Flashback: A Journey Into the Mind of Allan Guthrie

Sandra Ruttan: What is the most traumatic thing that’s ever happened to you?

Allan Guthrie: Something happened when I was fifteen, but it was so traumatic I can’t remember it.

Sandra Ruttan: So the therapy didn’t take?

Allan Guthrie: Traumatised the therapist.

Sandra: Tell us about the male grad student who’s in love with you. Has he influenced any of your writing?

Al: No, he can’t. He’s from the future.

Sandra: Then how do you know about him?

Al: Duane Swierczynski told me and I believe him. He’s got a wormhole or cosmic string or something in his basement.

Sandra: Duane has the wormhole, or the male grad student has the wormhole?

Al: Both of them. They’re wormholing each other.

Sandra: So, your relationship with Duane. What does your wife think about it?

Al: I don’t know. I’ll ask her. She says, “I think it’s great. I wouldn’t have known that there were two nerds in the world who were so alike, but you’ve found each other and I’m very happy for you both.”

Sandra: Quintin Jardine – tell me more.

Al: Away and shite.

Sandra: Did you pull the wings off flies as a child?

Al: No, I ate them whole

Sandra: Did this hobby lead to your interest in the sexual gratification of animals?

Al: No, that was all Uncle Jerry’s doing.

Sandra: How did you do your research on masturbating hamsters?

Al: We used to own one who behaved as described in the book. He was called Bruno, after the pulp writer Bruno Fischer. I don’t think the writer behaved like that.

Sandra: So how do you explain the goldfish?

Al: Hell, I don’t remember any goldfish.

Sandra: Wasn’t that what you were talking about at Harrogate? I thought you didn’t drink.

Al: Are you thinking of flatfish? Goldfish aren’t big enough. My accent, no doubt.

Sandra: So, explain the flatfish? And it could just be my memory.

Al: How did I research it? Well, it’s there from a very early age, bed-time reading and the stuff of movies. By which I mean, of course, mermaids. Half fish, half human. Which means somebody’s been diddling a fish.

Sandra: Would I be correct in assuming you think books or movies like THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE inspire interest in bestiality?

Al: Can’t claim to have read/seen those, so no comment. By the time I could read myself, it was virtually wall-to-wall Enid Blyton, terrible stuff, cause she was in plentiful supply at the library and I didn’t know any better. Although I did read Arthur Ransome’s SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS. Only thing I remember about it, though, is one of the characters was called Titty. Fine name for an Amazon, come to think of it.

Sandra: It doesn’t sound like you had good early reading experiences. What drew you to books?

Al: I don’t remember a time when I didn’t read. No idea what the draw was, other than the usual Es: entertainment, escapism, education, emotion. And story. Always liked a good story.

Sandra: In your first book, TWO-WAY SPLIT, the character names all had significance. What prompted you to do this with the names?

Al: Pure instinct. Just seemed to me that characters’ names should reflect something of their nature.

Sandra: Was it difficult to find names that were appropriate for the characters?

Al: The only character I recall having that problem with was Ailsa. For a very long time, she was known as Linda but it never seemed right.

Sandra: Are you a writer who needs a character name to start with, or can change them easily later?

Al: Fortunately I can and do change them very easily. For a while I was changing the names of certain characters in my current manuscript on a daily basis. There was a female character I was having enormous trouble naming – notice a theme developing here? – and then it hit me:
Morgan. Perfect for her. I wept for joy. Made the changes in the doc and starting reading through her first scene. In which she appears with Martin and Jordan.

Martin, Morgan and Jordan. Aha. I wept again.

Sandra: What were you like as a child?

Al: Small.

Sandra: Since I can never make heads or tails of your school grade system, what did you do after what we’d call high school?

Al: Not a lot. I went to university for a year and studied music, but didn’t enjoy it very much, so I left.

Sandra: Since you studied music what do you listen to? And do you listen to anything when you write?

Al: Well, here’s a weird thing. I hardly ever listen to music. I can’t listen to music while I’m working, and I like to watch movies to relax. I suppose I could try listening to music while watching movies, but I don’t think they’d be compatible. When I did listen to music, it was an eclectic mix: classical renaissance and early baroque, swing, funk, jazz, The Blue Nile, Nine Inch Nails.

Sandra: You were raised in a religious home. How does your family feel about your writing?

