Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jabbertalky, by Thom Brannan

Welcome back! Here follows the second installment of the round robin/round table of interviews, wherein I interview David Dunwoody, madcap author of Empire, Empire's End, The Harvest Cycle, and about eight zillion short stories.

It has long been suspected Dave had replaced a portion of his brain with a portal to the multiverse, where the stories come from. But that's just rampant speculaion on my part. Lete's hear about it from the man himself, shall we?

This feels like it’s been a long time coming, Dave. (Is it alright if I call you Dave? You can call me Hal, if you like.) You have an impressive body of work, and I was wondering, what was the drive to link so many of your short stories to the Empire universe?  

I’ve really enjoyed the zombified world of Empire, and there have been a lot of ideas –the Reaper in different time periods, the origin of the plague—that I didn’t use in the novels themselves because I didn’t want to go off on too many tangents. As is, both Empire books have a lot of side stories and spotlight various undead anomalies. I also thought that getting some related shorts into various anthologies might help draw new readers to Empire (and vice versa, hopefully introducing Empire fans to other authors).

And would you open the pod bay doors already?

Speaking for myself, one of the things I liked so much about Empire and its sequel was that it was set years and years beyond the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse. So many of the books we see are set at the beginning. Was this something you decided on beforehand, or did it just come about as you started writing?

Setting it 100+ years after the initial outbreak was one of the first decisions I made about Empire. The collapse of society and the horror of a dawning apocalypse is definitely compelling, but I found myself wanting to see what the world looked like long after—a time when humanity’s remnants are all people born into the last days, into a life that seems doomed from the word go. Of course, we see it as such because we’ve had a taste of this posh zombie-free existence.

How did it feel to return to that universe in Empire’s End? Do you plan more for that world, or is that it?

There was definitely more to be told after Empire, and I was excited to do it – at the same time I knew Empire’s End was going to be the conclusion of that arc, so it was a little bittersweet. Knowing it was the finale did offer a certain freedom—I’ll tell you this right now, no one in Empire’s End is safe. No character’s signed for a Book III.

I definitely intend, though, to write more short stories set in this world at some point. I have an idea for a tale that would serve as a fitting epilogue of sorts to the whole saga. Just need to get this Empire movie done first. Which is taking forever because no one’s optioned it.

To veer off the writing path for a moment... tell me about ghost hunting. You have an EMF meter and everything? Do you ever record for EVP? (EMF = electromagnetic fields, EVP = electronic voice phenomena, for the uninitiated.)

It’s funny, I don’t believe at all in ghosts but I have spent a few nights in cemeteries with a recorder. Just to creep myself out, I guess, maybe get a story out of it. I do love cemeteries (I set part of The Harvest Cycle in Utah for that reason – Ogden City Cemetery is gorgeous) and it’s interesting to listen to the anomalous sounds the tape picks up and let your imagination interpret them.

...and that worked out so well for this guy.

I really can’t stress enough, you have a lot of writing credits to your name. What made you decide to write?

Mental illness

Actually, that might not be far from the truth. I spend more time in my own head than I do in the external world – that’s always been the case, and I think I used to make up worlds and stories as a kid because my brain always seems to need to be doing five different things at once. As an adult, this need has manifested itself in the form of OCD, and in dealing with that I have noticed that writing seems to put all my mental trains on the same track, so the speak. It centers me in a real way.

Does it matter what you write, or only that you write?

“What” is definitely important. The creative engine’s got to be in overdrive, and dark fiction seems to do the trick for me. As for what it is about horror and dark fantasy, your guess is as good as mine. But why worry?

If you were able to choose the person making an adaption of your work into a movie, who would it be? And how close would you want it? How may changes would you be alright with?

Dream director, David Cronenberg. The guy’s a genius and I’m not being hyperbolic.

When we publish our work, we give it to readers and they experience it through their own filter. They come to own their experience of your story. Allowing someone to then put their experience on film with your name attached is a leap beyond. Someone, probably Cronenberg, said there’s no such thing as a pure and faithful adaptation from one medium to another. Clive Barker said that if writing’s masturbation, a film’s an orgy. No matter what, the shag carpet’s gonna need replacing the next morning. (I added that last part.) The idea of other artists taking my story and reinterpreting it is intriguing and doesn’t make me (too) queasy. Of course, there’s a difference between a filmmaker’s artistic vision and a studio’s mucking about. Nonetheless, Empire, for example, would probably have to go through some major changes to work as a movie. Easier said than done, I’m sure, but I would have to go into it thinking “This isn’t my Empire anymore.”

