Thursday, October 8, 2015

When Clowns Attack; Interview with Chuck Sambuchino

Post by Kerrie Flanagan
I have known author and Writers Digest editor, Chuck Sambuchino for years. I met him back in 2008 when he was the keynote speaker for my Northern Colorado Writers Conference. Over the years we have stayed in contact. I have written articles for his Chilldren's Writer's and Illustrator's Markets and his Guide to Literary Agents. In 2014 he returned to once again provide an inspiring keynote for the writers at my annual conference. He is a great guy (as well as a talented writer) and I appreciate all he does for the writing community.

His new book, When Clowns Attack, was recently released. He took time out of his busy day to talk with me about his writing and this new book.

Kerrie: In poetry form, briefly describe your writing journey.


Almost killed by gnomes
Helping people get published
Take the fight to clowns

Kerrie: What do you enjoy most and least about writing?

I love plotting. I dislike rewriting. For these reasons, I really plot out my fiction and try to think out every major scene before I write it. This helps me get the first draft as good as I can make it. But even more than rewriting, I guess the thing I dislike about writing is just how random things are. You can't control when your writing will be timely, or your books get a tipping point that help them sell better. You just have to always be writing and hope for the best. Another thing I really like is meeting nice writers on the road. People come up and say the nicest things about how they read my Guide to Literary Agents blog, and it really helped them, etc. Every year these stories get more frequent, and they're great.

Kerrie: You seem to have an affinity for creepy creatures; first it was gnomes and now clowns. Where did this obsession come from?

I just like weird things on the fringe, I guess. I've written a bunch of stage plays, but my most popular stage play -- one that was part of a Cincinnati Fringe Festival -- was about ... mimes. Yeah, mimes. When you treat a silly subject with seriousness, humor appears everywhere. Plus, I really do fear clowns. It all comes from seeing IT on television when I was much younger. Pennywise haunted me for years, man -- years.

Kerrie: What particular clown would cause you to hyperventilate if you suddenly found yourself in a dark alley with it? Is there any sort of history tied to this clown?

A zombie clown like the one in Zombieland would certainly not be welcome. But out of all the clown breeds (party clown, circus whiteface clown, etc.), a Dunking Booth Clown is widely regarded as the most dangerous and feral. They keep these guys in Hannibal Lecter masks when they're not hurling insults at passerbys. If there was a showdown between a Dunking Booth Clown and an African Lion, I would bet on the clown to win.

Kerrie: If said clown suddenly attacked, what is the first thing you would do to protect yourself?

If it were really a Dunking Booth Clown, you would probably be dead, or at least infected with rabies after he bites you. But let's just say an ordinary street clown gets in your face. First of all, when you strike a clown, aim for the face, not the belly. They wear oversized pants that pad the midsection. And if you strike low, kick the knee, not the shoe. Because they wear size-22 shoes, there is a good chance you will stomp on just air. Besides that, I would say arm yourself because clowns always carry weapons such as pies and rubber chickens. And if cornered, ask them to tell a joke. Clown Law says they must tell at least 7 knock-knock jokes immediately, giving you precious time to escape.

Kerrie: What do you hope readers will gain by reading When Clowns Attack?

A smile. It's a gift book, so most sales will come from people buying it for a friend who hates clowns.

Kerrie: You are a musician and play in a cover band, what is a song that best describes how you feel when you hold a copy of one of your books for the first time?

Each book is its own creation -- its own "child," in a way. So perhaps "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake.

Kerrie: Anything else you want to add?

It's easy to spot a clown out in the open. But what you really need to watch out for are plainclothes clowns. These are clowns out of uniform and sitting in the cubicle next to you. Three warning signs: 1) rashes on the face and neck -- from too much makeup outside of work.
2) An aversion to PETA and animal rights groups. Because animal rights groups constantly protest the use of animals, circus folk hate those guys.
3) A strange appearance of new children and toddlers. Because clowns are basically all men, they can't reproduce their ranks as they wish. So they stoop to toddler-napping. Beware!

Chuck Sambuchino (@chucksambuchino) of Writer's Digest Books edits the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog is one of the largest blogs in publishing. His 2010 humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. His latest humor book, WHEN CLOWNS ATTACK: A SURVIVAL GUIDE (Sept. 29 2015), will protect people everywhere from malicious bozos and jokers who haunt our lives. His books have been mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Variety, New York Magazine, and more. 


Jenny said...

My younger boy hates clowns, so guess what he's getting for Christmas? This book! (He's 14, he can handle it.) He also told me that the actor who played Pennywise was afraid of clowns and refused to see himself in costume. I don't know if that's true.

Thanks for keeping us safe, Chuck and Kerrie!

Kerrie said...


It's our job as parents to torment our teens a little bit. We have put our time in and they can handle it by the time their are this age. I think it is the perfect gift for him. We are glad we can provide you the tools to stay safe from Gnomes and Clowns.


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