Shidi: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed, Mister Shankly. I’m sure Neopia is dying to know -is Mister your actual first name, or do you have one that's so hideous you're not sharing it with Neopia?
Shankly: Let's just say that I was named after my father, who is also a Mister.
Shidi: So, in effect, you're really more of a Mister Shankly Jr.?
Shankly: Yeah, but much taller.
Shidi: Keen. You know, that whole Ski Lodge incident- we were pretty sure you'd bought the farm when your head turned up on that platter at dinner. Would you like to use this opportunity to tell Neopia how you cheated the Grim Reaper?
Shankly: Four words: Studio Stunt Hair Gel.
Shidi: Wow! That must have been something. What have you been doing since your Ski Lodge days? How'd you wind up working for the Times, exactly? That's a big change from your previous career with the Handsome Devils, isn't it?
Shankly: (Making a shhh gesture and picking up his ringing cell phone. Several minutes of hushed conversation follow before he hangs up) Sorry, I just got a call from my manager.
Shidi: Ooh…what's the good word?
Shankly: Well, I'm trying to get another record contract and will be touring soon. I'm just "laying low" right now.
Shidi: Wow! That's fantastic news for all your fans. Will any of the songs be about your work with the Neopian Times, perhaps?
Shankly: No, I keep the two completely separate.
Shidi: Good to know. Going back to your work with the Times, what's it like being the Editor of Neopia's Number One newspaper?
Shankly: Erm, you mean the only newspaper. When you've got a lot of people working for you, well, the job's so much easier.
Shidi: Oh, I see- so you're an executive type? Have little pets that carry around the submissions for you, sort through the rubble, set the type and the like?
Shankly: Well, I let my "other" personalities do much of the work. My day is usually spent testing my surge protector.
Shidi: Oh, I see. So, you're a man of many...erm.. personas? Are any of them... dangerous?
Shankly: Actually, I've never met any of my other personas...
Shidi: What's your favorite part of working for the Neopian Times?
Shankly: Changing the auto-reply on a bi-weekly basis.
Shidi: What's your least favorite part?
Shankly: Not being able to answer every single e-mail submission I get.
Shidi: What advice would you like to give to prospective Neopian Times writers?
Shankly: I think the biggest mistake writers make is NOT proofreading their work... it's okay to reread and rewrite and reread and rewrite until you think it's time to send it off. There's no hurry--The Neopian Times isn't going anywhere. I *cough* think you have a better chance of getting something published if you took the time to at least cultivate an idea into several paragraphs that actually mean something than just slapping it all together and sending it off without a care. You should care about what you're writing because it is going to be up on the site, reflecting you. Also, spell checking. Yes, it does sound like some sort of "magic" to some people, but it's actually pretty simple. It scares me when people say, "sawwie but i dont have spel chek and i wuz in a herry. lemme no wen my storie goez on the sight."
Shidi: Believe me, it scares me too, Mister Shankly. *shiver* I noticed in the editorial that mentions you, you said "Please remember to include your username" or something to that effect. Is this a big problem? Do you receive a lot of submissions with no username?
Shankly: Yes. When a story has no username to be found anywhere on it, then it goes to an undisclosed location... and the only way to get there is with the delete button.
Shidi: Delete world.. the world that never made it to the map. So in order to avoid being one of the denizens of delete world, remember to include a user name. Got it!
Shidi: I've heard somewhere (not naming any names) that you, Mister Shankly, will happily edit pieces that come across your desk in a pre-edited state, though you sometimes make errors like 2+2=5 . Is there any truth to this rumor?
Shankly: If there are no specific instructions, then I'll have to assume that's what the writer meant. For example, if I get a special note instructing me to check math problems, then I will. I thought "2+2=5" was funny and felt that if I changed it to "2+2=4" it would be way too predictable. Yeah, yeah "assume" makes a donkey out of you and me both. Next question please...
Shidi: What's your ideal submission?
Shankly: Vanja, are you there?
Shidi: *cough* I was thinking more in terms of 'What's the -best-, or most perfect a submission could be". You know.. has all its stuff in order, includes a username, plot...?
Shankly: Well, plot is a major plus, but in the little space a writer gets in the Times it's surely a challenge (especially in the Short Stories section). I think one of the only ways to compensate is by building well-rounded characters or simply a character (Al, Harry, MonoKeras, Moeioe, Agent Magnolia, etc.) that you can continue to place into different situations. Then you can step back, look at all the different shorts you've written your character into and think, "Where do I see my character going next?" ‘ Be original, though. I think that's what counts the most. When I get a story that's exactly like something in last week's issue, I know they just want the trophy and that's it. Technically speaking, the perfect submission comes with clear paragraph breaks. That's all I'm asking, folks. One thing I do like is seeing what a writer is going to do next week...The Moo Strip, The Cheesy Neos... both amaze me. They have something for me almost every week.
Shidi: That's always a plus at layout time, I imagine.
Shankly: Oh, yes. But, of course, this is the Internet, and I can make things disappear without a reprint.
Shidi: Now, I know fans of Mister Shankly are dying to know some more personal insights, so these next questions veer away from the Times a bit: How do you get you hair into that fantastic (and now famous) shape?
Shankly: Oh, the hair... it's taken a bit of a cut and color recently.
Shidi: Really? I hadn’t noticed. Will we be seeing a new Mister Shankly picture up on the site?
Shankly: You'll have to wait and see. I think I even got a new outfit, but that's all I can say.
Shidi: Hm... could this mean that Meridell will feature the Neopets staff in some way? Lord Shankly?
Shankly: I think you're getting ahead of yourself there.
Shidi: What's your favorite food in Neopia?
Shankly: Streaky bacon.
Shidi: Mm, a good, if fattening, choice. Favorite world?
Shankly: At the moment? Meridell. I actually have a MeriDELL computer.
Shidi: Favorite Neopet?
Shidi: Favorite method of execution?
Shankly: Death by pencil sharpener.
Shidi: Favorite band?
Shankly: Yes Boy Ice-Cream.
Shidi: Favorite staff member(s) (other than your illustrious self)?
Shankly: Black Widow, Bubbles and Sweets.
Shidi: Favorite game?
Shankly: Gadgadsgame. I enjoy counting potatoes, too.
Shidi: What's the most potatoes you've ever had to count? I got 1900 and something once! Overzealous farmers, grrr.
Shankly: 62, I think. You're lucky.
Shidi: If you were stuck on a desert island, and could only bring three things that exist in Neopia with you, what would they be?
Shankly: A hairy tash, the Tombola guy, and a Yes Boy Ice-Cream Poster.
Shidi: Interesting choices. Any particular reason?
Shankly: Yes, they all tickle.
Shankly: If I don't use the correct hair gel, my hair gets all "kinky".
Shidi: That about wraps it up, and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me. Is there anything you'd like to say to the readers of this article that we haven't covered in the scope of our interview?
Shankly: I usually like to end things with a "Hmmmpf". So... hmmmpf.