Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's Taco Night, Y'All: An Interview with MC Blackman

J.A. Rock: I am so pleased today to welcome to my blog MC Blackman, artist, actor, writer, movie fan, smalltime criminal, corset-wearer, spoonrest collector, harmonicaista, and purveyor of fine tacos. MC has done some incredible art work for my upcoming book, Wacky Wednesday, a tale of two men in a D/s relationship who switch bodies for a day. MC, welcome to the blog.

MC Blackman: Thanks for the lovely intro. But I do have to clear up one thing before we continue. I am not a spoonrest collector, nor have I ever claimed to be. I actually loathe spoonrests. They are a blight, a bane, and an abomination. My kid collected them for a while, to spite and infuriate me under the flimsy pretext of making a spoonrest museum documentary film starring me, and you. I still haven’t seen any footage. The only spoonrest I allow in my personal atmosphere is the one you hand painted with Michael Jackson on it. Right now there is a naked G.I.Joe wearing nothing but a tiny Home Depot apron and a military helmet sitting on MJs face.

I tried to get Loose Id to use a similar image for the cover of my next book, but no dice. You’re like a multi-multi-media artist. Every time I turn around, you are experimenting with a different medium. What are you currently hooked on?

Leather. Clothing, jewelry, masks … I can’t get enough leather. It’s sculptural, structural, tactile. Very visceral. I recycle pre-owned leather. I call it re-sexification – giving old leather a sexy new existence. I made a pretty hot little corset and a corset-styled cuff from an old leather jacket that didn’t fit me anymore. It never looked better. I also made a studded, spiked cuff from a belt that I bought at Goodwill. If you are up for a little Show and Tell, here it is: 

Grommets, studs, spikes, rivets, snaps – I love it all. My hands are a wreck, though. Also, I am pretty obsessed with graphic design, thanks to you and this blog. It is a really exciting outlet where I can combine original artwork with computer-generated elements. Keep the assignments coming!

You know I will. You act. You write. You paint and sculpt and design clothing articles. I believe I once danced with you as well—an interpretive self-choreographed routine that involved channeling velociraptors. Is there any art form you have not mastered? 

Don’t forget we also sang Peggy Lee’s “Fever” together at that cabaret fund raiser for the theater department. There are soooo many art forms waiting to be explored. I do really want to learn batik. And I want to have my own darkroom someday.

How could I forget “Fever?” That was my first and only cigarette. I heard recently you’ve gone a little Banksy, sneaking out by night to post and tag your art in local graffiti hotspots. How thrilling is this, on a scale of one to ten?

My thrill knobs go up to eleven. And the weather is warming up. Time to hang some posters.

To satisfy my own curiosity, I must ask about your process for creating the poster(s) for Paingasm, the band that appears briefly in Wacky Wednesday. How did you approach this project? 

It all started with the girl. God, that girl. She just climbed right out of me into a pencil sketch. She kept getting better and better. The original drawing is three pieces of journal paper taped together, because she kept growing off the page. Then I made a transparency for the overhead projector and made her into a stencil, which I cut out with an X-Acto knife. (Cutting out the little tiny spaces in fishnet stockings takes a lot of concentration, just for the record.) Then I spray painted the stencil, graffiti-style, onto poster-sized paper. I made a couple of versions, then hand-stenciled the “Paingasm” letters and drew in the whip. I digitally photographed the paintings and did the rest on the computer. The boot poster is just a close-up photo of her foot from one of the paintings.

Your fictional band, Six Inch Clitoris, appears on the Paingasm concert poster as a special guest. What can you tell me about Six-I-C? Is there a harmonica player in the group?

Since there are only 3 band members, they all play instruments and sing. The lead guitarist also plays harmonica (and a haunting penny whistle.)

Six Inch Clitoris was born during a project last year where I took a self portrait every day for 365 days. One day I shot myself as three distinctly different personalities (two guys and a girl), and then merged them into a single photo as the band. The result made me crazy, I loved it so much. Also, I was in a play at the time, and based my character’s physicality on the female spotted hyena, which literally has a six inch clitoris, or “pseudo-penis”. (Google it if you don’t believe me.) I decided that if I ever did have my own indie rock band, they’d be called Six Inch Clitoris. I was so jealous of the Paingasm poster after I made it that I had to make one for 6IC as part of my “No Day Without Art Project.” Here it is.


