Category Archives: Fridays with BQB

#Fridays with BQB – Interview #3 – Historic Fiction with T.A. Henry

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Author Website

Amazon Author Page

T.A. Henry. The Hankster. Hank-o-rama. I first virtually met T.A. in 2016, when I was writing the first draft of my upcoming (and when I say upcoming, I mean, “sometime between now and when I croak”) novel, “How the West Was Zombed.” Cowboys + zombies = Zombie Western.

T.A. had a lot to say in the comment section of my fine blog, and was a stickler for historic accuracy. I mean, yeah, she gave me an allowance for zombies, but she urged me to try to be as historically accurate as possible, to pay attention to whether people from the 1800s would say a certain thing, act a certain way, wear a particular piece of clothing, use a type of invention. In short, she made it clear that what I thought was going be a pretty easy novel to write would require a whole lot of research.

She kept commenting and I kept writing and I’ll be honest, she didn’t give me the glowing, flowery praise we all secretly want, but rather, the swift kick to the back of the pants criticism that I needed. Everyone needs a persnickety commenter like T.A. If you can make her happy, then you’ll probably do OK with the reviewers on Amazon, who live on a steady diet of writer tears.

History is T.A.’s bag. On her Amazon page, you can find two novels, “Scripting the Truth” and “Ostrich Mentality,” both of which take place in the Twentieth Century, which doesn’t seem to me like a long time ago but apparently it is. It really is.

BOLD = BQB; ITALICS= T.A.

QUESTION 1 – T.A., welcome. I could be wrong, but you seem like a serious person, so I thank you for lowering yourself enough to be interviewed on a blog run by a man who swears he talks to aliens. I’m telling you, hang on a year or two and you’ll be interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, who only acts like he is a space alien.

History. You might have told me but I don’t remember because I’m not a good historian, but I’m wondering how you got into writing historic fiction. Give the history of your historic obsession to my 3.5 readers, or to my 2.5 readers, since you are a reader.

ANSWER: One day the window got left window open and I crawled out on to the ledge. Uncle Bob tried to chase me back in but I was scared, who wouldn’t be? Uncle Bob is creepy, and so I jumped up on the roof. Bob kept coming though. He got out this weird metal contraption and bam it slammed into the edge of the roof. So I ran to the other side. But the shingles were loose and as I tried to jump to the nearby oak I slipped. And fell. 3 stories. Into the road. Amazon was making a Prime delivery and wouldn’t you know it, I got hit by a load of….wait what was the question?

Oh, how I came to be a historical writer, yeah. I fell into it. What else do you do with a degree in history and no chance to teach because your hubs got transferred and you have no connections in the local community college scene.? LOL.

QUESTION 2 – When it comes to historic fiction, I think the average writer understands the basics. In other words, if your story takes place in 1776, you don’t want a scene where George Washington watches the latest news on the American Revolution on a big screen TV.

For me, it seems like the old cliché is true. The devil is in the details – the littlest details. What would a person from a certain time period say or do? How would they act? What would they wear?

Hollywood types can call up a renowned history professor and pepper him/her with questions for days. Alas, unknown self-publishers like myself don’t have that kind of pull. For us peons, what resources are available? What advice do you have if we have a question about whether or not a little snippet of our fiction jives with the historical record?

ANSWER: Research. But it doesn’t have to be all difficult. You’d be amazed what you can find online. Google really is your friend.

I have the advantage of a huge base knowledge of the time period I write in, which means I am only looking up tiny little specifics. But you could can do that with anything. What did the average sheriff in a small western town get paid circa 1870? You will get answers.

QUESTION 3 – Seriously, I don’t mean to state the obvious, but setting your story in the past is difficult. As I wrote my Zombie Western, I found myself with all sorts of questions. For example, a character eats a candy and I start to wonder if that candy would have been present in the Old West.  Is all that tedium worth it?

ANSWER: Probably not. It seems to me like most people don’t care about the reality of situations. They want a good story, big explosions, better special effects. Of course if you’re trying to write for an intelligent audience, they will catch you. And they will huck the book across the room and give you the dreaded one star review.

