Author Archives: Joshua Preston

About Joshua Preston

My name is Joshua Preston and I’m from Montevideo, Minnesota. I’m a graduate of the University of Minnesota Morris (Political Science and History) and currently a research fellow at Baylor College of Medicine’s Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. There I work on big data “Criminal Policy Informatics” and staff The Journal of Science and Law. I also write fiction and my poems have appeared in The Humanist and MAYDAY Magazine.

Singer and Spoken Word Artist Dessa

Dessa (Courtesy of Zoe Prinds-Flash Photography)

Dessa (Courtesy of Zoe Prinds-Flash Photography)

Dessa (Web | Twitter) is a singer and spoken word artist from Minneapolis, MN, and also a member of the hip hop collective Doomtree. She is the author of four books of poetry including Spiral Bound (Doomtree Press: 2009) and A Pound of Steam (Rain Taxi Press, 2013). Dessa is an immensely talented artist, and if you’re interested in seeing her perform, check out her recent reading at the Walker Art Center.

The following comes from Mr. Will Moore who met Dessa when, in spring 2013, she visited St. John’s College. When asked how the famed singer responded to his request, Moore said, “She was very pleased to draw a giraffe for us.”

Dessa GiraffeWhat an eloquent story for such an elegant giraffe.

Author David Mitchell

David Mitchell Drawing a Giraffe

Author David Mitchell illustrating his cosmology.

David Mitchell (Web | Twitter) is an English author of six books of fiction including the international bestseller Cloud Atlas (2004), which you may recall was made into a film starring Tom Hanks. Recently, our paths crossed when Mitchell was in Houston reading from his latest work, The Bone Clocks (2014). If you aren’t familiar with his work, both I and the literati highly recommend it.

Following his reading, Mitchell spoke with author Mat Johnson, observing that at age 45 he’s had an epiphany: He’s not a novelist but rather a novella-ist. As with Cloud AtlasThe Bones Clock is a series of novellas that reference and situate one another to tell a larger narrative – in this case, a woman’s life from birth to death. Even though “people don’t buy novellas,” he prefers the format as it allows him the privileges of the short story without carrying on past its “natural” conclusion. (I think we can all name a few works that, like some dying animal, resists the end).

When Johnson asked if he noticed certain themes or tropes appearing throughout his work, Mitchell answered that there were two: The first was predatory and the other miscommunication. As he identified instances of these in his work, he added that every author is merely a handful of archetypes. As these stem from the author’s experiences, this limitation is not a bad thing. All it means is that one has to keep finding novel ways to orient them – through new environments, characters, and so on.

After his reading I waited around to get him to sign my copy of Cloud Atlas — and that was when I made the ask. Even though the woman behind me (rudely) groaned and, under her breath, kept telling me to “hurry up,” Mitchell drew what I regard as The Little Prince fan-fiction. I present to you: The Planet of The Giraffe.

David Mitchell Awful GiraffeAs I said to him afterward, “If your writing career ever sours, I don’t think illustrating is an option.”

Author and Essayist Sarah Vowell

Author Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell (Wiki| Web) is an American essayist. She is the author of six books whose covers you definitely recognize, including The Partly Clouded Patriot (2003) and The Wordy Shipmates (2009). She’s a brilliantly talented writer and for many years was an editor for This American Life. Check out her TAL stories here.

This giraffe comes from Mr. Will Moore who met Vowell when, in spring 2013, she spoke at St. John’s College in St. Peter, MN. As he put it:

Sarah was hesitant, looking nervous and unsure the whole time, self-depricating in her normal fashion — but she went with it.

Sarah Vowell Giraffe

Science-Fiction Writer Kevin J. Anderson

Strange Man with author Kevin J. Anderson

Strange Man with author Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson (Web|Twitter) is the author of the only set of books I read in middle school: The Young Jedi Knights series. He’s also the co-author of, like, a thousand Dune books, and among his 40+ bestsellers he has over 23 million books in print. If you’re interested in science-fiction, you’ve probably read his work.

