1. Have you ever set out to retell a classic story in one of your works? If so, which one? If not, do you think you might?
Yes, the ballad of Tam Lin. More than once. More than twice. Err. Several times. Also I messed with Beauty and the Beast. Also with Sleeping Beauty and Orpheus and, oh, the Wild Swan Brothers. Probably something else I'm forgetting.
I am more fond of going for what happens after, or for stories related but not directly retelling. Even the ones I've mentioned above have mostly slipped sideways far enough that they might not strictly count as retellings. The Mark of the Sea Serpent, for example, is informed by Norse myths and sagas, but it isn't a retelling of any of them. Thermionic Night and Sampo couldn't exist in any form without the Kalevala, but while Orvokki retells bits of Kalevala stories in the course of them, none of them are the reliving of them. Even Midnight Sun Rising is not, although it comes closer.
2. Do you ever suffer from writer's block? Do you have any techniques for overcoming it, or do you just have to wait for it to go away?
Writer's block, in the sense of being unable to generate any words whatsoever, no, I don't. Writer's block, in the sense of having each word feel like it had to be hewn from granite, yes, definitely.
When words aren't coming, my default solution is to go at it from a different direction: to pick up a different scene, a different chapter, or a different work altogether. I usually have multiple projects going at once, and on a really scattered day, I can get paragraphs added to each of five to ten projects. This is not what we consider a good thing, but it's better than sitting and staring and swearing at the screen, adding "the" and then erasing it.
As I said last night, taking a day off appears to be good for me, and if I get stuck, I may consider it in the future in addition to my Sundays.
Also I will sometimes pick up my paper journal and ramble and get somewhere with a problem that way, or I will talk to timprov about it and sometimes make headway there. Walking the dog and showering are also not bad ideas, though somewhat time-sensitive as remedies go.
3. Do you participate in any creative pastimes aside from writing and cooking?
Sometimes I paint, and sometimes I play the piano. Neither of them should be considered serious long-term pursuits.
4. Why do you enjoy my company?
I like the way your vowels flatten out when you talk about your childhood and your parents. I like the way you tease the rest of your household and take it decently when they whap you in the head -- actually I like your delivery of wiseassery in general. I like the way you are with cadithial, too -- you can tell a lot about a person by how they are with their oldest friends. I like that we have enough of the same reference points to get each other's jokes but not enough to already know all of those jokes.
Also you don't generally stink, so that helps.
5. Please suggest a non-SF (or really, really unusual SF) book that you don't think I've read that you believe I should.
Hmmmm. I'm currently reading Colin Cotterill's The Coroner's Lunch, and I would recommend it and its sequel in general. They're mysteries set in post-revolutionary Laos, and they're not like other stuff I've read very much. (This may be because I'm not broadly enough read in mysteries. I won't say there's nothing out there like them, just that it hasn't impinged on my consciousness much.)
You, personally, songwind? Probably Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block or Blackburn by Bradley Denton.
I like just about anything nonfictional by Oliver Sacks or Mark Kurlansky. (I'm not so keen on Kurlansky's short stories. They're not hideous, they're just not my thing.)
I really like Anthony Price's spy novels, but you'd probably have to borrow them from us (they're out of print here), and we'd have to get the rest of them. Darn.
Oh, and if you haven't read The Making of the Atomic Bomb, do. And, hey, Nicola Griffith's The Blue Place, and Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow, in case it does to your head what it did to my head.
Also Freeman Dyson.
Okay, I should stop now.