Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Colleen AF Venable, Interview

Tuesdays with Morzant:

Getting to Know an Author or

The Case of the Purloined Interview

MORZANT: Zulko, humans. Join me in welcoming Colleen AF Venable, the author Bigfoot names as the person he’d most like to partner with in a Scrabble tournament. Zulko, Colleen.

COLLEEN AF VENABLE: Thank you so much, Morzant. It’s wonderful to be here.

MORZANT: Before we begin, I’d like to apologize. I meant to speak with you several months ago, but I inexcusably allowed myself to become distracted with my studies regarding the tensile properties of Rice Krispies Treats. I hope you’ll forgive me. Please also forgive these notes I’ll be referring to. I don’t normally rely on prepared notes when I conduct an interview; however, the thrill of my recent Rice Krispies Treats-related breakthrough has agitated my brain and left me uncharacteristically unfocused.

CAFV: I completely understand. Once I got lost in a Kit Kat bar for five minutes. OH THE THINGS I COULD HAVE DONE IN THOSE FIVE MINUTES. I could have invented teleportation…cured cancer…maybe even eaten two Kit Kat bars at twice the speed. Sigh. I guess we’ll never know.

MORZANT: The key is to develop better multitasking skills. But who has the time?

My first note pertains to your unusual name. Where I come from, middle names are only bestowed upon descendants of Zeenton’s Great Math Ancients. Given that you have two middle initials, I’m left to conclude that you’re a highly advanced mathematician. Norman the Half-Invisible Turtle told me that the “AF” stands for “Alien Friendly.” Norman has a penchant for feeding me bogus information, so I realize there’s a high probability that’s not true. On the other hand, I find your demeanor toward me to be quite congenial.

CAFV: The real reason I have two middle names is that I have an evil twin, who weirdly enough, is neither evil nor my twin. In 1980, two months apart, two girls named Colleen Venable were born. One you already know and the other is my first cousin. Our dads, two brothers, were not happy about the name accident and while “colleen” was not a family name with no significance, both were too stubborn to change. So I was forced to go by Colleen Ann growing up. BELATED SPOILER ALERT: The A stands for Ann.

UNBELATED SPOILER ALERT: The F stands for something I explain next paragraph. If you want to see the film version of how my name came to be and don’t want to ruin the ending, feel free to skip over this part.

I hated that name though because it always sounded like they were in the middle of a sentence. “Colleen ann…” “And what? AND WHAT?! TELL MEEEEE!” When I turned 14 I picked a second middle name, Felicity, because that is the sort of cheesy girly name you pick for yourself when you are 14. While it made my full name translate to “Happy Little Truthful Girl,” I got over calling myself the long-winded Colleen Ann Felicity, and shortened it to Colleen AF.

Reason for no periods between the initials? I was bad at typing. REALLY bad at typing. I kept accidentally hitting the coma key instead and while Colleen AF Venable was mysterious and memorable looking, Colleen A,F, Venable was not. My lack of ability to hit the period key drove me crazy enough to decide the world could deal with my weird middle name sans punctuation. I was eco-friendly before it was trendy. I’m sure those periods I’ve saved have gone to much needier sentences. Maybe even this one.

Please note I am a very fast typer now. Want to know how fast? This fast! Lkfjasdofijaoekrfjwelfkjoijnvodaivjldkfj

I totally just did that in under three minutes. I’m sure you are very impressed.

MORZANT: Your swift typing ability brings to mind the snail, a magnificent Earth creature who knows that rushing is overrated. Which brings me to my next question…

Your GUINEA PIG, PET SHOP PRIVATE EYE series is much loved by my lab assistant, Mortimer. Mortimer is a guinea pig as is the main character of the series, Sasspants. Sasspants resides at Mr. Venezi’s pet shop along with a variety of other Earth species commonly kept as pets by humans. Notably absent from the menagerie are any type of gastropod. I calculated the likely exponential increase in book sales that would result from the inclusion of snails. It’s significant. Financial considerations aside, don’t you think a snail or two, or twelve, would make a marvelous addition to the cast of characters from a creative standpoint?

CAFV: I tried to write a volume starring all snails called COME SNAIL AWAY, but the band Styx threatened a lawsuit.

MORZANT: I imagine they’d be equally irate if you published a book titled TOO MUCH SLIME ON MY HANDS. What a pity.

