AN INTERVIEW WITH JEFF MARIOTTE
Today for your reading pleasure I would like to present an interview with Jeff Mariotte, author, owner of Mysterious Galaxies Book Store , ex comic editor. So grab yourself a coffe and comfy for this is a long one
GNOH– Hey Jeff how are things Arizona, hot I take it?
Actually it’s not toobad where we are, in a high desert valley, down near the Mexican border. I wasat a con in Phoenix last weekend, and heard a TV weatherman expressing reliefthat the temperature was dropping to 106. That’shot.
GNOH– 106, What’s that in real temperature, we don’t use funny measurements overhere?
It’s 41 degreesCelsius. 106 looks more impressive, because… you know, over 100!
GNOH– You’ve moved around a lot, Paris, France, Germany amongst others. Has moving around affected how you look atthings?
Most of the movingaround was when I was younger—I’ve been much more stable as an adult. Butgrowing up that way, I think, made me more adaptable to changing circumstancesand situations than I might otherwise have been. It might help explain why I’mable to jump around between different sorts of writing projects—from anoriginal novel to a tie-in to a comic book to a game…
GNOH– You have a degree in Radio/TV/FILM, was this just an excuse to lounge aboutwatching your favourite shows?
Okay, you caught me!I not only got to watch my favourite shows, but then got college credit forwriting about them.
Seriously, though, Iwent into college knowing I wanted to write, but not certain of what it was Iwanted to write. I thought I wanted to be a copywriter, but then changed mymajor from Advertising to Radio/TV/Film when I started to become moreinterested in writing made-up stuff (although one could argue that mostadvertisements are just as made up as the strangest fiction). My minor was inEnglish, and by the time I graduated I was already moving toward prose fictionrather than screenwriting.
GNOH– What are your favourite shows?
Of all time? The Wire, The Shield, It Takes a Thief,The Man from UNCLE, The Avengers, The Persuaders… I could go on for quite a while if you want meto.
GNOH– Passionate about Nikki Cox, is that the buxom red head who appeared in a fewepisodes of California Dreams? She is ahubba hubba mama.
I keep thinking Ishould remove that from my online bio, but it’s been there for a long time. Shewas a long-time favourite (I even went to a taping of her show Nikki when I worked for Warner Bros andhad easy access to the Warner lot in Burbank). She was quite hubba hubba, buthasn’t been doing much lately. I did write two novels based on the NBC seriesLas Vegas that she was on, and on one of them her cleavage was featured quiteprominently on the cover. No face at all, but if you knew the show, you knewwho the breasts belonged to.
GNOH– Oh I know that cleavage well, but sadly not well enough
You and me both.
GNOH– You also say that you are passionate about deserts and mountains, kind of agood thing what with staying in Arizona.
I’ve been drawn towild places and rugged landscapes for most of my life…the kind of scenery Iused to see in Western movies and TV shows. When I was finally able to moveaway from the city, I picked a place where I could have a little ranch, lots ofacreage, and mountains on every side. It’s my own little slice of heaven.
GNOH – Senior editor for Wildstorm Productions andIDW Publishing, and now owner of your own bookstore, just how much of a geekare you?
The bookstore and theWildStorm job came about around the same time. I had been managing a bookstorefor a small California chain, and Jim Lee’s wife was my assistant manager. Whenthe chain decided to close its southern California stores, my wifeMaryelizabeth and I formed a partnership with our friend Terry and opened ourown store. Around the same time, Jim started giving me work writing for his newcompany, WildStorm Productions, which then was part of Image Comics. I becameVP of Marketing there, and helped build it to the point that he was able tosell it to DC Comics. That’s when I became a Senior Editor, since they alreadyhad a full marketing department. After about five years of that, I left to bethe first Editor-in-Chief at IDW.
Since 1980, I haven’thad a job that didn’t revolve around books, words, editing, etc., and most ofthat was oriented specifically toward comics and genre literature—horror, sf,fantasy, mystery—so I think my geek credentials are pretty well established.
GNOH– So what is it like to work for a comic company?
It’s an experience Iwouldn’t trade away for anything. It’s a very creative environment, where rulesexist to be stretched and broken if the end result is something cool and fun.The employees and creative people you work with are largely young andenthusiastic, because they’re all putting effort into something they genuinelylove. I doubt if you get the same level of enthusiasm and pure creative joyworking at a company that manufactures soap, for instance, or sells insurancepolicies.