QUESTION 4 – Your new book, “Ostrich Mentality” takes place in 1990 and involves a small pox plot. Take it from there. Tell the other 2.5 readers you read my blog with what this tale is all about. The title seems cool but I’m wondering what’s the significance? I know I always prefer to stick my head in the sand and hope all problems disappear rather than face them. That usually works, right?

ANSWER: Ostrich Mentality started out as a little question that I couldn’t shake while I was reading an interview with a Russian scientist who defected in the 90s. He claimed that not only did Russia have weaponized small pox but it was missile dispersible and….they lost 20 tons of it during the break up of the USSR. FUCK!

This book is my take on what might have happened after that. How three spies and a know it all analyst save the world. LOL.

“With your head in the sand and your ass in the air, you’re ripe to get screwed.”

QUESTION 5 – By the way, why are you trying to make me want to jump of a bridge by setting a book in 1990, like that’s some long ago, ancient time? God, I was just a little kid then. Oh well, I suppose time flies. What do you think historians of the future will say about the time period we live in right now?

ANSWER: Are you trying to make me feel ancient? Little kid in the 90s. Pffftt. I was in flipping high school. Ass. I don’t talk current events. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

QUESTION 6 – Your first novel, “Scripting the Truth” takes place after World War II, where a writer tries to scheme her way into a movie studio to reconnect with the soldier she once loved who has since become an actor. Tell the other 2.5 readers more about this. What inspired you to pen such a romantic story?

ANSWER:  Laughing…um…”Scripting” actually started as a dream – a rather naughty dream about a girl finding work in the porn industry. Laughing…but I wasn’t going to write that.

The rest just evolved. It’s not really a romance. It’s more about a woman challenging the ideas her family has saddled her with. Challenging what the world would have her be. Figuring out who she is and how to make that work. Yes, there’s a guy, because there’s always a guy, but he’s not really the important part.

QUESTION 7 – “Scripting the Truth” is an interesting title. Is it possible for people to script their own truth? Perhaps “truth,” or an understanding of who people are and how they got there can be malleable? Maybe the wise person tells his/her life’s story in the best possible light?

ANSWER: I think we script our own truths every day. We all tell ourselves little stories to get through the day. We tell ourselves and each other little lies to grease the wheels of society.  In “Scripting,” Molly tell herself a lot of lies. She discovers everyone is lying about something. And then she makes the best of that.

QUESTION 8 – My addiction to buying covers for books I have yet to publish remains unabated. Honestly, it has come to the point where I might start engaging in unsavory activities in back alleys just to score some dough so I can run out and buy another unnecessary book cover. I’m sure you’ll find me on the street one day, clinking my tin cup, shouting out, “Brother, can you spare a cover?”

I don’t know why I do it. I jump from one story idea to the next, like a bumble bee with ADD, moving all willy nilly from one flower to the next, never focusing on just one flower until he’s sucked all the nectar out of it.

Oh right. I should work a question in here somewhere. I remember you talking about working on a spy novel at least a year ago, maybe even two. Now, all this time later, your spy novel is real and people can buy it on Amazon. You stuck to one idea and saw it through and you’re reaping the reward. What advice do you have for people like me who jump from one idea to another without staying put and seeing one idea through to the end?

ANSWER: Bwahahahaha. No really.  Bwahahahahahha.  I started writing “Ostrich” 5 years ago. FIVE. In between I wrote and published “Scripting.” I wrote a murder mystery. Abandoned said mystery. Wrote for and was published in an anthology. I dropped “Ostrich Mentality” at least half a dozen times. It had a rough ride through beta. It was pulled apart, redesigned, thrown in the garbage masher on the detention level more times than I can count. Not to mention the struggle, see below….

I don’t know that I have generic advice. Ok maybe I do. I think people jump around so they never have to publish and face the heinous truth that it is brutal out there. You can pour your heart and soul into a book and it can be Pulitzer level material or “Saturday Night Live” level material and then you sell 12 copies, and it feels like someone stabbed you in the heart. You’ll gladly climb into a grave and stay there, licking your wounds. It takes so much more guts to climb out of that space and publish for the second time. I’m talking here to Mars and back again exponential guts. By jumping around you get the morally superior ground of being so prolific you can’t stay focused. Your flaw becomes a virtue. Script that truth my friend.,

QUESTION 9 – Will you ever write a novel that doesn’t take place in the past? If so, would you set it in the present or in the future? Fun fact: if you wait too long to write a novel that’s set in the present, it will become a novel that is set in the past.