Al: It’s true that my upbringing was very religious. I should have mentioned the Bible as part of my regular childhood reading. The Bible and Enid Blyton made me the man I am today. My family has been very supportive. So far. But, then, not many of them have remained religious.

Sandra: Have you ever had someone in your family or that you know accuse you of taking something from their life for one of the novels or short stories?

Al: Yes. Eddie, a character in TWO-WAY SPLIT, shares his name with my brother’s dog. And at one point he says something that the dog says when it’s annoyed. (Something like: ‘You can take your shiny Christmas wrapping paper and shove it up your arse.’). Reputedly. I’ve never actually heard it speak.

Sandra: Do you run into trouble with people inferring your life into the work, or that your characters’ beliefs reflect your own?

Al: That happens. Course, I didn’t make it easy on myself by using a lot of my own history for Robin Greaves in TWO-WAY SPLIT. In the book, Robin left home to go to Chetham’s School Of Music when he was fourteen. So did I. I needed backstory for the character, so I reached for the easiest solution. Very lazy. Unsurprisingly, people who know this fact about me then assume that Robin’s alcoholic father is modeled after my own. Thing is, my father’s a teetotaler. I also tend to write character-specific narrative. So, yeah, I often write about characters who hold different opinions to my own. Or from one another.

Sandra: I feel there’s something of a spiritual element to noir. It goes down to age-old questions about whether life has meaning and if there’s a God or, in other words, if there’s hope. Would you agree with that?

Al: In a word: no. I think noir’s about the fact that ultimately everything we do is pointless. Death’s the end. Life’s absurd. You’re dying from the day you’re born so you might as well kill yourself instead of fending off the inevitable and pretending it isn’t going to happen. Cheery stuff.

Sandra: Well, if I’d expressed myself better in the question, I might have said the conclusion being there is no God, no hope, no point. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be noir. But taking it to personal territory, you seem like a pretty cheery guy. Noir is anything but, usually depressing. What is it that you think draws readers to noir?

Al: Just that, I think. We don’t want to be happy all the time. At least, I don’t. So rather than kill my dog to make myself cry, I’ll get my emotions vicariously. Humans like a variety of emotions. People watch horror movies to be scared. Why do they do that? They knowingly watch movies that’ll make them cry. Again, why? Looking at it logically, it’s plain silly. My guess is that noir fills an emotional need, the predominant emotions of noir being anxiety and fear. But that’s idle speculation. I’m no psychologist.

Sandra: How do you define noir?

Al: It depends what day of the week it is, but since it’s Tuesday, I’ll offer my most straightforward answer: noir is non-supernatural horror.

Sandra: There’s a lot of pain in HARD MAN, a lot of violence. Where does your interest in writing about those themes come from?

Al: Yeah, apparently there’s a lot of violence in HARD MAN. Everybody says so. I didn’t notice until it was pointed out to me. But that might be because by the time anybody read HARD MAN I was well into the next book, which is much more violent. I actually think that HARD MAN isn’t any more violent than my previous books, but it feels like it is because the writing’s better. For instance, in HARD MAN there’s a scene where Rog goes to visit Wallace with the intent of shooting him. One thing leads to another and there’s a scene that lasts several pages which is apparently extremely violent. But if you read it over, the violence is almost all in Rog’s head. All that happens is that a gun is placed against the stitches of someone’s lip. That’s it. Almost a cosy, really (ahem).

Interesting you mention pain, though. I believe that writing’s about creating sensory experiences. If a character’s eating a hamburger, I want the reader to taste it. So if a character’s in pain, I want the reader to feel it. Violence in my books always hurts. And it always has a lasting effect. None of this getting knocked unconscious and waking up two minutes later with a little bump that’s completely forgotten about ten seconds later. That annoys me almost as much as gratuitous scenery. I also try to write from the point of view of the victim where possible. But even my aggressor’s get hurt. Hit somebody with your bare fist and you’re liable to break a finger. In my books, anyway.

As to where my interest in writing about violence comes from, it probably started with the Bible (seriously). Deuteronomy is one of the most relentlessly violent books I’ve ever read, and as for all the suffering in the New Testament… I also love Jacobean Revenge drama, and guzzled loads of Middleton and co when I was at school. Shakespeare, too. Check out TITUS ANDRONICUS. And the body count in Hamlet’s pretty high. I like drama. I like reading and writing about characters placed in extreme situations. That often involves violence. Also, HARD MAN is a modern revenge tragedy. Couldn’t write one of those without it being violent. That’d be like asking Jack Bauer to relax, go home, take a bath. What’d be the fun in that?

