Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spotty Blog Interview: Meet Trevor Strong!


Trevor Strong is a Canadian musician, writer, and educator. His career began in 1991 with The Arrogant Worms. Since then he's done about a bajillion other things. He writes his own music, for which there is now a way for fans to support his output directly.  He's given a talk for Tedx on the role of humor in education. If you go to his website you'll see a variety of educational programs from songwriting classes to business for creatives.

He's written several books. Recently, I read Edgar Gets Going, a novel about a bass player who has fallen from the glory of a successful 80s hair band and finds himself struggling to remain in the creative life. He ends up working as a musician in a children's act, and the story gets more complex from there. It's a story that is hilarious, but it is hilarious with a lot of heart. I've said this on other places on the interwebs, and I'll say it again, everyone who has worked in entertainment should read this book.


Q) You've had a career in music since the 1990s with the Arrogant Worms. How did changes wrought on the music industry by the advent of internet distribution impact your career? What's different for you?

A) Wow! A business question right off the bat! You know, we've been pretty good at riding the whole thing out. We've had both good things and bad things happen to us because of the internet. The good thing is that fans put up our songs on Youtube and lots of people saw them there. Since we're self-(mis)managed we don't really do any marketing, so having another way that people can discover us is great. The bad thing is we got no money from this and people stopped buying albums, so we made less money. Now, things are changing again and it's now possible to get money from streaming (not always easy, though) so I think we might make up for a bit of that. I personally like the control the internet gives creative people, I just wish the money stuff would get sorted out.

Q) Union suits or union representatives?

A) Not sure exactly what that means. I very seldom wear suits. Or representatives.

Q) As a writer, musician and an educator, is there anything else that you'd like to try that you haven't yet?

A) I think I might have enough going on already... I'd just like someone to do all the paperwork so I could do more of it. Although I'd love to have super-powers or be forced to become Santa Clause one year to save Christmas.

Q) Hockey or Hawking?

A) I am a bad Canadian. I'm not really into hockey. Don't get it. First off, I hate the cold, and then I really don't understand the whole punching each other in the face part. I would certainly rather have a hawk and a cool glove. Or Stephen Hawking, for that matter. 

Q) Humor seems to be an important component for you in writing, education and music. Has this always been the case or was it something that developed over time? How important is it for you in the day to day? Also, have you ever been in the position where someone demands you to "Be funny! Right now!" and you haven't been able to? If so, how do you cope with that?

A) Humo(u)r is generally my first reaction to almost anything, although I can usually tell when that is perhaps not appropriate. The problem is that most of my humour is reactive. I don't tell jokes, I can't remember them. So, when people ask me to be funny I can't. I have nothing to be funny about. Although I might be making a sarcastic comment in my mind. I usually just smile and look busy when that happens.

Q) Pants or pantaloons?

A) Pants is a funny word but pantaloons is funnier. It is like the love-child of pants and balloons. Pantaloons! 

Q) How does the creative process differ for you between songwriting, creative writing and collaboration? (Aside from the obvious differences due to audio/visual versus textual mediums.)

A) That's a big question!
Well, the first two books I wrote were basically short story/gag books. So they were sort of like songs without the music part, because they were in short, self-contained units. Still it took a long time. Now, writing a novel, is a whole different story. I had a really hard time making the novel long enough because, since I'm used to writing stories in about twenty lines, I tend to leave things like description completely out. With a song, there's always a chance that you can start and finish it in one sitting. That doesn't happen with a novel... unless you can sit for a very long time. After writing the novel I understood why so many novelists seem to go a little cooky.

In most of my collaborations different people do different things (like the song videos I'm making) and I really like that because everyone gets to do what they're best at and getting out of my own mind is a good thing every now and then.

Q) How was your love of banana bread born?

A) I don't have a love of banana bread, per se, I more love what banana bread can do for me. I have kids, so there are always bananas in the house. Of course, bananas seem to age quite suddenly--but here is the wonder of banana bread: it is better when you use over-ripe bananas. So nothing wasted! Also I can make it in about 5 minutes and then use it in school lunches all week. Anything that helps with school lunches is miraculous. I have a feeling that when I go to hell I will be forced to make school lunches for all eternity.

