Author Neve Talbot Answers the Pivot Questionnaire

Neve TalbotAuthor Neve Talbot and I both have stories in “Mechanized Masterpieces 2: American Anthology” (Xchyler Publishing, 2015). Mine is “Nautilus Redux“. Hers is “West End”: A heartbroken Theodore Laurence follows the siren song of steam to Jamaica, where love and law collide with explosive results.

1. What is your favorite word?

Serendipity. It has a sort of tinkling sound to it, don’t you think? Like wind chimes. It convey​s a dichotomy of fate and self-determination: there’s a little bit of magic working ​in your favor, but it’s up to you to capitalize on it. Combine the meaning and the aural stimulation and it’s just shiny.

I’m also particularly partial to “snicklefritz.”

2. What is your least favorite word?

​Fair. Specifically, used in the whine “it’s not fair.” It conveys a sense of both helplessness​ ​and entitlement which I think can be debilitating. Nothing is fair. Ever. Get used to it. Fight for justice and equality.​ Work to elevate others. Strive to fulfill your potential. Don’t sit on your hiney until life suddenly becomes fair. That makes you a victim because it’s never going to happen. You are what you make yourself. Start becoming, especially that part of yourself that reaches out to help others as you improve your own situation.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Emotionally/spiritually: beauty. My family is the most beautiful thing in my life. I find the greatest joy in watching m​y children and grandchildren finding joy in each other, strengthening their friendships, creating unbreakable bonds. I believe people take photographs because they want to capture the way that they feel at that particular moment. My phone is full of pictures of my family.

I also get hung up on sunsets, stormy skies, water, sweeping vistas, tall skyscrapers/cityscapes, the stunning beauty of faces cragged with life experience, and the faces of babies.

Creatively: in all honesty, turmoil and stress. One part of my brain gets so frustrated and closed in, I escape into my head, creating worlds more hospitable, while the other part thinks, “oooo. This would make a great story,” or “here’s a great stumbling block to throw in my MC’s path.” I think I’d be bored to death if life were simple.

4. What turns you off?

​Dealing with business. The sight of a bank statement churns my stomach.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

​Don’t even get me started on curse words. Professionally, I believe good writers put into words those things their reader feels but cannot convey. Since people use curse words​ ​because they lack the vocabulary to properly express themselves, a writer defeats their own purpose when they resort to the same language.

Personally, some things just baffle me, like how did the f-word become an adjective or a noun? How did it become something so pervasive? Do people even consider its definition? I mean, it’s angry and aggressive and violent. It’s the synonym of rape. What if people started substituting “rape” instead? Would society be just as blasé about its use? I’d like to think not, that people would take offense, but something tells me it wouldn’t make a difference.

To me, words both spoken and on the page are objects of power. The words we use create our own personal world. That creation then spreads and co-mingles with the worlds of those with whom we interact, like watercolors on paper. What color do we want our world to be? Bright and clean and clear? Vibrant and alive? Or bleak and muddied and dark?

6. What sound or noise do you love?

Children’s laughter and play sounds. I’m particularly fond of opening doors, followed by “Nana!!”​

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

​​Leaf blowers and lawn mowers at 7 am. I’m a night owl.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

​If I weren’t a writer, I’d like to be an artist.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

​Customer service representative or telemarketer. The work lives of those poor people​ must be miserable.​

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“Good job!”

When I envision meeting God, there’s not a lot of talking but immense expressions of love and acceptance. Lots of gratitude expressed. Sometimes words fail.



 

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The new faces of Joanne Kershaw’s “Fated”

Foretold

One of my favorite authors and friends, the Joanneincomparable Joanne Kershaw, has just completed her Vanguard Legacy trilogy.

What’s more, this incredibly prolific author has produced all three volumes, Foretold, Reflected, and Fated, in barely as many years. Believe me, that’s impressive.

She recently played a little game we authors sometimes amuse ourselves with: picking actors with the faces and/or public persoReflectednae closest to what we saw Fatedin our heads while we were writing. Will Hollywood ever listen to us–assuming we land that multi-million dollar movie deal? Doubt it. But it’s a fun game nonetheless.

For our game this time, Joanne concentrated on new characters from the third volume, Fated. 

So here is your peek into the mind of this talented artist–here’s what she sees when she writes:


MarcusMarcus

Elora’s quad leader

He has a little bit of a crush on her (okay, a big crush!), but he’s professional enough to not let it interfere while she is his subordinate. He’s a big softy at heart. Marcus is driven by the work, and takes losses personally. His quiet and calm demeanour means that he counterbalances the craziness inside Elora’s head and it allows her to do her job properly.

