Interview with a Reluctant Celebrity

Hi everyone. Welcome back.

Today we’re going to have a little fun and interview the main character in my novel, The Terrible Strange.

This idea came from multiple “What do I write about in my blog when I write fiction, but I haven’t been published yet?” websites. At first I thought this was kind of dumb, but now I realize that it could be lots of fun. Plus, potential readers will get to know my characters better.

So here goes … Oh, and the interviewer is one of those “young and hip” entertainment journalists. Let’s call her Micki.

Micki: Today we’re talking with Jacob Grey, the protagonist of the bestselling novel, The Terrible Strange. Jake, how would you describe yourself? What do you look like?

Jake: What the fuck are you talking about? I’m standing right here, you tell me what I look like.

Micki: Uh, okay. Well, you’re good-looking, obviously, and wearing jeans, ripped jeans, and er, a nice, white tee shirt … and your hair is dark, and a little shaggy … and you’re carrying a green Jansport backpack.

 

 

 

 

 

Jake: Exactly.

Micki: So does the backpack mean you’re a student, Jake?

Jake: Why are you asking all these stupid, fucking questions? Of course I’m a student. I’m in grad school at UPenn. Is there a problem?

Micki:  Oh, no. No. Nothing like that. It’s just that … well, you don’t exactly strike me as the Ivy League type.

 

 

 

Jake: Wait, so, you ask me here to interview me for some stupid online magazine, but all you want to do is stereotype me? Are you trying to say I don’t look smart enough to go to Penn?

Micki: No! Of course not. I apologize. Really, Jake. I’m so sorry. Uh, can we please move on? I have to finish these questions. Please?

Jake: Fine. Go ahead. Ask your damn questions.

Micki: Can you name one thing you did as a kid that you’re most proud of today?

Jake: That’s easy. By the time I was five years old I knew how to pour a beer with the absolute minimum amount of foam on top. 

Micki: Er, okay. That’s wonderful. And how about the most embarrassing thing?

 

Jake: Are you kidding me? I’m not going to tell you that. I hardly fucking know you.

Micki: Uh, okay. How about this – Did you have a best friend when you were a child, and if so, what were they like?

Jake: My best friend is Maya Davenport. She’s fucking brilliant. She’s a grad student in physics, also at Penn. Her dad works for SEPTA, and her Nana is awesome. We’ve known each other, like, forever. 

Micki: That’s wonderful, Jake. It sounds like you two are still friends, is that correct?

Jake: Jesus. Yes, we’re still friends. I would have thought it was obvious from my use of the present tense when talking about her. How did you even get this fucking job? What are they paying you, because it’s obviously too much.

Micki: This is actually an internship, so I’m not getting paid.

Jake: Wow. It sucks to be you. How many more of these stupid questions are there?

Micki: There are 30 altogether.

Jake: Fuck.

 

Well, there you have it.

Jake is definitely one of those people who are fierce and prickly on the outside, but once you get to know him he’s all soft and squishy on the inside. 

 

 

 

Have you ever interviewed one of your characters? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Let me know if you want Jake to answer any more questions.

Location, location, location — Where do you set your stories?

Hi, welcome back.

Today I’d like to talk about the setting for my novel (tentatively titled The Terrible Strange), discuss some of the specific locations, and why they were included.

First of all, it’s set in Philadelphia but it could be any city, I suppose. Philly is just the one I know the best. And I wanted everything to occur in a city because I love the energy and diversity of cities.

Plus, anything can, and does, happen in cities, so why not throw one more thing — like an inter-dimensional monster and the guy who’s hunting it — into the mix?

Then I wanted my protagonist, Jake, to live in an area that used to be rat-and-roach infested, but now, thanks to an expanding Ivy League school, is a highly-sought-after neighborhood: West Philadelphia near the University of Pennsylvania.

However, Jake doesn’t actually go to Penn, he goes to Temple University. For some reason known only to urban planners, I suppose, Temple has not had the same positive influence on its surrounding neighborhood as Penn has. Temple, in fact, is in a shitty, dangerous area. Great for writing about, but not so great for living in. Or going to school in. And that’s were Jake’s part-time job is, too.

I chose neighborhoods adjacent to colleges simply because they practically vibrate with energy — and energy plays a big role in my story. Plus, you see more diversity in these areas than anywhere else in the city, and I love having characters of different cultural and religious backgrounds, and colors, and sexual orientations. College, ideally, is where people discover, and express themselves. It’s kind of glorious, actually.

Also featured is

  • the old Fairmount Water Works located along the Schuylkill River near the  Art Museum (because I needed somewhere for my monster to rest and heal after its arrival on Earth), and
  • Eastern State Penitentiary, a prison built by the Quakers in 1829, now a crumbling ruin — it’s where the final battle for the fate of life on Earth takes place

Oh, and don’t forget all those wonderful underground subway tunnels, allowing God-knows-what to move through the darkness to every part of the city.

Let me know some of your favorite locations — in your town, or around the world — in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading!