If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I’d hit the future first, check out my son and daughter in twenty years, when they’re just getting started with their adult lives. I would tell them every stupid thing I’d ever done so they wouldn’t do it. Then I’d regress and say hi to Abe Lincoln, and also buy Apple stock when it was, like, $5.00 per share.
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Frank Sinatra, the aforementioned Abe Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Joe DiMaggio, and the guy who cuts my hair. He’s just a cool guy. His name is Lorenzo.
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
Wife, son and daughter—but they each get three things, too, so they would choose tons of water and ice cream and cell phone service and butlers and Thai food and jet skis. It would be great.
What is one book everyone should read?
After finishing the COLD FURY trilogy you mean? Catcher in the Rye, no doubt.
If you were a superhero what would your name be?
Um—Maintenance Man? How about Electrolux, since I’m constantly vacuuming the house? Mister Clean?
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Invisibility. I’m nosy.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Bacon and chive
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Same thing, every day, like a robot: peanut butter with honey. That’s it. Power food.
One food you would never eat?
Pacha. It’s Egyptian—boiled sheep’s head, complete with eyes and a look that says “Why me?”
Too many pets. One cat will do, thanks.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Because it’s an action-packed thrill ride led by an uber-feminist heroine who kicks ass from page one until the very end. Okay?
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
Since I was a child, I’ve loved the idea of one-upmanship in storytelling—who can come up the fastest, funniest tale. It’s like competition and creation combined into one thing.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Easy: spending time with young readers, who are unfailingly intelligent and funny and powerful. It’s easy to see why they’ll rule the world one day.
If you could jump in to a book and live in that world, which would it be?
Not the HUNGER GAMES. Ouch.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
I was very into comic books, so X-Men, Spiderman, some good Disney, and my favorite, Plastic Man. He’s like me—flexible. Bendy, you might say.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Read a lot of everything, not just the stuff you ‘like,’ because you don’t know what types of different fiction or non-fiction you like until you try it. Also, pick an author you love and copy hers or his style. That’s how you learn to write.
If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
The serious answer to this question is right now, in the present, in Chicago, because it would kill me to miss even a minute with my kids.
If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why?
I’m Greek, so I’ve actually given thought to this, and my answer is a little known God—Spiro, the Greek God of Flaming Cheese.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Besides Chicago, the greatest big city in the world, it would be a city in Italy called Orvieto. It’s tiny and gorgeous, on a mountaintop an hour from Rome.
What is your favorite Quote?
“The COLD FURY trilogy changed my life.” My wife said that. She rocks.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
The way I lived, I was just happy to “grow up.”
How did you know you should become an author?
When I was in kindergarten and my teacher told me I was dumb and wouldn’t amount to anything (I know, nice, right?) so I wrote a book about erasers attacking and disposing of a teacher (they erased her,) and it won the first prize in a national writing contest for students. I never looked back.
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Elmore Leonard. J.D. Salinger, Lorrie Moore.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I exist in some of my characters in bits and pieces, and not at all in others. Not even in the least.
Vacuuming. Actually, figure painting—I’m a good artist.
Cauliflower. You read that correctly.
Anything with peanut butter.
What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
I was tweaked about GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith. It’s awesome—I can def see it as a great, great movie.
Francois. Seriously, it’s Lefty. You can call me Ted.
How do you react to a bad review?
If it makes a good point, I pay attention. If it’s stupid and wrong and mean, I close my eyes and direct all of the negativity back to where it belongs, to the reviewer. Either that or douse it with gasoline and blow it up.
If you were a bird, which one would you be?
Charlie Parker, the jazz legend. Look that up.
If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be?
Kittens. Just kidding—puppies.
What do you do in your free time?
What free time? If I’m not writing, I’m dadding (just made that up,) and if I’m not dadding, I’m boxing or running or reading.
If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
The Fault in Our Hunger Game Stars.
Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
It’s dull, really. I wake at 3:15 a.m. for xylophone practice and then take my Shetland pony out for a trot (his name is Turnip.) Afterward, a round of fencing and a hot mud bath, helicopter the kids to school, write a bit, Skype with Obama, tend to my cactus garden, helicopter back for the kids, and then Jeeves serves us Indian food in the solarium. After family Zen hour, the children are off to bed. My wife and I toast one another with sparkling celery juice and thus, the curtain falls on another typical day.
What’s your favorite season/weather?
Summer, and as hot as the face of Mars.
I love baseball. I could watch any team play anytime, anywhere. Bring it on.
If you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it?
I’d work, uninterrupted. Unbroken period of work, alone, would be awesome.
In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Elmore Leonard, the big daddy of crime fiction died last year. Sad.
Favorite quote from a movie?
“I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.” SUNSET BOULEVARD – amazing.
If you could take over the world, would you?
I have taken it over. Your reaction to the COLD FURY trilogy is the basis for your worthiness in this new world order. I suggest it’s ‘like.’
Do you prefer to write in silence or with music?
Gotta be music, of all types, according to my writerly mood.
Favorite historical person?
Abe Lincoln is badass, and so is Dr. Martin Luther King, and I have a soft spot for Joan of Arc, although things didn’t work out to well for her.
What do you think of book trailers?
Fantastic, unless they suck, which they often do. Except for mine.
Pets? – childhood or adult
We currently have a 21-year-old cat. It’s like someone’s great-aunt who never went home.
Something your readers would never guess about you?
I’m an incredible Flamenco dancer. Wait, sorry, I mean liar.
Favorite place you’ve been and/or would like to go.