From my diary (May 28, 2014):

Over the course of the weekend [at Houston's ComicPalooza] we saw a lot of the writer Kevin J. Anderson whose Young Jedi Knight series I gobbled up in Middle School. In our few exchanges I asked how he managed to be so prolific and he answered simply, “I’m always writing.” He then proceeded to tell me about how he dictated a chapter on his drive to the Denver airport, which he immediately sent out to be transcribed, and then spent the flight editing two other chapters. He says he averages 2-3 chapters a day. …

My biggest takeaway from my time with him came hen I inquired about his method. Before doing any writing he carefully outlines and summarizes each chapter. He compared his craft to architecture stating, “It’s like a blueprint. I’m not going to start putting up walls and a ceiling saying, ‘Oh, let’s see what happens.”

I suppose this is why I spend so much time digging parts of me out of the rubble.

Kevin J. Anderson's Awful Giraffe

This was actually dictated. And then edited on the spot. He averages 2-3 giraffes a day.

 

Political Strategist David Plouffe

David Plouffe

David Plouffe (wiki|twitter) is the reason why Barack Obama is President of the United States. He’s also the top political strategist of our time having steered Obama’s underdog campaign from Iowa to Election Day. All of this he details in his best-selling book, The Audacity to Win.

In addition to building, according to Barack Obama, “the best political campaign … in the history of the United States of America,” Plouffe has also served as the Senior Advisor to the President (2011-13). He is now a contributor to ABC News. He has better things to do than draw giraffes.

David Plouffe's Pretty Awful Giraffe

[Special Thanks to Andrew Showalter who ran into Plouffe in Cannon Falls, MN, August 2011].

Actor, Writer and Greek God Kevin Sorbo

Kevin Sorbo, Greek God.

Kevin Sorbo (web|wiki) is an actor, writer, and the nicest Greek God I’ve ever met. Born in Mound, MN, he attended Minnesota State University Moorhead before he realized he could do literally anything else – and so he went west. There he became famous for the title role in Hercules: The Legendary Journey (’95-’99) and, later, as … someone… in Andromeda (’00-’05).

When I met Mr. Sorbo at the 2011 Twin Cities Book Festival speaking about his memoir True Strength, I’ll admit that I expected the worst. Even as an outsider I knew him only as “Hercules” and presumed he, like a long list of others in similar positions, would actively distance himself from the role(s) that made him famous. Oh was I wrong. Leaning on the podium, unscripted, Mr. Sorbo casually chatted with the audience, gladly answering the questions fired at him ranging from “What was it like to have a stroke – and how did it affect your sex life?” to “Tell us about Kull the Conquerer”, which isn’t even a question.

I can only imagine what kind of questions he gets at conventions.

Enjoy!

Why this giraffe has a water hose for a leg, I don’t know. (I’ll let this disability modulation slide, though, since Mr. Sorbo is such a nice guy).

Actor and Teen Hartthrob Josh Hartnett

Josh Hartnett

Actor and Modern Adonis Josh Hartnett

Josh Hartnett (Wiki) is an actor and producer from St. Paul, MN, who is perhaps best known for his roles in Pearl Harber, O, 40 Days and 40 Nights, and 30 Days of Night. When he isn’t acting, he enjoys his long walks on the beach being the reincarnation of Adonis, the Greek God of beauty and desire.

Over his lifetime he has been voted one of Teen People‘s “21 Hottest Stars Under 21″ and, later, one of its “25 Hottest Stars Under 25.” Not-Teen People magazine voted him one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” before Bliss clarified this by stating he is the “3rd Sexiest Male.” If that’s still not enough for you, unnecessarily-skeptical reader: PETA voted him the “Sexiest Vegetarian Alive.”

When Mr. Hartnett isn’t out being beautiful, he is also an activist. For example, in 2012, he did a lot of work for the Obama Presidential Campaign in Minnesota, which is where this giraffe comes from.

Now, if I may let you in on a little secret, friend: Growing up, I wanted to be Josh Hartnett. I loved him in The Faculty and – cards on the table – have a thing for Minnesota Joshs. So, it warms my hart seeing our life journeys come together like this. While he’s off being nominated for Teen Choice Awards here I am capitalizing upon it able to be a part of it …  *wistful sigh*

Actor Josh Hartnett Cannot Draw A Giraffe

[Courtesy of the wonderful Stacey Rosana of Minnesota].