1. What is the title of your newest book or short story? What’s it about? Where can readers find it?
My latest work is Icarus: A Graphic Novel, a graphic novel based on my novel of the same name being published by Silence in the Library Publishing–a story which follows the adventures of Icarus and Jellinek, two beings who are, on the surface, as different from one another as they could possibly be. Icarus is a tall, fair-skinned young man with wings, incredible powers, and no memory of anything other than his name; Jellinek is a short, flamepetal prospector with tough red skin, a two-tailed lava resistant creature called a “solar” for a companion, and a general dislike of everyone around him. Together, they must defeat a race of tyrants that has enslaved the world of Vol. Through the course of the story they discover that they are more alike than they can possibly imagine. Based on my novel of the same name, Icarus is illustrated by the insanely talented Matt Slay, a professional comic artist.
2. How did you choose to become a writer?
That’s an excellent question, and I guess the answer is twofold. First, I’ve always been interested in communication, and I love the idea of being able to reach out to people in many different mediums. I spent a lot of time in college and graduate school, especially later on, doing speech and debate at a high competitive level, and I’ve never grown tired of the thrill I get from being able to reach people and (with luck) bring them together. Writing gave me the opportunity to do that in a more permanent form, where people can go back to that form of communication over and over again. Second, I love literature, and within that broad field I particularly enjoy speculative fiction–books like The Hobbit fired my imagination when I was young, and having the chance to contribute to that experience in others–and being able to publicly share a world I’ve imagined and developed privately–is incredible. Writing was a logical way to make that possible.
3. What’s your favorite part of writing a new book or story? What do you like the least?
My favorite part is the sense of discovery as I bring imagined worlds to life in prose–there are often moments that come off somewhat different on the page than I had imagined them in my head, and those are great experiences for me. Of course, those different moments are sometimes unsuccessful ones, when I have to go back and reconceptualize the scene in question, and those times are…less fun, to be charitable!
4. What inspired your new book or story?
My first novel, a work of epic fantasy called The Third Sign, came out in 2009 from Gale Cengage, and I wrote Icarus because I wanted to do something still fantastical but very different. My original inspiration was actually a Cirque du Soleil performance in which a winged creature confronts many bizarre and fantastic creatures in another world, and that experience combined with an interest in mythology (including, of course, the Icarus one) led to the writing of Icarus. I’ve always thought Icarus is a very visual story, so when I saw some of Matt Slay’s illustrations for Silence in the Library’s Time Traveled Tales anthology–including the one for the prologue to Icarus, which I had originally submitted to that antho–I knew I had found someone who could bring the story to pictoral life. I spoke to Ron Garner at SitL about the idea, and the rest is history.
5. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
A few things: read widely, in many genres (and forms) outside of your favorite ones. Write widely, going outside your comfort zone when you can, building on your strengths and trying to improve your weaknesses. Listen to and learn from others–not just friends and family, but colleagues and experts in your discipline and others. Be persistent, be confident, be humble, and most of all, be patient, with the process and yourself. It will serve you well in this business.
Click here to listen to a special read of Icarus.