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Paul Coccia, author & baker:"If you're going to use a bad word..."

What was the first book you ever read all by yourself?

Pickle Things by Marc Brown. I can still recite it. A detail for Freud.

What was the first book you bought with your own money?

The first book I remember buying with my own money was The Golden Compass. Another detail for Freud: I knew from the bear on the cover that I was going to love it.

What book changed the way you look at the world?

Every book to some degree, so I could go on. Jeanette Winterson, in particular Sexing The Cherry, really was a thrill to me. It opened up literature in a really exciting way especially as she evoked and played with prior texts like fairy tales and the bible, being irreverent while maintaining them as sacrosanct.

What was the first book you hid from your parents?

My own! I never had to hide anything I read from them, but I don’t talk in great detail about my writing with them or ask their opinions on my finished work.

What book did you love as a kid that you realize now was “of its time” and would not be published today?

Little Miss Bossy (Roger Hargreaves.) I have a cassette to go with my book and still get a kick out of her saying, “Shut up!” I think the book has been rewritten to tone down language as the series is still very popular.

In which fictional house or land would you like to live?

My younger brother teases me that I’m a Hobbit who loves the Shire and hates real-life adventures. However, if I could go into the Kingdom of Knowledge from The Phantom Tollbooth, I’d likely be an annoying tourist but could handle that adventure.

Which fictional character do you wish was your best friend?

She-Hulk. Specifically, the Sensational She-Hulk. She is larger than life, an empowered man-eater, self-aware, and has the most fashionable outfits and hair. The 80’s/90’s incarnation of her was hands-down the best, plus, super-strength and super-smarts. She’s got it all!

What is your favorite word?

Oh, I’m not getting in trouble! It’s on the lists of bad words but isn’t an overused one and in certain circles can be quite the compliment. I like that it’s still shocking and if you’re going to use a bad word, use one that will turn heads.

What is a word you loathe?

I have a list so it can change. Right now it’s ‘gusset.’ I’m gagging because all I can think of now is a gusset torn asunder. Barf.

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