Blogalectic Holiday: Random Q & A

In honor of the holiday, Masha gave us an easy topic: a list of questions to answer. To veteran bloggers, listing comes almost as naturally as speaking, and I'm thankful for the comparatively light work after a cheery Thanksgiving weekend that was rather too busy for much blog prep.

1. If you could escape into just one story, what would it be?

Escape? I'm usually my own biggest problem. Finding a way directly into a story wouldn't be likely to change that. :P But if I just need a vacation in a fictional world, well—I've already answered that one.

2. What book do you think should be mandatory for writers?

People write and think in an immense variety of ways. Therefore, I say: go find your own mandatory book. For me, it was probably the Harry Potter series, but it'll be different for everyone.*

And no, I don't often read books about writing. For me, they've never proven quite as helpful for writing fiction as has the generally more enjoyable act of reading fiction.

3. What movie do you think should be mandatory viewing for writers?

See above. Only I'm no film connoisseur, and off the top of my head, not one movie of my acquaintance has had a noticeable impact on my writing. Several TV shows, on the other hand, have been influential. The Gilmore Girls is great for dialogue. The Wonder Years is great for narrative. And The Dick Van Dyke Show is great for comical character interplay.

That said, I like artsy but accessible movies like The King's Speech or the Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility. They're beautiful enough to inspire me artward, and might fairly represent the sort of novel I'd like to write: lovely storylines and scenery, thoughtful characters and relationships, happy endings. They're only missing the magic and unicorns.

4. Do you ever take drugs, smoke, or drink to ‘encourage’ your imagination while writing?

Hah. I'm at my most creative when all my faculties are present and accounted for, thank you very much.

If I need wackadoodle inspiration, I can always go to sleep. Of course, I've not got a lot of use for psychedelic Big Birds, tone-deaf people in denim singing in a porch swing at Mass, impossibly large house parties with the drinks table arranged according to the color wheel, and the zombie apocalypse, all of which have figured in my dreams in the last few weeks. But I most definitely do not need any stimulant to provide me with more such dreams.

5. Why does the world need books?

Because so many of us love them. And for other reasons, which are far too many and too complex to bother listing right now. That question could probably inspire its own blogalectic series.

6. What part of the [writing] process do you find most difficult?

Marketing, even to agents and editors. My default emotional position reads as follows: if perchance someone sincerely wants to hear from me, they'll ask. This is not a comfortable way to go about life, let alone marketing.

7. What books have scared you the most?

The single most terrifying book I've ever read, at least in recent years, was Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Closely following on its heels (creeping silently through the jungle, peering at it with a giant eye) was Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. Horrid books, both of them, as far as I'm concerned.** I might never have forgiven my first boyfriend for making me read them if he hadn't also loaned me all his Harry Potter books and introduced me to Nobuo Uematsu and Orson Scott Card.

* * *

All right, that was fun. What about you? Feel free to answer any or all of the questions in the combox or on your own blog.

* Disclaimer: This presumes, of course, that writers have studied a fair helping of the classic works in the language in which they intend to write.
** Yes, I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek. And Then There Were None was a fantastically structured murder mystery. Jurassic Park was at least an engaging story. I'm still thoroughly sorry I ever read either.


  1. #1) I'd like to escape into The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis right after they've gone through the stable doorway & entered into the real Narnia. ;)

    1. 1. Just one??

      2. Reading a lot and widely is the most important thing.

      3. The same applies with visual media.

      4. Nope and never. I can't stand to not be myself. My imagination has never been hindered by sobriety.

      5. The world needs books because it needs story. Story helps us make sense of ourselves and others and fosters knowledge, empathy and hope.

      6. As a columnist, ideas.

      7. The Haunting by Shirley Jackson. But more widely, those without hope, that degrade the human spirit, including contemporary "literary fiction."


    2. Arabella, well done, coming up with a succinct answer for #5. And I think I'll skip the Jackson novel, just as I skip the Picoult. :)


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