Wednesday, August 11, 2010

C is for Charles

If the picture of Charles Gramlich frightens you as much as it frightened me when I first encountered him over at Clarity of Night...don't worry.  I don't know him well enough to say he's really a teddy bear instead of a badass, but I can say he's a hell of a writer, has a dry sense of humor, and is a warm and congenial Facebook/blogging buddy.

Charles Gramlich grew up on a farm in Arkansas but moved to the New Orleans area in 1986 to teach psychology at a local university. Charles likes to write in many different genres but all of his fiction work is known for its intense action and strong visuals.

Charles, who blogs at Razored Zen,  has written several books (fiction and non-), over 75 short stories, and been published oodles of places elsewhere.  You should check out his impressive bibliography.  In the meantime, here's a tiny amuse bouche to whet your appetite.

Abruptly transported from Earth to Talera, Ruenn Maclang must slash his way through a world of alien warriors and deadly beasts, where every move can result in death. To stay alive and find his missing brother, Ruenn must quickly learn the discipline of sword and spear, and experience the bitter stench of battle. And he must uncover the many hidden secrets of Talera, a weird and wonderful world very different from our own. 

As of Tuesday August 10 Blogger has not been allowing me to insert images, so I apologize for the forthcoming image-less interview.

Step #1
  • music or gym class? gym class
  • high school or college? college
  • school lunch or sack lunch? school lunch
  • crayons or markers? crayons
  • first crush: Her name was Deborah. A much older woman
  • favorite subject: Biopsychology
  • favorite teacher: Jeff Stripling
Step #2
TELL US about any of your weird writing habits or idiosyncracies. (ie, What’s one “thing” you need to write, the thing without which the creative juices would cease to flow?)

For idiosyncrasies, here are two. First, I don’t right justify my paragraphs but I hate for the right side to be too ragged so I’ll go through verbal gymnastics to get the right side of my paragraphs to be ‘roughly’ even. Second, once my story is done, I often go back through and play a little game with myself to see if I can cut one line out of each paragraph, thus turning 6 line paragraphs into 5 lines and so on. I do this somewhat less these days because the trend has been toward shorter and shorter paragraphs anyway.

As for something I “need” to write, the primary thing I need is “relative” quiet. I never play music or let the TV play while I work, and I have a very hard time if there is a lot of ambient noise, like lawnmowers or loud chatter. Generally, traffic noise does not bother me, however.

Step #3
TEACH US one or two of your favorite vocabulary words.

I love all the weird names for “wind” in the world. Here are two I particularly like and use all the time:

Harmattan: a hot, dry, parching wind carrying dust.
Mistral: a cold, dry northern wind.

Step #4
  • The last book I finished reading was Crossroad Blues by Steve Malley.
  • I gave it 5 stars.
  • One word to describe it is intense.
Step #5
QUESTION: What's your favorite school-age memory?

Perhaps it was a prank a friend and I pulled as sophomores in high school. We’d gone to eat pizza and on the way back to our small town we stopped at a place in the country where people liked to party. We picked up a bunch of empty beer cans and stuck them in the car. When we got back to town we pulled up in the parking lot where a bunch of our buddies were and I pretended to fall out of the car with a beer in my hand while kicking a couple of other empties onto the concrete. We both acted like we were drunk, although we hadn’t touched a drop. The next day it was all over school about how wasted we’d been. My friend and I laughed over that for a long time.

Step #6
QUESTION:What effect did school (elementary through college/grad school) have on your writing?

Because I loved reading so much, I might have been a writer even if I hadn’t gone on to college and graduate school, but I doubt I’d have written the same kind of material or been as successful. Graduate school, in particular, gave me the specialized education that I needed to write much of the nonfiction that I’ve written, as well as a career that encourages me to write nonfiction and provides me with many opportunities for it, as well as periods of time off to work on fiction. Grad school also taught me the discipline that I think is absolutely critical for writers.

Step #7
GIVE US THE SCOOP. Tell us something about yourself that’s exclusive to In Search of Giants (ie, has never been publicized in print or podcast interviews.)

I collected a lot of things as a kid, rocks, bugs, leaves, stamps, etc. But my favorite collection was my spark plug collection. I had tractor plugs, motorcycle plugs, lawnmower plugs, motorboat plugs, and a giant plug that came out of a military tank. Somewhere along the line I lost that collection and it’s the only one I miss. I sure wish I still had it.

TOMORROW: D for Daniel


  1. Hale and well met, Charles. Another fine interview.

  2. A spark plug collection? That's cool, Charles! LOL!

  3. Richard, thankee.

    Natasha, I know. but that's the one I miss. sigh!

  4. Spark plugs? That's awesome! :)

    And I'm right with you on the quiet thing.

  5. I learned even more about someone I admire, read daily, and (happily) consider a blog-buddy. Good interview!

    Aloha from Waikiki :)

    Comfort Spiral

  6. Terrific, offbeat interview questions--and answers!

  7. Charles is one of those rare people who is equally talented, smart, cool and kind. He is also a little strange, but in a totally good way.

  8. thx for another peek into the old bean, charles...

    only spark plug i was really interested in [other than in the cars i drove] was with the junior chamber of commerce, one of their membership categories

  9. I'm all blushing and stuff. I'm glad everyone is enjoying.

  10. Great interview. I didn't know spark plugs were collectable!

  11. Great interview. A very interesting read. I've seen Charles around while lurking about - and I'll admit it, I was a little afraid of the profile pictures.

    It's nice to hear it was unfounded.

  12. Christine, probably not for anyone but me.

    John, all appearance and no bite, I'm afraid.

  13. Fun interview. The spark plug collection sounds more interesting than a stamp collection.

  14. He just SO rocks...Not that I'm biased or anything. :)

  15. I really like "mistral," too. Hadn't heard of "harmattan," though.

    Great interview, Charles and Aerin!

  16. Thanks, Aerin, for this interesting interview with Charles.

    That's a bummer about the loss of the spark plug collection. I'd never heard of anyone collecting those, but since I started watching American Pickers, I now know that people collect just about anything ~ and don't want to part with most of it.

  17. Really good interview, Aerin. So much fun to read. :)

    Charles, you always have something interesting and new to share.

  18. Thanks everyone. I appreciate your visiting.

  19. And I thought my sticker collection was cool...! Another great 7ss!

  20. I so bad want to hang out with and buy a beer for Charles. I feel certain our paths will cross one of these days.



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