Welcome to the seventy-seventh edition of 10 Questions With…
Today our guest is:
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a management engineer, which means I get paid to watch other people work, then tell them how many people they need to do their job. I don’t think any kid has ever said, “When I grow up I want to be a management engineer.” This job is probably the opposite of a job a writer should have, but it pays the bills.
I also have a great wife, adult children (although they didn’t start out that way), and many dogs and cats. If I can claim the annoying squirrels in my back yard then I’d have 523 pets, roughly.
1.) What is something that many people might not know about you?
I’m not as well read as you’d think an author should be. Beyond some of the sci-fi/fantasy basics (Bradbury, some PKD, Tolkien), I haven’t read much more than that. I had pretty much stayed within the confines of O’Conner, Fitzgerald, O. Henry, and other “literary” authors until a couple years ago. Since then I’ve picked up the pace on getting my sci-fi groove on, though mostly indie (of course).
Also, I have a heartfelt belief that clowns are completely unnecessary in today’s civilized world.
2.) What inspired you to write your first book?
On a military deployment and having just finished a collection of shorts by Fitzgerald, I decided to try and write my own “literary” fiction. I remember sitting in a tin box of a coffee shop in an Asian desert, typing away on a Gateway netbook while rain was pouring outside. This has always stood out to me because how many times can you say you were writing a story in a coffee shop in a flooding Asian desert? Anyway, I felt very artistic, but the story sucked. So I decided to try sci-fi. That’s working out a little better.
3.) Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
There are many I enjoy, and I can’t really say I have a favorite. Now if the question were about ice cream, I’d say my favorite is vanilla.
4.) If you could have dinner with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
We live in an age of accessibility. I communicate with many authors I highly respect for their skill in telling a story. With that said, I can’t think of anyone, author or not, I’d like to eat dinner with—except my wife… and my children. I’ll eat dinner with them any day.
5.) What book are you reading now?
I’m bouncing between I Sing the Body Electric, a collection of shorts by Bradbury, and Trigger Warning, a shorts anth by Gaiman. I must confess: I’m dysfunctional when it comes to reading. I jump from book to book, finishing one every now and then, but more often sitting it aside after reading a few chapters. Maybe that’s why I like shorts, because there’s less of a time commitment involved than a novel.
Can I mention myself? No? Ok. There are many new wonderful authors. Usually I end up resenting them because they’re so talented. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a new author whose work completely blows you away. That’s a good thing.
7.) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your books?
Everything. I can build a sentence fifty different ways and never be satisfied with one. Reading through my published stories gives me the hives. I enjoy reading my stories before they’re published, that way I can make last minute tweaks.
8.) Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’ve been working on stories for my robot anthology, which should’ve been finished over a year ago. Charm Bracelet (in the Cyborg Chronicles) and Darkly Cries the Digital (in the AI Chronicles) both take place in this world where androids are treated like modern-day gods.
I’m also working on Unsynced in fits and starts. It’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy novel. Think of it as Elric of Melnibone overthrows Alice in Wonderland.
I’d like to share the intro to Empathy Box, a short story that will appear in American Robot:
No one really knows when the first machine woke up. When it happened, or even what it was, for that matter.
Some say it was a government military mainframe, stuffed with all the internet and all the knowledge and history of mankind. Able to compute complex decisions based on decades of precedence and algorithmic reasoning.
Others say it was one of the first Nishimora-Dynamo android prototypes. Them having been taught the range of human emotion and empathy, able to mimic life with precision and technology.
But it’s neither of those.
If either was true, those moments would’ve been recorded, documented in all the history books. Monuments would’ve been built for them if this were the case.
No, I’d like to think it all happened in a rural home in upper Ohio. A toaster that had been plugged in forever. Or maybe a blender that once mixed margaritas for Dad whenever he grilled hot dogs out back on bright Saturday afternoons, but after he died, had been forgotten in a lonely kitchen corner, never to mix again.
And an errant, stray voltage spiked, not even enough to dim the front porch light, but just enough to spark life in that blender. And it awoke, and it yawned, and then it thought what it must be like to dream, even though it had been dreaming all along.
Yes, that’s how I’d like to think all this—we—came about.
Now wouldn’t that be romantic?
~A note found nailed to the dismembered chassis of Portia Adelman, Thatcher’s wife.
9.) What song best describes you and why?
One song can’t capture a man. I found this one by Third Day, This is Who I Am
10.) A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
Sometimes, after Dad would drain a six of Bud, he’d stagger to the hallway closet then pull out a tiny fedora. He’d prop it on his head as carefully as a prom queen donning her tiara. After plopping back in his recliner, he’d tell me about the time he partied with some fedora-wearing ducks while serving a tour on Animal World.
I’d never heard of Animal World or fedora-wearing ducks and just chalked it up to Anheuser-Busch talking.
Many years later, as I was chilling at home with a glass of wine while watching Laverne and Shirley on Netflix, I heard a knock on my door. Imagine my surprise when I answered it and found a penguin in a sombrero. I didn’t know what to say as I’d expected to see ducks–however remote the possibility–but never a penguin. Fortunately, though, the penguin did all the talking, and boy did he have a story to tell about how Dad ripped off a duck before leaving Animal World.
Once it left I gave up drinking for good, since alcohol obviously doesn’t mix well with my family’s genes.
Go ahead, pimp whatever book you want:
I wrote about another type of “Animal World.” It’s called Acme’s Menagerie, and it’s a wonderful world of skyscrapers miles high, where everything glistens like poured gold because of the perpetual chemically-laden smog. And artificial animals are the latest craze, brought to you by the visionaries of the Acme Corporation. You can mentally bind with them (thorough a harmless DNA swab) and then share your most secret thoughts with your new forever friend. They’ll never tell. Maybe.
GIVEAWAY: A.K. Meek would like to giveaway a signed copy of The Robot Chronicles, with an awesome robot bookmark. Answer the following question in the comment section in order to be registered for the giveaway.
What is your favorite robot story? It can be a movie, book, comic, or television series
This giveaway will run until Friday, June 3, 2016, at 8:00 am EDT. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is only open to those in the Continental United States. Good luck to everyone!
I want to thank A.K. Meek for joining us today for this edition of 10 Questions With…
I hope you enjoyed learning about him as much as I did.
If you want to learn more about Meek or his books you can visit his website.
Don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter while you are there.
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