So, greykev's five questions:
1. If you could start a story collaboration tomorrow with any living author, who would you choose? (aside from Timprov, though I do hope he gets to feeling well enough to write again soon)
2. Same as above only with dead people. (and yes, you'de get to finish the collaberation too)
Well, here's the thing. I don't want to write books and stories in general. I want to write that book there, and that one, and that other one, in specific. So I wouldn't want to do a collaboration with Person X in general. I might want to write Story X with Person X, if we got to talking about Story X and it seemed like a good thing and fun and all that. But I couldn't just pick someone based on characters or prose style or sense of humor or work habits or anything like that. It's got to be for a story that's worth the time, or it's not worth doing. And as I don't really have those stories now, I can't say who would have come up with them with me.
Some of the people I like best both as people and as writers have work styles so drastically different from mine that I'm not sure it could work to write stuff together. I think we may be best keeping our distance except for squeeing.
3. You can go hiking anywhere in the world, where do you choose?
Iceland. Probably in the northwest.
4. Worse plot: 'magic goes away' or 'magic is really technology in drag'?
Umm. I can actually think of decent ways to handle each, although it's fairly rare. The latter would generally be my choice as a stinker, but then I read [naming the title would spoil the book] and enjoyed it very much.
For myself to write? I'm not really interested in either, much. "Magic goes away" is much less fun than "magic goes awry." Also, the things I'm interested in doing with systems of magic almost never are the sorts of things that can just up and disappear without divine intervention, and then it's a matter of figuring out which gods to kick. I also think that the subtext of "magic is really technology in drag" is often a fair amount of contempt for humanity or at least the society in the book -- not always, but often -- and that's not really what I want to do, and it's particularly not what I want to use the idea of magic to do.
5. What can random strangers do or not do to cheer you up?
That's very context dependent. I'm assuming we mean truly random strangers, not people whose names I know but whom I don't know very well. Some guy in Byerly's, say; some lady in the doctor's office; some person on an airplane.
Usually the best they can do is ignore me. I don't want to be asked what's wrong unless I know the questioner. I don't want to be chattered at extensively, particularly because I then feel that I have to cheer them up. I don't want to be touched by people whose names I don't know (and, "hi, I'm Paula, tooooouch," is not what I have in mind). The kindest a random stranger has ever been was on the plane back from getting engaged to markgritter, knowing we wouldn't be able to see each other very often or for very long over the next two years. I was sobbing my eyes out with my head up in that "I just dare you to stare" mode. The woman in the seat next to mine looked at me for a long moment, and then without saying a word she got out a tissue and set it on my knee. I thanked her. She told me I was welcome and went back to her book. Another example is when I was caught in the airport in an ice storm. I had too many bags and was feeling the hypoglycemia pretty severely. Some guy carried my biggest two bags to the taxi stand for me and stayed there until I had a taxi and had found the fruit in my bag. Then he wished me a better evening and left. This is the general approach: practicality and detachment. Do I appear to be in need of some concrete assistance that J. Random Stranger can provide? If so, good, thanks. If not, JRS should let me be.