GNOH– It must be a dream owning your own bookstore? What is your favourite part ofowning your own bookstore?
I had already putabout a dozen years into the book business, and Maryelizabeth was similarlyexperienced. But there’s a big difference between working for someone else andbuilding the shop of your dreams, from scratch. We decided ours would be aspecialty store, focused on sf, fantasy, mystery, and horror—the things welove—so we wouldn’t have to sell cookbooks and self-help and all the otherthings that we weren’t that interested in. The store just celebrated its 18thbirthday, and our second location (the original is in San Diego, CA, and thenew one in Redondo Beach, CA) is opening next week.
The best part, Ithink, is being able to meet virtually every author who works in my favouritegenres. We not only sell in the store (soon to be stores, plural), but atconventions like the International Comic-Con, San Diego, and this year at theWorld Fantasy Convention, so we’re constantly running into new ones and seeingold friends. I’m not a hands-on bookseller anymore, but I still make it to thestore a few times a year and participate at conventions.
GNOH– Out of all the authors you have met through the bookstore, which one haselicited the biggest fan boy feeling from you?
That’s hard to say.Through the various bookstores I’ve worked at, I’ve met Ray Bradbury, StephenKing, Clive Barker, James Ellroy, Robert B. Parker, James Lee Burke, andcelebrities like Dolly Parton, Barbara Eden, and many, many more. Some havebecome dear friends, others I’ve only seen once or twice. I guess the greatestsingle moment was getting a hug from Ann-Margret. Now you really think I have athing for curvy redheads. You might be right.
GNOH– Just how many true geeks do you have coming into the shop?
It’s a constantthing, because we don’t carry all those other, non-geek books. Our clientele isdiverse, but the one thing every customer has in common with the rest is a loveof reading genre fiction.
GNOH– As well as having one of the best jobs in the world, you also write. Can you tell us what caused you to startwriting?
I’ve written as longas I can remember, but not in any serious way until high school. I had alwayslived in my own head, to a great degree, as well as in books, and the urge wasstrong to put down in words some of the adventures I saw in my twisted brain.In college, I continued writing, and won a literary award for a short story. Ialso published some journalism during my college years. After I graduated, Iworked at a menial job for a while, until I was hired at a bookstore and wasable to meet a lot of people in the book business, including authors andeditors. I sold my first short story to the prestigious Full Spectrum science fiction anthology at Bantam Books. Thatlittle taste of professionalism—receiving real money for making up lies—got mehooked.
GNOH– Could you describe your style of writing?
In whatever I write,suspense is always a key factor. Supernatural terror is usually present aswell, but whether it is or not, suspense is always the primary goal. I like tocreate characters that the reader will know and care about, and then put thosecharacters through all sorts of awful things, so the reader is compelled tokeep turning pages and to stay awake late into the night—even though, at thathour, once the reader puts the book down, every household noise will sound likea killer or a monster looking for prey.
With thoseconsiderations in mind, everything else is in service to the characters andtheir story. My prose is pretty straightforward; though I love language, andstrive to say things in new and different ways that might surprise, amuse, orentertain readers, I’m not interested in using obscure words that’ll send thereader rushing to the dictionary, or flowery language that calls undueattention to itself. I like my dialogue to be realistic, my descriptions to beevocative, and my metaphors to be fresh.
GNOH– You have written a number of tie in novels. I have to admit they are a typeof book I have never really read. How didyou get involved in these?
Once I was working atWildStorm Productions, I had the chance to start writing comic books, and fromthat worked my way into novels. My first,Gen13: Netherwar, was a collaboration with Christopher Golden,who you have recently interviewed. It was a horror novel about the superheroteam Gen13, which we had both written comics about. After that,Chris introduced me to his Buffy editor, and I wrote a Buffy novel and thesecond Watcher’s Guide (with NancyHolder and Maryelizabeth Hart) and then a series of novels based on the Buffyspin-off series Angel. Things just took off from there, and since then I’vewritten novels and short stories about all sorts of characters, many that Idearly love, like Conan and Zorro and Spider-Man.
GNOH– Do you approach writing say a CSI novel differently to writing say a 30 Daysof Night novel?