One of your stated influences for a character in the GUINEA PIG, PET SHOP PRIVATE EYE series is an imaginary friend from your childhood. You’re the second author I’ve spoken to who grew up with an imaginary friend. Yours was a hamster named Hamisher, which is the name of the hamster who plays Sasspant’s assistant. Was the real imaginary Hamisher as lovably exuberant as the fictional Hamisher is portrayed?

CAFV: The real Hamisher…or should I say the real imaginary, as opposed to the real fictional….um, my brain hurts. I have that problem in common with both Hamishers. They get overwhelmed easily.

The imaginary Hamisher I had growing up was a bit more of a troublemaker, always getting me yelled at for knocking things over while spinning ballet turns in the living room. Geez, Hamisher! Watch those hamster legs! The imaginary Hamisher also didn’t have as many friends as Hamisher from the books. It’s almost as if no one other than me could see him!

MORZANT: Highly plausible.

In each book Hamisher provides supplemental information about the animal species mentioned in the books. Because the mystery genre is a mystery to me, I especially appreciated the additional supplemental information provided at the back of the third book, THE FERRET’S A FOOT. There I became better acquainted with mystery terminology such as purloin, alibi, deduce, red herring, scapegoat, and denouement. I learned that a red herring is essentially a writer’s attempt to lead the reader to incorrect conclusions, thereby making the mystery more difficult for the reader to solve. As a scientist, my life’s work is to illuminate the truth while yours, as a mystery writer, seems to be to obfuscate it. Does that realization ever cause you to suffer moral qualms?

CAFV: It probably would, but I’m still too busy being upset about that Kit Kat.

MORZANT: Red herrings often lead to an innocent person—or in your books, an innocent animal—being blamed for the crime. That animal is called a “scapegoat” regardless of the animal’s actual species. Hamisher makes a startling observation about the nature of scapegoats relative to a mystery story’s guilty party. He says: “If it’s obvious that a certain person did the crime, that person didn’t do it.” That statement is counterintuitive, but it does seem to coincide with a mystery writer’s goal to befuddle the reader. Not to dwell on this, but, as a writer, what is your motivation for wanting to trick your readers into believing falsities? Alternatively, what do you think the appeal of mysteries is for readers?

CAFV: I loved loved loved (copy and paste that a million more times…or please don’t because I’d be sad if I broke your blog) mysteries growing up. I read everything I could get my hands on. All of Agatha Christie’s books. All of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. My favorite book on the planet when I was 10 was THE WESTING GAME. My favorite book on the planet, and possibly even other planets, like yours, is still THE WESTING GAME. There’s this amazing feeling when everything comes together, and the best writers leave clues throughout.

One of the greatest things about writing the Guinea Pig books as graphic novels is Stephanie and I can hide those clues visually. We pride ourselves in making mysteries where it isn’t the pull-the-mask-off-the-ghost Scooby-Doo endings. I want the readers to have as much fun figuring out the mystery as Hamisher, and even sometimes Sasspants, have. (Though she’d never admit she liked it.)

MORZANT: I see. Essentially mystery readers are like scientists in that they’re inquisitive, they examine evidence and develop a hypothesis, and they delight in discovery. And as a mystery writer, you’re responsible for helping the reader experience the exhilaration that accompanies the search for knowledge. I’ve amended my opinion of the mystery genre. Next to writers of non-fiction, mystery writers may be the most meritorious writers of all.

Thank you for introducing me to this type of fiction, Colleen. I should also thank you for introducing me to a literary device I was previously unacquainted with—puns. The title of each of the GUINEA PIG, PET SHOP PRIVATE EYE books is a pun. At least, I believe that to be the case. I haven’t grasped the concept of puns as confidently as I’d like. Are those titles considered puns?

CAFV: Those are absolutely puns. The original title for book one in my series proposal was the almost cringe-worthy LEAVE ME PROVOLONE, which still makes me giggle and think of cheese, two of my favorite pastimes.

MORZANT: Apparently your family wages “pun wars” with each other. Presuming that pun wars don’t involve physical violence, would you be so good as to engage in a pun war with me now? Perhaps firsthand experience using puns would give me a more substantial understanding of that particular literary device.

CAFV: My dad is the King of Puns. He tells so many jokes, that I am confused when he says real sentences.

MORZANT: I had no idea puns held such high literary regard as to necessitate a royal representative. I’m even more eager to learn all I can about puns. Shall we begin our battle?

