An EMU’s Quiz, Inspired by TALKER 25

Here we are, the fourth day into our launch party for Joshua McCune’s debut novel, TALKER 25.  If you like dragons, intense action, high-stakes plots, and compelling characters, you’re gonna love this book for teen and adult readers. But, for today’s post here on EMU’s Debuts, it’s time for a launch party game inspired by some of the Talker 25 story elements. The game, or quiz, is part truth-or dare and part fantasy free-for-all. Our own Emu debut authors had fun coming up with clever, and revealing responses. Seriously, you might learn something revelatory about one of these brilliant folk while we pique your interest in TALKER 25. Our celebrated author of the hour, Josh McCune, even chimed in with his own self-restrained responses.  And I do mean restrained because he is, after all, the dragon master of TALKER 25.

Let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?


1.) Talker 25 begins with a high school prank gone very, very wrong. What kind of high school pranks did you or your friends try to pull? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)

ADI RULE   My class pulled a “prank” on our Headmaster at graduation. Each graduate handed him a marble when they went in for the diploma/handshake. He just kept putting them in his pockets. There were 110 of us. LOL? 

LAURIE ANN THOMPSON   None, that I can remember. How boring, eh?

TARA DAIRMAN   Ha–I think that Melissa (in Talker 25) has a much more exciting high school life than I did! I honestly can’t remember any pranks. Does dressing identically to my best friend (we already sort of looked alike) to confuse the teachers count? 🙂

REBECCA VANSLYKE    High school pranks? I was always the shy new kid (three different high schools), so not so much in high school. However one school-related prank was when I was teaching at an old school with a leaky roof. My next-door teaching partner had a notorious leak, and it would happen during, or even after, a rainy day. She always had a bucket under the leak. So one morning I got there early and filled the bucket just a BIT more than was there. The same for the next two weeks. Every day there would be more and more water in the bucket. Soon the custodian was climbing up the ladder, feeling the ceiling panels. Then the custodian AND the principal would be up the ladder. On the last day of school I planned to bring in a goldfish to put in the bucket as the coup de grace. But, sadly, I got busted. The custodian got there before I did one morning, checked the bucket, and knew something was up when it was nearly to the top later on.

Post script: That summer we got a new roof. I take full credit. J

LINDSEY LANE    Oh geez…I went to a girl’s school. I was very compliant. VERY goody two shoes.

JOSHUA MCCUNE    I was a good, shy kid. Lol. I did however once dress up as a monkey and jump out of a box for my grandparents’ anniversary to commemorate a real simian my grandparents once had the misfortune of owning. The feces-throwing kind. 

MYLISA LARSEN     I was rather boring in the prank category, I’m afraid. The pranksters came from my husband’s side and they have a code of silence.

CHRISTINE HAYES    High school pranks: I was a really boring teenager, but someone I’m rather close to “borrowed” the huge inflatable Ronald McDonald from atop the McDonald’s across from his high school. He and his friends returned it a few days later when they found out their prank was more of a felony than a harmless way to spend a Saturday night.

AMY FINNEGAN    Kids used to climb onto the roof of my high school pool house and jump through the skylights into the pool. In the dark. Good thing there was always water in it. 

PENNY KLOSTERMAN    There was a popular TV commercial about Scope Mouthwash when I was growing up. (Yes, this dates me!) In the commercial, a pointed note (see below) and a bottle of Scope were left for someone who needed fresher breath.

The note said:

Once in the morning does it.

The Green Phantom 

My friends and I left a bottle of scope with that note outside our math teacher’s door, then knocked and ran. We don’t think he took it seriously because he still had tremendously bad breath…or it could be that “once in the morning” didn’t do.

MEGAN MORRISON    My friends and I were pretty mellow, but we TP’d a few houses in our day.  We also TP’d our high school, as a senior prank.  We were obviously very creative. 

DONNA BOWMAN BRATTON    My current pranking tendencies developed slowly after a rather unfunny high school career. No dragon kissing for me, I’m afraid. I did pull the standard sleepover pranks, though. And a few Halloween pranks that I refuse to disclose until my kids are adults. I don’t want them to get any ideas.


2.) If you could create a dragon of your own, what color would it be? Which gender? What powers would you want your dragon to possess? 

ADI RULE    My dragon would be dark and deadly and enormous and possess all the powers. And I would rule the land from atop its monstrous, spiky head.

LAURIE ANN THOMPSON    I’d create a purple dragon with the power of teleportation. 

TARA DAIRMAN    Ooh, great question. My dragon would probably have to be purple.Gender doesn’t matter, but obviously its power would be to breathe *moderate* amounts of fire, just perfect for lightly caramelizing the tops of creme brulee custards.

