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Thread: AW's Day of Listening - Interviews Thread

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  1. #11
    C'est la vie! vixey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Shadow Ferret


    Tell us about your avatar.
    When I first came online, it was at a small chat room called the Virtual Irish Pub. We had ferrets at the time and lacking any originality in coming up with a user name, I just called myself The Ferret. That worked fine there, but then as I expanded my Interweb connections I found that The Ferret was a fairly common user name. So when I came to EZboard [where AW got started], and found The Ferret already taken, I decided to take the Ferret moniker, since many people already knew me by that, and add something to it. But what? Well, I’ve always been a fan of The Shadow, the pulp novel, old time radio character, so I thought, hey, Shadow Ferret.

    But you asked about my avatar, didn’t you? Well, since over the years here at AW I’ve created this ferret persona, it just seemed natural to have a ferret of some sort in my avatar. So now I cruise the Interwebs looking for new and unusual ferret pics to make as my avatar. Besides, I’ve tried using other non-ferret pics as my avvie here from time to time, but every time I did I’d get so many reps asking “Where’s the ferret? I love the ferret?” that I’ve stopped trying to be anything but Ferret to you people.

    Tell us about yourself. (Career? Married? Single? Children? Pets?)
    I work as a technical writer for a contracting company. In other words, I get shipped out to different clients to help them do what their own people can’t do. Scary thought considering my skill level, which I think is nil.

    I’ve been married for 15 years, but I’ve known her for 20. I have two children, both boys, ages 13 and 8. They’re complete opposites. The older one is laid back and was hardly ever a problem and spoiled us. The younger one is the result of a curse my mom cast upon me, “I hope you have a child just like you!” He’s my mini-me. We were in church the other day and I noticed him out of the corner of my eye imitating everything I was doing, so it became a game and I’m trying not to smile, but then he flashed this huge grin and I couldn’t help but laugh. In church.

    I have 2 dogs, both rescued. Cobie, the Dalmatian mix, is mine, the Jack Russell mix is my wife’s. The Jack is afraid of me. He was abused and we think the abuser was male because he has a distinct fear of anything adult male. Cobie on the other hand is very needy, as you can see in my profile pic.

    And there are 2 ferrets in the house, both albino, both my eldest’s, who essentially neglects them. I feel sorry for them. I’m the only one who interacts with them and that’s only to feed them and clean the cage.

    What are the names of the 2 ferrets you have now?
    Well, they’re white, so one is called Snowball, the other is called Nippy. Although the one named Nippy doesn’t nip, the other one does.

    What got you interested in ferrets?
    I’ve grown up with pets all my life. Dogs are my favorite animal, but I’ve had nearly everything else imaginable except lizards (although I’ve had salamanders, fish, and turtles) and birds (although as a child I tried to nurse some back to health). Call for Dr. Ferret! Anyway… we first lived in an apartment. No pets. At least no dogs, I think some people snuck in cats. I’m not a cat person. Not since the time as a kid that we were playing street baseball and this cat got on the “field” so I tried to shoe it away. It wouldn’t move, so I kicked it. It didn’t go anywhere except to cling to my leg, clawing and snarling at me while I screamed and all my friends ran away screaming. A neighbor had to come and get the cat off me and my mom, a nurse, still shudders at the memory of my leg.

    Anyway, I digress (and I think my other favorite word is “anyway” [edit – see ‘What is your favorite word’ question below]), so no pets, but I wanted a pet. So I researched pets and came upon ferrets. I learned everything I could, presented it to my wife, who was LESS than enthusiastic about it, until I started dragging her to the pet store and showing her the baby ferrets.

    How many have you owned over the years?
    Suffice to say that we’ve own 7 over the years, as many as 3 at one time. We’ve even been given ferrets. One from a friend who just couldn’t take care of it and another from a co-worker whose husband works in the parks and just found it wondering around.

    Please, ferrets are domestic animals. They will survive in the wild about as well as a toy poodle. (Despite the stupid California law that bans them because they’re afraid of them being released and causing problems, such as a business of feral ferrets going wild and eating all the kibble people leave lying around. Hello! They’re neutered before you buy them!) Do not release them into the wild.

    You tend to post music in the Drunk Thread. What is your favorite kind of music/band? Why?
    I’d say what is now called classic rock from the 70s. Although back then we called it space rock, or acid rock, or hard rock. It wasn’t even heavy metal when I listened to it – that was coined a little later, mid-70s maybe. And my favorite band is Black Sabbath. I just love the heavy crunch of Tony Iommi’s riffs. I think he’s created some of the best guitar riffs in the history of rock. Plus, a lot of their music has a dark fantasy quality to it. I used to play Black Sabbath while reading Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories and their sound has become so ingrained with that kind of story that whenever I write, I put them on for inspiration.

    If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
    I have several places I’d like to visit. I love Greek mythology, so I’d love to see the Acropolis. I’d like to see the Great Wall. The Forbidden City. Monasteries in Tibet. Love to go to Oktoberfest in Germany. I’d like to see medieval castles. But if I could actually live somewhere, I’d like to go live in Iceland. I spent three years there in the Navy and I just enjoyed the people, the pristine climate. It’s just a nice clean, quiet place where I think I’d get a lot of writing done as I’m soaking in the Blue Lagoon.