CAFV: Okay! A pun war! Often it starts with a subject, which we run pun after pun until someone runs out or one makes us groan so loudly we fall down dead. Since I am still thinking about cheese, let’s do that.

So if I said “Morzant, it is so gouda to brie here.” You would reply…

MORZANT: Let me think a moment. Hmm…how about this? Cheese be honest—teleme what you think of cryptids.

CAFV: I swiss I knew you guys a whole lot cheddar.

MORZANT: We’re often mistaken for muensters, but you’d find we’re actually quite slice.

CAFV: Wow! Ewe caught on to this game of curd play very quickly. Keep practicing dairy and you’ll get even feta!

MORZANT: I had no idea puns were so cheesy. Zeentonians tend to be lactose intolerant, so I must surrender. You’ve udderly defeated me.

Your father must have hearty intestinal fortitude.

Before we move on to other topics, I must address an urgent pet-related matter. You can see on my interview notes that I’ve underlined this particular point in red and marked it with urgent-looking stars and exclamation points. On your Web site I viewed a photograph of your pet Emilio who you believe is a type of Earth eel.

CAFV: Yup! He’s the best non-imaginary pet I’ve ever had. Eleven years old and I do believe him to be the smartest fish in the world. You’ve heard of crazy cat ladies, I’m sure. I’m a crazy fish lady. I walk around with videos and pictures of him on my phone and force them on strangers on buses. I’m actually kinda not kidding.

MORZANT: Although it’s impossible to ascertain solely from the photo I saw, I’m fairly certain Emilio is a Epomolo from my own home planet. They’re not unlike Earth barnacles. Emilio was very likely a stowaway on my ship’s hull. I don’t wish to alarm you, but it would be wise for you to avoid humming, whistling, or fastening an article of clothing with a zipper, such as a jacket, while in his presence. Those sounds have been known to send Epomolos into a carnivorous rage.

[Alarm blares.]

CAFV: OH NO! I didn’t mean to start humming outside of my brain!

MORZANT: That’s not an Epomolo alarm. Something is amiss in the Hortozapher containment chamber.

CAFV: Phew. I was just humming INSIDE my brain. Oh no! That’s so much more dangerous! I hope I didn’t break anything too important.

MORZANT: If you’re speaking of the Hortozapher and not of your brain, you needn’t worry. It’s highly unlikely that you could damage any of the equipment on this ship. Even if you were telepathic, your internal humming’s acoustic resonance would—wait. You can hum internally? I’ve never met anybody whose brain has lips. Astonishing!

Please excuse me. I really must check the Hortozapher.

[Morzant exits. Enter Norman the Half-Invisible Turtle.]

NORMAN: We haven’t met before, but I know who you are. I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll get right to the point. Notice how I can do that. Get to the point. Quickly. Even though I’m a turtle. Unlike your character Herbert, the dopey turtle who rambles on and on. What’s that about? The turtle should be the suave star. He should be the one solving the mysteries. And he should have a cool car to ride around in.

Gotta go. Notice how fast I’m moving. Because real turtles aren’t slow.

CAFV: That was the fastest turtle I’ve ever met. It only took him two hours to ask me that question! I’m impressed.

NORMAN: Very funny, Venable.

[Norman exits. Enter Morzant.]

MORZANT: My apologies, Colleen. I wonder what set off the alarm.

CAFV: It wasn’t me. I definitely wasn’t humming inside of my brain. Nope.

MORZANT: In any case, the Hortozapher was not on fire or overrun by rats like last time. If it were, it would have been a devastating setback to my research into the tensile properties of Rice Krispies Treats. I’m three months into an experiment designed to determine under what conditions a Rice Krispies Treat will lose it’s tensility. The Hortozapher provides a contained environment where I can control such factors as humidity and pressure and—oh, dear, what you must think of me! Here I’m talking endlessly about Rice Krispies Treats without having offered you any. Mortimer, would you please come keep Ms. Venable company while I fetch her a refreshment? And bring the CPT so you can converse with her.

[Morzant exits. Enter Mortimer.]

MORTIMER: Hi, Ms. Venable. I’ve been wanting to meet you for a long time. I want to know if there’s a difference between a comic book and a graphic novel?