Right. The book is the book, and the movie is the movie, and never the twain should meet. Or something like that. How about music? Who’d you like to make a concept album of your work?

That is an awesome question. Goblin would be fantastic. Danny Elfman for The Harvest Cycle. I guess I’m thinking more of scores, aren’t I? Concept albums – Foo Fighters and/or the ghost of Warren Zevon for Unbound.

But you just said you don’t believe in ghosts. Trickster! You mentioned The Harvest Cycle with the ghosts. What is that, and where did it come from?

The Harvest Cycle started with a nightmare about 5 years ago, about being trapped in a hotel with these things that looked like skinned gargoyles running around outside. I started fleshing out the idea for an apocalyptic novel, and during that process was also working on a story for the Permuted anthology Robots Beyond – that’s what made me think of adding robots to this alternate reality and really got the ball rolling. The story concerns an apocalypse in which ghoulish alien beasts are hunting humans – they give us just enough time to catch our breath before launching the next “Harvest,” always at a different point during the year. The Harvesters are engineered by a godlike entity with ties to the Cthulhu Mythos, and this entity, Nightmare, has managed to make contact with the robots who once served us. Manipulating their system of logic, it has convinced them to join the hunt. I put together some videos to break it down in greater detail (and be silly): PLAYLIST LINK!!!

That's this book here.
Is that the first time you’ve dangled your dabbley bits into the Mythos? I can’t say this as a rule, but there seems to be a lot of stand-offishness between the zombie people and the Lovecraft people. The world of the Mythos is certainly bleak enough. Do you have any thoughts on that?

I think a lot of zombie fans want as much realism as possible in their fiction – they want to imagine it happening in our world, to experience the survival-horror aspect vicariously, and although zompoc and Lovecraft do intersect there does seem to be some resistance to too much dark fantasy and/or sci-fi in zombie media. For my part, I certainly implied a Mythos connection in the Empire books. The source of Empire’s plague is an energy cast off by old gods who fled our universe aeons ago – like unruly tenants who, upon notice of eviction, decide to use the entire apartment as a toilet before they bolt. Their cosmic dookie evolved into our apocalypse, and it was purely by chance. Life is fun.

This zombie niche has some serious legs just following the classic formula, but what’s wrong with fresh ideas, with throwing something weird into the mix? Playing with the zombie archetype? Some of these ideas won’t be for everybody, the same way that there’s a traditional vampire blueprint and then a wealth of modern variants, some of which are pretty cool.

The only problem is the fandamentalist, a term I wish I’d coined. The guy who doesn’t think anyone  should be writing anything other than Dawn of the Dead Part Eleventeen. The guy who alone knows what a “true zombie” is. Maybe the fact that it’s such a young monster, the modern zombie, has something to do with it. The upside of that is that you can meet its creator at conventions and ask him what he thinks. I don’t know myself, but I do know G.A.R. wrote the foreword for Skipp & Spector’s Book of the Dead, a brilliant collection that didn’t concern itself with whether or not this or that was sacrilege.

Everyone’s entitled to choose their own path, but there are many roads to the promised land. If you don’t agree, then at least let the rest of us go to Hell in peace.

Empire started as a free online serial, which seems to be something a lot of people are doing now. Do you have any advice or cautions for writers interested in trying their hands at it?

I was really flying by the seat of my pants when I serialized Empire in 2006 (and Harvest in ‘08) but I suppose the thing to keep in mind is that, while you will enjoy the instant gratification of people seeing your work the second you publish it on your site, you also don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so having another pair of eyes look your stuff over for errors (have beta readers, even) isn’t a bad idea. Even if you’re not trying to parlay the serial into a book deal, take your writing seriously if you take writing seriously. If you get critical comments that are relevant (i.e. something other than “Die in Hell douche” or “Fr3e C!@L1S click here”), leave them up and take them into account.

And if you are hoping the story will catch a publisher’s eye, remember that a lot of publishers will want the story taken down from the Web– many would prefer it have never been there to begin with. And there’s no guarantee once you’ve deleted it that it’s really-really-really gone from the Internet. Still, it can serve as a great writing exercise, a workshop of sorts and a way to start getting your name out.

