Thursday, March 15, 2012

Man in the Boy or Boy in the Man? Interview & a Few Laughs with Steven Novak - Goats Eat Cans


Well I hope you all go to the bathroom before you read this interview, Steven Novak is in the house and will have you peeing your pants if not just on the floor laughing! Welcome to BK Walker Books Etc., Will the real  Steven Novak, please stand up!


BK: Please tell us a little about yourself...

SN: A long time ago I was a thirty-four year-old man in the body of a twelve year-old boy. Now I’m a twelve year-old boy in the body of a thirty-four year old man. By the time I hit sixty I don’t know what the hell I’ll be. I’m thinking that I might have problems with my joints, though.

I really need to exercise more.

And eat less.

I also need to stop eating while exercising, as it sort of defeats the purpose.

Oh, I also make my living as a graphic designer, illustrator, and writer. Plus I’m married to a woman ten years my senior and I’m a step grandfather (which I guess is a thing) to two kids under the age of two.

I also had a vasectomy when I was twenty-five.
You probably don’t need to know that though.

LOL my kids just looked at me and asked what I was laughing at, but I'm pretty sure they don't need to know that either haha. 

BK: Please tell us a little about your book...

SN: Goats Eat Cans is a book about the always awkward, sometimes gross, often peculiar and occasionally terrifying things that have happened to me in my relatively short existence. There’s a little bit of everything tossed in there. I give a firsthand account of the previously mentioned vasectomy. I talk about the day I lost my virginity, and the time I cracked my head open, and I even delve into the absolute disaster that was the sale and subsequent publishing of my first book.

If you’re the kind of person that loves watching a nincompoop get hit in the groin with a football, this book is for you.

BK: What inspired you to pen this particular novel?

SN: I can’t really point to anything specifically. It definitely isn’t narcissism, because the book makes me look like a fool. In a weird way, I guess I could claim that the writing of it was therapeutic. Maybe? Maybe not. There’s certainly something to be said for trying to find humor in the things you’d really rather forget.

Would I prefer to never think about the time I was jumped by a group of guys while walking home from school and beaten a pulp? Damn straight.

Is it funny that my mother insisted they did it because they were “jealous” of me?
Double damn straight.

BK: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

SN: I’ll let you know when it happens. I’m not a writer. I’m not anything close to a writer. I think I’m pretty funny – sometimes – but I’m not a writer. Writers hang out in coffee shops, and have curly mustaches and political agendas, and can type the word definitely without relying on spell check to keep them from looking like an idiot.

I hate coffee.

I hate coffee shops even more.

I also have blond hair.

And no one likes a blond hair mustache.

BK: How do you keep your story flowing?

SN: Plagiarism. Everything else takes too much effort.

BK: Do you ever run into writer's block, and if so, what do you do to get past it?

SN: Sure I do. All of the time. I’ve run into more writer’s block than Kim Kardashian has run into failed relationships. The thing that seems to work best for me is just to let it be. If the words aren’t coming, or the words that are coming are worse than a dance single released by one of the Real Housewives of Someone Should Kick Us In The Face, there’s really no point in trying. If I can’t write, I can’t write. When that happens I usually just move onto something else for a bit.

You’d be amazed at just how much a pizza can recharge the ol’ brain juices.

BK: What is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks, or must-haves to write?

SN: No quirks really – unless you consider the fact that I write in the nude and only in the nude to be a “quirk.”

Truthfully, I suppose it depends on what I’m writing. I’ve had writing jobs that I had very little interest in and I was basically on autopilot the entire time. I wrote a series of YA Fantasy/Adventure novels a couple years ago that actually required me to buckle down and take the process seriously. In the case of Goats Eat Cans the whole act of putting the stories together was pretty laid back. I needed the writing to be fun and therefore I needed to have fun writing it.

Also, for the record, I don’t really write in the nude.

I leave my socks on.

BK: Where do you hope your books/writing will be in the future?

SN: Honestly, if they find their way into the hands of a few people and those people enjoy them, I’ll be a happy man. If they can help me pay a few pills at some point that would certainly be nice as well. It’s not required though.

I’m also not counting on it.

I still have my hooking and I still have street corners, and my hooking and my street corners still pay the bills – after Silky takes his 70%.

BK: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

SN: My only goal with Goats Eat Cans is to make you laugh. If you laugh I’ve done my job. If you chuckle I’ve still done my job - just not quite as well. If you stare blankly at the words and can’t find the humor in any of it I’ve failed. If you toss your kindle in the fire, find out where I live, and send a mail bomb my way, I think you might be overacting just a bit.

I’ll also be in a hundred little pieces.

And I’ll be dead.

BK: What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?

