Interview with Humorist, Allison Hawn

Today, I am interviewing a funny writer, Allison Hawn, whose new book, “Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor,” will be released on September 7.  

A few words about her:
Allison Hawn is a short, snarky, scrappy force of nature. As a social worker, self-defense instructor, avid Batman enthusiast and coffee-addicted insomniac she attracts her fair share of adventure. Allison is the author of two humorous collections of true short stories: “Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus” and “Life is Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor.” She resides in Spokane, Washington with her two cats and the ghost that keeps opening her closet door at strange intervals.

SARETT: Are you funny in real life -- or just funny in fiction?  What led you to the comic side of the writerly aisle?
Hawn: Well, considering all of the stories in my humor books are true, I guess that would mean that I’m funny in real life. I’m the type of person that weird things just happen to on a daily basis. For instance, this last week at work I had to break up a fight between a couple of forty-ish year old men over My Little Pony. As one of my good friends put it, “Allison, you’re broken in fun ways.”

I’ve hit the point in my life where I’ve realized that if I don’t laugh at myself and my own misfortune, then I have no right to laugh at anyone else. So, I wrote two books that I sincerely hope will help others feel better about their day.

SARETT: I find in writing comedy that pace seems all-important.  If it is too slow, the writing feels flat-- whereas in drama, you can linger over, say, the light coming in through the forest.  What’s your feeling?
Hawn: There’s a reason that the end of a joke is called  a “punchline.” It’s not a “ambling-lazily-to-your-point-line” or a “casual-stroll-towards-a-conclusion-line. As an ex-boxer, this idea makes perfect sense to me.

Have you ever listened to someone tell a joke where you could tell what the end was going to be before you got there? How much did you laugh? (If you laughed a lot, I’m guessing that you are concerned about this person writing you out of their will.)

Humor is supposed to catch you off guard, get its hits in where it can, then back up so that it can build build for another attack. The only difference is that humor will probably not break your nose. Though, if it’s done well, with just enough precision, it will make your eyes water as if your nose was just broken.

SARETT: There’s that saying, dying is easy, comedy is hard.  True or not?
Hawn: Absolutely true. This is true in written comedy and in stand-up (which I’ve done). Sometimes you write a line and think, “This is BRILLIANT!” only to read it out loud to someone else and realize, “Wait… I wouldn’t laugh at this. Where did this come from!? Was I drinking cold medication instead of coffee last night?”

Comedy has so many factors. If you don’t have the right timing, audience, syntax structure, pop culture references or proper buildup then you can turn the best line into a giant pile of gryffon poo.
SARETT: There are lot of rules about what’s good writing and what’s bad.  Is there any writing rule that you secretly enjoy breaking?      
Hawn: I try not to break too many of the “good writing” rules. However, I do have an adamant admiration for alliteration, so that may creep into my writing more than some would like.

SARETT:  Tell us about your new book!
Hawn: “Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor” is a recounting of pieces of my life as the human magnet for the bizarre. What do I mean by human magnet for the bizarre? It means that, for me, owning a cursed car, being attacked by a man wielding a foam sword, or having to battle an evil pony could manifest on any day ending in “y.”

These stories provide readers with important life lessons learned through trial and, mostly, error. It is proof that truth is far stranger than fiction in a way that readers can be entertained, without having to experience being bitten by a three-legged chinchilla themselves. You’re all welcome.

SARETT:  In a comic novel, lots of stuff that can seem scary in other forms (like corpses, for example) are treated lightly.  What’s the secret to making it funny?  
Hawn: Humor is in the absurdities. It’s not necessarily that the concept of a corpse (or equally serious thing) is funny. It’s finding the strange details about it that make it funny.

Nearly all the humor in the film “Clue” is based around not one, but two, corpses, and that movie is one of the funniest in existence. Why is a movie about dead bodies so humerus (pun intended, please make your own *ba-dum-tish* noise)? Because the writers found the absurd details surrounding the circumstances of the corpses and drew attention to those, instead of drawing attention to the overarching idea of death itself.

SARETT: I’m always trying to discover new (or forgotten) humor writers.  Do you have suggestions for our readers looking for funny stuff?
--“Foop!” by Chris Genoa
--“Politically Correct Bedtime Stories” by James Finn Garner
--“Big Trouble” by Dave Barry.

SARETT: Any new projects in the works that you’d like to share with our readers?
Hawn: I am working on both a science-fiction novel and a third collection of short stories. They are racing each other for completion, who wants to take bets on which one will win?

Follow Allison Hawn here:  

twitter: (@AllisonHawn)

Buy  her books on Amazon:
Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor (Available Sep. 7th)

The Art Collection and other books are free on Kindle from August 10 to the 12th

Summer promotion:

All of the books listed here are free on Kindle for the next few days.  Among them, you can find my last short-format book, THE ART COLLECTION, which contains three stories (about art) that are tinged with the magical and the surreal-- one set in the Northern Catskills, and two set in my neck of the woods, the Main Line of Philadelphia.

You can also download SUMMER DREAMS for free, where my story, "Stranger in Paradise" appears. That one's a bit of a departure for me (with a happy ending)-- but readers found it "spooky" and "entertaining."  Hope you'll download it -- and also give these other authors a chance, too.     

The Mysterious World of Goodreads Reviews

Much ink has been spilled about spammers and trolls on the book review site, Goodreads.  To its credit, Goodreads has cleaned up its act regarding fake reviews and hostile reviewers-- or at least made inroads in that direction.  Book reviewing, whether in print or online, has never been a completely fair game.