At what stage in your writing, generally, do you let betas read the work? Is there a circle of people who you trust to hold the secret, or do you hold a raffle...?

It’s pretty much the same few folks, folks who believe in my ability but will tell me if something is completely batshit. They might see a first draft, and then usually after that I’m alone in revisions for a good while.

You’ve made no secret of the situation with your vision. What kind of hurdles does this present for you, and how do you get over them?

The toughest thing is proofreading – using special software and all that has become second nature in the past 4 years, but checking for typos is always a challenge. Just another reason to have extra eyes on hand! I mean in other people’s heads, by the way, not in your desk drawer. Don’t talk about those. The other stuff I just gradually adapted to because I had to. I wasn’t going to stop writing.

What’s Dave reading now?

Over the last year I’ve been reading a lot in the thriller genre. I always encourage writers to read outside their genre of choice, and I’m trying to practice what I preach. I’ve come to enjoy aspects of the thriller and would like to try my hand at it someday.

That’s the ticket. Someone smarter than me (I? Should that be I? Fuck it.) said that a story should be a good story first, a good genre piece second.

There are genres that I live in and will stay rooted to until that artery in my head finally pops. But there are also these perceived genre boundaries, places you’re not supposed to go if you’re staying true to the conventions of said genre. I say nuts.  Tell your story.

On that note, in checking out thrillers I also finally read Maberry’s Patient Zero, which I think most would consider a thriller first. It nonetheless doesn’t seem to be constrained by its sense of realism or its action-thriller core. Now I have to get my butt to Audible so I can catch up with the Ledger series (and while I’m there I will look at the Harvest Cycle audiobook, which is there, doe-eyed, waiting to find a loving home).

Thanks Thom!

No, no. Thank you.


You said it first. I meant it more. So there.

Tune in two weeks from now, when teh_Dunwoody interviews William Todd Rose, author of The Seven Habits.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Light My Fire

Back in the mists of antiquity (uh, November, last year) I left off saying I wanted to talk about the Kindle. And I still totally do, but I've forgotten the world-shaking things I was going to blog, so we'll see how this goes. Har! Har!

I didn't want a Kindle. It wasn't one of those things that really fired me up (snort, giggle) and I had bookshelf space to spare, anyway. To be fair, I wasn't being all technophobic about it. It was just a gadget that held little appeal.

On the Inter-webz, there is always a vast torrent of opinions, swinging from one extreme to another about any given subject. E-readers were in there, just as polarizing as gay marriage and global warming, somehow, and reading all of that just makes me tired. Rhetoric, propoganda, slippery slope arguments, blah blah. Whatever. The reality of my situation was such that I didn't need one, and that was about it.

And then my situation changed.

I travel for work. Typically, I could carry as many books as I needed for the duration of my hitch. My hitch length changed, as did my travel arrangements. Instead of a ten-hour drive where music was my companion, I had a ten-hour flight. And a day at a hotel before heading to work. And hah, a weight limit on my bag.

So my first hitch in new circumstances was a bookless affair. Oh, I'd brought a book, The Three Musketeers. That seemed like a weighty enough tome to keep me occupied, right? That was old-situation thinking. I finished that book before I even got to work, from reading on the plane and in the hotel. It was that hitch that I began to entertain the idea of getting an e-reader.

I mentioned this to my most wonderful Better Half, and she said, "Okay," and kept on with what we had been talking about before I interrupted. I thought no more about it, and I thought she did the same. But when I got home, ta-daa! I had a new Kindle. Because my wife is awesome.

Now that I've had one for going on three years, I can't imagine not having one. A gazillion books at my fingertips, and it fits in my pocket? Yeah, I wear BDU pants a lot, but it fits in my pocket. So awesome.

Since then, I've found other reasons to like it. I'm a writer, if you didn't know, and when something is done I like to stop looking at it on my laptop. Printing out a novel seems pretty wasteful, but putting it on the Kindle... well, that smacks of fabulous. Reading the work on the Kindle somehow changes the way I see the books. It's as if they're more fixed, less work-in-progress, and it helps me find problems I might have glossed over several times in Word.

I also participate in a novel critique group, the same applies to these works. In my opinion (Should I even have to say that? Anything that isn't fact here is my goddamn opinion.) it makes my critiques deeper. YMMV.

And you know, I take it to other places, too. In my thigh pocket. It goes with me to the mechanic's when I need work done. It goes with me to the dentist. It goes with me to anywhere I might have to stand in line for more than five minutes. It definitely goes with me to the bathroom.

