1 July 2011

Excerpt of my interview with KJ Kabza

My esteemed friend and writerly colleague, KJ Kabza has just released a short story collection, and as a bonus feature, there's an author interview conducted by yours truly.

Here's a short snippet of that interview!

You mentioned Philip K. Dick and Tim Burton. Were they major influences for you?

I admire PKD for his bizarre yet successful patterns of rising action, and the kind of male protagonist that Burton usually favors in his scripts has always spoken to me. But I didn't discover PKD until 4 years after my first story ("You Make Bath Times Much More Fun") was published, and Burton wasn't my only favorite director as a child.

The question of influence is a problematic one, because it implies that as writers consume media—films, books, comic books, manga—they find something that makes them consciously decide, "I want to write like this." But I never set out to write like anyone else. I set out to write like me. I only bring up PKD and Burton because we all describe unknown things in terms of known things. I don't even know if my assessment is accurate, since I'm hardly an impartial observer.

But you're basically saying you feel like Johnny Depp.

Sometimes. When I'm feeling like the emoest emo that ever emoed.

A lot of people say favorite books or movies from childhood helped form their creative style. What were some of your go-to books and movies when you were a wee KJ?

Picking favorite books is like picking favorite children (attention parents: this is a big no-no), but I would be a horrid parent, so here goes: the My Book House series (first published in 1920—I grew up reading the 1937 printing), The Chronicles of Narnia (my favorite Christmas present when I was 8), The Phantom Tollbooth (which is only one of two books I have ever read that blew me away so hard that, after reading the last page, I flipped to the first page and started reading all over again), and Slake's Limbo.

For movies, I was primarily obsessed with Disney's Robin Hood and Don Bluth's All Dogs Go to Heaven. These films had a much more obvious, visible impact. To wit: there's a compound bow in my closet that I can shoot with quite well, and there's a pocket watch in my card catalog that I strung with a blue ribbon and wore around my neck in 5th through 7th grade, just like Charlie B. Barkin. (Picture me sporting this watch at age 10, with a Stetson proudly perched atop my head despite the perpetually overcast upstate New York weather. As you can imagine, I was not a popular child to befriend.)

Okay, you brought up the card catalog, so now you're going to have to explain that one to the rest of the class.

What's to explain? A woman I know who used to be a librarian at Harvard took one of their discarded card catalogs, and she doesn't have room for it right now, so she's letting me have it on extended loan. Naturally, I have filled it with crap that is arranged alphabetically, with drawers labeled "harmonicas", "metronomes", "umbrella bits", and so on.

I'm sure you will agree that this is totally normal.

I think KJ's sparkling personality comes out pretty clearly in this excerpt. To read the full interview and a bunch of fun and interesting stories, click on the book cover below and get your own e-copy at Smashwords!

At $2.99, it's a great bargain!