HEIDI'S PICK SIX
1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Tom Dooley (at yer service) is my favorite character. He’s the narrator of the Lucky Nickel Saloon stories (Tales of the Lucky Nickel Saloon, Fairy BrewHaHa at the Lucky Nickel Saloon, and Dadgum Martians Invade the Lucky Nickel Saloon). First person, of course, but he’d probably say “first feller.” Tom is an unreliable narrator, not as smart as he thinks, or as pleasant smelling. Hangs out in a saloon, drinks and spits. Cheats at cards. No job. A regular guy. Reason I like him is because while he’s a dang liar, he tells true lies, if you get my drift. Nothing fancy in his tone, though he often likes to try on pompous phraseology. Western, of course. I like his range and his honesty. I can do more with him than I can with other characters. Hell, I think he’s me.
2. Tell me about your travels.
I used to travel with an auto daredevil thrill show. “Wow, I’ve never done that before!” became a running joke among the crew after I said it a few times. Canada, Mexico, all over the US. There’s a novel about the old daredevil shows titled Dare currently being ignored in some agent’s office.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
I just finished Pirates of the Blue Kingdoms with a Paul Genesee story in it. Paul has a fantasy coming out in April 2008 from Five Star. I need to catch up on some Fairwood titles—Mary Rosenblum, Louise Marley, etc. I’m pickled tink to hear Jim Glass has a new collection coming, ditto Ken Scholes. Julie Hyzy has can’t-wait stuff coming up. Actually, right now, I’m reading a guide book to Word 2007.
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
At the end of Cold Day in Hell, my protagonist locates what may be the grave of her missing husband in the desert. I agonized over that scene for days, rewriting those four pages a zillion times. I recall Dan Simmons telling me when I interviewed him for Talebones Magazine how he agonized over a scene where he had to kill a baby that was about the same age as his own. And Bill Ransom told me how he delayed ending a book he was writing in collaboration with Frank Herbert—this was after Herbert died—because it meant letting go of his dear friend. My scene felt like those. Ain’t going to tell you why. Personal. That’s the point. Suffice to say lessons were learned about the source of inspiration and passion in writing. Passion shows—ditto the lack of it.
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Family. Home. I was long into career before I realized that these are my key themes. The Lucky Nickel Saloon is a home and the regulars are family. My nonfiction history book Port Chicago Isn’t There Anymore—But We Still Call It Home is about my hometown. Story is about people, and I think I stress character more than anything else. My family and my friends have been my inspirations.
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Mark Twain. I’ve read everything he ever wrote at least twice. My stepdad. I remember him reading Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn to me and my two brothers one chapter at a time every night before we went to bed when I was a kid—this was before we had a TV. I’ll always hear Twain’s voice in a Boston burr, not a river twang. My high school drama teacher. Arthur C. Clarke. My first professional short story sale was titled “The Nine Billion Names of Arthur C. Clarke.” I have two letters from Sir Arthur on my bookshelf. Dean Wesley Smith, who bought that first story, and my second pro short “I Am Klingon.” Patrick Swenson who published my first book The 10% Solution. Dave Wolverton bought my third pro short story “The Gods Perspire” for Writers of the Future. Julie Hyzy. James Van Pelt. Ken Scholes. All friends and mentors. There are a bunch of others, and I’ll think of them an hour after I post this. You Know Who You Are.
15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Ken Rand resides in West Jordan, Utah. He has three children and four grandchildren--a fifth grandtad is due January 2008. He's sold more than 75 short stories (in SF, fantasy, humor, horror and mainstream genres), 200 humor columns, and countless interviews and articles. Nonfiction books: Human Visions: The Talebones Interviews--The 10% Solution: Self-Editing For the Modern Writer--The Editor Is IN--From Idea to Story in 90 Seconds--In Their Own Words: The Port Chicago Letters--and Dan Colchico: In Defense of Port Chicago. Novels: Dadgum Martians Invade the Lucky Nickel Saloon!--Fairy BrewHaHa at the Lucky Nickel Saloon--Golems of Laramie County--and Phoenix. Story collections: Bad News From Orbit--Soul Taster: Four Dark Tales--Tales of the Lucky Nickel Saloon--and Through Wyoming Eyes. Upcoming: Rock 'n' Roll Universe, a free on-line novel (in September)--Where Angels Fear, a story collection from Fairwood Press in December--Fairy BrewHaHa, reprint from Yard Dog Press, February--Pax Dakota, a novel from Five Star in May, Port Chicago Isn't There Anymore: But We Still Call It Home, history from Media Man! Productions in July and The Gods Perspire, a story collection form Fairwood Press in late 2008.