Monday, January 01, 2007

Questions from the Audience Meme

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Before we get started, I invite you to check out my short-short story "Spread" over at D.Z. Allen's site, Muzzle Flash. He is seeking stories in which bad people do bad things to bad people. Fair warning, I took these instructions to heart. The story may be disturbing to some, but I do like branching out once in a while. If you stop over at Muzzle Flash, please drop a comment to let me know you were there.

And now for the answers!

1. What is your earliest childhood memory? (Angel)

I have a very fractured memory from when I was two years old. My parents had some friends who owned a little furniture store. I have a memory of visiting that store one afternoon and playing on a bean bag.

2. Who has been your greatest inspiration as a writer? (Mermaid)

This such a hard question for me, strangely enough! Probably, the single most influential writer for me was V.C. Andrews (who is dead despite the plethora of books which are still ghost written in her name). She was not a great technical writer or high respected, but her Flowers in the Attic series (which I read when I was 14) introduced me to an intense, personal kind of storytelling. The way she let us enter the emotions of the trapped children really resonated with me. To this day, I try to give an deeply human angle to my stories, rather than focus solely on plot and action.

As for pure writing skill, Ray Bradbury is excellent, especially in Something Wicked This Way Comes.

3. Tell me all about yourself. Or at least the easy stuff, age, etc. (Kate)

Now that's a question! I was born in a zero year, 1970, so my age almost always tracks the date (hint: 2007 means I'll be 37). I was born in Pennsylvania, lived for a time in Buffalo, then finished middle school and high school back in Pennsylvania. I attended Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in Philadelphia. My wife and I have two young daughters.

4. If you could go anywhere in the world all expenses paid where would you go? Oh and your favorite snack food? (Beady)

For my trip, I'd like to stand on Hadrian's Wall in England, then sit on a hilltop near the sea in the Scottish Highlands and watch the sun fall orange into the horizon. A close second would be anywhere in the far north to see the Aurora Borealis.

My favorite snack food would have to be potato chips. Especially salt and vinegar (some of my most beloved things hail from Canada).

5. If you could pick only three CDs to listen to for the rest of your life, what would they be? (Joni)

Great question! First, I would have to choose Boys for Pele by Tori Amos. Next, perhaps The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby. Lastly, because I'm going to have to get a ton of mileage out of these CD's, I'd like a collection of piano sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin with a couple Baroque harpsichord pieces thrown in.

6. In which other era in history would you have liked to live, and in what capacity? (Kaye)

Absolutely, positively, the turn of the 20th century (1900's). It's easy to forget how many of the inventions which became widely enjoyed in the 30's and 40's emerged during this time. It was a strange mix of the old world and the modern age. People like William Morris and Elbert Hubbard of the Arts & Crafts movement felt this tension, and worried that we were losing something essentially human and meaningful as we forgot how to create things with our own hands. I feel some of the same tension in our own age.

In any time period, I'd love to be a writer.

7. How do you get so much accomplished here and still balance work and family obligations? (Saturn Rising)

One of the amazing things about blogging is the ability to capture thoughts quickly before they sweep by. Often times, my posts reflect a strong emotion I'm having at that moment, and the writing comes easily and quickly. However, there certainly are times when I make sacrifices of time and attention, but I've decided to be true to myself and let some other responsibilities order themselves after my own growth and happiness.

8. When are you hosting another flash contest? Also, what is your favorite type of cheese? (Jaye)

Funny should you ask! (Are you psychic?) I am going to be announcing and opening the next contest this week. Stay tuned!

Stilton would be my favorite cheese to enjoy by itself. Well, actually with a glass of vintage port.

9. If there is one thing in your life you could go back and do differently, what would it be? (Terri)

Very, very hard question. One of the things I learned about myself in my forest explorations is there is nothing worse (for me) than going back. I want to progress with one step leading to the next. I always want to experience something new.

I feel in control of where I am, and the thought of unwinding everything back to a point in the past is daunting. Perhaps this is a very roundabout way of saying I'm not sure I would be capable of doing anything differently. The future is my main concern.

