Much to the bewilderment of Miss Reba Haws, it turns out that her contract allows us to call her back for these interviews any darn time that we want. THIS time, however, she wanted to get an advanced peek at just what she was about to get involved with, so we showed her a few pages from the book regarding our next guest. She agreed that he seems innocent enough (though we only showed her the pages of our choice), so without further ado, we now present Reba Haws interviewing Lorel…
Reba Haws: I’m gonna have my lawyer look at this this thing, there must be a way of breaking this contract. No money in the world is worth- Oh, hi. I guess we’re on the air… again. Okay Maldene fans, today I have some guy named Lorel. He looks okay, a bit the straight-laced Duddly-Doright type… which is what has me worried- I mean, welcome to our show, Lorel.
Lorel: It is indeed a pleasure to be here, Miss Haws. Anywhere I can spread the word of my services, to help the poor and unfortunate with the skill of my sword-arm and my unwavering faith.
RH: Well, sounds righteous enough. Listen, before we go any further, can I ask you something? Do you do anything special?
Lorel: I do nothing more than what any right-minded-
RH: No, I mean like are you psychic, do you cast spells, make furniture talk, breath fire, or anything like that?
Lorel: Ah, you must be referring to my compatriots. They are a just and noble crowd, if a bit rambunctious. Why, there have been many a time when it was my courage and skilled swordsmanship that got them out of a dire circumstance. My courage is unmatched, I will never fail my friends, or the innocents such as yourself.
RH: Hmm, talks like he swallowed a dictionary on Arthurian legends, but that’s something I can live with. Not too bad… Well, I appreciate your sentiment, though after my interview with Po-Adar I’m not sure if the word ‘innocent’ applies to me anymore.
Lorel: Do not worry, my fair lady, I shall be here to protect you against whatever demons may assault you, be they real or imagined. Fear not!
(The expression on Lorel’s face even looks like he should be the cover picture for Paladin’s Monthly)
RH: Hmmm, okay so far- No wait, I got it. Is there some dragon chasing you or anything? Something that might come charging into the studio any second?
Lorel: Alas, no. I was not yet a part of the group when they faced that foul beast. But I can assure you that had I been there, they would have had a better time of it!
RH: Yeah, I’m sure… Say, you don’t mind if I break out a cigarette? I never used to smoke before I started doing these interviews. I’m hoping it’ll calm me… or at least make me not care, considering what I got laced into them.
Lorel: I am never one to object to a lady’s request, though if it is relaxing you need then might I recommend a nice quiet lake instead?
RH: You go for the lake, I’m sticking with my Xanax cigarette.
(Reba pauses to reach into a pocket and pull out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Taking out and putting one cigarette to her mouth she then flicks on the lighter. As she is bringing the little flame to the end of her cigarette, Lorel’s eyes suddenly grow wide.)
Lorel (wide eyed and petrified): Fire… why’d it have to be fire.
(Reba is just getting her first good puff when she catches Lorel’s face twitching.
RH (still holding her lighter in hand with the flame on): Are you okay?
Lorel: F-fire. Hate fire.
(Lorel’s twitching gets worse and he falls out of his chair to the floor convulsing. Reba looks from him, to the flame of her lighter, then gets a little wide-eyed look herself.
RH: We really need a way to vet these people before the interview.
(The sounds of spasming are now accompanied by what sounds like bones snapping, and some incoherent gurgling. Reba very slowly turns her head back in the direction of where Lorel fell behind the table, understandably afraid of what she might next see.)
Lorel (?): FIRE!
(Leaping up onto the tabletop into view is a warty little figure about two feet shorter than Lorel, claws for fingernails, what look to be feather-stubble in places, and a mad look in his eyes. He is wearing the shredded remains of Lorel’s clothing, now a couple sizes too big for him.)
RH (shrieking): Oh my freakin’ god!
Lorel (looking at the still-lit lighter): Fire, hate fire. Fire pain. Bad pain.
RH (holding up the lighter before her like one might a cross to a vampire): We’ll then, stay back whatever you are or my, er, magic flame maker will bring you a lot of pain.
Lorel (grinning): Pain. Schanter love pain. Hate fire, fire pain, love pain!
(This series of interviews has trained Reba to catch onto things rather quickly. Thus it is at this point where Reba throws the lighter straight at the creature. He leaps up a little to catch it with his bare hand, yelping once before it goes out, then picks it up again and starts banging it on the table.)
Schanter (formerly Lorel): Make fire! Fire pain, pain good. Make it fire.
