Okay, so maybe he writes more than just vampire novels but a wise person once told me that it’s important to have a good title so I dropped the “By the Numbers” title and am running with this (while crossing my fingers that the interviewed did in fact write a vampire novel). At any rate, the subject of this interview is a man who needs no introduction but, out of fear of being rude, I’ll introduce him anyway.
Norm Cowie is an author of several books and a humor column, founder of the organization; Humor Writer’s of America and is known far and wide as an authority on zombies (a.k.a. lawyers). Much like the subject of my last interview (Megan Orlowski-Russell) he is also a real person (I think) and I have had the honor of knowing him for very little time. With that said I am proud, then, to present to you my interview with Mr. Cowie in all of its unedited glory…Enjoy!
Let me start by saying thanks for agreeing to this interview; it’s an honor and a privilege for you I’m sure. With the pleasantries out-of-the-way I was hoping that, in order for my readers to really get to know who Norm Cowie is, you could describe yourself in one sentence or less.
I still have some of my hair.
You have written a number of young adult novels as well as humor books/columns; which, if either, do you prefer to write?
If you held my feet to the flame, I’d have to admit to much more enjoyment creating worlds of fun characters as opposed to writing a business column featuring attorneys. Then I’d ask you to take the flame away from my toes.
When I mentioned this interview to some of my readers the first thing they wanted me to ask you was: Have you ever considered writing a novel about a zombie-accountant that infects all the accountants in the world and turns them into number-obsessed, unemotional beings that everyone else in the world hates? If not, please explain why.
Funny you asked, I have thought about writing books about number-obsessed, unemotional beings that everyone else in the world hates, but everyone would think I’m writing about Congress.
What was your motivation behind starting the Humor Writers of America?
Free membership, for one. I’m cheap, and I knew if I started a group, I could get away without charging myself anything. That, and there was no organization of humor writers. Other writers have their organizations like Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers, International Thriller Writers, Graffiti Artists of America … but humor writers were like orphans, sitting alone on our Whoopie Cushions out in dark alleys begging for hot chocolate. Visit us at www.humorwritersofamerica.org
As the founder of the Humor Writers of America, how unexpected was it that I, the prestigious blogger that I am, requested to be a part of your organization?
Seeing as I, an unenlightened soul, was previously in the dark as to your prestigiousness, it was unexpected indeed – but entirely gratifying once I became aware of your awesomeness.
Okay, let’s get personal for a moment. I was recently made aware of the fact that, when typing in your last name, Cowie, into my word processing program it suggests that I change your name to one of the following:
How does this make you feel?
Like an intimidated bovine scarfing Cranberry Citrus Crisp Girl Scout cookies to the melodic tunes of Ziggy Stardust.
Alright, let’s lighten the mood a bit. How do you feel about the current wealth disparity in the United States and what, if anything, do you think should be done about it?
It’s time to sic the zombie accountants on the 1%, although my fear is that when the zombies don’t find any brains in their target they may turn around and attack the rest of us. If only zombies fed on greed, though there is hope that zombie accountants may be adapted due to their facility with numbers.
Accountants, particularly the zombie-accountants, are nothing if not adaptable. Getting back to you though, you also write a business/humor column, can you tell us about this?
Like in the esteemed world of accounting, credit managers also need forums and advice, so I write a humor business column called Illinois Construction Stuff and Stuff, where I mock attorneys under the guise of teaching mechanics lien law and collection tactics. Somewhat to my shock, the columns won a national award from the National Association of Credit Managers, and more shocking, attorneys haven’t sued me yet. Some of these articles are buried deep in my website, www.normcowie.com.
In addition to writing novels and columns, you also do speaking engagements. If you were asked to do a speaking engagement for a group of number-obsessed, unemotional and universally hated zombie-accountants, what would you say to them?
“Honored zombie-accountants, I’m here to tell you I cheated on my IQ test, so my feeble brain would not quench your hunger, as it is sufficient only to allow me to feed myself, with a nod towards hygiene. Also, forty is the only number which when spelled out in English has its letters in alphabetical order.” ~ (And while they were thinking that over, I’d run for my life).
(F-O-R-T-Y…impressive…Hey, get back here Norm! We’re not done yet!)
When you are not writing or doing speaking engagements for zombie-accountants, what would we find you doing (please remember that my mom reads this blog)?
Mostly swimming. I find zombie accountants are poor swimmers. (Hi, Mom)
In your wildest dreams did you ever imagine I would ask you to do an interview for my blog?
Who are you again?
Ha, ha, ha, you do have quite the sense of humor Mr. Cowie! Ahem, anyway. Speaking of wildest dreams, my youngest son has been watching firemen cartoons in Russian on YouTube lately, and last night I had a dream that our house was being invaded by a bunch of cartoon Stalin-esque firemen: Do you think Vladimir Putin was behind this?
I think Putin is behind weight gain in America by rewriting the food pyramid – but only after we were addicted to carbs.
What is the one thing that you would like to accomplish in life before Stalin-esque firemen start invading your dreams as well?
I’d like to discover a cake that helps develop muscle, power the brain and make us exceedingly attractive to the opposite sex while tasting a lot like beer. We can serve them to the Stalin-esque firemen.
What word of advice would you give to anyone who is considering becoming a humor writer (or a writer of less sophisticated genres)?
Be sparing of the word ‘that,’ while judicious in your use of commas. Also learn the differences between you’re/your, a while/awhile and it’s/its, and, most of all, entertain us. If you’re bored writing, the reader is bored reading. My trick is when I’m feeling like things are dragging in the book, it’s time to introduce a chase scene. So there are lots of chase scenes in my books.
Saving the last question for last, this is, admittedly, a little embarrassing to ask, but would it be possible for you to send me a personalized autographed e-book of “The Adventure of Guy”? Despite the fact that I haven’t read it yet it was by far my favorite book that you have written.
Yes, it’s possible.
Probably the best place to sample my works is by reading Norm’s Shorts, a compilation of short stories featuring characters from both my YA and my adult books, as well as a slice of my non-fiction humor book. It’s available on e-book for less than a buck: http://www.amazon.com/Norms-Shorts-Norm-Cowie-ebook/dp/B00HBWGHZ2