Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CRACKING THE NUTTY PROFESSOR STEREOTYPE

CRACKING THE NUTTY PROFESSOR STEREOTYPE

(or the nutty Skhye!)

I'd like to thank Kim Watters for asking me about the "nutty professor" crack I always make about myself. Well, she invited me over to CHEAPER THAN THERAPY to talk about something writing related. Of course, I was exhausted and thought lordy I'll never think of a topic. The 3-yr old was sick all week. I had a writing deadline. I was basically braindead and cringed at the anything-you-want-to-talk-about response. But, low and behold, I can go on and on about the nutty professor persona. Whoa. Hang on. I should say nutty professor STEREOTYPE. Allow me a moment while I meditate and center...

First, I would like to point out that professors don't save the day. This character type drives me bonkers. Most professors know one thing. That's it. The term "specialize" is crucial here. Professors paint themselves into a corner and can't see beyond their tunnel vision looking back the way they've come. I know. I'd like to add that I had many worldly professors who had diverse backgrounds. But none of them reminded me of McGyver. Only on TV can you save the world with nothing more than a piece of fishing line. Okay. Okay. I'll give you the movies too.

After digressing on my soapbox, I think it best to talk about what "nutty" refers to when paired off with professor. Nutty equates to obsession. I love rocks. I love old dead things in rocks, i.e. fossils. I love culture. I love cultures lost to time found in layers of sediment, i.e. extinct like old dead things in rocks but trash in dirt. I love antiques. Those are things that are almost lost to time... I love science. I hate math. (I guess I'd fail the planet if an asteroid headed this way since I'd use the wrong formula to divert the destructive mass.) I never cared much for the human body but loved ecology. Stick a finger under the microscope and I was disinterested in biology class. I have no clue why. Mental blocks are crazy things, eh? Since I'm disinterested in the human body, it's odd that I specialized in osteology in bioarchaeology. But I love... See what I mean? Obsession=passion=love=nutty. I still can't save the planet with what I crammed inside my head studying geology and anthropology. And we're talking about the "cross-genre" hard science and soft science choices of my majors. Geology and Anthropology are eclectic in natural and social sciences. Back to the STEREOTYPE, a honey pot expert probably won't be saving earth any time soon. Aren't stereotypes insane? Lordy, I'm on the soapbox again.

Well, besides my crazy list of things most people could care less about but I love, I guess I should explain how my passion for said things makes my writing unique. I started writing my Time Guardian series with a singular idea: why not write about something considered taboo? Yes, I'm always bucking the system. The anthropologically-inclined often do. So, I chose a secret society, Freemasonry. Next, I decided to make my secret society from the future and strictly male. How does one fit that into the romance genre? Well, all you have to do is give these boys a counterpart sect of females and make them intermarry to safeguard something as important as human history. And why not give the lads kilts and swords? Even better, match them with female Druids. And the big question now would be are all Druids in history from the future? Are you one of them and just don't know it yet? Are you about to learn by encountering your one-and-only soul mate? Yes, soul mates protect the timeline by ensuring you will never be happy with any other soul wherever you fall along Time's vast continuum... Well, that's the fun in writing about a time-travel cult. I get to write about many things I enjoy researching and pontificate through the characters I torture (eh, send) along the time line by exposing them to potential paradox. You know, all known history could change in the blink of an eye if someone didn't uphold time-travel law! And if you break the rules, oh well, your author will torture you... I suppose my passion for thinking beyond the here and now is what makes me a nutty professor. I certainly don't carry fishing line. It's much more fun writing fantasy romance. ;)

In the end, talking about penis gourds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis_sheath and medieval pubic wigs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis_sheath is not going to save our planet. Mind you, these objects show the vast extents to which humans go to solve problems--something that fascinates me. Never ask an author who has studied anthropology for years to get people chatting! There will inevitably be an inspirational author or editor present who will be floored by the interesting topics one can sling into a chat room. ;) Although I haven't dropped penis gourds or pubic wigs into any of my tales, I've been told I do leave fascinating tidbits for the curious reader. :) Since I'm a horrible pessimist about my writing, I'll stop here and leave you with some of the reviews I've received. ~Skhye

"Arthur is a masterpiece... a fantastic job of world building. Watching him struggle to retain something of his dragon ways while trying to be as human as possible had me laughing and crying. Anyone who likes fantasy worlds and romance mixed with myth and legend
should run right out and pick this one up." Diane Mason; The Romance Studio

"He of the Fiery Sword is an outstanding book with a new twist on King Arthur. From the very first chapter I was hooked. I am an older woman and usually read books by Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol, so this was a very different kind of book for me. The concept of a dragon changing form and all the new feelings and experiences he had was totally thought provoking. I felt his pain and his joy and I laughed and cried right along with him. It was incredible... It was so good I couldn't stop reading. I can't wait for the next book!"
~Carolyn Cole; reader review from bn.com

"Skhye Moncrief's fiction is pithy, yet deep and dark. Complex, yet straight forward. I know those qualities sound at odds, and they are! But these opposing elements are a large part of what makes her fiction unique. She really knows how to throw a curve ball. Skhye
writes a unique brand of fantasy. A lot of the usual element are present: dragons, loads and loads of mythology, faries, and, yes, magic--her brand of magic." ~Tarah Scott

"EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED! I love tony hillerman books and mysteries. A friend recommended 'he of the fiery sword' and i am delighted i ordered it. Don't think it is just another romance. When i settled down with the book, i thought i had the plot figured out within the first few chapters. Well, i was wrong. This story has it all shape-shifters, magic, time travel, celtic legends and myths and the most unusual hero. Just a good read." ~Carole Wright, an avid older reader/review from bn.com

"If you think you have read every possible spin on King Arthur possible, think one more time. He of the Fiery Sword is like none of them. Telling you much more would spoil it, but past and future collide and legends meet in this most ambitious of tales. This is a new legend that is designed for the intelligent and imaginative minds out there." Amanda Killgore

"Ms. Moncrief, you have a clever way with words. You wrote a book that I did not want to see end. I loved your characters and everything about them. I am an older lady, but I love fantasy well created and you sure did it. I have told many of your book and will tell more. I am very well read, from mysteries to Harry Potter and have been for many years. You keep writng and I will keep reading. I am looking forward to your next book. Sincerely, Alice Boling"
~reader review from www.thewildrosepress.com

HE OF THE FIERY SWORD available at http://www.skhyemoncrief.com/Page_5.html

HAUNTED HEARTS contains 2 Time Guardian tales: SACRIFICIAL HEARTS & NAKED ON THE STAIRCASE

"Druids, magic, time travel. They’re all present in NAKED ON THE STAIRCASE. The title of this book intrigued me, but by the time I’d finished reading I understood why the author chose this intriguing title. The entity is a mysterious being whose identity is not solved until the last few pages... Naked on the Staircase is well written with intrigue, mystery, magic and time travel, ingredients that work well in a fantasy novel. The interaction between Aron and Cowboy was excellent and the background of the story was skillfully woven into the book. I enjoyed reading Naked on the Staircase and would like to read more of Skhye Moncrief’s novels." ~Orchid; LASR
"Intense, original, suspenseful, and dramatic... an unpredictable topsy-turvy romance... the suspense builds with every page in SACRIFICIAL HEARTS. In a world where symbols mean everything, magic is the way..." ~Snapdragon; LASR

HAUNTED HEARTS available at http://www.skhyemoncrief.com/Page_5.html

All Skhye's books available in e-format at http://www.thewildrosepress.com/skhye-moncrief-m-232.html

Vow Of Superstition: Dragon's Blood

VOW OF SUPERSTITION: DRAGON'S BLOOD
Skhye's Free Read http://www.thewildrosepress.com/vow-of-superstition-dragons-blood-p-840.html

23 comments:

Beth Caudill said...

Hey, Indiana Jones saved the day...and he was the obsessive type. (and HOT too)

Also Daniel Jackson did some saving as well. Although hard for him to compete against Jack. (Yes, I'm a Richard Dean Anderson fan. And hey, I loved Chemistry because of MacGyver.)

Skhye said...

Indiana Jones is a no-no in archaeology today. He LOOTS archaeological sites. :) So, we don't discuss him. Although, I love watching the shows!

Shh, I couldn't stand McGyver. LOL. Richard Dean Anderson turns me off of anything I see him in these days. Talk about mental obstacles! But I know I'm odd. Everyone else loves the Stargate TV series. I LOVED THE MOVIE. And, yes, Daniel Jackson did save the day. We'll give archaeology a "HOORAH!" for that. ;) Let's just chalk that up to some good research and character development. Should I admit I like the scientist in THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW?

Thanks for stopping by, Beth!

SFWriterMasha said...

Well, I managed to write a professor who saves the day in The Brightest Heaven... But of course he had the help of the Muse of Astronomy. And he didn't use a pocket knife and fishing line.

Now I could tell so many absurd tales of the annoying reality of real-life professors... And you'd have to believe me, I live with one! Skhye's right, there's this incredible degree of obsession that rules academics. But it's a necessary component when you do research and have to spend days, months, sometimes years focused on a single project while teaching classes, sitting on committees, and handling pesky everyday life chores.

Hmm... I think I may have more than one researcher character in my future.

Cindy K. Green said...

LOL Skhye! You always make me smile in the way you perceive the world. And I'll have to tell my son that you are a scientist who dislikes math. He loves science; hates math. Good for you Nutty Prof. ;)

Skhye said...

Great, Masha. More academics should write professors in fiction! Then the world would see them for the "sage" archetype they are. ;) That's right. The professor is the Modern monk and shaman. :) Write more professors, Masha...

Skhye said...

Cindy, when struggling to survive organic chemistry and calculus, I mentioned to a few of my favorite PhDs in various hard sciences that the courses sucked. They told me only chemistry or calculus majors enjoy those courses. Specialization here is key. ;) And that I was essentially jumping through academic hoops to study fossils or archaeology. In the end, we all have to put in the time... That doesn't mean we're all standing on the same footing when it comes to education. Most people who like history, sociology, or psychology wonder why anthropology even exists. They fancy their specialization tending to the same material. It's all in the approach/perspective. :)

Skhye said...

