Monthly Archives: August 2012

J. David Osborne


What’s with this rap business?

I know a lot of writers who don’t listen to hip hop. That seems weird to me. You’re in the business of putting words together. Leonard Shlain used to talk about the left and right brains. Left was logical, right was creative. Left was words, right was images/music. Rap is the perfect fusion of both sides of the brain. There’s the music, but there’s also the words. Not singing, usually. Which is more of a right brained thing. Also, the great thing about modern hip-hop is that it’s constantly evolving. It feels like there’s a new mixtape or album every day, and while it’s not all good, there’s enough good, innovative stuff out there that it always feels fresh. I love turning on a song and having my brain try to wrap itself around this new sound. That happens all the time with hip hop music. Anyhow, I love it. So I figured I’d do it. My voice kind of sucks but there was no one out there making exactly the type of rap that I knew I could make. No one is in my head but me. The other great thing about rap: if you give 100%, you will create something unique. My rap group, Fuck Style, has played two shows so far. Really good response the second time. The first time was in a strip club in Lawton and drunk GIs threatened to kill us.

What do you have in your pockets?

Right now I’m in my PJ pants, so nothing but a lighter. Usually I have a few pens, my phone, pack of cigarettes, wallet.

How many tattoos do you have, and what do they mean?

I have an om on my left forearm. It’s a Brandon Boyd drawing. I got it because I was mildly into Buddhism in high school, but mostly because my wife was a big Incubus fan and I thought it would score some points with her. It’s really shoddy looking, but I like rough tattoos. On the other side of that I have the Swallowdown Press logo, which is basically just a bird. And on the right forearm I have a big origami time machine from “The Invisibles.”

Who was you first mind-blowing crush?

When I was…maybe ten or eleven, I had the serious hots for Anna Chlumsky. I think that’s how you spell her name. I used to watch “My Girl” a lot just to see those sweet lips. I walked into my mother’s room one day, crying my eyes out. Mom asked me what was wrong. I told her I was sad because I knew Anna and I would never be together. My mother is one of the sweetest people in the entire world, but I suppose even she was baffled by this level of stupid, so she said, “You are being an idiot. She’s a fictional character.” I ran to my room and cried. Another crush I had was Atreyu from “Neverending Story.” The first few times I watched the movie I didn’t know if Atreyu was a guy or a girl. I didn’t understand anatomy very well. He had a pretty face and pretty hair and I figured “fuck it, I’d let him be my girlfriend.”

I ask this a lot, but I still think it’s legitimate because I always want to know: How do you feel about Batman?

I am a gigantic Batman fan. Briefly: the movies are pretty good. I dig them. Nolan couldn’t frame a shot to save his life. He has trouble doing simple things, like putting two people in the same shot at one time. But the movies are good. I like that they take the philosophy shit seriously. Everyone talking in exposition. Batman the character is awesome. I’m a huge Grant Morrison fan. Everything he’s done with Batman is great. In Batman RIP when there was that little imp Batman acting like his conscience. Morrison lifted that idea of burying a personality like the Bat does with Zur-En-Arrh from “The Invisibles.” Stealing his own ideas. But yeah. “Batman, Inc.”, Batcow, Professor Pyg, all the Joker stuff. It’s all wonderful. Scott Snyder’s tearing that shit up, too.

You have, arguably, one of the cutest dogs in the world. How did that relationship begin?

It began without my consent. My wife decided that we were going to have a dog. We went to the pound. There was a cage with three heeler pups. Two were sitting calmly. Another was attempting to climb on top of the other two, biting their ears, generally being a nuisance. Rios said, “I like that one.” We took her home the next day. She was heavily sedated, because the pound cut out her genitals. She was adorable. But then, she grew. And grew. The floppy ears that had charmed us from her prison cell raised to the ceiling. She raised hell. I am a pushover. I didn’t rigidly stick to any kind of training. I fed her people food. For about three years, she was a holy terror. Now she’s a lot calmer, but she still freaks out when people come over. She loves people. Hates other dogs. I love her very much, she’s my baby.

