I have been following Derek J. Canyon's blog for awhile now, and a few months ago he announced he would like to do a charity anthology, now named "Twelve Worlds". As a fledgling Indie myself, I quickly jumped on board where I met a delightful cast of characters.
It became quickly apparent that some authors were more reliable when it came to communication! Tony is one of those people I could always count on an answer from. It is my pleasure to introduce our guest interviewee today,Tony Lavely. He is the author of Weird and Wonderful. Please check out the anthology, "Twelve Worlds", when it drops (slated for April)!
A quick note on interview format:
5 Up High is the section where I ask the interviewee writing and author related questions.
Special Feature is the section specifically related to a certain project (for example, today's Twelve Worlds Special Feature).
5 Down Low is where I ask random questions, to help you get the nitty-gritty on today's target.
Author Comments give the guest a chance to redeem themselves ;)
Without further rambling, here is Tony's interview...
5 Up High:
JEM: Why did you get into writing/become a writer?
ATL: My very first effort writing fiction was to challenge my daughter to do the same for a class. That effort, some 25 years old, has been updated and forms the first part of Mercenaries; A Love Story, the book I plan to release this summer. Since being unemployed, I have a bit more time for it.
JEM: Why did you decide to go into Indie Publishing?
ATL: My belief is that while I want to write about the things I like, I am far from certain that anyone would want to read them. And then, being fit to a formula... I thought independent effort suited me better. Also, being a senior, it doesn't have to support me, although it'd be nice...
JEM: Can you give a synopsis of your current WIP (Work In Progress)?
ATL: A two book set entitled, as I said above, Mercenaries; A Love Story. The first book will be epublished in the summer, and the second concluding book in the fall. Both are written; I'm in final editing stages on the first book. The second book will be up next. I have written about three paragraphs of a sequel (at the behest of preliminary reviewers) involving some of the same cast.
The story of Mercenaries is not all that complex, I guess, though capturing it in a few sentences seems counter productive, since I have spent 200K words telling it. However: Beckie, her brother Mike, and their friend Melissa, are teens who get involved assisting Ian Jamse and his group of mercenaries in halting a child abuse ring that operates in Europe, the US and Far East. Part One is 13+ in my mind; Part Two is probably M for mature. You'll have to read it to understand the "love story" storyline.
A second series is fantasy/SF rather than thriller/adventure. The series so far runs to over 700K words. It follows Jani, nominated by a nameless entity to save the world by competing in a game with the fate of the world in the balance. The first book sets this conflict up, while the game itself is played out in the succeeding five stories. Settings in the five stories change, as Jani is teleported to different worlds. These worlds range from a theocracy founded by a space traveler to a world with dragons and were's (werekittens, weresheep, weregirl) to an advanced world used in books four and five where humans have developed fully sentient swarm computing entities in their own form (and others) to finally, what I think of as a classical fantasy realm, with mages and thus, magic. Some of Jani's magic runs throughout the series; characters come and go, though a few are more frequent visitors. The fifth novel in the series is as yet incomplete, so strange things might still happen.
JEM: What is your biggest inspiration as a writer?
ATL: Real life, as opposed to reality. Characters especially.
JEM: What is your writing process? (IE: outline, notecards, etc)
ATL: Ok, honestly. I come up with a concept I like, and begin. For example, the concept behind the six part series: About 20 years ago, I was at a family get together at my brother's house. Summer; the doors were open. I had a cold beer, and was just lazing about. A fly kept annoying me by (seemingly) disappearing and reappearing across the room. That concept, translated to an airplane, worked its way to 700K words.
So, I start the process and let the characters tell their own story. I help them by doing research where they need information (Google is your friend; Google Maps and Earth can be extremely helpful in trying to design settings). Not having the story planned out at the beginning causes me difficulty on occasion; I'm not sure I recommend it as a technique. It has left me with part five unfinished while part six is complete.
12 Worlds Special Feature:
JEM: Why did you decide to contribute to Twelve Worlds?
