Q&A with Caleb Zane Huett
Welcome back to our author Q&As! This month we’re welcoming Caleb Zane Huett.
Caleb Zane Huett is a playwright, indie bookseller, and undercover reindeer. He’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and currently lives in Athens, Georgia, where he plays a lot of video games. Top Elf is his first novel.
Please describe yourself in five words.
Hungry, hungry, hungry, nerdy, hungry (I should eat before I get interviewed, probably.)
If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
I’ve always wanted the power to transform—to change shapes, faces, turn my arms into swords, whatever. That’s the power I would want, but I think I would probably end up with a vocal power, like Banshee from the X-Men, because most of my life is about talking.
What is the best Christmas present you’ve ever received and why?
When I was 5 years old, I received a Gameboy Colour and Pokemon Blue from my grandma. This started so many things for me—my love of games, my love of interesting monsters . . . my love of reading, even! (I used to read the Pokemon comics and chapter books faster than my parents could get them.) That game led to other games, role-playing games, which is where I first learned to make up interesting characters. I genuinely don’t think I’d be an author without Pokemon, and I’m so grateful for that gift.
Tell us a secret about yourself?
I eat pancakes without any syrup at all!!! I don’t even like it, but I love pancakes with just butter!!!! This is inexcusable, I know, but it’s a curse I’ve learned to live with
Which book changed your life and why?
As a kid:The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett. He helped me understand my love of silliness, and taught me that things could be silly and serious. Something can be important and a joke – I could be a goofball, and create meaningful things. When I discovered his Discworld books, it felt like someone giving me permission to be myself. I’ll always be thankful for that.
As a teen: Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel. This is a graphic memoir about some serious subjects – not for young kids! – but Bechdel’s exploration of her relationship with her father and herself helped me take a long, serious look at my own life, too. What did I want to be? What did I want to become? What kind of impact did I want to have on other people? If Pratchett gave me permission to be myself, Fun Home gave me permission to pick what I wanted that self to be.
What are your top tips for aspiring authors?
Don’t ignore what you love, or avoid your guilty pleasures – embrace them, talk about them, analyse them. Those things – and what you love about them – are going to show up in your writing whether you mean to or not, so get familiar with them. Become an expert in silly things! I know way too much about reality TV, and that ended up in Top Elf. (I also know way too much about Sonic the Hedgehog, and I’m sure that’s in there, too . . . somewhere.)
Also, be kind. To everyone. Go out of your way to care, to help, to listen. People will change your perspective, your writing, and your life if they like you and you let them. Let them.
What inspired you to write Top Elf?
When I was a kid, I had all sorts of questions about Santa. How does one guy get around the whole world in one night? How could the same person be delivering parents to me, and my parents, and their parents, and THEIR parents? What would Rudolph be like when he grew up? Why does Santa get to be in charge, anyway?! I wanted to write a story where I got to come up with the answers.
Tell us the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given.
Finish projects. Nothing can succeed until it’s done. Something bad on paper is better than the best idea ever in your head. (I remind myself of this when I feel bad about a first draft, too. At least it’s done.) You owe it to yourself to follow through on your dreams, and that means writing every chapter of the book until you get to the last line! Do it!!!
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For more about Caleb check out his Twitter , Instagram or make your way over to his website…