Can you sing?

I can’t sing. This makes me sad.

What’s the first book you bought with your own money, or the first book you owned that meant a great deal to you?

First book I bought with my own money…don’t remember. But the first book I owned that meant a lot to me was probably “Shadows of the Empire”, a Star Wars book. Takes place between ESB and ROTJ. It’s got a lot of Boba Fett. And some pretty sweet action. And it has Leia being seduced by a weird green alien with a ponytail. I read few books twice, now. But I read that book over and over. They came out with a game of it for Nintendo 64 and I flipped shit. I didn’t have any videogame system. But I’d go over to friends’ houses and play that shit. I loved it.

 Have you ever typed on a typewriter?

I haven’t ever typed on a typewriter. I notice that a lot of people do this. I’d be interested to see their reasons why. I don’t know. It always strikes me as an attempt to mimic the black and white photo of “the writer”. Cigarette, typewriter, mustache. But I’m not being fair. My wife’s old roommate types on a typewriter all the time, and she genuinely loves it. I write a lot on my iphone. It helps because it’s so much slower. You kind of get lost in the sentences, because your fingers slow down and you can figure things out as you go.

Sean Ferguson


C&C: Do you love me?

My adoration for people I’ve never met knows no bounds. I try to love everyone, or at least give everyone’s own personality enough room to breathe before I make some sort of knee-jerk reaction. There are people I’ve been wrong about. Livius Nedin from Booked is definitely one of those people. I’ll try to remember to circle back to that in a bit, if I forget, tap my forehead. I’ve always been able to form better relationships with women for some reason. Perhaps it has something to do with the people responsible for molding the person I’ve become. I spent a lot of time at my mom’s mother’s house, and she had something like a gazillion grandchildren under her helm, so she was packed to the gills with Disney movies, most of their strongest characters are female. Maybe that’s it.

 My grandmother was an amazing woman. She was always doling out some sort of wisdom that, at the time, seemed so incredibly inappropriate and overreaching whatever was going on or being talked about. It wasn’t until years later when those trinkets of knowledge at various, almost random moments, came into play more than anything anyone was ever able to give me. I swear, she was comprised totally and completely of love. Her passing at the time was absolutely devastating, but even then was educational. Take care of yourself and those that you care about most, because we exist for a limited time only, like some sort of twisted Blue Light Special. You have this light that you exude, and it has been clearly passed down to your son. You post pictures of him on Facebook, and I just smile. I’ve never met him, I’ve never talked to him, none of it, and I just know he’s going to be something special. And there’s something there that’s far more than just, “Oh, she’s just this personality-butterfly, watch what she does.” There’s more than that, like an honesty and charm and brilliance wrapped in this tiny package of immutable magnificence. I don’t really know how to peg it any other way. In short – yes, yes I do.

I did the interview for Warmed & Bound with the Booked guys and almost immediately got this feeling like they thought I was a clown. And before they read further and are all defensive, I should probably also state that I can be pretty neurotic when it comes to new people. I was making a conscious effort to be as “me” as possible and was morbidly afraid that I was overdoing it and essentially not doing anything FOR the book. So, anyway, after the interview I talked to Robb quite a bit on Facebook and we seemed to connect, having a similar sense of humor and so on, and Livius didn’t seem to have that same interest, like he absolutely couldn’t be bothered, if not hated me. So, SCREW HIM! You know? And then I meet the guy in Chicago at 2012’s AWP and he was nothing but aces, the both of them. They actually told me that they’d hoofed it from another reading states away, delayed going to their respective homes another couple hours, just to meet me – which is another anomaly I can’t quite grasp.

