Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Children's author reveals all!

A Quicky with Susan Vaught

Susan is the author of several nifty children's books, including Trigger, Fat Tuesday, Stormwitch, L.O.S.T. and Shadowqueen. In her spare time, Susan is a neuropsychologist and recently began sending me emails insisting she was a superhero named Insulation Plaster Woman. (Don't ask, because I don't know, okay? Sometimes it's better just go along with these things.)

I recently disguised myself as a foreign book reviewer named William "Big Bill" Schoonover and tricked Susan into conducting the following interview:

Q. Your newest book from Bloomsbury just came out. It's called The Communist Manifesto. No wait, that's Karl Marx or somebody. It's called Fat Girl and the Goblet of Fire. No, not that either. Junie B. Jones and the Manifesto of Doom? The Stinky Cheese Girl? Heck, I can't remember. What is the danged title?


Though in our endless struggle to find a title (never mind the cover), we might have cycled through all those options. Trust me.

Q. What's the book about? Does it have any wizards or unicorns in it? I'm getting pretty tired of wizards and unicorns myself.

A. Big Fat Manifesto is about Jamie Carcaterra, a fat girl trying to survive and fighting for her right to be herself in a thin, thin world. No wizards or unicorns. Sorry for the oversight. I should have at least added a dragon? A fire-spitting lizard? I'm remiss...

Q. Why did you choose to write this story? Or did it choose you?

A. This story definitely chose me. The character of Jamie popped into my head while I was trying to write something else, and *would not shut up* until I wrote her story instead. She's pushy.

Q. According to Amazon, Big Fat Manifesto features "searing prose." What the heck is that?

A. I have absolutely no idea, but it sounds hot, doesn't it?

Q. Why did you choose to write for children?

A. This sort of chose me, too. My natural "voice" seems to emerge when I write a teen character. Perhaps my inner child doesn't want to get a real job and move out on its own

Q. Barbara Walters always asks people what kind of tree they would be if they were a tree. Would you like to answer that question? I hope not.

A. A Willow! No, wait, a dogwood. I would never want to be a Genko, though. Too stinky, if fertilized. The "fruit" smells a lot like rotten dog vomit.

Q. What is your favorite book? Are you sure?

A. All time favorite: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Yep, positive. Current favorite: Who the heck knows. I'm reading Duma Key, though. You know something about Duma Key and that crazy writer fellow who produced it, right? Fellah named Stephen King--?

Q. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what artists? I can't do it because it's too distracting but I heard that Stephen King guy likes to blast death metal or some such thing while he writes. Maybe that's why his books are so creepy.

A. I listen to music. I have 10 days of music stored on my computer. I couldn't begin to list all the songs. There are thousands of them. I can tell you that my family has applied for government intervention and relief because I will play the same song over and over during particular scene constructions. For days.

Q. What's next on your agenda? I don't mean something like "In an hour I'm going home to have dinner and scratch myself and watch season three of Charles In Charge." I mean, what's next on your writing agenda?

A. For young adult stuff, the book EXPOSED is next. Howzzat for a title? Charles In Charge-- jeez, I barely remember that show, but you have irrevocably and horribly reminded me of it now. Thank you so much.

Q. Dead mother books: cliche or not?


Though I am preparing to write the dead mother story to *end all dead mother stories*, forever and ever amen because no one will be able to outdo this one. I shall dedicate it to you.

Q. Who is your favorite author?

A. Currently? Philip Pullman--though figuring out where to put the "l"'s in his name makes my brain collapse.

Q. There are rumors that you live in a fortified compound in the Smokey Mountains, where you keep herds of peacocks, sheep, cats, and lemurs. Also, there are rumors that you also keep a lot of henchmen with metal teeth around, and you make them all dress in orange jumpsuits. The whole thing sounds really creepy. How do you respond to these rumors?

A. I know nothing about any lemurs. Or sheep. And you forgot turkeys, guineas, pigeons, chickens, and a parrot who knows how to fart, bark, and meow.

Q. Ask yourself a question. Any question.

A. Why do I let my son make me watch Dr. Phil? Answer: I hope my new parrot will learn to say ARE YOU KIDDING ME? in Dr. Phil's voice and drive the entire family insane.

As a reward for being this week's interviewee, Susan will receive a case of Simoniz car wax. Simoniz sprays on clear, dries clear and gives your car a sleek-looking shine in just minutes! That's Simoniz!

Frozen Dead Guy Days are here again!

Bredo Morstoel is still dead and still frozen. He died in 1989 and ended up being stored in a Tuff Shed in Nederland, Colorado. The people of Nederland celebrate this with the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days, which this year includes an Afterlife Auction, live music by Cutie and the Beast, a screening of the international award winning documentary, "Grandpa's Still in the Tuff Shed" by the Beeck Sisters of Boulder, an Ice Queen contest, a pancake breakfast, and the Tuff Shed Coffin Race, to name but a few of the activities jammed into one incredible weekend.

More info at:

Email of the Day:

Dear Dr. Missy,

There's somebody trying to get into my house and I think it's a vampire or a politician or somebody famous. Should I let them in? I don't think I should.

Bev C. (Possibly my real name)

Dear Bev,

What kind of letter is that? You're supposed to ask about children's writing! Oh well. We've gone this far...

So who are we not letting in? Oh wait, I know--it's Dracula, isn't it? Or George Gobel. He's famous. It could be George Gobel except I think he passed away a few years ago. What about Nixon? No, I think he's gone too, unless he turned out to be a zombie and came back to life or unlife or whatever they call it.

How about Mr. Whipple? He's famous but annoying. Please don't squeeze the Charmin, please don't squeeze the Charmin, blah blah blah. What the heck was wrong with that guy? I wouldn't take my children into any grocery store where some guy lurked around the toilet paper section spying on people. Creepy!

Speaking of creepy, I
was standing in front of Max's Dog Bakery in Sarasota when a real weird specimen walked past me. He yelled at himself all the way down the street! Really angry stuff, and he waved his arms over his head, and he tried to spit on some people, and once he took a swing at a parking meter.

Once I told my kids that Max's was a bakery that made stuff out of dogs but they started crying so I said it was really a bakery for dogs, although some of the iced cookies looked pretty good to me.

Anyway, having eliminated everyone else, it must be Dracula after all. That's a good policy, I think, not letting him in, because he'd stare into your eyes and say stuff like "You must give your will over to me," and "Bend your head a little more so I can get a good angle on biting your neck and sucking out your blood," and "I hate the way you've done the bedroom--nothing in here harmonizes."

Dr. Missy