I have to ask about No Day without Art, because I think it’s such a cool project. Could you explain the concept, and tell us how it’s going?

“No Day Without Art” is this year’s 365 days project. I have dedicated myself to spending time every day creating, making, participating in or receiving art in some way, shape or form. It is going extremely well and has allowed me to explore and discover so many ways of self-expression through art: painting, paper mache, linoleum block prints, mask-making, stop motion animation, photography, leather, performance, music, and of course, self portraits. I make the coolest kaleidoscopes. One day I was stuck in the car on a long trip with no art supplies, so I made a painting in my journal with stuff in my purse: lipstick, lip gloss, dental floss, a comb. The posters on your blog are part of the project. My motto is “No day without art. Because a day without art is just a day.”

We met doing theater. You gave me my first taste of whiskey. We’ve watched probably between 6 and 8 gazillion films on Big Bertha, your flat screen TV. But what I remember most from the days when we lived in the same town is you making me an honorary member of your family so I could participate in Taco Night. Your tacos have been called (by me) “unreal” “the best thing I’ve tasted in America” and “a diaper full of delicious.” What the hell is your secret? 

I think I bought you your first martini, too, didn’t I?

And that first cig. Can I tell my mom you’re why I turned out this way?

Also, you are not an “honorary” family member. You are a family member.

The secret to taco night? Lard. Lots of lard goes into everything. Not really. I’m just fucking with you. It’s bacon.

But seriously. I think taco night satisfaction is a multi-layered experience. First, the food really is that good. (It’s not bragging if it’s true.) Plus, somebody else cooks it (me) so it’s free (for you), so you can eat all you want and not worry about who’s picking up the check. Also, there’s no “I hope its vegan” anxiety. It is all vegan all the time at your end of the table Rock.

But that super special something that makes Taco Night at my house so singularly delicious is a li’l ingredient I like to call love. Also, the boys do the dishes. That makes everything taste better.

That makes so much sense. And now I’m hungry…FOR MORE ANSWERS! Do you read many romance novels?

By His Rules was my first. What a way to pop that cherry. And I also got a sneak preview of the upcoming Wacky Wednesday, which I enjoyed a great deal (not just because I got to do artwork for it. That was a bonus.)

I figured if you read Rules and still wanted to be my friend, I’d know it was for real. And I have had weeks to figure out how to describe how excited I am about your artwork for WW and I still can’t.

But seriously, you’ve never picked up a Harlequin Blaze?

Can “Harlequin Blaze” be my stripper name? Pleeease?

Never jumped on the Rosemary Rogers bandwagon?

Never heard of her. She’s George Clooney’s mother, right?

Yep. What do you think the appeal of the genre is, to writers and readers?

Love wins. I mean, ultimately, we always know that in the end, the guy gets the girl, or the guy gets the guy, or the girl gets the girl, or the girl get the guy. Whatever else happens on the long rocky road to happy, we take it for granted in the romance genre that these two people are going to get there somehow and be together. It’s a predictable formula, right? So the writer’s biggest challenge, I think, is to make that journey not predictable, to write characters we want to journey with, not choke in their sleep. I will follow interesting characters anywhere they want to take me – apparently even into a BDSM bedroom or basement dungeon. Which brings me to the sex. You have to keep the sex fresh and interesting. That part isn’t easy. There are only so many ways to repackage the anatomical sameness of sex. No matter how you mix-n-match genders, apparatus and sexual kinks, basically it’s a “Tab A goes into Slot B” kind of thing. Sure, Tab A and Slot B can be lots of different things for different people, but still. What I love is when a writer surprises me with a new twist on a basic act that people have been doing since they discovered there was a Tab A and a Slot B. That one scene in Wacky Wednesday (you know the one I’m talking about) was a mind-melt for me. I saw sex like I’d never seen it before. You blew me away. It’s genius.

I only invite people on this blog if they're willing to use that word to describe something I've done. What makes a great romance?

For me, the same foundational things that hook me into any good work of fiction: interesting characters that I care about enough to spend several hours of my life with, and who I think about when I’m not with them. Smart, fundamentally solid writing is essential. Also, a compelling story. Sorry, but sex isn’t enough to sustain my attention. I’m that reader who skims through the sex to get back to the story (I still read all of the words, but faster). If the writing or the story feels amateurish, too contrived, too clever, too formulaic, too shallow, too gratuitous, or too overwrought, I’m out.