Plus, he’s hot, which helps!


ClaraClara

Elora’s new quadmate.

Clara is determined to be the best Vanguard she can be. Like Elora, she has familial expectation to live up to, and she has requested a challenging assignment to allow her to do that. She is an open book for Elora, and they have a lot in common.


patrickPatrick

Another of Elora’s new quadmates!

Patrick seems to have a lot on his plate and Elora often wonders if there isn’t something else going on. He’s the strong, silent type, but he has the best interests of his team at heart. A real man’s man, Patrick can be counted on to make the tough decisions.


AdamssonAdamsson

Elora’s new Vanguard Superior.

He can’t replace the man she lost in the past, but he does a pretty good job! Of course, it turns out that he has a history with her mother, because which Vanguard doesn’t have a relationship with Nina? Right?
Elora looks just like she does on the covers of the books, because no other person can do that now!


Beyond Books Takeover Treasure Trail Question Three:
Q3: How long did it take Joanne to publish the entire trilogy?
a) 4 years
b) 3 years
c) 5 years
Hint: www.xchylerpublishing.com
Now, go check out A. F. Stewart at https://www.facebook.com/afstewartauthor?__mref=message for question 4!



 

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Author M.K. Wiseman Answers the Pivot Questionnaire

m.k.wisemanM. K. Wiseman and I both have stories in “Mechanized Masterpieces 2: American Anthology” (Xchyler Publishing, 2015). Mine is “Nautilus Redux“. Hers is “The Silver Scams”: A fast-talking confidence man ensnares all of Holland in his scheme to eliminate dikes forever . . . for a price.


1. What is your favorite word?
Fantastic.

Can’t you just hear it? Say it aloud to yourself. Fantastic. It is hard to contain the joy that this word builds to. Getting over that middle ‘t’ is like a bubble bursting, letting out all sorts of good juju. It is a very special word. (You can imagine my delight when the 9th Doctor made the word his own special catch-phrase. Kudos to him for adding an emphatic “absolutely” to it to kick things up a notch.)

2. What is your least favorite word?

Fragment. Okay, I’m not 100% committed to it being my absolute least favorite word but it contains the elements that annoy me. The word hangs, it dies in the middle. Only through sheer will can we get through this word. And we have to dip (see the ‘g’) to do it! So we’re punished for our efforts. Sigh.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Coffee shops. (I ask that you look ahead now to my ‘turn off’, #4 below. Have yourself a chuckle and return here. Got it? Thanks.) I find infinite inspiration in the aromas, the hustle and bustle–sometimes loud, sometimes hushed like a library–and the intrinsic sense of adventure that you get at a coffee shop. Now, if you did look at #4 below, you’re probably wondering “But do you drink coffee?” Absolutely. But decaf. And just a skosh of cream. No sugar.

4. What turns you off?

Caffeinated coffee. I know, I know, this is supposed to be the savior of every writer that ever was. But it just kills my creativity, my productivity, my every-ivity. Caffeine makes me bounce and quiver from one thing to the next, praying that I can just ride out the buzz until I feel like me again and really get some things done.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

Whew. I’ve got a bit of a tie here. First there’s “What in the fairying forest?” –compliments of “Tenth Kingdom”. It’s both satisfying and safe for most audiences. Doesn’t hurt anyone. Yeah, it’s a pretty good curse word/phrase.

Honorable mention: Frack/frak from “Battlestar Galactica.” Not my absolute favorite for its tendency to get confused with the word it is meant to replace. But very satisfying to say at stubborn inanimate objects that you’re beating with a wrench-because-the-directionshaditallwrong— frak!

6. What sound or noise do you love?

The crackle of a camp fire. I could listen to that for hours on end. I think what makes it special is that I have never found a good substitute for the real thing. It is inimitable.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

Chewing. Yes, I suffer from misophonia. To the point where I cannot stand those KitKat commercials. Really. I turn off the TV, or put it on mute and walk out of the room. I can’t really even see chewing because I know the sound that should accompany it.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I always wanted to be an animator. But as I am educated in that field, that answer is a bit of a cheat. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to pilot something. Tugboats, for example, fascinate me. And trains. And hot air balloons.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Undertaker. I think that job would get to me after a very short while. I admire those people who can handle it.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“Oh, hang on… there was a mixup. You’ve got another good twenty years in you. Go back to earth.” Unless I was the last of my friends and family, In which case I’d hope God phoned ahead so they’re all waiting for me.
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Author D. Lee Jortner Answers the Pivot Questionnaire

dianedinoD. Lee Jortner and I both have stories in Mechanized Masterpieces 2: American Anthology, a collection of Steampunk take-offs on classics of American literature being released February 28, 2015. My story is “Nautilus Redux” (Nemo meets Ahab). Hers is “Payoff For Air Pirate Pete”: A pair of train-robbing outlaws bite off more than they can chew when they kidnap the son of a railroad bigwig.