RH: Uh, just flick the little thing. Hey, w-what happened to Lorel?
(Schanter starts messing with the lighter, gets a couple of sparks, then tosses it away in disgust and begins looking around at all the equipment in the studio. On the other side of the glass wall in the observation booth, the operator finishes his latte and blandly presses a button, which causes the newly-installed metal blast shield to start sliding down into place. Just enough time for Reba to give him a sour look before turning back to Schanter).
RH: O-okay, so you’re some sort of weird lycanthrope. S-so, Schanter, is it? Fire is what makes you change? Do you have any control over it? Like say, can you change back if you wanted? Like right now?
Schanter: Schanter want fun, want pain. Hey, what this?
(Schanter leaps across the table to grab at one of the microphone cables and bites into it. Needless to say, the shock sends him on his rear, but with a big smile on his face.)
Schanter: MORE! Want more!
(The little green creature then bites on the cable again, gnashing his teeth until electrical sparks are leaping out from between them. Reba, meanwhile, is headed for the door, trying her best not to be noticed, though being the intrepid interviewer that she is, she still has her microphone and is speaking into it for our listeners.)
RH: I’m going to be signing off earlier than expected, folks. Before something happens to violate my medical insurance again. So this is-
Schanter: Pain wire!
(Schanter is looking straight at Reba and the studio microphone she’s holding. He gives a fanged grin, she tosses the mic right at him and backs away. Schanter leaps, catching it in midair, then coming down right at her feet gnawing on the mic.)
Schanter: Schanter love sparkly chew-toy. What else pretty lady got?
RH: Blue Cross, I hope. Listen, I don’t suppose- How does one beat off a creature that loves pain?
(Reba tries backing away, only to find the wall directly behind her and the door several yards away, with Schanter now less than a foot in front of her and apparently interested in her.)
RH: Hey, you know what? There’s all sorts of sparkly things in the booth. All you have to do is claw your way through that blast panel. (Then calling out into the air) Sorry Bert, but it’s either you or me.
Schanter: Sparkly? Where?
(In the instant that Schanter looks away to the blast shield, Reba makes a break for the door. Unfortunately the little guy is faster than we suspected, not to mention a lot more insane than first looks suggested.)
Schanter: Sparkly Lady want tag! You’re it!
(Schanter makes a single leap across the room, catching her in the back and propelling her to the ground, he on her back.
(Schanter now starts jumping up and down on her back like a kid on a trampoline.)
Schanter: Want more pain. Pain now!
RH (face into the floor): You can have some of mine.
(One more bounce before something else distracts Schanter- the lit sign displaying “On Air”. Someone suggested at this point that we pull the plug on the show and send in some help, but our producer said this would be fantastic for ratings so we kept on transmitting.)
Schanter: Oooh, funny light.
RH (gasping tiredly): Yes, please go for the funny light.
(Schanter leaps, doing a double sommersault in midair, catching his hands onto the edge of the sign before landing, then ripping it off the wall and landing on the ground with it in his hands.)
RH (still face into the floor but looking like she’ll be having another one of her “spells” again): Nine point five. You could have stuck the landing better.
Schanter (tearing into the innards of the device with his claws, tossing parts to either side): Where funny light go? No more light, this boring.
(Schanter turns around just in time to catch Reba staggering up to her feet. She replies with a tired and desperately hopeful smile.)
RH: Say, why don’t we just play together? We can tear this lousy studio apart so I never have to do another stinkin’ show again. Now doesn’t that sound fun? Reba want lawyers. Love lawsuits. Reba want insanity plea.
(With that, Reba starts jumping around tearing at equipment, to which Schanter joins in for a bit. We’re not sure which of them is cackling more insanely.)
Schanter: Schanter want pain. Pain hurt, pain bad. Love pain.
RH: Reba want Xanax. Reba want producer’s head on a spike. Love see him bleed. Want blood.
(Whereupon she begins clawing at her own arm to get some. Schanter gives a curious look at this for a moment then leaps over to one of the still-working microphones to speak.)
Schanter: Funny Lady break mind. Schanter sorry. Sign off show now.
(Schanter then leaps away to join Reba in some mayhem before the guys with the wrap-around jackets come in to hogtie them both. A last footnote here: You wouldn’t believe the sorts of things that Reba’s medical insurance covers.)
Okay, so I suppose the first question would be, what do I mean by “self-made”. Well, technically I’m still in the process of “making”, but generally it refers to the fact that everything after High School English classes that I learned about writing and storytelling I taught myself from simply reading. And having an imagination that just refuses to quite doesn’t hurt any either. It also refers to the fact that, to put it quite bluntly, I’ve had no frickin’ break, no one to help me that didn’t vanish on me, nothing. Which leaves either “failure” or “self-made”. I prefer the latter.