ANSWER: I am in the middle of writing a cozy procedural trilogy which I will publish later this year. It is set in present time in the PNW, where I live.

Tell you more you say? Well, ok. The three books track a serial killer bumping off middle aged successful white men and cutting off their dicks. (Smiles. )

Laughing. Come on, it’s funny. “The Dismember Killer” is what the media calls him. LOL
Book one solves a copy cat. Book two takes place in the cold case squad where they solve a couple of unrelated murders and find a case that might have bearing on the serial killer. In book three they catch him.

It’s been interesting writing it because the detectives all text each other – all the time. Something that never happened in my previous books. It ups the immediacy and forces me to get more creative.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: I’m investing in lockable metal underpants.

QUESTION 10 – You wake up to find yourself stuck in a log cabin in the middle of a secluded forest. You have no idea how you got there other than a vague recollection that accepting a drink mixed by Bill Cosby was a bad idea.

You look out the window and hundreds of brain chomping zombies are closing in, ready to feast on your gray matter. Furiously, you search the cabin for any items that might help, but you only find three things: a squeaky, rubber duck, a sealed bag of Cool Ranch Doritos marked “Best used by March 1, 1997” and an oversized, novelty foam finger.

How will you use these items to save your brains?

ANSWER: Are my brains really worth saving? I mean really? What have I done that’s so extraordinary that I should be saved by extreme measures? And if I was dumb enough to accept a drink from Bill (Cosby or Clinton) I deserve what I get.

Are these fast zombies or slow zombies? Are we talking “Night of the Living Dead”(original) or like “I-Zombie?”

Spread the Doritos on the floor so I hear when they are in the cabin. Use the foam finger to block the chimney behind me, so no soot falls down, as I frog climb up to exit out the top like some reverse Santa Clause. Make a run for it as soon as they are inside.
Find you and stick the rubber duck up your ass for proposing this little question. LOL.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: That’s the twelfth time this month my backside has been threatened with the introduction of a rubber duck.  It isn’t easy being mediocre Internet celebrity.

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Fridays with BQB – Interview #2 – Bloodsucking Fun with Rick Gualtieri

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Author Website

Amazon Author Page

Fortune. Hot groupies. Hair. Rick Gualtieri has none of these things, but what he does have is the highly beloved “Tome of Bill” series, which gives a shot of nerdy humor straight into the arm of the ever-so-played vampire genre.

I first heard of Rick when he was a guest on the Self-Publishing Podcast and he seemed like a nerd’s nerd, a geek’s geek, and a poindexter’s poindexter. I could be wrong, but he reminds me a little of myself, i.e. a nerd who is proud of his nerd-dom.

After all, the man maintains a priceless collection of vintage Transformers so he can’t be all that bad.

BQB = BOLD; RICK = ITALICS

QUESTION 1 – Rickster, let’s cut to the chase. Self-publishing. Writing advice. We’ll get to all that in due time but first, my 3.5 readers and I are dying to know…what’s the best piece in your vintage Transformers collection? Mine is a 1980s era Soundwave complete with one of those little cassette tapes that turns into a killer bird. Can you top that? Damnit, I know you probably can.

ANSWER:  Color me jealous. I never did manage to add Soundwave to my collection. So it’s probably a good idea if you don’t turn your back on me down any dark alleys. Accidents happen and all that … just saying. As far as my own collection goes, my prized possessions are all five of the original Dinobots. Thirty or so years later, they still kick all sorts of ass.

BQB NOTE TO SELF – Please remember to make an addition to my Last Will and Testament, naming Rick as inheritor of my vintage Soundwave, provided that he promises to rub the toy with fine scented lotions for three hours a day, including all Federal holidays, and allows an inspector to be named by me to make monthly observations of this ritual to ensure that it is done.