But today, a new and stranger (at least to me) form of hackery appeared on the site-- just when you thought that things had calmed down.  An author friend of mine (who, to avoid further mischief, shall remain anonymous) sent me a private message on Facebook.  He was curious to know what I had disliked in one of his books to merit a one-star review with no comment.  Was it his writing or the content, he asked.

But I had never read his book.  It was not on any of my lists, even as a "to read" book.  It was, simply put, not on my reading radar. I could not find the "review" on any of my pages-- nowhere.  I asked him to send me the link.

There it was, an "update" on his book -- with my name attached to it.  A strange sort of hackery indeed-- and one which offended me more than if a troll had attacked me.  Worse, there is no way for me to detect the problem -- since the fake review did not show up under my account.

Is there no end to social media mischief?

The Art Collection: Three Short Stories - by Carla Sarett

A new mini-collection available from yours truly-- three stories, all about art and even art forgery. It was great fun to invent some painters who paint as I would!  This includes one of my personal favorite stories, "Kindred Spirits," which was first published in Rose Red Review-- and a story that I plan to continue, "The Captain's House," first published (As "After the Revolution"  in The Linnet's Wings. This is a short read, perfect for a lunch time break.  For those enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, the book is free.

Reviewers, please feel free to contact me for a review copy -- Facebook, email or a comment below.

You may purchase the book (.99) at here, at Amazon.  It is Kindle edition, which can be read on all devices.

'via Blog this'

Interview with Eric Borsage, Editor of Eric's Hysterics and Love Hurts!

Today’s interview is with one of my favorite editors, Eric Bosarge. He founded the humor magazine, Eric's Hysterics and edited the short story anthology, LOVE HURTS! (Note: while the magazine is closed to submissions, it's still available online if you're in the mood to laugh.)

SARETT: What was your impetus for starting Eric's Hysterics?
BORSAGE: I wanted to submit something funny that I had written but couldn’t find a suitable home. I decided that meant there was a niche I could exploit. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to work. I never expected to produce a print anthology. The thing took on a life of its own in a "field of dreams" sort of way.

SARETT: What are the ingredients that make a good fiction magazine editor?   
BORSAGE: Being able to recognize that the simplest fix is usually the best. Writers and artists get touchy when someone insists on changes. It’s important to make sure any suggestions will enhance their vision, not yours.

SARETT: Humor is tough. What do you feel most humorists or would-be-humorists get wrong?  
BORSAGE: Two common problems were the this will be funny if I use a sarcastic, witty voice designed more to imply humor than actually be funny kind of attitude, and making improbable, unbelievable premises and conflicts the heart of the story. To address the first, a good, funny story only needs one funny line per page, sometimes even less. It’s better to be genuinely funny once, than fake funny all the time. You can’t force it. Second, it’s one thing to attempt the theater of the absurd, but the reader still must bear the weight of disbelief. Unbelievable premises or characters are doomed to failure.

SARETT; I’ve heard that writers who are rejected write back and argue. Does that happen or is that a myth?  
BORSAGE: It does happen. I’d rather not comment on specific instances, but remind writers that each time they leave a bookstore, they leave thousands of books behind, and it’s nothing personal. It’s the same with rejection letters. You’re trying to sell a manuscript to people who are browsing, hoping what you have will fit their interests. Style and skill helps to attract editors, of course, but most often rejection is about fit for a particular market.

SARETT: Any favorite humorists that you’d like to share with readers-- novelists, essayists or short fiction writers?  
BORSAGE: Besides the blogger conducting this interview? (wink wink):
--Wayne Scheer is a machine, with something like seven pieces featured on Eric's Hysterics. His work was always a pleasure to read. 
--Mike Heartz, whom I see you're familiar with, is just waiting to be discovered. I am amazed a top editor hasn’t latched onto him. He’s one to watch. 
--Josh Sampson, one of the writers we featured early on, has the drive needed to succeed. His revisions to a story (featured on the site) blew me away. 
--Helen Peppe’s memoir PIGS CAN'T SWIM is currently atop the bestseller list, and rightfully so. I’ve used her short fiction piece “The Situation and the Story” to set the stage for writer’s workshops.

SARETT: Would you ever think about a new magazine, or is it, been there, done that?

I want to pursue something, but not without the backing of either a Kickstarter-type campaign or a major publisher. It probably won’t be humor. I’m working on a novel and enjoying the pleasant distractions of home ownership and family life.  

Scribd and Oyster: Not the Netflix of books

I read a lot so I was intrigued to hear about Scribd and Oyster, two entries into the "e-book subscription" business.  A low monthly fee for all the books you can read, which sounds like a great deal.  Both services have prompted comparisons to the the streaming video (and DVD rental) service, Netflix.

"The new Netflix," say reviews.  Are they really?

Hmm, not so fast.

Netflix started as a DVD rental alternative with a far deeper inventory, especially of rare, foreign and classic films, than video stores. When streaming video arrived, savvy Netflix offered series from Showtime, HBO and the BBC, mostly to compensate for the meager inventory on the streaming video side.  For many subscribers, who combine DVD with streaming video, Netflix remains the best place to find films and TV.
Product DetailsSo how do Oyster and Scribd perform?

I do love reading about Philadelphia history, especially of the Revolutionary War period. I own quite a few books, but wanted more.  So, I hopped over to Scribd and searched "Philadelphia history."  My search yielded mostly sports books or fiction (?)  On Oyster (which required payment info before I could search!) browsing looked tough.

In case you're wondering,  Amazon quickly spit out a list of 16 books.   I bought a few.  I think we're a long way from a Netflix of books.  
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