the questions.

A while ago, I asked people for questions which I promised to answer on this site. The questions came in. I then spilled Diet Mountain Dew into my laptop and lost one-fifth of the alphabet.

C, D, Q, X, and Z and their friend the Control Key are back. Here are the questions and answers. (Please note that my sense of humor is offbeat, to say the least, and it is in full effect here.)

Jacqui asks:
1. do you think i am cool?

Yes, exceedingly so.

2. can you blow smoke rings?
No. I can French inhale, though.

3. can you drink something and smoke simultaneously?
No, and I have never tried.

4. how cool would it be if i could be your intern?
My filing would be delighted. When are you coming to New York?

Alex asks:
What was the thing you learned in the first grade which changed your life the most?

That it was more interesting inside my own head than inside the classroom. Also, that I had no social skills.

Rachel asks:
What was the pivotal book that you read as a child that made you who you are today, and why?

The Grolier New Book of Knowledge, all however many volumes of it there were. (I think it's in my dad's basement now.) It taught me that you could learn almost anything from the right book(s), and that the world was endlessly fascinating.

Bonus question: When is the Firebird website going to get updated, and would you ever hire anyone in L.A. to help with it?
It has been updated recently and will continue to be updated every four months or so (each new season; we have three). As for the hiring part, you should probably duke it out with the woman who's doing it now. I'm staying out of it.

Tia asks:
What is your advice to a college girl still with the adolescent thinking that all guys scrutinize her every move? How does she move past this without going insane?

Oh, yikes. I actually think that it's the women who scrutinize you. Most guys are pretty oblivious unless they want to get laid. Do you have any male friends? When I was going through this, I found it was best to go to the source and ask the guys what they thought.

BTW your website is the coolest!
You are so nice!

Mairead asks:
what did your mother smell like?

Like Manhattan in the 1950s. Like a Broadway theater before the curtain goes up on a musical. Like a department store, where all of the clothes are unworn possibilities. Like a museum. Like the inside of my heart. Like Yves Saint Laurent's "Rive Gauche."

Jessamyn asks:
can you ever eat enough candy?

No. I have just finished off an enormous quantity of Cadbury Creme Eggs, a bag of small foil-wrapped solid milk chocolate eggs, some Baci, half a bag of jelly beans, and a box of chocolate "ladybugs" from Germany. Also some Passover candy that was not very interesting. It is time to order more pralines.

jay asks:
if you were trapped on a desert island and could only have one fast food restaurant...

I don't eat fast food. I have not eaten fast food in over twenty years. (We won't talk about the horrible KFC in Liverpool that made me sick to my stomach. That wasn't my idea.)

how did you get to be so cool?
I am so not cool. I drop food on myself. But thanks.

do you have super powers?
It depends upon whom you ask. Maybe I am reading your mind right now! Edited to add: I have since been told that directness is my super power. I try to use it only for good.

I ask myself:
am i doomed to recreate the past forever and suffer the consequences even though my mother has been dead for over fifteen years?

why, yes.

have you ever thought of therapy?
shut up.

Tracey asks:
What's your choice for the new color M&M?

Tan. I am old school and I miss it.

Michael asks:
It's common knowledge among our extended fan base that you and I met waiting on line to buy tickets for NRBQ at Tramps. However, do you recall who the opening act for this pivotal night was? [This question has a difficulty rating of 10]

A comedian. (He reminded me that it was Gilbert Gottfried.)

Bonus Question: Do you know where I can find a job? [This question has a difficulty rating of 100]
No. I wish I did. Do any of you reading this? His resume is on his website. Look under "history."

Lorrie asks:
How did The Feminine Mystique change your life?

I read it when I was sixteen -- can't remember how I found it, but it was like someone throwing open all of the windows. Of course, it immediately told me quite a lot about why my mother and her friends were the way they were, because they were the women Betty Friedan wrote for and about. It also made me step back for the first time and take an objective look at what the world seemed to expect from me (as a woman, as a consumer, as a member of society), and I realized, of course, that I didn't like that future one bit.