Sandra: In regards to Rog, I would say that many of the worst things we face are what’s in our head. I’m not discounting the actual horror of being assaulted, for example, but most people are irrational about their fears.

Al: Yep. Although Pearce, for instance, could never have imagined the horror that awaits him in the basement. He’s not that creative.

In fact, I would be willing to argue that a big part of the reason that Rog and Flash get as banged up as they do is because they either get careless and cocky, with Pearce, or because they’re overcome by fear, with Wallace. Either way, they aren’t thinking rationally or taking control of the situation. I guess I’d say they aren’t the kind of guys who take charge, but rather allow things to happen to them. The difference with Wallace and Pearce is that they take control.

Al: You’re spot on with Rog, Flash and Wallace, but Pearce has got you fooled. He does that to everybody, me included. Truth is, Pearce only ever reacts. He thinks he takes control, but he doesn’t. He’s extremely dumb, a lot of the time. And he can’t look after himself, he just thinks he can. That’s true of his appearance in TWO-WAY SPLIT as well. And in a forthcoming novella called KILL CLOCK.

Sandra: I think part of the reason people can connect to Pearce is that most people have faced fear on some level, thinking that they’d never get out of a tough situation, even if it wasn’t as extreme as the one Pearce faced. They understand the idea of hopelessness, not knowing how to prevent what seems like certain disaster. Of course, this might be where you jump in and tell me I’ve got it all wrong, but I’m wondering if the strength of will was a deliberate attribute, if this was part of what you hoped to achieve with the character.

Al: Pearce is certainly stubborn. Wasn’t deliberate on my part, though: Pearce arrived in my head fully formed. I usually work on characters a lot but didn’t do a thing with Pearce. I wonder if part of what people identify with (and they do seem to), is simply that he never complains. Most people hate whiners. Even in fiction. Pearce notes pain, he experiences it, and gets on with things. Of course, the fact that he has a very strong moral code, albeit a screwed-up one, helps, too. And that he’s just a bit crazy. And that he’s a benign thug, to quote Ken Bruen.

Sandra: You certainly made me wince and writhe. So I’m curious. What’s the most painful experience you’ve had in your life?

Al: Nothing hugely painful, I don’t think. I snapped my wrist falling off a wall when I was about eight. Still remember the pain — a constant deep throb like I’d grabbed hold of an electric fence and couldn’t let go. Lasted for hours. And I was beaten unconscious by a gang when I was a teenager. Nothing broken but I hurt all over when I woke up.

Sandra: Do you put any wish fulfillment into your characters from that experience of being beaten unconscious? You don’t strike me as the type to get into a lot of fights.

Al: Can’t say as I do. I much prefer to kill them in real life.

Sandra: Personally, I’m more inclined to take someone I don’t like and model the villain after them. I don’t want the reader to have any sympathy for the person I don’t like. I want them to dislike them.

Al: Ah, I don’t think of any of my characters as villains. And because of the way I write, putting the reader in the head of the point-of-view character, I’m aiming for empathy over sympathy. So I don’t think that applies. I suppose the villain in HARD MAN would be Wallace? See, I like Wallace. I know he’s up to no good, but he has his reasons. To me, he’s just another character with goals and ambitions that conflict with others. If the story was written primarily from his point of view, Pearce would be the villain. Or May, perhaps. Or maybe even Jesus.

Completely fair to say Pearce only reacts, but he doesn’t react to things in the way you’d expect. Now, I won’t say with HARD MAN what it is he does – I don’t want to spoil anything for readers. But when he was finally provoked to act he did it his own way. I think it’s fair to say the Baxter’s underestimated him.

Sandra: Tell me about May Baxter. Where did the idea for that character come from?

Al: May’s the pregnant 16-year-old who’s married to Wallace, ten years her senior. By the time the book kicks off, Wallace has already discovered that he’s not the father, and he’s none too pleased. May’s moved in with her dad and her elder brother, but after an incident with their dog, followed by a worse-than-useless attempt to warn Wallace off, the family no longer feel they’re up to protecting her on their own. Which is where Pearce comes into the picture.

