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Frequently (not) Asked Questions

There are three faqs — an introductory faq, a faq about writing, and a faq for The Skwib

John Wayne wearing Devo hat

Introductory FAQ

I notice that you’ve been nominated for the Aurora Award a number of times, but never won. What gives?

I am increasingly honoured just to be nominated. What can I say, once upon a time I had enough suck to get on the list, but not enough to bring it home. Someday, this will change. Or not.

Your bio says you’re an award-winning writer — so what did you win?

In 2018, The Fatness received an Independent Book Publisher Association (IPBA) Benjamin Franklin Award (silver) for best humor AND an IndieReader Discovery Award for best humor.

The Fridgularity received the IndieReader Discovery Award for best humor, in 2013.

So are YOU Emily Chesley?

Who isn’t Emily Chesley? You are. Your neighbour is. I am (to a much, much greater degree). Anyone who has ever thought, “why do people stand for that?” or been felt up by/felt up an attractive blond Norwegian could ask, am I Emily Chesley? Some of us honour Emily’s false memory by writing stories in her name, and some of us burn effigies of Queen Vic on May 24th, but is there any difference between us?

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That was just a series of questions, not an answer.

That wasn’t a question, so much as an acute observation.

Okay, let’s move on. What is all this business with monkeys?

Did you say “minkey”?

No, I said “mon-key”.

Fair enough. Well, the monkey is an interesting figure in mythology. In It is also a keystone in the Theory of the Claw. What, you’ve never heard of the Theory of the Claw?

Now that you know what that is all about, you understand why monkeys are important. I have had considerable monkey-powers since I was bitten by a baboon when I was a child. (One of those red-assed bastards, not a Barbary ape.)

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Is it normal to be frightened at this point of the faq?

Yes. If you weren’t frightened, I would be, and that would be bad. But if you just keep on pushing through the mirror, it will all make sense.


No. No, not at all.

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Writing FAQ

mark looking like a monkey
Where do you get your ideas?

My ideas are hidden under a floorboard in my writing “office”. The floorboard’s combination is “8-12-eggplant-99”. The supply seems inexhaustible, which is why I’m willing to give you the combination.

Do you know how your stories will end when you start writing them?

That is a question that makes me itchy. Sometimes, yes, and sometimes, no. If I’m going to write a novel, I better damn-well know where it is going to end, otherwise, why put myself through that pain? If it’s a short story or a play, I’m willing to explore. If I don’t know the ending before I start, I usually have to do a lot more re-writing. I am lazy, so from that you can infer that I normally know the ending.

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When did you start writing?

I began my writing career in kindergarten. Miss Deatch (the Peach) was quite keen on my cursive. My penmanship was excellent up until the point that I broke my wrist during a rousing game of big-tank, little-tank. (Kind of like British Bulldog, but there were only two crossers, me and fellow military ordinance, Scotty [name withheld to protect the innocent].) While my wrist was broken, the best I could manage was this awful scrawl, and it hasn’t changed much since.

So why aren’t you a doctor?

Hey, I’m supposed to do the jokes.

Okay, when did you start writing fiction?

Well, according to my mom, I have been telling stories since I was old enough to talk. (Age three — for a few years, she and Dad thought I was developmentally challenged. In my own defence, the first words that came out of my mouth formed a complete sentence. Been regressing. Ever. Since.)

As far as I can remember, I started writing things down about the same time that I became aware of the fact that I could be vaporized at any instant by Ronald Reagan and/or the “Empire of Evil” (1981).

(BTW, since then, I have learned that Ronnie really hated nuclear war and would never have caused one. Now I think he’s great. The 1981 me would kick my ass, just for thinking that, let alone writing it. And let me tell you, the 1981 Mark knew karate. Of course, the now Mark knows how to fight dirty, so who knows who would win?)

So I guess the answer is 1981.

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The Skwib

cartoon bombSo why call you blog “the skwib”, what’s with the funny spelling?

You can read the dictionary definition of the word “squib” below. With any luck, my entries will match one of the different kinds of squibs, though most likely it will be the short-distance kick.

When did you start your blog?

2005. That’s, like, 100 in blog years.

Can I submit to The Skwib?

Not at the moment, but if you have an idea you’d like to suggest, I’d be happy to run with it and take all the credit.

Sounds like a bad deal to me. Okay, so, what’s the dictionary definition?

squib /skwib/ n. & v. Ӣ n.1. a small firework burning with a hissing sound and usu. with a final explosion. 2. a short satirical composition, a lampoon. Ӣ v. (squibbed, squibbing) 1. tr. Amer. football kick (the ball) a comparatively short distance on a kick-off; execute a kick in this way. 2. archaic 1 a intr write lampoon. b tr. lampoon [16th c.: orig. unkn.: perh. imit.]

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If you have a question for Mark, please email him: markarayner (at) gmail (dot) com. IF he thinks it’s really (im)pertinent, he will probably post it here, with his answer.