By necessity, a CSI novel will be more research-heavy,because I have to be up on the latest developments in forensic science,including techniques that won’t be practiced at most real-life crime labs forsome time to come. I have to find intriguing ways that science can turn upclues, and plot how those clues can lead the CSIs to the real culprit. Plus Ihave to have watched most or all of the episodes, so I know the charactersinside and out. For a 30 Days of Nightnovel, I have to have read all the comics, but there aren’t as many as thereare episodes of CSI, and they don’ttake as long. My first three 30 Days ofNight novels (of four total) were collaborations with Steve Niles, whocreated and wrote the original comics, so if I had a question about thatfictional universe, I had the expert close at hand.
Beyond thoseconsiderations, the approach is essentially the same. I’m going to write thebest novel I can, keeping in mind the details of that fictional universe. Thatalso applies to my own original fiction—whatever the universe I have created,its rules have to be consistent. So whether I’m writing an original or atie-in, the main difference is who created the universe and the charactersoriginally, not how I go about writing the story.
GNOH– I know very little about forensic science, just how much of what CSi do ispure hokum?
Most of what they dois authentic—to a point. The science is real, but the results are not. If anylab had an unlimited budget, and no backlog of evidence to be processed, theycould acquire the equipment we see on TV. They could use the same techniques.But the results would not come through in the same abbreviated timeframe, andthey would often not be as definitive as on TV. A lot of lab results are“probably,” not “absolutely.” And CSIs, or the head of the lab, have to testifyin court and try to explain why the science is only 65% definitive instead of100%.
GNOH– How much freedom do you have with these novels, for instance in the CSI:Miami novels would you be allowed to write a whole novel where Horatio, doesn’t removehis sunglasses in a dramatic fashion?
I wouldn’t want to write a CSI: Miami novel in which he didn’t, because then it wouldn’t betrue to the show. That’s a goofy hallmark, but it’s a hallmark just the same.
That said, I also wouldn’t want to write one in which he did it more than once.
The real answer is that the author has quite a bit offreedom. Obvious rules apply—you can’t kill a major character (unless you’reworking in a fictional universe, like Buffy’s, in which you can bringcharacters back from the dead by the end of the book). You have to have respectfor the original property, just as you would (one hopes) have respect for auniverse and characters you made up yourself. You’re playing in someone else’ssandbox, and for the most part, that sandbox is someplace you’ve already spenta lot of time, and that you enjoy. Beyond those constraints, the plot is up tothe author, any additional characters are up to the author, and as long asyou’re true to the universe, you’re allowed to do whatever you want.
GNOH – There are some snobbyintellectual corners who think that these aren’t proper books. They think these are just mass producedrushed cash ins, what would you say to these snobs?
I would suggest thatin some cases, they’re correct. And in some cases, original works of fictionare the same way, as are vast numbers of movies and television shows and representativesamplings of every other form of art. Sturgeon’s Law, named after the greatwriter Theodore Sturgeon, tells us that 90% of anything is crap. The corollaryto that is that the goal of the consumer should be to look for the 10% thatisn’t.
The financial dealthat an author has with a publisher should be none of the reader’s concern.Likewise, the origin of the fictional universe under discussion shouldn’t enterinto it. Joss Whedon wrote and directed an Avengersmovie that’ll be released next year—does the fact that Joss is neither Stan Leenor Jack Kirby mean the movie will be drek? Could Stan Lee have written anddirected a better one (we’ll leave Jack out of it, may he rest in peace)? Or isJoss perhaps better able to interpret their creative vision in a differentmedium than the one in which the Avengers first appeared?
By the same token,Joss might not have been the best choice to write Angel novels. Robert E.Howard is dead, so there’ll be no new Conan novels from him. Anthony Zuiker,who created CSI, does in fact writenovels—or collaborate on novels, at any rate—but he doesn’t seem to haveexpressed any interest in writing CSInovels.
Your average tie-innovelist is a writer who has written both original fiction and tie-in fiction,and who—as I said earlier—approaches both tasks with the same level ofprofessionalism and care and regard for the underlying material, whether it wasinvented by that writer or by some other writer. Snobbery directed at tie-inwork is of the same order as snobbery directed at genre fiction, and I believethat genre fiction is the liveliest, most interesting, and most worthwhile formof fiction we have. Every work of fiction needs to be judged on its own merits,without writing off whole categories on a whim.
