Same disclaimer as above!

Cranky: First are some writerly type questions, and after that, I guess I'll just have to wing it and see what comes up, if that's all right by you.

Medievalist: Sure.

Cranky: First things first....and forgive me for such an ignorant question, but do you write fiction or non-fiction?

Medievalist: I am currently making my living writing, but I loathe and hate and detest writing. It's too much like work. But other than working on early games, and sometimes brainstorming with writer friends, I don't do fiction. Teaching is much much easier.

Cranky: And you teach medieval history? Or literature? Or some other thing I haven't thought of?

Medievalist: English comp/writing, of various sorts, and English lit from 800 to 1832, otherwise known as The Good Stuff.

Cranky: So, that's where the moniker comes from then, I assume. Do you have a favorite writer from that era?

Medievalist: Anonymous In all seriousness, everything anyone would want to know about me is on the Web. Really!

Cranky: I assume, then that you'll list your favorite contemporary authors there, too?

Medievalist: Somewhere there . . . it's a pretty big site. SF mostly, Cherryh, Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Donne, and then really early anonymous stuff--the Welsh Mabinogi, Irish myths.

Cranky: And then there is your blog on reading Stephen King. I know a little bit about how that came to be, but if you wouldn't mind explaining it a little more, that would be great. And also if you wouldn't mind telling us which one of his works you ended up liking the most -- or if you ended up liking any of them at all!

Medievalist: I'm still reading King. Here's what happened.

I was the worlds longest writing dissertation student. Ever. And around 2005 or so, Mac got to talking about King and how much she loved him. And I'd really not read anything. So we made a deal that I'd read her suggestions when I finished the Ph.D. (Mac wrote her M.A. thesis on King's Pet Sematary). So I passed my defense in May, and she sent me this &$ (*#&& huge list. Which she kept adding to . . . so far, Pet Sematary is my favorite. I've umm . . . well a blog post turned into an essay. A long essay. [cough]. Maybe twenty or so pages, not counting footnotes.

Cranky: LOL! And correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you originally start this project in the spirit of reading it for fun?

Medievalist: Umm . .. well. Yeah. But King is really really smart, and fun, and interesting--and he's actually very very sophisticated as a writer. He's deliberately playing off Hawthorne, and Melville and the Brontes, for instance.

And he's scary as hell. I won't watch the movies. And I won't read him at night before going to bed.

Cranky: I don't blame you for avoiding his work at night. Which one scared you the most?

Medievalist: I'm still reading the farking list . . .but Misery, I think. So far.

Here's the current version of my homework:

List I
> The Dead Zone
> Pet Sematary
> The Shining
> IT
> The Stand
> Dolores Claiborne
> Bag of Bones
> Lisey's story
> Duma Key
> Intermezzo
> On Writing
> Danse Macabre
> List II
> Salem's Lot
> Skeleton Crew
> Cujo
> Christine
> Misery
> Rose Madder
> The Green Mile
> Bag of Bones, then Lisey's story and then Duma Key.

Cranky: When you're finished with your homework, are you going to write any more essays on his work? And what do you have currently in the pipeline that you can talk about?

Medievalist: Right now, I'm I'm blogging for hire And not under my own name. It pays the bills. I really really do loathe writing.

Cranky: And yet, you do it. Why? A serious question, because I loathe it at times, too, and I don't get paid for it. Yet.

Medievalist: Because I can get paid for it, fairly easily. And particularly when I write about technology. Plus, I moved from SoCal to Washington, after I finished my degree, and I got writing work right away; a tenure track teaching job, or a geek job, takes a bit to find right now.

Cranky: And I would suppose that have some pub credits are a good thing to put on your resume, for sure. Publish or perish, yes? So, if you didn't have to write...what else would you like to do besides teach?

Medievalist: Yep. They are. And honestly, the life of a roving lecturer, someone without tenure, is miserable. If I didn’t teach, I’d develop software. Particularly content based software-- things like multimedia editions.

Cranky: Okay, explain that to the tech-challenged. Namely me. Multimedia interactive content?

Medievalist: Digital Shakespeare and Chaucer Things like a video performance, with an annotated text, and comparisons of video clips and essays. Like this: Which is now more than ten years old-- but still is the industry standard. It's hellaciously fun to teach with things like that.

Cranky: I can see why…it would appeal to all kinds of learners. I take it that this is currently too much of a niche thing to provide a steady gig?

Medievalist: Well, it used to. . . but a lot of the problem is that current technology can't do what we did way way back in the '90s. We did things like annotated Beethoven symphonies.