    You say you spent time in the Navy. Why did you choose that branch of service? Tell us about your time in the Navy.
    You know, sometimes I make spur of the moment decisions. I think its part of my ADHD, I don’t really think things through. I have no idea why I joined the Navy (over any other branch I mean) and when I found out they have ships and I get seasick and that I’m claustrophobic, well… Duh. Anyway, out of high school I just wanted to get away. My parents had divorced a year previously and I guess I was running away from that.

    But there’s really not much to tell. I spent a year in school in San Diego. Hung out at the beaches in Orange County, specifically La Jolla. If I ever had the desire to leave Milwaukee and stay in the States, I think San Diego is one of the places I’d go to.

    Then I spent 3 years in Iceland trying to avoid sea duty. You see, as a sailor, there is this sea/shore duty rotation. At the time it was 36 months sea duty, then 12 months shore duty. Iceland, because of its remoteness, counted as sea duty. So I was planning on staying there for my whole sea rotation then coming stateside.

    And I did. Except that a month before my departure they changed the rotation to 48/12 (I’m not sure about the shore rotation, it might actually have been 24 months). And guess what? It was too late to extend my tour in Iceland.

    So I got shipped out to the USS Coronado, an LPD (amphibious transport dock), which had taken the place of the USS La Salle, the flagship to the Commander of the Middle East Forces. It/they are the only all white ships in the Navy. Has something to do with showing our presence there and going back to President Teddy Roosevelt. Don’t ask me more, I don’t know. So I spent a year in the Persian Gulf, arriving a few weeks after the Iran Hostage Crisis ended.

    That’s where I discovered that you can get used to seasickness. I was sick when I first got on board, then got used to it. Then we moved out into the Arabian Sea and larger waves and got seasick again. Then got used to that just as we went into the Indian Ocean during typhoon season.

    So during that time I got to go ashore at Bahrain. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. And Mombasa, Africa. But one of the most fun times was when the ship went dead in the water in the Straits of Hormuz and started drifting closer and closer to the Iranian shore.

    Although most of my time in the Navy is an alcoholic blur, I had a good time, made many friends, and visited some very interesting places.

    Oh, and yes, I finally did get stationed stateside, but it was New Jersey so I guess I got screwed on that, too.

    Would you encourage your sons to go into the service?
    Yes, I would encourage them to join. I am very proud of my service to my country and think it is a great place to learn discipline, gain invaluable experiences most civilians will never have, and besides, with the GI Bill it helps pay for college and a home. But they better pick the Navy. If they even think of the Army I’ll disown them.

    What is your favorite word? Why?
    But. But is my favorite word. It must be, because it shows up in my writing all the time. I have a huge But problem. For some reason, while writing, every sentence I create works out to have a But in it. I have to consciously rewrite them all to eliminate the But. And it’s one of the first words I do a search for when I’ve completed a manuscript. I have literally hundreds of them throughout the document, sometimes several in just one paragraph. Therefore I have to literally rewrite hundreds of sentences to eliminate the But. (In fact, there’s a sentence in the second answer where I used it twice.)

    What is your favorite book and why?
    This is a hard question, because if I choose just one, it makes it seem that all the other books I’ve read aren’t my favorites, when in fact they are. I have many favorite books and all for different reasons. Some are favorites because I read them when I was very young and they influenced me as a writer then, but certainly wouldn’t influence me now because I’ve changed so much over the years. For instance, the first two books I read that took me down this road to being a writer were “Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar” by Edgar Rice Burroughs and “Conan the Adventurer” by Robert E. Howard and edited by L. Sprague De Camp. Both those books introduced me to heroes and adventures that were much larger than life, certainly larger than the Bobbsey Twins, which is the kind of stuff I was reading prior.

    After reading those two books, and I can’t recall which I read first, it’s almost a virtual tie, I immediately started writing my own stories. And almost as immediately started submitting them and receiving rejections.

    Another book that had a great influence on me was “Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller. It was the first book I read outside the action/adventure genre. It grabbed me by the throat and never let go. I’d never read anything so raw, so provocative, so angry and philosophic. I could see why the book was banned for 27 some years. A sample line is “This is not a book. This is a libel, slander, defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty.” And it was, and I loved it.

    What do you write? Novels, shorts, non-fic? And what genre?
    I write whatever catches my fancy. As a technical writer, I'm forced to write non-fiction every day of my life. And I have a blog to annoy people with, but then, who doesn't have a blog? Seriously! I'd like to meet that person, shake their hand, and thank them for not joining the rest of the overindulgent narcissistic world in cyberspace.

    When I write for fun and profit, however, I tend to concentrate mostly on novels. I started out writing short stories, because I think short. That means I think in scenes and I’ve never been able to see the Big Picture (which is why I can’t outline). So when I started writing I wrote short stories and always marveled at people who could write longer. I even tried my hand at starting novels and that’s all I did was start them. I’d get in 4 chapters and be at a loss of what to do. But somewhere along the way, I broke that wall and finished a 195,000 word novel that is now trunked because I’m too lazy to fix it. But that novel showed me that I can write long even if I still think short.

