You asked your questions—here are some of the answers!
How did you know you wanted kids – and did you know for sure?
I knew I wanted kids when I got married to Robin, and found that the place could be greatly improved by having more of her around. Having kids is one of the few sure ways to gain a measure of immortality. Also, we consider ourselves extremely well-matched, and we wanted a physical manifestation of that match. Our plan has worked, too: Quinn and Lyra are perfect blends of their parents’ physical and mental traits, as far as we can tell.
Maybe you answered this one long ago, but when did you want to become a writer? Was there any single event that made that direction obvious?
I don’t think there was a seminal event. I’ve always written, for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, I wrote stories for my younger brother to take to school and read to his class on Story Day. I started my first attempt at a novel when I was seventeen. It’s just something that always appealed to me—the ability to make up one’s own worlds on blank sheets of paper. (I suspect the fact that I was a voracious reader as a kid has more to do with it than anything else.)
Why New Hampshire?
Low taxes, a very libertarian-leaning political outlook, and a general culture of self-sufficiency. Also, the climate is more agreeable to me than the nine-month summers in Tennessee. It’s also closer to Europe (saves money and time on flights to and from Germany), and New England is where I hit American shores first, so I consider it my home region.
(Fun Useless Fact of the Day: immigrants are issued Social Security numbers not based on their place of birth, but on their first port of entry for immigration purposes. My port of entry was Boston, and my first dealings with the INS were with the Boston office, so the first three digits of my SSN fall into the 014- to 018- range, as if I had been born in the region.)
It probably calls for a full blog post, but I’d like to hear about how & why you became a stay at home dad.
I got laid off in the dot-com bust of the early 2000s, and when Quinn was on the way, Robin made a lot more money than I did. The decision was almost entirely dictated by fiscal necessity. My writing career didn’t really start taking off until after Quinn was born, when I realized that the stay-at-home parenting thing afforded me the opportunity, and I started applying myself to the new career field.
Now, of course, I think that getting laid off from my cubicle job was the best thing that could have happened to me, because it afforded me a chance to start my dream career, and spend all day with my kids at the same time. I should seek out that fat, useless sack of blubber that fired me, and kiss him square on the mouth.
I have some cash sitting here that is either going into a savings account, or for simple shits and giggles a .458 SOCOM upper. What option should I take?
Guns are actually very recession-proof investments, and if push comes to shove, more useful than traditional savings vehicles—you can’t shoot food for the dinner table with a handful of Krugerrands or an account statement. I’d probably go for something that’s cheaper and easier to feed, though, like a 5.45×39 upper.
Perhaps it’s been posted before, but, “How and why, you became interested in shooting, owning, and carrying firearms.” A synopsis will suffice.
I’d say it was an interest kindled by my military service when I joined the Bundeswehr at 17, but I know I was “into guns” well before then, and that the self-determination aspect of gun ownership was always one of the main reasons for my interest.
While I know you, like me, are a wheel gun guy at heart, I occasionally find myself playing with the bottom feeders. I’m curious as to what you think some of the most “underrated” autoloaders are of all time, as well.
There’s nothing wrong with a good autoloader. I’ve owned and carried many. My particular flatgun tastes run toward the SIG Sauer “classic” P-series, the 1911, and Berettas, but I’ve also owned one or more of just about every Glock model at some point, and I wouldn’t turn down a good deal on just about any quality autoloader. My preference just leans toward the revolver because I consider reliability and simplicity more important in a defensive weapon than capacity. That said, any modern pistol comes pretty close to a revolver in the reliability department.
Some of the most underrated pistols are the S&W metal-framed “String of Numbers” guns. Among other S&W pistols, I had a 1066 in 10mm Auto that was one of the most reliable handguns I’ve ever owned. It even fed lead semi-wadcutter rounds. I don’t recall any troubles with any of the S&W pistols that have passed through my hands—they were all accurate, reliable, and good shooters.
Also highly underrated: Ruger’s P-series. They’re homely, clunky, and devoid of glitz or coolness, but the damn things just work.
How about something about the very real danger of Lychantropic Whales? What caliber of silver harpoon would you recommend?
Many stories about were-beings take into account the preservation of mass between forms. In other words, a 150-pound human will be a 150-pound werewolf, or –fox, or –cat, or whatever. I was going to ask you to imagine the human form required to support a transformation into a were-whale, and how obviously impossible that would be from a simple physical aspect…but then I stopped by Wendy’s the other day to grab some chicken nuggets on the run for the kids, and I think I watched a were-whale walking across the parking lot.
Denkst Du noch auf deutsch or has your mind swapped to English? Falls letzteres, when did it start?
