This is part four of a five part interview. To read this interview from the beginning, click: Thomas F. Monteleone Interview.
Michael Aloisi: How do you feel about electronic reading devices suck as the Kindle and Nook becoming so popular? As a writer are you just happy that people are reading or do you feel they take away from the experience of a traditional book?
Thomas F. Monteleone: I’m glad that people are reading books. I’ll tell you a story about that. Back in the early eighties I would take some small jobs to fill in the cracks between books. One of the best jobs I had was working for the local cable company. I would go door-to-door and tell people that cable was coming to their neighborhood and try to get them to sign up. I would get paid per person I signed up. It was great because I worked from like six at night until eight, so I had the day free.
I was doing it for about a month when I realized that something was bothering me about the job. I couldn’t figure out what it was. On average I was going into about a hundred houses a week. After about three weeks I still couldn’t figure out what that odd feeling was. Finally, I knocked on this guy’s door and he said, come on in. In his living room I saw something I hadn’t seen in all three weeks on the job. You know what it was?—book cases. This guy had shelves and shelves of books. That is when I realized that I had been in about four hundred houses and hadn’t seen ANY evidence of anyone who read anything besides the TV Guide. It was a frightening revelation.
I lived my whole life as a reader and everyone I knew was a reader, so I had this assumption that everyone read. When in fact, I was wrong. They say that 90% of the books are bought by 10% of the population. I’m not sure I believed that until that moment.
The only place I really see a lot of people reading is in airports, but what I haven’t seen is a lot of Kindles yet. That will most likely change. But yeah, I think change is always going to be with us. Some changes will work well and others will be a bad idea. We’ll see how it goes.
MA: You write a column for Cemetery Dance magazine called The Mothers and Fathers Italian Association. The column is a straightforward, funny commentary on the industry and your life. You even had a collection of these essays published in a book of the same name, which won a Bram Stoker Award. How did this column start and do you have plans to publish another collection in the future?
TFM: I am definitely working on Volume Two. I have written about twenty columns since the last collection, when I get to around forty, I’ll publish the next volume.
When I started it, the column was supposed to be a one-shot. There was a science fiction fanzine that this guy ran and he asked me and my friend, Charlie Grant, to write columns for him, and we both agreed. There wasn’t that many Italian science fiction writers at the time, so . . . as a gag . . . I tried to come up with something that spelled MAFIA, so that is where the title came from. It became popular and I did it for several different magazines over the years. Now I have been doing it for Cemetery Dance for over fifteen years.
It’s a challenge to come up with something each time. I always told myself when I run out of things to write, I’ll give it up. But so far, so good. There always seems to be a topic I am intrigued about or something that really pisses me off, so I can usually come up with a good column. I try to make them a mixture of personal antidotes and my experiences with the industry along with some instruction now and then.
To read the conclusion of the interview, click: Thomas F. Monteleone Interview
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