I’m me, you know? I’ve known me for just over thirty-one years, so, yea. I love to use a lot of commas, A LOT. My memory isn’t all that great, and I can be incredibly abrasive. I don’t think I’m all that amazing, but people do that. There’s a loyalty and whatever, and it happens quite often, and maybe one day I’ll just learn to accept it as it is, and be thankful. Chris Deal, love that dude, Nik Korpon too. And they seem genuinely appreciative of my existence too. Nik I’ve met, Chris I haven’t, but both of them – I don’t know. I’m rambling and second guessing breaths that I’m taking, now. I don’t get the Ferguson-allure. That’s all I’m rambling about.

C&C: You were an EMT for quite a while. How did you get into such a thing?

I remember sitting on a stool behind a counter, listening to this girl talk about what it was like being in the back of the ambulance. We were coworkers at a video store, passing time, and she’d launch into war stories, with blood and guts and vomit, and the ambulance careening this way and that. It all sounded so Summer Blockbuster. And there seemed to be a familial bond between these people that didn’t really have anything else in common, but a deranged obsession with getting up at all hours of the night and day, leaving their families and lives behind, to go scoop perfect strangers from their homes and off the streets. Plus, a girl was paying attention to me: talking to me, which in high school wasn’t all that common an occurrence.

 I mean, girls talked to me, I guess. But, it was then kind of the way it is now. I have a magnetism that causes people to describe me as awesome, but I’ve never really quite been able to put my finger on what it was that was so “awesome.”

 Anyway, so a girl was talking to me, telling me her stories and growing up in church it was kind of instilled in me to help people. So, the next thing I know, I’m filling out an application, getting my junk jiggled during a physical exam and then I’m sitting in the back of an ambulance, zipping around town. It was cool. I wasn’t an EMT yet, more or less kind of an observer and assistant, getting this equipment or that. And then I went away to college, and that didn’t quite work out so I came home.

 I had to get a job, so I went back to the medical field, instead of making movies. I got myself an EMT certification and started transporting patients from hospitals and nursing homes to doctor’s appointments and other scheduled procedures. It wasn’t as sexy as the emergencies, but it was a paying gig, and then I continued volunteering for my local company. And that’s kind of how that went, until I eventually was transferred from the transporting job to an emergency service in a neighboring town where a lot of exciting shit went down.

 And now you can’t get me near an ambulance.

C&C: What do you have in your pockets?
I have a pack of Camel Menthol Silvers with seven smokes and a mini blue lighter inside in one pocket. My keys are in my right pocket, including the key to the nearby ambulance hall, my new car, my current residence, my last residence, the residence to a friend, and two mystery keys. No, four mystery keys: I double-checked. Back right pocket is holding the wallet, driver’s license, two credit cards, Emergency Services ID card in case I die and need to be identified, a five and three ones, a spent ticket to Thrice’s farewell tour, two blank checks, two tattoo shop business cards, membership card to my credit union, Regal Crown Club card, Best Buy’s Reward Zone card, and a gift card to Game Stop with a $37 balance on it, that I’ll probably never use. Also, my insurance cards, CPR card, EMT license, and a Chicago bus pass. And now that I’m getting ready to go smoke, my iPhone was just slipped into my back pocket. Oh, and a post-it is in my pocket that says, “Ferg 7/7N 6/30D.”

What can I say that might be of interest about all of that?

The EMT license, it’s my third card, the first two were good for three years, the current card is a five year card that was issued by the New Jersey Department of Health in an effort to save a little bit of money on administration costs. As it stands, it will be my last EMT license as I’m finding it incredibly difficult to climb into the back of an ambulance anymore. There was an incident back in September that could have killed me, and ever since I sort of freak out if I even think about being back there. It comes in handy though, that I don’t work in ambulances as a job anymore, but I still belong to a volunteer organization. It’s kind of sad to think about not doing the ambulance thing anymore because it’s something I’ve done since I was seventeen years old. I don’t know.

The Game Stop card kind of amuses me. In January I made three trips and five separate transactions, buying and selling games back and forth, because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted. Now I don’t own any video game consoles, so a lot of good that did.

The Thrice concert was awesome.

