Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Interrogation of Robert Male

Good afternoon Robert, I hope you’re comfortable. Before we begin, I am required by Occupational Safety and Health to run through an earthquake drill. In the event of an earthquake: drop, cover and hold. Just a wee tip: You might want to be careful what you drop on, where you take cover and exactly what you’re holding – probably keep away from the loose electric cables and the puddles. Your welfare is my paramount concern.

 What’s your favorite type of takeaway?

Robert: Chinese. I sometimes wonder though if any real restaurant delivers in those cardboard boxes with the wire handles. They certain don’t anywhere I’ve been.

Describe your current mental status.

Robert: Just to underline my answer there was a recording playing the Fraggle Rock theme in the back of my head. I’m a bit frazzled. Ideas are flying like snow in a blizzard and I swear some esoteric beast is actually eating my time.

Do you have a favorite coffee?

Robert: I don’t drink much coffee. If I weren't worried about the sugar I’d go for a Double-Double from Timmies (that’s Tim Hortons if you’re not familiar with Canada).

Where did the concept for ‘Battered Spleen Productions’ come from? (Just the thought of batter and spleens makes me hungry.)

Robert: I’ve had this thing for wobbly spleens for as long as I can remember. When I was looking for a name I wanted something that said horror, but didn’t entirely have to be horror in its connotations. Cannibalism played an obvious part, but there is a secondary side. You’ve maybe heard of venting one’s spleen. The spleen was thought to rule or be the source of anger, and in some cases evil intentions. I wanted to evoke the idea that this spleen was battered and to some degree broken. This battered and abused spleen might still explode into violent action, but it is kind of safe if you handle with care. When you least expect it, it’ll scare you.

Walk us through a typical day. (Do lucky underpants feature in your day?)

Robert: There are no lucky underpants, unfortunately. I stay up late and sleep in until about 1 p.m. for the good of my health. I always start with a good breakfast and if I haven’t missed too much of it there’s a live technology and Internet show I watch online. That’s interspersed with wasting time on Facebook games to lubricate the grey matter. That’s followed by about an hours walk. Then it’s crunch time to get the last of the code bits done and post to whatever blog I’m due to post to that day--I have five, but two of those are only once or twice a month.

Sometime after that I watch an inordinate amount of prime time television--I claim it’s to keep up on bad dialogue, but honestly I like a constant flow of ideas to amalgamate. I watch the CSI’s and Law and Order’s, Stargate’s, Criminal Minds, Supernatural, V, Smallville, and a few others including some I can only watch free online like Sanctuary, Primeval, and the original British Being Human, and of course Dr. Who.

Then I work on the next day’s writing for the blog or for the magazine or whatever else I happen to be writing. I work with Twitter on the go most of the time and it interrupts things as I pile up link after link of articles I think will be interesting. Sadly right now I have a lot of link only partially read or totally unread. Everything is moving really fast again like it does every winter--it’s slower in summer thankfully. Then it’s more Facebook games or instead of useful nightmares I’ll dream about working all night long--never with good results. I don’t go to sleep immediately after movies any more because I always dream I’m a director called in to fix the movie.

Zombies, Vampires or werewolves?

Robert: Zombies for sure. I have to admit I’m kicking around an idea for a serious, scary and horrific vampire novel. All I can say for now is that they will be full-on supernatural. The kind that scoff at machinegun fire.

Who would you turn gay for?

Robert: The late great Freddie Mercury would have been the only one. My male admirers will just have to do without me now.

Who are your favorite writers?

Robert: Top of the list is Graham Masterton. I had this chain going. I’d pick up a Stephen King novel off the bat. If a new John Sandford novel came out I’d put the King book down. If by some fluke a new Graham Masterton novel came out I’d put the Sandford book down. I also like a bunch others, but I’ll only mention one more; Clive Barker. Barker knows how to make a big meaty mythology, and I find that just amazing--something I hope to be great at too.

Who inspires you to do better?

Robert: I can only imagine he could write a great novel because he only writes role-playing games, so I didn’t stick him under the favourite writers. His name is Kevin Siembieda and he owns Palladium Books(R). It is always my contention Kevin could make even cereal boxes exciting. He’s had a lot of trouble outside of work, some of it on the business side of work, and through it all he never gives up. Never. Beyond that, he keeps the fan base updated on things going on in the company and personally, and he’s always motivating and inspiring about it. He pulls us all in (metaphorically) like his close friends and he tell us our own tough times are no different and we can make it through.

Do you ever put pants on your dog?

Robert: No. I wouldn’t even if I had a dog.

Describe your ultimate day?

Robert: Well, that requires a few things. It would start with a freak-nasty nightmare to wake up from and someone to have startled with that ramping up from a paralysed-throat-moan screaming. We definitely need that Chinese takeout with the fancy cardboard boxes. I would definitely need a great idea to write on for a while. I’d need a good week’s pre-planning and some players for a few hours of running a Rifts role-playing game session. Finally I’d want to cap it off with a good horror movie I haven’t seen yet.

Who is your favorite fictitious villain? Or are you all about the hero? Who do you love to hate?

Robert: This is such a tough one. I do tend toward the villain. If it’s one that someone has else has written it has to be the original Freddy Krueger. My first novel, languishing unpublished I’m afraid, has a villain who goes back a few incarnations or drafts. Around the middle he was the most vicious, sadistic, S.O.B. you’d ever fear to meet. That was my favourite villain, which is funny given the final novel version is the more skilled, and more saleable villain. The nasty one was just so abhorrent--I loved it.