I still buy deadwood editions of stuff. That will never stop. But I can be choosy about it now. Only the mostest especial books go on the shelf. (Shelves.) And the classics (my classics: Grendel, House of Leaves, Dune... you know me) get a place of rarified honor, where only the strong survive.

So that's it, I think. Man, look at this wall of text. Can you believe I coulnd't find any natural places to just drop a picture somewhere? What a mess. I can fix this. You guys should know how much I love it when things bleed together, right? Here are some images that do just that. Huzzah!

Next time, I interview Dave Dunwoody!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Lord of Night, by Peter Clines

By Peter Clines
At the very start, it was clear Thom Brannan was destined for greatness.  Born two years after the tragic death of his parents, he entered the world an orphan and was sent to work building knockoff Walkmans in Hong Kong at the age of six weeks.  After rising to middle management at the assembly plant in a record-breaking three years, Thom fled the country and swam to Hawaii, where he was recruited by the U.S. Navy and assigned to their top secret Nautilus project under Captain Nemo.  After years of destroying deep-sea monsters, Atlanteans, and underwater alien bases, Thom retired to enjoy a peaceful life drilling massive holes through the crust of the Earth using giant robots. 

Oh, and he writes books, too.

Okay, there’s a chance I’m stretching the truth slightly.  Thom Brannan writes books, yes, he was actually closer to six years old when he made the swim from Hong Kong to Hawaii.  And the Navy still denies the Atlantis Wars of 1997-2006. 

Past that, this is pretty much all accurate.

In this little series of interviews, the Permuted Press authors are going to interview each other in a round robin/ pub crawl sort of way (the drinking metaphor is deliberate, believe me).  I’m kicking off the thing by interviewing Thom, he interviews someone next time, they interview someone else after that, and so on.

So, here’s Thom Brannan talking about oil rigs, outlines, and the pressure of finishing somebody else’s trilogy.

You’re a big horror fan.  You even have some horror-movie tattoos, yes?  What first got you into horror?

It’s a toss-up between watching Doctor Who and being scared out of my wits by the Zygons, or it was the aftermath of The Exorcist. Maybe it was both?

When I started writing, I just remember the effect they had on me, and that was the kind of visceral reaction I wanted to produce. All of the genres have their own gut-wrench moments, right? When you find out the Maltese Falcon is a phony, or that Sir Percy Blakeney is the Scarlet Pimpernel or that she’s the one who wrote the notebook for him to read. Everything touches you in one way or another. None of those moments compare to the time Kirsty Cotton finds Uncle Frank under her dad’s skin.

I wanted that. (Hellraiser is the movie some of my tattoos come from, yes.)

...they were fresh this day.
You’ve got a pretty unique and interesting job.  A lot of people put in their forty hours a week and try to write where they can, but your schedule’s very different.  Care to explain it to folks?

I work on an offshore drilling rig. Four weeks of seven twelve-hour nights, and then I get four weeks off... even though the travel time comes out of my end, of course. On the rig, I work on electronics and automated systems, as well as cameras, gas detectors, satellite communications, et-freakin’-cetera. I like to say I maintain the drilling robots, and the rig’s eyes, ears, and voice.

How much has this job affected your writing habits?

When I had a desk job, I didn’t have much of a method or schedule. Like you said, I wrote whenever there was time that didn’t take away from the other eight dozen things I wanted to do.

Now I only write when I’m offshore. After I knock off at six a.m., I get some food and soda and sit down to write for two hours, every day without fail, Monday through Friday. I take the weekends for cinema time, so the grey matter can decompress. In this, I was inspired by the late Robert B. Parker, who said he wrote five pages a day no matter what.

The output from that is enough that I don’t have to touch the stuff when I’m home to make deadlines. When I’m at the house, it’s time to put the long sessions at the keyboard away and wear the Daddy Hat. I love the Daddy Hat.

Do you write pretty fast with nothing else there to distract you?  How long does it generally take you to get a first draft done on a book?

It takes a couple of days to get warmed up, but once I'm there, I usually write ten SMF pages a day my first and second week, then up to 15 per day my third and fourth. Then there's all that time off, and it keeps me from burning out, I think.

Pavlov's Dogs had its hitches, because of all the back and forth between us. I wrote from March 26th to May 22nd. We didn't call the first draft complete, with all the changes for the both of us, until maybe early July?

