Anyone who takes a nickle tour of my house will realize how utterly insane I am. I possess in excess of 1000 books and have read nearly every one (I haven't read Corrosion Resistance of Metals yet...so sue me). I used to have a habit of purchasing books every 30-60 days, usually a crate at a time. Borders, when there was a store called Borders, used to be kryptonite to my wallet, sucking the lettuce from that leather sandwich faster than Furious Pete downs a super burger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHIhnoCxxco

Long ago I had this crazy notion that the best way to build my personal library was to acquire at least three books on every subject. That is admittedly a nutty goal, akin to collecting all the cabbages strewn around Skyrim:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w3dkdwvuJw

Now, after a time, I came to realize certain subjects held my curiosity more than others, which is why I have two books on Mayan history and a dozen on Roman history, one book on gemology and twenty on mathematics. The most extensive part of my collection deals with Forteana and the paranormal - particularly UFOs. This has led many of my guests to think I am several shrimp shy of a barge-load. I can assure them (and you) I am not. All my shrimp are there in my head doing whatever it is shrimp do in your head.

I find occult and paranormal subjects fascinating, but that fascination has never cast a shadow on my innate skepticism. I am not an uber-skepitc...I do not pooh-pooh any idea or concept that isn't arrived at through rigorous scientific testing. I think science is a great thing to test ideas, but not so great at formulating them. Metaphysics and philosophy are worthwhile cookies to munch on. Science is a bran muffin. One keeps you healthy (unless you eat too many and then you're glued to the commode manning a twenty-one gun firehose). The other brings you joy (unless you eat too many and then you look like vintage Dom DeLuise scarfing a bean bag chair) . Though not very scientific, I can accept the possibility of alien life elsewhere in the universe without standing outside the gates of Area 51 in a tin-foil hat. Comparing UFOs to Extraterrestrial Life is like comparing a banana to a Porterhouse steak. Both are food, but they are entirely different in every respect, but they can both be yummy. (God, I want a steak...).

Many of my stories deal with other-worldly creatures or the bizarre. I find these subjects a good way of conveying certain themes. The themes I like to explore are often something you'd see in a Shakespeare play - jealousy, pride, vengeance, love, etc. The monsters or mysteries are just decoration. Watch classic Twilight Zone. Each show boils down to something like: 'be careful what you wish for' or 'what is reality?'.

In case you didn't realize, I'm touching on the theme of, well, THEME. What is your story about? I mean really about? Moby Dick isn't really about a whale. It's about the destructiveness of obsession. Starship Troopers isn't about space bugs. It's about honor and martial duty (the book, that is...the movie was more about cleft chins and space boobs). Every good story (and a few not-so-good ones) has a theme that can broken down into a single sentence. Even a brick like The Shining is boiled down to 'the madness of addiction'. Sure, characters can redeem themselves and things can work out for the best, but all those events take place as part of the theme.

Christopher Nolan and Stanley Kubrick are good examples of movie-makers who love a strong theme. One reason their movies are well-regarded by many is because of this. A strong theme speaks to its audience. Like a well-crafted biblical parable, the theme in a story teaches lessons applicable to life.

So, think about your theme before you tick-a-tack away at the keyboard. And now I leave you to dream of UFOs delivering bran muffins to Stanley Kubrick - surely a phrase never before written or uttered in history.

Have a great week!