Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Get to Know Author Andrew Gavin

Good afternoon readers!
Today we have author Andrew Gavin joining us to talk about his book with bite, The Darkening Dream. And just so you know, right now on Amazon you can get the Kindle copy for free! Here is more about the book:


1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.
With the help of Alex, a Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?
No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

When did you know you would be a writer?
I’m a lifelong creator and explorer of worlds. As far back as first grade I remember spending most of the school day in one day dream or another. I had a huge notebook stuffed with drawings, story bits, and concepts for an elaborate Sci-Fi/Fantasy world I cobbled together from bits of Star Wars, Narnia, and Battlestar Galactica. By fourth or fifth grade not only was I loosing myself in every fantasy or Sci-Fi novel I could, but I was building Dungeons & Dragons castles and caverns on paper. Then from 1980 on the computer.
Over the following decades I wrote dozens of stories and created and published over a dozen video games all set in alternative universes. And as an avid reader (over 10,000 novels and who knows how many non-fiction volumes) it was no surprise that I eventually decided to write some books of my own.

Who or what inspires your writing?
I get very inspired by my own sense of “cool.” This can mean cool scenes, cool characters, cool dynamics, cool symbolism, cool turns of phrase, whatever. As I read and watch media obsessively – and by obsessively I mean 200 novels a year and about four hours of long form film/tv a day, I don’t sleep much – I’m constantly looking for interesting moments and archetypes that can be reinvented and re-purposed. Nothing is ever new in the world. I also read a tremendous amount of history and in both of my novels I used facts about the history and the historical places and times to guide the story. Sometimes it’s useful to have concrete possibilities like this to give you structure. The magical systems in The Darkening Dream are largely like that. I’ll have a practical function in the plot they need to accomplish, then I’ll dig through historic occult books looking for something that is synergistic. Sometimes it goes the other way.

How long did it take you to write your first novel?
Almost 2 years. At least 9 major drafts. As my first novel, this one took a lot of rewriting. It's 95k words, but at it's largest it was 186k!

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The endless re-reading and careful editing is more tedious (although I do a lot of it!). Sitting down to read the entire book again for the 50th time takes some serious will power. The agent query process is also horrible -- and not nearly as productive. It's really wretched and broken in every way, designed only for the convenience and efficiency of agents. But it doesn't even really serve that. The process is loosely functional but frustrating for both sides in a way reminiscent of American Healthcare.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Unless something distracting is going on I try to have my butt in the chair by around 10am (after working out) and more or less keep it there until around 6pm. If drafting new prose I try to do about 2000 words a day. I write, then I do a polish pass. If I had to rewrite significantly during that pass I’ll do a third sweep to cleanup.
Then I print and run to my wife for instant feedback. Next I email it to my Mom and my “story consultant” (one of my friends who reads it right away). Feedback is good. I find that I’ll often redraft a chunk on the basis of these early comments.

Have you written any thing else?
I have a second finished novel (it’s been through four major drafts and a full line edit). It’s called Untimed and is a YA time travel novel that chronicles the crazy adventures of a boy no one remembers, who falls through a hole in time and finds himself lost in the past. It’s very different with an extremely immediate first person present voice (in this book the only thing anyone can hold on to is the present). It rocks. Seriously rocks.

Any advice to aspiring 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.

Who are your favorite Authors?
I have so many, but to start: George R. R. Martin, Dan Simons, Tim Powers, Orson Scott Card, Guy Gavriel Kay, Sherri S. Tepper, Octavia Butler, Ian M. Banks, Jack L. Chalker, Robin Hobb, Stephen King, Gene Wolfe, Katherine Kurtz, and Vernor Vinge.

What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
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.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently in the middle of The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. So far, this is a really engrossing alternative history steampunk novel with Sir Richard Francis Burton (the explorer, not the actor) as the protagonist.

How do readers find out more about you?
I have all sorts of information about my writing available at my website and stories about media, history, and the hit video games I’ve created at http://all-things-andy-gavin.com.
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