whY (A) write’s Craig Schmidt’s blog-interview

YA writer Craig Schmidt, blogger at whyawrite.wordpress.com, posted questions for several writing blogs, including my own! So without further ado, here’s our blog-interview.

What is something you regret? (no need to get too personal)

While I was in the bath, I thought of the perfect answer for this question. It is, after all, the very first question, and it deserves a good answer. This one was an excellent choice, lots of personality and a hint of bittersweet humor, without startling a reader who might not be used to me yet. A really good answer.

But as I was in the bath, I didn’t write it down. And as I then started a book in the tub (Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire — now halfway through), I didn’t think to write it down when I got out, either. And by the next morning I’d forgotten, and despite a day of trying to recall it, I just can’t remember what that perfect answer was.

And now I regret that.

What was the first thing you remember writing?

Oddly enough, it was a story about foxes.

Well, that’s not quite true. I remember writing a story about a girl who is shipwrecked with a horse…. Apologies to Walter Farley! I’m not sure if that came before or after the foxes. I remember writing about orphans — don’t all kids write that story, at some time or another? — but I think that came later.

But I wrote about an orphaned girl (seriously, it’s a common theme) who moves to her aunt’s large estate and discovers a society of foxes in the woods. The whole thing was somehow inspired by a painting in the Indianapolis Museum of Art depicting an anthropomorphic rabbit pleading with a well-dressed fox, though my story had neither anthropomorphic bipedal animals nor clothing for the foxes.

I’ve never been able to find that painting again.

Who was your favorite actor or actress when you were growing up?

I don’t know, really. But because that’s a lame answer, I’ll offer that I did really like Kevin Kline and Rex Smith in The Pirates of Penzance, and when Rex Smith went on to star in Broadway’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, that produced this exchange between my sister and myself:

“Tight pants, boots — it’s amazing how much this movie shaped our young ideas of what was masculine and sexy.”

“I don’t think we should tell Sexy Rexy that.”

“I’d love to have the opportunity to not tell him that.”

“We could fail to tell Randy [a mutual friend who lived next door to Rex Smith] to tell Rex.”

“We’ve already done that, in fact.”

“Look how efficient we are!”

What is your favorite television show that was cancelled before its time/too soon?

Remember WENN

we miss you, Remember WENN….

I don’t watch much television, but I don’t have to think at all on this one — Remember WENN was a great show, cruelly hamstrung by studio politics. Rupert Holmes’ story of an overworked, underpaid, fanatically-dedicated cast in a small 1940s radio station featured a stellar team of stage and guest actors and inspired an equally fanatically-dedicated audience. (How dedicated? The show has been off the air since the ’90s, and every week WENN fans still meet online to chat while watching their hoarded VHS dubs and pirated episodes.)

Over a decade after cancellation, AMC’s website still showed “When can we get Remember WENN on DVD?” as one of its top FAQs.

But the answer, unfortunately, is never. AMC played unbelievably dirty, reportedly falsifying the quantity of regular fan mail and even running a contest with a walk-on role as prize after they had cancelled the show and struck the sets (thereby falsely soothing those crazy fans and preempting a noisy campaign to save it), and despite a decade and a half of unceasing fan requests, has refused to release the series. I would buy my DVD set the very day pre-orders opened — but hey, if they hate money….

Can you think of a time when you were “pleasantly surprised”? What was it?

Honestly, winning the Luminis Prize at the 2012 Midwest Writers Workshop. I really didn’t think a historical fantasy set in a less-known period of Asian history was likely to get much attention, and certainly not the prize. I was thrilled.

What is your least favorite type/genre of music?

Rap. Hard core, unmusical, obscene, woman-demeaning rap.

My musical range is pretty wide; I have pop, rock, oldies, opera, classical, orchestral rock, wizard rock, film soundtracks, heavy metal, teen pop, Broadway, J-pop, and even a little country (shh!) on my phone’s mp3 player — in English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Korean, Japanese, Romanian, just off the top of my head as I type this. But I can’t listen to rap.

Which disappointing revelation of a fallen star/celebrity had the biggest effect on you and why?

I don’t really follow celebrities, so this one is harder to answer…. Probably the biggest effect came from a celebrity who was also a friend, so the hurt was personal rather than just a fan’s surprise. Also stinging was the fact that I found out via his web site, rather than hearing it through the relationship. We haven’t spoken since, and that is sad.

If you were to recommend one vacation spot, what would it be and why?

Alaska is one of the most gorgeous places on the planet, I think. But honestly, I can vacation in all kinds of places. :)

What goal are you most focused on right now?

I have a major writing project which is inches away from being shipped out. I’ve been really driven about that for the last couple of months. It might even be done by the time this posts, we’ll see.

What is on your bucket list (things you want to do before you die)? List just one or two.

Um, I want my book to become a major motion picture scored by Howard Shore.

Failing that, I’d like to visit the Galapagos and Peru. And Iceland. And New Zealand.

If you were to write a “Thank you” note to someone you’ve never actually met, who would that be and why?

Great question. Hmm.

There’s a lot of potential there, but such a wide open field makes it really hard to make a single choice. I mean, I’m indebted to an awful lot of people throughout history, but how do I pick just one to thank?

And I’ve been privileged enough to meet many of the people I admire today, scientists and musicians and a few authors. (I wrote a book report on Karen Pryor when I was in middle school — and now I work for her. How cool is that?!) But again, of those I haven’t met, how do I narrow down the choice to one?

Maybe Paul. The apostle Paul. He had an adventurous and unpleasant life after an … abrupt recruitment. :) After that, the man was a machine. A lot of people call him a misogynist today, but that accusation is only possible in part due to his own admonitions that all congregants were equals — that women and men, masters and slaves, Jews and Gentiles all should worship together and treat one another as brother and sister. In a stratified society where women were held decidedly inferior to men, and where slaves could be maimed or killed at their masters’ moods, that was pretty outrageous. I’m sorry after he dedicated his life to spreading and supporting a faith which urged mercy and equality, that he is sometimes unfairly portrayed as a bigot, and so that is going to push him into my choice for a thank you note.

I also need to thank Mr. Schmidt for calling out my blog with these questions, and I extend my deepest sympathy for The Phantom Menace — yes, it was hard to believe it was really that bad. “Incomprehensible” is such an apt word for that film. Folks, go check out his blog which has a lot of interesting posts on the querying process. (I particularly like his post about not bugging the agent; I’m going to have to make a list of things to do while waiting for agent response!)

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2 Comments

  1. Great answers to my random questions! BTW: I was there when you won the Luminis a few months ago. Your reaction was classic. Best of luck and thanks for mentioning my blog! -Craig

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