Q) Recently, you've joined Patreon, which is a way for people who love what you do to support that directly and be part of the process of creation. What prompted you to try this? Would you recommend it for other creators? What has that experience been like for you?

A) Thank you for bringing this up! Yes, Patreon is a great platform and it gives the creator and supporter a much more direct relationship. I think it depends on the creator whether this would work for them--it seems to lend itself better to creations that are made in smaller chunks, like songs. And for supporters, they get the knowledge that their money is going directly to help the creator be able to carve out some time to create. It is a wonderful feeling that anyone reading this can enjoy simply by supporting me. 

Q) In terms of writing, what's the next project?

A) I've just finished a kids book which I'm going to start sending off soon. Believe it or not, I've been working on a financial planning book (with a financial planner, of course) and I also want to write a book about humour, and then I'd like to write another silly book too. I just need to find more time. Or become a vampire or something. You're not a vampire, are you?

Q) Can I have some banana bread?

A) No, I told you, it's for the kids' lunches.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spotty Blog Interview: Ian T Healy COMES BACK!

So, back in February, I interviewed superhero fiction author and publisher Ian Healy here on the Spotty Blog. AND HE ACTUALLY AGREED TO COME BACK OMG!

This time, he's got a new book from the Just Cause Universe coming out, with a cover reveal party on facebook on 9/30/14 to help promote it. You can find his books on Amazon, or go directly to Local Hero Press.

When I was publishing my book Haunted, Ian was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions for me about stuff that was making me feel anxious. He didn't even make me pay for therapy! That makes him a swell guy.

And he writes good, too.

The Interview

Q) The Just Cause Universe follows a team of super-heroes through a series of adventures in which [redacted because spoilers]. What was different for you in writing Champion?

A) This was the first time I'd come back to my original cast of characters since The Archmage, book 2 in the series. Day of the Destroyer, book 3, dealt with Mustang Sally's parents and was the secret origin of her biggest enemy. Deep Six, book 4, broadened the world by focusing on the prison for parahuman offenders. Jackrabbit, book 5, was a straight-up one shot with a character that was lots of fun. Champion is a continuation of Mustang Sally's story and really brings to a close her coming-of-age storyline. The next book in the series, Castles, deals with a major change in her life.

Champion is also a murder mystery, which is something I've always wanted to write.

Q) In superhero worlds, costumes are important for defining characters and their powers. If you were a superhero, what would be the most significant aspect of your on-duty costume? 

A) Being able to use the bathroom when you need to without having to take the entire thing off.

 Q) How do you design/select your cover art?

A) I hire artists based upon a variety of criteria (there are guidelines posted on http://localheropress.com), and work closely with the artist to develop an exciting, eye-catching cover. I'm thrilled to be working with Ontario artist Irshad Karim. His Champion cover is spectacular and he will be doing the Castles cover as well.

Q) You've written across a variety of sub-genres. What is the most challenging for you? What keeps you coming back to the world of super-hero fiction?

A) Superhero fiction is  my first love, and you never really let your first love go. I've written a lot of other genres, and the two hardest for me by far are horror and mainstream (without any kind of science fiction or fantasy elements). The bulk of work that I have trunked, meaning I will most likely never finish/never release it, is in those two genres.

Q) What is the main focus of Champion?

A) "What defines a hero?"

Q) Bandanas or bananas?

A) Bandanas. They're awesome for holding my waves of curls back.

Q) When it comes to the business side of self-publishing, what is the most important thing you think anyone thinking of doing this should know?

A) Don't do it unless you are prepared to do ALL the work and spend ALL the money.

Q) If you had to choose between a cape or a set of gauntlets, which would you choose?

A) Depends on whether or not the cape allows me to fly or the gauntlets allow me to fire lasers. If they're just stylistic, I'd go with the cape because it would be hard to type wearing gauntlets. And honestly, I'd rather fly than shoot lasers. How often do you really need a laser outside of your commute?