As to where the idea for May came from, that’s a tough one. I started writing the book with only the first scene in mind and the characters popped into my mind as I was writing. I suspect May has her origins in something as mundane as me seeing a young mother on a bus and inventing a life for her to amuse myself. I do that a lot — probably too much. But that’s a wild guess.

Sandra: What can you tell us about KILL CLOCK?

Al: It’s a novella I’ve written for Barrington Stoke, an Edinburgh publisher specialising in books for ‘dyslexic and struggling readers’ (http://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk/) To date, they’ve published only books for children and young adults, but they approached me to ask if I’d write something for adults. The sad truth is that literacy levels are pretty shocking in Scotland (and no doubt throughout the rest of the UK). My wife’s an adult literacy tutor, so I’m well aware that if you’re an adult who doesn’t have great reading skills, you’re pretty much forced into reading children’s books. Which is likely make reading an attractive proposition. What Barrington Stoke are planning is a series of books which provide adult content, but are presented in a highly readable manner — from the size of the print and colour of the paper, to the style of the writing (the writers’ guidelines make for fascinating reading). It’s a superb idea and I hope it’s massive for them.

As for the book itself, it’s another Pearce story. It bounces off from a thread in TWO-WAY SPLIT, so some of those characters are back, including someone who, in TWO-WAY SPLIT, we hear about, and hear speak, but never see. This someone has two pre-school kids now, and they spend a lot of time with Pearce. Which Pearce finds a little difficult, given that he finds dealing with adults hard enough. There’s a lot of comedy in this one. I even reanimated a character I killed off in a short story (I decided that short and long fiction were parallel universes). But it’s essentially a five or six-hour snippet of Pearce’s life, that’s as action packed as “24”. I hope.

Sandra: You have a lot of projects on the go right now. What do readers have to look forward to from you in 2007 and 2008?

Al: These are the current UK release dates (which can always change): HARD MAN April ’07, KILL CLOCK Sept ’07, SAVAGE NIGHT April ’08, SLAMMER Oct ’08. In the US, HARD MAN comes out in June ’07, with SAVAGE NIGHT and SLAMMER following at yearly intervals.

SAVAGE NIGHT is, as the title might suggest, something of a Jim Thompson homage, in that the central character is something of a blithe psychopath. There’s a character who appears in KISS HER GOODBYE, a hitman called Park. I found myself wondering what his immediate family might be like. And I had to write SAVAGE NIGHT to find out. Christ, are they fucked up. SLAMMER will be a prison novel.

Sandra: ” I found myself wondering what his immediate family might be like. And I had to write SAVAGE NIGHT to find out. Christ, are they fucked up.” Does this mean you don’t pre-plot? No character bio on paper before you start the first page?

Al: With HARD MAN, I had all the time in the world, so I let it write itself. SAVAGE NIGHT, I approached the same way, but probably shouldn’t have, since it took a long time to wrestle into shape. The novel I’m now working on has to be written pretty quickly so I outlined it to save time. I’d have preferred not to, though, cause I love not knowing where the story’s going to take me.

I’ve never written a character bio. I wouldn’t know where to begin. I’m terrible at writing nonfiction. I could probably list a bunch of surface characteristics and come up with a chunk of back story, but the chances are that I’d probably fall asleep in the process. If I want to know a character, I’ll put them in an extreme situation and observe how they handle themselves. Drama keeps me awake. Almost as effectively as coffee.

Sandra: Your journey getting published has been a little unconventional. How did you get your first deal, and subsequent agent?

Al: My first deal was with a US publisher for TWO-WAY SPLIT. As with much of my publishing experiences, timing was everything. They say that it’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you. And in my case, that was certainly true. An editor, JT Lindroos, approached me to ask about the print rights for a few noir titles we’d e-published at Pulp Originals. We had no control over those rights, and I told him so. But we got talking and he explained that he was looking for new material as well as older stuff. So I explained I had a novel he might like to consider. He did, and very soon afterwards said he’d like to publish it. Within a couple of weeks, he then got the job to head the new Wildside imprint, PointBlank and offered to take TWO-WAY SPLIT with him. And that was that. Prior to that, I’d sent out hundreds of query letters, partials, manuscripts to agents and editors in the UK and the US and the response was predominantly: you can write but we don’t know how to sell you.