QUESTION 2 – Are geeks born or are they made? Suppose my 3.5 readers are geeks who are just trying to figure out how to make it in a world full of people who scoff at their glasses and nerdyness and obsessions with 1980s action figures. What advice do you have for them?

ANSWER: Be you. The most liberating thing in the world is not giving a single crap what people think about you or what you like. Worry about making yourself happy, not the rest of the world. The rest of the world is mostly stupid. Don’t listen to them!

QUESTION 3 – “Tome of Bill.” Let’s get to it. What’s it all about? What does a newb to this series need to know before diving right in?

ANSWER: Tome of Bill is basically an epic-sized mockery of more serious vampire stories. It’s the story of a gamer / geek who gets bitten – due to his own lack of foresight in realizing that some women are out of his league. And when he wakes up, he’s still him. Despite all the weird and wonderful powers of the undead, he’s still a dork and happy with that fact. Pity that the rest of the vampires aren’t nearly as pleased with him.

There’s tons of snark, action, blood, bad jokes, cursing, more snark, and eventually a plot that revolves around Maple syrup. I like to think it’s got it all.

QUESTION 4 – Do your readers appreciate the humor/vampire combo? I dabble in humorous horror myself, but sometimes I fear that horror fans just come for the blood spatter and don’t want to laugh, and comedy fans come for the yuks but don’t want their mellows harshed with blood and guts. How do you keep both camps happy?

ANSWER: I think it’s all in the expectations. When you go into, say, Army of Darkness, you kind of know you’re getting a mix of gore and jokes. That’s why it works. Conversely, if you turn on the Exorcist and suddenly Max von Sydow’s character starts cracking one-liners, it’s going to be a bit of a WTF moment. I think horror comedy works best when you give people a hint up front as to what they’re getting into that way you don’t tick off the hardcore splatter crowd.

QUESTION 5 – As an author of vampiric fiction, I’m going to say you’re qualified to opine on all vampiric matters, so let me ask you a question that has plagued me for years.

Whenever you watch a serious vampire movie, why the hell are all the victims so scared of becoming a vampire? Seriously. You stay young forever. You never die. Sure, you have to murder people and drink their blood to survive which could get tedious but you don’t have a conscience anymore so really, it all comes out in the wash. You live forever so you can study and learn a lot. Travel the world. Learn all the different languages. Glamour hot chicks into being your love slaves (which my lawyer advises me to say in this highly sensitive climate we live in that this would be wrong, totally wrong!) Plus, if you live forever, you can save forever so really, become a Wal-Mart stock-boy for 100 years and by the end of the century you’ll be loaded.

Am I missing something? Is there a downside to becoming a vampire? I’m thinking about just lying around a cemetery with some hot sauce on my neck in the hopes I’ll become a vamp victim.  Can you talk me out of it?

ANSWER: I personally think it’s more the fear of dying … and what happens if the process either doesn’t work or the vampire has no real intention of turning you. It’s like “Hey, congrats, sucker. Now you’re really dead.”

I mean, heck, otherwise it would be no different than going to the hospital for some minor surgery and waking up with superpowers (and maybe a sun allergy). There’s probably more that plays into it. Fear of never seeing a sunrise again maybe (not a big deal for those of us who avoid beach days), or possibly fear of losing our minds and slaughtering everyone we know. That last one is pretty much the only issue that kind of bugs Bill after he gets turned.

But heck yeah. Aside from that, sign me up for a couple hundred years of compounded interest.

QUESTION 6 – Vampires. Zombies. What’s the next horror monster craze? I’m betting chupacabras. Lots of angsty teen dramas about goth kids who give their teachers plenty of guff by day and sneak onto a farmer’s ranch by night to eat all of his goats.

ANSWER: Personally, I’m all about killer sasquatches myself. But those have limited terror appeal in a city setting. Whatever it is, I want to be at the crest of that wave. Maybe a story about C.H.U.D.s … our hero wakes up one night with an insane urge to live in the sewers and dine on human flesh. Hilarity ensues.

Hmm, let me go write that one down now, while it’s fresh in my head.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: And here I thought I was the only one talking about C.H.U.D.s.

