What's the first thing people notice about you when they meet you?

The first thing people notice about me depends entirely on the person. In certain dating circles, I've been told, women look at a man from the feet up: boots, pants, ass, chest, face.... Most women then notice first and foremost that I'm not wearing shoes. Most athletic guys take note that I'm fat. Tall people note that I'm not very short.

The second thing everyone notices about me is that I'm very funny in conversation.

Name three things about high school (or college) you hated and why.

I distinctly remember being miserable and hating high school, although for the life of me I cannot remember why, because every memory I have of it is fond.

The three things I hated most:

1) I hated the fact that everyone I knew had a girlfriend and/or was having sex and I wasn't. I was a student leader in our church, and so the few girls I did date in high school I did so exceptionally platonically.

2) I hated the fact that my school's entire raison d'etre seemed to be driven by fierce, unrelenting competition. In hindsight, I am very grateful that they gave me the tools I needed to succeed in life, instead of unwarranted "self-esteem."

3) And I guess I hated me. I didn't really start liking myself until after I was married, and looking back, that's probably why I was so miserable in school.

Tell me your best Thanksgiving story and make it funny.

A minister, a rabbi and a turkey walk into a bar...

I don't know if this is my best thanksgiving story, or even if it's a thanksgiving story at all, but there's enough elements to it that it could be a thanksgiving story, and I'm writer enough to make the rest work. Plus it's a true story, and that's a bonus.

On most thanksgivings we spent the day with family, but as our families moved progressively farther away from us, we found that one year we'd be alone. Just lclary and I, and our pets, including the most famous of schipperkes: Captain Bear E. Clary, escape artist extraordinaire, and master heist plotter.

As it so happens, lclary prepared a beautiful honeybaked ham, as she was no fan of sticking her hands inside a turkey's ass to prepare one for to eat.

We left the ham on the kitchen island, in the pan, to cool off while we went to church or some such.

When we got home...

Our little dog, all 14 pounds of him, had somehow managed to leap up onto (or near enough) the island to pull the pan down onto him, and proceed to eat at least half his bodyweight in ham.

He was coated head to toe in honey glaze. Little honeyglazed paw prints wandered throughout the kitchen. And when he saw us, and saw our bewilderment, he looked us straight in the eye, and said, (in doggish eye-look, of course)...

"The cat did it."

You dreamt of growing up and being/working in what occupation? So what happened?

I wanted to go to the US Military Academy, and become the greatest 5-star general in American history. As it turned out, West Point only takes 4.0 graduates with congressional connections. Alas.

What is the toughest adjustment you have made since the death of your wife?

The toughest adjustment I've had to make in the last year and a half is having a reason for living. To be honest, I still don't have one. I don't keep my house in order, I don't save that much money. Everything I spent the last 16 years working for became moot, and it's very difficult trying to convince myself to commit to anything again.

I do a very good job of pretending that my life means something, and that someday I'll have a reason for excelling, or even just giving a damn. But that's just on the outside. The inside knows better than that.

Pitch me your latest piece of writing and why I should buy it in under 60 words.

The Faithful is a fantasy novel in the tradition of Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series. The recalcitrant former hero of a kingdom on the brink of war is called upon to perform one last task for the king he despises: escort a young priestess to her God's holy mountain and help her prevent the world-ending catastrophe she's forseen.

I think that's exactly 60 words.

Why did you ask to return to the AW forum after being banned for a time?

I've been all over this internet galaxy, kid. There's not a better, more skilled, more dedicated, or more gifted group of writers than the ones here. I regretted the decisions I made that got me banned the moment I made them. I'm extremely grateful I've had a chance to come back and make things right.

You have a professional/career goal itch you cannot attain right now. Why?

I'd like to be published or sell a screenplay someday. But this isn't so much an itch as a place I like to rub. I'm actually -- and who knows how much of this is the "I don't give a damn" talking -- pretty content in my career path.

A third "Batman" sequel is planned. Your choice -- what villain does the Dark Knight battle and why?

I'm not a big Batman fan. Hell, I like Aquaman better than Batman, and all Aquaman can do is talk to fish.

That said, the Batman only has a few well-known villains. If I were to do Batman 3.. I'd love to see them do the Joker again. I have no idea how they'd do it. But Superman has Lex, the X-Men have Magneto, and Aquaman has Black Manta... Batman's nemesis is, and always should be the Joker. Otherwise, why not make a new bad guy? If you're reinventing the character for the screen, why not reinvent the bad guys too?

Give me the closing for you Pulitzer Prize for Fiction speech.

In a million years, no one will remember the planet earth. In a thousand years, it's likely no one will remember mankind. In a hundred years, not one person will care who won the pulitzer. But what matters is never tomorrow. Who cares is never the next guy. What matters is now, and who cares are the people you know and love and interact with everyday.

To them, this award means only that the rest of the world has discovered what they already knew. To me, it means their faith in me was justified.

In the end, it means nothing.

And everything.

Thank you, good night.