Scott Sparling

Hallucinations, a blog about writing, trains, and Wire to Wire

Your Powell’s Cheat Sheet: 10 Questions

Posted on Jun 28th, 2011.

The worst part of any bookstore reading is the moment right after the author says, “I’d be happy to answer any questions.” The painful silence. The awkward attempt to avoid eye contact. I’ve experienced this firsthand. As an audience member, I always feel like I ought to have an intelligent, insightful question at the ready—after all, I’m a fan of whoever’s reading, or I wouldn’t be there. But in the face of that silence, my mind goes blank.

To solve this for you when I read at Powell’s City of Books (Thursday, 7:30 pm, downtown Portland), I’ve prepared the following aid. Just choose any of the questions off the list below and practice them in the bathroom mirror until they feel spontaneous. If you need to write the key words on your hand, that’s fine. No one’s expecting a professional performance. The important thing is to be yourself.

Wire to Wire Questions

1.  Is Northern Michigan really that full of losers?

2.  How did you learn to ride freights? Would you consider teaching others?

3.  What kind of drug is a "Smiling O" exactly, and where can I get some?

4.  Did it actually take you 20 years to write Wire to Wire, or would it be more accurate to say that it took the publishing industry 20 years to get around to seeing the value in your book?

5.  Which character in Wire to Wire are you most like—Rose or Lane?

6. When robots attack, is it better to respond with logic or brute force? (Wait—skip this. Wrong book.) 

7. Do you have any charts and graphs that explain why Wire to Wire is not really a crime novel? 

8.  Have you secretly designated a well known, contemporary writer as your rival, and has that other writer won any major prizes lately? What does this desperate need for a rival say about you?

9.  Wire to Wire has yet to be included on any of those bogus "Best Books of Summer" lists that the mainstream media use to plug books that are already getting tons of publicity and need no further promotion. Does this mean summer might be canceled? 

10.  Will it seem selfish if I buy multiple copies of Wire to Wire? I'd like to have a spare in case I lose one.

Bonus Question: Is Tin House the coolest publisher in the world, or what? 

Better get practicing. See you on Thursday!






Hey, Mr. Powell's Marquee Man: Put my name up in lights, 'cause it's a miracle I'm standing here today: "Real Mean Bottle" by Bob Seger. 

Posted in Wire to Wire