I sold KISS HER GOODBYE to Hard Case Crime very soon after that. Like JT, Charles Ardai at Hard Case didn’t seem to have a problem with knowing how to sell me.

I still couldn’t get an agent. Kept trying, though, ‘cause I really wanted to sell the UK rights.

After something like five hundred rejections, a strange thing happened. I arrived at the bookstore where I worked — this would have been August 2004 — to find a journalist waiting to speak to me. TWO-WAY SPLIT was out in the US at this point. And the journalist explained that Ian Rankin had been saying some very pleasant things about it at one of his events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The journalist wanted to write a feature on me. That was flattering enough, but in the ensuing piece, Rankin said even more kind words and from having had zero interest from agents, I suddenly found myself in the bizarre situation of having them phoning me. I ended up with a choice, amazingly, and I went with Mark Stanton, a.k.a. Stan, at a local agency, Jenny Brown Associates, where I’m now a part-time agent myself, . Stan got us a nice initial deal with Edinburgh-based Polygon in the UK and Einaudi in Italy, and things have moved on from there. Having my agent and publisher based in Edinburgh is great — in the UK it’s hard to do that outside of London.

Sandra: You wear some different hats, working as an agent, editor and being an author. How do you think your experience editing and working as an agent benefits you as a writer?

Al: I get to discuss craft with other writers at a very detailed level, which is always good, and I’m always learning something from them. But I suspect that it’s more a case of my experience as a writer benefiting me as an editor and agent than the other way round. To put it another way, I’d never have become an editor or an agent if I wasn’t a writer.

Sandra: Do you find it easier to write novels or short stories? Why?

Al: I’m better at writing novels, but short stories are attractive because they’re much less timeconsuming. The reason I’m better at the longer length, I think, is that I’m partial to writing multiple viewpoint narratives, and shorts don’t lend themselves to that.

Sandra: Do you think you’d ever write a police procedural?

Al: I have an idea for a novel with cops as the main characters. Handily, it wouldn’t involve much procedure, cause I don’t think I’d have the patience. So, technically, the answer to the question is probably no.

Sandra: Now, I understand from recent discussions you think art has no moral imperative –

Al: It certainly doesn’t for me.

Sandra: Let’s talk about the obligations of the author. Do you feel any pressure to produce a certain type of book-

Al: Yes, I have a contractual obligation.

Sandra: …to stay within certain boundaries

Al: Of length? Of geography? Of taste?

Sandra: …to deliver a certain level of violence-

Al: None at all. It just happens.

Sandra: …or make the book sufficiently dark?

Al: Nope, that’s a given.

Sandra: Does anything cross your mind when you’re approaching a new work, other than to tell the story you have the idea for?

Al: Hm, not sure I understand the question. You mean in terms of how I’m going to tell the story? Sometimes I have neither an idea nor a story, let alone anything in addition. But usually I’ll know which voice to start with, what tense I’ll write it in, what kind of narrative technique I’ll use, roughly how long it’ll be. That kind of thing.

Sandra: Do you think authors should carry any pressure from readership or publishers to their work?

Al: Not sure I understand this one either. What do you mean by pressure? Pressure to write in English? Pressure not to kill off a character? Pressure to deliver a manuscript on deadline? Pressure to give readings? Many questions, many answers…

Sandra: Well, we all know how fans have reacted to things in the past, like the decision to kill off Sherlock Holmes, for example. You haven’t been writing a convention series, which tends to be more where we see this come in, but it seems that some authors come under fire the minute they move in a slightly different direction. I guess what I’m wondering is, are you still new enough, or perhaps far enough from that conventional series audience, that you don’t get people writing, asking for you to develop a character into a series or put characters into relationships, that sort of thing. I mean, we all see the news articles and list comments about whether Rankin will kill off Rebus or if Rebus will get together with Siobhan, or if Val McDermid will finally let Tony and Carol have sex. Just wondered if you got anything like this at all from readers, in terms of them expressing what they’d like to see you do with your work.

Al: I’ve never had a reader suggest I do anything, as far as I can recall. Not printable, anyway.

Sandra: So, no pressure at all to see Pearce back in future books from publishers, readers, agents, anybody?

Al: I know a few people would like to see more of him, but there’s no pressure from anyone whatsoever.

Sandra: Have you had any bizarre fan experiences?