Kim, who is Judy McCoy? Is she someone's alter ego? I LOVE her cover and title, HOUNDING THE PAVEMENT. :)

P. L. Parker said...

Skhye - Okay, I've always wondered about the Freemasons - who or what are they. I suspect with all the internet info, I could just look it up. As to archaelogy - though I never studied it educationally, I love reading about the digs and artifacts. "Fiona" came from that very thing. The discovery of the Urumchi Mummies in northern China. Saw it on the discovery channel and I was caught up.

Patsy
P. L. Parker

SFWriterMasha said...

Oh, Skhye, the Professor (as Hero) as the Monk/Shaman! I love that concept! Except it's almost too wonderful for the reality.

Still... that definitely fits with the character I created for The Brightest Heaven. I hadn't even thought of that.

Well.. except for the asceticism and celibacy part... He he... :nerdy cackle:

Emma Lai said...

Skhye, I have to give kudos to anyone who challenges the status quo. My favorite professors were always those who did. I, myself, liked to do the same thing. Keep it up!

Skhye said...

asceticism and celibacy... Masha, these are my very own twists as well. Well, let's just say excessive fornication along the timeline can result in a bunch of wee paradoxes afoot.

Freemasons are thought to be a number of things. They are essentially a means by which symbolism and ritual was not lost in Protestant cultures when said Protestants bucked the Catholic system. Although, Anglican practices are a hair shy of Catholicism. ;) But you have to remember, humans are habitual creatures. Taking their learned behavior away from them is impossible. So, ritual went underground around Europe. As well as the familiar/prevalent Catholic ideas of the universe. Freemason ideology, from what I've gathered given I'm female and the pentacle symbol they use for a Freemason's wife is an inverted, is loaded with numbers... Levels of awareness. I'll stop there. You can research more if you like.

In my Time Guardian series, the Freemasons from the future (Ring Masters) use numerology to time travel and descry reality. :)

Skhye said...

I should add that ritual went underground around Europe in cultures that went Protestant... LOL. I'm in a hurry.

Beth Caudill said...

Okay, I know not everyone loves RDA but well I still try to catch reruns of MacGyver on TVLand.

I enjoyed Stargate the TV series better than the movie. Definitely like the Daniel Jackson TV character better. I think he is hotter in the show.

If I remember the right movie, isn't that actor Dennis Quaid? I like just about everything he does. Why is it the government types never listen to the scientist until they want the world save?

(Okay that takes me back to Stargate Atlantis and Rodney McKay who isn't that appealing to me but is a quirky and fun nutty professor type)

Skhye said...

Definitely Dennis Quaid, Beth! I've got a wee crush on him. Loved him in Enemy Mine and Dragonheart. And I agree, Daniel jackson wasn't very hot in Stargate, the movie. LOL. More like GEEKY. But, he pulled off saving the day when big dumb soldiers create social faux pauxs... Leave it to the student of culture! Like I said. Somebody really got his character right. I think a lot of people write archaeologists when they really are creating a art dealer. LOL

Mary Ricksen said...

Skhye, you are amazing.
On another planet, but amazing.(grin)

Mary Ricksen said...

Skhye, you are amazing.
On another planet, but amazing.(grin)

Skhye said...

LOL, Mary? Me? Masha and I really come from the same planet... Sh! Don't tell anyone I admitted that.

Beth Caudill said...

Hey Skhye

Ever see NCIS. What do you think of Abby?

Skhye said...

Yes, I watched it a few times, Beth. I'm not into those scenes that flash to some aspect of the crime actually unfolding. It drives me nuts that I'm supposed to wonder if the person "seeing" the vision is psychic or just thinking scientifically... Anyway, forensic science is science. But that doesn't mean anyone with a degree in forensics and working in that field is a geeky professor. Oh no! Just because you have a degree in something doesn't mean you are in love with it. Our culture promotes (USA) earning a degree in something to make more money... A very capitalist perspective. I consider this a sad state of affairs in higher education because students are no longer on spiritual quests to connect with some god of a field of study. (Yes, I'm being a bit facetious.)

Now, I do like the geeky professor, Bones--a physical anthropologist. :) But my critique partner calls me that. She says I'm her... Maybe I'm just connecting with the persona of a kindred spirit. *gag* Or I like what she has to say!

Kim Watters said...

Hi Skhye,
Thanks for blogging with us today. Sorry its taken so long to post, it's been a busy day. Anyway, Judy McCoy is one of our blog authors. I wish she were my alter ego, but alas, can't lay claim to that one. Her book is fabulous and all the royalties are going to a no-kill shelter in Utah. How cool is that? I love the cover, too.

LuAnn said...

I've met a few professors who fit the stereotype. They weren't all that common, which is neither good nor bad.

Skhye said...

Which stereotype, LuAnn? The archetype?

I'll check out Judy's book! Thanks, Kim!

Skhye said...

Thanks for having me over, Kim. I appreciate everyone's excellent behavior given I went the opposite direction most authors go with this character archetype. But I guess when you've see all science types in hard and soft science... And, Kim, *evil cackle* you'll have to ask a lot more questions if you want to crack this nut. ;)