Michael A. Ventrella writes witty stories like the Teddy Roosevelt steampunk adventure “Big Stick,” the fantasy series with titles like “The Axes of Evil,” and the political thriller “Bloodsuckers: A Vampire Runs for President.” He’s edited over a dozen anthologies, including “Release the Virgins,” “Three Time Travelers Walk Into…” and the alternate-Sherlock “Baker Street Irregulars” series (with NY Times Bestselling Author Jonathan Maberry). His own short stories have appeared in other anthologies and magazines. His non-fiction works include books about The Beatles and The Monkees, along with “How to Argue the Constitution with a Conservative” (with illustrations from Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Darrin Bell). He’s married to award-winning dryer lint artist Heidi Hooper, lives in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, and in his spare time, is a lawyer.
If you could time travel to any point in history, which era would you choose, and why?
To live or just visit? To live, I’d choose the far future. I like my modern conveniences, medical advancements, indoor plumbing, and internet. Things are bad politically but honestly, they’re much worse if you go back in time. I am hoping humans are moving in the right direction to a Star Trek-like future. It may take a while, though.
To visit? Well, I don’t want to go so far back that I can’t speak the language with anyone. I’d love to meet Benjamin Franklin and The Beatles before they were famous. (Separately. I’m not implying that there was a band called “Benjamin Franklin and The Beatles.”) I know I should go and kill Hitler, but that would take immense planning and if time is a closed system, I wouldn’t be successful anyway.
If you could swap lives with any character from one of your books for a day, who would it be and what would you do?
Oh, I’d be the vampire who becomes President. Not because I want to be a vampire, but because I’d love to be President for a day and shake things up … although one day probably wouldn’t be enough time to get things done. Then again, that character is a billionaire, so the first thing I’d do is hide a lot of money somewhere so on the next day when I’m me again, I can go and get it.
If you had to choose between having the ability to speak with animals or plants, which would you choose and why?
Between those two, I’d choose “having the ability to speak with animals” because I already have plants.
If you were a character in a fantasy RPG, what character class and abilities would you have and how would you level up?
Well, I created and ran a fantasy LARP for about 30 years (I finally sold the rights, but it’s still around: www.AllianceLARP.com). I always played a scholarly type (I know, what a shock) so I’d probably be a wizard who leveled up by studying the arcane arts and only adventuring when I absolutely had to, and even then, it would be to fight a small number of goblins, one by one, just to get the experience without much of a risk to myself. I’m basically a coward. A well-read coward, but a coward nonetheless.
If you had to choose between being a time traveler or a space explorer, which would you pick and why?
Well, do we have faster-than-light travel? If not, there’s only one choice. But assuming we do, there’s still only one choice. Get me a Tardis and let me explore the world (but with a universal translator, of course). But I’d probably screw up the timeline terribly, by telling The Beatles they should use me for their bass player or something.
If you had to live on a spaceship with one fictional character for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?
Does Jessica Rabbit count?
If you had to choose one of your own fictional worlds to live in, which one would it be, and why?
I really love the enthusiasm and optimism of steampunk, where the idea is that science can solve all our problems! Plus, in most steampunk, the science just works without an explanation, in the same way magic tends to work in some fantasy stories. So the idea of a world of wonder where airships travel across the globe while heroes fight with lightning guns and mechanical men serve us coffee is very appealing.
That would be my novel “Big Stick.” The only bad thing about that fictional world is that the politics were bad – it’s the late 1800s, women and minorities have no rights, the legal system is very corrupt, and life expectancy is short. OK, never mind.
If you had to choose one of your books to be turned into a cheesy made-for-TV movie, which one would it be and who would you want to play the lead roles?
I’d love to see my fantasy series filmed, and it’s certainly cheesy enough for a made-for-TV movie. It’s a young adult adventure where the main character is grabbed and told he is the Chosen One who will save everyone and then they send him off to his death. The problem is that he’s not the Chosen One. They got the wrong guy. Aiden Gallagher (“Number 5” from “Umbrella Academy”) would fit the part, but he’s getting a bit too old.
If you could have dinner with any fictional character from any sci-fi book or movie, who would it be, what would you talk about, and where what restaurant would you choose?
I’d love to have a nice conversation with Crowley at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. We’d discuss God and why he made some of those strange decisions. Also: plants. He likes plants, so I’m sure he has a lot to say about them.
If you could have any fictional pet as a companion, what would it be and why?
Does Jessica Rabbit count?
What’s the silliest misconception you’ve had about something scientific, what was it and how did you learn you had misapprehended?
When I was younger, I saw myself as the ultimate skeptic. I wasn’t going to believe in silly things like religion. Then I’d get my astrological chart done and read all the books on UFOs and aliens and cryptids and ancient astronauts, because clearly, by believing those things, I was being skeptical about people who said those things weren’t real, right? By my senior year of college, I realized how inconsistent I was being. To be a skeptic means to be skeptical about everything, and especially things you want to be true. Now I don’t believe in anything. I’m not even sure Kermit exists.
Thanks for inviting me. If someone reading this wants more info, please check out my web page at www.MichaelAVentrella.com where you can find links and reviews of my books along with interviews with authors, editors, and agents with advice for writers. My political blog is www.VentrellaQuest.com where I rant a few times a week and post political cartoons I like. You can easily find me on Facebook as well.