CAFV: Both names are pretty interchangeable. If I want people take me seriously I say I write graphic novels. If I want kids to actually pick up my books I say I write comic books. Comic books in general are much shorter, like the difference between a weekly stapled SUPERMAN or a longer story that’s all bound together pretty and has a spine on a bookshelf. Since the Guinea Pig books are 48 pages, they kinda lie between the two terms, so I just like to say I write silly fuzzy books, and leave the category making up to awesome librarian and bookstore pros who are the smartest people in the world. I fear playing them in that Scrabble tournament I just entered with Bigfoot.

MORTIMER: Do dandelions heckle pickles when the rain hits garbage at the airport?


[Enter Morzant.]

MORZANT: That’s unfortunate. It seems that the Cavia porcellus translator is malfunctioning again.

MORTIMER: Tomorrow’s freckles smack the moon jackal when singing the ice pencil dollops. Rutabaga! Football! Kaleidoscope!

MORZANT: We can’t understand you at the moment, Mortimer. What’s that you’re doing? I’m terribly sorry, but we don’t have time to interpret your pantomime. Please don’t be angry. We really must continue.

[Mortimer exits in a huff.]

MORZANT: I’ve never seen Mortimer in such a state. He’s usually extremely even-tempered. He even kept his wits during the Hortozapher rat infestation. I’ll make it up to him later. Here, please help yourself to a Rice Krispies Treat. Tell me, are you able to discern anything unusual about the consistency of the marshmallows? I added three grams of alaria esc—

[Knock, knock.]

MORZANT: I apologize, Colleen. I don’t know who that could be.

[Enter Penny C. Monster.]

PENNY: Hi, Morzant. You said I could stop by after your interview with Colleen AF Venable to pick up that scrap paper, so here I am.

MORZANT: I’m not finished with the interview. Would you mind coming back later?

PENNY: I can’t. I promised the puppies I’d take them for snow cones.

MORZANT: Very well. Please excuse me again, Colleen. This will just take a moment.

[Morzant exits.]

PENNY: I’m so sorry! I waited and waited and I really thought it would be safe to come over by now. But, you know, I’m glad you’re still here because I have a question for you. See, I want to throw a party, but it’s nobody’s birthday and it’s not a holiday. I know you and your friend invented Lumberjack Day. Would you help me do that? Invent a whole new holiday? Something that would call for confetti but wouldn’t make me have to wear any sort of false facial hair? I have such sensitive skin, I’d get a rash.

CAFV: Sure! Hmmm…how about Dandruff Day! Everyone can wear white confetti in their hair. Not only would it be super fun, but it would bring awareness to people with dry scalps in the Before people in commercials. They always seem like more fun than those boring After people.

PENNY: That’s kind of gross. But I like that the confetti gets to be two things at once, like how chocolate coins are dessert and money.

[Enter Morzant.]

MORZANT: This is all the scrap paper I have.

PENNY: Thank you so much, Morzant! And you’re invited to my party to celebrate Dandruff Day.

MORZANT: Dandruff Day? I’ve never heard of that.

PENNY: That’s because it’s new. Colleen just helped me invent it.

MORZANT: You can invent a holiday? Without a permit? Is that legal?

CAFV: My friend Marianne Ways and I DID invent a holiday a few years ago. Lumberjack Day, celebrated every Sept 26. It’s not legal to invent a holiday but as long as they never find out my full name (Colleen Ann Felicity Venable) or Marianne’s full name (Marianne Knifefight Ways) they’ll never catch us!

PENNY: And nobody can ever find any of us cryptids.

[Enter Oliver the Telepathic Puppy, Lenny the Levitating Puppy, and Violet the Telekinetic Puppy.]

LENNY: Oliver, follow me! I smell Rice Krispies Treats!

MORZANT: Puppies! I’ve told you before. This is a laboratory, not a puppy playground. Come back here! And stay away from the Hortozapher!

[Oliver chases Lenny deeper into the ship. Morzant follows.]

VIOLET: Penny, can we go for snow cones now? And after we go for snow cones can we go down to the creek and watch the tadpoles and then after we watch the tadpoles can we go for another snow cone? And can we get three different flavors all smooshed together in one snow cone? Who’s that lady and what’s all that paper for?

PENNY: It’s to make confetti.

VIOLET: What’s combetty?

PENNY: Well, see, I tear up the paper into little pieces like this and then later I’ll throw it up in the air to celebrate Dandruff Day.