C&C: You love your mom. What makes her so awesome?
I was ten pound and eleven ounces when I was born, and she went back and had two more. Let’s start there. I can only imagine her pregnancy to be a bit like that was done in an early Family Guy episode where Peter Griffin hops in the pouch of a kangaroo, and then the kangaroo drags him on the ground before finally passing out. And then she had two girls after that. Right there, she earns sainthood in my book. Okay, so then I watch television, all of these dramas and such, and sure, the stories and characters are amped up to sell the drama of it all and whatever. But, these kids are screaming at their parents, and slamming doors, and getting in trouble with the police and I have to figure some of that is based in reality somewhere, right? The three of us were relatively good kids. We had our days where we’d get tired of these two other weirdoes being in each others’ personal space and freak out and bicker, but we weren’t problem children. That has to come from somewhere, too, right? As we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten louder and bolder. We use profanity as punctuation, tell filthy jokes like it’s common conversation, drink and smoke and love tattoos. None of that we learned from her, but no matter how much she shakes her head we still know she loves us unconditionally. And we’re all pretty smart. We don’t always make the best choices or do the best things, but we know the basic things, have the tools within us to be decent human beings in a world where everything would be better on that desert island, watching the rest of human existence burn. The three of us would bring as many with us as we could, if not letting someone live there in our stead.

And name brands were an unknown in our house. We moved around a lot as children, and it always felt like we were constantly the new kids in school. What better way to fit in, but to be and act and dress and have everything that everyone else did. But we didn’t. We always had clothes and weren’t ever hungry or wanting, but name brands weren’t something we knew. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to lay on the floor and make lists. Lists, always lists, of shit I thought I wanted. I imagined wars and endless battlefields of brightly colored toys, action figures, and vehicles and so there were these lists. Sears or Toys R’ Us or both would put out these mailers in the fall, readying homes for commercialized Christmas, and I’d be circling and listing just about everything I could. I’d rate things with asterisks and stars and underlining everything based on importance. When everything started getting more complicated and expensive, it wasn’t so much the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but maybe the Turbo Mutant Heroes of Awesomeness, or whatever. And it wasn’t a preference or ignorance or whatever. We still played and had a blast. It was that first sight at Christmas, with these packages exploding from under the tree halfway across the floor. She wasn’t ever trying to compensate for something that was missing or trying to buy our love. Instead, it was the best she could do to check off everything on those godforsaken lists. When I landed in high school it was a little trying at the time, but what did I know? I was some punk fucking kid that wasn’t quite like everyone else. Now, looking back, I’m so grateful. I can’t tell you everyone in my graduating class, because a lot of them kind of just melt together, like some autonomous horde. But trust, everyoneremembers me.

I should probably thank her for that when I see her this weekend.

C&C: Have you found a replacement for your toboggan/hat? Tell me about the journey to find suitable headgear.

I’m beyond thinning and I hate it. You’d be hard-pressed to find me without a hat, anymore. In fact, in Chicago, when I first bumped into Gordon Highland, I was sitting two seats away from him and he didn’t recognize me without a hat on. I was feeling brave at the time, I guess. Headgear has kind of just become part of my identity it seems, which is why I’d surrendered it to you in that care package from the people that went to AWP from our crew. I wanted to send something that was a part of me, and pleasant surprise, it is also functional. Originally you were going to get sunglasses, another thing I can’t live without on account of the panty-dropping blue eyes in my head and their unfortunate sensitivity to light, but the TSA conveyor belt ate them.
Over the years I’ve seemed to just acquire hats, like the one I’m wearing right now is a dark blue Under Armor baseball hat, that I vaguely remember being inherited from a family member without their knowledge. Prior to that, there were two hats, AFI and Tool that have gone by the wayside. One was eaten by a dog and then lost. The AFI hat was just simply lost. And before that, was a bright red Ecko hat, back when Limp Bizkit was awesome or somesuch. I found that from my best friend that had borrowed it from a cousin of his. And so on down the line.

