Saturday 26 July 2014


As READ TUESDAY accidentally came early this year, thanks to some accidental blog posts, I've resurrected the TWENTY QUESTIONS for a writer who washed up on the shores of my blog.

Here's Joyce Hertzoff, with a few answers.

Twenty Questions.

1. Fire rages in your house. Everyone is safe, but you. You decide to smash through the window, shielding your face with a book. What is the book?

My Webster's Dictionary. It's heavy and not easily damaged. Besides, everything else is available online.

2. Asleep in your rebuilt house, you dream of meeting a dead author. But not in a creepy stalkerish way, so you shoo Mr Poe out of the kitchen. Instead, you sit down and have cake with which dead author?

Dorothy L. Sayers. Although I love writing fantasy, I love reading mysteries.

3. Would you name six essential items for writers? If, you know, cornered and threatened with torture.

An imagination, quick wits, huge vocabulary, a thesaurus so you can avoid repetition, computer with software, and a sense of humor.

4. Who’d win in a fight between Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster? If, you know, you were writing that scene.

Dracula, because he's smarter and more resourceful. If we include Dr Frankenstein, it would be a different story.

5. It’s the end of a long and tiring day. You are still writing a scene. Do you see it through to the end, even though matchsticks prop your eyelids open, or do you sleep on it and return, refreshed, to slay that literary dragon another day?

I write whatever pops into my head, knowing I can come back and rewrite if necessary in the morning. Besides, some of my best scenes were written when my brain wasn't functioning at full capacity.

6. You must introduce a plot-twist. Evil twin or luggage mix-up?

If those are the only choices, I'd say evil twin. So much more potential.

7. Let’s say you write a bunch of books featuring an amazing recurring villain. At the end of your latest story you have definitely absolutely positively killed off the villain for all time and then some. Did you pepper your narrative with clues hinting at the chance of a villainous return in the next book?

More likely the villain's assistant would turn out to be the mastermind of all the villain's most dastardly plots, and would finally come out of the shadows.

8. You are at sea in a lifeboat, with the barest chance of surviving the raging storm. There’s one opportunity to save a character, drifting by this scene. Do you save the idealistic hero or the tragic villain?

Idealistic heroes can make for a boring story, unless they have a hidden dark side. They could probably save themselves. The tragic villain can be so much more fun to play with, so I'd save him.

9. It’s time to kill a much-loved character – that pesky plot intrudes. Do you just type it up, heartlessly, or are there any strange rituals to be performed before the deed is done?

I've rarely killed off much-loved characters, but when I do, I prepare their friends and families in some way, usually giving them some substitute person to transfer their affection to.

10. Embarrassing typo time. I’m always typing thongs instead of things. One day, that’ll land me in trouble. Care to share any wildly embarrassing typing anecdotes? If, you know, the wrong word suddenly made something so much funnier. (My last crime against typing lay in omitting the u from Superman.)

I type things instead of thinks and vice versa. Not very embarrassing. In fact, I can't think of any typos that led to embarrassment.

11. I’ve fallen out of my chair laughing at all sorts of thongs I’ve typed. Have you?

Occasionally one of my characters will do or say something I hadn't intended that makes me laugh like that. But offhand I can't thing think of one.

12. You take a classic literary work and update it by throwing in rocket ships. Dare you name that story? Pride and Prejudice on Mars. That kind of thing.

I've written fanfiction, so I do something like that all the time to some extent, although they're rarely literary classics. I did write a take on Miracle on 34th Street that took place in a modern hospital and was called Miracle on the 3rd and 4th Floors.

13. Seen the movie. Read the book. And your preference was for?

Usually the book is more detailed, although occasionally something's added in the movie that makes it more enjoyable.

14. Occupational hazard of being a writer. Has a book ever fallen on your head? This may occasionally happen to non-writers, it must be said.

My books are double and triple shelved. More often one will fall on my feet than my head.

15. Did you ever read a series of books out of sequence?

No. I'm totally OCD about reading in sequence.

16. You encounter a story just as you are writing the same type of tale. Do you abandon your work, or keep going with the other one to ensure there won’t be endless similarities?

It's happened, but I assume my slant will be different so I continue with my own.

17. Have you ever stumbled across a Much-Loved Children’s Classic™ that you’ve never heard of?

Totally. My daughter runs a yearly fanfic exchange for kid's books and many titles are new to me. This year the list includes: The Flora Segunda series by Isabeau S. Wilce and A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith among others.

18. You build a secret passage into your story. Where?

From a throne room to a dungeon.

19. Facing the prospect of writing erotica, you decide on a racy pen-name. And that would be…

Fanny Pack.

20. On a train a fan praises your work, mistaking you for another author. What happens next?

I thank her for the other author and say I'll pass on the compliment.

My author facebook is https:facebook.com/joyce.hertzoff.3.

My book website is: www.fantasybyjoycehertzoff.com.

My blog is hertzoffjo.blogspot.com.


  1. Thanks so much for posting this. The questions were fun to answer.

  2. Yes, everyone liked answering them when I ran the questions for READ TUESDAY last year. Tried to get away from the usual interview questions. Seemed like the right thing to do.