The Happy Haikuer ( has (sort of) nominated me for a Liebster award. I have the utmost respect for her as a blogger and as a person, and I can definitively state that she is far and away the greatest maker of haiku in the area of commuting by train in the history of the English language.

I had previously been nominated by the excellent author of The Finder’s Saga ( but (as Happy Haikuer put it) I am terrible at getting around to things. And I hardly know any blogs other than the ones that actually nominated ME… so… anyway.

If you are a blogger, and you’re reading my blog (e.g. if you are josbons, a.k.a. SIUQUXEBOOKS; Geraint Isitt, a.k.a. Penguin Ponderings, etc), then consider yourself nominated. And answer my questions at the end.

I’m answering the five HH answered, but also the five she posed. I’m not promising that the answers are thorough or even have a lick of truth in them.

1. When did you start writing (apart from for school?)

I tried writing plays in high school, but, sadly, my main examples of playwrights were Shakespeare and Ionesco. Try putting those together.

Tolkien and Lovecraft made me want to write fantastic fiction. Each of them (and Rowling is like this too, and so is Stephen King) is not only in command of the language, but also has issues they can only get at with writing fiction, and their knowledge of their own issues mostly seems to consist of what they’ve written. The long and short is, I started writing seriously after college, and only managed to finish something meaningful (The Tale of Countess Vivian) long after college. (I got to write The End for the first time seven days before my 40th birthday.) And continuing to write, I began to figure out my issues, but not by any means to the extent of actually solving any of them.

2. Are you happy with the last thing you posted?

Given that I’m actually starting to figure out who done it—pretty soon Lilah’s going to make an arrest—yes, I am, thank you.

3. Has a dream ever influenced anything you’ve written?

So often. In particular, the scene of Vivian’s initiation came from a dream I had about my sister, which involved tarot cards, wine mixed with a strange powder, and a small vicious creature trying to scratch its way through a door.

4. How do you get through writers block, if you get it at all?

I really don’t suffer from that. Rather the opposite… Still, staring at a blank page is not unfamiliar. I try to write 600 or 800 words a day, and the first 200 are always kind of hard. The last 200 are dead easy. And that’s why lately some of my posts have been in the 1200 range. As Kingsley Amis said, “The art of writing consists in the application of the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” So I apply butt to chair and fingers to keyboard. Every. Stinking. Day.

5. Would you rather be even better at writing or have a million pounds/euros/dollars/whatever currency you use?

Heeeeey… if I had $1,000,000 (or €1,000,000 or £1,000,000 etc) I could take time to really work on my writing!

And her bonus five questions:

  1. If you were to be bitten by a radioactive insect or animal of any shape or size and take their powers/ abilities, what would it be?

A raven. They can FLY. And they’re smart enough that they probably can really enjoy it.

2. Would you use your new powers for good or evil? Give examples.

I would use them to enjoy the wind in my feathers and the vast panoramas of Earth’s skies. And I might just poop on people down there. And steal their food from picnics. If that’s evil, then so be it.

3. If you could be reunited with one toy or item from your childhood, what would it be and why?

I kind of miss my GI Joes. I had two: an Army guy and a sailor. One was missing his arm below the elbow, the other his hand. I feel like they’re lost somewhere in the world, relying on their scanty supply of wits and on each other, desperately trying to find that kid who used to take care of them (and make them switch clothes sometimes) …and give him a piece of their mind.

4. Who would you class as king of the guitar solo? There are several correct answers but points will be deducted for any answer containing the the words Satriani or Malmsteen

I have to say Frank Zappa. He wasn’t very showy, but he sure could jam the notes together, and, not under the influence of any drug other than caffeine and nicotine, he actually knew what he was doing. On the far side of the spectrum, Jerry Garcia is nearly always fun to listen to, even if he was stoned out of his gourd. In between, it’s hard to argue with Carlos Santana.

5. If you could master one instrument what would it be?

Typewriter… Seriously, piano. A well-played piano is just a piece of magic.

Now: If you want to play this game, and why wouldn’t you? —all you have to do is answer MY QUESTIONS:

  1. Rowling or Tolkien? I ask because I don’t want to answer the question myself.
  2. Why does it matter that we now have pictures from Pluto? I ask because I know it DOES matter, but I want to know what makes you think so.
  3. How does diversity help your work? I ask because Lilah Bay is really my first main character of color, but I would have difficulty explaining why I wanted to write about a black woman (time traveling wizard) detective, or how the fact that she’s a black woman (as opposed to the fact that she’s a time traveling wizard) affects the story.
  4. Do you draw? At all? And if so, how does it help you write? I ask because I draw, but I’ve let the skill lapse.
  5. How does your day job affect your writing? I ask because, like Tolkien, I’m a college professor. Tolkien’s expertise was in language, and he served in the trenches in World War One; both things observably affect his story. Well, I never served in the military, and I’m a math professor who also teaches an English Composition class on Lovecraft; how do those affect my writing? NO IDEA.

So there you are… please take this little activity and run with it, and if you do this on your blog, do link to me so I’ll know you did it.

And a sincere, heartfelt thanks to anyone/everyone who is actually reading my stuff. Stop by Wilton, and I promise I’ll take you to Calzolaio’s for pasta.

Paul J Gies

Wilton ME USA