I’ve been searching for replacements, but no one seems to sell hats anymore. I’ve gone to Lids, which is a store that exclusively sells hats, but they’re mostly all sports related things. And although I’m a crazy Phillies and Flyers hat, none of them have spoken to me. Deep down I want a hat or two from bands that I like, primarily Deftones and Tool again or something, but I can’t find them anywhere but the internet. Never will that be done, again. I’d gotten a Sons of Anarchy hat that was supposed to be black. It was dark blue, and when I put it on, that nub where all of the pieces come together at the top, it stuck up like I’d had some misshapen birth defect of some sort. So terrible. Too, I have a rather large noggin, so I don’t really trust “one size fits all” hats. I call bullshit on those.


C&C: I think you’re right about those one size fits all hats. I can wear them, and I have a very average-sized head. But on to the real question – I FRICKIN’ LOVE SONS OF ANARCHY. Who is your favorite character and why?

I kind of like the strong and quiet Opie, torn between the love of his club and the death of his children’s mother. And he makes terrible decisions, marrying that porn star being one of them. Plus, he wears a ski-cap and has a beard, which I both dig. I’m also drawn to Tara and Peg Bundy. The dynamic is elastic there, and the tension on that band is pretty heavy at times. They’re pretty strong characters in the sense that they don’t come off as flat or unrealistic. They have weaknesses, clearly, when it comes to the love of their men no matter what, and as unrealistic as that may seem, that kind of devotion exists. Somewhere out there, these people live and breathe, and I find that absolutely fascinating.

C&C: How many tattoos do you have?

 I have two tattoos at this time. The first one, where I lost my ink-virginity is on the outside of my right calf. It’s a barcode that I had installed back in 2001? Perhaps it was a year after that. I’d just read Jennifer Government, with that slick book cover and wanted a barcode on my face too. I’d expressed this interest to a girl that I was digging on at the time, and her response was simply, “Yea, that’s a great idea, if you’re comfortable with a lifetime career in the fast food industry.” I’ve worked in food services twice before, and they were both fine jobs for the time being, they served their purpose, but the idea of doing that for a decent sized forever didn’t really appeal to me. So the barcode idea shifted down to my calf. I don’t know why it moved that far down, but it did. So, then the question was, a barcode of what, right? Well, I’d also read Fight Club, the book that started all of this for me and I figured I should probably pay tribute to that. Because, let’s be honest here, when I read that book, became enamored with that movie, I was lost. I was spending days on end on the couch, not eating or sleeping or going to work. I’d gotten to a point where being alive was just too much to deal with, and I’d lost faith in some really important people, which I guess was the core of the problem at the time. And then Fight Club comes along and whispers in my ear, “Get over yourself. You aren’t these things, these relationships, these people that have failed you. You aren’t a pair of stupid khakis, and you certainly aren’t the people that have let you down. Rely on yourself or die already.”

I lived.

The other tattoo that I have is on the outside of my left forearm. It says, “I know cause my feet have the scars to show,” a line from an underOATH song, “To Whom It May Concern.” I got that this year, in February at the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention, on almost a whim. I’ve wanted more ever since I was halfway done getting the first, but either the money or inspiration stars weren’t ever lining up. A buddy of mine, totally straight-laced and uptight was like, “Let’s go!” And I was like, “YES! YES! YES!” And so we went, and that song had been stuck in my head for almost a week, that line in particular. So, that’s what I got. It’s a celebration, really, a tribute to the things I’ve survived – suburbia, organized religion, marriage, heartbreak, settling for mediocrity.

So, do I want more? Hells yea. I’d like both arms and across the chest covered, I just have to decide on the details. I have some ideas: The Alkaline Trio heart with the skull inside, a variation on the Deftones’ self-titled album as a chest piece with, “I want to wake up naked next to you, kissing the curves of your clavicle” across my clavicles. Words, lots of words. I’m not a guy that’s into tribal art, or reams of thorns or whatever’s wrapping itself around the biceps of America. And I need to get something in honor of the bond between my sisters and me, because we’re pretty sweet.