Al: I have fans?

Sandra: Okay, let me rephrase: Have you had any bizarre experiences with Duane and Ray? And we’re way past censorship here. Tell all, unless, of course, you embarrass easily.

Al: There was an episode with lederhosen and nipple clamps and a very large candle, but I can’t talk about that.

Sandra: Who would you cite as your major writing influences?

Al: Those change all the time, depending on what I’m writing, but as influences on the last couple of books, I’d probably cite: Sophocles, Shakespeare and the Jacobean revenge dramatists, Kafka, Camus, Ionesco, James M. Cain, Horace McCoy, Dashiell Hammett, Nathanael West, Benjamin Appel, P J Wolfson, David Goodis, Malcolm Braly, Charles Willeford.

Sandra: What do you think your greatest personal weakness in writing is?

Al: There isn’t an area that couldn’t be improved. But if pushed, I’d have to say that I’d love to master the art of generating surprise and suspense simultaneously — it’s difficult since often one cancels out the other. I’m short of realising that particular ambition by a distance. So, I guess that’s plotting.

Sandra: What’s the one talent you see in others that you envy and wish you had yourself?

Al: The ability to write quickly.

Sandra: What, for you, has been the strangest or most unexpected thing that’s happened since becoming an author, the thing you were least prepared for?

Al: Getting an Edgar nomination for KISS HER GOODBYE, no question. I was on the telephone to Ray Banks at the time I found out (courtesy of an email from Sarah Weinman), and he can verify that I made unintelligible squeaking noises for several minutes before I regained any semblance of coherence.

Sandra: You have an upcoming event with Stuart MacBride, correct? What will you be wearing?

Al: Won’t Stuart feel a little out of place if I’m dressed?

Stuart MacBride: He’s supposed to be wearing a full-body rubber romper suit! One with a zip across the mouth, so I can shut him up if he gets too dirty. Spanking will be optional.

Sandra: And what will you be wearing?

Stuart MacBride: I’ll be wearing a beard and a smile. And socks. You can’t go wrong with socks…

Stuart and Al will be part of the University of Aberdeen Writers Festival, Saturday 12th May at 1.30pm in King’s College Centre at the University of Aberdeen for those interested in checking out their attire and keeping track to see who uses more naughty words.

Sandra: Do you think you have anger issues because you’re short?

Al: See, you’re Canadian. What you don’t understand is that while I may be short by North American standards, in Scotland I’m a giant. I’m actually five inches taller than both my father and grandfather, so given what might have been, I count myself lucky.

Sandra: Tell me about the allure of “Night Nurse.”

Al: When you have a cold that won’t shift for months on end, when you have a 30-minute coughing fit every time you lie down, there is only one solution: Night Nurse. The problem is, the public perception of a hardboiled crime writer is generally not that of someone who takes Night Nurse. Which is why the information was ‘leaked’ by an otherwise trusted source who found it highly amusing. I bet the bastard also told you about my orthopedic cushion.

Sandra: Tell us about your orthopedic cushion. What’s it used for?

Al: Time travel, of course. What else would an orthopedic cushion be used for?

Sandra: Do you think you’ll ever draw on any of this ‘orthopedic time travel cushion’ and ‘male grad student from the future’ experience and write some sci fi?

Al: I’d love to. I’ve been enjoying some hardboiled sci-fi of late (Richard Morgan and Alfred Bester). And I have a couple of ideas that’d be fun to try out.

Sandra: What do you fantasize about?

Al: Duane and Ray, lederhosen, nipple clamps, a very large candle, John Rickards in a leotard…

Sandra: So, instead of being stuck on some deserted island, let’s say that the aliens who take over the earth have a special hell for you – they’re going to make you into a character and you’ll live through the fictional stories written for that character over and over again, for all eternity. What character would you want to be and why?

Al: For it to be hell, you mean? Oh, Miss Marple?

Sandra: And, by request, I’m to ask why is your HARD MAN author photo so deadly serious, when in real life, you’re a giggling ball of silly?

Al: That’s because my least favourite word in the English language is ‘smile’. Smiling when something’s funny makes sense, but I can’t fake it when there’s nothing to laugh at. And my wife, Donna, tells me I look psychotic when I try. Which is possibly a good thing, I don’t know.

This interview first appeared in the Spring 2007 issue of Spinetingler Magazine