Cranky: Why ever not? Is it copyright issues? Compatibility problems? I know, I'm going off on a tangent here, but I'm really curious as to why.

Medievalist: It's two issues: one, rights now, those things are much much harder to obtain. And two, the basic technology. But we're getting closer.

Cranky: That's something you'd like to be a part of, with the software development?

Medievalist: My last job I created software for "cognitive fitness" -- essentially brain exercises for people in the early stages of Alzheimer's. So,yes. Even just text-based e-books.

Cranky: Oh, wow! Okay, before I take up too much more of your time with silly questions, I have some other questions. Where is the best place you lived, and why?

Medievalist: I grew up in very rural N. H. but I'm loving the Pacific Northwest. I love the weather, the people, the culture. So I'd say Washington, around Seattle. We have grapes, and grain, and cattle, and salmon, you know? What's not to like?

Here's just how much I love Washington:

Cranky: Do you follow this blog or contribute to it?

Medievalist: It's all mine. I umm . . . I'm sorta a blog expert. It's part of the geek stuff. Community management/content management.

Cranky: Do you hire yourself out for that on a project basis? I could see that being a pretty lucrative gig.

Medievalist: Yep. It's way harder than teaching--even than teaching comp classes with all the grading and conferences--but I can make reliable income. So that blog, that's just because I needed to try some new stuff in Blogger's blog spot, and if I have to write, it's less miserable if I can write about something I'm interested in. And teaching--honestly, I think I may learn more from my students than they learn from me. They do most of the work, after all.

[B]Cranky[/B]: If you could have any ability that you currently do not, what would it be? And god-like powers are out.

Medievalist: I'd love to be able to drive a car. Really really love it. I'll never be able to though (poor vision and no depth perception, at all).

Cranky: A particular kind of car? Or just to be able to drive, period?

Medievalist: Just be able to drive. It's really not safe, and in some states, not legal. I can't pass the vision test. And honestly, the world is better with me not driving.

Cranky: Fair enough. Do you have a talent that maybe most people don't know about? Or an unusual hobby?

Medievalist: I can tell lots about a person's life just by hearing them talk.

Cranky: Really? Like, though linguistic tics, or something like that?

Medievalist: Yep. Dialect, education, lots of stuff. Partially just by having a good ear, but also, from training.

Cranky: Ah. So that helps you place people, to remember them? I imagine that would actually be more accurate than physical appearance anyway, since that changes so often. That's a pretty handy skill to have as a teacher, I would think. Any other ways you find it helpful?

Medievalist: Well, I really really can't see...and part of the problem with that, and dyslexia, is that facial recognition . . . well, I suck at facial recognition. But I do remember voices. And I really am dyslexic. So the %&*($* letters and words, even on a computer, are shape-shifters.

Cranky: Do they really do that? The symbols, I mean? I'm horrifyingly ignorant about dyslexia.

Medievalist: Yeah, they really do. It's . . . they shift, and move around. They don't even stay in the right order. I fell in love with computers because they had spell check, even on mainframes.

Cranky: Okay, and one (maybe two) last question: what do you consider to be your biggest achievement?

Medievalist: Finishing the %&(*$&8 Ph.D. and not killing a single faculty member! It was truly heroic.

Cranky: ROFL! What was your dissertation on?

Medievalist: It's about fairies. It’s boring as hell. The thing about a diss s that you don’t really get to write what you want. You get to write what the committee will sign off on. Then you revise it, and publish a book, and make semi-bitchy remarks about your committee in the footnotes.

Cranky: I've got a good pile of reading material just from this interview! Thanks! And last question: Who was your biggest influence, either personally or professionally?

Medievalist: My mom, actually. After that, probably a scholar /rhetorician named Richard Lanham.

My mom is a Southern Woman She's 88, grew up in rural South Carolina, is rigorous, honest, polite, and demands more of herself than of anyone else. She left home at sixteen, and by her twenties was working in civil service in Europe.

Richard Lanham is retired from UCLA; he was a renaissance specialist, who mostly worked in the field of rhetoric. I was his RA for years. I learned more about how to write, and teach writing--or really, teaching people how to revise-- from him and his books.
I made this for RAL:

Cranky: Awesome. Thanks very much for all the links and for your time. This was a lot of fun.

Medievalist: I can't imagine anyone not being bored out of their skull by me.

Cranky: Well, trust me, I am not bored, and I know there are people looking forward to seeing the interview, so I hope I can do you some justice.