Interview: Chip Huddleston, Author of Snowbeard the Pirate & the Naughty List

HuddlestonSnowbeardPirateNaughtyListFolks, please welcome Chip Huddleston! You can catch my review of Chip’s Snowbeard the Pirate and the Naughty List over HERE. You can also check out his downloadable CD for yourself on CD Baby. Today, Chip talks about Bunnicula, Puccini, the great shows on PBS & BBC, and plenty more!

1) You are obviously into taking a standard story (Santa delivering toys on Christmas eve) and turning it sideways (tossing in pirates and stale fruit cake). What other stories would you like to give a twist to?

There have been so many smash-up novels in the last couple of decades, it’s hard to keep up with them all. My interest recently has been on looking at our holidays and family traditions and coming at them from a little bit of a different perspective. Also, humor is an extremely important element in my writing (and life!) so almost anything I write, even something dark, has some humor involved. I was a professional actor/singer for over twenty years so theatricality appeals to me as well.

I’m looking right now at the way we actually celebrate Halloween and feel that it has been underserved by some of the lore and literature. I loved the Bunnicula series, could someone please do something about the Easter Bunny? Can’t we write something better there?

2) If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I read The Hobbit when I was about 12 years old and that was a revelation. I’d love to have that experience again. Being a singer, the first time I heard (and understood!) Puccini’s La Boheme was almost a religious experience! Puccini has this way of crafting beautiful melodies, even throwing away (seemingly) an exquisite phrase every now and then. I like to think of that when writing.

The PBS Masterpiece Theatre presentation, Upstairs, Downstairs, was a great favorite, although I’ve revisited it and it doesn’t seem quite as good as my memory of it. But with Downton Abbey now on the rise, I’ve found my new, improved Upstairs, Downstairs. I’m a great fan of PBS and would love to see someone do a parody of a PBS fundraiser where, because of the tremendous success of Downton, PBS changes all their most successful shows to reflect that. For example, they might have the Beatles Play Downton show or a show for American tourists traveling in England entitled, Where In The Hell IS Downton Abbey? Or a fusion of Asian and English cuisine co-hosted by David Ming of Simply Ming and the cook from Downton Abbey. They could call the new show, Simply Dreadful. Maybe a show called, We Have British Accents And You Don’t – Hah! The possibilities are endless!

3) Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

I have to admit that I would love to be able to (safely) visit Jurrassic Park! Also, the idea of the Kraken has always fascinated me (as you know, I even have a humorous reference to it in Snowbeard’s tale.) I don’t think I could successfully use an I-Phone to take a Selfie while in the clutches of a Kraken – I think I’d need a GoPro to capture it (right after it captured me!).

4) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

One of the worst jobs I ever had was cleaning restrooms on my college campus to pay for tuition. But the acoustics were wonderful so I would sing as I scrubbed and mopped! Also, as I mentioned previously, I worked professionally as an actor and singer, eventually working on Broadway and at the New York City Opera. Although it’s great to get applause at the end of your work day, it can be a very difficult profession because there is so much rejection, very much like writing.

5) What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

It is difficult for me to answer this question. My sons would be much better on this answer than I (one age 22, the other 17 and big video gamers). I don’t quite find fascination in shooting soldiers or zombies over and over but I love mystery series so maybe some sort of Sherlock Holmes/Miss Marple/Hercule Poirot video game where you solve murder mysteries and, much like the musical based on the Dicken’s novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, there might be options at the end where there are different endings with different murderers.

6) What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I have enjoyed several reboots of classics. The Mary Russell series by Laurie King that speculates on what may have happened with Sherlock Holmes is very good. I enjoy the original Sherlock Holmes stories but I find that the genius of those stories is the Genius himself, not so much the storytelling. In fact, getting back to PBS/BBC (which I love, obviously) they have that nice updating of Sherlock to present day London starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The most recent one had a wonderfully absurd plot where Holmes fakes his own suicide spectacularly, with Watson witnessing it and being terribly traumatized. But Holmes reappears after about a year and stuns Watson to the core.

I’d put this in my mythical parody of PBS, by the way, by having some Alan Cumming look-alike announcing that, “Brilliant British actor, Benedict Bandersnatch returns in, Sherlock Holmes and the Jabberwock –  an exciting story where Sherlock and arch-nemesis Moriarty commit double suicide by leaping into the jaws of the Jabberwock only to pop out it’s backside one year later Fully Alive, ladies and gentlemen!!!”

7)What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Being an opera fan back during the 70’s and 80’s, there were always two camps on who was The World’s Greatest Tenor, Pavarotti or Domingo? While one can appreciate both, I was always a Domingo fan. Pavarotti, by far, had the best vocal technique, but, in my opinion, Domingo had the more beautiful sound.

Oh, and for sheer, gut-wrenching animalistic keening try googling Franco Corelli singing Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot. But be forewarned! You will aurally ingest an almost lethal dose of testosterone by listening to it. It is amazing.

HuddlestonSnowbeardPirateNaughtyList8) Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, the picture book version of Snowbeard the Pirate and the Naughty List will be out for next Christmas (2015). I have grown out my white beard to look like Snowbeard/Santa in order to promote the story in a very festive way.

One of my literary heroes, P.G. Wodehouse, also wrote lyrics and the book for several musicals. I merely dabble in lyric writing as well and I’ve created a character for myself called, Satire Claus, the Singing Christmas Grouch and am putting the finishing touches on my lyrics for a new Christmas song parody CD entitled, I’m Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas.

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