10. Has your writing here generated any nibbles from someone who's interested in publication or representing you or even saying "submit 'this or that' to this contest", that this entry is perfect for it? (Michele)

It has generated some interest here and there, but achieving my goal of having a novel published is only going to be achieved by writing novels and sending them out to agents in the traditional way. However, this blog has still been more successful than I ever imagined. It has helped me build a writing identity, grow, and even help some people. Even if I'm fortunate enough to publish novels, I will continue to share thoughts and visions here.

11. Are you a professional, published writer (aside from blog publishing)...if no, when do you plan to become that and how are you going to go about it? (Ester)

I have not yet broken out into the professional/paid ranks. Hopefully, my second novel, which I'm working on now, will see the light of day. After I finish revisions, I hope to market it to literary agents this spring. I also have begun to submit short stories to paper publications, but that is more for fun.

Thanks everyone for great questions! Feel free to pick up this meme on your own blogs.


Joni said...

One of my favorite posts yet. One thing about me is that I LOVE learning more intimate details about people and their personalities. Thanks Jason. You rock!

Bring on the contest!

Jaye Wells said...

I really liked this post, Jason. So much more informative than the canned memes floating around. As to the psychic question: as far as you know.

Anonymous said...

I could care less about technicality, but you must have already figured that out by now. Your intensity for human fear and compassion draw me here. Thank you for your depth.

anne frasier said...

loved number 7.

"One of the amazing things about blogging is the ability to capture thoughts quickly before they sweep by. Often times, my posts reflect a strong emotion I'm having at that moment"

so true.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason,
I so enjoyed this meme.
In retrospection, it came across as highly thoughtful and reflective. And made me in turn, feel enthusiastic & alive to my own writing ambitions.
Amazing, isn't it the inspiration that stems out of nowhere.
Ray Bradbury wins the day with me and all the very best for your 2nd novel.
I'll check out your story right now.

Kelly Parra said...

hi Jason, Happy New Year! Funniest thing, VC Andrews was my favorite author as a teen. I was always so engrossed with her first books, they pulled so much emotion from me. She taught me how dark fiction could be and how to push limits.

Great meme!

Anonymous said...

very cool read! i think i'm gonna do the same to start off this year.

Anonymous said...

"I feel in control of where I am, and the thought of unwinding everything back to a point in the past is daunting." So interesting! I realize that I essentially feel the opposite to this: I can see how all the parts of my life are interconnected, and I'd be afraid to change anything in my past, for fear it would change the most important parts of my present. So... it's because I have no control that I wouldn't want to change anything.

I prefer your attitude by far.

Happy New Year, Jason!

Anonymous said...

A great post, Jason.

I wish you all the best for the new year.

Anonymous said...

That was a Kick A.. short story. Really enjoyed it. Good work.

Scott said...

Man, I haven't been around in a long time Jason. Sorry, been busy. I'll check out your dark story later and drop a comment there. It sounds intriguing. I'm looking forward to your next flash contest too. I promise this time to submit it only once.

The Tart said...

Yup, you can never have enough stilton!!!!!
Yummy yum yum.

Happiest of 2007!

The Tart
; *

Melissa Marsh said...

I enjoyed getting to know you better, Jason. :-) I think you've been an inspiration to many.

Anonymous said...

Joni, don't make me blush now. Seriously, I'm forever fascinated by how deep these views into each other are.

Jaye, oooh, I better watch myself. You psychic-types are dangerous.

Mermaid, when writers can tap into something tucked away in a corner, the magic truly begins.

Anne, that's what I love about your blog too. Your personality is ever-present.

Susan, I'm always so busy analyzing others, it's a rare treat to have the tables turned. This was really fun to do. :)

Kelly, somehow I'm not surprised about you and V.C. Andrews. Those books had me mesmerized. Of course, my friends with a close sibling of the opposite sex didn't find the story so comfortable. ;)

Angel, great! I've stopped over to put in my question.

Bekbek, I just don't know if I would have the energy for a do-over. :)

Marie, Happy New Year!

Steve, hehe. It was fun to write, although disturbing too.

Scott, I've been stopping by your blog. Yes, you do sound busy!! That would be great if you would do something for this contest. :)

Tart, it's an occassional indulgence. :)

Melissa, what an amazing thing to say! Thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year! And what fun this was to read. Hadrian's Wall is grand but the Scottish Highlands are grander!
Thanks for organising the competition as well.