Random Chitchats

Shop Talk Tuesday with Mark London Williams

Did ya’ miss me? I’m finally back from a ten-day vacation in New York and Niagara Falls. Had a blast, got a ton of pictures, but good Lord it’s great to be home! I’m ready to settle down, get the kiddies back to school and return to normal . . . whatever normal is.

So, I’m getting my blogging groove back on by having Mark London Williams in the beauty shop! Mark is the author of the “Danger Boy” time travel series from Candlewick Press – the adventures of a boy, a girl and a “Saurian” (think “dinosaurs-that-kept-evolving”) unstuck in time, roaming through Earth’s history – ancient Alexandria, World War II, the Lewis & Clark trail, and lately, ancient Jerusalem after a calamitous Mideast religious war. And next year: Shakespeare’s England.

The third book in the series, the Lewis & Clark themed “Trail of Bones,” gets a paperback re-release this August.


“Author Mark London Williams creates “Potter’s” replacement in Children’s literature.” –Monsters and Critics. (click here for more.)

So welcome, Mark! Let’s get down to the gossip.

What’s the most regrettable hairstyle you’ve ever had? Any mullets? Rat tails?

Hmm… I’m wondering if there’s a gender or gender-preference bias in these questions… Does Gary Paulsen get asked this? 😉 I did have a braided rat tail in the 80’s, however. I’m not sure I “regret” it, exactly. It was just outré enough at the time. Now, of course, the main field of interest for me is to see whether I will go gray before I lose the remainder of what’s left.

What beauty product can you not live without?

The ability to shave – though I go back and forth between the “blades or electric?” question. Oh, and a tooth brush. I guess I have a fairly prosaic view of “beauty product.”

How long have you been with your current stylist and what are your appointment conversations like—chatty and personal, or quiet and professional?

I go to a barber, actually. Though lately, the “three old guys” barber shop I used to frequent in my old neighborhood has been bought out by three women, who, by the way, still call themselves barbers, and do a fine job. The place does seem a bit neater, now. When it was the old guys, we’d talk about sports or the way the neighborhood — or L.A. in general – was changing. The usual barber chat. Now, it’s mostly about the trim itself – eyebrows? Sideburns? Square or tapered on the neck…?, etc.

What kind of hairstyle did you have in high school?

It was the 70’s, and I had bangs in those days!

Time for your Hypothetical Questions of the Week:

HQ #1: For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want. Who do you pick?

How can I resist a time travel question? At the moment, it’s Shakespeare, since I’m delving in to Elizabethan England for next year’s “Danger Boy” book, “Fortune’s Fool.”

HQ #2: If you could hit the rewind button, which book published by another author do you wish you could have written? Which movie screenplay?

Screenplay-wise, I would’ve loved to have written “Chinatown,” though I was barely out of Jr. high when Robert Towne was beating me to it.

HQ #3: You magically find a $100.00 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?

Is paying off credit card debt and putting a down payment on a ranch frivolous? I’d also travel a lot more…

Wow. I’m acting like I found a million.

HQ #4: You’ve been locked in a bank vault with that guy from The Twilight Zone, so you finally have time to read! What’s the first book you crack open? (And don’t worry—no one stepped on your glasses.)

Probably, finally, “Moby Dick,” which I keep putting off. Though I’ve made inroads with audiobook versions… Is there time to “listen” to books, too? It’d be time for “Huck Finn” again, as well. And that re-read of “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” And other rereads: John Nichols’ neglected American masterpiece “The Magic Journey,” and Edgar Pangborn’s YA-before-there-was-YA fantasy opus “Davy,” and…

Uh oh.

HQ #5: iTunes has invited you to submit a Celebrity Playlist of all your favorite songs. What tunes would make your top five?

That’s so mood-driven. I mean, I was just singing along to Al Wilson’s 70’s soul side, “Show and Tell” in Trader Joe’s this morning, thinking how much I still love that song (I originally bought it, pre-download, on an olden-days round plastic orb called a “45…!”)

Sometimes, you forget the deep emotional roil you get from a good tune, if you simply haven’t heard it in awhile.

That said, I suspect, there’d be a couple of Beatles tunes in there (“Hey Jude,” “Let It Be,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Long and Winding Road,” and more), some Sinatra (if I was assembling this list at 3 in the morning, there could be cuts from “Wee Small Hours of the Morning.” Then again, “Night and Day” seems like a necessary Cole Porter song).

The list would likewise be naked without some Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday, or Merle Haggard on it. We haven’t even touched on Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, Dinah Washington, the Rolling Stones, X, The Clash, Creedence (I think you’d have to have “Bad Moon Rising,” and the Doors’ “The End,”) or newer stuff –groups like Nickel Creek, or songs like Morcheba’s “Down by the Sea.”

And then jazz – Coltrane, Davis etc. and the soundtrack stuff: Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, Ennio Morricone, et al.

I guess iTunes just better not ask me.

HQ #6: If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?

Writing! So I’ve been lucky that way. Though I confess, I would’ve directed a few films by now, as well. And then there was supposed to be that “second career” to run for Congress… hmm….

The Lightening Round—no more than two words per answer!

Do you . . .
Outline or wing it?
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep your trap shut? Who asks?
Sell by proposal or completed draft? Proposal! Currently…
Love to edit or cringe at the thought? Dig it!
Prefer writing a new book or marketing the old? Which weekday? 😉
Write better at home or in a coffee shop? Mood-variable…
Read your released book or no thanks, I’ve read it enough? Writing newly…

And finally, what’s your favorite . . .
More lists!
Author? Loaded question!
Guiltiest pleasure? Loaded question redux! 😉
Line from a movie? I could blindfold myself and just point at the script for “Casablanca” to find one…

Thanks, Mark, for stopping by and best of luck with the re-release of TRAIL OF BONES! Oh, and about the shaving question–my husband loves his electric. But it does take about a month before your beard adjusts. 😉

And now off to twenty loads of laundry . . .

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