Welcome to todays episode of meet the Staff member. Today we will be meeting Charles Muller, a great mind and poet extrodinaire.
So sit back and enjoy the read!
1. What elements do you feel create the "perfect" piece of writing?
The authors I’ve most enduringly enjoyed were those who have mastered the power of implication. William Faulkner is one of my favorite authors because he tells a story without offering too many obvious answers, allowing me to decide for myself why I liked it. I’d say another essential element is a piece of writing’s ability to convey a realistic plot, rather than one that feels contrived. In this case, Kent Haruf’s Plainsong comes to mind. The story is tight and controlled, but none of it felt as though it was trying to appease me. To sum it up, I really like authors who treat me as an adult.
2. How has your military background influenced you as a literary mind?
It has made me more conscious of the technical aspects of writing, since that’s almost exclusively the type of writing I did for five years. I’ve also begun to rebel in my opinions a lot more concerning what writing is allowed to get away with stylistically. I appreciate stream-of-consciousness a lot more now, for example, because I’ve realized the level of skill necessary to make it successful. I am a much more voracious reader after my intellect’s lengthy hiatus. Finally, from an editing point of view, I’m not afraid to expect the best quality of work from both myself and the author, whereas before I think I would have let a lot more slide out of timidity.
3. If you could sit down and have lunch with ANY character from a book/series, who would it be, where would you eat, and what would you talk about?
I would time-travel back to the 1970’s to sit down with Hunter S. Thompson at his home in Aspen, Colorado. We would talk about whatever the drugs wanted.
4. What is your biggest pet peeve in literary works?
Apart from all of the hallmarks of poor editing, I can’t stand it when characters die just to move the plot along. I am all right if they die in a twist I didn’t see coming, but I guess this goes back to my dislike for cheap storytelling. Also--if I could pick a backup--it’s authors who seem self-impressed. The reason why I like Dostoevsky more than Tolstoy is because the latter reads like he is entirely aware of how good an author he is. This is a pretty hazy criteria; I’d say it just depends on my intuition from book to book.
5. If you had to write a children's book, what would it be about?
This is a tough one. I think it would be about knights, because I thought they were awesome when I was little. Maybe those knights could time-travel and have adventures in parallel universes, too.
If you could pick any story idea and were guaranteed it would be an absolute success, what would you write about and why? I’d write the fictitious autobiography of a man whose mind slowly unravels over the course of his life until the book ends by trailing off into gibbering insanity. Maybe that’s been done before.
6. Do you prefer to have a schedule or wing it?
When I have a definite set of ideas that I’m lassoing together, I need a schedule to prevent the feelings of guilt that are inevitable without one. It’s a largely random process before that point. What is your obsession with cats in space? Blame my brother for this: he’s the one that slowly revealed to me the beauty of cosmic felines.
7. Would you ever base a book character on someone you know in real life?
Absolutely. The more people I meet, the easier that seems like it would be. The challenge would lie in remaining true to the random whims of most personalities, and juggling that with the individual’s relatively constant convictions.
8. Have you ever thought of writing a story about space cats?
Maybe my children’s story about knights could include an episode in which they travel to a period in the future in which the Internet has merged with reality. Then the knights would be taken prisoner by a cult who worships cat memes in the style of the ancient Egyptians. This is getting pretty hot.
9. What type of atmosphere do you find conducive for your writing?
I’ve discovered that I enjoy writing in the university library down the block from my apartment. I like a quiet place where there are enough distractions to periodically take my mind off what I’m writing, since those little breaks often help me past mental roadblocks.
10. Do you prefer background noise or absolute quiet when you write?
I’d say muted background noise is my favorite. When it passes the threshold where it’s too damaging to my concentration, I’ll put on some music. It has to be gentle music, though, or else I’d probably get into it and end up either dancing like a moron or smacking the cell phone out of their hand.
Thank you Charles for entertaining us today and answering some questions. We look forward to reading your words soon.
Join us again next week when we get someone else in our hot seat!