1) What’s your earliest memory about storytelling?
My earliest memory goes back to somewhere around the age of 5 or 6. My father, instead of reading stories to me at bedtime, used to make up his own. My favorites were the ones of Blackie the Cat, an intelligent cat who used to get into all kinds of trouble. I started making up the stories along with him, sort of an ongoing do-it-yourself adventure. My first stab at actually writing a story came in 3rd grade, and it involved Blackie solving a big crime. In middle school, I wrote a lot of comics, mostly politically incorrect take-offs on popular TV shows.
2) If you could live during any era in any land, real or imaginary, where would it be and why?
Probably the 1950s or ’60s. I don’t want to go back so far that there’s no medicine or you have to hunt for your food. I like modern comforts. But those decades were a pretty cool time. You could make a good living in writing or science – the 2 things I’ve always worked in – and life was simpler. Slower. Either that, or I want to live way in the future, where you don’t get sick and when you get old they just put your brain in a robot and you keep going. I love the thrill of new scientific discoveries happening, and I want to see a lot more of them.
3) Do you write every day? Can you imagine a day coming where you stop writing?
Just about. Occasionally there are days when I can’t, such as being sick, or traveling. I doubt I’ll ever stop writing, but there are dark times, when nothing’s working and you’ve just had 5 rejections in a row, where you wonder why you’re doing it and if you shouldn’t just go back to photography or something.
4) What are the next three books you’re planning to read?
A Strange and Savage Garden by Tim Waggoner, Ancient Enemy by Michael McBride, and Deeply Twisted, by Chantal Noordeloos. Actually, I read Chantal’s book, a collection of short stories, a year ago, but I’ve been feeling the need to read it again.
5) What’s your comfort food?
Hmmm. Tough decision. Depends on the day. Burgers. Pizza. Tacos. Chinese takeout. Coffee. Mashed potatoes. Spaghetti. Grilled cheese & tomato soup. Sadly, as you get older, eating comfort food isn’t allowed as much as it used to be.
6) What if you could trade bodies with one person for one day? Who would that be?
Another tough choice. Michael Schenker, just so I could experience being able to play the guitar the way he does. Stephen King, so I could really see what goes on in that mind of his. And Justin Verlander, because he’s dating Kate Upton.
7) Who are the authors that influenced your life the most?
Again, no simple answers here. At an early age, I read dinosaur books, and that stoked my love of science. At around 7 or 8, I discovered the Hardy Boys, and that stoked my love of scary stories. After that, I think the first book that truly impacted me was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne. Frankenstein was another. All of those turned me into a voracious reader. In middle and high school, it was Alan Dean Foster, James Blish, David Gerrold, Karl Edward Wagner, and eventually Stephen King, who became my ‘hero’ throughout high school and college. Put Peter Straub and early Dean Koontz in there as well.
8) Who would you like to co-author a book with?
Well, Stephen King would be at the top of the list. I’d learn so much, and I’d have my name on a best-seller! After that, either Jeff Strand, Michael McBride, or Joe Hill. People whose styles are different than mine, but that I really appreciate.
9) What five people – living or dead- would you invite to a dinner party? (Universal translators will be provided)
Carl Kauffeld – head herpetologist at the Staten Island Zoo in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. His books on field biology entertained me for many years.
Bruce Springsteen – I would love to have discussions with him.
Richard Bothner – my mentor in college and grad school. He’d be so stoked to hear what I’m up to now. And he was hilarious.
Karl Edward Wagner – another genius writer I’d have loved to meet.
Jesus – let’s find out the truth for once and for all, and put all the religious bullshit to rest.
10) How do you want the world to remember you?
Preferably as a guy whose next book made it big, and he had a long and successful career in writing, lived to a ripe old age, happy with his family and healthy to the end. (BTW, those next books are Legacy, coming this winter, and The Cure, coming out in 2015.)
***Thanks for having me on your site, I enjoyed it!***
I enjoyed having you here, Greg. It was great meeting you. I hope that you’ll come back to Cat After Dark again!