ATL: I am a member of Critters.org (recommended to writers!), sharing critiques between writers. One of the 12 World authors, Edward Cote, is also, and I had the opportunity to critique his work Violet Sky. I liked it, and when he told me of Derek's idea, I thought I would like to be a part of the effort.
JEM: Can you tell us anything about the story you contributed to Twelve Worlds?
ATL: I wrote the first draft about 20 years ago, in opposition to something or other. Perhaps it was Splash, the Tom Hanks/Darryl Hannah movie from the 80's. It was a fun piece, trying to imply a sexual relationship blooming to full love over a matter of hours, before Mailira disappears forever. Nothing explicit. Her sister comes back - no, Marelsa is not Mailira and Jackson's daughter. In bringing it to 12 Worlds, a couple of plot lines had to be fleshed out, but the basic story remains: girl and boy meet, fall in love and are parted by her destiny. For the girl, we can hope she'll have Jackson's child; for the boy, he and Marelsa have a future together, but it's not certain what that will be. Read your Irish folk stories; I did, once a reader pointed out to me: She's a shapechanger (which I knew), a selkie (which I didn't). I hope everyone enjoys it. And for those intent on pointing out typographical errors: 'plash' is a perfectly good word that felt perfect where I used it in Weird and Wonderful.
JEM: Any other thoughts on Twelve Worlds?
ATL: I have read all the stories and I am ecstatic at being part of the collection. The stories are all wonderful, and cover speculative fiction in a way that I haven't seen done before. And it's all for charity, too. I am hopeful we'll be able to continue and make it a series.
5 Down Low
JEM: Who is your favorite animated character and why?
ATL: Is Doctor Teeth an animated character? Dobby? Gollum? If traditionally animated, does that leave out Pixar? Dory? Traditional: Belle, I think, although she's a toss-up with Chernabog.
I just really love Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem in the Muppet Movie, bringing music and refitting to the church and Kermit and Fozzie's car, too.
Dobby (Harry Potter series) saves the world!
Gollum (Lord of the Rings) is such a wonderful character, all the way from the beginning through till the scene in Mount Doom, where he saves Frodo. And Andy Serkis isn't half bad, either.
Dory (Finding Nemo) for the comic relief she brings to Nemo, and the important part she plays in getting Nemo and Marlin together.
Belle (Beauty and the Beast), because she's the brightest and strongest of the Disney female leads. NB:I haven't seen The Princess and the Frog; she's supposed to be strong, too, which makes sense, given the concept.
Chernabog (Fantasia), because he's so well done, and without him and Night on Bald Mountain, the Ave Maria would have no impact at all.
Sorry, too many top picks! I've not even mentioned Rocky and Bullwinkle, or Top Cat, or a double handful of comic book/web comic characters.
JEM: If you could permanently ban one flavor of soda, which would you choose?
ATL: All those with non-water ingredients. Seriously, I'm really happy with ice water, though Perrier is great as well.
JEM: Can you tell us the funniest thing you've heard recently?
ATL: I'm afraid not, depending on your audience. I tweeted about it about four days ago. It wasn't a comic piece. (JEM sez: I agree, it wasn't :P)
JEM: Which do you prefer: oatmeal, cream of wheat, malt-o-meal, coco wheats or grits?
ATL: Equal preference, which is to say I'd not touch any of these unless it was the end of the world. Then oatmeal, but I'd take a long time, loosing about 50 pounds before I partook.
JEM: What is your favorite type of food? (IE: Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Italian)
ATL: American, Italian, toss-up.
JEM: Any closing statements? :)
ATL: I'm listening to The Rose, and We Built This City, along with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance followed by Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Julie Brown and The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun! So great!
I'm aggressively not watching basketball.
I hope all who see this support 12 Worlds and the authors who have come together to produce it.
If you would like to contact Mr. Lavely, please peruse his information:
writer's email: email@example.com
Please feel free to leave any comments you may have for Tony! And, check out "Twelve Worlds" next month for Tony's piece, Weird and Wonderful as well as a piece of my own, Insomnomancer!