Thursday, May 19, 2005

Interview with Author John McNally

John McNally, author of the novel, “The Book of Ralph,” in a bit of self-indulgent googling, found a post on a blog about his book.

In the post, the blogger debated on which book to read next. John, ignoring his instincts and courting danger, decides to write to the owner of said blog and presented the case for why his book should be next.

After a flurry of e-mails, a request for an interview emerged. This is the result of that interview.


No Milk: I have never heard of you or your book before. I bought the book for very superficial reasons: One, I liked the name Ralph because it is one of the names I would've picked for myself if I had more than three personalities; Two, I liked the artwork on the cover of your book because it showed a kid biting the ear off another kid and I was hungry at the time; and Three, because the first chapter was called "The Vomitorium." Man, you had me at "Vomit." I shelled out the full price of $12.00 for your book, cheapskate that I am. What do you think of that?

John McNally: I think this is the best purchase of your life, Ralph. May I call you Ralph? You may still decide to legally change your name to Ralph -- there’s nothing stopping you -- but this book may inspire you to make that final plunge. As for the book’s cover, it’s not just artwork; it truly is a work of art. Ralph biting another kid’s ear? Priceless. When you’re done reading the book, slice off the cover with an X-acto knife and then frame it.

The title of chapter one – “The Vomitorium” – is, of course, the clincher. Keep that page open when you’re on a bus or train, and see how many people talk to you. Your social network will grow in ways you can’t even fathom. “What are you reading?” they’ll ask, and then, a few weeks later, you’ll be trying to squeeze in a movie with them, much to the annoyance of all your other new friends.

And how much did all of this cost you? Twelve bucks? A large pizza costs more than twelve bucks. This book is worth at least three or four times that much. Let’s face it. For twelve bucks, you stole the frickin’ book.

NM: This interview came about because you wrote an e-mail to me. You said that you were "doing a totally self-indulgent google search" on your book. Are you in the habit of finding out what people are saying about you? You must have a cast-iron stomach. Once, some guy wrote this completely humiliating post about how stupid my blog was and it made me throw up for days. The good news is I lost 10 lbs and now I can fit into my pants again. What have you found people saying?

JM: I almost never write to people who’ve written, for better or worse, anything about any of my books, but since you wrote in your blog that you had already bought my book but weren’t sure when you were going to read it, I felt that it was my obligation – my duty – to get you to read it.

Actually, I did write to one person who posted a negative review of the book on Amazon. She wrote, “i gave this book two stars instead of one because, while it was really bad, it did make me giggle... and i suppose i did enjoy reading it, if only to scoff at it.” Her only other Amazon review was for the movie “Legally Blonde” and begins, “i am a youth director at a small church, and let me tell you how impressed i was by this movie.”

So I sent her an email, thanking her for taking the time to write a review of the book, that it had taken a few years of my life to write it, and that I was grateful for her thoughtful feedback. My real wish, however, was for a church bus to flatten her early one Sunday morning. Otherwise, I take criticism well.

CONTINUED: "You are very sexy, I MUST MEET YOU"


John McNally is currently on tour promoting The Book of Ralph, check out his website for locations and dates

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