I asked her the questions of the famous Pivot Questionnaire. Here are her answers:

1. What is your favorite word?

Accepted!  (I haven’t been see that quite as often as I like with my submissions lately, but when I do….Whoopie!

2. What is your least favorite word?

“Can’t” As in I can’t do that!  I can’t find that!  Saying that stops forward motion, and halts creativity.  I try never to use it, and don’t want my kids or students to do so either.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Finding Connections. I love to find connections whether it is between people, between scripture verses, between reality and fiction, or between God and Man.

4. What turns you off?

I would say a frowning face turns me off.  I love a big smile!

5. What is your favorite curse word?

Dang

6. What sound or noise do you love?

rain

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

New music

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Anything. I want to try them all, but I am starting a little late. I have worked as a secretary, a teacher, a sale representative, and of course, a MOM. I just started three new professions this year: marketer, writer, and publisher of a local a magazine. What’s next? Who Knows?

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Computer Customer service person.  Dealing with technical troubles drives me crazy!

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

I have a special project for you to work on with these interesting people.

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Author Ginger Mann Answers the Pivot Questionnaire

Ginger

Ginger and I both have stories in “The Toll  of Another Bell” fantasy anthology (Xchyler Publishing, 2015). Mine is “The Year of No Foals“. Hers is “Jilted River“: An Appalachian fairy tale attracts visitors to a state park, but then they start to disappear.

1.  What is your favorite word?

Not fair. I like too many words. So, for you, I can narrow it down to two favorite words.  My favorite words are a phrase: “What if?” Regardless of what I am doing, whether it is writing, music, or even something mundane, I like to imagine what else is possible. If I’m telling  a story, it means that there is always another scene to write. If I’m solving a problem, it means there is an answer out there somewhere, even if it’s in my dreams.

2. What is your least favorite word?

Really?  Just one?  I think I will pick the phrase, “Supposed to.” I don’t know that, in and of itself, it’s such a bad thing to say. It is usually echoed by the conscientious, trying to follow directions with precision. However, I find that I chafe against it. Too often, I find that it is used as a way to diffuse responsibility, and let someone else do the thinking. I love to explore, and I am not fond of artificial barriers. What am I “supposed to” do with that? Oh, I don’t know. I guess I’ll make it up as I go along.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

Big questions! I am turned on by things that evoke my senses. I find that I relax while holding a musical instrument in my hands, playing something beautiful. My blood pressure drops when I am around the woods on my family’s farm. I find open spaces and landscapes to be evocative. They inspire much of the prose and poetry that I write. It is counter-intuitive, I guess: I used to think of a writer as someone who cloistered herself indoors with ink and paper. Not so. I am at my best when I am fully engaged.

4. What turns you off?

Micromanagement.  I have a visceral reaction to anyone who attempts to control me. I will buck against a person if I think they are trying to infringe upon my personal choices. It’s not too great for some of my relationships, I admit.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

Oh, I love the word, “Frak!” It’s an invented curse word from Sci-Fi’s Battlestar Galactica, meant to impersonate the real “F” word. When the second incarnation of that series was active, I was working as a U.S. defense contractor. I heard the real “F” word on a daily basis, used as every part of speech. Okay, so I actually learned that word myself, and used it for awhile. Well, see, you can’t say that to the ladies at the local church, so when I learned “Frak,” I tried to use it to clean up my bad language. It worked, sort of. Thanks, Sci-Fi writers, for the substitution.

6. What sound or noise do you love?

I am in love with the sound of children playing. There is pure joy in the laughter of the littlest ones, especially. One of my favorite poets from my own personal history wrote, “All the angels pause a moment for the laughter of a child.” This I believe.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

Loud noises disturb me. I am one of those people for whom silence is golden. When I am at work, in particular, I need a fairly quiet room to keep focused. It has been a challenge sometimes, in places where there is a lot of crowd noise.

It also challenges me when music plays in the background while I am trying to work. I don’t know why that is: I am a musician, so you would think I’d love that. But it completely takes over my thinking, so I can’t concentrate anymore.

