Who is your favorite author, really? Being a writer can sometimes be better than the Witness Protection Program (or an Internet chatroom). Nora Roberts or J.D. Robb; Jayne Castle, Amanda Quick, or Jane Ann Krentz; Lemony Snicket or Daniel Handler–readers know that a fantastic book by any other name would be just as many hours of entertainment.
After thoroughly enjoying Naomi Neale’s brilliant Sex and the City-esque offering entitled Method Man, Genre Chick Alethea Kontis decided she was going to dig up some dirt on this reclusive member of the Elite Pseudonym Club.
Name: Vance Briceland, who writes as Naomi Neale (and as Naomi Nash for young adults)
Birthdate: February 6. And let’s say roughly 40-something years ago.
Birthplace: Durham, North Carolina, where my parents were at graduate school together.
Current Location: Royal Oak, Michigan, just outside of Detroit.
Embarrassing Profile Questions:
Alethea Kontis: Who’s Naomi?
Vance Briceland: I’d always intended to write under a pseudonym–I’m honestly not one of those authors who gets an ego boost out of seeing his name in the biggest letters possible on a book cover. The surname I chose after stabbing with a pen at four or five random names in the phone book. Naomi, however, I chose after a girl who rode the school bus with me when she was a senior and I was a junior. She was valedictorian. I had a mild crush on her. I also had braces, so let’s gently let the curtain fall on that chapter of my life.
AK: Do you have any tattoos?
VB: If I were to besmirch my skin with any kind of permanent dye, my late mother, God rest her soul, would rise from her grave and smite me. Which is not to say I haven’t considered it.
AK: What’s your favorite phrase?
VB: “Every old sock meets an old shoe.” It’s a phrase that, with varying inflections, can be used to comfort the lovelorn or condemn one’s secret enemies. (In the former case, it’s helpful if you can make an old sock sound like a good thing.)
AK: What’s the first thing you thought when you woke up this morning?
VB: “What is that music on the clock-radio and why is it playing so loudly, so early?”
AK: How much have you ever spent for a pair of shoes?
VB: Close to $275 for a pair of Kenneth Cole boots that I rarely wear because I fear they will get wet and/or smudged.
AK: Have you ever used a bar name? If so what was it?
VB: Golly, no! Although sometimes I perform in karaoke bars under the name “Raymundo.”
AK: If a drink were to be named after you, what would be in it?
VB: Since my novels mix fizzy fun with down-to-earth realities, I’m thinking the “Naomi Neale” would be sloe gin and Mountain Dew.
AK: What’s the best drink anyone’s ever bought you?
VB: A Key Lime Martini. It tasted like key lime pie, down to the graham cracker crust on the glass’ rim. Two of those and I’m like Lucy Ricardo plugging Vitameatavegemin: “It’sh sho tashty! Jusht like candy!”
AK: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you on a date?
VB: My single days are long in the past, but I did once forget a blind date’s name during the night out, forcing me to resort to tactics like, “So . . . you! What do you do for a living?” and “Goodnight, you!”
AK: What’s your best physical feature?
VB: Thanks to the miracles of modern orthodontics, my teeth are quite straight.
AK: Who inspires you?
VB: I know I should choose an uplifting humanitarian here, in order to lift my credibility, but I’m going with Tyra Banks. That dame really knows how to make aspiring supermodels cry on camera.
AK: What’s your sign?
VB: Aquarius, baby!
AK: What designers/clothes/line would you not be caught dead in?
VB: I won’t be wearing any item of clothing that has an enormous corporate logo or the name of the designer in enormous embroidered letters. Which means you won’t see me in about half the clothing out there these days.
AK: What’s your favorite article of clothing?
VB: I have several pencil-thin skinny ties from my father’s youth that I cling to, though admittedly they’re not suitable for wearing to anything but 1980s retro nights.
AK: Who are your best friends?
VB: My best friends are the ones who don’t mind when I steal their jokes and dating plights for my novels.
AK: What scares you the most?
VB: On those rare occasions when I’m alone in my house at night, in the dark, and I hear a noise from downstairs that can’t be readily explained by the ice-maker or the cats, I experience boosts of adrenaline that keep me awake and fretting for hours.
AK: What’s under your bed?
VB: Piles of nighttime-reading magazines that I shove underneath whenever I tidy the house for guests.
AK: What’s your favorite Web site?
VB: I keep up on the latest hot spots and metropolitan trends at www.gawker.com.
AK: What’s your favorite movie?
VB: Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in the screwball classic, Bringing Up Baby. It’s a marvel of silliness.
AK: If Hollywood made a movie of your life, who would play you?
VB: I’d have my fingers crossed for someone like Russell Crowe or Johnny Depp, but I just know they’d go for William Hurt.
AK: What color is your iPod?
VB: I’ve wrapped it with a skin designed by artist Jamie Zollars, which depicts a gondola ascending over mountain peaks. I pamper my iPod. It carries over 11,000 songs!
AK: Do you sing in the shower?
VB: I’m a karaoke fan. I sing in the shower, in the car, when I’m cooking dinner–you just can’t shut me up.
AK: Are you on MySpace?
VB: Noooooooo. Do I look 15 to you?
AK: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what five things would you want to have with you?
VB: 1. Martha Stewart’s Guide to Gracious Desert Island Living. (You just know she’s going to write one.)
2. A water purifying plant.
3. A Costco-sized bottle of shampoo.
4. Jeff Probst to cheer me on during challenges.
5. The cast of Lost. Except maybe that creepy leader of The Others.
AK: If you could take a trip right now to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
VB: I’d like to take an extended tour of Scotland, as that’s where much of my family originated, and because I find the accents charming.
AK: Sugar or salt?
VB: Salt. Specifically, Cheetos.
AK: White after Labor Day?
VB: Sure, go ahead. If you want to be one of THOSE people.
AK: What’s the last book you read?
VB: I just finished Cherie Priest’s Wings to the Kingdom, a ghost story that kept me up until two in the morning. You can’t ask much more from a ghost story than that!
AK: If you could be any supermodel, who would you be?
VB: I’m thinking of original supermodel and star of America’s Next Top Model, Janice Dickinson, so that I could be as crazy as I cared and say anything I darn well pleased, no matter how outrageous, and merely have people shrug and say, “Well, that’s Janice for you.”
AK: What’s next for Naomi Neale?
VB: For my next book, I’m going to be trying something different from the metropolitan comedies of my recent Naomi Neale novels. The new series will mix supernatural suspense with romantic comedy, as if Buffy the Vampire Slayer were crossed with Sleepless in Seattle. I’ll definitely have more details soon at my Web site, www.naomineale.com!