Nearly 11 months after landing a job at CenturyCo, I asked my boss if I could retroactively change the answer to one of my interview questions.
Who does this…?
(Rhetorical question. I do.)
Granted, it wasn’t necessary. Some might even call it tempting fate. Obviously, they liked my original answer just fine, because they hired me. But I’m a perfectionist who believes it’s never too late to right a wrong. This is why I paid my publisher $100 to fix one small error in my novel, No Time for Kings, a month after it had gone to print. One of my characters has an affinity for baseball and his favorite team is the Boston REX Sox.
That little faux pas, which slipped past spell check because Rex and Red are both valid words, ate away at me incessantly. Though much of the stigma has evaporated, self-publishing still has a bit of an uphill climb to respectability, and I wanted to represent indie authors to the best of my abilities. Try as I might—I even reasoned that in my fictitious world, maybe Boston’s baseball team really was the Rex Sox—I couldn’t let it go. So, I bit the bullet and shelled out the dough to fix it. And now, anybody with a copy of my book that still references the Rex Sox has a collector’s item on their hands. A genuine first edition. Which means…well…not a damn thing. But it’s still kinda cool.
In any case, this was my mindset when I told my boss yesterday that I was officially changing my answer.
The question he asked during the interview was, “Who is your favorite author?”
Being an avid reader, this should have been a slam dunk. But the question caught me off guard. This was a Zoom interview, because of COVID, and I was sitting in my home office. There’s a bookcase next to the desk, and the bottom shelves are devoted to a very popular horror novelist.
“Stephen King,” I blurted out. As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big Stephen King fan. I’ve devoured most of his books and they are compelling reads. But naming Stephen King as your favorite author lacks originality. It’s an easy, generic answer.
And also, it’s not true.
My favorite author has long been Jack London. I’ve even blogged about this (“My favorite author, hands down, was Jack London”). Call of the Wild, The Sea-Wolf, White Fang, Martin Eden. They are all literary classics.
Ol’ Jack (RIP) came up with some pretty clever words of wisdom, too. Gems such as:
- You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
- I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
- Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.
I’ve been to Jack London State Historic Park in Sonoma County, CA. I’ve walked amongst the redwoods and toured the author’s ranch, his writing cottage, his gravesite. I had to correct my oversight and get it on the official record, so I did.
Only, there is no official record. It’s not like they grabbed my personnel file, crossed out
Stephen King, and scribbled in Jack London’s name. They probably didn’t even remember asking that particular question! My boss simply nodded his head, said “Cool,” and returned to his work.
Slightly anticlimactic perhaps, but I can breathe a little more easily knowing that order has been restored to the world.
Apparently, Karma bitch-slapped me the other day for complaining about what a PITA the Sturgis Rally is. On my way to work, I was in the right lane and a pickup was in the left, slightly ahead of me. That’s when a trio of motorcycles—count ’em, three!—decided to create their own phantom center lane. Straddling the yellow lines, they shot between our vehicles and then cut me me off, narrowly avoiding an accident. Look, if they want to risk turning themselves into roadkill, whatever. But don’t put my life on the line in the process!
I laid on my horn and yelled a few choice obscenities, but the roar of their engines as they raced toward the freeway drowned out the Kona’s puny little beeps.
The only cool thing about the incident was, in our team marketing meeting that morning, my supervisor told the group, “Mark got into a skirmish with a bunch of bikers on his way to work today.”
Makes me sound pretty badass, huh?