|Yeah, I rap. It's whatever.|
This week, the star of my blog is badass lawyer John Abramowitz. Not only is John a writer, but he's also a Joss Whedon fan, which makes him even more badass (if that's even possible). You're going to love this interview. Trust me.
Q: We’re both at Comic Con. You’re cosplaying Spike and I’m Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We catch eyes and pose for a picture together. We’re both Whedonites so we have to be friends. Make it happen.
I’d find somebody dressed as Angel standing across the room, point at him, and start reciting Spike’s monologue from the opening of Angel, episode 3 (assuming I could remember it). If that’s not enough to make you my friend, then I don’t even know.
Q: What matters more to you, doing the right thing or doing things right?
In an ideal world, that should never be a choice you have to make. However, since, in the real world, it’s a choice you have to make frequently, I’ll choose doing the right thing. I have one of those newfangled “conscience” things that all the kids are talking about these days.
I should also say that this is a choice that characters in my books face frequently--whether to abide by their conscience or personal morals even if it might lead to them being less "successful" at whatever they're doing.
Q: Tell me about how being fan of Joss Whedon has affected you as a writer and as a person.
The better question is how it hasn’t affected me as a writer and a person. I started trying to write books as a teenager, and they were bad. So bad that I actually gave up on writing for a few years. I wanted to tell stories, but I didn’t understand how to tell them well. It was only when I became a Whedon fan that I started to understand the mechanics of storytelling. Buffy and Firefly taught me so much—about character, plot, pacing, genre-mixing, mood-mixing, you name it. If I hadn’t started watching his shows, my books wouldn’t exist.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t start crying every time someone talked about “a leaf on the wind,” either, so… trade-offs!
Q: Would you rather be the villain who is mistaken for a hero, or the hero who is mistaken for a villain?
Good question. On the one hand, I love misunderstood heroes. On the other hand, to quote Spaceballs: “Evil will always win because good is dumb.”
Still, I think I’ll choose the hero who’s mistaken for a villain. I like to think that I’d have the courage to do the right thing even if everyone hated me for it.
Q: What’s the best thing about being you?
Between my hobbies (Whedon-watching, video gaming, reading fantasy, etc.) and my writing work, I get to explore a lot of strange new worlds and travel with a lot of very interesting people.
Oh, and I’m a lawyer. That’s kinda badass.
Q: I still hate you for what your book did to me. Oh god, the feelings. Feelings everywhere. What would you say is the best way to write a tragic scene? Do you associate and become your characters, or dissociate and describe what you see?
Hilariously, I was going to say that the best thing about being me was the ability to make my readers scream in torment, but I decided that that would be too mean. Also, I want people to, you know, read my books.
If you want your reader to make a real emotional connection to your characters, I think you have to connect to those characters first. You have to find, not what you think makes them special, but what they think makes them special, and learn to love them for it just as much as they do. You have to find what they hate about themselves, and long for them to overcome it just as much as they do. That way, when they ultimately succeed or fail (or succeed and then die anyway), you can share their joy or pain.
So there’s definitely a lot of association involved, though I wouldn’t say I become my characters. I try to keep enough distance that I don’t need to eat multiple tubs of Ben & Jerry’s to recover from a sad scene. (Given how many sad scenes I write, I’d gain a lot of weight in a hurry if I had to do that.)
As for your hatred, I shall wear it as a badge of pride.
Q: Which fictional character has the closest personality to yours?
Q: If you could choose one Mortal Kombat character as your lifelong bodyguard, who would you choose? Tell me why.
Oh man, I love those games. And the answer is Scorpion. “GET OVER HERE!”
Q: You’re sitting in the middle of a large field, watching the dark sky flicker with stars. A throaty growl erupts right behind you and before you know it, you’re in the clutches of a vicious beast. You scream. The beast roars. A pretty girl appears out of nowhere and pulls the beast away before reaching her hand out for you to take. What happens next?
Any girl who can fight off a vicious beast is someone I want to get to know better. I’d take her hand, let her help me up, ask her name, and then ask if she could teach me to fight that well. (I’m a Whedon fan—you think I have a problem with a girl who kicks more butt than I do?)
Q: If you could be invisible for one hour, what would you do?
Can I also teleport to wherever they’re filming Avengers 2? Because if I can, the answer is easy. I’d love to be a fly on the wall to watch Joss direct.
Q: Tell me your favorite quote and why you picked it.
“Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”
Yes, I know Return of the Jedi was mostly lame, but this is super-helpful to me as a writer. It reminds me that you can have characters conflict without either one of them being Sheer Evil. They can both have perfectly understandable and even laudable goals—that just happen to be at odds. Sometimes even the characters who seem cruel or malicious at first glance become much more sympathetic once you understand their point of view.
Q: What project are you working on at the moment? What excites you about it the most?
At the moment, I’m on a break from writing because I’m getting the hang of a new day job. During 2014, however, I plan to write three books. First up—Hunter Gamble #3! There’s plenty that excites me about that book, most notably that it’s the culmination of a plotline I’ve been building for the last 2 books (the election).
I just finished Flickers (Weaver Saga #3), and it comes out December 10th. There are a ton of things that excite me about that book, too. It answers so many questions that I built up in books 1 and 2. Both of the main characters take huge steps in their development. And there’s a zombie apocalypse. How can you go wrong?
Q: Would you rather have a pet monkey that can use every weapon skillfully, or a talking lion that you can ride?
Talking lion. I’ll learn to wield the weapons myself. Then I can charge into battle on the back of a lion! How cool would that be?
Q: Tell me the best writing advice you have ever received.
Put black on white.
Q: This question is open for you to answer with whatever the hell you want. You can talk about the stupid people you come across in the lawyer world, or how much you just wish we were pals in real life because of the awesomeness.
Well, obviously I wish we were pals in real life. Duh. Though maybe it’s better that we’re not. I think the world might explode from that much awesome in one place.
I can’t think of a whole lot to say here, so I guess I’ll close with some advice to aspiring writers. Here goes: Write a lot. Be yourself on the page (no matter what you write, some people will like it, and others will hate it, so you might as well be yourself). And work on your evil laugh. (After all, even Bad Horse worked on his whinny.)
Oh, and use less parentheses than I just did.
Ugh. He's such an awesome guy. Make sure you follow John on Twitter, and buy his books.