SN: My high school guidance counselor once suggested that I consider giving up art and start thinking about a trade school. I didn’t listen to him and I have the absolutely massive school loans to prove it. He was sort of a jerk.

Also, he wasn’t that bright.

I would have made a terrible plumber.

BK: What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?

SN: My only advice is to try and have fun with it. Even if you’re a depressed, German-speaking Jew in Prague with a personality disorder that happens to be writing a novella about a man transforming into a cockroach, you should still try to enjoy it.

If you can’t find some enjoyment in what you’re doing, what’s the point?

When writing becomes a job writing starts to suck.

BK: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can we expect from you in the future?

SN: I’m actually working on putting together at least two more volumes of Goats Eat Cans and both of them will be available before the end of the year. Last year I illustrated a picture book for Featherweight Press that should hit stores in a few months. I’m also reworking a novel called Fictional Jerks for release early in 2013. After that, who knows? I’m sort of amazed I managed to plan that far ahead.

I’m going to try and lose fifteen pounds. That’s sort of a project. If you were looking at my belly instead of a monitor you’d realize just how much of a project it is.

I should really stop writing in the nude.

BK: Where can readers find you?

SN: All Goats Eat Cans related nonsense can be found at: www.goatseatcans.blogspot.com. Everything else is at: www.novakillustration.com. I also host a sometimes weekly podcast for my writers group at: www.litunderground.com.

Remember the weird kid with the greasy hair and the odd smell you went to school with? You know, the one who never talked to anyone? That creepy little jerk who sat alone at lunch? The oddball who never took a shower in gym class? The one you imagined might one day go on a shooting spree?

Believe it or not, that kid grew up.

He grew up, he got married, he never shot a single person, he wrote a book, and he even started taking showers after his workouts – most of the time.

Goats Eat Cans is his story.

Follow along as Steven Novak recounts the sometimes hilarious, sometimes hilariously painful, and sometimes painfully hilarious moments that have made his life so wonderfully frustrating. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you might even vomit. No matter what, you won't be able to stop reading.

Goats Eat Cans features 55 stories, 55 illustrations, 99 luftballons and enough nonsense to keep you chuckling and giggling for days on end – or hours – or at the very least a few minutes.

http://goatseatcans.blogspot.com/

Excerpt:


