Thursday, 24 March 2011

Dancing With Myself: JOHN VORHAUS interviews JOHN VORHAUS

I'm proud to be able to say today that I'm one of the nominees for Spinetingler's award for the Best Story Online category. I'm proud for lots of reasons.

First off, there are some amazing stories out there, many of which have given me a lot of pleasure.

Secondly, to be part of a group with the others on the list is a magnificent feeling. They're all talented stars who've earned their places.

Thirdly, it's Spinetingler.

Anyone who likes a quality read should pop over and see who and what they've chosen. Every writer gives you a huge, satisfying portion of themselves and a lesson or two in the art of the short form, should you feel the need.

Read them all, chose your favourite and then go and vote. That's how it works. You'll have a lot more fun than when you're voting in your government, I can assure you.

And, as if life couldn't get any better, here's John Vorhaus:

Q: Okay, JV, interview time, me against you, you against me. Do you think you’re up to it?

A: Being as how I’m deeply schizophrenic, yeah. I think I can manage.

Q: So then let’s start there. Does having a split personality help you as a writer?

A: Okay, I don’t actually have a split personality, but I do have the knack for both guiding my characters and being guided by them. Even as I’m composing a scene or a sequence, I’m looking at it from the protagonists’ point of view and seeing if it makes sense to them. That’s always the bottom line: Does this make sense to the people in the story?

Q: In your last two books, The California Roll and its new sequel, The Albuquerque Turkey , you write about cons and con artists. Some people think you know a little too much about that world, and some people think you know a lot too much. So let me ask you point-blank. Are you, John Vorhaus, a con artist?

A: Categorically not. And you can take my word for it because I’m a trustworthy liar.

Q: “Trustworthy liar?” What the hell is that?

A: Someone who lies to you, tells you he’s lying to you, tells you why he’s lying to you, and insists that he’s doing this for your own good.

Q: Sounds like self-serving bafflegab to me. Can you give me an example.

A: Of course. I wouldn’t have asked me the question if I didn’t have an answer. In addition to writing, I teach and train writers all over the world – 26 countries on four continents at last count. It often happens that the writers I’m working with have serious confidence issues. They don’t believe they’re up to the task at hand. I tell them that I’m 100 percent sure they will succeed, even though I never am.

Q: I lost me.

A: Look, if I tell them I don’t think they can do the job, how can I endow them with the confidence to do it? If I tell them I believe in them – whether I believe in them or not – I let my confidence support and inform their own. It’s called self-fulfilling prophecy: say you believe in something and you help that thing come true. And oh by the way, that’s how I write every book I write. I tell myself I can do it whether I actually think I can do it or not (often I don’t). So I not only lie to others, I lie to myself, and all for everyone’s own good.

Q: Okay, I guess I buy that. Tell us about The Albuquerque Turkey.

A: It brings back the old gang from The California Roll: world-class con artist Radar Hoverlander, his conny girlfriend Allie Quinn, and their halfwit sidekick Vic Mirplo. Radar and Allie want to give up their lives of con artistry and go straight, because they’re in love, they want to be honest with each other, and think it’ll be hard to do that if they’re still lying to the rest of the world.

Q: Wow, honesty really seems to be a thing with you.

A: Honestly, yeah, I’m interested in the subject. Anyway, they’re trying to go straight. Only now here comes Radar’s dad, Woody Hoverlander, with the scam of a lifetime – and with his life on the line. The question of the novel is whether Radar will stick to his commitment to go straight, or revert to his true nature – his destiny – and be the top-flight flim-flam man he is.

Q: So what happens?

A: Oh, dude, read the book.

Q: Yeah, but I’d rather sample it first.

A: No problem. You know what they say: The first taste is free. So go here to read an excerpt.

Q: Uh-huh. Any other goodies for us?

A: There’s an outstanding promo video for the book. I promise it’ll be the best 4:44 you spend today. I also tweet @TrueFactBarFact.

Q: Again with the truth and lies. What the frick is a bar fact?

A: Okay, see, there are two classes of reality, things that are true and things that sound true in bars late at night. The object of the game is to figure out which.

Q: Example?

A: During the American Civil War, the state of Maine attempted to secede from the Union and join Quebec.

Q: Wow, that almost sounds like it could be true.

A: A few beers from now and it certainly will.

Q: Well, I must say, JV, it sounds like a strange and troubling world you live in, there inside your brain.

A: You should know, dude, you’re right there with me.

Q: And if I want more of “the drug that is John Vorhaus?”

A: Read my books on writing, The Comic Toolbox and Creativity Rules! or my many Killer Poker books. Or the novels. Or just poke around at It’s the happiest place on Earth.

Q: I thought that was Disneyland.

A: Nah, they stole it from me.

Q: True fact or bar fact?

A: Okay, that’s it, interview over! (Storms off in a huff).

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