The following questions came from sanguinity. The answers are my own.
1. In the Great Cosmic Lottery, you have been granted one additional appendage of your choice. What is it?
It's so nice to be a winner! I've never really won anything big, usually it's just a "free prize" given if I attend a sales presentation, and then it's like a really cheap camera or a synthetic diamond necklace. So I'll first express my thanks for winning. Thank you. It means a lot. Second, I'll mention a few also-rans; things I considered on my way to my appendage choice.
Fourth Runner-Up: I thought it would be nice to have a FireWire connector, so I could jack into the Internet directly, but as someone recently pointed out, cyberpunk is all wireless now.
Third Runner-Up: A prehensile tail. In one SF story (I believe it was Venus On The Half-Shell, by Kilgore Trout, but I could be thoroughly wrong), the MC has a prehensile tail implanted, which turns out to be tremendously useful (but being a Kilgore Trout novel, it's primarily used for erotic purposes). It would be really cool, but I don't think you'd ever get your pants to fit right.
Second Runner-Up: Multi-emission sensing organs. Like in a cluster on my forehead, with nodes for infrared, ultraviolet, EMF, AM, FM, UHF, etc. Seriously. I could "see" in the dark, listen to the radio anywhere, find fish buried under the sandy sea floor like a shark... The only sucky bit would be the constant barrage of stimuli, what with the proliferation of cell phones, radios, and other RF sources in the urban environment.
First Runner-Up: An extra arm. Kind of a Zaphod Beeblebrox sort of thing. But it would be impossible to get shirts off the rack, and what about lying in bed? It would be hard to tuck that extra arm somewhere out of the way. But from thinking about this, came my winning choice...
Winner: A retractable tentacle. With suckers, like a cephalopod! About four feet long, emerging right between the shoulder blades. Think about it: I could type and use a mouse at the same time! Hold an umbrella and carry two big bags of groceries! Do Kilgore Trout kinds of things with open-minded women! And scare the bejeezus out of people! That would just be way cool.
2. What's the story about you and Eckankar?
I'm an Unorthodox Eckist; a splinter sect that consists of, well, me. I was introduced to Eckankar when I married oh_that_jocelyn. It's a significant part of her life, so I learned more about it. I like that it encourages everyone to find their own way back to God; each person must take an active part in discovering their connection with the divine. I also like that it doesn't present this world as a moralistic stage for an epic struggle of Good vs. Evil. Instead, individual aspects of Divine Soul (us) come here for the wide variety of experience available in this material world. However, I've got a big chip on my shoulder, daring any religion to give me an inarguable reason not to be agnostic. Until then, while I retain my membership in the church, I rarely participate in any of their services or activities.
3. The genie who specializes in Stupid Things That People Do, will grant you one wish. You can add a stupid thing to the standard repertory, or you can get rid of one of the existing ones. (You can hire a wish attorney to refine the wording, if you like.) What do you wish for?
Santa Maria, what responsibility! I wrote down some of the things I could eliminate: Tailgating; mixing guns and drinkin'; responding to spam email; women saying they want a man who is funny and reliable but only dating irresponsible scumbags; discussing professional sports as if it's important; graffiti; voting for a President who will do nothing to help that voter; thinking bison are harmless; stalking celebrities; going into the wilderness unprepared; applying makeup or shaving while commuting; managing healthcare as if it should be profit-driven; forwarding emails for urban legends; believing that the Republican party cares about anyone who makes less than $100K annually; keeping poisonous creatures as pets; discussing fashion as if it's important; engaging in unprotected sex; posting "FIRST" in Internet forums; LEET SPEAK (god save us!); WATCHING FOX NEWS!
But, I think I'll add one: Randomly giving me money. No, I'm not selling anything, or offering tax breaks, people would just stupidly send me money with no hope of getting anything in return. Cash, checks or Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org accepted!
4. How real are your characters to you?
One of the amazing things about the human brain is that the subconscious treats a real experience and an imagined one very similarly. So when a writer thinks repeatedly about a character, imagining them responding to various situations, it's a lot like watching a real person and getting to know them. I'm visually-oriented enough that when I write, I see the action in my mind. Not so detailed that I can see the logo on the character's shoes, but like having a movie in my head, which I'm trying to describe. So in a sense, the characters I've been with for a long time seem very real; we have a history, I know how they react to things, and I have a strong sense of who they are. Like I've been watching a friend live their life.
On the other hand, I understand that they are imaginary. And they are not me. I've had a few odd moments where people seem to be talking to me as if I'm actually my supernatural-advice-dispensing alter-ego, Dr. Eldritch (as if any of you reading this didn't know who I meant). Now, if he was real, I think he and I would hang out. We're a lot alike. But he's still a literary creation, and even though I've written down his thoughts and opinions, they're not necessarily mine. Like the way an actor can portray a psychotic, without actually being unhinged.
5. And because I have to: Did you come from Arizona? Did you have rocks?
Most people can tell from my thick Arizona accent that I was born and raised there. We didn't have much; all we had were rocks. But we were grateful! Not like kids these days with their X-Boxes and ipods, pre-cooked bacon and picture-taking cell phones. Life was harsh. Most people think Arizona is all desert, but that's not true. There's a lake, which we share with New Mexico. We get it for six months, they get it for six months. And there are snakes, spiders, scorpions, and Gila Monsters, which can carry off a small child. My family didn't really fit in there; we felt sexual dimorphism wasn't a crime against Nature. And I had an Uncle who was arrested for Possession of Educational Materials. He was acquitted, but was eaten by feral monkeys later that week (people buy them when they're small and cute, but just end up flushing them down the toilet where they form huge smelly tribes). Very sad. Most of the time we sat around talking about how great it would be once the Internet was invented, and if we had time, playing with the rocks. No, we didn't have much, but we were grateful!