REBECCA VANSLYKE    My dragon would be able to change colors, in order to blend in to the background. Actually, these dragons may really exist, since they are so great at camouflage.

LINDSEY LANE    My dragon would be female. Very alluring. As in she sort of puts people in a trance with her presence. She wouldn’t be one color. She would be a chameleon, able to shift colors depending on what kind of allure she needs to create. Ahh but that isn’t her power. Her power is in her voice. Her ability to speak the truth, cut through the crap, eviscerate people’s defenses and still leave them standing but kinder for her evisceration. What actually happens during the evisceration is she exorcises their fear: fear of other, fear of different, fear that holds every -ism and wrong headed way of thinking in place.

JOSHUA MCCUNE    I once wrote a story about an aluminum dragon, so I’d go with that.  Genderless of course. It’s a robot after all. It would possess the power of granting me magic writing prowess. 10k words a day 😀

PENNY KLOSTERMAN    Purple and Orange. Female. 

Powers: Ability for her and her rider (me) to disappear. I often say that I would like to have been a “fly on the wall”. I think the ol’ “dragon on the wall” would work just as well. 

While we’re at it, I would like for my dragon to grant one wish a year. I’m trying to be reasonable and not greedy.

MYLISA LARSEN    I did create a dragon for a story once. He was orange. He spoke English but he had an unpronounceable name. So I called him Hank.

CHRISTINE HAYES    My ideal dragon would be purple and horse-sized, so I could ride it around town to run errands. It would have unlimited hidden storage for my vintage junk shopping and could fly over traffic during rush hour. And it would wag its tail like a dog, because that would be adorable.

AMY FINNEGAN    I would create a ferocious female dragon that was translucent and could blend into any background, awaiting her prey. 

MEGAN MORRISON    I’d create a red dragon, because that’s my son’s favorite color at the moment, and I think he’d be pretty delighted by a big red dragon of either gender. As for powers, what’s better than flight?  If the dragon would take us for rides, I’d be happy. 

 JENNIFER BERTMAN    My dragon would be a green, pocket-sized dragon named Kermit with the power to put a smile on your face by singing mellow songs and playing the banjo. 

DONNA BOWMAN BRATTON    I’d create a purple dragon with a wardrobe because I don’t have daughters and sometimes, a mom needs a break from ball caps and athletic cups. My dragon would be female because, well, males tend to mark their territory and I don’t want to clean up “that” mess. My well-accessorized dragoness would possess the powers of time travel, and flight, and shape-shifting, and bionic hearing, and eyesight. Because, you know, she would be an over-achiever


3.) In Talker 25, a dark and twisted television show comes into play. If you were to re-imagine a modern-day reality TV show to include dragons, what would it be?

ADI RULE    American Dragon Idol. I’d love to see blowhard, talking-out-their-backsides judges get incinerated by butthurt, mediocre dragon-singers. That I would watch.

LAURIE ANN THOMPSON   Reality TV? I’m far too serious to watch reality TV (NOT! I LOVE reality TV!!). One of my favorites is So You Think You Can Dance. I think dragons on SYTYCD would be AWESOME!

TARA DAIRMAN    House of Cards–with dragons! Wait, the Underwoods sort of are like dragons already…

REBECCA VANSLYKE    How about Pimp My Dragon? The object is to decorate and accessorize a dragon. The only rule: Don’t get toasted! (And if the dragon is male, that could lead to a spin-off show: Dragons in Drag!

LINDSEY LANE    How I met your Mother. It turns out that Ted marries a dragon and becomes the father to the new race of mankind. Barney is the godfather to every aberration that follows. Robin runs away (Thank god). Marshall and Lily are eaten. (Praise the Lord).

JOSHUA MCCUNE    Is this a trick question? Kissing Dragons is my dream show.  (duh!)

PENNY KLOSTERMAN    Liven Your Lair: Starring the Dynamic Dragon Duo of Design and Décor

MYLISA LARSEN    Can we just feed all participants in reality shows to Josh’s dragons?

CHRISTINE HAYES    The Amazing Race, on dragonback.

AMY FINNEGAN    Dragons vs. Terrorists

MEGAN MORRISON    I enjoy Masterchef, and though he doesn’t need them to augment his powers of intimidation, I can picture Gordon Ramsay sending in his twin dragons (“The Grill Masters”) to roast contestants who fail to produce edible dishes. 

JENNIFER BERTMAN    This is the true story of seven dragons picked to live in a house, work together, and have their lives taped. Find out what happens when dragons stop being polite and start getting real: The Real World–With Dragons!

Donna Bowman Bratton    I’ve never actually watched Project Runway, but I think it would be a hoot to launch Project Runaway. Contestants who are not fried by dragon-breath, compete to design and create strapless evening gowns, tuxedos, and speedos for the plus-sized dragon and dragoness.


