Sunday, 24 June 2012

Interrogating Arthur Slade

Arthur Slade introduced me to steampunk and scary norse mythological creatures.  And he's a YA author!!!

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

I tend to just write what I feel the story demands and what first appears in my head. Sometimes I'll push the envelope much further than I intended. It isn't until I get to the third or fourth rewrite that I begin to question what belongs and what doesn't. It's not that I think "will readers want to read this" but I'm thinking more at the level "does the story need this? Does it belong?" If the answer is yes, then the piece stays. If not, then it doesn't. An example from The Hunchback Assignments is that there is a scene where the procedures that were performed on the urchins by Dr. Hyde were a bit more grotesquely examined (in fact one character wakes up during an operation). After suggestion from my editors I cut several smaller scenes. The story didn't need that extra element of horror and in some ways it was better to leave that "procedure" suggested, not explained. It was just me figuring out how things were done.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

I call myself a fantastical writer because I don't write just in horror, or fantasy, or science fiction...or historical. Each of these genres has some core element that attracts me. Just like many other humans I'm curious about history. Why did we do things the way we did? And what if we did things differently? The fantastical elements allow me to stretch my mind (and the story) beyond the regular boundaries of the here and now. What if people come back from the dead? What would that really be like? What if you could change your shape? How would that change the "inner" you? That's fun to play with. I guess what I enjoy about that is the possibilities appear limitless.

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them? 

I have several scrap books, a folder called "ideas" (creative, eh?), and another file on my computer that I just drag and drop things into. Whenever there's a lull in my schedule I dive into the folder and find something. Though more often things are trying to get out anyway. Probably 95% of what I find never gets used. It just sits there. Waiting. Waiting. Hoping to become part of a story.

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ? 

Oh, I think it depends on the character. Modo is an obvious example of someone who has similarities to me. I'm a reader. He's a reader. He's shy. I'm somewhat shy. He can change his shape. I can change...uh, well that's where we differ. But it's a natural process to strip mine elements of your personality and add them to your character. Of course, are the evil characters part of me, too? Yep. It's imagining what it would be like if you didn't have all those rules and messy morals in your brain. By far I'd like to be Modo, I think being able to leap up buildings in several bounds would be a lot of fun. And would save on transportation costs.

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

Alas, sometimes. Although I'm more likely to become just a brooding bore while I'm in a book. I tend not to talk about the book until it's done. And since that can be a year...well, that's a lot of brooding (don't worry, I talk about other things inbetween...I don't just brood for a year).

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

Mostly I read books for Middle Grade and Young Adults. That's the part of the industry I'm in and I have so many friends who keep writing books. But generally I enjoy reading fantasy and horror and science fiction and historical novels and ... oh, it's getting to be a long list.

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

Oh, I so wish I knew what the X factor is. If I did, I'd bottle it and sell it to other writers. And maybe to bystanders, too.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

It's curious. For my novels that are only in print I'll just smile and go "thanks" because most of those can't be fixed until there's a there's not much I can do about it. But in books that I've epubbed, I can just open the file and fix the mistake. Easy. And it makes it a better experience for the next reader. 

What do you like most about visiting KUF?

Skimming. By that I spend a lot of time just reading about what other people are reading and what they recommend. Being a Canadian, it's always interesting to see what other countries find to be good books. There is some crossover between what North American readers read, but I find some real gems in the UK lists. And that's what we're all looking for.

What is on your near horizon?

Just finishing up Flickers,  a dark horror novel set in 1920's Hollywood. Needed a break from the Steampunk for a bit.

Where can we find you for more information? 

I live (virtually) at From there you can link to my Twitter and Facebook accounts, where I blather on constantly about the horrible, painful life of being a writer. 

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