The next item to be explained is the use of the word “novelist”. I tried “writer” and “author”, but the problem with those would be the definitions I came up when I was actively trying to find an agent. “Writer” became “One who knows how to get published”, while “Author” became “A successful writer”. Anything else I viewed as being “Hobbyist”. Well, three book series and about 8 million words later and by my definition I’m still a “hobbyist”, even though I’ve hit Steven King levels of productivity (but without the drugs).
But wait, there was that blip on the radar of publishing events known as my time with Publish America… yeah, that could be a rant article all by itself, so moving on. Anyway, one day rather recently someone said, “Oh, so you’re a novelist?” Hmm, no self-deprecating definition in my head against that, so why not? “Novelist” it is.
Now that that’s established, let’s get on with the “day in the life” part. There’s actually two types of days… well, three really. The first is when I’m working on my own stories, the second when on a ghost writing project, and the third is when I’m not working on anything.
Let’s take that third option first; it’s the easiest. It goes something like this:
The only difference between this and the original “The Fly” is that I don’t have a large spider crawling across the web to put me out of my misery. Me not working on something amounts to me feeling guilty, thinking about everything going wrong, oh why am I not selling, how the heck do you sell anything, why don’t I have a girl friend, and generally alternating between wanting to crawl into a hole or looking for a miracle to pull out of my sleeve.
Yeah, let’s not go there. Moving on…
Second are the days when I’m ghostwriting stuff to keep the bills paid and money flowing in so I can flow it out to something resembling book promotion. This can be divided up into two types of days: when I have a nonfiction project versus when I have a fiction project. First the nonfiction day:
“Oh God, shoot me now, my brain is turning to mush!”
Usually I have to dumb myself down enough to get through it. You know, tie half my brain behind my back so I can manage the finance, legal, cookbook, alternative medicine, or other whatnot I’m being paid to do. I get up in the morning, procrastinate for a bit until it’s about 10 AM, then get the next chapter done in time for lunch. This is usually followed by self-flagellation as I berate myself on why I can’t seem to get anything else going. That and grocery shopping.
Then there are the rare fiction ghostwriting assignments:
“At last! A chance to show my talents. Now I can ride the epic rim of– Wait, this isn’t one of my own books; it could become a best seller and no one will know I wrote it. WHHHYYYYY…”
Followed by an alternating mix of sobbing and leaping for joy that I at least get to do some fiction. Of course this alternates with frustration when the client won’t listen to my own instincts on which way to go with the story. “Yes I know this is your first story, and I WILL keep it in your voice, but I’m the guy who wrote a thirteen-book epic, so I might have picked up a few things in that time.”
Oh yeah, if you’re going to be a writer or ghostwriter, be prepared for all those emotional ups and downs; it comes with the territory of being able to transcribe emotional content into your scenes… that emotional content ends up showing up in your life.
Okay, so you’ve seen the frustration, the highs and the lows, but what happens when I’m working on my own stories? Well, I can’t speak for any other author, but for me it goes something like this:
“I am GOD!”
The night before a new chapter I can hardly wait. Monday? Best day of the week because it means a new chapter. I wake up a minute before my alarm goes off– Hmm, maybe tomorrow if I go to bed 30 seconds earlier I can beat that alarm by another five minutes; that’s an extra five whole minutes I get to write! I have a contest with myself to see how quickly I can get through breakfast and what not and get to the keyboard. 7:25 AM I’m there– hey that’s five whole minutes off my old record, maybe this means I’ll break 6000 words by lunch.
I start to write, the keyboard growing hot beneath the passage of my fingers. The scenes are exciting, drawing at me. I can feel the emotion of the scene as I try to channel that feeling directly down through my fingers into words.
Wait, email? Ignore it. The phone rings? Let it ring, I’m in the zone here.
One of the characters wants to go in its own direction now. Well, okay but only a small excursion; just stay within the general plot outline that I’ve– Wait, no too far! Come back here, you little–
Phone rings again. Keeps ringing. Grumble, okay what’s the caller ID say? Hmm, a friend. Grrrr…
“WHAT?! I’m writing!”
“Oh, well then you have time to talk.”
Back to my feverish writing state.
The keyboard is starting to smoke, lightning from my fingertips. Oh, this is one of the best– Wait, frozen? Why is my screen locking up? AAAA! Quick, memorize that last paragraph being displayed before hitting the reset and hope the autosave is functioning this time.