4.) The main character in Talker 25, Melissa, discovers that she can telepathically communicate with dragons. If you had telepathy, who or what would you wish to communicate with?

ADI RULE    Canadian seals. My heart breaks every year. Get the hell out of there. Do not trust the people.

LAURIE ANN THOMPSON    My dog goes into this crazy frenzy of barking whenever anyone leaves the house and anytime two people hug. I’d tell her to knock it off. Actually, I’ve tried to tell her to knock it off, both verbally and telepathically. Apparently she can’t hear me. She’s too busy barking.

TARA DAIRMAN    If I could have telepathy with an animal, I’d have to pick our local prairie dog colony here in Colorado. What are these little guysthinking? And could I convince them to do circus tricks en masse??

REBECCA VANSLYKE    About 18 years ago I would have given anything to know what my baby was thinking. Exactly WHY is she crying? When she had a cold, did she think she’d feel this way for the rest of her life? Does she really think Grandpa has her nose? Do people really disappear during a game of Peek-A-Boo? Nowadays it would still be a cool talent. To walk down the aisles of the grocery store saying to new parents, “He doesn’t like that brand of diapers. They chafe.” Or “She’s hungry.” Or “She wants to go home. She misses the dog.” Call me The Baby Whisperer!

LINDSEY LANE    Who do you think is communicating with the dragon and giving her the knowledge to lovingly eviscerate people’s fears?

JOSHUA MCCUNE   I’d dream walk like Nobody Owens and mess with reviewers heads. Lol

PENNY KLOSTERMAN    This is a hard one. I’m not sure I want to know what anyone is thinking 😉 So I’m going with what I think would be a simple-minded creature. My duck, Mrs. Quackers, is back for the third year in a row. She’s setting on twelve eggs. I have often wondered what she thinks about all those hours she spends on her nest. 

CHRISTINE HAYES    I would telepathically communicate with my dog to stop barking, chewing, jumping, making messes in the house, and waking us up in the middle of the night. Because otherwise he’s delightful.

AMY FINNEGAN    My husband, so he would *at last* know exactly what I was trying to say.

MEGAN MORRISON    My students. Oh, man.  If I could telepathically remind them to sit down, or refocus, or use an apostrophe, or whatever it is they need to do – that would be so amazing.  It would allow me to individualize attention in a totally shame-free, private way.  Kids would really appreciate that.

MYLISA LARSEN     At the moment, I am feeling the need to send a telepathic message to the hog-sized woodchuck living under my barn who just ate 125 bucks worth of perennials for lunch.

JENNIFER BERTMAN    After a day of not being able to understand what “uuuh! uuuh! uuuh!” meant before the tantrum timer ticked down to zero, I’d have to say I’d like to have telepathy with my 2-year-old son.

DONNA BOWMAN BRATTON    Well, first, I’d want to be able to communicate with my newly created, well-accessorized, over-achieving female dragon. Then…hmmm…sometimes I’d like to read my kids’ minds. Sometimes, I’d like to read the minds of animals. Sometimes, I’d like to communicate with trees because they can tell the history of the world.

There you go, folks. I told you it would be a fun game. Now all you have to do is help us throw confetti to celebrate Josh’s launch week. Then run out or search online for your very own copy of TALKER 25. You can find the book at one of these places: Indiebound, Amazon,, or at your local book store.

Remember, today (Thursday) is your last day to be entered to win a signed hardback copy of TALKER 25. To enter, comment on this post or earlier posts from this week.



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16 responses to “An EMU’s Quiz, Inspired by TALKER 25

  1. This is great! And, um, Adi Rule: you and your dragon kinda scare me…


  2. Lindsey Lane

    Oh my. Just that. Oh my.


  3. Hahaha, this was fabulous! I can’t believe how many of us want a purple dragon.

    And I totally want to watch How I Met Your Mother with dragons. Lindsey, that’s genius. 🙂


  4. Very fun! Josh, did you notice that purple was the prevailing color for our dream dragons? Can we expect Purples?


  5. Joshua McCune

    Penny, Lol… but no =P


  6. Wow, it’s another side of the ‘Mus. Several other sides!


  7. Maybe the purple love is why we ended up at EMLA? (As if there weren’t enough other reasons!) All we need to do is cross a blue with a red and–voila! Purple dragon babies! Awww, so cute! Though I kind of want a green pocket dragon named Kermit now, too.


  8. Ah, the truth comes out! This post will provide juicy blackmail fodder when y’all are rich and famous.

    And maybe Jean Reidy needs to write another book along the lines of Too Purpley and Too Firebreathly.


  9. bn100

    That was fun


  10. FUN!!! I loved this!! 🙂


  11. Donna, this is great! So much fun to read everyone’s responses.


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