8. What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?

Hilarious, because I’ve already attempted about 4 professions, and I’m still doing two of them simultaneously. However, I remember my mother’s advice before I went for my bachelor’s degree. She said, “Major in Communications.” And well, I didn’t listen. I kept my own council. But now, years later, I wish I had gone for a journalism degree, and started writing earlier. If I had to change careers, it would be to that. Maybe I’ll give it a go someday.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

I do not want to do anything that requires me to count. In fact, I already have done a job like that, and I stunk at it. I am fine with math–don’t get me wrong–I just fail at accounting. In fact, I love anything and everything about math except for the numbers. Wow, is that wrong? I guess that’s why I program computers. They can count just fine without my help.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

I have no idea if pearls are on any gates in heaven, or if there are golden streets or anything like it. Beyond that, I won’t deal with the word “if”. Personally, I have met God, and so the question of reality is answered. I am sure that one day, we will meet face to face. But the God I know is love, alone. When I meet God, I hope to hear Him say something like the words in Luke 3:22, “You are my beloved, my favor rests in you.” I can think of no words that are more beautiful than these, coming from the Source of all love.

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Author Justin Guay Answers the Pivot Questionnaire

JustinJustin and I both have stories in Mechanized Masterpieces 2: American Anthology, a collection of Steampunk take-offs on classics of American literature being released February 28, 2015. My story is “Nautilus Redux” (Nemo meets Ahab). His is “A Princess of Jasoom”: An intrepid young researcher reaches for the stars from the Arizona desert, and finds love where she least expects it.
I asked Justin the questions of the famous Pivot Questionnaire. Here are his answers:

1. What is your favorite word?
Dynamic Equilibrium. Two words I know, but I’m not above cheating. Besides being fun to say, the concept is really meaningful to me. Balance and peace do not have to be static…

2. What is your least favorite word?

Maw, because it is almost always preceded by ‘gaping’, isn’t terribly descriptive, and just sounds gross.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

I am a wicked visual person. Art, sculpture, anything creative our out of the box. I have my PC desktop set to change background every 5 min, so there is always something new to keep me inspired.

4. What turns you off?

Cliches, and unimaginative things. Sometimes I see something or read something that could have been so new and fresh, but the creator took the safe way and made just another of the same canned items that clog up the internet.
5. What is your favorite curse word?

Friggin-A

6. What sound or noise do you love?

My kids laughing

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

My alarm…

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

If I could do something different, I would want it to be outdoors. I think I would be a Registered Maine Guide.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Accounting. Forms and cubicles are the bane of my existence.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when
you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

‘Well Done Good and Faithful Servant’
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Author Elise Stephens answers the Pivot Questionnaire

Elise StephensElise and I both have stories in “The Toll of Another Bell” fantasy anthology (Xchyler Publishing, 2015). Mine is “The Year of No Foals“. Hers is “Phoenix”: Orion loses his wife on their wedding day and uses dark magic to seek her in the afterlife.

1. What is your favorite word?

Beauty. It strikes every single person on earth in different ways, and it can be both aesthetic (and thus shallow in in the eyes of many) or deep, in terms of a person’s character, or the overall structure of something. On my old laptop, I had a sticker fastened to it that read “Beauty will save the world.”

2. What is your least favorite word?

Hopeless. I guess that’s because I don’t believe in lost causes. I’m pretty prone to mood swings, but deep down I don’t believe that anything is lost forever. There’s always a chance for light to enter and for brokenness to be rebuilt or used for a good purpose.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

So many things! Music and song lyrics have been a source of story-inspiration. Unsolved mysteries often beg me to invent solutions. Deep conversations with friends often linger with me and twist themselves into the bones of a story.

4. What turns you off?

Mean people. Seriously, when people are rude or unkind or extremely self-centered, it’s an excellent recipe for creative and emotional blockage.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

Ha! Wait, that’s not a curse word. I just think this question is hilarious. Mmmm, I have a one year old son who is about to talk and I’m seriously working on cleaning up my act for him, but I would say that my time in theater and tendency to spurt of hot-blooded returns makes “fuck” and all its derivatives a favorite of mine. (And, Scott, you can retype this as the f-bomb if that suits the nature of your blog better. I typed it out completely, since you asked directly).

6. What sound or noise do you love?

I adore the sound of moving, tumbling water. I’d love to live with a view of the ocean or a lake someday.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

A baby crying in the middle of the night. My hormones are wired to wake me up with a surge of adrenaline every time I hear it, and there’s no getting around it. I love my baby intensely, but the midnight crying is not at all thrilling.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Acting. Professional theater. Possibly musical theater, though I don’t think my singing voice is hugely stellar. I just love the theater world. My mom was an actress and a lot of it rubbed off on me. Working through the passions and struggles of other characters has always been a delight.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Hmmm, anything that involves high levels of mathematics. Math and I can coexist peaceably enough, but we don’t get along well. I don’t think I’d enjoy being an engineer or a scientist. I’m a bit too disorderly.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Ah, you have hit a deep one, there. Honestly, I’d love to hear God say, “Would you like to see your babies now?” I’ve had the sad lot to lose two babies before they were born, and I am aching to meet them and to hold them in my arms. Right now, that’s what I want the very most.

