I.A.Q. During the course of drafting and revising THE NINJA LIBRARIANS, exactly how much honey ended up on the kitchen floor?
A. Well, the two times I thought it made sense to mix writing with dispensing honey into jars from a five gallon jug, the puddle on the floor, though not taking the form of a square, appeared to cover about 3,571 square feet. Panic could have played a part (both times) in my perception, since the kitchen is only 7x12.
I.A.Q. Did the Greeks of ancient Athens have their own concept of free speech?
A. Yes. It was known as "parrhesia" which literally translates as "to speak freely" or "fearless speaking". On the one hand, parrhesia was understood as a personal obligation. On the other hand...in certain circumstances...well, it would be interesting to ask Socrates about what might happen to a person who did take that obligation seriously.
I.A.Q. What is the best outfit to wear when singing in the rain?
A. Anything but a raincoat. In a remote mossy boulder-strewn forest in July, a birthday suit might be just the thing. In urban and suburban settings, consider a party dress, jeans and a t-shirt, or a culottes/caftan combo. In all cases, the important thing is to invite the rain to thoroughly soak each garment, your skin, and any ideas you have about yourself.
I.A.Q. Leaving aside johnny-come-lately Johannes Gutenberg, who were the earliest inventors of printing press technology?
A. In China, Bi Sheng invented moveable type in the 11th century, 350 years before the birth of Gutenberg. Look up Wang Zhen's BOOK OF AGRICULTURE, printed in 1313 to see an example of early Chinese moveable type printing. In Korea, a monk named Baegun invented a system of moveable type in 1377 to print THE JIKIJI, a collection of Zen Buddhist writings.
I.A.Q. Have you ever been so irresponsible as to steer with your knees?
A. Only when absolutely necessary. For instance, when eating a bowl of hot white bean/prosciutto soup.
I.A.Q. What's that quote by Jane Austen? You, know. The one that perfectly captures the imperfect nature of the historical record?
A. "Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove any thing."
I.A.Q. Have you ever paid your children to babysit themselves?
A. Let's just say: I had a deadline.
I.A.Q. Which European Prime Minister made the first declaration of complete freedom of the press in 1770, and what was his fate?
A. Johann Sebastian Bach. Wait, what? Sorry, my auto-pilot seized the controls. No, the correct answer is Johann Friedrich Struensee and someone really needs to make a movie about his entirely cinematic life, but I'd rather not see the scene where he's hung, drawn and quartered two years later, in large part because of his declaration. He was Prime Minister of Denmark-Norway.