VIOLET: Can I make combetty too and throw it up into the air to celebrate Dandruff Day?

PENNY: First we’ll eat our three-flavored snow cones and visit the tadpoles, then you can help me make lots of confetti for the party. After Morzant rounds up Oliver and Lenny, bring them down to the clearing with you. I’ll be waiting for you there. Thanks again, Colleen. Bye!

[Penny exits.]

VIOLET: Hey! You’re the guinea pig lady who writes the books about Hamisher and Sasspants and Mr. Venezi and the chinchillas who are really funny and the snake who is scary except when he’s funny and the turtle named Herbert who makes Norman mad and the rabbits who eat books instead of reading them. I love your books and I read them all the time and I can’t wait until there are more stories about Hamisher because he’s so funny and he can draw and when Hamisher came up with a catchphrase in the third book Lenny and Oliver and I decided to come up with a catchphrase for Lenny and the catchphrase we came up with for him is “flying saucers away!” and he says it right before he levitates and it makes us laugh. Is that a connect-the-dot puzzle on your leg because I love connect-dot-puzzles. Can I connect the dots on your leg?

CAFV: Wow. The entire plot of my books just all flashed before my eyes so quickly. I’m just gonna lie down for a bit. Feel free to connect my giraffe while I nap. I hope I don’t hum the Kit Kat theme song in my sleep.

VIOLET: One two three…this is fun…ten…what a long neck…eleven twelve thirteen…I think maybe this a Penny picture and not a giraffe picture…sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen…oh there’s a giraffe-y spot…twenty-five twenty-six…the guinea pig lady is a heavy sleeper…forty…and she snores really loudly…another spot…sixty-two sixty-three…giraffe antlers! And I’d better add a tail and some binoculars so he can read the book I’m drawing in his hooves and this giraffe looks thirsty so I’ll draw a vanilla milkshake because giraffes love vanilla milkshakes and he needs a scarf because Morzant’s ship is always cold and I’ll draw in fangs because I like fangs and I bet guinea pig lady does too.

You can wake up now guinea pig lady!

I like your giraffe tattoo and I liked drawing on your leg and I drew some extra stuff so you probably won’t want to take any more baths or my drawings will come off and that will probably make you sad. And you know what? I can’t levitate like Lenny can and I’m not telepathic like Oliver but I can make things move with my mind and I’ll show you. Watch me make that paper float and I’m going to stop talking for a minute because I can’t make things move with my mind while I’m talking……see?……watch how high I can make it go……do you have any special abilities? I bet you do because you’re so nice and I bet you can do lots of things.

CAFV: I can move things with my mind too, but only on very windy days.

Um…other magic talents. Oooh! I’m really great at jumping rope. When I was 18 I held a national record. It was even a coed record. TAKE THAT BOYS! It was how fast could you jump 100 jumps with a six-pound weight between your ankles. It was a very weird record, but I did it in under 35 seconds! Unfortunately as adulthood hit, this talent did not help me get me any jobs. There is a shortage of professions that require non-stop hyperactive jumping.

[Enter Lenny and Oliver with Morzant.]

MORZANT: Okay, puppies. Time to go. Don’t forget Penny is taking you for conical frozen vapor confections.

VIOLET: Good-bye guinea pig lady with a giraffe tattoo that looks like Penny who is our friend who is waiting for us in the clearing. Don’t forget to write more books!

LENNY: Flying saucers away!

OLIVER: Last one to the clearing is a Herbert!

[Oliver, Lenny, and Violet exit.]

MORZANT: Now, where were we?

[Knock, knock.]

MORZANT: For the love of Krakatoa! Now what?

[Enter Briar the Psychic Beagle.]

BRIAR: I know you’ve already had several interruptions to your interview, Morzant. But you need to know that in three minutes Mortimer is going to cause an explosion while preparing a new marshmallow concoction. You should take care of that or…well, just trust me.

MORZANT: Colleen, again, forgive me.

[Morzant exits.]

BRIAR: Nice to meet you, Ms. Venable. Don’t worry about the explosion. Morzant will stop it from happening. I saw it all in my dream, including you being here and me asking you about the dream journal you keep. Do your dreams foretell future events like mine sometimes do?