Lords of Night was written the year before from March 3rd to May 6th, and it's about a quarter longer than Pavlov's Dogs. So I guess there's your answer, yeah? Ten to twelve weeks for a first draft, with an inevitable four-week break in the middle.

You’ve worked as an editor on several books.  Did this help you when you sat down to work on your own material?

Hah. I’ve heard people say that such and such a novel was a how-to manual for that genre or whatever, but one of the books I edited was the opposite. I won’t say which, but there was so much wrong with that book and the reviews baffle me.

Being in on the editing of the first two volumes of Cthulhu Unbound allowed some interaction with other authors, and it opened up avenues of conversation about how they do things. I learned a lot doing that.

Jump back a bit.  What was it about the “cautionary tale” book that sat so wrong with you?  The characters?  Dialogue?  Structure?  I know you don’t want to name names or anything, but can you give a better sense of what didn’t work?

The grammar was put together in odd ways sometimes, and the dialog was pretty stiff, but that's what I was there for, right? The narrative followed a very natural course, introducing characters and the incredibly messed-up situation they were in. And there was a lot of action. It was just... derivative. And it was diluted.

If Dawn of the Dead was a packet of Kool-Aid, imagine taking a pitcher of it, copying the flavor using ingredients you bought on the cheap because they've been on the shelf too long, and then fill it to overflowing from your outside water tap. It would be familiar, tasting of the original, but mostly tasting of yuck.

That's probably as clear as I can get.

What’s your usual process as a writer?  Are you a big outliner or do you use notecards?  Or do you just start writing and see where it leads you?

My main output had been short stories, and for those, the main characters take some time to coalesce. After that, I put them in the situation and watch what they do, and most of the time, that’s the story I end up with. Most of the time, the only things I know about the story are where it started and maybe where it ends. I usually have no earthly idea what’s going to happen next until I pick up my pen (or keyboard, lately) and have a go.

This presents hazards. I have, more than once, found myself written into a corner which requires extraordinary gymnastics to get out of, or I have to go back and rewrite things, which I really hate to do. I've let a story lay fallow for months and months because of this.

Now, how did this change when you wrote Pavlov’s Dogs with D.L. Snell?  Was it really different for you, working with a writing partner?

Everything changed. Snell and I are just about polar opposites in our methodology. When we were talking about how it would go, with us tag-teaming the novel, he was talking about pacing and getting the beats just write to keep the poor reader saying, “Alright, just one more chapter.” Plot lines, character development, themes... I was lost, I’m afraid. I'm not as cerebral about it as he is.

The outline for Pavlov’s Dogs was magnificent. It was thorough, in that it told the entire story from beginning to end, but there was enough room in there for me to be inventive and write how I normally do. As a result of that, D.L. was always asking when things would pay off, or who was that and could we kill him? I never had good answers, but the way he kept reminding me kept it in mind for when I needed the threads later.

There’s also the fact that both our names are on the cover. My normal method is to write until I can’t write about it no more. Then I edit. With Snell, it was write, email, email, email, edit edit edit. Then we trade and do it again until the whole manuscript was homogenized. Not Brannan, not Snell, but Brannan & Snell.

Now I make outlines. Very loose, very general outlines, but... there they are. I blame Snell.

How did Pavlov’s Dogs come about, anyway?  Was it an idea one of you brought to the other or something you came up with together?

I was recruited. D.L. had developed the basic idea with Jacob [Kier of Permuted Press] and John Sunseri for a free online serial novel. I don’t know what happened after that, but it went away. And then at a convention, D.L. and Jacob got to talking about it, and I had just finished Z.A. Recht’s Survivors.

Synchronicity struck: D.L. needed somebody who could write quickly, and with a military background so the titular Dogs would be believable. That was me. I was asked, and the idea sounded so goddamn juicy that I couldn’t say no.

The rest of it was D.L. and I going back and forth, swapping ideas, and as the chapters began to pile up, he would read them and make alterations to the back half of the outline to better suit how I’d mangled the first bits.

I meant to ask you about Survivors.  What was it like, picking up Z.A.’s threads and continuing that story?  Was there any pressure or second-guessing?

All of that. The first few days of "writing" were more like me sitting there, my hands hovering over the keyboard, asking myself if I was really going to do this. Then I would go over the notes again, looking for a place to really start. And then I would hover.