QUESTION 7 – The self-publishing game. Is it worth it? I know for me, there are times when it feels like its just one giant hamster wheel and I’m a furry little rodent just waiting for a piece of cheese that will never come. Are there times when you just want to say “screw it” and go take a nap and/or eat cookies and/or watch TV? If you never feel like that, what keeps you going strong? If there are times when you feel like that, what helps you get past it?

ANSWER: I won’t lie. The self-publishing game is only going to get tougher because we’re in a maturing market. The boom days are ending. There’s a lot of people making short term bank right now via a variety of ways (ie. churning out books faster than a puppy mill), but I try to view it from the long term. My goal has been and continues to be writing (hopefully) good stories that people will want to read today, tomorrow, or years from now. Even then, it’s a tough business to be in.

There are always going to be times when I get discouraged, want to walk away, don’t want to do something et cetera. But realistically that’s not any different than any other job I’ve had. What keeps me going is that I really love doing this. It just feels right.

And even if somewhere down the road I have to hang up my hat and move on, I can do so with my head held high. I’ve done far more than I ever thought possible. Nobody can take that away from me.

QUESTION 8 – You’ll never believe this. One of my 3.5 readers just told me she wants to begin a journey towards a self-publishing career TOMORROW! Note that I said this person is a she because #2018 and I’m trying my best to stop being a knuckle driving caveman but it’s really hard sometime because I was alive during the 1980s. What advice do you have for this person? What is the very first thing this person should do?

ANSWER: Despite all the advice on building a platform, creating a marketing machine, or owning social media, she has to have a good product first. Make sure that book is the very best she can make it. Seek advice and honest opinions. Polish it up. And while she’s doing that, take some time and study the market. Explore the covers, blurbs, et cetera of those who are selling well. Then try to do what they do, but better.

QUESTION 9 – Bram Stroker comes back to life tomorrow. Is he surprised to see what the vampire genre he invented has become? Is he happy about it? Sad? Are vampires as cool as they used to be?

First I laugh, because you called him, “Bram Stroker.” That is definitely my new porn name. After that, I stake the bastard before he can suck my blood! Okay, fine. I’m not that tasty.

Seriously, I’d like to hope he’d be flattered in some ways, although, I wouldn’t blame him at being a little horrified either. We’re sort of coming down from a bit of a high in the vampire craze. He’d probably wish he’d come back when Buffy was still on the air. I know I would.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  That’s the last time I hire a chimpanzee to proofread my questions. 

QUESTION 10 – A maniacal supervillain has locked you in his secret lair. You are surrounded by hideous, bloodsucking vampires. Like seriously, not the hot “True Blood” kind but the ugly kind, the ones that have gone all pointy eared and feral.
There are three and only three items in the room. A lasso. An album autographed by 1990s hip hop group Bell Biv Devoe and a taco seasoning packet.
How will you use these items to save your neck?

ANSWER: This one is easy. I pull out the album and fling it at one vamp like it’s a ninja star … then watch in horror as I completely miss and it shatters against the wall. But at least I’ve spared myself from listening to it.

So then … I hook one of the vampires with the lasso, drag him in, and then pour the taco seasoning in his ear in the hope of totally frying his brain. In the chaos, I whisper to him that he’s actually a horse and together we ride off into the sunset, or at least as far as I can get in the sunset before he dissolves into goo.

It’s that or I die horribly, realizing that I should have watched a lot more MacGyver growing up. Damn you, Richard Dean Anderson!!!!

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  Everyone should watch more “MacGyver.”  The old one, not the reboot.  I’ve run it past my advisors and they all remarked this escape plan sounds valid, though they note that while Bell Biv Devoe may not be for everyone, everyone can always benefit from the key piece of advice these noble philosopher poets offered to the world, namely, to “never trust a big butt and a smile.”

Wise words indeed.  Thank you, Rick.  May your All-Spark never dim.

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#FridayswithBQB – Interview #1 – Robert Bevan of Caverns and Creatures – Where Fantasy Dick Jokes Meet Real Life Success

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Robert Bevan

Author Website

Amazon Author Page

If you were to take a blender, dump in a heaping helping of fantasy roleplaying game nerdiness and sprinkle in some comedy, you’d get the “Caverns and Creatures” series by Robert Bevan. Fantasy RPG geeks put in hilarious situations, titles produced via naughty word play (“Sticky White Mess” and “The Fuccubus” just to name a couple) and a catalog large enough to keep you occupied for a while – you’ll find all that and more on the man’s Amazon Author page. Personally, as the proprietor of a website that is only read by 3.5 readers, I needed to reach out to this guy, because he has over 20,000 Facebook likes so I have to know his secret.

