Book Trailer for Pilikia

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I've been tagged by Helen Ginger to write six things about me. I don't know if I could come up with six things, Can I count that as one of my six? No, scratch that, here are six random things about me.

1. My first job, when I was 12 years old was in a printing shop. I was the printer's devil. The devil is one of those left-overs from the guild system. He is a gofer, odd-job, cleaner-upper, usually a kid. (I'm older than child labor laws.) I swept the floor, washed the windows, burned trash (I'm older than clean air laws), sorted and bound type (I'm older than Xerox) and learned a whole lot about typesetting, most of which I forgot. I also learned about girls and cars because this shop employed several young apprentice and journeyman printers who were a little rough around the edges. In high school, we read a humorous poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes The Height of the Ridiculous, that had this verse:

"These to the printer," I exclaimed,
And, in my humorous way,
I added, (as a trifling jest,)
"There'll be the devil to pay."
I was the only one in class who caught the joke. I don't know if there are any printer's devils left in the world. I might be the last one.

2.My wife and I joined the Peace Corps and served in Thailand in a town called Pitsanulok, which mean Vishnu's World in English. The temple there is reputed to have the most beautiful statue of Buddha in all Buddhadom. We taught English at a teacher's college and supervised student teachers. My first day on the job, I was sitting at my desk when a very attractive young Thai student came to see me. As soon as she entered the room she began lowering herself because she was just a student in the presence of an important person (me) and she had to keep her head lower than mine. With each step she took, she sank lower until she was on her knees at my desk. I thought, "I can get used to this."

3. I finished my Master's Thesis under the gun. Literally. I had left Washington University for Thailand with my thesis about half completed. Naturally, I put it aside for awhile. After about a year I went back to it because I wanted to defend it on our home leave between the second and third years. It's hard to get back to a something you've lost interest in. What I needed was time to immerse myself in it. I got the time from an unlikely source--the Thai students around the country rebelled against the military junta. The junta struck back by sending the army with tanks to the colleges. For two weeks the campus where we lived was surrounded by the tanks while the students barricaded themselves inside. Those two weeks were all I needed to finish my thesis. Literally under the gun.

4. I did my first skydive a week before my fiftieth birthday. I did thirty-seven jumps in all and accumulated twenty-eight minutes, twenty-five seconds in freefall. I don't jump anymore because our club suffered a plane crash and five of the members were killed. After that, the fun went out of skydiving. Nevertheless, I can't look at a clear blue sky anymore without wishing I could be falling through it.

5. Joe Lansdale read part of a manuscript I submitted to a workshop. He critiqued it heavily and suggested I make the protagonist a woman and write it in the first person. That was the genesis of Val Lyon. One novel and seven short stories later, thanks, Joe.

6. I can't read a book without a pen and a stack of post-it notes I don't always write on the notes. Sometimes I just leave them where an important plot point takes place. I count the pages and words before I start to read and mark the places where I expect the acts to change. Our books look like stegasauruses with all the notes coming out of them. It drives my wife crazy.

Okay, so those are the six things. Here are the rules of tagging as posted on The Blood Red Pencil.
The rules to play are easy and you should copy them to your blog…

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag sixish people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Now I will tag
Pari Noskin Taichert
Gerals So
Lonnie Cruise
Kevin Tipple
Denise Dietz


  1. Helen Ginger said...

    You devil! It sounds like you have had a very interesting life. And you truly did come up with six things I didn't know about you.

    I like the idea that you defended your thesis under the gun. And the Thai student getting lower and lower. I think it would be really hard to talk with students when they're on their knees.

    Thanks Mark!