I know this might be difficult to talk about, but I’d like to turn the conversation over to the spoonrests. At what point did you know you were an addict?

Was I not clear on that subject? Shut it down, Rock.

You’re not fooling anyone. I heard the way you talked up Spoonrests in that documentary. Something about spoons needing a place to rest their weary heads? You were so tender when you said it, like a Disney princess talking to woodland creatures. But on the off chance you’re telling me the truth, do you want me to stop giving you spoonrests as gifts?

I’ll just smash them and make them into art. You’ve seen what I did to my sewing machine.

Spoonrests, stuffed grape leaves, or a night at the symphony? Choose now!

Symphony. I have season tickets to the Cleveland Orchestra. I’m not a snob. My MP3 is loaded with P!NK, Nicki Minaj, Florence and the Machine, Eminem, Mary J. Blige. But my soul also requires regular doses of live, classical music. (It also requires sushi and martinis at Table 45 before every concert. But the music is nice, too.) Somehow going to the symphony makes me feel like a better person. It’s like that song from “A Chorus Line” about how everything is beautiful at the ballet. And isn’t that what good art should do to us? Make us feel changed? Hopefully for the better. And my personal wish for all your readers is that they get to Severance Hall at least once in their life. It is a magnificent concert hall.

Okay, time to pick the ideal romance cover man-angle.

Nice segue. Abrupt much?


I like my interviews like I like my sexual partners: Bizarre and unfocused. 

(A note before continuing: I am not affiliated with the following books in anyway, nor does this blog make any judgment on their worth or content. I selected these covers at random to elicit reactions from my guest. All in good clean/dirty fun.)

My Fair Captain, J.L. Langley


Tantalizing view of just-chest.

Um, gross. The body hair kills this one for me. I like my cover man much more metro. Too much fur on this beef. And why are they cut off at the noses? Give me a penetrating gaze. (Say “penetrating gaze” out loud and it takes on a whole other meaning.)

It took me a couple tries, but I just got it. 

The Longest Stride, T.A. Chase
Faded face above pastoral scene

Points for the penetrating gaze, but this one confuses me. Does he end up with the horse?


Taste, Mickie B. Ashling

Double Smolder

Also double hand to the chin. Double penetrating gaze. These guys could draw me into their story. They look like they might have a li’l something tantalizing up their sleeves (besides that iffy tattoo, which kind of looks like graffiti, so I’ll allow it.)

Idaho Battlegrounds, Sarah Black
Reading in the bathtub while the dog watches

No. Hell no. Jesus. Is the guy holding the book Kenneth the Page from 30Rock? And what’s up with that pink clawfoot tub? I can’t handle this one. No. I’m sorry. I can’t. Just, please, make it go away.

 What’s your vote? 

Is it gone? OK. Gotta go with double smolder/double hand to chin/double penetrating gaze on the cover of Taste. These fellas have got me currrrious.

You name objects—your TV, car, etc. Does naming objects facilitate a deeper, more meaningful relationship with them?

I don’t name anything unless I truly love it first. Love always precedes naming. And you can’t rush it. Nothing gets named right out of the box. We have to cohabit for a while. For instance, my Kindle. We had a rocky early courtship and I wasn’t sure she was the one for me. I left her in the box for a full day. She wasn’t even a she for quite a while, just an it. Then one morning several days into our relationship I woke up with a very specific name on my mind – Kindleezza. She’s the first one I see in the morning, and the last one I see before I go to sleep at night. She even goes in the bathtub with me – I made her a little scuba suit from a Ziplok bag. But we never let the dog watch. Ever. And my tub is just regular. Not weirdly clawfooted and pink.

Minivan Halen didn’t get his name until we’d been driving together a while. You’re right, you can’t rush it. You also like to create alter egos. How many alter egos do you have now?

M.C. Blackman (for your blog). BatGrrrl (for YouTube). TwoCent (forever). Storybitch (for editing). Small Change (my graffiti tag). Oooh, and now “Harlequin Blaze,” for stripping. In addition to introducing the members of Six Inch Clitoris, my self portrait year revealed a multiplicity of selves living inside me. Guys, girls, sexy, scared, scary, silly – all of me. I love to let them out to play.

I too have alter egos. Explain to me why I need them. What is the difference between you and me and, say, Edward Norton’s character in Primal Fear?

I haven’t seen Primal Fear.

