AUTHOR BIO: 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
Up Close With Steven:
1. What inspires you as a writer?
I don’t know if anything really “inspires” me to write. Inspiration seems like far too important a word to describe the stories in Goats Eat Cans. I’ll leave the inspiration for people who aren’t writing stories about the time my childhood friend poured a gallon of urine onto the head of sleeping brother.
Mostly I just wanted the book to be fun. That’s it. That was my only goal. If I can make a few people laugh, mission accomplished.
Last year I finished up a young adult fantasy trilogy called Forts. The books were pretty heavy, and they were pretty personal. I was spent. I wanted the next thing I worked on to be as far from that as I could get and Goats Eat Cans turned out to be the perfect fit.
2. When did you have that ah ha moment when you knew you were a writer?
Yeah, um…no. That hasn’t happened yet. I don’t think it ever will. Who wants to be a writer anyway? Writers wear glasses and writers like to speak about their craft. Writers are serious people with serious stories to write about serious characters with serious things to say.
Me? Not so much.
I like to think that I’m funny – maybe – on occasion. I’m not a writer though.
Plus my punctuation is atrocious. It’s so bad that it makes writers everywhere want to kick me in the scones. Thankfully writers have terrible coordination and spindly legs.
3. What is your writing process?
I guess I don’t really have one. Truthfully, I’m pretty lazy about it. I don’t write every day and sometimes I can go a month without typing a word. If I’m not into it and I’m not feeling it, I just don’t do it. I treat my writing like a woman treats her sex. If I’m not into it emotionally, there’s no real point.
I suppose I could fake it, but the readers would know.
I’m a terrible actor too.
4. Tell us about your favorite character and why you chose to write about them?
Based on the fact that I’ve essentially written a book filled with goofy little stories from my sometimes wacky, sometimes flat out annoying life, I suppose you could argue that my favorite character is myself. That makes me seem like a real egomaniac, though.
I don’t want you thinking I’m an egomaniac.
When I was twelve I wrote and illustrated a Spider-Man comic book – so lets just say Spider-Man.
5. What are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m putting together the stories for Goats Eat Cans Volume 2. The book is in the hands of my editor. In fact, she’s probably pulling her hair out at this very moment. She’s might even be swearing.
Depending on how far into it she is, there’s a strong possibility that she has constructed a little voodoo doll of me and is sticking pins in its groin as I type.
The goal is to get two more volumes of Goats Eat Cans out before the end of the year (Volume 2 in July and Volume 3 in December). I also illustrated a picture book for Featherweight Press that should be hitting stores in the next few months, and I have another humor novel called Fictional Jerks that I’ll be releasing early in 2013.
I know that sounds like I have a lot going on, but I really don’t.
Mostly all of those things are just markers between the moments I get to gorge myself on pizza and other foods that will undoubtedly kill me before I reach my fiftieth birthday.
6. Any upcoming events?
I’ll be touring, and blogging, and giving away Goats related stuff well into May so that’ll keep me pretty busy. I also host a sometimes weekly podcast for my writers group at www.litunderground.com where I talk to authors, put then through a battery of goofy questions, and yuk it up to the best of my ability.
Oh, my step grandkids are coming to visit next week. Does that count as an upcoming event?
Yep, I just turned thirty-four years old, my wife is ten years older than me, my stepson is seven years younger and I have two step grandkids.
It’s a pretty unique little situation.
7. If you could be anyone you like, who would you be?
I’d want to be someone really stupid and really rich - maybe Paris Hilton.
Why Paris Hilton? Simple. I’m sick of using my brain. Seriously, I’d love to luck the stupid thing out of my head and toss it in the corner for a few years. I’d love to be a brainless idiot and I’d love even more to go to sleep on a bed of cash I didn’t do anything to earn.
I’d sleep in the nude and wake up with fifty dollar bills stuck between my butt cheeks.
Oh, yeah. That’s heaven.
8. Do you have any advice for new writers and something that a seasoned vet can learn?
You’d have to direct that question at a seasoned vet. I’m just a dope with a faux-hawk.
9. Where can your followers find you?
Believe it or not the money I need to eat, pay bills, and add to my extensive wardrobe consisting of three shirts, two pairs of pants and a single pair of boots, doesn’t come from book residuals. It would be great if it did (and I might even buy myself a new pair of boots) but it doesn’t. I make my living as a graphic designer/illustrator and you can find my work at: www.novakillustration.com.
I’ve actually been doing a lot of book covers for self-published authors lately. If anyone out there is looking for a quality cover at a pretty fantastic price, just drop me an email.
All Goats related material can be found at: www.goateatcans.blogspot.com.
10. Any last words?
“Please don’t murder me? Why do you want to murder me? I have a family and one or two friends that might miss me for a very small window of time before moving on with their lives.”
That was an odd way to word it. Any last words sounds so finite. Do we have to phrase it like that? How about something like, “Say goodbye to the peeps.”
No, I can’t pull off the word peeps.
Fine, let’s just stick with any last words.
I guess the only last words I have are, “Please buy my book.” You have a kindle and you have $1.99 lying around. I know you do. It’s probably in the cushions of your couch. You can either buy yourself a king-sized Snickers or you can spend it on three-hundred pages of my mostly insane ramblings. That’s less than a penny a page. If you want the math for the money-to-word-ratio you’re out of luck.
I suck at math.
OK: Steven I must say you are hilarious! Make sure you leave a comment because there is a give-a-way!
