Wednesday, April 23, 2014

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Humor Writer A.K. Turner

A.K. Turner is the author of This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store, Mommy Had a Little Flask, and Hair of the Corn Dog, as well as a coauthor of Drinking with Dead Women Writers and Drinking with Dead Drunks. Her work has been featured in various publications and anthologies, including Folio Literary Magazine, Leave the Lipstick, Take the Iguana, and I Just Want to Be Alone. A former writer-in-residence and creator of “The Writers’ Block” on Radio Boise, she lives in Idaho with her exceedingly tolerant husband and two daughters.

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Thanks for joining us at the book club, A.K.!  I am thoroughly loving your latest book, Hair of the Corn Dog.  Can you tell us about yourself as a humor writer?  Where did you get your start and what else have you written that’s humor?

A.K.: I knew I wanted to be a writer long before I knew I wanted to be a humor writer. I think that's fairly common. You have to spend time and ink finding the
genre in which you best fit. When I read work by David Sedaris, Sloane Crosley, and Laurie Notaro, I knew I'd found my place. These are writers who see funny where others might not. I really appreciated that and knew it was what I wanted to do as well. I had the good fortune to meet Laurie Notaro before publishing my first book and she definitely gave me an added dose of confidence. The first book in this series is This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store, followed by Mommy Had a Little Flask. Hair of the Corn Dog is the third. Before these books I was also lucky enough to work with friend and publisher Elaine Ambrose and together we wrote Drinking with Dead Women Writers and Drinking with Dead Drunks. Beyond that I've written columns, blogs, and essays, two of which can be found in Leave the Lipstick, Take the Iguana and I Just Want to Be Alone

Where do you get your inspiration and do you keep your family and friends in stitches?

A.K.: Inspiration comes from looking around, because life is inherently funny. I have a dry humor, so I'm not necessarily the comedian at the party. Some of my friends and family read and love my work, while others do not, and that's absolutely fine. My brand of humor is not for everyone. 

The stories in Hair of the Corn Dog – are they from personal experience?

A.K.: It's all me and it's all true. Every word. 

Let’s say others want to follow in your humor footsteps.  Where should they begin?

A.K.: The first thing to do is to read other work and recognize what type of humor you appreciate, because that's the type of humor you should write. I'm not a fan of mean humor and no matter how much I may poke fun at other people in my work, I always make sure the ultimate joke is on me. 

Getting involved with local writing groups and workshops is always a good idea. Writing communities can be incredibly supportive and motivating. And, of course, just give yourself permission to write things that may not be funny. You have to get it all down on paper before you know which parts fall flat and which ones are the gems. 

If you could write something other than humor, what would that be?

A.K.: I've toyed with many genres and haven't ruled out anything. I'm kind of a deep dark sicko inside, and my husband thinks I'd do well with horror. But I have the lurking fear that writing horror might just make me more of a deep dark sicko. Humor is a way of balancing out my negative side. 

What’s your idea of fun on a Saturday night?

A.K.: Taking my kids out for pizza. Coming home, putting the kids to bed, then getting mildly drunk on the couch and watching a comedy with my husband. And if you're mildly drunk, it doesn't have to be a "smart" comedy. And if you're really drunk, it should definitely not be a "smart" comedy. 

A man walks into a saloon.  There’s a barmaid propped against the bar reading your book.  What does he say to her?

A.K.: Hopefully he says nothing. Because he's put off by the fact that her laughter has caused her to snort her drink all over the front of her blouse. And she doesn't care because she's having so much fun reading that she'd rather just continue doing that than have to deal with his crappy pick-up lines. 

Your kids want to bring you in for show and tell.  Is that a good idea?

A.K.: Probably not. We had some neighbor kids over for a play date and at one point all of the kids began drawing pictures. An eight-year-old girl approached me with something she'd drawn for me. I looked and it was a picture of a book with the title This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store, which was my first book. She'd drawn my own book for me! I was both honored and horrified. I thanked her but told her not to go around talking about liquor stores because she might get in trouble. And just as a disclaimer, I don't leave my books around for children; she remembered the cover from her mother's bedside table. 

LOL, thanks for coming, A.K.!  We wish you much, much success!  What’s next for you?

A.K.: Thank you! Later this year my family and I will travel to Spain, Australia, and ultimately end up in Tasmania. I plan on chronicling every gory detail of the trip. I'd like to begin a new series that has a strong emphasis on travel. I've included chapters on Mexico and the Jersey Shore in my other books, and readers have responded well. Getting out of your own backyard makes for great material. 

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