Q: Have you ever read a H*RRY P*TTER book?
A: I have been asked this question so often I'm rather numb from it. The answer is no. Nor have I ever seen a H*RRY P*TTER movie. (Even though I hear Kenneth Branagh is in one or two of them and he's one of my favorite actors.)
Q: Why have you never read a H*RRY P*TTER book?
A: Because I wouldn't want to have to answer the question that would come next: "What did you think of it?" That's a no-win situation for me. What if I hate the book? All I'm going to hear is "Oh, you're just jealous 'cause J.K. What's-her-name is more popular than you!" If I like it, I'd still have little points about it that I didn't like, and if I said, "It would've been better had she written about such-and-such," then all I'm going to get is "Who do you think you are to go around making suggestions for J.K. What's-her-name?" The only safe answer I could give would be "Oh, boy! They're the best books ever written! I'll NEVER write that brilliantly! No, not in a million, jillion years!" And I very much dislike phony respect. I won't even say that sort of thing about Shakespeare.
Q: What books do you read?
A: Sadly, I don't have much time for reading. And since I spend so much time writing and proofreading, then sitting down with a book is just like another day of work. As I'm also an actor, I have to do a lot of reading for that job, too. When I do read, I enjoy poetry. Poems are short, and the language is much more beautiful than novel writers are "allowed" to use. My favorite poets are John Milton, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Walter de la Mare.
Q: What does "Abdiel" mean?
A: In the epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton, Lucifer and all the evil angels are gathered together, plotting to fight God and take over Heaven. One angel (his name is Abdiel) speaks up and says, "You guys are insane! I'm getting out of here before I get wiped out along with you!" (Actually, he says it in very flowery language. I'm simplifying it here.) So he turns his back on the evil angels and leaves them to their doom. That's why I drew the picture of the very serious-looking angel with his back turned. It's in honor of anyone who has ever walked away from a room full of doomed fools.
Q: Will there be more Sebastian Reckless or Fearless Force adventures?
A: I already have many more adventures for them written, mostly in rough draft form. Of course, it takes money to publish them, and I don't have much money.
Q: Do you have any other book series planned?
A: I have a fantasy series for grown-ups that I'd like to release someday. It's something I'm very proud of.
Q: I want to be a writer. What should I do?
A: Find something else to do.
Q: I'm serious! I Want to be a writer! What should I do?
A: I'm serious, too! Don't do it!
Q: No, really!
A: OK, OK! So you want to be a writer. First thing: Don't be overwhelmed by anyone's writing. Every author makes clumsy, stupid mistakes. Even Shakespeare put incredibly dumb, sloppy and boring stuff in his plays that directors always need to remove. If you go around saying, "So-and-so is the GREATEST writer who ever lived and all of his work is absolutely perfect!" then you'll never be any good. If you can't spot someone else's mistakes then you'll never be able to spot your own. This leads into the second thing: Be self-critical! Be honest about your work! Read the book you just wrote, and if 100 pages in the middle are boring, then you're going to have to change or cut 100 pages! This leads into thing number three: write outlines first! Plan what you're going to write, and then write many drafts! The first time you put your pen to the paper you are NOT going to produce the finished product! Get this into your head, and don't give a groaning sigh when you have to start on page one and write your whole story again. You should WANT to re-write it. If it's misery for you, then go back to my previous answer and find something else to do.
Q: Is your wife's name really "Bunny"?
A: Is your name really "Mouthy Wiseguy Punk"?
Q: How come you're, like, a billion years old but you're only just getting your first book printed?
A: I've been busy as a stage actor for most of those billion years. And Sebastian Reckless isn't exactly my first book. I have co-written a book of plays with Greg Gamble. (I was using the name Lee Howard then.) It's called The Last Touchy-Feely Drama on the American Stage (and Other Plays). It's absolutely nothing like Sebastian.
Q: What were you like as a child?
A: Shorter than I am today.