There were two things working against me. The first is, I had already tried to write a novel, and I had failed. It was too short, the ending wasn't an ending, and the main plot lines weren't actually tied up where I was finished. It was, in short, a disaster.

The second thing was, I'm a huge fan of the Morningstar Strain. It was my first foray into the more mainstream zombie novel, and it was brilliant. I loved the cinematic quality of it, and globe-spanning size of the story, and the large cast. The books had their warts, but still. They were great. It came as no surprise to find they were among Permuted best-selling novels for years running until the reissue.

So. With all that success peering over my shoulder at all the failure it was sharing hard drive space with, I set out to finish up the trilogy and put a cap on Z.A. Recht's legacy.

No pressure.

I had a lot of material to work from, as well as the vocal support of the fans at the MSS forums. But it was nerve-wracking. Especially after Jacob announced it on his FB page. There were a lot of comments about how it should have been left alone, how the only author that could do it justice was... well, not me.

(Looking at my résumé, I doubt anyone would have pegged me for the guy to get tapped to finish Survivors. It was all short stories in the crime and sci-fi genres, with one werewolf story.)

Once I got started, and the words just came, I stopped second-guessing myself and wrote. By the reviews, there are people who were unhappy with the outcome, but I'm satisfied with it, and so are a lot of other people. I was especially happy with the review from The Guilded Earlobe. He got what I was doing.

Let’s talk about Lords of Night, which came out in October, yes?  What’s it about?

Lords of Night is, at heart, a story about growing up and accepting yourself. It so happens that it's a story about growing up and accepting yourself during the End of Days, where the world has been turned into a dark and desolate place by an ancient evil from the dawn of man's history, and every corpse ever is up and walking around and interested in what you taste like.

The main guy, Jack, is the one doing the growing up, and he's got a quest before him because he's different. He's got something that lets him fight back, and to really use it, he's got to retrieve an artifact that's as old as the Enemy. He's not alone, either. He's backed by what might be the last team of Special Forces operatives on the planet.

Was there a particular idea or event that triggered this story in your mind?

Honestly, I can’t remember. The offer came to write something, and it was a whirlwind after that. I came up with three or four ideas, and my friends helped by mercilessly shooting down all but one of them.

After that, it was so much homage, so little time. Har!

I’m only kind of joking. As the storylines formed in my head, I was well aware of all the outside influences at play, and rather than shy away from that, I embraced the best and made them a part of the novel. I find that's always a concern: Source Amnesia. I guess that's one of the many reasons why it's important to have readers.

You became a dad two years ago, yes?  Has it altered your views on horror to any degree?  Are there all-new awful things mulling in your mind?

There are always awful things in my mind, Pete. It’s why I’m so much fun at parties.

I don’t know how much having my little bundle of terror has changed the way I see horror so much, but I do find myself reacting differently to things, especially stories where children are hurt by their parents or have lost them. I can’t understand child abuse. It’s a despicable thing, and in a world full of real horrors, that stands out.

Everybody asks what are you working on next.  Let me ask you this, instead—where do you want to be ten years from now?  Do you see yourself possibly trying other genres?  Styles?  Is there anything big you feel you might need more clout to tackle?
As for clout, I have another novel that may or may not see the light of day before then, and I would really like to see that adapted into a series of comic books. (Graphic novels, whatever.) The book is my love song to the greats, like Watchmen or Matt Wagner's Grendel, and to have it in the same medium would be something that would keep me warm for a very long time.

Hmm. A decade hence... I've started a series of novels that is my poor-man's answer to both The Dresden Files and the 007 series. (And I've since seen Simon R. Green's Secret Histories series, but I'm going to continue anyway.) In ten years, I hope to have written fifteen of them, and at least the first three adapted to a cartoon series, which will allow me time to work on my great literary dream:

I don't quite have the chops for this yet, but I really want to write a story about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in the years directly after the American Civil War. I haven't decided what it's going to be about, or even the tone of the thing, but I know that's what I want to do.

Some days I see them as troubleshooters, working for the U.S. government and investigating crimes and whatnot out in the Wild West, other times as turn-of-the-century Ghostbusters. I can tell you now, it'll be closer to the first one, but the other makes me smile. Either way, it would be something that I would feel comfortable letting my daughter read when she's twelve.

Please tune in next time when Thom gets to wear the funny hat and interviews David Dunwoody, author of Empire, Empire’s End, and The Harvest Cycle.