GNOH– Do you have a favourite out of these books?
Although I hate toplay favourites with my own work, there are a few that have special meaning forme. DC Universe: Trail of Time was ahorror/western/superhero novel, in which I got to write Superman battling alongside—andagainst—many of DC’s supernatural characters: the Demon, Phantom Stranger,Zatanna, etc. As if that weren’t enough fun, I also got to bring in some ofDC’s best western characters, most of whom have never appeared in a novel:Jonah Hex, El Diablo, Bat Lash, and others.
Spider-Man:Requiem is another horrornovel disguised as a superhero novel—I have a tendency to do that. This one wasvery specifically a reaction to a Marvel event called Brand New Day, in whichPeter Parker’s adult life was essentially erased and reset. I thought that wasan awful idea, badly conceived and executed, so wrote Requiem as an antidote to that.
Angel:Haunted is one of myfavourite Angel novels, because it’s very Cordelia-centric, and is my take on aclassic haunted house tale.
GNOH– Has writing for Buffy, Angel, CSI, etc, taught you any lessons?
If every book doesn’tteach a writer something, then he’s not paying attention.
My preferredmetaphorical way to look at writing is as a muscle. If the muscle is used,exercised consistently, it gets stronger, and it’s there when the writer needsit. If not, if it’s allowed to atrophy, then it’s weak and unreliable. Since Ibring to every book the same level of craft, every book I write makes me abetter writer. The tie-ins I wrote early in my career taught me a lot aboutcharacterization, pacing, building suspense, developing a solid plot to hangthe rest of it on.
GNOH– A Barack Obama comic, pray tell?
After I had left IDWPublishing to become a full-time freelance writer, they decided to publishbiographical comic books about the two major-party contenders for the USpresidency in 2008. Knowing I would be following the election closely anyway,they approached me to write the Obama one, and another writer to write theMcCain one. Possibly representative of the candidates’ respective demographicappeal—or simply the vote totals—the Obama book sold through multipleprintings. The McCain one is still in its first printing.
After Obama one, wedecided to carry on for a while longer, and I wrote a second issue detailingthe campaign and transition, and a third one about his first 100 days inoffice. The three issues were combined into a hardcover book called Barack Obama:
The Comic Book Biography.It’s pure biography, with no political agenda behind it.
GNOH– How does writing a comic differ to writing a novel?
Because I’m not anartist, a comic is always a collaboration. That means that, unlike a novel Iwrite by myself, the final product will never match up with my vision exactly. Thatcan be good or bad—ideally, with any collaboration, whether with somebody likeChris Golden or Nancy Holder or Steve Niles, the resulting book will besomething different than what either of us could have done by ourselves, and bybringing in that other voice, will be interesting to us as well as to thereaders. The same applies to comics—if I’m surprised and delighted by the art,chances are the reader will get something out of it that couldn’t have beenachieved with a novel.
There are alsostylistic differences to contend with. In order to let the art carry the weightof storytelling—and to not cover the art with word balloons—the text in a comicshould be light, concise, more like poetry than prose.
GNOH– How closely does the writer work with the artist?
That varies by theproject. For the Obama book, for instance, communication with Tom Morgan, theinterior artist, went through our editor. But when I was writing the script, Ialso was finding photographic reference for Tom to draw from—because why shouldwe both do the research, if I could do both at once? Tom had to find his ownreference for some things, but I provided as much as I could. In that sense, wewere working closely together because we were both involved in the visualaspect of telling the story. But we weren’t sitting in a room together, or evenconsulting on the phone.
GNOH– How does it compare to working alone? Have you ever had a difference of opinion tiff?
Oh, absolutely. It’salways been my philosophy, when writing comics, to allow the artist free reinover the visuals. But there are times when, as a writer, I have a particularstory need for some element—say, a door with a certain kind of lock, becauselater in the story, a character will have to pick that lock with a bobby pin. Ifthe artist draws a combination lock, that won’t do. Then there are artists—fewand far between, in my experience—who just don’t understand the mechanics ofstorytelling, and they have to be set straight. I’m sure there have beenartists who didn’t think my scripts matched up with their spectacularillustrative style, too.
Working alone isalways the best way to put across a singular vision, and it’s my preferredmethod. But I love comics, and I can’t do those alone. And sometimes a prosestory needs some kind of expertise I don’t bring to the table; in thoseinstances, it’s either collaborate or don’t tell the story.
