1.) What (and how many books) have you released? What are they about? I've released a book and a short story so far. The book is called Weaver, and it's my attempt to put a slightly different spin on the "team of FBI agents investigate supernatural events" genre of sci-fi that's sprung up starting with The X-Files and continuing with shows like Fringe. I took that, threw in a little Buffy, and voila! The short story is called The Antlerbury Tales, and it's essentially a five-thousand word homage to the classical fantasy and role-playing cultures. It's in the mold of stories like The Princess Bride and Spaceballs -- a loving satire of the source material.
2. Which, if any, character do you feel has the most of your characteristics (or acts the most like you do)? Tough question, because all of my characters have at least a little piece of me in them. The obvious answer is to say Hunter, the protagonist of my new novel, Atticus for the Undead, because he's a lawyer, but I don't want to put it in people's heads that I wrote a story about myself defending zombies and vampires. Let's say I'm an amalgamation of Hunter's idealism and Moira's tenacity and Alex's tendency to be her own worst critic and Zed's height (and tendency to bump his head on things) and Percy's love of poetry. Though I try not to be as self-absorbed as Percy or as arrogant as Sabrina. I think I'll just go with Mr. Cronlord. He was the character I've had the most fun writing, anyway.
3. How did you get the idea for your work? What lured you to your topics? In a general sense, I've been a sci-fi/fantasy watcher and reader for years -- decades, really. And I knew that if I was going to write fiction of my own, it was going to be in that genre. I think it allows you the most opportunity to tackle serious subjects while also doing wacky, far-out things that you couldn't get away with in other genres.I once heard another writer say that, when you're a writer, everything is inspiration. That's basically how I feel -- the most random things will inspire me. Like the book I'm releasing now, Atticus for the Undead, came to me when I was reading Seanan McGuire's novel Feed, which is about the politics of a post-zombie-apocalypse world. And then I thought, "Huh, next thing you know, they'll be putting one on trial or something… Hey! That's it!" Weaver, on the other hand, was inspired by the fact that one of my best friends is a young blonde woman who has really vivid zombie dreams. I went to college with her, and every day she'd have new stories of her dream battles to regale us with. Thus was born Alex -- a young blonde girl with vivid monster dreams that just happen to also come true.
4.) Which scene was the most intense, or most visual, for you to write, personally? [SPOILER ALERT!] The bedroom scene with Moira and Andy, so far. Though you may want to ask me again in a couple of weeks when I actually finish the Atticus manuscript -- which, as of writing these answers, I haven't. There are some scenes coming up in there that I suspect may rival that one.
5.) If you could cast any actor/actress to play your main characters, who would you select? All right, as long as we're dreaming, let's have some fun. I think for Alex Cronlord I'd get Skyler Samuels, the young woman who plays Chloe King. For James, it would have to be Jack Coleman. If you've seen Heroes, you know why. I'd have to think about Ainsling. Maybe Jenny Calendar from Buffy, or Nina Sharp from Fringe. If I could get Jodie Foster, I might cast her as Moira -- after Silence of the Lambs, I could see her doing well in the role, though she'd need red hair dye. Andy would probably be the actor who played John Doggett in The X-Files. Enver Gjokaj from Dollhouse would get the nod for Hunter -- he's a mesmerizing actor. I think Miracle Laurie would make an awesome Kirsten, and Dakota Fanning would be the perfect Sabrina, assuming she's still young enough for the part. If not, my mother informs me that her younger sister Elle is also a brilliant actress.
6.) If you could meet anyone or see anything from your novel, characters or otherwise, what and/or who would you choose? I'm going to answer this question in the vaguest terms possible, because it involves a spoiler from Atticus. There's a scene at the end of Chapter 4 of the novel in which a certain revelation is made about a certain character, and I think it's one of the coolest things I've ever written. I'd like to see it actually happen. That would be difficult, of course, since the scene takes place in a womens' restroom, but….
7.) How did you go about selecting your cover? I'm lucky enough to have a number of artistically talented friends. For Weaver and Antlerbury, I went to Lisa Elliott, who actually wants to do marketing stuff for a living, and she did a spectacular job. Then for Atticus, that style of cover art wasn't quite what I wanted, so I went to a young man named Mark Vickrey, and -- well, if you haven't seen the cover already, you should go check it out right now, this interview should be going public about the same time as the cover does, and it's really something else.
