What? You’re no doubt asking that. So here’s a story to start you off. I belong to a local writer’s group that calls itself the Auburn Writers Circle. I often say it’s because we do more circling than writing, but that’s a different story. Every once in a while, someone manages to escape our august group and we begin looking for a fresh victim, er, I mean new blood.
Which is how, a couple of years ago, we ended up previewing a chapter from a potential victim’s work. It was so freaking funny, we knew he had to join us. Fast forward to now, when the book, Stupid Alabama, is not only out but is FREE for Kindle this week. GET IT! Today, I’m happy to introduce you to its author, Michael P. Wines. Mike is a biologist who does the venomous snake shows at the local wildlife preserve. He’s finishing up his master’s in biology and is in search of a job that pays better than writing books (which is just about anything). He’s also been out adventuring with the “Gator Boys” and knows an awful lot about salamanders. And he is really, really funny.
Stupid Alabama is, technically, a middle-grade novel that will appeal to boys, but girls and anybody who likes funny—and sometimes gross—stuff will enjoy it. Read it! And although the book’s free for Kindle this week, I’ll send a signed print copy to one commenter because I, like, know the author. Read on….
ABOUT STUPID ALABAMA: So there’s this nerdy sixth-grader named Melvin. He lives in Brooklyn, and wants nothing more in life than to go to computer camp. There he can build the ultimate robot to thwart his enemies, do his chores, and make him look cool in front of girls. Instead, he gets his butt kicked by a bully and a guilt trip from his parents. Somehow, after an epic day of defeat, worry, and woe, he agrees to spend the summer in stupid Alabama with his stupid biologist Uncle Petro. On the drive, Melvin and Petro pick up a couple of burping alligators from the Bronx Zoo, mistakenly become international terrorists, and somehow survive the fartapocolypse. Petro is attempting to save the Red Hills salamander from extinction and drags Melvin through the culture and wilderness of the deep, dirty South. Along the way he encounters a freakish group of characters, including a horse-sized dog named Choopy, Melvin’s best friend Chucky (AKA DJ Chuck-N-Stuff), and a few other wierdos, including a butt-chinned, New York reporter ruining their already stupid lives. Stupid Alabama: growing up to discover not all things are stupid, but a lot are.
And now, let’s hear from Michael…
Describe your favorite scene in the book? Why is it your favorite?
I debated which scene entertained me the most. There may be other chapters that most other people like, but the scene where Melvin (our hero) and his Uncle Petro are driving from New York to Alabama (with two alligators in the back of the van, but that isn’t terribly important to the scene). Melvin decides what the car ride needs is a little excitement. They stop to pick up lunch at a greasy-spoon diner. Melvin orders onion rings. His mother has forbidden him to ever eat them in her presence due to the horrible effects they have on his gastro-intestinal system and her furniture. She’s not there and Petro is unsuspecting of the horrors Melvin is about to deliver upon his olfactory system.
The reason I liked the scene so much is when I wrote it, I brought it to my writing group (Suzanne was there). I read it for the first time and was laughing so hard, I almost had to stop. There were many tears shed. That was the second I knew I could really entertain with my writing.
[Suzanne sez: He isn’t joking. We were falling out of our chairs!]
Hardest scene you’ve ever written:
I am lucky to have a lot of friends in many places. I lived in Memphis for a long time and had recently moved to Alabama. There were always friends at my house and my roommates often had parties. I had a dog, named Loki that was with me for almost seventeen years. She was the sweetest and most sociable critter I’ve ever come across. Loki was also universally loved. Anyone and everyone that met her fell for her instantly. Soon after I moved to Alabama she passed. I was devastated and knew many old friends and family would be as well. So I wrote a story about her and sent it out to her loved ones. The response I got was overwhelming. Sorry, if I brought you down. I have a new dog now. Her name is General GrettaBot and she fights the Squirrel Armada at least once a week on my blog.
What’s on your nightstand or top of your TBR pile?