BQB = BOLD

ROBERT = ITALICS

QUESTION #1 – Robert, welcome to my fine blog and I hope you only have to stay here long enough until you find directions on how to get away from here. It’s not that I want you to leave, it’s just that I don’t even want to be here myself.  Have you seen this place?  It looks like someone fired the maid.

Anyway.  War. Famine. Plague. Poverty. There are so many important issues we could discuss, but I heard you have a dog named Speck. Pee Wee Herman reference or just a coincidence?

ANSWER: That is indeed a Pee Wee Herman reference, and I judge people based on whether or not they get it. So congratulations.

QUESTION #2 – Could you give the newbs out there a primer on “Caverns and Creatures?” What inspired you to start writing this series? What’s it all about? What do we need to know before we dive in?

ANSWER: The bare-bones premise is that it’s about a group of gamers who get sent into their fantasy game world for real, in the bodies of their fantasy game characters. As the title suggests, these people aren’t exactly heroic. They’re barely able to function in their own society. How much harder will they fail in a hostile fantasy world?
You shouldn’t need to know much before diving in. One of the characters is new to the game, which both helps to explain certain things to non-gamers, and provides some thinking-outside-the-box moments in the story.

QUESTION #3 – Are fantasy roleplaying board games as big as they used to be? Sometimes I wonder if the Internet, video games, increased access to all kinds of media and so on killed board based RPGs. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to find a gaggle of nerds willing to sacrifice a Saturday to sit around a board, roll some dice and pretend to be elves, orcs, wizards and what have you. Any advice on how to get an RPG group started?

ANSWER: First of all, I should make it clear that these aren’t board games, because there isn’t a board. Depending on their style of play, some groups may use large, highly-detailed maps, while others may simply scribble a quick dungeon on a scrap of graph paper, while still other groups use nothing at all. The entire game takes place in the imaginations of the players and Game Master as they weave a story together interactively.

Now as far as technology goes, I don’t believe any of this stuff you mentioned in your question has killed tabletop RPGs at all. A tabletop RPG is more than just a game. It’s a social experience. As a matter of fact, the reason I started playing again after fifteen or twenty years away from it is that a group of my married friends and I were looking for something less expensive to do on Friday nights than hang out in bars and get shitfaced together. Dungeons & Dragons turned out to be a way more fun (and cheap) way to get shitfaced together once a week. That’s a whole different experience than drinking at home alone playing World of Warcraft.

Also, technology has made it possible to come very close to a tabletop experience while being hundreds or thousands of miles away from your fellow gamers. I’m part of a podcast called Authors & Dragons, in which we play via Skype and record it.

As for advice on how to get an RPG group started, I’m afraid I can’t be of much help there. I’ve recently moved to the Atlanta area, and haven’t had much luck in that regard.
I will advise you, however, to give any group a couple of trial sessions before you make a commitment. There are a lot of gaming styles out there, and you might find yourself weirded out by a particular group. Make sure you jive with the people you play with.

QUESTION #4 – You’ve got over 20,000 Facebook likes. Your books get tons of reviews. Clearly, you have a rabidly loyal fan base. What did you do to recruit all those nerds? I’m only followed by 3.5 nerds and I’d like to turn that figure into 20,000 nerds so any tips you have on how to build a following, feel free to share them.

ANSWER: It appears I misunderstood what you meant by “3.5 readers.” I thought you meant readers who are mainly interested in the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons. You’re actually claiming to have three and a half readers on your blog? What the hell does that even mean? Who’s the .5th? Are you being insensitive to a little person or an amputee? What’s wrong with you?

To answer your question, the 20k Facebook likes have come from a variety of sources. Much of it has been acquired through people enjoying my books, looking me up on Facebook, and liking my page. Some of it has come from targeted Facebook campaigns to more aggressively build up a bigger following. But I believe that most of it comes from striving to provide content (mostly goofy RPG-themed memes) that my followers want to share with their Facebook friends, putting my name out there to a wider audience.