CAFV: My dream journal! I forget sometimes to keep that secret. Ninety percent of my dreams are ridiculous and I love to share with the world and the other 10 percent is that same recurring dream about finding out I didn’t actually graduate high school and my entire career is taken away because I never passed Chemistry. NOTE: I got an 85 percent in Chemistry. My worst grade ever. Excuse me while I adjust the white tape on the brim of my nerd glasses.

Yes I’ve been keeping a dream journal since I was 15. Sometimes the dreams are frightfully close to something that later happens in reality, at which point the Twilight Zone music starts to swell up in the background out of nowhere. But unfortunately all of the best ones, like a group of my friends and I starting an all Garfield cover band that plays at a Garfield theme park where the rides include THE NAP ride, and the SQUASH THE SPIDER ride…have yet to become true.

BRIAR: Sometimes events from my psychic dreams take so long to happen, I start to think the dreams were just regular dreams. But then the dream thing happens. That’s why you should never give up on your dreams.

About that secret new project you’re working on with Stephanie Yue, the artist for the GUINEA PIG, PET SHOP PRIVATE EYE series? I love it.

CAFV: I won’t say much, but I love it, too! Hopefully in the next few months I can speak about it, but I’ll tell you what it’s about in code: A _______ who goes to _______ and then ______ and ______ while at the same time a _______ and ________ join forces with a ________ to ______!

Crazy right?!

BRIAR: I’m really looking forward to reading it, and to the peanut butter cookies I’ll be eating when I do.

Congratulations, too, on the future success of your young adult graphic novel, KISS NUMBER EIGHT. And I see big success for the young adult novel you’re working on now, too. One thing. When you’re at the book signing in Spokane, don’t shake hands with the man in the green turtleneck. He has the flu. I mean, he will.

CAFV: Turtlenecks! Why would someone wear a turtle on their neck!? I’ll be sure to look out for that weirdo! Thanks Briar. You saved me!

BRIAR: Um, that’s not—

[Enter Morzant.]

MORZANT: I don’t know what Mortimer was thinking. I’ve told him eight times not to conduct experiments that require using the Bunsen burner when I’m not present. Colleen, I promise that will be the last interruption.

BRIAR: Um, I wouldn’t necessarily say that.

MORZANT: What do you mean?

BRIAR: You’ll see. Nice to meet you, Colleen. Watch out for that gum on the sidewalk in front of your building next Tuesday.

[Briar exits.]

MORZANT: What do you suppose she meant about—

[Knock, knock.]

MORZANT: Oh. Of course. She’s psychic. I’ll try to encourage whoever that is to leave.

[Enter Bigfoot.]

BIGFOOT: Hi, Morzant. I was hoping I could pick up that hat. I’m going to try taking some photographs this afternoon.

MORZANT: Certainly, certainly. Introduce yourself to your future Scrabble partner while I retrieve it. I may have finally solved the mystery of your photography impediment. The special transmitters in the hat should act to cancel out the unusual force that you seem to—

BIGFOOT: That’s great, Morzant, but you already explained all that to me. In excruciating detail. Remember?

MORZANT: Yes, quite right. I’ll be right back.

[Morzant exits.]

BIGFOOT: Hi, Colleen. I’m Bigfoot. My hand’s a little sticky from the glazed donut I just ate or I’d shake your hand. I guess I could wipe my hand on this paper.

CAFV: Or we can just shake in place. Dancing when you meet someone is a lot more fun than boring handshakes. Let’s shake! My you are a good dancer, Bigfoot!

BIGFOOT: You really think so? I’ve been told I have two big left feet.

You know, I’ve seen some of your photography work. I like it. Like Morzant was saying, every photo I take turns out blurry. No matter what. My friend Beverly tells me that my blurry photos have artistic merit, but I think she’s just being nice. Although, she usually isn’t nice at all, so it’s hard to tell. Oh, look. Here’s one of Morzant’s notebooks. He’s probably got some of my photos in it. Yeah, here we go. What do you think of this one? Be honest. I can take it.

CAFV: It’s…blue and original and whoa…dizzy. I think I need to lay down again.

[Enter Beverly the Other Half-Invisible Turtle.]

BEVERLY: Hurry it up, Bigfoot. I don’t have all day.

BIGFOOT: Beverly, this is Colleen AF Venable. She’s a writer, and a photographer, too. I was just asking her what she thought of this photo I took.

BEVERLY: I guess my opinion doesn’t count.

BIGFOOT: It’s not like that. I just wanted—

BEVERLY: Forget it. I don’t care. Hey, Colleen. I heard you work as a book designer. So, are you the type of person who thinks it’s a good idea to judge a book by its cover?

