Fictional Character Interview – Tank Lazier

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts interviews characters from stories in ELEMENTS.

Today I interview Tank Lazier from Everyone Needs a Couch

Tank Lazier is the author of many short stories including “Drip Oozed in the Face” and “Cravdop or Bust.” Originally from the USA on Earth, he’s lived on Forbi for eight years, loves the bar scene and hates the rain.

Tank LazierSuzanne Church: Hell and welcome, Mr. Lazier.

Tank Lazier: Call me Tanker.

SC: Right, okay. Tanker, what brought you to Forbi?

TL: I’d heard that Drips are pushovers and Forbi was infested with them. I figured it’d be nice to live on a planet where I didn’t live at the absolute bottom of the food chain.

SC: How long have you been writing?

TL: Since I was a kid. My parents used to travel off-planet a lot for work, so I’d make up stories about what they did without me. Most were murdered-babysitter mysteries. Used to scare the crap out of my nanny.

SC: What did your parents do for a living?

TL: Mom played right wing for various teams in the SHL. She’d live with me and Dad on Earth in the off-season. Always promised she’d bring us along for the playoffs, but her team never made the playoffs.

Dad was a design engineer for portable habitat HVACs. For the bigger jobs he’d supervise the installations.

SC: What’s the hardest aspect of being an Earthling writer on Forbi?

TL: The poverty. I mean, a guy can only eat so many cans of orthan flippers before he’s ready to sell a kidney for a steak dinner. Then again, in the restaurants on Forbi they don’t always list which animal the steak comes from. Have you ever eaten a Sheepic T-bone?

SC: Can’t say that I have.

TL: Don’t.

SC: Name a few writers who’ve influenced your work.

TL: Dante, for one. I think he nailed hell better than anyone.

J.D. Robb writes some great mysteries. I can sit in any bar with my nose pressed into one of her beat-up paperbacks and the chicks will come at me like moths to a flame. Probably all those romance novels she wrote, but you won’t catch me reading them.

Kelson Matlind’s work’s pretty underrated. He writes crime thrillers set on Deslot. The drug trade there gives him plenty of material to work with. Plus the Strunjox are nasty creatures with claws like a grizzly and breath that’ll stink you into next week. They run the crime syndicate on Deslot tighter than the Russian Mafia.

For the following flash questions, try to answer with the first idea that pops into your head.

SC: Imagine a prison of eternal misery. Is it hot or cold?

TL: Cold! You ever been stuck out in a Forbi winter downpour? Colder than a blind date with a chick who keeps jars of Drip ooze in her purse.

SC: If you were only allowed to read ONE book more than once in your lifetime, what book would you choose?

TL: Dante’s Inferno. Gives a guy perspective on his own miserable existence.

SC: Forbi or Earth?

TL: Earth. As Dorothy says, “There’s no place like home.”

SC: Stickers on your scribbler or pure out-of-the-box plain?

TL: Stickers. Preferably of bacon or buxom women. Or buxom women eating bacon.

SC: Music while writing, or total silence? And if you chose music, name three inspirations.

TL: Music. As long as it’s fast, loud, and includes at least one Earth-style guitar I’m down with it.

SC: Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for my blog.

TL: No problem. Hey, want to hang out and have a drink with me later?

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Everyone Actually Needs a Couch

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 8th slot in the Table of Contents is the first of the Couch Teleportation Universe  stories: “Everyone Needs a Couch”

My first-ever published story is: Everyone Needs a Couch.

Amazingly, I sold the story to the first market I submitted it to.

I sold Couch  on January 12th, 2002 to Oceans of the Mind, a Science Fiction magazine that no longer exists. It was published in 2003 for their September Mysteries issue.

So when people ask about my first sale, I respond, “It’s a Science Fiction comedy mystery.”

writing March 2002 miniThis is a picture of me writing/editing in the spring of 2002. It’s possible that I was actually working on Couch  that day. I love how there’s a bottle of Heinz Ketchup on the table, since back then every meal involved HK.

I love writing comedy. Probably because sarcasm is one of my favourite forms of communication. And Tanker’s life is the ultimate hard-luck-writer’s tale. Which leads me to the following insight…

When you begin your writing career, you often hear this advice:

Don’t write about a writer who’s trying (and probably failing) to sell their work.

Don’t write comedy because it’s really hard to get right.

Don’t begin a story with dialogue.

I break all three of these rules in Everyone Needs a Couch.

If you’re starting out, it is really important to understand and follow the rules of the trade. But you should also be brave enough to occasionally break the rules.

Read my writing tip post: Following the Rules.

Then read my writing tip post: Breaking the Rules.

Fun Fact

Beginning with my broke-student years (mid-to-late 80s) and ending with my young-messy-kids-at-home years (mid-to-late 90s), I used to have a hand-me-down couch in my living room. The couch had originally belonged to my grandparents.

Yeah, that’s right. My grandparents.

Chuck Lenora Chris on couch miniI think they might’ve bought the couch in the 1950s (1960s at the latest), and furniture manufacturers sure don’t build couches to last that long now. It was old and somewhat ratty (we used to cover it with a quilt to hide its ugliness), but virtually indestructible. Here’s a shot of of the couch, including my aunt, uncle, and cousin in the early 70s.

What made the couch so unique was that it was an old-fashioned two-piece sectional, designed to fit into a corner so that each half of the couch had an armrest on one side and nothing on the other side so it could sit right up against an end-table.

My grandparents used to have their entertainment unit (which consisted of a radio and a turntable that played 78s, 45s, and 33s) in the corner, and each open-ended piece of the couch was placed up against the unit.

E on couch July 2002 comboWhen the couch was in my possession, we used to push the two halves together. (Except for that one co-op term when my apartment was so small that I only had room for HALF the couch.) My kids–and the occasional unsuspecting guest–would sit too close to the middle and fall through the gap onto the floor! (as my younger son demonstrates with his head in 2002) The couch sat on hardwood floors and we had no way to fasten the two pieces together.

Suffice it to say, that old couch was the inspiration for Tank Lazier’s couch in Everyone Needs a Couch.

Because so many people wanted to hear the other side of Tanker’s sad story, the couch makes a second appearance along with protagonist Lorna Watkowski, Tanker’s ex-girlfriend, in Waste Management.

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.