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Interview

Readersvoice.com interviews Michael Hoeye about his writing and reading.

Will Hermux head for Hollywood?...

READERSVOICE.COM: Could you describe the wordplay or other humor in Time Stops For No Mouse?

MICHAEL HOEYE: I think the first example of wordplay in my work is in Chapter One of Time Stops. It happens when Linka Perflinger presents her business card to Hermux. On her card she describes herself as an “Adventuress, Daredevil and Aviatrix.” As soon as I wrote that I knew that I was going to have fun with this story and with all the words that went into it. I was twisting “Adventuress” into a new meaning, and I figured that eventually I would get in trouble for it. But I decided then and there that I would be a bad boy. I would break rules is I wanted to. I would do anything I wanted while I was writing. I was the boss. And if I wanted to bend words and twist them. So be it. If I wanted to write sentence fragments – which was a grammar crime punishable by death when I grew up – then I would be a grammar criminal. I expected hate mail from teachers. So far I have only gotten one angry letter. But let me assure you, it was ANGRY. Discovering that I like wordplay as much as I do came as a surprise. Perhaps it it’s a taste I acquired in my years of copywriting. Something good must have resulted from the mind-bending challenge of figuring out how to say “new and improved” over and over and over again in ways that always were “new” and “improved.” After a while you get really punchy and start writing some very silly stuff.

Most of which is not very good. But sometimes you come up with something that’s genuinely funny. The hard thing for me was finding my tonal range and my voice. I had a few lucky breaks at first. After that it took me thousands and thousands of tries to learn to do it with some predictability. It’s probably like learning to do a jump in ice skating. You land on your backside a lot at first. Then you improve until you move on to harder jumps at which point you go right back to landing on your backside. The challenge is learning to not worry about making a fool of yourself. Go for it with all you’ve got and try not to bite your tongue off when you hit the ground.

RV: What’s your daily routine in Oregon?

MH: I get up early. I do yoga. I eat breakfast while I read a book. Then I go out for coffee and read the paper. When I’ve recovered from the news I go to work. I work until lunch. Then I work until dinner. After dinner I’m done.

RV: What are your plans for your writing? MH: I plan to keep writing Hermux as long as he is willing to keep having adventures. I have lots of other things I’d like to write. I’ve just started a new project for my mother who is nearly 85 years old and is losing her memory. I am enjoying it very much. And I think she is too.

RV: If your books were made into movies would they be computer animation, stop motion, or real actors?

MH: A very interesting question. When the books were first published I formed a partnership with David Vogel and Larry Fulton – two of my oldest and closest friends in the world. David produced for Steven Spielberg and was president of Walt Disney Pictures for quite a few years. Larry is a production designer who designed A Time to Kill, The Sixth Sense and Signs. We began by designing the characters and the setting – Pinchester. It was literally an eye-opening experience for me. During the process we argued the pro’s and cons of each approach to story telling. The problem with CGI animation is a certain mechanical and robotic quality that wireframe figures have. However that is changing fast. The classical style animation is expensive, and the masters of the genre are getting older and not being replaced. Recently we have been gravitating toward real actors with masks and prosthetics. I enjoy playing with a fuzzy boundary between my characters being animals or people. Sometimes they have paws. Sometimes they have hands. The point for me is that they are imaginary characters and their animalness comes and goes the way that logic comes and goes in dreams. So having them rendered on film in a slightly wacky and theatrical way sounds very exciting to me.

Next issue: Readersvoice.com continues its series of interviews with the best comics artists of our time, with Chicago artist Ivan Brunetti…

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