Foto: Morna Ciraki
I am really glad you’ve accepted my interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Can you tell us a bit more about how you became a writer?
I’ve written stories since I was very little but began making money at it in high school and college, generally with scholarships won in amateur playwriting contests. I moved to Los Angeles after school to try and break into screenwriting which took several years of writing script after script, finding ways to get better even as I hustled to get my work in people’s hands. Once I became established as a screenwriter, opportunities to branch into video game and comic book writing presented themselves and I jumped at the chance, sometimes simply because I wanted to learn what working in a new medium could teach me. I first self-published short stories and novellas as an outlet for the kinds of tales I thought could never work in movies but stuck in my head regardless. After several years of this, I decided to try and write a novel that might work for a traditional publisher as unless you’re an excellent marketeer/self-promoter, there’s a real ceiling to the self-pub marketplace.
Was it difficult for the first book to find a publisher?
The process of getting the manuscript in shape was difficult as, though I’d self-published, I still wasn’t writing prose up to any kind of professional level. Luckily, I landed on an agent who believed in me. She worked hard with me to get the draft good enough to take out. It was passed on several places before landing with Thomas & Mercer. I was very fortunate to sell my first book that way.
Could you describe literature in three words?
Typing that sticks?
Is there a book you would never read? Why?
Probably? There’s likely a great swath of commercial writing I wouldn’t pick up just because I’m old and not as easily shocked or titilated as I once was by writing meant to mechanically push a reader’s buttons. A critic once slammed a horror movie I worked on saying something like it would only work on an audience member if they’d never, ever seen another horror film (which I find hard to disagree with). I love books of every stripe and have never run out of things I’d like to read. But I might be done reading the books that only work if you’ve never read another.
What’s your favorite book?
That answer probably changes daily. For today, I’ll just say, Joseph Cassara’s THE HOUSE OF IMPOSSIBLE BEAUTIES in fiction, MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CARSON McCULLERS by Jenn Shapland in non-fiction.
“Never trust a man who writes more than he reads.“ – Samuel Johnson
EBooks or paper print?
Paper, sadly, though I know it’s not the environmentally friendly choice—one of the reasons I prefer used paperbacks. I have read plenty of Ebooks, but the uniform experience takes something away. I like having books of all shapes and sizes and smells in my hands. Similar with audiobooks and their great variety of narrators.
What inspires you?
Art? And people? I love seeing examples of things people create that are so individualized they could never be created by anyone else alive. Could be a great painting, dance move, opera, play, song lyric, Tweet, whatever.
Imagine you were given the opportunity to meet a book character in real life. Who would that be?
This is a surprisingly hard question to answer! I’ll go with Behemoth, the giant, shape-shifting black cat from Bulgakov’s THE MASTER AND MARGARITA.
Behemoth is sly, funny, kind of a jerk, can’t die, drinks gasoline and vodka, loves guns, is completely insane, and works for Satan. I’d imagine him a boon companion for any random adventure.
What’s your worst nightmare?
Something terrible happening to my kids. I wish it was something less prosaic, but that outweighs all of it.
The best decision of your life was?
The best I’ll mention here is embracing the writing life. There are highs and lows, but I chose to do the thing I loved and I’ve never regretted it even when it absolutely sucks!
I can’t wait to read your next book. Are you currently working on a project? Is there any release date to reveal?
My next book will be THE QUAKE CITIES from Severn House, hitting in hardcover in the UK on December 31, 2020, in the US on March 3, 2021. It concerns a near-future plagued by earthquakes and a mysterious young woman who arrives in this time having no idea how she got there.