Out of the Mouths of Babes

by Jeff Abbott on July 3, 2008

As promised, here is my son Charles’s interview with me. [warning: Charles’s questions are reproduced just as asked—so grammar Nazis, kiss off, just love here, no hate]

Q: Hi, Dad.
A: Hi, Charlie Charles.
Q: Dad. Please.
A: Sorry
Q: Why did you become an author?
A: You’re not going to ask me how I became an author? That’s what I get asked.
Q: Not how. Why?
A: Because I wanted to tell stories more than anything else in the world, and I was too stubborn to give up. Because the stories I wanted to tell were burning a hole in my chest. That’s how bad I wanted it. I had to write. Even if I never published, I had to write.
Q: What year did you become an author?
1994, my first book came out. But I started writing long before. I wrote a 500-page handwritten manuscript in high school. I kept notebooks full of ideas. Your grandmother still has most of them. Feel free to steal them.
Q: Did you want to be an author when you were a child?
A: I was such a rotten liar in school (not mean, just inventive, like fighting aliens with cowboys) that my teachers told my parents that they needed to find a creative outlet for my imagination. So they bought me a Big Chief tablet and a Husky pencil and I started writing. I loved the smell of paper and pencil. But for a while, I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be a marine biologist, then I wanted to be an astronomer, then a lawyer (or so I told myself, being a lawyer would make my parents happy) but my ambitions always came back to writing.
Q: Did you have a job besides author in the past?
A: Many jobs. I was a legal assistant, a sales rep, a technical writer, an interface designer, a copywriter, a communications director for large software companies and then finally a creative director at an advertising agency. This is what happens when you are an English major. You have the flexibility to take on any job. I also was a ski bum for a while, and later Daddy will explain what a ski bum is and if you decide to be one, how you can break it to me gently.
Q: Was writing stories your favorite subject in school?
A: Let’s just say I liked writing stories better than math. I wish writing stories was a subject in school these days—we need more writing, and art, and music. I wrote mystery stories in sixth grade, and one day I was writing one instead of paying attention to the math lesson, and my teacher took the notebook away. I was so upset. She gave it back to me the next day and said, “You keep writing. Just not during math.” My friends always wanted to read my stories, so that made me feel I knew how to keep their interest.
Q: If you were in a book what would you prefer in the book?
A: Say again?
Q: I mean, what kind of action would you want in the book if you were in the book?
A: Well, I like big moments in books where characters face hard choices that define who they really are. I like emotion in books. And I like suspenseful scenes, and I like for good to defeat evil, and generally happy endings. Wow, Charles, this question has summed up my entire writing philosophy.
Q: How old do I have to be to read your books? I want to read them badly.
A: I know. I think you need to be a teenager, at least. Because Daddy writes about intense situations, and you’re just not ready for it yet.
Q: Maybe you could write a book for me then.
A: If I had a good idea for a book just for you, Charles, I’d write it.
Q: Do you think I’ll grow up to be an author like you?
A: Absolutely, Charles, if you want to, but I know you will be a better author. The stories you’re writing now are much better than what I wrote at your age.

    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    Lola July 3, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Great interview. What a cutie. Can’t wait to read Collision!

    Nathan Bransford July 3, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    What a great interview! I sense a career as a journalist. That is if the whole ski bum thing falls through.

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