Stop. Wait. What? Come on. Edward Norton at his finest. Richard Gere at his Gereiest. Laura Frickin’ Linney. Go. Right now. Order it. Stick it in Bertha. Watch it. Come back when you’re ready to talk.

…But I don’t believe anyone is a one-dimensional personality.

Or don’t.


The mask we show the general public is just the thinnest sliver of who we really are. So many people live in that sliver and spend a lot of energy neutering all the juice, color and flavor out of their deepest, truest selves. I don’t want to hang out with those people. They definitely don’t get invited to Taco Night. I’d rather hang with people who channel all that juice, color and flavor in the most creative ways imaginable – whether it’s writing BDSM romance, making exquisite pastries, acting, or exploring the nooks and crannies of artistic expression. It keeps things so much more interesting, even when you’re all alone. Like one day, the UPS guy came to the door while I was taking pictures of myself in full body paint and a paper mache Medusa mask. I shit you not. I did not answer the door, but if I did, he’d have seen this: 

Now that’s the kind of mask I wish more people would wear.

Um, me too. I don’t want to live in the sliver. I don’t want to neuter the juice. I want to get invited to Taco Night. Oh please. Taco Night. Forever.

Thank you so much for your intelligent, insightful answers, and for participating in this interview. And for your splendid artistic contributions to this blog. 

You betcha. Give the Professor a scratch behind the ears for me.

Will do.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Titanic: A 3D Imax Experience

I’m wary of having it predetermined that my trip to the movies will be an “experience.” Last year I told a friend I was hesitant to see Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. She’d seen it and raved about it. “It’s not a movie so much as an experience,” she said.

I took this as a warning. If I want an experience, I’ll travel, or plug my hair dryer in and balance it on the edge of the tub while I bathe. If I buy a ticket to a movie, I expect it to sit in a dirty seat for about two hours and watch reasonably well-developed characters resolve a central conflict.

I don’t go to 3D movies. I tried it with Avatar, and between the glasses squeezing my head and the popping out stuff and Sam Worthington being about as engaging as a napkin holder, I just couldn’t deal. I’m like one of those people who said “talkies” would never stick, or who scoffed at Technicolor. I’m prematurely seventy-six. But I would honestly rather just skip the third dimension. Whenever Hollywood re-releases a Disney movie in 3D, I attend the one 2D showing available, usually at 11:45 a.m.

But then here comes Titanic, sailing back into theaters in three dimensions.

I was in middle school when Titanic came out, and I’d just traded my love for horses for a crush on Leonardo diCaprio. Titanic was the first PG-13 movie I got to go see with my friends; no parents allowed.

I could have done without the romance. It was often the case in my childhood that I ignored the plots of disaster movies and was startled, when I was older, to learn what the movies were actually about. All I remember about Jurassic Park as a kid was having to sit through inexplicable scenes during which there were no dinosaurs eating people. Same story with Jaws—there were scenes that didn’t even take place in the water. WTF? The people go out on a boat to find the shark, and then spend the whole night talking? Unacceptable.

Now I watch both of those movies and am more interested in the characters and their moral and ethical plights than in the devouring.

Okay, equally interested.

Grown up J.A. realizes Titanic is about class and true love and men getting punished Greek tragedy style for flying too close to the sun and Bill Paxton jonesing for a giant diamond worn by a king.

When I was eleven, it was about a ship sinking.

I would have been happy to see Titanic in 2D in the theater again.

But I kept looking at that movie listing: Titanic: A 3D Imax Experience.

I’d never been to an Imax theater, outside of museum Omnimax stuff about oceans and tundras

So yesterday at 5:05, I took off for Cobb Cinemas.

I should have left five minutes earlier. I always give myself ten minutes to get there, and it takes fifteen. I know this. Plus, I was behind this station wagon from Mississippi that was traveling at a pace I would describe as Brontosaurus.

I will confess to a tiny bit of road rage—a gift I’ve passed on to a character in my latest WIP. I don’t know if I’d call it “rage” so much as “intense irritation.” Okay, it’s rage. I just don’t understand why, when a light turns green in this town, people don’t put their feet on their gas pedals and drive. This town MOSEYS through lights, and as someone who is chronically tardy, I cannot afford to mosey.

