typically masculine like “What fashion model do you wish you were having sex with?” or “Who’s the most famous NFL quarterback you beat up back in a high school PE class?”

I’m not saying the column is asking “women’s questions,” but I’m suspicious.

Could be, I’m just out of touch. If they interview me (fat chance), I’ll tell them my fashion icon is Levi Strauss and that I binge watch old episodes of “Walker Texas Ranger.” Actually, I watch Masterpiece Theater, but I have a feeling that answer might get edited out for lack of, well, popular flavor.

As for fan-fiction fantasies, Flavorwire, you’ve got to be kidding.




Zeke Zany interviews me to get more words for his blog

zanyZeke Zany here at Zany Antics & Books where I chronicle my life as a car mechanic and part-time gigolo while working on my epic novel about a man who fixes the transmissions of rich widows. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I accidentally spelled a four-letter word beginning with “F” with my ABC blocks and my daddy’s reaction taught me the power or writing. Today’s guest is Malcolm R. Campbell who’s going to fill us in on who he is and why.

Zeke: Tell us about yourself

campbellphotoMalcolm: Well, Zeke, if you’d done your homework like a real interviewer, you’d know that I made my first fortune by selling my novels under pseudonyms that just happened to be the most famous names on the planet, starting with my bestselling novels Hunt for Brown November and Hunt for Blue December “by Tom Clancy” in 1987 and 1986. They were so good, even Tom thought he’d written them and came to my cell in the state pen to shake my hand.

Zeke: What are you currently writing/working on?

Malcolm: I’m writing answers to your one-size-fits-all interview questions. I’m working on getting done writing these answers as soon as possible, preferably before the Scotch runs out.

Zeke: When did you discover you wanted to be a writer?

Malcolm: I never discovered any such thing. Unfortunately, a muse named Siobhan with nothing better to do latched onto me like ugly on and ape (even though we’re both beautiful people) and demanded that I go into the biz. We got off to a bad start when critics around the world laughed at my debut novel To Kill a Blue Jay written under my Lee Harper alias.  Since then, it’s been “write good, or else.”

Zeke: Is there any part of you in your characters.

Malcolm: The worst parts. That’s what sells, Zeke.

Zeke: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Malcolm: As God as my witness, I’m going to kill the next person who asks me this lame question. This question is so lame, it takes two crutches to hold it up. Suffice it to say, I wear pants at all times except during baths and sex.

Zeke: If Hollywood gave you the power to cast your novel in progress, what stars would you pick?

Wikipedia photo
Wikipedia photo

Malcolm: Hollywood never gives writers that power. You just want some names in this post that will attract search engines. Well, I can help you out with that: Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, and Megan Fox in my soon-to-be-released Three Bucks in the Fountain.

Zeke: When you are developing a book, what tools or techniques do you use, e.g. timelines, Ouija boards, character interviews, copy and pasting from obscure novels, sentence diagrams, or novel writing software?

Malcolm: Jack Daniels and a pencil work for me.

Zeke: Has your technique changed over time?

Malcolm: I started out with Ripple and a pen, but that’s what landed me in the slammer.

Zeke: Where you you get your ideas?

Malcolm: The mother ship beams them down.

Zeke: What kind of writing environment do you prefer: couch, bed, coffee shop, music, noise, abandoned hearse, the great out doors.

Malcolm: Siobhan says my best work comes when I’m writing in the drunk tank, and I’m sure as hell not calling my muse a liar.

Zeke: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers.

Malcolm: Avoid bloggers with canned interview questions that make you look like an amateur. Otherwise, promise your mother that “I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too.”

Zeke: Where can we find you on the Internet?

Malcolm: http://www.peoplefinders.com

Remembering a batch of authors

When we use traditional collective nouns for groups of animals, we speak of a congregation of alligators, a colony of ants, a swarm of bees, a herd of buffalo, a clutter of cats, a murder of crows, a pod of dolphins, a flock of geese, a charm of hummingbirds and a pandemonium of parrots.

batchHumorous collective nouns have been suggested for writers, including an absurdity of, an allegory of, a gallery of and scribble of. Some of the funnier suggestions are less than flattering. When I was interviewed for a regional magazine along with other authors from the county, the article was titled “A Truck Load of Authors.” We were all packed into a vintage pickup truck, a picture was taken, and the magazine had a great illustration.

