The sub-moronic ramblings of a semi-functioning illiterate

Interview With…ME?!?

The enigmatic Tom Elias has insisted on doing an interview with me, of all people, in tandem with the release of our book, REAPERS WITH ISSUES. I’ll warn you, this interview is not one of the usual freaktastic Adventures in Bloggerland that I usually like to take. For once I decided to act like a grown-up and answer his questions like a professional. But never fear, because tomorrow my blog returns to its regularly scheduled blog absurdity with an INTERVIEW WITH THE GRIM REAPER.

1.   Your first book, Gods of Asphalt, was told in a First Person format.  How difficult was it to shift into Third Person to pen Reapers With Issues, and what was your motivation to do this?

Switching gears was extremely difficult, which is the reason why I did it. I attempted to write GODS OF ASPHALT – BOOK TWO in the third person but struggled to make progress since I’d never tackled that POV before. I had also planned on writing REAPERS in the third-person because as much as the story is about the Grim Reaper, I was committed to the idea that it should revolve around the odd cast of characters. I suppose in the end I decided it would be better to write REAPERS first since it is a novella and I could use the practice before tackling the novel that is to be GOA2.

2.  You’re a self-described 40-something mother of three.  What techniques do you use when crafting your writing day to day that keeps you so well focused on the plot and storyline?

I find it difficult to focus on anything in my day to day life whether I write or not, so I whenever I do I put on my headphones and listen to music. It’s why GODS OF ASPHALT has its own soundtrack written into it. I listened to a lot of Wagner, Mussorgsky and Metallica while I wrote REAPERS.
Another thing I like to do is to carry a Sharpie around with me wherever I go. As soon as I am out and about an idea will hit me that I need to jot down quickly, so I write it on my forearm. I will just misplace scrap paper so I don’t bother bringing any. I’ve tried texting myself, but most of the walks I take are deep into the New Hampshire forests, and I rarely get cell reception there. Not to mention that I am a Gen X’er, so the art of texting is lost on me.

3.  Many readers will probably be offended by the Reapers Series.  What is your message behind the irreverence?

I never doubted I would write REAPERS, but I did debate over whether or not I would publish it. I was afraid that if people only read snippets or heard what it was about they might think that I set out to slam Christianity, namely Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. I took great care in portraying Jesus as who he was purported to be- kind, compassionate, and tolerant. It’s the rest of the world who uses his good name to lend credence to their own sinning. REAPERS blasts the Hell out of those people, and I couldn’t care less how they feel about it.

Another misgiving I had was that REAPERS WITH ISSUES is as close to a written manifestation of my sense of humor as you could possibly get. Since I don’t take myself too seriously, I am hoping readers don’t find anything remotely serious about my book or the message behind it.
4.  You favor using dialogue over exposition to advance your stories. What makes this your favored technique and what do you feel you sacrifice?

I am an extrovert, so I find comfort and familiarity in the voices of others. I do live in my head at times, but when I do I am always eager to share what goes on in there with others, whether they want to know about it or not. Case in point, REAPERS WITH ISSUES.

I suppose what suffers most is either action or plot. Maybe both. The largest obstacle I face when I write is ensuring that my books are more than just a bunch of comedy skits strung together.

5.  What is the most challenging aspect of the mechanics of writing for you, and how do you overcome it?

DIALOGUE TAGS!!!! I hate them with every fiber of my being. If I thought for a moment that I could get away with writing a novel that existed as nothing more than an overheard telephone conversation I’d be the happiest little writer in the world.

The other obstacle of mechanics I faced with REAPERS was writing an inverse of what I normally consider my comfort zone. As anyone who has read my blog will tell you; I am a writer who takes something commonplace and mocks it, pointing out the hidden absurd. What I worked to accomplish in REAPERS was to take something fantastic, and transform it into something that resembled the everyday in order to make it absurd. To quote my cohort Tom Elias, “That’s about as natural as a quarterback throwing off his back foot.”

6.  There is art and science involved in writing.  What is your favorite aspect of writing in the context of its art?

As a writer in the twenty-first century, it is impossible to come up with anything new, plot-wise. That leaves us with the challenge of conceiving of something new. All any writer can do is take a spent storyline and put a new spin on it to make it their own. If a writer can bring their own perspective to their writing they will create something no one has ever read before.

7.  Ten years from now, what is H.E. Ellis writing?

Children’s books. I find that the older I get, the more enamored I become with all things innocent. I’m slowly beginning to abandon the angst of teendom while I am fast embracing the playground. Yes, I am a literary Benjamin Button. Although I imagine I will always take time out to write something completely out there like REAPERS WITH ISSUES, because if I have to know about it, then so do all of you.

20 responses

  1. Look at my Hellis all grown up and saving china! Well not quite but nearly.

    September 2, 2012 at 5:48 am

  2. Of course I saved China! I love tea!

    You have no idea what I’m talking about right now, do you? Frankly, neither do I. My grandfather used to say something about all the tea in China. I didn’t even know China had tea! Although I suppose I should have, since they make tea cups.

