COG: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a kid, I wanted magic powers. Then I wanted to explore space as an astronaut, where I would discover my magic powers. (In fact, I wrote a Snap opening about it that is going into our next episode.)
COG: How did you become you instead?
The first time I felt that I was acting on my universal timeline, instead of it acting on me, was at the age of 19 when I decided to move to Japan. My year in rural Japan proved magical, and provided the time and space necessary to examine my own headspace. I had grown up inside an apocalyptic end-of-days Jesus cult, and didn’t realize how screwed up my thinking was until i had the chance to look at it from the lens of another culture. This was all chance, and yes, I recognize now how very lucky I was.
COG: Fave lesser-known hero (personal or fictional)?
Growing up, the star of the “The Great Brain” books was my hero. Give him any problem and he’d “sleep on it” for while — then wake up with the answer.
COG: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your work; the least?
Writing personal stories gives me the opportunity to have an examined life. I think that I would shy away from peering into my own dark corners, except that I have to make stories. The least enjoyable aspect of my life is the commerce of it. I am a far better storyteller than I am a businessperson.
COG: If you were a hybrid, what would your two halves be?
One half of my personality sits content in dank libraries, reading books and drinking tea. My other half demands a stage. As a singer, or a magician, a politician, or a preacher. My last half constantly seeks a well-stocked kitchen. Because cooking is the real alchemy — and more than anything I always wanted to become a wizard. Chemistry, love, adventure, fire,and story all combine to make a good curry. And I make very a good curry.
COG: Describe a teacher, student or colleague you hated (or hate, you big meanie); why?
I’m a lover. Not a hater.
COG: In desktop publishing, a character tag is embedded code defining the style of a word or phrase. But in the literary lexicon, “character tags” refer to fictional characters’ habits, catch phrases or other distinguishing marks: Yoda’s syntax. Hello Kitty’s bow. Clint Eastwood’s rugged squint. What’s your character tag?
Leaning in. All my best stories have emerged from times when instead of allowing myself to retreat from a situation, I stepped into one.
COG: What’s the last thing that made you laugh, cry or cuss?
Like a lot of people, I wept to see the picture of the Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach. I shook, at the end of Ta-Nehisi Coates recent book, “Between the World and Me.” I laughed when my niece told me a secret.
COG: Describe your ideal road trip.
Whatever the next one is. Generally, I want to go someplace that has a bazaar, and warrens, and spice, and music, and steeples, and wine, and dancing, and perfumes, and monkeys, and lights, and libraries, and cobblestone, and families sending their kids off to school.
COG: What problem, large or small, are you hell-bent on solving.
Good storytelling is a magical thing. It can place into the experience of another and encourage empathy.
No big problems will ever get solved unless we create more empathy.