Monday, July 1, 2013

Curiouser & Curiouser: Twentyish Questions with the Executive Editor — Part Four

Hello Beardies!

For me, June flew by in a blur of library programs, summer reading prizes, and, of course, books, and I can't believe it's July already.  In the midst of the insanity, though, I think last week's heat wave melted the last of Joshua's resistance to my questioning.  For whatever reason, he finally allowed me to finish the interview we started nearly a year ago.  So, four blog posts, one vial of truth serum, and innumerable late-night text messages and cups of coffee later, here's the last part.


Elizabeth: Where do you see yourself, and the The Bearded Scribe, in five years?

Joshua: I see The Bearded Scribe with its own domain and as my actual author website. The blog will still be a part of it, of course, but it will just be one section of it. Of course, that's pendulous upon my being published, but I am ever hopeful.


Elizabeth: Who or what inspires you? How do those inspirations come out in your writing?

Joshua: I pull my inspiration from so many places, it'd be torturous (to you) for me to list them all. Generally speaking, though, I love history, religion and spirituality, folklore, music, art, and classic literary pieces. I pull from them all. I also pull from nature and landscapes I love, settings that are iconic in their own right, and then I add my own twists.


Elizabeth: What is the best writing advice you have ever been given?

Joshua: Don't stop. Simple, yet full of so much weight and power.



Elizabeth: Who are your literary idols?

Joshua: Oh, my. There are so many...even some more recent faces in the industry. I guess I will start from the beginning. Although Bridge to Terabithia was the first book I read with “fantasy” elements, I'm going to have to say that it was my introduction to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia that really inspired me to start writing. Whereas Terabithia was a land in the imaginations of the two main characters, Narnia was a full-fledged world, separate from Earth. That stuck with me. And the fact that Narnia could be accessed through the wardrobe—a very commonplace item—sent my creative juices into a whirlwind.

Tolkien, of course, inspired my love of languages. His books introduced an entirely new literary aspect to me: world-building without the connection to the Earth as we know it. The languages that filled his books inspired me to create my own—even if they were not created for literary purposes at the time. Also, having grandparents that spoke more French than English, I was already captivated by the prospect of being able to communicate in ways other than my primary tongue.

As far as other idols, I'll just start listing (in no particular order)... Stephen King, JK Rowling, Herbie Brennan, Frank Herbert, Roald Dahl, Jean Craighead George, Jack London, Majorie Kinnan Rawlings, Wilson Rawls, Ray Bradbury, Madeleine L'Engle, and even William Shakespeare. And, more recently, Michael Scott, Joseph Nassise, Ari Berk, and several others.  And though I've not read her books (Yet...I promise I will, though, now that I have a Kindle!), our very own Cidney Swanson inspires me, too!  Her passion for writing, and your passion for her stories, motivates me to keep at it.


Elizabeth: What’s on your writing playlist?

Joshua: Ann Sweeten, Brian Crain, Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning, Karen Marie Garrett, Yo-Yo Ma, Lee Murdock, James Horner, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. I like instrumental pieces, mostly solo piano or piano and cello. The percussive tranquility of the piano helps me focus and pace myself while writing. The cello's similarity to the human voice really speaks to me, too—literally.  Feel free to click on their names—they'll take you to iTunes so you can  hear for yourself!


Elizabeth: Besides Bridge to Terabithia and The Chronicles of Narnia, are there other books that have influenced your writing?

Joshua: This is rather a reiteration of question 15, but I'll list my all time favorites. The Harry Potter series, The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dune, Faerie Wars Chronicles, anything by Roald Dahl, Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet, and so many others.


Elizabeth: Do you have any literary pet peeves?

Joshua: Most definitely. A lot of them, actually. The biggest, perhaps, is dangling prepositions. And unfortunately, with the influx of self-published authors and/or bad editing, they're becoming more prevalent and, it seems, accepted. I don't mind them in everyday conversation (though they still jar me a bit), or in written dialogue, as it's the literary representation of everyday conversation; I absolutely can't stand coming across them, however, in narrative, expository, or passages of description. Writers are becoming lazy, and it's downright frustrating that, because of the prevalence of grammatical errors such as dangling prepositions becoming more accepted, they're only getting lazier.

Mary recently did a post on commas—it's also one of my pet peeves. Though, at times, I am guilty of having a slight love affair with them, I do know the rules. While growing up, most of us were taught that the Oxford comma is a necessity for lists; I absolutely can't stand that it's becoming more of a fad than a specific rule. Again, writers becoming lazy, in my opinion.

There are several more, but I'll save my Grammar Nazi soapbox for another post.


Elizabeth: If you have a personal brand of writer kryptonite, what is it?

Joshua: Getting stuck on a detail that seems minute to most, but its a crucial fact which the rest of the story will eventually need. I sometimes refer to this as “over-building,” though, truly, it is not. I've gotten much better lately. I have a notebook in which I jot down artifacts, words, characters, details, et cetera; I make a note in the manuscript, and I go back to the notebook later to finish the task.


Elizabeth: What is your all-time favorite book? Your all-time favorite speculative fiction book?

Joshua: All-time favorite book. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. That shouldn't be a surprise to most of my college friends, as I changed my last name to Kahlil in 2009 because this book had such an impact on my life and my spiritual well-being. I've, of course, since changed my name back to my birth name, but my admiration and respect of this book has never changed.










I often say that Bridge to Terabithia is my all-time favorite Speculative Fiction book simply because it was the first one I read that introduced me to the genre, but I don't know if I can truly say it's my favorite. I love books. Period. All of them have made me the person I am today, and choosing one among all of them is like choosing a body part I'd like to have removed from my body. It's never going to happen. As I prefer my body intact, so do I prefer my library to never be full—of both great and not-so-great books. Without the not-so-great books, one could never truly compare greatness. You need the light with the dark.


Elizabeth: If you could pick any author, alive or deceased, to do a praise blurb for the cover of your first novel, who would that be and why?

Joshua: I'll tell you both. As far as dead authors, most definitely JRR Tolkien. Linguistically, he is a mentor, and to have him herald my book as praise-worthy would be the only validation I'd need. Of course, that's not going to happen, so I truly hope the praise is superfluous amongst my readers instead.

As far as living authors... Ari Berk. I truly respect his writing and opinion, and it was he who encouraged me to continue writing despite my “lacking” story at the time. Of course, I have no literary merit yet to consider him a colleague, but he is a friend, and a talented writer and educator.


Elizabeth: You are trapped inside a book. You may enlist the help of one character to get out. What book is it, and which character gets you out safely?



Joshua: If I were trapped in any book at all, I'd enlist Hermione Granger. Always. She is, perhaps, one of my all-time favorite characters. I resonate with Hermione on so many levels. She was the character that made being a nerdy bookwork cool, and, for that, she has reserved a special place in my heart.


And so, Beardies, we come to the end of our Twentyish Questions with the Executive Editor.  I'd like to thank Joshua for his time and invite all of you to see how this interview expands and evolves into a regular feature on the blog!

Until next time, fair winds and Happy Scribing to all!

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