Grand Prize Reader/Follower Giveaway For 1 Signed Paperback and 1 Signed Chapter Art Illustration (2 Winners).
BOOK SYNOPSIS: 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.
PUBLISHER: Quiet Corner Press
RELEASE DATE: March 1st 2012
JINX MEANS THE END OF MY MARRIAGE
Let me just preface this story by saying that when you get right down to it, I'm barely more than a ten-year-old boy sporting a man-sized penis. I am. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I’m also using the term man-sized quite liberally.
On top of that, I’ll also admit that this is a combination more dangerous than Pop Rocks and a can of Coke, or Beyonce and a microphone, or the parents of Beyonce and a condom with a hole in it.
I really don’t like Beyonce.
Sometimes in a marriage, there are words and moments that simply cannot be taken back. More often than not, these words are said out of anger or frustration, and once they’ve escaped your mouth and entered through the holes in your significant other’s ears, they're stuck there—forever.
When such a thing happens, you’ll likely never look at each other the same way again. The touch of your fingers won’t produce the same closeness, and the kiss of your lips won’t exact the same spark.
Like paying full price to see a Will Ferrell movie that isn’t Anchorman, these are the moments you can’t come back from.
Such a moment has occurred in my own marriage.
That was me—screaming "jinx" with every ounce of breath in my lungs moments after my wife and I muttered the exact same word at the exact same time.
You've heard of the game of Jinx, right? Of course you have.
It’s simple. If two people happen to say the exact same thing at the exact same time and one of those people yells the word jinx, it forces the other person to remain silent until the curse of jinx has been released.
Come on, you’ve heard of that before, right? Everyone has heard of Jinx— even an idiot like you.
Oops. Wait. I didn’t mean to say that.
I wasn’t talking about you.
I was, um. I was talking about the guy right behind you. Yep, that guy right there—that guy in the hat.
He’s an idiot.
When my wife presented me with the opportunity to scream out "jinx," I took it. I devoured it! I ravaged it! I took it harder and faster and deeper than one of those scary looking sex machines. And I did it in impressive fashion, I might add.
I was pretty proud of myself—snagging the moment and making it mine like that.
It was an impressive thing.
It was a big moment for me. Selling my soul to the devil years ago for a single moment of glory finally paid off. In that moment, I was a man among men. I was a young Steve McQueen, riding around on my motorcycle, batting the ladies away with stick.
I was a superstar, and I was on cloud nine.
I was on cloud fucking nine with a totally nude Salma Hayek and a DVD copy of the seventh season of Star Trek: The Next Generation—until my stupid wife had to go and ruin it.
"Steven, did you just say jinx?"
"What the hell do you think you’re doing? You know you can’t talk, right? I jinxed you!"
"Steven, I'm not playing Jinx."
Son of a bitch.
This was how she was going to handle the situation?
The balls on this woman.
"Sorry, you have to. You've been jinxed. You can’t talk until I tell you that you can talk. Sorry to tell you this, but you don’t really have a choice in the matter.”
"What? That's not even how it's played. I thought I had to buy you a coke or something?"
Oh, dear God.
Did she really just have the nerve to bring up the moronic “buy you a Coke” version?
The nuts on this broad!
"That's how girls played it. I don't acknowledge that version of Jinx. No one should. People with penises play the old school version, and in the old school version you can't talk until I tell you that you can talk…so shut up."
She was looking at me like I was an idiot—like I was an eight-year-old dancing around the room in a pair of He-Man underoos with a racing stripe down the back.
On the flipside of that coin, I was looking at her like she was from another planet—like she’d just dropped her pants, took an alien dump in her hands, and smeared it seductively onto her set of sixteen alien nipples.
Why was she even talking? She wasn’t supposed to be talking! The woman had been completely and thoroughly jinxed. There was no question as to what occurred, no question about the legitimacy of the jinx. She was spitting in the face of everything the game stood for. She was trouncing on a gentlemanly pact spanning three generations. She was committing a crime against the very laws of nature itself.
It was blasphemy!
It was a slap in the face of what whatever God you happen to believe in. She was backhanding Buddha. She was kicking Jesus right in the scones. She was throwing handfuls of peanuts at Ganesha and using the robe of Zeus to blow her nose. She was standing backstage at a Journey concert in 1982, telling Steve Perry his mullet looked stupid.
She was just asking for trouble.
"Steven, I'm not playing Jinx."
I should have slapped her right then and there. I should have slapped her so hard that my hand left a print she’d have to wear like a scarlet letter.
"Um, I don’t know. Maybe because I'm a grown up?"
Now she was being sarcastic?
Last I checked, there wasn't a Get Out of Jinx card that came with the dropping of balls or a first period. Age wasn’t an excuse, and I wasn’t buying it. She knew better than to tamper with the very fabric that held the universe together and yet that’s exactly what she was doing. She knew better than to mess with Jinx.
"So, you're just going to keep talking then?"
“Not going to shut up?”
When she reached for the phone to call someone from work, I intercepted it. I then wedged the receiver between my butt cheeks and let one rip. It was a good one—a good stinky one and a good, loud stinky one. It was the sort of rip that rattled the windows and registered on the Richter scale.
"You don't want to play Jinx, fine.” I handed her the phone. “Go ahead and call someone on your poo phone, then."
Personally, I think I went easy on her.
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.
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?"
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?"
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."
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.
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."
"No, you're not."
"But I want to."
"You're not smashing that cat."
"Put the brick down and come upstairs."
You've won this round Jabar.
OK: I will be getting this one for my son! Great read.