(Every Friday I interview a different person and share that interview with you. Perhaps they will be a fellow-author. Perhaps one of my neighbors. Maybe the bagger at the grocery store. A member of my family. A follower of this blog. Maybe it will be you! Hey, it could happen.)
Today's guest is Tanya Parker Mills, author of 2008 Whitney Award finalist "The Reckoning." She can be found on the web at her website and her blog. A trailer for "The Reckoning" can be found on youtube.
Off we go!
SME: Welcome to INFF!If you'd like to be interviewed for "I Need Friends" Friday, shoot me off an email: friends at sarahmeden dot com!
Tanya Parker Mills: Thanks. It's a real honor!
SME: I'm going to jump right into the deep, groundbreaking questions... Which do you prefer pudding or cookies?
Tanya Parker Mills: Definitely cookies!!!
SME: Me, too (although I am a sucker for tapioca). Cookies or cake?
Tanya Parker Mills: Still cookies...unless it's German Chocolate Cake.
SME: Life does present some tough choices, doesn't it? Alright--cookies or pie?
Tanya Parker Mills: Ooooh...still cookies, I think.
SME: Wow. A cookie devotee! I, personally, would pick pie. I have this personal creed--"If there's no pie in heaven, I'm not going."
Tanya Parker Mills: Sounds like my dad...his mom was a baker.
SME: And did anyone else in your family bake?
Tanya Parker Mills: My mom makes the best lemon meringue pie, bar none!
SME: Lemon meringue, huh? So, how can I go about becoming one of your mother's close personal friends?
Tanya Parker Mills: It's easy...email her, phone her, show up at her door...you will automatically become a close personal friend...invited to all our family functions. She has a Rolodex that rivals the first President Bush's.
SME: Those are the best kind of friends--the ones that are instant and lasting!
Tanya Parker Mills: Exactly!
SME: "Instant and lasting" -- sounds like a commercial for air freshener, doesn't it?
So... what's your favorite continent?
Tanya Parker Mills: Does Eurasia count? I'm so torn between Europe and the Middle East. Actually, I'd like to invent a new continent called Mediterranea. How about that?
SME: Wow. INFF is breaking ground on a very international scale!
Tanya Parker Mills: Is that good or bad?
SME: I think it's excellent. I like having friends with Big Ideas!
Tanya Parker Mills: Whew! I'm not sure how it'll do in your pie chart.
SME: Pie. Yum.
You and I met at last year's Storymakers conference. Both our books were up for Whitney Awards (which is a very reliable indication of our immense talent.)
Tanya Parker Mills: I think so.
SME: Tell us a little about your book "The Reckoning", which was finalist for a 2008 Whitney in General Fiction.
Tanya Parker Mills: It's about an American journalist who sneaks over the border into Iraq before the war begins, and gets imprisoned for being a spy. Over time, she begins to realize one of her captors is connected to the death of her father in a Baghdad prison years before when she was a child.
SME: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Tanya Parker Mills: I spent 5 years of my childhood in Baghdad and always wanted to write a novel based, in part, on my experiences. Then in January of 2003, before we invaded, I took part in a writing exercise while visiting my dad's writing group and basically came away with the first chapter. Or at least the seeds of that first chapter.
SME: That is so great.
Now, tell me honestly, how long did it take after we started talking at the Storymakers Conference for you to decide I was completely nuts? (For most people it's a matter of 1 or 2 sentences.)
Tanya Parker Mills: I never thought you were nuts...just a very savvy marketer...and witty, to boot!
SME: Sarah M. Eden marketing strategy: "Insanity sells."
Tanya Parker Mills: It often does. You are the Stephen Colbert of the writing world. Seriously, I'm not kidding. These interviews remind me of his show.
SME: As if to prove the unstable state of my mental health... I have a game.
Tanya Parker Mills: Okay, game on!
SME: You recently confessed on my website that you have always fancied yourself to be somewhat like Zorro. And so I have invented a new game.
Tanya Parker Mills: Oh no...
SME: "Z is for Zorro!" In this game I will ask you a question that has something to do with Zorro and you will have 3 possible answers from which to choose. Get them right and you are the champion!
Tanya Parker Mills: Gulp!
SME: #1 - The first Zorro story, written by Johnston McCulley in All-Star Weekly magazine in 1919 was entitled...
a.) Who Was That Masked Man?
b.) The Curse of Capistrano
c.) The Other 25 Letters Feel Neglected
Tanya Parker Mills: I'll go with b
SME: Ding, ding, ding! You are correct!!!
Tanya Parker Mills: Yay!
SME: #2 - Which of the following was an actual unforeseen result of the popular 1950s television program, "Zorro"?
a.) The "z" key on the typewriters in ABC's public affairs division began wearing out at an alarming rate
b.) A sudden increase in newborns being given names beginning with the last letter of the alphabet
c.) A sharp rise in vandalism involving "Z's" scratched into buildings and even the show's star's car
Tanya Parker Mills: I'll try C, though A is intriguing
SME: Right again!! Wow. You really are Zorro!!
Tanya Parker Mills: No, I'm not...I'm Doña Tanya Parker Mills
SME: Ah, yes. Must protect your secret identity!
Tanya Parker Mills: I don't know what you mean. *wink, wink*
SME: Okay, this last question is a doozy.
#3 - Who makes the best Zorro?
a.) Guy Williams from the 1957 television series
b.) Antonio Banderas from the 1998 motion picture
<------c.) An as-yet unidentified champion of Right!
Tanya Parker Mills: I'd have to go with C cuz it's tooooo funny!
SME: Wow!!! You are 3 for 3!!! I hereby crown you INFF Champion!
Tanya Parker Mills: Gracias, gracias mucho!!!
SME: Now on to the part of the interview where I draw a portrait of my new friend. You!
Tanya Parker Mills: Now I'm really worried...
a masterpiece comes to life in the blink of an eye
Tanya Parker Mills: Yay, I got the whole deal!!! Mask, hat, cape, and BOOTS! Nice job!
SME: I am quite the artist, you know.
Tanya Parker Mills: Yes, you are amazing.
SME: Hopefully this very realistic portrait doesn't blow your cover. Being Zorro is such a burden, I'm certain--all the secrecy.
That brings us around to the final question of I Need Friends Friday. Top 5 reasons this is the best blog interview you've ever done. Ready. Go.
Tanya Parker Mills: 1. I had a good reason to get offline from the Acer lady in India who was being a big pill about troubleshooting a problem with my new netbook.
2. I got to see myself as Zorro!
3. You gave me an idea for a title for my autobiography! (Just kidding...you can have that title)
(Before the actual interview began I shared with Tanya an idea I have for the title of my autobiography. A pretty amazing title if I do say so myself. Maybe that would make a good future post....)
Tanya Parker Mills: 4. I got to engage in witty repartee with the next best thing to Stephen Colbert!
5. I got to put off racking my brain to figure out the ending to my next novel...for at least an hour.
SME: So glad I could be of service. My Work In Progress has been giving me difficulties as well. Good luck sorting that out.
Well, thanks for stopping by.
Tanya Parker Mills: Thanks...this was a lot of fun.
SME: *cue exit music* Well, this has been "I Need Friends" Friday. Come back next week when I will make another friend!!
I am looking for anyone and everyone, whether or not you think you are interesting. You'll get a fantastic stick figure portrait of yourself, a little promotion (if you're looking for that sort of thing) and the opportunity to tell your friends and family that you've been interviewed by SME, er... by ME!
(Don't forget--If Tanya gets 5 or more comments, she gets an additional 2 entries in January's giveaway!)