    It’s way too early here to be answering comments.

    September 2, 2012 at 6:39 am

  3. When you said ‘dialog > exposition’ I realized that I do that too. When you said ‘grown up answers’ I realized that there would be no poop jokes in this post.

    So here’s another no poop joke: I guess Clint Eastwood likes the Gazette. He heard ‘Invisible Wall’ and then came up with ‘Invisible Obama’. It was a Dim Scene up there, and I’m sure he has a Regret or two, but I wouldn’t say he was a Psychopath. It was Agony to watch, and it gave me a Headache, Man.

    September 2, 2012 at 10:55 am

    • I also heard he was a fan of GODSMACK, which I found odd since he didn’t possess a shred of Serenity. In fact, he looked more like he was under a Voodoo spell. One Rainy Day last spring I watched him in a movie but found it hard to stay Awake. I chalked it up to my Whiskey Hangover.


      September 2, 2012 at 11:01 am

      • He needs to Keep Away from the DNC.

        September 2, 2012 at 11:17 am

        • I agree, otherwise he’ll be Cryin’ Like A Bitch.

          September 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm

  4. This is a fantastic view inside your world. Well, not quite as fantastic as the view my private detective has gotten of the freaky shit you do in your bathroom at 3am, but still way cool. I kid; I couldn’t afford a private eye, after all.
    You’re preaching to the choir about dialog tags. Even from my favorite authors, “she said” or “he replied” or “she answered” or “he declared”, all of them sound clunky at times. But I don’t know how many times I’ve had to go back to the beginning of a conversation that tries not to use them, and have to go “him/her/him/her….oooookay, HE said that line.”
    Laughing my ass off thinking of you coming in from your nature walks with sharpie all over your arm.

    September 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    • Since I started a blog I’ve had lots of problems with private eyes. Now I make my whipped cream bikinis in public bathrooms. Wicked smaht.

      I have to admit that I was guilty of under utilizing dialogue tags in GOA. I’ve since gone back and added a few. Blah.

      What’s even better than coming back from a nature walk covered in Sharpie is watching the faces of the kids on my school bus who look at me funny when they see it.

      September 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm

  5. Congrats!
    Sorry I haven’t been around much lately, but my book, The Bellman Chronicles, will be FREE to download on Sept. 10 – 11! Check it out on my Amazon Kindle page.. You won’t be disappointed. And if you can slip me a review, I’d be forever grateful…

    September 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    • Absolutely! I’ll do a review and a post about it. Congrats on the new book!

      September 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm

  6. TomEliasWriter

    Well this interview is the productivity we can claim from my visit (thank you again). I have to admit that transcribing you off of a tape is more challenging than listening to you in real time. I think this came off very well, thank you. I see I was correct: nobody realizes the amount of work you put into your writing – even the satirical work like “Reapers.” You’re a talented and professional author.

    September 3, 2012 at 2:45 am

    • Dude, you just said, “tape.” That’s how old you are.

      Crap. I peeked down to the next comment and the Rantonit kid just totally outed me as a geriatric.

      Fastest. Working. Karma. Ever.

      September 3, 2012 at 10:34 am

      • TomEliasWriter

        What’s funny is that you were freaking there and know damn well it was a digital recorder. You didn’t exactly look geriatric to me…

        September 4, 2012 at 5:15 am

  7. This is good stuff H 😀 …… almost find it hard to believe you’d sit down and interview like this, but I like 😀 .

    In other news, when you ‘text’ yourself, you save the draft not actually send yourself a message, you don’t need reception to do that ;).

    September 3, 2012 at 10:27 am

    • See what I mean? This Gen X’er didn’t know that. You and my kids are part of the Digital Generation so you totally blow me away with anything virtual. My nearly twelve year-old daughter had to talk me through crashing my computer last week. If she hadn’t, I’d be rewriting REAPERS from memory today.

      September 3, 2012 at 10:36 am

      • Everyone born in the 90’s on will know that you need to think like a nerd to figure tech stuff out, if you can’t figure out how to do something on your tech product, assume that the nerd who came up with it planned for such a use, then ask yourself, if I was a nerd, how would I go about making this task happen most efficiently. Then look around the menus till you find it, if not you have a crappy device and a stupid nerd who came up with it. If you do find what you’re looking for, you’ve just bought a reliable something.

        September 7, 2012 at 11:58 pm

        • Well if you are a nerd, then you are the coolest nerd I know!

          September 8, 2012 at 10:01 am

          • *Blushes*

            …. Fuck. There goes that title out the window :-|.

            September 9, 2012 at 1:58 am

  8. You mean “Reapers With Issues” isn’t a children’s book? Darn. I like pictures.

    September 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    • I think you’ve created a whole new market. POP-UP BOOKS FROM HELL.

      I’ll get started now.

      September 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm