Thursday, January 31, 2013

Author Interview – Andy Gavin

What are your goals as a writer? I want to tell commercial and fun tales that have some depth to them. This means balancing character and traditional drama (not melodrama) with cool scenarios and rapid pacing. Fundamentally, I want to entertain.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? I do travel a lot, and I incorporate bits and pieces of this into my books. For example, I went to school in Philadelphia and go back there every year. I’ve been to the tea house in Shanghai where Charlie’s dad is hanging out. I’ve spent time in London and France. But I don’t always pick particular locations from my life. All sorts of factors lead me to them. For example, Ben Franklin’s print shop was in St. Barts church in the 1723-25 time frame, so that’s where I put it. I will always use real facts if I can. Newport Prison was pretty much as described back then. Worse really.

What books have most influenced your life? A Game of Thrones, Hyperion, Carrion Comfort, Dune, The Anubis Gates, A Fire Upon the Deep, Consider Phlebas, The City and the Stars, Time Enough for Love, Great Sky River, Wizard and Glass, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Wyvern, Assassin’s Apprentice, A Horse and His Boy, The Silmarillion, and many more.

Who is your favorite author and why? A have a lot. But Tim Powers is a favorite for his ability to bring to life the fey in a grounded yet truly otherworldly way. Stephen King is another (not all his books but many) for his uncannily ability to characterize people in just a sentence or two and his unerring ear for dialogue. Dan Simmons for the massive scope of his world building and command of pathos. George R. R. Martin for his mastery at making his gigantic cast of characters feel developed and above all, human.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Yep. Right now, I’m writing two more and adapting Untimed into a screenplay.

Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why? Wool, by High Howey was a totally unknown (to me) book that I recently read and really really enjoyed. if you like Science Fiction, post apocalyptic worlds, or just plain old good novels. Read this. In some ways it’s a throwback, in some ways very modern, Woolis a contained (in both the literary and literal way) post apocalyptic tale in the mould of Larry Niven or A Canticle for Leibowitz. Technically this is an ARC story, about an isolated world built to survive a destroyed environment. It’s very emotionally driven and tense.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? There are tons of good books on writing. Ones by Stephen King and Sol Stein are at the top of my list. As to a literal tool, I can’t recommend more highly Scrivener, the writer’s word processor. It won’t do any actual writing for you, but it sure will save you a lot of struggle and frustration when you do get those creative juices flowing.

Do you have any advice for writers? The simplest and the most time consuming advice is to read. Read everything you can. In your genre, in other genres, non-fiction. Everything. Of course if you’re one of those people who just never reads but somehow has the burning desire to be a writer… perhaps you should think again. Next, take your craft seriously. Read books on writing and editing, on plot and structure. Editing, and I mean professional editing, is really very important. A surprising number of published books aren’t even well edited. They’re overwritten and redundant, like this sentence. Patience. It takes a long time to improve and you’ll end up doing a lot of waiting on both yourself and others.

What do you do to unwind and relax? I’m a ridiculous foodie and wine guy (I blog about it here), to the level of being a certified sommelier and attending 27 course truffle diners. Yet, I also have a secret weakness for “comfort” food (particularly candies) like Skittles and Spicettes.

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Genre – YA / Time Travel & Romance

Rating – PG

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