A bunch of questions I answered

I answered these questions for an event in Texas and they seemed worthy of a post here. Enjoy!

 What is your favorite hobby ?

I usually answer fly fishing, because I’ve been doing that for like 25 years. I sometimes fish with David Shannon and Jon Scieszka, two writing buddies of mine, and I always catch more fish. Always. My new hobby is golf, because it’s very difficult and I like a good challenge. I stink at golf. My new-new hobby is Pickleball. Pickleball is something between ping pong and tennis and you play it with a wiffle ball and a wooden paddle. Pickleball is more fun than candy.

Do you have a special talent as a jump roper, hula hooper, skateboarder, etc.)?

I juggle. This is so wrong, but I once juggled three neighborhood kittens. They were fine, but I shouldn’t have done that. All three survived, but the one I dropped didn’t like being picked up for about three days after that. This is a true story.

What is your favorite snack ?

Ice cream. Obviously! So many flavors, so little time.

Are you a Dr. Pepper, Starbucks, etc. addict?

I do like a cup of coffee every morning. And a pop tart if I can find one.

What was your 1st paying job?

Mowing lawns and picking up Christmas trees after they were done serving their purpose. Lawns in my neighborhood paid about five bucks. Taking a tree away was about the same.

Did you ever fail any classes in school? If so, which ones?

I went to a Catholic school. To my knowledge no one ever failed a class at that school. The guilt would have been too overwhelming. It was the kind of guilt that could knock you off your feet so you’d lie there for about a month and just die of guilt and starvation. No one wanted to go there. It was scary.

How many rejection letters did your first book receive?

Enough that I stopped counting. Like 30 or so.

What was your favorite book and movie as a teenager?

Favorite book was Frankenstein or The Once and Future King or The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh. Favorite movie was Sixteen Candles and for sentimental reasons The Warriors, the first R rated movie I snuck into. It was in theaters in 1979, so I would have been 13. Oh, and my brother and I tricked my mom into taking us to the drive in for Saturday Night Fever when my dad was out of town. 1977, so I was 11. There were quite a few f bombs and sex scenes in that movie so my mom was like…I thought this was about dancing? But she stayed, so that was weird.

What is the scariest book you’ve ever read?

It’s a tie between Salem’s Lot and Ghost Story.

Who was the 1st person you called when you realized your 1st book was going to be published?

My beautiful, brilliant, amazing wife – her name is Karen. She’s my best friend.

What is on your bedside table, or what do you see when you look out the window of your favorite room in your home?

On my bedside table: a half eaten Ricola throat lozenge is stuck next to the lamp, but later on tonight if I wake up and my throat is dry, I will pry it free and put it in my mouth. I will not remember this event in the morning. There’s also a stack of books that includes The Art of Pickleball and The Interestings. The Wednesday New York Times crossword is sitting on top of the books, approximately 20% finished (I feel confident 20% of that 20% is wrong). A pencil. A glass of water. And now that I look more carefully, there are two half eaten throat lozenges. Wait, hang on – now there’s one. Yum.

What was your 1st car?

Chevy Monza with a stick shift! Also the doors would only close if you really worked at it, so I almost never opened them. I entered through the window Batman style.

What are the top three songs played on your I-pod/mp3 player?

Feelin’ Alright – Joe Cocker

Awake My Soul – Mumford and Sons

Fare Thee Well – Oscar Isaac

Complete this sentence:

I knew I loved/hated high school when….

I knew I hated high school when I realized dancing was harder than it looked, especially when the play list ran heavy towards songs like Back in Black and I Can’t Drive 55. Note: our school dance DJ’s were, generally speaking, total nimrods.

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