Naturally, I became a feminist. A way-too-serious feminist in the way that only a high school junior can be. Happily, I did finally figure out that not all women were my "sisters." (Men are a lot easier to parse, quite frankly.) I remain a feminist to this day.

jay asks again:
would you consider hosting people's webpages?

Well, I don't have a server, so I can't. This page is hosted elsewhere. Sorry.

did you want to be an editor when you were a kid?
No, it never even occurred to me that there was such a job. As far as I was concerned, books just existed and/or magically appeared on library shelves.

have you ever used that easy bake oven you said you got a few years back? if so, do its delicious snacks bring light and humor to an otherwise meaningless day?
The Easy-Bake Oven still sits pristinely in its box on top of one of my bookshelves. Since the junk food vending machines have somehow mysteriously disappeared from our floor at work, I may be breaking it out soon. We shall see. Edited to add: My 2006 summer intern Marrisa insisted that we use it, going so far as to bring in a light bulb to power the thing. We baked one large, yet underwhelming sugar cookie. Back in the box the Easy-Bake went, and remains.

Alex asks again:
What was the worst meal you've ever had and why? Also, is there anything you ate in that instance that you can no longer eat because of that experience?

The first one that comes to mind off the top of my head was at a now-closed Argentinian restaurant in the West Village, near my office. The fact that the place was empty on a Friday night should have tipped me off. I ordered something extremely odd, even for me: a hard-boiled egg wrapped in steak would be the best description. What I got was cold, grey meat, impossible to chew, and the egg was not much better. I ate a basket of bread that night.

Other notable disasters include the KFC in Liverpool (see above), the unfortunate haddock casserole my mother made (she forgot to take out the bones), and the plum paste sushi that was supposed to be an "adventurous choice" but had me literally gagging. Oh, and the Ethiopian food that looked like vomit.

Now that I have typed this out I never want to eat again. Yik.

My many dentists ask:
How many root canals have you had?

Eight. (Correction: now up to a total of fourteen. This page has been up for a while.)

How many implants will you be getting?
Four. Edited to add: Two are done. I am still paying them off.

How many teeth do you have left?
Twenty-three, but this doesn't count the implants, nor the wisdom teeth I saved after they were extracted.

Garret (who is female) asks:
Do you think it is possible for a man in his 30s to be involved with a 15-16 yr old girl and still be a "good" person?

I am sure that the theoretical "good" man in question has come up with a variety of clever, obscure justifications for his behavior. But I can't.

Does one have to be good to be worthy of a 15-16 yr old girl is, perhaps, more my question.
I'm going to have to think about this.

Edited to add: If you read Garret's novel Stay With Me, you'll know why she asked these particular things.

Jacqui asks again:
how long have you had your praline obsession?

Since my first visit to New Orleans in 1993. They are the perfect food. I can eat probably ten per day, easy.

can you say something nice about me? will you? right now?
You are supersmart and have one of the fastest minds and most thoughtful hearts I know. I would be hard pressed to find an intern who rocked as hard as you did. So there!

Sylver487 asks:
Why do so many people eat fast food?

Because it is easy to find anywhere in the world, relatively cheap, and most folks enjoy things that are fried. The fact that it's mass-produced, additive-laden crap is irrelevant.

Denise, a "YA writer/smoker," writes:
I enjoy your manic website.

Thank you.

Here's my question: Do they let you smoke at work?
Not any more. It's been years.

If not, then where do you indulge in your nicotine obsession during the workday?
Like many New Yorkers, I stand outside my office building and liberally scatter ashes. I am loath to admit this, but I actually like not being able to smoke in my office; it means I get to take breaks, my office doesn't smell, and I smoke less.

Jessica, a "random college student," asks:
Which god or goddess from one of the ancient Pantheons (as opposed to Microsoft, the big bad Tax Collector or Bilbo Baggins) do you think is most likely to suddenly decide to favor you with their attention?