So I’m grumbling at the Mississippi Mosier and figuring I’m probably going to miss the “Put on Your 3D Glasses Now” announcement. The show starts at 5:15. I get there at 5:17 and get in line for tickets behind a woman and her son who are buying tickets for a movie that doesn’t even start until 5:45. And the woman is asking the ticket seller all these questions about the movie. IMDB IT!!! IMDB it before you leave your house good christ I am TRYING to have a 3D Imax experience here!

Finally woman and child MOSEY off.

I ask for a ticket for Titanic.

“The 3D Imax experience?” the seller asks.

“Is there any other kind?”

There is. It’s playing in 3D on a regular screen at 7:15 and 9:30. Screw that. I am here to feel my chair rumble. I am here to have sound blasted into my ears.

I am here for an Experience.

I take my ticket inside. The ticket taker rips it, hands me 3D glasses, and tells me to enjoy. I start to ask “Which theater?” What a dumb question. Obviously it’s the theater with the neon blue doorway and the screen outside it showing clips from other movies I might one day want to see Imaxed. I enter, prepared to fall to me knees and weep at Imax’s glory.

It’s pretty much a regular theater with a slightly wider screen.

It’s 5:23, but the movie hasn’t started yet. Where do I sit? There are only like four other people there, so I have my pick. My instinct tells me to sit close to the front, but I see two other girls heading for the back, and it’s crowd mentality, baby. I follow them and end up in the center toward the back, right behind an older couple. The man is hacking, making his giant belly wobble. He is touting the virtues of steroids and habanero peppers (not together).

I think I should move. Should I move? Do I have time? I don’t want to be moving when the movie starts.

I pick up my bag and dart to the front. It’s kind of like roller coasters—I like to sit in the front of the car so no one else gets to experience the sensations before I do.

The movie still hasn’t started. I’m treated to samplings of Lenny Kravitz, Andrew Bird, and MC Zulu on CinemaRadio. I can hear Hacker McWobblegut several rows behind me.

I realize I have to pee.

I had asparagus for lunch. Asparagus. On the day I’m going to see Titanic.

Titanic is three hours and fourteen minutes long. And I plan on staying through the end credits for the Celine Dion song. If I don’t pee now…and all that water onscreen…It’s gonna be a long three and a half hours.

So I get up and run to the bathroom. I pee superfast. I wash my hands superfast, despite my firm belief in the fifteen-second rule.

I text September Adams to let her know I'm seeing this without her because we're separated by an ocean of land.

I wonder what the hell is so pokey in my purse.

It’s my 3D glasses.

Have I missed the announcement to put them on?

I run back into Imax.

I haven’t missed anything. Lights still on. CinemaRadio still playing.

A few weeks ago when I went to see The Hunger Games, the theater accidentally started playing The Lorax instead. It caused so much tension that one audience member actually volunteered as tribute.

Maybe I’m just not meant to “experience” cinematic cultural phenomena.

It’s 5:40. What the hell is taking s—

My ears explode.

At least, that’s what I assume has happened. My brain is on fire. My jaw rattles. I can’t focus on anything. Silver light pours from the screen.

It’s an ad explaining how amazing the sound is in this theater.

Too bad I’ll never hear anything ever again.

I have been deafened by digital surround sound.

The glasses announcement appears, and I put my glasses on with shaking hands.

The ringing in my ears fades. The movie starts.

I keep taking my glasses off and putting them back on through the opening credits to try to see the difference between 3D and regular D.

I realize I have to pee again.

Fuck you asparagus.

I’m glad I saw Titanic in 3D. I thought the inside of the ship looked awesome. People…not always so much. Crowd scenes were kind of awkward. Dinner scenes, though? Two thumbs up.

My real question was, Would the 3D be distracting when the ship was sinking?

Would I be put off by the Man-Who-Intends-to-Go-Down-as-a-Gentleman-but-Wants-a-Brandy-First’s weird 3D hand? Would Victor Garber’s death be less potent because items in the foreground were out of focus?

I loved the 3D ship-saster. Ropes snapped and hit me in the eye. Flying ship pieces landed in my lap. When old Rose dropped the Heart of the Ocean into the sea, it fell right on my face.

And yeah, the picture was amazingly crisp. And my chair rumbled. Thanks Imax.

I stayed for the Celine Dion song. Then I hurried out and peed.

My hat is off to you, Hollywood. I shall permit you to force the word “experience” onto my experience. For now.