I don’t know that I love to hate any of the villains or heroes. I really don’t like mamby-pamby evil. I can’t stand punks, the kinds that get five or six buddies to help them rough up some guy who’s maybe 90 lbs. soaking wet.

Do you have any quirks? (Yes, I do like to live dangerously!)

Robert: When I go out I wear a hip-sack over my shoulder bandolier-style to carry things. I gave up and just call it a murse now. Don’t mock the murse I say, which for those who don’t know is short for man-purse. Where else will I put the camera, extra batteries, pen, pen-knife, mirror, and wodge of cards and identification and other stuff?

All time favorite movie and why?

Robert: My favourite movie is Poltergeist. Besides being probably the most beautiful looking horror movie ever I love the fact that they are living with neighbours all around them and the Freelings are still as isolated as a cabin in the middle of the woods.

What’s your preferred medium when it comes to writing – pen and paper, computer, typewriter?

Robert: I prefer to write on the computer. It has spell check for starters. I also tend to re-write as I go. I’ve handed people what I thought was the first draft and they thought it was a third or fourth draft.

How did you enjoy the editing process?

Robert: I don’t mind the editing process, but it really puts me to sleep. I can only edit a handful of pages and then I start nodding off. I end up editing a few pages, then doing something else, and returning to editing as much as an hour later. I like to read aloud on one run through a manuscript to catch things I otherwise wouldn’t. Commas are the enemy. I like to keep it light with them if I can, and eventually I have to break down and add some in. I’ve been re-editing older work and I comma different now than I did then. I also consider it that I’ve gotten old because I can’t edit with music playing. I don’t read fiction or game books with music either any more.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

Robert: I would like to move somewhere in a time zone where when I go to sleep now would be when other people are going to sleep there. Somewhere a little more temperate would be nice too, less cold in winter and less hot in summer. I’m guessing another planet or dimension is required.

What is one thing you know about New Zealand? (This is not the place to spout on about LOTR… let me just remind you I control the voltage.)

Robert: What’s LOTR? I know. I know. This is going to kill my geek cred, but I have not seen the movies, or read the books yet. You asked for one thing, but I have to give you two, and they’re not related. First is that New Zealand is in the future. Seriously, you people have every day long before I do. The second is that it’s home to all of the Power Rangers.

What’s your favorite genre to write and do you have a guilty secret when it comes to genre… secret romance writer perhaps?

If it’s not clear to all the wonderful readers now, I’m big on the horror genre. I do write some science fiction. That aforementioned first novel is actually a cyberpunk horror. I have plans for some super-hero novels starting with a trilogy too.

I’ve always kind of thought the crime novels were a guilty secret, but I only read them from John Sandford. From a financial standpoint I have considered a romance novel, but really like drama I find I don’t like one-note genres. By that I mean I write romance into the horror, or sci-fi, or drama, or comedy any way. One can never say never, but I don’t think I’ll ever write a romance novel with the monsters in the romance. Maybe monster killer romance, but no “oh Vamp-man bite me” as the main focus.

What were you before you became a writer?

Robert: There was a before? Well, I went to school for electronics and had a job or three at the same technology company before I knuckled down to writing after getting downsized. I had originally planned to write while working, but during post secondary school I lost sight of it.

What can we expect from you next?

Robert: Immediately next is the next issue of Killing Time - Horror E-Rag(TM). I hope to put out two novellas that were serialised in that self-same publication soon, though I don't know when. Beyond that, only time will tell which of the dozen or more projects sees the light. I just have to throw this out there: I'm working on a couple role-playing games of my own design.

Do you carry a notebook or keep one by the bed for those sudden brilliant ideas?

Robert: I have a small number of sticky notes and a pen with me when I go out--in the murse. I find I’m more likely to write a bunch of notes before I go to sleep. I have never really written one upon waking in the middle of the sleep cycle. If I know what I was dreaming about I remember enough of it later when get up.

What is the most random thing you have ever written with and on?

Robert: I’m boring. Nothing out of the ordinary. I don’t think I’ve ever even written notes on a napkin. Comes from being prepared I guess.

If you’re not writing, what are you most likely to be doing?

Robert: Here’s the thing. When I watch television I’m looking for fodder. When I had time to run a role-playing game I was writing--I tended toward play by email or bulletin board system (BBS) more often than tabletop. Twitter is another fodder source mostly. That leaves either wasting time on Facebook games for the most time that is not writing related, or the other thing I got into... 3D art and animation. Rather than doing what I was supposed to be doing late last week I was in the render program working on an image. Even there I’m thinking story or character. Character rates higher most of the time. It’s the gamer in me.

Whiskey or Bourbon or blood?

Robert: Come on. Whiskey. The other Canucks are nodding. I have to be the villain though. I couldn’t tell you if I’ve had Canadian Club. Maybe, maybe not. If I name it when ordering, it’s Crown Royal. Take my touque, if you must. Yes, I spell it touque like a proper Canuck, damn you dictionary websites!

How do you feel about jousting?

Robert: I never saw the point. You know that’s what they need, points. That and motorcycles. Don’t laugh, go and rent or buy George A. Romero’s Knightriders.

If you don't mind I'd like to ask myself a question and answer it. I'm perverse like that...

What is your super-hero name?

Robert: I alternate between Non Sequitur Man and Captain Obvious.

My most pertinent link for everyone is http://www.batteredspleenproductions.com where people can check out the "Store" to buy books, and the "Blogs" for handy links to my blogs and sites.

Thank you for asking me to do this.

Thank you for playing!! 

1 comment:

Anthony J Langford said...

Entertaining interview.
The only problem is, I have no idea who he is. An intro/histroy would have been good.

I see you...

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