Athena, who will say: "Wise up." Or, perhaps, Hestia, who will suggest that I clean my apartment.

Which god or goddess' patronage do you think you'd most like having?
Chronos. I want to mess with time so I can get more done and also have more sleep.

You're an editor. I want to be an editor! I love editing.
Remember to check your spelling ... always. And have many blue pencils.

(I could say that I was lying because I just want to work in a publishing house because I am naive enough to think that it will be easier to slip my manuscript into the actually-read-queue. But then I really would be lying. I have no finished manuscript! Plus, I really do like editing.)
Thanks for your honesty. Seriously! It's much appreciated.

Any suggestions on how I should set myself onto the proper path?
You could take the Columbia Publishing Course. You could intern at a publishing house. You could always choose a profession that will pay you more, however.

In other words: what kind of goat do I sacrifice? (How about a pretend goat? As many colors as that horse from the Emerald City.)
Pretend goats are good.

Do you collect puppets, or do you merely have an attachment to chickens-that-don't-squawk?
I don't collect anything. I have three chicken puppets.

What does permaximam posco ad legendum solitudinem mean?
I choose to leave it a mystery. (You're in college! Ask someone who knows Latin!)

Kat wants to know:
1) If you were forced to wear only one color for the next 37 days, what would it be?

I have already been doing this for years. The color is black.

2) Did you have an imaginary friend as a child? Do you now? Was it human? Mine was called Howard. He was a mallard. (Yes, I am aware that that rhymes.)
Howard the Mallard! That is supersweet. No, I didn't have an imaginary friend as a child, and I didn't have a special stuffed animal, either.

3) Have you considered posting a list of books you have edited so that sharynatics can go about reading you in an orderly way instead of madly pulling YA books off the shelves in search of elusive thanks-to-my-editor dedications?
You are really nice to me and I am blushing madly. But as an editor I am supposed to be invisible.

4) Do you think that writing is more or less addictive than nicotine? What about reading? Chocolate?
First of all, it depends upon who you are; there are addictive and non-addictive personalities. I find almost all of the above addictive. Some people are readers more than writers. (I think being a good reader is almost a prerequisite to being a good writer.) And some people can take or leave chocolate, amazing as this may sound.

jacqui, jacqui, jacqui ...
why do you like bull terriers?

they have football-shaped heads, always look like they are laughing, and when they sleep they look like pushed-over tables. they also have a good sense of humor.

aren't they the ugliest ever?
no.

who was the best intern you ever had?
that is an incriminating question.

if you could chat with domo-kun what would you talk about?
domo-kun can't talk. he also only understands japanese. i would probably give him some tea to drink so i could watch it pour out from between his four bottom teeth.

My father and many others ask:
When are you going to quit smoking?

Never. Please stop asking me. Even if I end up smoking only one cigarette every two weeks, I'm still going to consider myself a smoker.

Your mother had lung cancer.
She also quit two decades before she was diagnosed. Your point?

You know it's bad for you, right?
No! Are you serious? I had no idea! ::eyeroll::

Jimbo asks:
What's the smartest thing you ever did?

One of them was buying the paperback rights to Nancy Farmer's The Ear, the Eye and the Arm. Another was going to Sarah Lawrence, despite those who tried to dissuade me.

And the dumbest thing?
Not taking care of my teeth. (And Will Shetterly feels similarly.)

Kathe Koja asks:
I know you like Levis (Levi's?). How about footwear fetishes? Got any?

Yes. I never wear open-toed shoes nor cripplingly high heels. I love Arche sandals, but only the ones that cover the whole foot. I never wear sneakers or any kind of sports shoe. I prefer my footwear to match my outfits. Most of all, I like to be comfortable.

Way too many people ask:
Will you help me get published? Will you read my manuscript?

No. I don't even know you. Go here.

Those are all of the questions for now. I like answering questions, so you should ask me more of them.

Go home.