Though I must say it didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had after seeing this trailer:

Titanic Super 3D Trailer

A note: I was journaling at the time the sound ad came on, and this is a picture of what I wrote in that moment.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cover Art

Oh yeah, it's here! Wacky Wednesday cover art, designed by Fiona Jayde.

There's lightning!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Confessions of Dangerous Minds: Professor Anne

I write all J.A. Rock's novels for her. She makes scribbly five-year-old attempts at storytelling, and I go back and turn them into books while she sleeps.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wacky Wednesday Release Date

Looks like it's going to be May 22! I am very excited, and will be posting some new WW-themed art by MC Blackman shortly.

Friday, April 6, 2012

An Interview with Katey Hawthorne

With her latest book, Nobody’s Hero, selling like hotdogs from the vendor cart in front of Cleveland's Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, I sat down with friend and writercrush Katey Hawthorne, author of the Superpowered Love series, to talk about about cranky characters, superpowers, and the Mistake on the Lake.

Thank you for putting yourself in the hotseat, Katey.
A warm ass is a happy ass. Thank you for inviting me. <3

We recently discovered we’re both CWRU alumni. I still kind of can’t get over that. What do you think made Coventry, a prominent setting in Nobody’s Hero, so appealing to supercool artsypants Case students like ourselves?
Partly I think it was just the only place you could walk to and get food apart from Arabica. But also it just has a bunch of really quirky shit that fits our weird needs: used CD and book shops, Big Fun, awesome vegetarian food, artsy shit. And you get to walk by the graveyard on your way, which is always a nice place to hang out.

That sounded weirder than I meant it to. You know what I mean.

I truly do. Tommy’s is the best part of Coventry. Defy me. I dare you.
No, it really, really is -- and not just because it was the first place I ever ate that actually liked vegetarians. I have been telling my husband about Tommy's since we got together (over 6 years ago) and he never believed me that it could be SO AWESOME. Finally while I was editing Nobody's Hero I dragged him to Cleveland and made him eat there. He had to take it all back. So there.

Tommy's is still my favorite restaurant. I tell everyone this.

I’m glad you were able to convert him. God, the things I would do for that BBQ seitan…are things I can’t talk about, even on this blog. Anywho. Jamie and Kellan choose apartments based on their proximity to Big Fun. What is the biggest thing you’ve bought at Big Fun, and what is the funnest?
You know, I've never lived in Cleveland when I had money for anything big (oh wait, I still don't...), so I'm not sure. Mostly I just go for old X-Men action figures and ancient pulp books and junk toys. I did get a really super fun Quicksilver action figure last time I was there. He keeps me company while I write. Saying things like, "Oh my god, why is this taking you so long you scandalously incompetent wretch? I could've written this book in a quarter-second and it would've been five-thousand times better!"

... fun.

I particularly like that they give you a fortune-telling fish with every purchase, though. The fish never lies.

When I lived in Little Italy, someone took a crap on my neighbor’s porch. My friend Chris and I spent the next month trying to solve the Case of the Little Italy Pooper. What’s your favorite Cleveland story?
Oh, Little Italy, how we love you. Once I lived just across the Rapid tracks (aka the wrong side of the tracks) from Shaker Square and someone left a bullet shell casing on our porch.

I'm not sure if I'd prefer the poop, honestly. I didn't want to solve the bullet casing mystery, that's all I know.

Dear god. I’d take the poop. Have you seen the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism videos on YouTube?       
I had not until you just mentioned it, and oh my god, that is the best ad campaign ever. "We're not Detroit!"

“Our main export is crippling depression,” is one of the best things I’ve heard anyone say ever. Back to Nobody’s Hero, I am about a third of the way through, and I’m painfully in love with Kellan. I just want him to show up at my house and say accidental jerk things so I can forgive him over and over again, because he is just that adorable. What do you think is so appealing about crankypants characters finding love?
I think we all want to be loved for our bad parts, not in spite of them. And Kelly's accidental jerkery is pretty bad, but Jamie totally loves it. So if a crankypants jerkface like Kellan can find love, I mean, there's gotta be hope for the rest of us, right?

But also, when the cranky is defensively motivated, it can be awfully cute. And in Kellan's case, yeah. 

Defensive like whoa.

How long have Jamie and Kellan been stomping around your head, waiting to get out?
Mmm, I don't know, they were pretty adamant about getting out the second they appeared. Jamie's pretty demanding so it was one of those, "HEY I'M HERE NOW LET ME OUT AND GIVE ME THE HOT GEEK BOY."

