(1) The first question I wonder about fellow genre writers: Why SF/fantasy, and not other genres?
Well, first off, it's a mistaken question for me: I do write other genres. Specifically I'm pick-pick-picking away at a mystery novel at the rate of a few paragraphs every few months, and I have the idea for an historical novel that might not even acquire speculative elements along the way, although to be fair it might.
And I guess that's the answer, really: speculative elements are what my brain does. It just...does. If you leave me alone without much for stimuli, there will be a story in not too long, and it will likely have genetically engineered whatsits or magical thingummies or whatever. Occasionally it will skip those things when it comes up with the story idea, but mostly the backbrain is simmering in weird, so no one is too surprised when stuff comes out of it stewed in weird.
The answers aren't always my kind of answers, but the questions are my kind of questions, and that's the important bit.
(2) What food is your favorite defense against the deepest, darkest part of a Minnesota winter?
Hot cocoa. Hot cocoa most likely kept me out of the emergency room at Gustavus: I still got wretched colds, but I kept making myself a fresh mug of cocoa (or sometimes tea) every time I got to the physics student office and every time I got back to my room, and I felt much, much better.
If beverages are a separate category, I'd say the best food defense is chili or fresh hot buttered lefse or Guinness gingerbread.
(3) What book is the closest match you've found to your Minneapolis? Was there any key element / passage / etc. that struck home?
I've talked about this before: Emma Bull clearly lived in the same city as I do. War for the Oaks is really, truly Minneapolis. It's a grown-up's view of the Minneapolis we had when I was little, but it's the same city. The Conservatory, the Falls, the stucco duplexes, common as field mice, that look gracious and welcoming with their living room windows lit. That paraphrase was not actually from memory: I wrote a journal entry called "In Which We House Hunt With the Not-Dead Ghost of Emma Bull" when we were preparing to move back. Two years ago now, and I still haven't gotten over being knocked over with how much I love living here. (As regards that entry: the people who told me I'd be disappointed were wrong. It hasn't been what I expected. It's been better. My city has even more of my stuff and my people in it than I ever realized.)
But back to books: rather more quietly, pameladean's Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary has the same bits in it as my Minneapolis, but the causality is a bit reversed there: I didn't go to Lock And Dam No. 1 until I read about it in JG&R. And it was a different small Minnesota college town, but Tam Lin really hits my St. Pete experience right on.
(4) If I were to see Minneapolis (which is not altogether out of the realm of possibility), what would be the one ultimate Minneapolis place / event / or whatever else that I just simply should not miss?
I don't know that I believe in the premise of this question. Here's the thing about being a Minnesotan: there are lots of things that are really good. I'm not too troubled with whether Minnehaha Falls is the Ultimate Minneapolis Thing To See, any more than I'm troubled with which falls they're taller than or broader than or whatever. They are good. They are the Falls. Will you have a better time at the Falls than walking around Lake of the Isles? Than going through the skyways to the Dayton's Eighth Floor at Christmas? Than listening to music at Kieran's? Than splitting a giant breadstick at Fat Lorenzo's? Than wandering through the Como Park Conservatory and the Japanese garden outside it? Than going shopping for books at Uncle Hugo's and/or Dreamhaven depending on your preference? Than ice cream at Sebastian Joe's? I don't know. There's a lot of good stuff, and if you come here, you should do some of it. And if you're coming at a certain time, I may even have specific recommendations ("go see the ice sculptures"/"go to the dragon boat race on Lake Phalen"/etc.), but in general, I don't think I can answer with one true Minneapolis experience. Isn't any such critter. Minneapolis is the kind of place that avoids one great big trues in favor of lots of little goods.
Also, I have a feeling that some of my reactions are a bit fraught, and that other people might react to the West River Road as "a nice drive," which it is, rather than as a really strong Minneapolis thing and a chain of familiar elements and associations and just loveliness.
(5) Describe your perfect literary explosion.
Well, it's a bit like the perfect literary sex, isn't it? It's the one that fits smoothly with the plot, the characters, the setting, the style, the whole rest of the book. And since there's no one perfect book, you can't just plop one down in another and hope for the best.
Rather few exclamation points, though.
Last night I fell down half the stairs, and the dog threw up in the library, and the mouse escaped from markgritter to heaven knows where. I have higher hopes of today.