C&C: You said some of the nicest things about me that have ever been said in the history of the world. Thank you for that. you seem all-in when it comes to your feelings for people. Do you get your heart broken easily?

I’ll be honest; I don’t really recall what those things might have been. [testament to Sean’s internal goodness that he didn’t realize I was I was referring to his response to the first question] That isn’t to say I didn’t mean them then or don’t mean them today. If they were nice and sweet and about you, then I totally stand by those comments now and forever. It isn’t news that I fall hard and fast without doing my homework, and it often opens me up for heartache. I’ve felt that more times than I can count, but it hasn’t been anything I haven’t been able to recover from, except for once. Even the betrayal I’ve felt at the hands of people that probably shouldn’t be, I’ve accepted those terms and figure that those relationships are just as they’re going to be. You can’t control people and their motivations, that’s their prerogative, what they want to do. If it doesn’t fall in line with where I’m headed, or more and to the point, it conflicts with me or my people, so be it. We’re all in a race to the middle anyhow, why make that race any harder on myself by surrounding myself with the people that won’t help me carry my fat ass to the finish line? As for, “that one instance,” I don’t know what to say. People are going to read this, you know? There was a relationship and it didn’t work out and that person is on my mind every day. That doesn’t exactly make my people happy, but there isn’t a whole lot I can do about that, either. It isn’t like I enjoy feeling like this, like there’s something missing, but if that person doesn’t want to be a part of my life, then it’s probably for the best.

C&C: What’s your favorite thing right now?

I’m not sure. There’s a lot going on right now, that I quite enjoy. I have a good job now, which pays well, and affords me plenty of time to do pretty much whatever I want. For instance, I have my first brand new car, ever. Seriously, I got it with five miles on the odometer. I can go to the movies and most concerts whenever; there are plenty of books on my shelves to read. And instead of spending time watching silliness on television, I pick up entire series and watch them from start to finish the way they should be seen. Right now I’m finishing watching The Wire at the behest of pretty much everyone you and I know. If you haven’t seen it, yea, I agree with them. It’s pretty fantastic. There’s a new Deftones album coming out in the fall, and that’s exciting, but first, Looper. I mean, right?!

C&C: Do you really dance in your house in your underwear like Nature Boy?

I’m watching this Gypsy Wedding craziness right now, I don’t understand these people.

Yes, yes I do, which I can’t quite fathom. Until recently dancing wasn’t something I would do, not even alone behind a locked door. I’d sing, I can sing, that’s what I’d do after school. I’d go up into my room, shut the door, put on headphones, and I would sing all afternoon with the volume all of the way up. But dancing was never something I’d even attempt. Slow dancing doesn’t count, anyone can do that. But yea, all of the sudden, when the roommate’s away and I’m cleaning or doing laundry; or any other random activity is performed with flourishes of ridiculously awful dance moves to music that I’ll rarely admit to enjoying.


Adam Skorupskas


C&C: Tell me about your job as a foreclosure agent. I know that’s not the right word….

I believe the best term for it is process server. And it mostly involved driving around Detroit, taping foreclosure notices to doors and trying to drive away before anyone noticed I was there. Although a lot of times people did notice I was taping paper to their door letting them know they had a short amount of time to get out of their house. I had guns pulled on me, beer cans thrown at me, and I did battle with a few raccoons. Sometimes I had to tell people they were getting sued or divorced. Basically I drove around ruining people’s days. I felt like the grim reaper.

 I realized I could be getting lots of writing done. I just started recording my voice as I was driving and then transcribing later. It made me mad I hadn’t started before. I think dictation is the secret to being a prolific writer, or in my case even ever finishing one novel. It made the story flow a lot better when saying it out loud instead of just hearing some quiet voice in your head. When I’m telling the story to myself it just seems to keep flowing and flowing for as long as I can keep talking or until I get to the next house. And the quality of the narration has improved greatly.