I just started Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore. He’s my favorite author. I am also eyeing an old pile of Fable comic books that I’ve read dozens of times.
Favorite book when you were a child:
McElligot’s Pool by Dr Suess combined weird animals, bright colors, a bit of a mystery and a lot of imagination. I study reptiles and amphibians when I’m not writing. Realizing that there are weird and amazing creatures all around had a monumental effect on my life.
Your five favorite authors:
Christopher Moore, Douglas Adams, Mark Twain, Garth Ennis, and D. M. Cornish.
Book you’ve faked reading (Moby Dick is the most frequently given answer!)
Easy, the Bible. (Suz: LOL. And he admits it!)
Book other than your own for which you’re an evangelist:
The Foundling, by D. M. Cornish. I happened upon it at a bookstore in the cheap bin. It’s one of my favorite books to date.
Book that changed your life:
It has to be the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It combined fun, strange creatures, and adventure, my favorite things.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Probably Preacher by Ennis and Dillon. It’s a comic book like no other. Before I read it I didn’t think people could get away with thinking thoughts like that, much less writing them down for all to read. It’s not a story for kids.
Most horrifying moment while reading a book:
I’m going to go somewhere else with this question and tell you about something that happened to me while reading. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. I usually sit on the couch in my living room to read, but the sun was coming through the window at the perfect angle to both warm me and light my book. I was reading Ghost Story by Jim Butcher and sitting in a big, comfy chair with its back to the front window.
The chair is usually General GrettaBot’s best lookout point in her fight against the Squirrel Armada. She is a seventy-five pound Doberman Pinscher that takes her job, defending the house from the evils of tree rats, very seriously. I put a couple of small cacti on the window sill in front of the chair as a sort of fence to keep her from going straight through in her enthusiasm. It usually works fine.
So I was well distracted and happily in the world of Harry Dresden when something happened in the front yard. She often gets overly excited by all sorts of things such as a butterfly fart or grasshopper burp. This time it was a friend closing their car door. Like everything else, Gretta herd it and exploded to action. Generally when she gets excited she jumps on the chair, with both paws on the back, but thanks to the cacti, not right through the window. To Gretta visitors are the best things ever, on par with tennis balls or dog butts.
Gretta disregarded the fact that I was sitting on her perch and jumped from a running start directly to my crotch. The book flew as I curled into a fetal position. I guess the girlish whimper I exuded made Gretta realize I was down. So she flailed to get off and past me, but still had to see what was happening outside. She somehow jumped onto the window sill and knocked over a glass of water and both cacti–onto me. My friend walks in to see me in a ball on the floor, covered in water, dirt, and cactus while holding my crotch.
Favorite book about books or writing:
Writing Nature by Ross helped me in both fiction and scientific writing.
Good question. I graduate with a Master’s of Science in May. I hope to have a job lined up before then. I prefer to be rehabilitating injured sea turtles on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, but will probably end up cleaning lizard poop at a zoo somewhere in Idaho for ten dollars an hour. Either way, I’m going to be writing Stupid Florida next.
I also just started a blog. Please have a look: MichaelPWines.blogspot.com. I love comments and suggestions!
Thanks, Mike! Okay, for the signed print version, because I’m still laughing, what’s your wackiest pet story? I think my favorite was when my dogs Shane and Tank got out of my yard in New Orleans, and a couple of hours later, when I was frantic and in tears because I couldn’t find them, I got a call from the manager at the (very expensive) Columns Hotel about three blocks away from my house. She informed me that my dogs had come in with some patrons and were currently participating in happy hour at the hotel bar, eating hors d’oevres they begged off customers. It took the bartender a while to figure out the dogs didn’t actually belong to anybody and someone looked at their collars. When I got there to pick them up, 90-pound Tank was reclining on the velvet-covered sofa in the lobby. That’s my furkids!
Tell us your story! I’ll try to coax the oh-so-shy (not) Mike over this way to respond to comments during the day.