G.F. Skipworth is the author of American Succubus which is described on Goodreads as “a horror story that is actually a commentary on James Thurber's Battle of the Sexes”. In addition to writing many books, Mr. Skipworth is also a Harvard educated concert pianist.
Eliza: What is American Succubus about?
G.F. Far-fetched as all thirteen of my novels can get at times, this is the most off-the-wall piece that's ever come out of me, and I sometimes worry over my mental health re-reading excerpts.
American Succubus was written after a bout of serious writing that needed to be vented. It involves an ancient sect of female succubi who don't get out much, and don't know that the succubus world doesn't just view men as food anymore, a la cattle. In an unusual case, this charming group is swarming a family on the east coast of the U.S., a family with a three generation legacy of championship boxers, and one little cello prodigy with coke-bottle glasses. Naturally, the more modern, enlightened female supernaturals (housed in Wales, of all places) come to the rescue in order to save man. The old order falls in love with the modern world, particularly with this thing called romance, and all is well - at least we think it is. You really have to be there for it to make sense. It's terribly symbolic of something, but I can't put my finger on what. Some psychiatrist will have to write me when it's figured out.
Eliza: What made you interested in writing in the style of James Thurber?
G.F. I’m always looking for that little twist that he mastered so beautifully, the one that can have you in a state of alarm and laughing on the floor at the same time. I fell in love with Thurber's cartoons called "The Battle of the Sexes." One was cleverly drawn, and bore the caption "The Capture of Three Physics Professors." I never got over it. In American Succubus, I try to apply that Thurberesque twist to royals and elites in general stumbling around trying to figure life out, just like the rest of us had to. I'd like to think that American Succubus has the most Thurberesque ending anyone not named James Thurber could possibly have.
Eliza: What made you interested in transitioning from music to writing?
G.F. I've been on stage as a pianist, vocalist, conductor and/or composer several times a week through most of my life. I loved it, love it now and always will - but one day I burned out sitting down to compose a symphonic work, and a sci-fi adventure came out instead. It was so much fun that I couldn't stop. Now I'm actively back in the music world, but I haven't stopped writing, with two more novels on the way,"The Madonna of Dunkirk" and "The World-Weary String Quartet of Alliance, Nebraska" - you can tell by the titles that the Thurber idea still lives.
As I think of it, musical forms are priceless for helping with good literary form, and there's nothing like opera libretti that are already time-tested to serve as models, changing the characters and settings, but keeping the principles and pacing.
Eliza: You have a very impressive educational background and have worked as a college professor, what changes have you seen in academia and do you think they are good or bad?
G.F. I've had a mixed experience in academia, which is not really the meat and potatoes of my artistic life. I come from a touring concert background. Smaller, liberal arts schools sometimes tend to be narrow, and require you to shrink yourself into a small box. The students, thankfully, are as wonderful as they were a thousand years ago, and I absolutely love classroom teaching. However, at the bigger conservatory-like schools, the administration will say what a lot of small schools might not - "Go out and do what you do best - have a great time and make us proud - then be back at class on Monday." That life was a lot of fun. Some of the liberal arts scene, though, has too much bean-counting and "yeah, so what" in the structure.
Eliza: What inspires you about Oregon?
G.F. Whenever I head east or too far west, I always feel as if I'm going in the wrong direction. I was living in the middle of the treasures of Florence and Perugia, and still got so homesick that I wanted to come back. My wife is Austrian, and can appreciate the beauty of Oregon, but every once in a while, a person has to dig his or her toes into the soil in which he or she was planted, and every soil has an energy all its own, perfectly tuned to its children. I've lived in Russia, Italy and the deep south (now that was really different), and always feel the call of Oregon. In my early touring life, I drove across the United States one hundred and forty-two times. You wouldn't have believed the difference in me when I headed west again...and oh yes - go ducks.