 All of my favorite writers seem to be sitting there in the room when you read the story. Chuck, Clevenger, Ellroy, Leonard. Those are the type of writers I really look up to. And I got to see so much being out there on the front lines that I’ll never lack for inspiration or material. So I’d recommend all young writers to work as process servers or taxi drivers. And record yourself. Love your voice.

C&C: What do you have in your pockets?

 It was a long weekend so I have a white lighter. A High Life Bottle Cap. And a liquor store receipt. And an EBT card and my driver’s license.

C&C: What do you listen to while you write?

The best music to write to ever is an album from 1999 by Dj Krush and Toshinori Kondo called Ki-Oku.

C&C: Tell me about ‘Valhalla Blues’, and the making of that.

 Valhalla Blues is a short film that I wrote and my younger brother directed. Our friends have all worked on big Hollywood movies as grips and stuff. So they were able to make it look very professional without spending a lot of money. I think it came out amazingly well for having zero budget. We spent most of the money renting out this camera called a RED. I hear it was used on that movie Shutter Island. There were all kinds of weather problems. It took forever to get the shots set up so we had to cut a lot out. But I really enjoyed being part of a film crew and I can’t wait to start filming the next one.

C&C: And your cameo?

In Valhalla Blues I played a brief cameo as a corpse. I just thought it would be cool to be in the movie. But I’m too shy for any speaking roles. So a corpse seemed like the perfect part for me to play. It was funny. The art department did a good job of making me look even more pale than usual. I borrowed a suit from one of the actors. The scene involved me getting carried by the two protagonists from a church all the way to a car across the street. And of course it had to be shot a few times. I felt bad for the actors who had to carry me. I think I did a good job playing a lifeless husk of meat.

C&C: What do you think of Justin Townes Earle’s newest album? I liked the previous one better, but in reality I think he should just record live albums.

I liked the new album. It sounds like it is from a different region than his other ones. It seemed like a gospel album, too. I loved the title of it [Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now]. I think I only skip over one song, so it’s cool. They should have put his cover of Springsteen’s “Racing in the Street” on the album though.

C&C: What was the first book you bought with your own money?

The first book I ever bought was Michael Crichton’s Congo. I remember being impressed that it said it was going to be turned into a major motion picture on the cover. Then I was very disappointed by the movie. But I dug the book. He was really the author that made me want to make a living as a writer. I remember always being so impressed by his wild concepts. As a kid I’d day dream for hours, trying to come up with similar cool ideas. But they were all just lame compared to his. The Great Train Robbery was another good one. And Sphere.

C&C: What’s your favorite cartoon?

This is kind of a hard question because we are living in sort of golden age of cartoons. But I’d have to say my favorite is the one called Regular Show. Its on Cartoon Network. It’s about a bunch of animals who work at a park. It’s marketed for kids but it is a very sophisticated show if you’re paying attention. I’d recommend it to about anybody as it can teach many valuable life lessons. And make you laugh a lot.

C&C: Have you ever been punched in the face?

I have been punched in the face many times. It never was deserved though. I think that much like Pete Campbell from Mad Men, I have a very punchable face.

C&C: This is uncharacteristically writerly for this place, but what is it that you hope to accomplish ?

I have suffered from a stuttering problem for my whole life. I have tried everything to fix it. I had some moderate success. However I still never felt I had control over my voice. Then when I started recording myself telling my stories, then listening to my voice as I transcribed them, I finally started to gain some control. So I think I may have discovered a new form of speech therapy by accident. I think I might call it “Art Speech Therapy.” I have great sympathy for the other people who have a hard time talking. It is a miserable way to go through life. And I think this process of writing novels by “self-dictation”(if that is a thing?) might be a way for people to finally master the instrument that is their voice. So I want to write books, and help other people write books, as a way to improve my own voice, and all those other struggling voices around the world. Then maybe start a publishing company one day. The sky is the limit! I’ll probably just end up a janitor or a dock worker, though.

