Well, folks, next week I'll be hosting a giveaway for one of Randy Attwood's great books, so I thought I'd re-post a Q&A I had with him on my old LiveJournal from 8/30/2011. I'll also be re-posting reviews of his books over this week; I've read almost all of them. Without further ado, here is the Q&A:
RA (taken from Smashwords profile):
I grew up on the grounds of Larned State Hospital, where my father was its dentist. That was interesting. I went to The University of Kansas during the tumultuous 1960s. That was interesting, too. For the first half of my adult career I worked in newspaper journalism. You couldn't call that boring. I won my share of honors, twice winning the award for investigative reporting from the William Allen White School of Journalism at KU. For the second half of my career I was Director of University Relations at The University of Kansas Medical Center. There were some boring times, but the exciting episodes made up for it. I retired at the end of 2010 from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, where I was its media relations officer. You see, my degree from KU was not in journalism, but in art history. Unfortunately, my father died when I was 21 so I couldn't make him eat his words about that art history degree not being worth anything. I've had stints living in Italy and in Japan.
During all this time I've been putting words on paper, creating fiction. My works don't fit into neat genres, unless that rather new genre "quirky" applies.
And each work is quirky in its own way. What that means for me is that in each work is evidence of a deep search within myself. Sometimes it's scary what you find in there.
I'm semi-retired now in Kansas City, keeping busy with a lot of things, among them promoting my fiction and creating new works. That search within yourself never ends.
KS: So, you say you grew up on the grounds of a mental hospital – what was that like? How did it affect your outlook on life?
RA) When I lived on its grounds, Larned State Hospital had more than 1,000 patients. Many of them were then called senile because the diagnosis of Alzheimer's didn't exist. Many patients were heavily medicated and were herded from place to place in slow walking, head down groups. One of my first jobs was working in the dish-washing room of the cafeteria (featured in Crazy About You) where I met patients who were higher functioning. In the 1960s lobotomies were still being performed. Oddly, it became normal to go home and sleep in a house that was so close to so many tortured and disturbed souls.
KS: If you were diagnosed with any form of insanity, what would it be?
RA) Despair over the absolute awfulness of so-called humanity. Not even a lobotomy could cure that.
KS: I don’t know if there is even a term for what ails me yet … :-) Anyway …
KS: When did you start writing? What made you decide on the ideas for your books?
RA) I felt a need to create fiction in college. The act of putting words on paper seemed to awaken something inside myself that was worth exploring, and that I explore to this day. I have many sides of myself I show to my family, my friends, my co-workers. I only feel completely integrated when I am working on a fiction project.
KS: What is your muse like? Is she sweet and willowy, or is she a tough Amazon that chains you to your desk and forces you to write until your fingers bleed? And then continue writing USING the blood?
RA) All I know is that when she inhabits me I am the happiest creature on this world.
KS: Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?
RA) If you can stop yourself writing, do so. If not, it's a life long journey.
KS: You note in your Smashwords profile that you worked in Journalism – how do your writing styles differ, if at all? How do you integrate your journalistic need for succinctness with the longer-winded prose needed for a fiction piece?
RA) Working in journalism helped me find my writing voice because I wrote a column as well as news stories, feature stories and editorials. Through the column I learned that the words one writes can affect others, sometimes in profound ways. I wrote a column that was at times funny, serious – the whole range of emotions. One of my columns was once picked up by Ann Landers for her Sunday column and republished in almost 400 newspapers worldwide. I didn't get an extra dime for that, but it was wonderful to have so many people cut the column and send it to me with their comments. The title of the column was: "Dear Teachers, all we expect is perfection."
KS: Could you give a quick outline of the books you have available w/ links to them on Amazon, Smashwords and/or BN.com, please?
RA) My books do not fit into easy genres. Almost each one is unique to itself. I have never known the end of any work when I have commenced it. Discovering the end is the reason to write the story. Some stories have taken me, literally, decades to discover their endings.
KS: Ah, going to make me do all the heavy lifting, are you? OK, since Randy is being all coy, here’s a quick guide to what he has available:
Crazy About You
Three Very Quirky Tales on Amazon or Smashwords
Rabbletown: Life in These United Holy States of Christian America
The Strange Case of James Kirkwood Pilley
Then and Now: the Tao of the Instantaneous All on Amazon or Smashwords
The 41st Sermon
One More Victim
A Match Made in Heaven
Blow Up the Roses
The Saltness of Time on Amazon or Smashwords
Blue Kansas Sky on Amazon or Smashwords
KS: What inspired you to write Rabbletown?
RA) Fear. Fear that if fascism comes to America it will be through the pulpit. The religious right is very frightening to me. Rabbletown is not only a precautionary future history, but a reminder of how the religious right could find its way out of its arrogant intolerance by rediscovering Jesus.
KS: Well, I’m not a Christian, but I do agree that people who call themselves such really should try to emulate Christ, not kowtow to dogmatic nonsense that comes from some random human. I think Jesus would be pretty appalled at what people have been doing in his name over the past 2000 years! On to less serious topics …
KS: If you had a spouse with no sense of humour, how would you punish him/her?
RA) My wife is a far more wonderful woman than I deserve. I think this means that I must have done something very good in a past life to have her. Unfortunately, that means that she must have done something unspeakably bad to now have me.
KS: Well, I was talking more about what to do with my husband, who couldn’t be bothered to come up with something weird/funny/interesting to ask you … but it sounds like you’re a lucky man! How did you meet your wife? Was it "love at first sight" or did you gradually realize she was the one for you?
RA) I went to Italy in 1968 on the liner the Raffaello. I was 21 and had never seen the ocean. I thought I wanted to continue studying art history and, to avoid the draft because I was about to graduate early, I took a semester off to study Italian at a language institute in Perugia for foreign students that was actually begun by Mussolini. This beautiful Japanese woman with long black hair walked into the classroom and I was smitten. We were apart for several years, but I went back to Italy and we got married in England and then lived for a year in Florence. How fortunate I was!
KS: Thanks, Randy, for helping me get this put together on a whim like this! :-)
You can find more about Randy at the following places:
Author Randy Attwood GoodReads page
Randy's Amazon page