GNOH– What would you say is the best place to start with your comic output?
My longest-runningand most creatively fulfilling comics work is a horror/Western series calledDesperadoes. It started at Image Comics, with a miniseries illustrated by JohnCassaday, who has since become a comic book superstar (Planetary, AstonishingX-Men, etc.). After I became a DC employee, it was published by DC, and thebrilliant artist John Severin, who had been drawing comics since the late1940s, illustrated it. When I moved to IDW, it went with me. IDW eventuallyreleased the Desperadoes Omnibus, which contains every Desperadoes storypublished to date, in full colour, for only $25 US.
GNOH– Can you tell us about your Witch Season series?
WitchSeason was a four-bookseries originally published by Simon Pulse in 2004-05. It’s the story of KerryProfitt, a girl working in a resort town during the summer after her first yearof college. She and her housemates find a badly beaten man in their front yard,and feel compelled—in spite of their better instincts—to take him in. When herecovers, they learn that he’s Daniel Blessing, a witch, engaged in a300-year-long quest to find and kill another witch, Season Howe, who destroyedhis town and killed almost everyone he knew, back when he was still in hismother’s womb. Kerry and her friends find themselves caught up in Daniel’squest—especially Kerry, who eventually becomes a witch herself and tries tobring some justice and finality to the long struggle. Only nothing is as itseems. There are lots of plot twists, and shifting loyalties, and belovedcharacters dying.
Now that it’shalf-a-decade old, Simon Pulse is reissuing it under a new title: Dark Vengeance. It has a newformat—trade paperback instead of mass market, with two books contained in eachvolume—and a beautiful new cover, and it’s been revised and updated. When Iwrote it, teens had cell phones, but texting wasn’t the commonplace thing it istoday. People were on MySpace, but Facebook wasn’t omnipresent. Technical andcultural references are updated, and I revised some of the language justbecause I’m a better writer now than I was then. In the important ways, though,it’s still the same—the emotional impact, the suspense, the surprising plotturns, are all still there. Volume One, containing the books Summer and Fall, will be available everywhere in early October, and Volume Twocomes in May 2012.
GNOH– It’s a young adult series isn’t it? What are the main challenges in writing a YA series?
It is a young adultseries. I think the biggest challenge for an old guy like me is making surethat the teenaged characters don’t use cultural references that they wouldn’tunderstand, or give them a reason for knowing those references. At the sametime, if those references are used by characters who could know them, they haveto be clear enough for the readers to grasp even if those readers don’t havethe same backgrounds as the characters.
GNOH– Do you think it is important not to talk down to them in the book?
Definitely. When Iwas originally writing the books, I had a daughter who was about Kerry’s age,so between her and her friends, I knew that teens were educated and informedand could read at any level. Many of them preferred reading YA literature, butthey could also pitch a book across the room and read Stephen King if they feltthey were being patronized. I didn’t put in as much swearing as I might in a novelfor adults, and I left out the graphic sex and some of the violence. Otherwise,though, the level of tension is there, and the really scary moments are there.The main differences are the ages of the protagonists.
GNOH– You’ve written in a number of different genres, do you have a favourite?
I keep being drawnback to horror. I like writing straight suspense and crime, without a horrificelement (though always with a pretty dark outlook), so I’m not sure which onewould win out if I could only do one. Fortunately, nobody has made me choose.
GNOH- You have just released your horrornovel Slab. It had previously beenpublished by IDW, does this version differ in any way to the original?
The IDW edition is afairly expensive trade paperback book. It has a lot of illustrations, by thegreat artist Tommy Lee Edwards, so it had to be a larger format book. And it’spretty long, which would also have made a somewhat unwieldy mass marketpaperback. So there were good reasons for the format, at the time.
When I released it asan e-book, I didn’t include the illustrations. I also went through and did alight edit on the manuscript—not that it had a lot of problems, but there arealways a few typos that slip through. So the text is mostly unchanged, but withfewer mistakes, the illustrations aren’t there—but it’s $2.99 US instead of$16.99 US. I think that makes it much more accessible to a lot of readers.
GNOH– The landscape in the book plays an important part in the story, what gave youthe idea for this?