    Which means, I write a scene, when I’m finished with that, another scene presents itself and I write that. It’s like going into a house where all the doors are closed and I have to open each door and explore the room to get an idea of what the house is like.

    And I try my hand at poetry, but I don’t feel I’m much good at that. I’m more prose oriented than anything.

    And my primary genre is fantasy. My current subbing novel is an Urban Fantasy. My trunk novel was a medieval fantasy of sorts, but without any annoying elves or magic or anything. Another novel that I’m only 4 chapters in on (my first attempt at a novel) is about a half-elf and a snarky wise-cracking unicorn. Then I have a Space Opera novel (4 chapters in!) about a bounty hunter in the future who quotes Shakespeare. And except for the trunk novel, they all have this quirky humor to them, so maybe my genre is actually humor, though I don’t think of myself as a humorist. I’m certainly no Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett or Robert Asprin.

    When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
    Well, in a previous question, I guess I said right after I discovered Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs I started writing, which is true to the degree that that is when I started writing and seeking acceptance through publication, but I overlooked the fact that my parents gave me this working toy printing press when I was a kid. I still have it. It had a printing wheel and an ink roller and you’d take these metal bars and slide type onto them, put the bar onto the printing wheel and it would create a newsletter. I made a little one page newspaper that I’d hand out to my parents and friends. So I guess that’s when I really started writing, though at one letter at a time, I’m not quite sure how prolific I was.

    What are your goals as a writer?

    To get my novel published. Short term, I guess, to just get an agent, but get that thing published, to see my name on shelves next to all the fantasy greats, that would be so cool.

    When did you join AW and what do you remember about joining then?
    I joined AW back when it was still on EZBoard, so maybe 2004 or even before? At the time I was running my own writer’s board, which was fairly active at the time, and there were a couple other boards on EZboard I attended regularly, so AW sort of got lost in the shuffle. I don’t remember much about those days. It wasn’t until I got bored running my board and AW switched to its own server that I became a regular.

    What is your favorite AW thread? Why?
    The Royalty Thread. I guess it suits the fantasy writer in me. I love medieval history and this thread gives me a chance to act out, and sometimes write, that sort of story line.

    And aside from that, it’s also my favorite thread because I’ve made some close and meaningful friendships there.

    What is your favorite AW moment?

    I don’t have a favorite moment, per se, there have been so many good times here, and I’ve met so many wonderful people, that honestly, some of this stuff just blurs together. However, and though I can’t point to any specific thread or event, I will say that my favorite moments on AW happened when my good friend PeeDee was here. We played off of each other’s posts and just had a rollicking good time. Sometimes a thread would degenerate into just the two of us going back and forth, puns flying like crazy. Other times MidnightMuse would get involved and also SpookyWriter. Those were good times. But PeeDee has put himself into Internet exile and MidnightMuse hardly comes by any more and Spooky, well, he did one practical joke too many and it backfired on him, earning him a permanent ban. I miss them.

    But that isn’t to say I don’t have new best friends here who I have a ton of fun with. Probably the latest fun thing was the Halloween horror scenario we had going in the Royalty thread (starting on page 618). That was a lot of fun and not just because I started it (at my queen’s request, of course), but because everyone joined in and had a good time with it. It’s currently being serialized (by others, not me!) as “Evil Stalks the Castle.”

    But, to be specific, my favorite moment at AW happens every day as I’m chatting with all my friends.

    What is your worst AW moment?
    Every April Fool’s Day. I’m not much for those kinds of shenanigans. I don’t find practical jokes very practical or funny. Plus, I’m easily fooled and when I get fooled I get angry. Mostly at myself, but I tend to take it out on everyone here. It’s a nasty quality I have and to avoid it I plan on taking that day off this year.

    Oh, wait, now that I’ve thought about it. My worst AW moment is everyone’s worst AW moment who was here at that time. One May, several years ago, a certain evil agent managed to get AW shut down for several days and we all went through severe withdrawal. There were even temporary AW shelters set up for all the homeless posters to hang out at. It was a terrifying and tragic period in our history.

    Following is a sample of Shadow_Ferret’s writing:
    Here are the opening paragraphs to my currently subbed novel, A Life in Rune.

    Superman. Now there was an ambitious man. No one forced him to be the hero of Metropolis, he chose to do it. He chose to take on the responsibility of saving the world.

    The same can be said for anyone who becomes President or some other world leader. They have drive, ambition, and ego.

    On the other hand, I had no such ambitions. I would have been perfectly happy living a life of obscurity, boredom, and ease. In fact, my dream job was to be retired. Even as a child while my friends wanted to be doctors or lawyers or firemen, I always thought past that to what I’d do the day I retired.

    That was before Zeus called me into his office.
    Last edited by vixey; 12-14-2008 at 05:51 PM. Reason: formatting & color change

    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter.-Dr. Seuss

    "Thank God for fingers and muses. Writing is like singing the blues on a laptop."-cwj

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