Well gang, you came to the right place for some fun this morning. What better way to launch into the week than by reading a goodie-filled interview with a talented and mysterious author. I present my chat with MAC, author of the delightful Middle Grade mystery, Anna Smudge: Professional Shrink. Read on for lots of pictures, secrets, and even a sneak peek of several chapters of the second book in The Professionals series. Yay Monday!
What inspires you?
I have two words for you. Marlon Brando. I mean, c’mon. Have you seen that Larry King interview where he’s barefoot, sings show tunes, and kisses Larry on the mouth!? Comedy gold.
(Marlon and his feet were actually the inspiration for a character in the upcoming Quenton Cohen: Professional Chef named “Feets” Tenenbaum.)
The kids in your book each have a particular, unique talent. So, what’s your secret talent?
Without a doubt, my talent is sleeping. I can do it anywhere and at anytime. On the sofa, at the movies, sitting at my desk, having an outdoor lunch with a friend while donning really dark sunglasses. I’m excellent at it. And my motto is, when you find something you’re good at, you should do it as much as possible.
Where do you write?
Sometimes, if I write too much in one spot, my brain goes offline, and I end up staring at the blank computer screen with my mouth half-cocked open, and a spittle of drool leaking out. Kind of embarrassing. Especially when in public places. So, I try to mix it up a little. I write from the computer in my den. I also take my laptop out and write from various cafés in the Village.
Sometimes, I’ll go with a couple of writer friends, sometimes by myself. My favorite drink to order when it’s cold is a warm apple cider with a cinnamon stick. My favorite snack is hummus with warm pita.
Writer’s block for me is not finding a good seat at one of my favorite cafés. That is why I always pack my remote controlled fart machine in with my pens, paper, and laptop. But I definitely have to change up the locations after draining all of the psychic energy from that particular spot.
Anna Smudge is the first in The Professionals series. Did you envision a series from the start? If yes, have you got them all plotted out in your head like an amazing authorial master-planner?
Yes, and yes. I always envisioned a series. And I have all six books in the series plotted out. The individual mysteries and how they connect to the bigger Mr. Who overplot was just too complex not to.
I am very meticulous about pre-writing, plotting, and planning. It is just easier to see if something is working earlier on in the process. A lot less time is wasted on sub plots that don’t connect back to anything or tie in. So, I can work faster overall.
Speaking of inspiration, which character came first for you, Anna, or Mr. Who, and where do you think your idea came from?
About six years ago I was working at a diner in downtown Manhattan, and I was miserable. So, I started scribbling on my order pad and Anna just kind of popped into life as this girl who wasn’t good at anything and was just a bit too ordinary. Even her name was the same when you spelled it backwards. But she was a great listener and always there for her friends. The rest of the story just came out of that. My friends tell me I probably needed a bit of therapy working at that diner. So, a book about a kid shrink was just wishful thinking.
Aside from Mr. Who (of course), who do you think are some of the most dastardly evil masterminds in children’s lit?
Lex Luthor (What do you mean comics aren’t literature!?)
Voldemort (two baldies/baddies in a row)
Homer Zuckerman from Charlotte’s Web (the uncle who was going to kill Wilbur for Christmas dinner)
Mrs. Coulter (not Ann Coulter, but her estranged sister from the Golden Compass)