Q) How do you maintain the tension in superhero narratives? 

A) Rubber bands. LOL. The same way you maintain tension in any narrative. Throw worse and worse things at your hero until she can't possibly succeed, and then see how she powers her way through it anyway.

Q) What's your favorite flavor of rock'n'roll?

A) Progressive rock. I learned to play bass listening to Rush.

CHAMPION releases on November 25th. Link to preorder it can be found here:

For more information, follow Ian on Twitter as @ianthealy or on Facebook as Author Ian Thomas Healy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WRKC The Not-So-Hectic Eclectic Playlist 9/10/14

Today was the last show until summer of 2015! I thought I was going to be able to do it throughout the year, but alas, scheduling conflicts between the day job and fiction projects have swung their sharp-toothed faces upon me... It's all about numbers, there. Word counts and paychecks and limits on time... but the beat goes on as Sonny and Cher once sang... And I'll be back next summer!

The happy news is that Jean Roman and Dr. Ham joined me today, and many of the interviews I have done this summer are saved for posterity on Youtube.

Also, it was great show... XOXO to everyone who listened, called in, poked me online, or otherwise supported the show.

The Playlist

Hour the First

The Temples - Shelter Song
Morphine - Honey White
Drive-by Truckers - Made Up English Oceans
Cakelike - Lucky One
Peggy Sue - Long Division Blues
tUneYaRdS - The Real Thing
Wand - Broken Candle
No - Leave the Door Wide Open
Jane's Addiction - Been Caught Stealin'
Letters To Cleo - Here and Now
Jim Jones Review - The Princess and the Frog
Jesca Hoop - Pack Animal
Iggy Pop - Lust for Life
The Matthew Show - Poison Pickin' Time
Ani DiFranco - Shameless
Portishead - Roads
The Kills - What New York Used to Be

Hour the Second

Eleni Mandell - Put My Baby to Bed
Jill Sobule - The Jig Is Up
Ty Segall - Susie Thumb
Jean Roman Live Performance and Interview
Pavement - Shady Lane
Twin Peaks - I Found a New Way
Eilen Jewell - Queen of the Minor Key
The Orwelles - The Righteous One
The Hold Steady - The Only Thing
Spoon - Do You?
Spider Bags - Chem Trails
Bob Mould - I Don't Know You Anymore
Violent Femmes - Hey Nonny Nonny
The Breeders - Cannonball
Chuck Ragan - Something May Catch Fire
Southern Culture on the Skids - Camel Walk
Trevor Strong - The Introverted Army
T. Rex - 20th Century Boy

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WRKC The Not-So-Hectic Eclectic Playlist 9/3/14

Today's show was jam-packed with awesomesauce. This was the first web interview with a live performance that I've conducted on the show and I could not have asked for better guests. The Strayers were awesome.

Comedian Emrys Smith visited me in the studio for the second hour and there was much giggling. And butt-whispering. There may or may not be an audio file of this somewhere, which may or may not be released for the consumption of the general public.

Lest we forget, the rock and roll was very present, as always.

The Playlist

Hour the First

Edwyn Collins - Girl like You
B-52s - Dance This Mess Around
Angry Johnny and the Killbillies - Disposable Boy
The Strayers: Interview and Performance
Robyn Hitchcock - Ferries
Letters to Cleo - Here and Now
The Jim Jones Review - The Princess and the Frog
Elastica - Stutter
The Muffs - Weird Boy Next Door
Spider Bags - Chem Trails
A3 - Woke Up This Morning
St. Paul and the Broken Bones - Half the City
Sunny Day Real Estate - Pillars

Hour the Second

Sleater-Kinney - You're No Rock N Roll Fun
Chad VanGaalen - Monster
tUneYaRds - The Real Thing
Spacehog - In the Meantime
Ty Segall - Susie Thumb
Jesca Hoop - Pack Animal
Illinois - Nosebleed
Chuck Ragan - Something May Catch Fire
Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way?
The Gaslight Anthem - She Loves You
Mary's Danish - Don't Crash the Car Tonight
The Darcys - The River