Yes, he speaks in allcaps in my head. I don't know. It's a thing.

I love it. I think he should have spoken in all caps in the story as well, like Owen Meany.
I have a feeling Jamie likes John Irving -- or that book, anyhow. He would approve.

If laws, safety, and privacy were not issues, where in Cleveland would Jamie and Kellan most like to make out, and at what time of day?
Museum of Natural History, right in front of the stegosaurus in the lobby, probably around 10am since Kellan would want to get there right when they opened. Kelly would get all excited by dinosaurs and SCIENCE and be adorkable, so Jamie would have to jump him.

I believe it was Marvell who said, “There is nothing so sexy as dinosaur love.” Right?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was. I heard he was into that kind of thing. Pass it around.

There are many things that make writing the best job in the world—the erratic hours, the paralyzing insecurities, our parents’ desires to see us get “real” jobs. If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be doing?
Working an office admin job and writing all the time instead of doing my work. Or so every other job I've ever had leads me to believe. I'm glad I have this one though -- I'd hardly recognize myself without the paralyzing insecurities and constant patronizing "real job" suggestions. Amiright?

Yersoright. What is the first romance you ever read?
It's got to be a classic, something by Jane Austen or a Bronte. I still love Jane Austen but I'm not much of a Bronte fan. They're okay, but it's weird to take yourself that seriously all the time.

I never thought of it that way. But yeah. Brontes. They make romance into some heavy shit. I do have to ask everyone this: What makes a great romance?
Characters who don't suck. There are so many awesome ways to work a romance angle, but I seriously think the thing that makes a story great is a character I want to see win. With romance it's sort of double-important because it's so closely focused on the emotions of the people in question. If they're annoying--as in too perfect or too blah--I just want to throw things and stomp around.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Botanical Gardens, Museum of Natural History, or Mi Pueblo, the shitty Mexican restaurant on the corner of E. 115th that didn’t card?
Museum of Art is the best thing ever. I spent many a happy hour there in classes, oh yes. Unfortunately it's torn all to shit now and the gorgeous Asian galleries that lured me to CWRU in the first place are closed... but all so they can be super awesome again soon, I guess.

I can't believe I left Mi Pueblo out of the book, though. Oh god, we were always so sure we'd end up sick for days after, but they'd give us margaritas.

When I steal things from my family to use in books, I usually tell them about it. I don’t know if I’m being cruel or kind. When you base things in your books off your family, do you derive any pleasure from being like, “Hey, your weird asses just got PUBLISHED.”
I feel that. I get downright gleeful about it. I was making my mom read part of the scene with Kellan's family, the one where two of his brothers are arguing with him about marriage, and I was like, "Haha, look familiar?" I sent a copy to my aunt, her sister, and was like, "So, now our family weird is immortalized. Enjoy."

Mom was a little iffy, but laughed -- Aunt Trish is down with the romance and drew my Honeyed Fox beer logo.

Haha, yay Aunt Trish! Okay, so we are independent women who don’t need to be rescued by anyone. But if you were in a situation you really couldn’t get out of yourself, which superhero would you want to be rescued by and why?
Well, if I had to go all damsel in distress, I think I'd choose Spider-Man because he'd make it funny. His one-liners are amazeballs.

Full disclosure: I may be biased since I have been in love with him since I was like six years old. And have a Spider-Man tattoo.

Have you been on the Spider-Man ride at Universal Studios? It’s like a Best of the Spidey One-liners Tour.
I haven't, which is tragic. Amusement park rides (roller coasters FTW) and an endless track of Spidey dork!snark. That's pretty much my idea of heaven.

Yes, I know that's sad. I'm okay with it.

One of my favorite things about the Superpowered Love series is that the people with superpowers are just people. With superpowers. They’re not necessarily heroes. Was that something you intended from the get go? A series of books about people trying to coexist with the power inside them, as opposed to trying to save the world? Or did that idea evolve as you wrote?
Yes, that was definitely my intention. I read so many comics (oh god, help, I'm going broke), and though they're made more interesting by the interpersonal stuff, they definitely focus on the larger picture of superheroing and general badassery.

There have been many superheroes who've just tried to give it up for a while (Iceman comes to mind -- love you, Bobby!), though, and I always liked those storylines. I like the idea that not everyone wants to or should be a hero. I want to play with the weird little every day stuff. And if they occasionally end up accidentally saving someone, cool, but you know.