8.) What, if any, is/are your next upcoming projects? When can readers expect them to be released? Right now, almost all of my attention is going into finishing Atticus for the Undead. By the time this interview hits the net, it may well be done, but as I write this, I'm working 'round the clock (literally) to finish it up. Unless something catastrophic happens, I'm hoping for a mid-to-late November release date, so you guys can gobble it up with your Thanksgiving turkey. After that, I'm going to start work on the Weaver sequel, which is tentatively titled The Void. That should be out in the early months of 2012. There are a few other projects on my mind, but they're all too speculative at this point to really talk much about.
9.) Why did you decide to become an author (or start writing)? Well, I'd been making serial short fiction and running RPGs for years. And then I noticed that for several weeks in a row, the episode plots on one of my favorite shows were very similar to things I'd just done in the serial I was working on at the time. So I thought, "Huh, maybe I can play in the big leagues." As everyone knows, the economy is awful, so I figured I had nothing to lose.
10.) What do you love most about being an author? Every time I read or see a work of fantasy fiction, I always get these ideas in my head about how I would do things if I was the author or director. Sometimes it's just a general "Oh, if I was writing this plot arc, I'd go this direction!", other times it's more specific visual images or things I'd put into one character's dialogue. Whichever the case, this is my chance to do things that way.
11.) What or who inspires you to write? My (de)-mentor, Joss Whedon, first of all. I've probably learned more about the mechanics of telling stories from him than from any other single fiction-maker. Second of all, Ruth, my significant other, who is the single best creative mind I know, and a far better one than I am. Third of all, the relatively small audience of people who've been devouring my serials and playing in my RPGs for years now. Every time they gasp at a plot twist, I get a little more confidence that I really can pull off this crazy stunt.
12.) What is the top cause you champion? Oh, that's a painful choice to make. Social service and politics have been part of what wakes me up in the morning for a long time, and I care about a lot of different issues and causes. If I had to pick one, though, it would be child welfare.
13.) What advice do you have for anyone who is interested in becoming an author? That question assumes I know what I'm doing as an author, which I've never been quite sure of. I guess the biggest one would be: make sure you love the story you're telling. If you don't, the story itself won't have any blood flow, so to speak, and the audience will pick up on that quickly. And to paraphrase a character from Star Trek: First Contact, "don't try to tell a great story, just tell a story, and let the readers make their own judgments."
14.) What is the one thing your readers should know about you? That I'm way too tall for my own good. (Six feet, seven-and-one-half inches, folks. Not kidding.)
15.) What is the one thing you want your perspective readers to know about you? That I have fun writing so that they can have fun reading -- I'm not trying to make great literature. I have things I want to talk about, but my number one goal is to keep you hooked from page one until the back cover. And then, ideally, keep the best scenes haunting you long after you download the next book on your reading list.
16.) If you could do anything (for a living or career) besides being a writer, what would you do? Probably work as a lawyer for a domestic violence clinic, child welfare services, or a similar organization. I worked for one in Iowa after I got my first law license and loved it -- unfortunately, the economy means such jobs are pretty much non-existent.
17.) Besides writing or reading, what are your hobbies? I devour sci-fi/fantasy movies and television at an incredible rate. I play role-playing games. I keep up on the news. Sometimes I volunteer.
18.) What are your favorite author(s), favorite book(s) or series, and/or biggest literary inspiration(s)? My favorite book would definitely be Ender's Game. Card and I have very different writing styles, but that book does a terrific job of being gripping and engaging while also tackling thought-provoking issues.
19.) Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what artists? Depends on my mood. As far as artists go, I'm all over the map. Cruxshadows songs fit the mood of my stories a lot of the time, though I also deeply love The Counting Crows.
20.) Is there anything, specifically, that helps you write? Talking to Ruth. Consuming a piece of fiction I love and thinking about what twists I'd have put on it if I were in the drivers' seat. Imagining my audience's reaction to whatever plot twist I've thought of today.
Thanks for joining Ricochet Reviews for an interview!
Where to Find John Abramowitz
Where to Find Weaver
Where to Find The Antlerbury Tales