I think and dream in English, but my brain has no trouble switching back to German on the fly whenever I have to use it. I think the switch happened at some point after a year or so of speaking English almost exclusively.
How goes that pile of books you had queued up for when you finished writing the book? Have you started in on them?
Read—and loved—Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. I’m starting on the rest of the stack today. I’ll give some quick reviews as I progress.
Ok, what would you do to destroy the USSR?
Carpet-bomb them with Ayn Rand books, Levis jeans, and hardcore pornography.
what is (your synopsis of) the purpose of life?
The purpose of life is whatever purpose you choose to give yours. There’s no universal answer.
What cultural differences hit you the most when you came to the States? Any that still do? Which have faded?
The conditioned responses in social settings, like someone asking “How are you?” at the grocery store register. It took me a while to get used to the fact that all you’re expected to say in response is something along the lines of “Good, and you?”, and that people don’t actually want to hear the details of your current emotional and fiscal state. (Americans consider Europeans rude because they don’t use those social utterances, but it’s simply a matter of cultural difference, not rudeness.)
Also: the relative prudery, a remnant of the country’s Puritanican streak. Brown wrappers on nudie mags on the magazine rack, for example—in Europe, those are not covered, and nobody gets their panties in a wad about it. In general, Europeans are much more tolerant of depictions of nudity and sex than violence, and in the U.S. it’s pretty much the other way around.
What about if/when you go back to Germany? What is the absolute best of German cuisine, and can I make it at home?
I’m actually not a huge fan of German cuisine. It’s very heavy on meat, pork, and potatoes, and generally too heavy for me, period. That said, I love a good Sauerbraten, German apple pancakes, or a big plate stacked with crispy fried potato pancakes. (All of those can be made at home very easily.)
And what’s the best drink to go with such cuisine?
Beer, of course (except with the sweet stuff like apple pancakes.)
What happened with you becoming a teacher?
I made the mistake of attending a crummy school with a crummy education program, and dropped out in disgust after a year. It was a waste of money and time, but I did enjoy being in the classroom.
What do you like the best (excluding your wife and kids) about America and what do you like the least?
I like the sheer size and geographical variety of the country, and the general streak of individualism and resistance to authority. The best way to get an American to do something is to tell them they’re not allowed to do it. Our national motto should be “You’re Not The Boss Of Me.”
Ditto for Germany plus what do you miss the most from Germany (excluding family and friends)?
I miss the little cultural things that were comforting when I grew up—the bakeries, the fairs, having a Gluehwein at the Weihnachtsmarkt in Muenster at Christmastime…that sort of thing.
How did you and Robin meet?
We met on match.com, which sounds terribly clichéd. We were both looking, I emailed her, we talked on the phone and emailed for a few weeks, met for a date…and the rest is history, as they say.
What’s a good gun for a woman?
*spit* Well, I reckon a good thutty-thutty would be a fair trade, ‘less she kin cook real good.
I’d like to know “how” you write. Outline first or just go with the flow?
Depends. The two novels I wrote before the SF one were written without outlines, by the “seat of the pants” method. I wrote an outline for the SF novel, but diverged from it greatly for the second half of the novel. In general, I write without an outline, although they can be helpful as rough road maps.
9mm or .45 ACP?
This will get me lambasted, but my favorite of the two is the 9mm by a fair margin. In my opinion, it occupies the sweet spot of cost, recoil, effectiveness, and variety of guns chambered for it. The .45 is a good round, but it makes you choose between low capacity and sensible grip diameter, it’s more prone to setback in autochuckers, and it’s a lot more expensive to shoot and reload.
How much of the U.S. have you seen/visited?
A lot, actually. I was a computer installer monkey for a travel center chain in the late 1990s, and part of my job was to travel the country and fix computers for the various stores. I’ve been to roughly 40 of the 50 states. (Big ones on my list of States To See are Alaska and Hawaii. I’ve also never been to Texas, if you don’t count a stopover at DFW.)
For someone who is thinking about buying his (or hers) first gun (just for fun more then anything else) what would you recommend and why? Also, which ones should I avoid?
Replace the word “gun” with the word “car” in your question, and you’ll see that it’s a bit difficult to answer. I don’t know your preferences, firearms education, body type, personal circumstances, and so on. Your best bet would be to find a range with lots of rental guns and a good and friendly staff, and then rent a bunch of guns to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Ask lots of questions, and don’t let anyone tell you that Gun X or Gun Y is “the best” for a novice/woman/left-hander/Chaotic Neutral Half-Elf.
Well, that’s it for now, I guess. I may do another run at a later time. (Nobody asked any questions about my choice of underwear, sexual preferences, or other overly personal subjects. I don’t know if I should be proud of you lot, or disappointed…)