QUESTION #5 – I suppose we could waste our entire lives worrying about what society thinks, but sometimes as writers we have to think about it. Right or wrong, I generally find that a lot of people think of fantasy RPG as kid stuff geared towards a younger audience. Yet, you write a comedy series involving fantasy RPG that is packed with all sorts of naughty words and unsavory situations. Was this a gamble?

If it was, I assume it paid off since there appears to be a lot of adults who, according to your stats, love raunchy fantasy RPG comedy. Were you ever worried that fantasy fans may not care for the adult themes? Were you ever concerned that comedy fans might not be interested in magic and make-believe? What advice do you have for authors who mix genres?

ANSWER: It wasn’t a gamble because I wasn’t really risking anything, and I didn’t go into it with unrealistic expectations. I wasn’t a public figure with a reputation to protect. I wasn’t quitting my job to do this. I simply had a story idea in my head and a style I wanted to tell it in. If people wanted to read it, awesome. If not, they could go fuck themselves.

Also, I don’t look at it as “mixing genres” because I regard comedy as more of a template than a genre. As far as genre is concerned, my C&C books are fantasy. Most books will have some funny moments, regardless of the genre. I just like to crank it up a bit in mine. I’ve dabbled in science fiction similarly with Space Puppies, and in horror with the first book in Authors & Dragons’ new Shingles series, The Ghost of Hooker Alley.

QUESTION #6 – Piggybacking off of Question #5, here’s a dilly of a hypothetical pickle. Imagine a stereotypically vapid Hollywood suit knocks on your door with a fat bag of cash in hand and says, “Robby Baby, take out all the naughty stuff and water down ‘Caverns and Creatures’ so we can turn it into a PG-13 movie and this cash bag can be yours.” Do you take the cash, because, I mean, hey, that’s a big bag of cash, or do you wait and hope for a Hollywood suit who shares your artistic vision? Is there an audience out there for an R-rated fantasy comedy film? I mean, I thought “Your Highness” was funny but I don’t think the general movie going public did, bunch of squares that they are.

ANSWER: The obvious answer is that it all depends on just how fat that bag of cash is. If I said there’s no number that could make me disregard the sanctity of my precious dick jokes, I’d be full of shit. And I’d laugh because the word “sanctity” has “titty” in it.

As it happens, the film rights to my books are currently optioned out to a small-time producer who’s working his ass off to try to get a TV series off the ground. Fingers crossed!

QUESTION #7 – Comedian Dave Chapelle recently opined in his latest Netflix special that everyone’s getting so sensitive these days that it’s getting harder to be funny. Is comedy dying?

Personally, I feel like I haven’t seen a goody comedy film that made me laugh out loud since “The Hangover” and that came out in 2009. These days, Hollywood puts out a lot of so-called comedies where the jokes are safe and predictable – stuff that might tickle your grandma’s funny bone but is useless to a comedy aficionado.

You’ve got political correctness. You’ve got the “rush to be offended” culture out there. You’ve got everyone and their uncle on social media, ready to bloviate about how the littlest joke ruined their lives beyond all repair.

I fancy myself a humor writer. I mean, my aunt told me I’m funny anyway. But as a humor writer that actually earns money off of his humor, do you find it’s harder to be a comedy writer these days? Should aspiring comedy writers who are just starting out even try?

I just feel like at the rate we are going, if the general public doesn’t lighten up, “Saturday Night Live” is just going to be a collection of “Why did the chicken cross the road?” style jokes by the year 2050.

ANSWER: I’m personally not worried about this at all. If anything, a more sensitive society just makes the envelope that much easier to push. Hollywood has always tended to play it safe for the most part. But with mainstream media losing ground to Netflix, Amazon Studios, and however many little independent internet-based startups out there, content providers will find it easier to meet the demands of every niche out there.

Are there a bunch of lame network sitcoms out there playing it safe? Sure. But there are also the South Parks, the Rick and Mortys, the Archers, making fortunes by scratching the itches that aren’t being scratched by Friends, and Will and Grace, and… shit. I don’t know. I haven’t watched regular TV for a while.