Since I had no viable way of getting all the authors together who have appeared on this blog directly through guests posts and interviews or indirectly through reviews together and posing them on a raft, railcar or a team of wild horses, I’ve settled for the word “batch.”

The Batch at Malcolm’s Round Table

GoldfinchIf this blog has a niche–or a partial niche–it’s books and writers. Since I read a lot, the batch of writers here has included a lot of reviews. Some of those were BIG PUBLISHING BESTSELLERS but most were not.

So yes, I reviewed Dan Brown’s Inferno and talked about Donna Tarrt’s The Goldfinch. I liked The Night Circus, The Tiger’s Wife, and Long Man a lot and you probably heard about those more than once. Of course I talked about my own books but, well, that’s because I can’t help it and I try not to go on and on about them even though I might be going on and on anyway.

But, to move on. . .

However, it was much more fun talking (in reviews or notes) about books by some wonderful authors you weren’t hearing about everywhere else, L. S. Bassen, Seth Mullins and Smoky Zeidel (who has a new edition coming out soon).

Guest Posts and Interviews

Sara Ann grave in PA. Bob Salerni photo.
Sara Ann grave in PA. Bob Salerni photo.

When an author has delved deeply into a subject while researching a book, it’s fun to have them to stop by and do a guest post. The most unusual guest post was author Dianne K. Salerni’s (“We Hear the Dead,” “The Caged Graves”) Mortsafes: Protection FROM the Dead or FOR the Dead? Spooky stuff.

Interviews are something special because even though they are conducted via e-mail, my guests and I try to make they read very much like conversations.

Most recently, Marietta Rodgers stopped by to talk about her debut book The Bill. Laura Cowan has been here twice, most recently to talk about her magical Music of Sacred Lakes. Nora Caron, a Canadian author lured into Mexico and the American southwest has written a wonderful trilogy that includes New Dimensions of Being. Melinda Clayton, a psychologist who’s now focusing her observational skills on fictional characters spoke about her novel Blessed Are the Wholly Broken.  Two audio book narrators, R. Scott Adams and Kelley Hazen stopped by do tell me how they do what they do. Adams brought his talents as a dialects specialist to my novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire. Hazen brought her experience as an actress to narrate my three-story set Emily’s Stories.

row1Diane Salerni’s research into Mortsafes made for a wonderful book in Caged Graves. Novelist Robert Hays used his background as a journalist and journalism educator to write the well-received nonfiction book Patton’s Oracle: Gen. Oscar Koch, as I Knew Him. Laura Cowan (“The Little Seer”) contributed a close-to-my-heart guest post Speculative Supernatural Novels and the Growing Fantasy Genre. Novelist Pat Bertram (“Light Bringer,” “Daughter I Am”) also wrote the nonfiction Grief the Great Yearning which brings together her experiences with loss in an guest post called The Messy Spiral of Grief. Beth Sorensen (“Crush at Thomas Hall”) wrote a sparkling thriller/romance in her novel Divorcing a Dead Man.

row2Helen Osterman worked as a nurse for 45 years. During her training, her rotation she witnessed hydrotherapy, Insulin coma therapy and electroshock. Her background served her well when when she turned to fiction writing in  Notes in a Mirror. Vila SpiderHawk’s Forest Song novels are magical. She stopped by to talk about Finding Home. I thoroughly enjoyed Deborah J. Ledford’s Staccato, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Dance of the Banished and Rhett DeVane’s Suicide Supper Club.


Memory Lane

As you see, memory lane is a long street. It would be even longer if I kept better records, so I’m sure I didn’t find all of my interviews and guest posts. I’m planning to bring you some more new posts in the coming months. I hope you’ll stay tuned and, from time to time, sample the authors’ stories.


KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat”