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Get to know me: Bob Francis, In Print Radio

hard at work
hard at work
Bob Francis

One of the things I enjoy most about In Print Professional Writer's Group, besides the obvious lure of being a member of the most prestigious writing group ever (duh), is the offshoot of our group known as The Prompt Club.

We have many members of this club, including one Bob Francis. Bob has a website, as well, where he blogs--he calls it the Bob Files.

Bob is also in charge of our In Print Radio show, and that's putting it mildly. He's actually the heart and soul of the show; he produces all the interviews, edits and smooths the interviews that are recorded, and works with Rockford University radio to get them on the air at 10:00 a.m. on Monday mornings. Also, one Saturday a month there is a radio program put on right at Barnes and Noble at the Cherry Vale Mall. In Print Radio is a wonderful addition to the In Print brand, and it's an awesome link for writers to put on their websites. Looks good, it does!!

I wanted to feature Bob Francis on Rockford Writing Examiner, so he was gracious enough to answer some questions. The interview follows.

What's the #1 most played song on your iPod?

Um, I don't have an iPod. The most played Edison cylinder "record" I have is "Pepita MacGuire", does that help? According to my computer, the most played song I have is "Acid Jazz" by Kevin MacLeod (the theme song to "In Print Radio" - figures). I've been playing a Grand Ole Opry clip of Johnny Cash playing "Big River" a lot lately online; I'll go with that.

What's your favorite indoor / outdoor activity?

Writing, of course - sorry, I couldn't even type that with a straight face. I like throwing the football around the backyard with my son and doing the "play by play" of all his spectacular catches. It's always fourth down, the quarterback is always scrambling, the time is winding down, he's always open in the end zone and the crowd is always on their feet...

What was your favorite food as a child?

My favorite meal was two hot dogs, fries and a vanilla malt at the Tri-Village Drive-In (aka "Lot-a-burger") in Hanover Park. It was about the only place you could get a malt (so much better than mere shakes). I've eaten a lot of French fries in my day, but theirs were unlike any I'd had before or since... until last year when I was in Cleveland for business. We went out and ate at this little roadside hot dog stand and they had the same exact fries! While I don't know if they're worth a nine-hour drive, it's nice to know they still exist somewhere besides my memories and the lining of my arteries.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I bought a guitar at a pawn shop when I was in college with the intention that - some day - I would learn how to play more than a wicked E-minor chord on it.

If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?

Probably some even decade age. Ten was fun. I had a birthday party and we watched a movie on our brand new VCR. Twenty was nice; I was thin. Thirty was a good year. I was a new dad. Believe it or not, forty wasn't too bad either.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

I'd like to see my brother again and introduce him to my family. He died before I met my wife (hours before, as it turned out). While I think we'd have a good time hanging out, I still wouldn't let him smoke in the house. We have rules.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Taller. I believe I am still owed a growth spurt after putting up with everything else about puberty back in the day. Other than that, I would like to be known primarily as a writer ("bestselling and ridiculously wealthy writer" has a nice ring to it too, now that I think about it...).

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?

I'm sorry, what is this thing you call "free time"? I'm not familiar with that term.
I like to relax by playing the keyboard (music, that is, not IBM compatible). I hate to say it, but probably five minutes of that mythical thirty will have me writing a "To Do" list.

What's the last good book you read?

I just finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsing. I can't say if it's a good book or not... not yet. It's a book that I'm not sure what I got out of it, but I do know that I got something... I think I need to have it settle down in my brain awhile. That having been said, the fact that the book has made me ponder things for the last few days makes it a good book. Too often, reading a book is like eating a bag of chips - tasty, but empty calories.

What are you writing right now?

I could be a smart ass and say I'm writing the answers to this quiz, but - despite the enormous temptation - I won't stoop so low.
A couple of months ago, we had a prompt to write a story about a picture. I wrote a short story - 1,000 words - about a family that buys a picture frame. It has one of those generic happy families in it already. They wake up the next morning and - wouldn't you know it? - they're transmogrified into the family in the picture frame. My story dealt with them overcoming the initial shock of change only to discover at least one other family on the block bought the same picture frame at the store... It got a good laugh, but it opened up a can of worms in my mind and I've been spending some time trying to work out the implications of this change. How far does this thing spread? How many families look the same now? If one of them commits a crime, how will the police know whodunit? Do they have the same fingerprints? Heck, one of the cops investigating a murder might find himself implicated because he's been transmogrified too... I have no idea where this is going to go, but it's fun working out the details.
That having been said, I should probably get moving on this month's prompt story.

When was the last time you were nervous?

I used to get nervous, but I found out you can't die of embarrassment (remind me to tell you the story; it's a good one). While, I've been scared, shocked, felt dread and deep anger, that trembling, cold-sweating, want-to-puke feeling in anticipation of some event? I can't remember the last time I had that.

Do you have any pets?

Not now. I had three dogs growing up. I carry their tags on my keychain to remember them by.


Thanks, Bob, for letting me feature you on Rockford Writing Examiner!

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