I really love Italy and Greece; they’re beautiful and historical, and broke.
Where do you write?
I have a small office in the clouds; it’s an old apartment in a Chicago high rise.
Do you have any weird or interesting rituals you do to get into writing mode or while you’re writing.
Besides slaughtering a goat, no.
If you were on Death Row what would your last meal be?
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, pistachios, iced coffee, and Pacha.
Happiest moment in your life so far?
Answering question about death row. It was awesome.
What words or expression do you overuse?
If you were President for a day, what is the first thing you would do?
Outlaw the word ‘awesome except to be used by the Chief Executive.
Favorite/most influential teacher
My ninth grade English teacher, Mr. Awesome.
What drew you to writing this genre?
I love the idea of seeing what a young person with high moral standards would do/become, when forced to commit criminal acts.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Which scene or characters were the most difficult for you to write and why?
My favorite scene in the entire trilogy? Impossible to name because it’s three entire books of spine-tingling genius. But I have to say, something tragic happens a third of the way through EMBERS & ASH that made me cry a little when I wrote it.
If you weren’t a human, what would you be?
A chimpanzee trying really hard to evolve.
Do you like the spotlight or lurking in the shadows?
Lurking in the spotlight.
How do you go about revising/editing?
It fantastic. Seriously, it’s starts out as a burden and a drag, but if you have a good editor, you begin to actually see your work becoming great.
What’s your favorite word?
Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
I have three key scenes planned out, the moments that absolutely have to occur, and then I write around them.
What hidden gem do you have in your bookshelves?
One of the creepiest novels about personality shape-shifting ever written – The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
Almost choking to death on a cracker while watching a movie about someone choking to death on a cracker.
What is your view on self-publishing?
I think there’s a place for it; I don’t think the big publishers are always right in their judgment of what’s good or bad, and that everyone should start somewhere.
How do you juggle writing & family life?
I have really strong arms.
Describe your book in 5 words.
Heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
How do you feel about banned books? Do you have a favorite?
I love books about musical groups. Oh, wait—you said banned.
Titles: do you write the books first and the title comes next or does the title come to you as you write?
I stink at titles. My agent usually comes up with titles for me.
Is there something specific you need as you write? Cup of coffee, pen, candy, certain room, etc.
It used to be coffee and a cigarette but now it’s coffee and gum, which is somehow more disgusting than coffee and a cigarette. But, it won’t kill me.
About how long does it take to write a book?
About a year from beginning to end: four to six months for a first draft, two or so months for a second, and about six in total to edit.
This or That:
- TV or Movies? – Movies
- Hot or Cold? – Hot
- Black or White? – Black
- Night owl or early bird? – Night bird
- Print or E-book? – Print
- Chocolate or Vanilla? Choco-nilla
- Regular or Diet? – Neither. Soda is gross.
- Coke or Pepsi? – See above
- Horror or Romance? – Horror with a little romance
- Action or Drama? – Why separate them? Ever read Shakespeare?
- Pizza or Pasta? – Pasta
- Skittles or M&Ms? – M&M’s rule the world
- Sweet or Salty? – Salty
- City or Country? – City, City, City
- Harry Potter or Twilight? – Um. Uh. Okay, the wizard, I guess.
- Gum or Breath Mints? – Gum
- Spontaneity or Planning Ahead? – Planning ahead
- PC or Mac? – Mac
- Beach or Pool? – Beach, always
- Shoes or Sandals? – Sandals, as often as possible
- Cats or Dogs? – Monkeys
- Apples or Oranges? – Monkeys again
- Cause or Effect? – Impossible.
- Heads or Tails? – Equally impossible
- Facebook or Twitter? – TwitBook
- Truth or Dare? – Dare
- Text or Talk? – Talk
- Introvert or Extrovert? – Both, to a certain degree
10 Favorite Movies
Godfather I & II (I try to pretend III never happened.)
The Shawshank Redemption
Strangers on a Train
Some Like it Hot
Titanic (I know, I know—I don’t care.)
Broadway Danny Rose
Raging Bull (I LOVE boxing movies.)
The Incredibles (best superhero movie ever.)
5 Places you would consider paradise
Orvieto, Umbria, Italy
Wrigley Field, Chicago
Dark movie theater right before a great film starts
Anywhere with my son, daughter, and wife
Beverly Hills Hotel, room 429
10 Words you try not to use.
Sara Jane Rispoli answers This or That:
Gun or fist? – Fist. My killer left hook to be specific. Guns make me nervous.
Cat or Dog? – Anyone who knows me knows that I used to dislike dogs, but now I’m in love with an Italian greyhound named Harry.
TV or Movies? – Movies. My best friend, Doug is walking movie encyclopedia
Walk or Drive? – I’d get killed if I walked anywhere. Gotta drive my ’66 Lincoln Continental.
Roller Coaster or Ferris Wheel? – You’re kidding, right? I’ll never go near another Ferris Wheel again.
What Makes a Perfect Book Blog
The answer to this supposition is simple.
Thank you for your attention.
Not about brevity, though.
It’s the truth.
There’s more to it than that, of course.
In total, a book blog should be–
1) a brief, succinct thought piece
2) by a person who reads a wide selection of fiction and non-fiction
3) so she has a legitimate basis for offering an opinion.
I originally wrote those three points as one sentence.
It was just too long.
I didn’t want to lose your attention.
I didn’t want to muddle the point.
Let me make the point again for emphasis.
Blogs should be short, informed, and opinionated.
Thank you for your attention.