Oh, hurry up you bloody–
Ah, it’s back up. Quickly, reconstruct what I just memorize and… There, got it back. Calmer now. Back to what I was doing.
The scene is racing by, I’m averaging some 1500 words an hour (not great if you’re a secretary but pretty fantastic for a writer creating on the fly), I can feel the tears running down my face, but no time to break for the emotion of the moment, just get it down!
“Lunch? I don’t need no– Okay, but quickly.”
After inhaling a sandwich and nearly intravenously injecting a glass of milk, it’s back to the passion. Hours go by, and my “F” key is starting to wear out. May be time for another new keyboard.
Back when my mother was still around, this would be about the time when she’d pause to lean forward from across my bed to peak over my shoulder at what I was doing. She’s smiling, of course, but I can’t work with someone looking over my shoulder.
More impassioned hours of writing later, I’ve finally managed to corral the errant characters, the sweat is coming close to shorting out that “F” key completely, but I just can’t stop. It is physically impossible for me to–
It’s my mom again, this time holding out a small bottle of water.
“It’s 3 o’clock, you need a drink.”
My fingers vibrate in place as I’m caught between reaching for the next key and the bottle. I come close to short-circuiting but finally engulf the water and get back to it.
Finally, five or six o’clock rolls around and the chapter is finished. I lean back in my chair, steam coming out from my ears and off the keyboard, a smile on my face. Never had sex but the afterglow can’t be much better that this. I take a look at the word count: nearly 13,000 words.
Lots of editing to do that evening during dinner, of course, but it’s a rival for anything Tolkien did. I feel great! Top of Cloud 9.
Then it hits me.
“B-but, who’s going to see it? I don’t have a real publisher, I stink at promotion, what am I going to do?!?”
Aaaand, it’s back to crying. At least until the next day when my own private little world once again distracts me from reality. That is the goal of a novelist, after all: to get paid for distracting yourself from other concerns.
Much like this article.
Well, the day ends when it’s close to Midnight and I’ve finished editing stuff and ready to charge into it the next day. I have no life, social or otherwise, and some friends might point out that maybe if I stopped the writing long enough to– Well, they’re not friends anymore so I never get to hear the last part of that sentence.
Nights, of course, are spent dreaming about finally “making it”, because after all any creative soul, no matter how much he wants to say about it being “for the art”, he needs two things. First, an appreciative audience so they can share what he feels about his creation; feel the joy and awe radiating from them as they examine what you have done. And second, money, so he can get the bills paid and the mortgage dealt with so he’s free to get off the ghostwriting train and get back to writing his own stories once again.
So what is the point is getting all these stories out of my head? Some might say it’s an addiction, but again being the great novelist who is so very bad at self-promotion, my answer usually amounts to this:
“J-just, read it. Please! Take my pretty and reads it now.”
Any resemblance at that point between myself and Gollum is probably not so coincidental, and for much the same reason.
There’s a lot of name generators out there. You know the kind: Pick from list ‘A’ for the first letter of your name then from list ‘B’ for the month you were born. That sort of thing. So, I thought I’d come up with my own Maldene name generator. Only it doesn’t involve lists.
You can start with your own name, or pretty much any word in the English language that’s about two syllables. Three syllables might be doable, depending on the word, but more than that just ends up a mess. Anyway, here’s the step-by-step.
Step 1: Take your first name and switch the first and last syllables. When you do this keep the letters in their original order.
Step 2: If you have to, re-spell any syllables so they’ll sound just the way they did before in their original order. Also keep in mind that Maldene is a phonetic language.
Step 3: Clean it up by inserting any needed apostrophes or accent marks, and eliminating any silent letters, and you’re done.
Step 4: For single-syllable names, cut the name in half and transpose the two sets of letters. For this you will most likely need that apostrophe. Thus “Mark” becomes Krma, then inserting some appropriate punctuation we have K’rma.
Step 5: For a last name just repeat the above but use your middle name, as most last names could be too long and busy to work effectively.
Okay, some examples:
Susan becomes Sansu
Peter becomes Terpe, or even Terpe’, or T’rpe
John becomes H’njo
Anthony becomes Nythoan
Joseph becomes Sefjo
And so on.
This works perfect with English names and words, but I’m not so sure about other languages, as they’ll just end up sounding like they still came from that same foreign language (using Spanish words, for instance, still sounds to American ears like something Spanish-like).
Well, that’s all for this bit of fun.