Thank you for having me here, Scott! These interview questions were seriously fun and interesting.

Elise

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Interview with author TC Phillips

TC PhillipsAll this week, leading up to the official release of the new fantasy anthology, “The Toll of Another Bell” (Xchyler Publishing, 2015), I interview my fellow authors.

Today, author TC Phillips answers the Pivot Questionnaire for  me.

TC and I both have stories in “The Toll of Another Bell“.  My story is “The Year of No Foals“. His is “60 Seconds to Midnight”: In a world where the human conscience can travel, Ylana must escape Daimons to find her grandfather.

1. What is your favorite word?

Cognisant (or cognizant for you Americans who feel the need to put z in everything). It just rolls off the tongue nicely and I don’t get to use it in conversation anywhere near as much as I’d like to.

2. What is your least favorite word?

Overdue. I really don’t like reading anything which involves that word, particularly in the form of official correspondence.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Late nights when everyone else in the house is asleep and I can put headphones on and blast music into my skull. I always get my creative juices flowing deep into the night.

4. What turns you off?

People who aren’t interested in fixing problems and are just content to keep whining about it. Put up or shut up people.

5. What is your favorite curse word?
there are so many good ones to choose from, but an Australian I have a deeply ingrained, patriotic connection to the F word. On a good day (or when I’ve kicked my toe) I can make Gordon Ramsay look like a choir boy. It can be such a versatile word though and suits almost any occasion.

6. What sound or noise do you love?

The word “daddy” being shouted by my kids who are excited when I get home from work. That and the sound of rain on the roof whilst laying in bed.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

The word “daddy” being shouted by my kids who are whinging about their blankets at 3 in the morning. That and plastic masking tape being rolled out – it sets my teeth on edge.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I know virtually nothing about the realities of the industry, but I’ve always been attracted to film making and special effects. I’d love to get involved with something like Weta Workshop or ILM.
Oh – and becoming a Mythbuster. Let’s face it, those guys have the best job on the planet.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Day care assistant. I’ve walked into my kid’s daycare on a rainy day when it’s filled to bursting with screaming, hyperactive four year olds – I swear I crossed into the seventh circle of hell on that day. They really don’t pay those guys enough.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Thank you for participating in our little experiment called existence and we are sorry to see your contracted time on earth has come to an end. We apologise for any technical difficulties you may have encountered throughout your time, and our service technicians would be keen to hear any suggestions you may have for our future scheduled system upgrades.

As an expression of gratitude for your ongoing participation please accept this free pass to our full service buffet. I personally recommend the deep-fried peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, you’ll find them on the left behind Elvis.

Also, in answer to your question, you were right in assuming that there was no there was no clear functional purpose for the evolutionary design of the platypus. It was intended as a joke, I’m surprised more people didn’t get that.

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I sit down with author Jodi L. Milner

jodi-milner2Today I sit down with author Jodi L. Milner to talk about writing stuff, and particularly our shared upcoming release “The Toll of Another Bell” (Xchyler, 2015). Oh–and my story, “The Year of No Foals”.  Here’s the link to the interview.

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Interview with author Jamie Potter

Jamie PotterAll this week, leading up to the official release of the new fantasy anthology, “The Toll of Another Bell” (Xchyler Publishing, 2015), I interview my fellow authors.

Today, author Jamie Potter answers the Pivot Questionnaire for  me.

Jamie and I both have stories in “The Toll of Another Bell“.  My story is “The Year of No Foals“. His is “Tower Gods”: A thirteen-year-old boy with an oxygen mask is more than meets the eye for Watcher Benson.

1. What is your favorite word?

Verdant

2. What is your least favorite word?

Slit

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

The ocean. Dogs. Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto. Comics! The gothic mysteries of John Bellairs.

4. What turns you off?

When people talk about money. Also, very loud, incessant noises.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

The F Bomb.

6. What sound or noise do you love?

Whispering pines.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

Guitar strings tuning. It’s like my “nails on the chalkboard.”

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Performing songwriter. I do that semi-professionally, but would love to take a year and tour and really learn how it’s done.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Police or paper plant worker.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“C’mon, man! You’re late for tea with The Beatles, Jack Kirby, Buddha, and a group of shirpas that have scaled Mount Everest.”1 What is your favorite word?

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