So far in your books I’ve seen fire, ice, and electricity. Any more superpowers I can anticipate in the future?
Not from this series, but definitely from others. I've got a bunch of weird elemental things planned where the powers are similarly -- actually even more subverted, and I've got one for each of the four main elements, so that's kinda fun and different.

Oh and my vampires -- the ones my evil half KV Taylor writes -- have superpowers. There's a mindfucker, a prescient, a pyromancer, a necromancer, an enchanter, and a telekinetic, just for starters. Good times.

I want to meet them all. True story: When I lived in Cleveland I had a job as a standardized patient at a medical center. On my first day of work they strapped a robotic vagina over my shorts so a med student could practice doing a pap exam. If the student was too rough, a laptop screen only I and the observers could see would flash red, which meant I should say “Ouch” or “Easy there, tiger.” I’ve been to both Vegas and Cleveland, and there’s a lot more stuff that happened in Cleveland that I hope stays there. Which city that you’ve visited do you spend the most time trying to forget?
That is so much weirder than any job I had there. Also, extremely awesome. Robotic vag ftw.

I'd probably have to go with Cleveland too, though. There was that time we were stuck in a Rapid train car with a dude offering to shoot us all. (Hey, yeah, so Jamie's nightmare thing is totally based on actual Cleveland Experience too -- awesome!) And that night I puked off the balcony because I was clueless enough to try one of each shot the frat upstairs was offering all comers. Or the time we got high by Wade Lagoon and it turned out my friend's brother had given her weed with PCP in it. I was trying to pull my soul back into my body the whole walk back to the dorms, and once I got there I melted into the wall. I found this vaguely inconvenient but interesting at the time and horrifying once I came down.

Don't do drugs, kids. Even if there's not much else to do in Cleveland.

There are definitely certain moments that make me wish I had selective brain bleach, though. But I don't want to forget the city because I actually love it, so don't let this fool you.

That is beautiful. And I feel you. Cleveland, whatever I say about you, the subtext is heartz.

Romance Bestsellers Madlib

I’m going to give you the blanks for this madlib. When the interview is published, I'll insert your answers into the madlib story.

1.     Letter of the Alphabet __X___
2.      Letter of the Alphabet ___K___
3.      Weather phenomenon __a rain of frogs__
4.      Possessive pronoun __their__
5.      Adjective __comely___
6.      Civil service job __sanitation engineer___
7.      BDSM-related gerund __collaring___
8.      Adjective __languid__
9.      Word related to light __golden__
10.  Your favorite season ___fall___
11.  Quantifying adjective __ALL THE...(Things)___
12.  Adjective __hirsute__
13.  BDSM implement __flogger___
14.  Name of an award __Darwin___
15.  Type of flower __tiger lily__
16.  Street name __Baker St.___
17.  Adverb __nobly__
18.  Gerund __sucking__
19.  Douchiest name you can think of __Blair__
20.  Type of eReader __iPad___
21.  Location __the sea of tranquility__
22.  Letter of the alphabet __Z___
23.  Gender ambiguous name __Lee__
24.  Ivy league school __University of Pennsylvania___

Romance Bestsellers Madlib

X. K. Rain-of-Frogs’s novel Their Comely Sanitation Engineer is
(letter) (letter) (weather phenomenon) (possessive pronoun) (adverb) (civil service job)

collaring the bestseller list this month. Critics say this languid tale
(BDSM related gerund)                                                                                 (adjective)                             

is even better than Golden Fall’s All the Hirsute Floggers, which won the
                            (word related to light) (fav season) (quantifying adj) (adj) (BDSM implement)

Darwin Award last year.

Meanwhile, Tiger Lily Baker’s whirlwind multicultural romance Nobly
(flower)       (Street)                                                                             (adv)      

Sucking Blair is burning up the iPad of every passenger on every bus in
(gerund) (douchiest name you can think of) (type of eReader)                                                 

The Sea of Tranquility. Baker’s work has been compared to that of Z. Lee
(location)                                                                               (letter) (gender ambiguous name)

University of Pennsylvania—who I think we can all agree is the greatest
(ivy league school)
romance writer of our time.

Thank you so much for doing this interview. I am so excited to read the rest of Nobody’s Hero, and I wish it many, many sales!
Thank you, superawesome J.A. Rock! And may I say you have superior taste in colleges and universities~

As do you.