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Home » Books & writing

Nerdfest: Day Three

Submitted by on September 29, 2011 – 12:16 am10 Comments

Welcome to day three of the nerdathon! (Click for days onetwo, and four.) Hope you have snacks and Gatorade to help keep up your energy. Wait a minute, aren’t we all nerds here? Keep eating those Cheetos and enjoy being hunched over your computer!

Today’s players:

* Sue Grafton—Does Sue need an introduction? She’s the creator of the popular alphabet series featuring Kinsey Millhone, and winner of multiple awards throughout her illustrious career, the most recent being the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Her next novel, V is for Vengeance, drops November 14. She’s been known to tell fans they can claim to be her cousin or pregnant at signings so they can get through the line to see her faster.

* T. Jefferson Parker—Jeff is the author of the Charlie Hood series, and has won the Edgar three times. The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA) even named an award after him that goes to the best mystery/thriller every year. He’s so modest, he doesn’t mention this on his website. He will admit that because he writes all his characters with respect, he’s beloved by henchmen for Mexican cartels.

* Laura Benedict—Laura writes dark, creepy thrillers and short stories, and edits the Surreal South anthologies, the third of which comes out next month. She’s the only female author featured in the Noir at the Bar anthology. She loves dark chocolate and sushi, and spends hours at Target feeling up Lego figurines.

* Eric Beetner—Eric’s the co-author of two novels with JB Kohl, and his short stories have been published in numerous anthologies, including D*cked and Pulp Ink. His novella Dig Two Graves will be released later this year. He’s sometimes confused about “blurbs” being euphemisms for sexual favors, and occasionally accosts other authors in the men’s room.

The stories:

A. When I was in fourth grade, I had a massive crush on John G., a fifth grader who was the monitor at our bus stop. Painfully shy, I had no idea what to say to him. Books were my best friends. So what better way to impress him than taking a mesh tote bag to school, filling it with every book, pencil, and crayon in my desk, and bringing it home on the bus!  Unfortunately, after I added my truly magnificent, large-format, illustrated collection of Sherlock Holmes stories to the bag the next morning, the bag fell apart, spilling books everywhere. At the bus stop.

B. A very good friend of mine is an illustrator named Marc Sasso. In addition to being friends, we used to be neighbors. He stayed up late painting and I stayed up late writing, so I used to wander from my apartment to his around one a.m. and chat. Quite often he would need someone to pose for him, and I was the closest warm body. That’s how I ended up as, among other things, an X-Man. Marc was painting a series of trading cards for Marvel at the time. I posed for X-Treme.

Who the hell is X-Treme, you say? I have no idea. This may have been his only outing. Is it my fault? Possibly. But there I was (Marvel’s description): “The mysterious alien youth known as Adam X knows little about his own origins; only that he’s inexplicably drawn to Earth, where his ability to make blood burn makes him a formidable opponent for X-Force!” I posed with my old Red Sox hat and a cardboard shipping tube as my sword. The biceps were 100% mine, baby!*

* All muscles were completely fabricated. Did I mention I’m a writer?

C. The nerdiest thing I ever did (that I can talk about without being arrested or blackmailed) happened on the first airplane flight I ever took. The meal served was chicken with a barbecue sauce on the side. I thought it was tomato soup so I spooned it right up. I noticed the nearby passengers were giving me “the look” but I had no idea what the problem was.

D. When I was about ten years old, my brother and best friend and I collected thirty big, fat, black widow spiders from up under the eaves of the intermediate school down the street. We carried the spiders home in one of the big glass mayonnaise jars that we used to steal out of Dumpsters and clean out, punch holes in the lids of, and use to keep critters in. We got home and took the jar of spiders out to the back yard and sat down and looked through the glass at them. They were nice ones, all females, none of the multicolored, smaller males. And they were nervous and aggressive, as black widows always are.

We just couldn’t figure out what they might be good for, so we decided we may as well blow them up. I went to my room and got some firecrackers that were hidden under my bed, and a pack of matches from the kitchen. One of us unscrewed the lid and another one lit a firecracker and dropped it in. We crowded up nice and close to see the explosion, faces right up to the glass. But the firecracker fuse went out and nothing happened. We groaned and unscrewed the lid and lit another firecracker and dropped it in. Another dud! When the smoke cleared, we tried for a third time. This time we held the firecracker extra long, so it wouldn’t run out of oxygen once dropped. The spiders were seething by now, a crazy, 240-legged hydra very eager to get out and bite us. We screwed the lid on and got up close. Just then Dad came striding into the yard, sized up the situation and ran over, kicked the jar away and lifted my brother and me by our shirt collars. He ordered us inside so he could “tan our hides.” Just before the licking commenced, Dad looked at me and said, as he had often said before, “Son, sometimes I don’t think you have the brains you were born with.” I don’t miss being ten.

Think you can identify each author’s nerdy secret? Remember, you need to get only one right to be entered in the giveaway. Visit the authors’ sites for more info, then rest up for tomorrow’s final blowout before answers are revealed on Saturday!

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