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Taking It To The Grave 5: Worlds Collide

Tonight, an Evil Author Interview of a different sort … while I host Mark Everett Stone, author of “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Undead” and “What Happens in Vegas Dies in Vegas”, I don’t actually interview him. Actually, I don’t interview anyone. My main character, ex-forensic psychic and pro-derfwad Marnie Baranuik, interviews his main character, seriously badass monster hunter Kalevi Hakala, from Kal’s point of view. Buckle up!

I watched the pretty little bit of a thing burst through my office door under a full head of steam. She should be splattered all over the front lobby thanks to a couple of silver deer slugs wielded by our more than capable Receptionist, but she was in my grille instead, mouth running faster than Jesse Owens.

“Whoa right there, short stack,” I growled, hand on my Lahti 9mm, ready to draw. “You made it past Sandy, who should have stopped you with extreme prejudice, which means you know what we do here.” My Interdiction spell kept me from being specific.

The blonde said, “I told her I was here to knock some sense into you, and she said it was about time someone did. And don’t call me short stack, cockwaffle.”

“Knock some sense into me? It’s been tried and the only way I get sensible is if I get sensibly dead. You say you have questions, fine. Spit them out, then we can talk about jail time. Spill, I have a Fatburger with my name on it waiting for me.” My stomach growled, eyeing my liver for lunch.

“My name’s Marnie Baranuik. My author said YOUR author suggested that YOU and ME work a case together, but  YOU and my Harry can’t be around one another, and I’m here to make sure–”

“Whoa, Tex, I understand your confusion. Our authors couldn’t untie their shoes without us. Makes us valuable, but I don’t know any Harry, or hairy, or hare-y. I just work here. Now, if this Harry is a ‘who’ instead of a ‘what’, then if he keeps his nose clean, I won’t have to turn him into sushi.” There I go with the food metaphors again. I really was hungry.

“Sushi!” The little blonde’s nose wrinkled. “He’s not bloody Cthulhu. So, I don’t have to, like, kick your ass or anything?”

How can I ignore such a straight line? “Well, I have some other suggestions regarding my ass….”

Her response was a quicksilver smirk. “Don’t give me any ideas, hot shot. Here.” She gave me a box of Lucky Charms. “I brought this in case I had to bribe you.”

I took the leprechaun-decorated box reverently, flashing the tasty tidbit standing there looking all shamefaced one of my patented 1000 watt smiles. There are few things in life that can give such pleasure and a tasty cereal is one of them. Marnie sat oppposite, propping her red Keds up on my desk, and said,

Marnie: Can I ask you about your author, Mark Stone? Is he like, mentally unstable like my author is?

Kal: Mentally unstable? Kid, the man is three kinds of crazy and four kinds of fool for not getting professional help!

Marnie: How often does Stone write you into a scene and then *whoopah!* erases the whole thing and acts like it never happened? Do you get a lot of rewrites?
Kal: Nah, he’ll stare at the computer for hours while I sit in limbo bored outta my tree waiting for him to be all creative and inspired. Actually, I think it ‘s the caffeine that really gets his juices flowing. In the form of several cups of coffee. I mean, really…the dude must have an intestinal tract made out of asbestos. As for re-writes, about three per book is all he can stand to second guess himself.
Marnie: Is this him? *turns a picture on Kal’s desk* I can’t keep AJ’s picture on my desk; she’s all about the meta, sure, but she’s fuckin’ shy–hey, holy shit, your author is HOT! I mean, omg, jeez … sorry, but … wow. He’s so … *gulp* Sorry. Uh, questions. Right. Think, Marnie, think!

I raised an eyebrow, almost touching my hairline. If she thought he was handsome, then maybe it was time for me to put on the charm.

Marnie: When Stone has you out there kicking major monster ass and performing feats of insanity, does he consider your safety AT ALL? How many special skills did he give you preemptively to make sure you can get the job done without getting your ass handed to you?

Kal: He gave me SEAL training, that’s about it besides the rage that dominates my life, my ace-in-the-hole. If I wanted safe, I’d be in an Iron Man outfit. Although, come to think of it, the little turkey manages to have my ass kicked from here to the moon on a regular basis.

Marnie: How often does Stone have to go back and seed the early chapters with new skills to make sure that later in the book when some baddy pops up, you’re ready for it?
New skills? What did she think I was, a Transformer?
Kal: I have all the skills he had given me in the beginning, nothing new really.
Marnie: Does he reward you with sex scenes? Cuz, I’m telling you, I ain’t gettin’ nearly enough rewards: espresso, sure, but she took away my cookies, she makes me live with a cold snotty dead guy, the hot dude I wanna screw won’t do me…it’s almost like AJ hates me. Does your author do nice things for you? If so, how can I get him to write my scenes?
If she only knew…well, hell, misery loves company.
Kal: He implies sex, but you’ll never see sex. Don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of action, thank God, but it’s not between the covers of the book. And boy, doesn’t that suck the big one. But at least he doesn’t give me all sorts of relationship angst where I constantly worry about ‘Does she love me? What’s going to happen next?’ Bleh!
Marnie: Do you ever get exhausted that Stone throws so many complications your way, or are you as badass as you seem? Frankly, I’m exhausted just being in the same room with you.
Kal: It’s my job to field the crapstorm my author slings my way. Period. End o’ story. But to be honest, I need a vacation. That and some vodka and hot and cold running redheads.
Marnie: Do you ever go off-script and surprise your author, totally blindside him with something?

I laughed long and loud. Screwing with Stone was what I lived for. After all, even fiction needs some entertainment.

Kal: All the time. The fun part is watching him twitch and sweat through the logic traps. Sometimes I just lay back with some hot buttered popcorn and make a night of watching him sweat.

Marnie: He’s got you chasing shit all over the place. First Denver, then Vegas–which took you to some ODD places … well, you tell it better than I do. Where has he sent you, and where is he sending you next?
Kal: Well, as you can tell by the titles, every adventure is city based. First Denver, then Vegas by way of another world, London and Nazi-occupied France. Next is San Francisco, after that Chicago, then Omaha. Yeah, I said Omaha…thrillsville.
Marnie: Picture this: mild-mannered and slightly quirky writer sitting innocently at his desk, pounding out his daily words, and then … If YOU could be the author for a day, and write some shit to stick into Mark Stone’s life for YOUR amusement and entertainment, what would you do to the poor guy?
Good question and I had the perfect answer.
Kal: I’d type him rich, that way he wouldn’t be so quick to pound out these action-adventure pieces putting me in the path of far too many bullets! Rich means he’ll get lazy and maybe retire me. Then I could finally relax…” Ah, perchance to dream!
(Editor’s note: AJ Aalto–SO not pictured on the left, honest–is sick in bed with the chickenpox, so her main character, Marnie Baranuik, stepped up to the plate. You can connect with Stone on Twitter @M3verettStone or check out his website. “Things to Do In Denver When You’re Undead”, the first book in his popular dark urban fantasy series (From the Files of the BSI), can be found here.)
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