CAFV: I will still buy a great book with a hideous cover. Actually I will be a lot more inclined to buy it if it has a hideous cover. Nothing makes me happier than the ridiculous covers of books from the 1980s. You know the ones, with the pink borders and the bad oil paintings where everyone is wearing pants up to their chins. I have bookshelves full of those, and also other covers I love.

BEVERLY: Let me get this straight. You actually buy books because they have tacky covers? And people think cryptids are strange.

CAFV: While a bad cover won’t detract me from buying a good book, the opposite is also true. Even when a book is not amazing, if it has an amazing cover I will buy it. I don’t really judge books by their covers, but there is something amazing about the feeling when an incredible book has an equally incredible jacket. Few things (other than Kit Kats, naps, and the idea of Garfield-themed cover bands) make me as happy.

[Enter Morzant.]

MORZANT: What’s that about a Garfield-themed cover band? Does it perform Golden Odies?

BIGFOOT: Morzant, what the heck was that?

MORZANT: It appears that my newfound understanding of puns has resulted in a condition of reflexive pun verbalization. I feel queasy. I’ll have no choice but to set aside my studies regarding the tensile properties of Rice Krispies Treats while I work to develop a cure.

BIGFOOT: It’ll be a snap. I’m sure once you take a crackle at it, the solution will pop right up.

MORZANT: Colleen, you didn’t warn me that word play is contagious.

BEVERLY: Bigfoot, get your hat and let’s get out of here before Morzant tries to quarantine us.

MORANT: Beverly? What are you doing here? Never mind. I don’t want to be inhospitable, but it’s best if you leave before you’re exposed any further. Plus, I’d like to continue my interview with Colleen.

BEVERLY: Fine. But first give me the recipe for Rice Krispies Treats. Penny just asked me to make some for a weird party she’s throwing.

MORZANT: The recipe’s on the cereal box.

BEVERLY: The puppies chewed up the box. It’ll only take a second. Jot it on this.

MORZANT: Fine. Melted butter…six cups…marshmallows…alaria esculenta—

BEVERLY: No improvising. Just the regular recipe.

MORZANT: Are you sure? The alaria esculenta adds a pleasant texture and increases the tensile—

BEVERLY: No improvising.

MORZANT: Fine. Here it is. And Bigfoot, don’t forget your hat. I hope it fits. Not only should it help counteract your photography impediment, its stylish brim will keep the sun out of your eyes.

Now, dear friends, please get out.

[Bigfoot and Beverly exit.]

MORZANT: Finally. Every single one of my cryptid friends has stopped by and the cablevision repair individual isn’t due to come until noon to six tomorrow, so any further interruptions are unlikely. I’ll simply pick up where I left off in my notes…where…I left them right here. They’re gone. My interview notes have been purloined! But who would do such a thing?

Norman! I’m sure it was Norman. He delights in agitating me. The moment I heard the Hortozapher alarm I should have realized he was executing a shenanigan. He most certainly set off the alarm, and then, when I was out of the room, he purloined my interview notes!

CAFV: Once I ate a purloined steak. It was delicious.

MORZANT: I find that impossible to believe. What I mean is, I don’t doubt the steak was delicious, but now that I’ve gotten to know you, it’s inconceivable that you would steal anything.

Wait. I can’t forget the lesson taught to me by the mystery genre and, more specifically, Hamisher. He says the most apparent suspect is always innocent. That means Norman didn’t take my notes. I feel terrible for assuming the worse about him. He’s a prankster, and often an irritant, but he’s not a thief.

Colleen, did you notice if the notes were still here after Mortimer stormed out? He was upset about the CPT malfunctioning, but was he upset to the point of breaking the special bond of trust between a scientist and his assistant?

CAFV: I can’t speak much about my time with Mortimer. Secret Agent stuff and all that. Um..not that we are secret agents. Because we aren’t. And if we were that would be secret. Um… hey look over there!

MORZANT: Where? On the floor? What is that? Little scraps of paper. That must be it! Penny must have made confetti from my interview notes for the Dandruff Day celebration. How careless of her!

CAFV: Well, when you get excited about Dandruff it’s hard to focus on anything else! Woo Dandruff!

