Welcome back to Tuesday. It’s the day of the week when we inject nanomites into our authors’ spines and activate their speech centres. The result – Talk Tuesday To Us – all of the answers those little tykes could squeeze out.

The Author, Wendy N. WagnerThis week the impressively chipper Wendy N Wagner, author of dark SF mystery An Oath of Dogs, gets our nanoquiz treatment.

One film:
The Twin Peaks box set! That might be cheating, but everything I need in life is in Twin Peaks. (Except real coffee and pie.) I love the mystery, and the weirdness, and the people who live in the town are so quirky and wonderful.

One book:
Tam Lin, by Pamela C. Dean. I re-read it almost every fall. Not only is it a magical read, it’s packed full of literary quotes that will make you sound smart if you memorize them. (All my clever Shakespearean references come from this novel.)

The biggest influence on your writing:
Dune, by Frank Herbert. I go back to it again and again—the world building is so inspirational, and I adore the court politics and constant scheming. He’s like the Jane Austen of sci-fi, and I love that.

The biggest influence on your life:
It’s On Writing, by Stephen King. Once I started college, I wasn’t sure if I had what it took to be a “real” writer, and I’d sort of given up on myself. I had all these silly ideas about writing books about magic and space ships, and they just didn’t seem very important compared to, oh, The Painted Bird or Johnny Got His Gun.

Then I read On Writing, and I was like “F&*k that noise! Stephen King says I can write whatever I want to write!” It was totally empowering. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to start writing if it wasn’t for that book, and if I hadn’t started writing I don’t think I’d be a very happy or healthy person today.

Any notable pets?
I have two cats—a big gray tabby named Ico (for the video game character) and a fluffy calico named Alice (for the main character in the Resident Evil movies). They’re brother and sister, and they keep me good company, since I work from home. They like to be taken for walks in our back yard, while wearing a leash. Those walks are just a great time to chill and enjoy the world.

Got a nickname?
My dad always called me “Winnie Woohoo,” and it drove me insane. One time I punched a kid in the nose for calling me that! (He went home crying and bleeding.) Now that nickname tickles my fancy. It’s so silly! I use it as my website address.

First story you told?
I was about six, and I wrote this very lavishly illustrated booklet about a family of unicorns. I think the baby unicorn got separated from its parents and cried until they were reunited. So much pathos!

Best place you ever visited?
The Natural History Museum in London. It’s full of dinosaurs and amazing dioramas, and it’s in the most fantastic building ever! Every surface has some kind of miraculous little creature carved into it. And there’s this wonderful statue of Darwin. I couldn’t help crying when I stood next to it. The wonder of science is just so powerful in that space.

The last time you cried?
I cry all the time. I am a ridiculous softy. I cried like a baby last night, watching my husband finish the video game Life Is Strange. That video game is a heart-breaker, let me tell you.

If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
Oh, definitely a witch. I’d love to putter around in my yard, growing herbs and mixing them into potions. I’d beguile all the neighbor children and charm the wildlife. It would be the absolute best.

Who plays you in the movie?
Drew Barrymore! She’s so bubbly and lively, I think she’d really get it right.

And what’s the pivotal scene?
Probably the moment when I was a single mom with a three month-old baby, living as a house sitter, with no job, no savings, and I broke down and begged my mom to let me move back in with her. I literally had nothing, and I felt so incredibly worthless. I just kept imagining I was dead. But I had the cutest little kid to take care of, so dying wasn’t really an option.

Where would you like to be right now?
On the back patio at the Multnomah Falls Lodge with a cup of coffee. It’s September as I type this, and I firmly believe there’s no place as glorious in fall as the Columbia Gorge.

When and where were you happiest?
In my house, most Saturdays. My brother comes over to game and I’ve got my husband and my daughter with me, and my cats, and it’s just bliss. I don’t need a fancy vacation to feel overjoyed with my life: I just need them. Well, a margarita doesn’t hurt.

If you could share one recipe, what would it be?
It would be for these awesome brownies!! (Honestly, they deserve more exclamation points.) I often sub date puree for the maple syrup, to make them even healthier. I know they sound immoral—I mean, they’re made from beans—but they’re just fabulous.

If you could ban one thing from the earth, what would it be?
Leaf blowers. Why were those even invented? They are so loud and so wasteful! They’re basically the symbol of everything that’s wrong with the modern world.

Tipple of choice?
Right now I’m really obsessed with this pineapple cider from Ace Ciderworks. It’s so delicious! But in general, I’m a tequila gal—I like just about anything if it’s got tequila in it.

Thanks Wendy! Those nanomites will exit your body through your tear ducts while you sleep.

An Oath of Dogs is released on July 4th (US/CAN) and July 6th (UK).