Monica Drake

C&C: What do you have in your pockets?

 Um, I’m in what might be called lounge wear….no pockets.
C&C: You had an interesting car in highschool, yes?
I drove two cars in high school. One was a cute lil’ turquoise Kharman Ghia. The other–the one I suspect you’re thinking of–was a massive ’77 Plymouth Fury. It was a former police car, with a V-8 engine. It had the best heater, and it was built to go fast. My dad bought it at a municipal auction. The county ripped the siren out and spray painted over the ensignia on the side before they let it go. Beyond that, they handed it over. Rock and roll. Drive up to a high school party in that car…the party’ll scatter with one glance at the cop mobile silhouette, but you’ll be warm and ready to peel out.
C&C: Do you dress up when you take your kids trick-or-treating? Do you love Halloween? I assume everyone does..
Sure! Last year I was Sybill Trelawny to my daughter’s Hermione Granger, my husband’s Snape. I went to the Goodwill and found the whole costume, absolutely perfectly, within minutes! And it was cheap! Then I got to a party, and somebody took my picture. I said, Sheesh! I look like I dressed out of the Goodwill! The guy with the camera said, “What did you think you looked like?”
But really, I was Sybill Trelawny and looked exactly like the Harry Potter character as played by Emma Thompson.
C&C:What did you doodle on your notebooks in highschool?
Oh, things. A lot of eyeballs, and the slouch of a body alone, smoking a cigarette and thinking. Some moody teen dreams. I liked that shape, the slouch and a curl of smoke.
C&C: Do you think birds are evil?
Ha! You’re asking a woman who worked as a clown if birds are evil? Now, clown birds, that’d be cool. It’d be a movie, like The Birds meets IT. And you know I collect doll babies, right? They scare a lot of people. Truthfully, I don’t collect them so much as keep them from my own childhood, complete with their milky eyes bleached from time as though clouded with cataracts, and the dirt that never washes away between their carefully poised fingers, and the way their heads bobble, always a little askew. I prop their arms back on when they fall off, and stitch their old velvet bloomers.
Birds? Evil?
Naw. Evil is Scott’s Miracle Gro, and that “bird seed” they sold that was full of poison and caused tens of thousands of song birds to drop dead out of sky in the last year or two.
But lest I grow too serious, let’s just say, plant a garden. Evil is a corporate deal.
C&C: What’s the strangest question/request you’ve gotten from a student?
The strangest question? A guy asking if it was okay that he read Clown Girl, or was it a book for girls only…because it has “girl” in the title. I’m not sure what he thought might happen if he read it without permission, but it’s great he went right to the author! I told him to read it.
C&C: Do you have any tattoos? Why or why not?
Nope. I’m a hold-out on this one. I suppose I make my statements in other ways. But really, you know back when I was younger and the economy was even worse in Portland, Oregon, we saved our cash for books, booze and shows. These days I could afford one I suppose, but I haven’t internalized the value system that says I need one.
C&C: How do you feel about collections? Do you collect anything/have you been privy to any special collections?
I was an archivist at the Smithsonian, in the Traveling Exhibitions program (S.I.T.E.S.) and saw amazing things. I saw the complete Charlie’s Angeles memoralbelia collection–every last scrap of possible Charlie’s Angel’s gear–lunch boxes, T-shirts, TV Guides… I saw one woman’s unopened junk mail collected for a decade, as a sample of Americana. And I saw the hand-written notes accusing artists of being Communist, during the McCarthy era. I saw each letter, saying a particular piece of art was “too heavy to circulate” and so was being returned, because somebody may have participated in a peace march, or asserted an anti-war sentiment.
And I’ve seen extensive car collections. Extensive. Acres.
C&C: Do you wear shoes in the house? I try to wear shoes as little as possible – how do you feel about bare feet in general?
I put shoes on when I try to fake being civilized.
C&C: What females were important to you growing up, both as postive and negative female role models?
Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke knew how to dress, and how to talk back. For a long time, maybe that was enough.