Do I get negative feedback from the content of my books? You betcha. Aside from the excessive swearing and characters shitting and pissing themselves, my work has been called racist, homophobic, sexist, other “-ists,” etc. I write these books in part to poke fun at the bigoted society I grew up in. I find it encouraging that most of the people who read my books get that.

QUESTION #8 – Self-publishing. Cruel mistress or loving partner? Is it worth it to get into? As it turns out, my 3.5 readers are all aspiring self-publishers. Is there a lesson you learned the hard way that you could teach them and possibly save them some trouble?

ANSWER: I didn’t know dick about publishing going into this. Like many aspiring writers in 2012, I thought self-publishing was a better-than-nothing option for those whose books weren’t good enough to get picked up by a “real” publisher. After getting rejected by a few “real” publishers and agents, that’s kind of the attitude I went into it with. My tune changed when I started to move a few books every month. Taking a long-term view, imagining what might be possible if I actually put some effort into marketing the books, promoting them, and writing more of them, I soon had a completely different outlook on self-publishing.
If a “real” publisher wanted to sign me on now, they’d have to offer me a very fat bag of cash indeed. There’s not a whole lot that they’d be able or willing to do for me (aside from keeping a much higher percentage of the money my books are making) that I can’t do for myself, and better.

The only advice I have specific to self-publishing is to not look at it as an excuse to take shortcuts. This self-publishing revolution is great in that it’s leveled the playing field. The readers have spoken, and they don’t give a shit who published a book if the final product is something that they enjoy reading. But on the flip side, you do need to have work that competes with what the big boys are putting out.

QUESTION #9 – You released a book entitled “Potty Mouth,” the cover of which features a multi-sided game die wearing a Trump toupee with an open mouth that is being urinated in. So many questions come to mind, but I’ll just ask two.

As a general rule, I try to avoid being political because whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, I would like you to become a fan of my blog that only 3.5 people read. Was this book a risk? Do you fear you’ll lose fans? Maybe somewhere out there is a nerd who wears a wizard cape emblazoned with a “MAGA” logo who voted for Trump who will see this book cover and be all like, “How dare you, Robert Bevan? I shall take my book purchasing funds elsewhere!”

Second, must we inject politics into everything? I watch the news when I want to know about all the political turmoil going on. I seek out comedy when I want to laugh and escape from politics. Call me George Costanza, but I don’t want those two worlds to meet. Am I wrong?

I’m mostly interested in appealing to the sorts of people who read books.

QUESTION #10 – You’re an eighth level orc mage. You’ve wandered into a cavern filled with some of the worst creatures imaginable – dragons, ogres, trolls and telemarketers trying to sell you anti-fungal cream over the phone. You roll a five and according to the rules of the hypothetical fantasy roleplaying game we’re enthralled in, that means you can pick up a suit case that contains the following items: a can of spray cheese, a swizzle stick and an autographed photo of “Golden Girls” icon Bea Arthur. How will you use these items to escape the cavern and win your freedom?

ANSWER:  Simple. I poke nostril and mouth holes in the Bea Arthur photo with the swizzle stick, so that I’ll be able to breathe. Then I use the spray cheese to paste the photo over my own face. Who’s going to fuck with Bea Arthur? No one, that’s who.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  That is the best escape plan I have ever heard.  Admittedly, this is also the first escape plan I have heard as this interview series just began, but it is the one to beat.  

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Fridays with BQB

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Hey 3.5 readers.

So, you’ve heard of “Tuesdays with Morrie?”

Well, the bad news is that I’m not a feisty old man with a zest for life and a lot of wisdom to impart.

The good news is that I’m not dying.

Wait, you all think that’s BAD news?  Why, with 3.5 friends like you, who needs 3.5 enemies?

Anyway, I need to promote more, to get this fine blog out into the Inter Webs more and to be more social, so I’m going to start a new feature.  Every Friday, there will be an interview, usually with a self-publisher but I’m sure I’ll branch out to bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, any creative person who is doing it on his/her own.

Anyone interested in participating?  Anyone know of a good candidate?

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