Thanks for taking the time to visit with me and Manic Readers, Gene.

With all the types of writing you’ve done, essayist, screenwriting, playwright, humor columnist and now novelist, do you think you’ve finally found a home or will you continue to spread yourself around?

I will, but probably not as thin as that. And really, all of that sounds more impressive until you see it as a series of “and then” statements. I was a playwright, and then a humor columnist, and then an essayist and so on. I expect I’ll spend most of my time in novels and screenplays when I’m not blogging.

Can you tell us a bit about IMMORTAL and HELLENIC IMMORTAL?  (I’m looking forward to reading both of these.)













Both are first-person narratives told by a rather quick-witted, sarcastic, possibly alcoholic immortal man. They’re kind of a mix of contemporary fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, and a few other things muddled together in a world that is more or less the one we live in now. It has its share of identifiably “magical” beings in it (I mean aside from the narrator) such as vampires and what-have-you, but without any of the magic.

Is IMMORTAL the book you set out to write or did it change as you progressed?

I don’t know what I set out to write, because I don’t do any outlining and very little pre-planning. I think I figured out what the ending was going to be once I was 1/3 of the way through the first draft, and that ending isn’t the one in the book right now.

I’m kind of a high-risk writer when it comes to novels. I like to start at the beginning and work my way through to the end. I don’t take notes or do character sketches, and I don’t write anything that isn’t going to be part of the book. Most of the time what happens as I go is as big a surprise to me as anyone. Unless I find I don’t have enough of a story to finish the book. That’s happened a few times.

Do you have a finite number of books featuring Adam or are the possibilities endless?

I think three books will end up feeling about right, but we’ll see if that’s still true after I’ve finished the third book.

The problem I’m expecting to run into is Adam—that’s the narrator—repeating himself, which I really don’t want. There is also the matter of how many times I can revisit the past. There are a lot of past-tense stories being told in these books, and I’m going to eventually run out of historical periods for him to talk about. Granted, sixty-thousand years is a lot of time to cover, but the majority of that transpired before anything we might recognize as civilization, and “I ran around and hunted things” doesn’t make for a particularly engaging story.

How did it feel to make history with your publisher, selling more copies of IMMORTAL than any of their other books, in the first five months of release? And what’s this about outselling Fifty Shades of Grey?

The exact wording is that IMMORTAL sold more copies in its first five months with The Writer’s Coffee Shop than any of their previous titles had sold in their respective first five months. That includes the first five months of Fifty Shades of Grey.

And of course it’s cool. How awesome is that?

What do you think about readers comparing you to Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams, among others?

It’s equal parts flattering and mystifying. Actually, the most interesting thing about comparisons isn’t so much that they exist, it’s that everyone seems to pull out a different name. Gaiman and Adams are two very different kinds of writers, and I’ve also seen names like Palahniuk and Chandler, who are even further apart. I think what it says is, nobody can figure out exactly whom I’m like, and I think that’s a good thing.

What do you like to read?

I read far more non-fiction than fiction, partly because I can’t write fiction while I’m in the middle of reading it. I end up spending time plotting the book I’m reading instead of the one I’m writing, and I’m an instinctive style thief. I also need non-fiction for research purposes a lot of the time.

Do you have a favorite book?

Do I have a favorite? I can’t even imagine how that’s possible. I could list a long series of books that are among my favorites—Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, King’s It, Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay are the first four that spring to mind—but given ten minutes I could list ten more. And it’s the same with movies, multiplied by ten.

Is there anything specific your Muse requires?

My Muse requires only that I write semi-regularly, inasmuch as I get nightmares when I go without for too long. We’re kind of frenemies, my Muse and I.

Who’s in charge, you or the characters?

When I write in first person, as I did in IMMORTAL and HELLENIC, Adam is very much in charge of things. It’s to the point now where we have arguments that can last for weeks, and it’s worse when I make the mistake of giving him too much beer.

But my third-person characters are much more reasonable, in general. Nobody in FIXER—my next novel, due in 2013—is quite so annoying as Adam can be.

What’s your favorite part of writing?

Getting something right. I remember reading once that Hendrix was constantly experimenting with distortion effects to try and make his guitar mimic the sound in his head. Writing can be much the same. Sometimes we know exactly what we want to convey as a whole, and figuring out how to make individual words aggregate in a way that approximates that is deeply rewarding. It’s also incredibly rare and difficult, and has only happened to me a few times.

What do you like the least?

First chapters. I absolutely hate first chapters and will rewrite them mercilessly until both the chapter and I are crying. If I were a pitcher I’d be the guy who gives up three runs in the first inning and then is untouchable for eight.

Do you currently have a WIP? IF so are you able to share any details about it?

I am working on the third IMMORTAL book right now, and it’s terrifying. I’ve left some things unanswered in the first two books that will require resolution—and I do know what the answers are, but I’m not sure I want to tell them, and I’m also not sure how to go about it. And as I said above, I don’t outline or preplan, so while I know many of the things that are going to be in the book, I don’t know what else will be in the book, or how the overarching themes and information will resolve themselves into a cohesive plot.

That said, I’m about 8,000 words in, and I hope to have a draft finished by the Spring.

Anything else to look forward to from you?

Well—and here’s why I can afford to take a little time to get IMMORTAL 3 right—FIXER will be debuting next year. This is a very different kind of book from what I’ve written before, somewhat more serious, with less of an emphasis on fantasy elements and more on sci-fi and horror. It’s about a man named Corrigan Bain who can see a rolling five seconds of the future, and about what happens when something in the future doesn’t want to be seen. In my biased opinion, you’ll love it.

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