Friday, May 13, 2011

Author's Questionnaire (Not Mine, Sadly)

Today's entry, over at Caroline Rose Starr's Caroline By Line has a list of questions sent to her by her editor as part of her Author's Packet.  To quote Caroline:

My questionnaire ends with something I especially fun:
As you may have gathered by now, we want readers to get to know you. This short list of questions-and-answers will be featured on our website. If you’d like to participate, please choose five questions from the list below and compose five brief (a few sentences are fine) answers. If you have something amusing to share that’s not covered below, feel free to invent your own question(s). If you submit more than five sets of questions/answers we will select five to appear on the site.

I'm nowhere near this point, but I liked the variety of questions and, after all, I've been conspicuously not posting for a week or two so, why not indulge in a little Publication Date is Coming Up Soon fantasy?

Can you share any funny, strange, or wonderful stories about how your book came to be?
I started writing THE BOOK after failing dismally at writing another Victorian era children's book.  That book was Serious.  When I started writing this book it was only with the understanding that I was going to write something Not Serious and Goofy.  It turned out to not be quite as goofy as I had envisioned, but it's a strategy I recommend to anyone who is taking themselves too seriously to write well.

What are you reading now?
DEADLY by Julie Chibbaro; THE COMPLEAT MEADMAKER by Ken Schramm and THE TRIBE OF TIGER by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

What are you working on now?
Revisions to BOOK TWO.  I originally wrote BOOK TWO first, then BOOK THREE.  THE BOOK came out of a twenty page introduction that friends of mine requested, then told me it needed to be turned into a full-length story.  After revising THE BOOK it turned out to be twice as long and went into more details of the characters and their relationship.  This meant I needed to do similar revisions to BOOK TWO.  (Don't even ask about the revisions to BOOK THREE yet)

Do you eat your vegetables?
I've been a vegetarian since before you were born.  If I didn't eat my vegetables I'd be in real trouble.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I've always thought flying would be cool.

How long did it take you to write this book?
Between writing the first draft of THE BOOK, the pre-agent revisions and the quasi-agent revisions, it's been about a year so far.  I anticipate further revisions.

What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Getting over my need to be perfect.  When I read a book the words seem to flow off the page so effortlessly.  It's easy to forget that it takes a lot of hard work to get them to flow onto the page.

When did you know you were a writer?
Am I a writer?  I'd like to think I am, but I'm really not all that sure.
I knew I had the potential to be a writer back in college when a writing teacher helped me to believe in myself

What was your inspiration for writing this book?
When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in our local libraries.  Walking through the aisles of books I thought being an author must be one of the best things in life.  I thought about writing a lot and even made some initial not very good attempts at some stories.  Then, when I was starting to see my 50th birthday peeking over the horizon I decided I'd better get serious about writing if I was ever going to make it happen.

Who is your favorite author?
Just one?  How's TerryPratchettDouglasAdamsKateDiCamillo for a start?

What's the history of your first or last name?
My father is Henry Thomas Franklin.  The third.  Or the fourth.  Or the fifth.  We're not sure.  When I was born, my mother asked him if he wanted me to continue the family history of naming the first son Henry Thomas.  He said he didn't want to burden anyone with that name, so they compromised by dropping the Henry and only gave me the Thomas.

What was your favorite food when you were little?
I remember canadian bacon on Shakey's pizza as a special treat on occasional Friday nights.  As a kid, in a family-style pizzeria with a player piano and a big, glass window where you could watch the cooks making the pizzas, that was tough to beat.

What is your favorite food now?
My wonderful wife makes a mean macaroni and cheese. And a mean manicotti.  And potato pancakes.

Do you have any unusual or special family traditions?
At home, my wife and I are staff to six cats.  You'd have to ask them.

Do you have any hobbies?
I brew beer and mead.  I love playing boardgames.  My wife and I volunteer on Saturdays at Conservators' Center, helping to care for and feed the wild animals.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?
WHERE'S WILLIE, a book about a boy and his small black cat who goes missing.  I used to ask my parents to read this too me before going to be a lot.  (I still have my copy of this book!)

How do you cheer yourself up when you're feeling down?
I find that watching episodes of Shaun the Sheep is an excellent way of making the world seem a bit brighter.  Shaun the Sheep is brilliant.

What is your favorite birthday memory?
My mother worked hard to make sure a lot of my birthdays were different.  One year she took a group of my friends and me on a tour of a submarine.  How cool was that?

What is your favorite sandwich?
Grilled cheeses, sliced tomatos and italian seasonings on whole wheat bread.

If you owned a horse, what would you name it?
Horse.  (Not very original, I know.)

How do you spend a rainy Saturday morning?
Feeding the animals at Conservators' Center.  Otherwise, Saturday mornings, like most mornings, are best spent sleeping in bed, regardless the weather.

What was the first book you can remember reading?
I don't remember.  My parents were big readers and I started trying to read at a young age.  I was a slow reader at first, but then I made some friends at school who also liked to read.  I also started working in my elementary school's library and joined a book discussion group at our local library.  I've been reading and been around books for so long I can't remember.

What’s your favorite snack food?
Homemade Chexmix.  Dangerously good.

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
I've thought Flying Squirrels are cool since I first heard about them when I was a kid.  It's a squirrel who can glide like it's flying.  Completely cool.

That having been said, being one of my wife's cats would ensure that I would be overly cared for for the rest of my life.  That might be even better.

What is your favorite thing about being an author/illustrator?
When people tell me they laughed at the parts of my story that are supposed to be funny.  That and when people say they like my characters.  (I really like the butler character.  He's more understated than the other characters and that made me worry that people won't notice how great he is.  Luckily, lots of people have told me how much they like him.)

How long does it take you to write a book or create a piece of art?
It depends on how much time I'm able to put into it.  Between my day job, life at home, weekend work with the wild animals and general laziness, about a year seems right.

What book do you re-read every few years?
For years I read Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy every year.  A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA is still one of my favorite books.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid I used to think it would be great to be a writer.  Now I'm thinking it would be great to be an incredibly rich writer.  Or one of my wife's cats.


Okay, your turn!  Pick a few of your favorites and leave your answers in the comments section.