MY CAT SMASHING MOJO


I have a mortal enemy. His name is Jabar.
Jabar is a cat.
Is that lame—to have a cat as a mortal enemy? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. If I were you though, I wouldn’t rush to judgment. You don't know this cat. This cat is evil. He's cunning, he's focused and nasty and vile and just plain mean.
He’s smart too.
He’s real smart.
He’s so smart he’ll write your midterm, and he’ll get a better grade than you ever would have.
He's my Lex Luthor.
Of course, if he's Lex Luthor, that would make me Superman, and I can’t be Superman. I hate that goody two-shoes jerk. Plus, I look terrible in red speedos.
Okay, this cat is my Joker. Which makes me Batman.
Yeah, I can deal with being Batman. Not the corny seventies Batman, but cool, pissed-off Frank-Miller-Dark-Knight-Returns Batman. I’ll be the Batman who chews steel, spits iron, and calls Robin a fruitcake.
That Batman’s awesome.
You see, not long after purchasing and moving into our first home, the wife and I had a cat door installed in the door leading into our garage. We then had another installed in the side door leading from the garage to the back yard. This was so our two cats could come and go as they pleased. It was simple. It was cheap, and at the time, it seemed to make perfect sense.
The thing we never counted on was that, while the doors gave our cats the ability to get out, they also presented other cats in the neighborhood with a way to get in.
It really should have been obvious from the start, but it wasn’t.
Okay, so maybe I'm not exactly Batman.
I mean, besides being a hell of a hand-to-hand fighter, a billionaire playboy, and a heck of a detective, Batman was also a scientist. A scientist would have figured out the intricacies of the cat door situation long before installation began.
I first spotted him on a Tuesday morning. I was late to work. I hustled down the stairs and into the kitchen where I planned to snag my keys and head for the door.
He was right there, waiting for me.
There was a very fat cat with a big black spot over his right eye sitting on my kitchen counter. The chubby, eye-patched little bastard was squatting on my tiled countertops without a care in the world—like he owned the place.
Our eyes met and I swear to you, I saw him grin.
Before I could react, he leapt from the counter, shot through the cat door leading into the garage, zoomed through the one leading into the yard, and was gone.
Not only was he smart, he was fast—especially for a dude carrying a couple extra pounds.
Lets jump ahead to Wednesday night. I was awoken by the sound of two cats fighting downstairs. I figured it's just our two cats—because they’re jerks and they fight all the time—so I tried to go back to sleep. Plus, I was in the middle of a fairly fantastic dream involving me, the Enterprise, and an invading horde of hypersexual Orion slave girls.
The fighting didn’t stop.
It wouldn’t stop, and it sounded a heck of a lot more vicious than usual.
I dragged myself from bed, wobbled downstairs half-awake, and clicked on the lights. It was Jabar. He was in my house, and he was beating the snot out of my cats. The black-eyed devil spotted me and escaped in a blink.
The next night, the exact same thing happened.
The night after that, he did it again.
He was toying with me.
The wife and I decided to temporarily close up the cat doors and bring a litter box into the equation. After a few weeks, we tried the cat doors again.
The very next night, Jabar was back.
Damn it!
I’d had enough. If Jabar’s intention was to start something, he should considered it started. It was on! I was done fooling around. I was done playing the straight man, and I was through playing nice. No more games. No more second chances. No more lollygagging, no more pigeonholing, and no more lollypigeons!
If he wanted some of me, he was going to get some of me. He was going to get all of me he could handle, and them some!
I coiled my hands into fists and slammed my knuckles together. I lifted my head to the stars and proclaimed to the heavens above, "Bring it on, bitch!”
The wife heard me from the other room. "Bring what on? Who are you talking to?"
"Nothing...no one."
It was a Monday night—around 11 p.m. I was in the garage, and I was standing to the side of the door leading into the backyard. My eyes were trained on the flapping plastic covering the cat door just below my knees. Hoisted above my head was a brick.
My plan was simple: Cat comes into garage. Cat gets smashed.
Almost elegant in its simplicity, no?
Sort of like a Peanuts comic strip—with bricks and squashed cats.
"Steven, are you in he—" The wife stepped into the garage and immediately spotted me with a brick over my head, a wild expression on my face, and sweat pouring from my brow.
She stared at me for a moment, an indescribable look of confusion on her face. "Steven, what are you doing?"
"Nothing."
Her eyes moved from me, to my smashing brick, and back to me. She wasn’t buying my nothing excuse. "No, seriously, what are you doing?"
"I'm going to crush Jabar with this brick."
"Who's Jabar?"
The cat that keeps coming in here at night."
"How do you know his name is Jabar?"
"I heard the little girls across the street calling him that when they were playing with him in their yard."
Her expression changed. Suddenly, she was looking at me like I’d just taken a dump on the floor—like I dropped my pants and started humping the punch bowl at her company Christmas party.
"So, wait. You're going to stand here in the garage all night so you can smash the cat of the little girls across the street with a brick when he tries to come in our house?"
When she said it aloud like that, I have to admit, it sounded just a little idiotic.
So what?
I couldn’t let that deter me. The plan was the plan, and the plan was set in motion. There was no coming back and no backing down. I had no intention of allowing her to steal my need for vengeance! Under no circumstances whatsoever was I going to let her ruin my cat-smashing mojo. Not today! Not ever again!
"Yep. That's exactly what I'm going to do."
"No, you're not."
"I'm not?"
"No, you're not."
"But I want to."
"You're not smashing that cat."
"Oh."
"Put the brick down and come upstairs."
You've won this round Jabar.



Born in Chicago Illinois, Steven Novak has spent the whole of his life creating. After attending The Columbus College of Art and Design for four years he moved to California where he married his wife. The pair have been together for nearly a decade. He likes pizza. He’s sort of a nerd. He has terrible luck and worse personal hygiene. He also hates having to write bios about himself. He thinks bios are stupid. His work can be found online at www.novakillustration.com






Giveaway:

Follow Steven's tour for a chance to win a signed Chapter Art Illustration, and a signed paperback of Goats Eat Cans. Two lucky winners will be drawn randomly at the end of the tour - follow Steven's tour HERE

Thank you so much for chatting with me today Steven! Thanks for the laughs too :). You were great! Now go buy his book and don't forget to leave a comment here today for a chance to win some awesome prizes at the end of his tour...oh yeah and follow him some more for extra chances to win!


Reactions:

5 comments:

Mary Ann Bernal said...

If you want to laugh, Goats is a must read, and highly recommended.

Steve Novak said...

@MARY ANN - And if you don't want to laugh there's always a vasectomy.

Wayne DePriest said...

I believe Steven to be much funnier than a vasectomy. I've had a vasectomy. Granted, I've never had Steven. A fact for which we are both grateful...me probably more than him. By the way, he draws really purdy, too.

Steve Novak said...

@WAYNE - You might be right. I'm nowhere near as memorable as a vasectomy, however. Not much is.

Lisa Cox said...

I actually watched my boyfriend get his vasectomy. Very interesting... for me, not him...LOL