MORZANT: Unless…it might not have been Penny at all. Remember what Beverly said about the puppies chewing up the Rice Krispies cereal box? It’s widely known that puppies love to chew papery items. Lenny and Oliver were never out of my sight. Did you witness Violet shredding my interview notes?

CAFV: Oh, I’m sure that’s what happened.

MORZANT: I’m mistaken. Those little pieces can’t be the remnants of my interview notes. My notes were written on blue paper. Furthermore, those little white pieces aren’t bits of torn paper, they’re crumbs. And not from Rice Krispies Treats. They appear to be donut crumbs. Bigfoot! He’s always eating donuts. When Bigfoot entered, I observed that his hands were sticky as if he had recently eaten a glazed donut. However, when I returned with the hat designed to counteract his photography impediment, I noticed that his hands were no longer sticky. I didn’t think much about it at the time. Now I’m forced to consider that Bigfoot thoughtlessly used my interview notes as a napkin so that he could politely offer you a hand in greeting.

But he didn’t come here alone, did he? Beverly was with him. And she insisted I give her the recipe for Rice Krispies Treats. I wonder. In my haste, did I absentmindedly write down the recipe on the back of my interview notes?

CAFV: Oh, no wait. THAT’S what happened. Yes, I’m sure of it. I thought I was sure before but now I’m like sure times two.

MORZANT: Colleen, in your expert opinion, as a mystery writer, who absconded with my interview notes?

CAFV: I mean you had a lot of really good theories. It was most likely all of them. Or Miss Scarlet in the Conservatory, with the candlestick. Notes probably got too close to the candle when she was trying to play her violin…

MORZANT: I don’t have my interview notes and I’ve already taken enough of your time, so I’ll improvise one final question. BIGFOOT READS followers know that I usually ask the authors I interview a hypothetical question. My question for you is, if you could commit the perfect crime—meaning you wouldn’t be punished for your wayward behavior—what crime would you commit?

CAFV: Oooh I think about this all the time! Hold on I have the plans right here in my pocket! See first I’d get those suction cup shoes and then…

MORZANT: Colleen? What’s that bit of blue sticking out of your pocket? Is it paper? It is! My interview notes! You’re the culprit? But why? True, you had ample opportunity, but what was your motive?

CAFV: Sigh. Alright. It was me. I did it. I stole your notes. But I had to! You see…I made a promise to Penny. I promised her a holiday, but my scalp was too moisturized and you just can’t host Dandruff Day without dandruff! Err…and I have blue dandruff. That’s why I needed your notes. It runs in my family. All of the Colleen Venables have it.

Also, I was worried if you kept asking me questions I’d miss my next book deadline.

MORZANT: I certainly wouldn’t want to be responsible for keeping you from producing more books. Mortimer is already cross with me.

As to your blue dandruff…that’s truly fascinating. Would you consider submitting to a semi-invasive study of your scalp? My attention is already excessively fractured by my multitudinous studies, but I just can’t resist a good mystery.

Good-bye for now, humans. Multitasking is difficult, so drop absolutely everything you’re doing to read these books by my new, blue-dandruffed friend, Colleen AF VENABLE:

(illustrated by Stephanie Yue; Graphic Universe-Lerner, 2010)

(illustrated by Stephanie Yue; Graphic Universe-Lerner, 2010)

(illustrated by Stephanie Yue; Graphic Universe-Lerner, 2011)

(illustrated by Stephanie Yue; Graphic Universe-Lerner, 2011)

(as predicted by Briar the Psychic Beagle)

(illustrated by Stephanie Yue; Graphic Universe-Lerner, 2012)

(as predicted by Briar the Psychic Beagle)

(illustrated by…not getting a clear vision of the illustrator at the moment…;
First Second-Roaring Brook, not getting a clear vision of the release date…)

(as predicted by Briar the Psychic Beagle)
Colleen has asked that Briar not yet reveal the details.


Kelly Bingham said...

I just want say that I love this interview, and thank you both for the laughs you gave me. I love Colleen's books and might I add, I would pay big money for COME SNAIL AWAY!

Morzant the Alien said...

Kelly, Thank you for affirming my theory that a snail-themed mystery would be lucrative. Although, after learning about the mystery genre, I must conclude that a snail probably wouldn’t make a very good criminal as the detective pursuing the case could literally follow the culprit’s trail.

cranberly said...

This is a hilarious and delightful interview! Loved it! And now I want to read all of her books...