It’s set in one ofAmerica’s strangest spots, the Slab City/Salton Sea area of southernCalifornia’s inland desert. It’s too complicated to go into here, but theSalton Sea is the result of a miscalculation, near the turn of the 20thcentury, that allowed Colorado River water to rush into an ancient seabed. SlabCity is a “community”—and I use that word loosely—of people who have gatheredon and around concrete slabs left out in the desert after military training forthe North African campaign ended when WWII was over. There are no municipalservices, no sewers or water or power or trash removal, that kind of thing, sopeople live in RVs and trailers and tents and structures they build from foundobjects. You have to be a certain kind of person to live that way—a littleaskew from the norm, let’s say. This whole place is just so weird, I couldn’tNOT write about it. And when I did, I had to write a horror novel. After heread The Slab, my friend Weston Ochsehad to go out there, and when he did, hehad to write a horror novel (Empire ofSalt). It’s just that kind of place.
GNOH– It is available as an e-book, as a bookstore owner and an author, what isyour feelings on e-books?
I was slow to adoptthe e-book, because of the things you mention. Mysterious Galaxy can selle-books if they’re part of the Google E-books system, and we put QR codes righton the shelves, so if you’re browsing and you see a book you’d like in e-bookform, you can pull out your smart phone and order it on the spot. But lots ofbooks—including the ones that I’ve released myself as e-books—are not part ofthe Google system, because it’s incredibly complicated.
I still love printbooks, and always will. I write on a MacBook Pro, but reading a book on thatsmall screen is a challenge more than a pleasure. And I don’t believe thatprint books are going away. I think e-books are another avenue for tellingstories, not a replacement.
Still, there’sdefinitely a disconnect, and a slightly uncomfortable one, to be putting outbooks that my own bookstore can’t carry. The store does carry the print editionof The Slab, but not the e-book. Mythriller The Devil’s Bait might havea print edition at some point, but it doesn’t right now, and neither does Nine Frights. Speaking of which…
GNOH– You have also released a collection of short stories called NineFrights. What nine things scare you?
The nine stories inthe book aren’t necessarily nine different things that scare me. But here arenine (that may or may not be in the book):
Ghosts, demonicpossession, moths, fast spiders, the deaths of loved ones, human beings(they’re the worst!), evil clowns, extreme poverty, and extreme stupidity.
GNOH– Are these new stories or are they a selection of your best short storiesthrough the ages?
They’re a mixture ofboth. One of the stories was in the anthology Hellbound Hearts, edited by Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan, and set inthe universe of the Clive Barker novella that spawned the Hellraiser movies anda thousand Pinhead rip-offs. One was in TheStories in Between, an anthology celebrating the great independentbookstore Between Books, which also contained stories by people like JonathanCarroll and Jonathan Maberry (and other people not named Jonathan). One was abonus prose story that appeared in my graphic novel Zombie Cop. Some are previously unpublished. It’s more or less aretrospective of my short horror fiction from the past decade.
GNOH– You’re having a dinner party, which five characters that you have writtenwould you
invite, and why?
Jessie Dawn Cutler fromThe Devil’s Bait, because she’s sexyand she would be able to pay for the meal. Buck Shelton from Missing White Girl, because he’s alawman and a rancher, and would understand the importance of local foods. KerryProfitt from Dark Vengeance, becauseif I forgot to buy anything, she could provide it magically. Abby DeGrazia fromDesperadoes, because she’s also sexy,and could tell fascinating stories from a time before the rest of us were born.And Conan, because if we need a bouncer… who better?
GNOH– And what would you serve?
I live in ranchcountry, so I’d have to start off with some big steaks. There are farms around,too, so we can get some fresh vegetables, and we can put together a salad. Fordessert, maybe I’ll have Kerry magic up some cupcakes.
GNOH– Do you have any future projects that you can discuss?
I’m working on acouple of crime projects, and working on what I think will be a cool originale-book project at the same time. I have some weird western work coming up overthe next little while (including a Deadlandscomic book), and of course the new edition of Dark Vengeance is coming soon.
GNOH– Cheers Jeff, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you, and if you ever have anylimited signed goodies that you just can’t seem to sell in your bookstore, youcan always use me as a tax write-off.
I’ll keep that inmind, Jim! Thanks for the generous offer. And thanks for inviting me toGNOH—it’s an honor to be here!
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