Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Anton Strout Interview

Title: Deader Still
Author: Anton Strout
Illustrator: N/A
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Str
ISBN: 978-0441016914
Cost: $7.99

Deader Still is the second installment in the Simon Canderous series (slated to be at least four titles). I read (and reviewed) Strout's debut, Dead to Me, last year and it ranked up there near the top of my net worth scale. And considering he ranked just under authors like Joe Abercrombie and Michael Chabon, it means he's doing something right.

The King of Urban Fantasy and Sarcastic Wit (aka Anton Strout) was kind enough to grant Library Dad time enough for an interview. So please kneel as he bestows wise words upon us.

Do you visit your local library? If so, how often and what section do you enjoy most?
Sadly, I don’t make it to the local library all that much. When I was a kid in the Berkshires, I was a fiend for it. I would cubby up with a stack of fantasy books and just go to town. I remember reading through a bunch of Piers Anthony that was like a binge session. I read so much of him back then that I eventually burned out. Then I used to go to the record section and go through movie soundtracks and such. The theme to Exodus as well as the disco version of Star Wars* stick in my head, as well as all the early Henry Mancini works. As an adult, though, I worked in bookstores for years and my day job is in a publishing house (Penguin), so I’m constantly surrounded by books. There’s a library surrounding me most every hour of my day now.

*I think this is Star Wars and Other Golactic Funk by Meco. I know because I have it. -Library Dad

We already know you would win any cage match but in a match between Jim C. Hines and Patrick Rothfuss, who would win and why?
This is a close one. Pat’s got this big and burly thing going on, but Jim is wily and conniving like, well, a goblin. He’s likely to stab you in the back the second you turn on him. Ultimately, I think Rothfuss would win, though, because Jim would get lost in the man’s beard. Jim’s a small cravenly guy, and Pat’s beard is HUGE. I lost a Sno-Cone in there once. It wasn’t pretty.

How does marriage affect your writing? How does writing affect your marriage?
Marriage affects my writing like every other life experience does. I feel like my brain is a video camera, recording everything around me all the time for some future use in my work. Marriage is a new dynamic to add to the mental writing pile. I haven’t really written much with married couples in it, but I suspect we’ll see that change as I get used to marriage and its nuances. As far as writing affecting my marriage… My wife used to be an editor at Three Rivers Press, so she understands what it takes to be a writer. She’s excellent at helping me find the time to do it and also quite content to do her own thing, which is what I love about her. I think it takes security for a spouse to play polygamy with a writer’s work.

After you take your shower, do you dry off before you get out or after you get out?
I’m also a gamer, so it is widely disputed as to whether I’m capable of taking a shower, although I swear I’ve never had convention “funk”. I think for the real answer for that, you’ll have to talk to my stalkers who man my webcam. $5.99 a month.

Do you wear boxers, briefs, or those boxer-brief cross-overs?
Boxers…with a 95% chance of them having cartoon characters or superheroes on them. Again, see webcam.

With your illness last summer, you faced death and took some quality pharmaceuticals. Did you get any great writing ideas from either experience?
I’ll be honest. I miss morphine. I’ve never been habitual about anything, writing included, BUT taking morphine after my surgery, I could really feel the appeal of it. Even now, I sometimes go, “Man, that would feel really comfy right now”… it’s like being wrapped up in a big warm blanket made of divinity. That said, don’t do drugs, kids! Stay in school! Or Mr. T and I are gonna break our feet off in your ass!

What was your major when you first started college? Are you using it today and why?
I was a theater major when I first started school, and it shows in my writing. I set a stage, and I think I read a bit cinematically, as if the reader were watching a movie or a play. Plus, I spent a lot of time acting and building sets… that’s pretty much what I do in putting a book together now, isn’t it?

Does your toilet paper come off the top of the roll or the bottom of the roll?
I used to be an under the bottom of the roll guy, but something changed in the past year. Suddenly, I’m all over the top. I have zero idea what this says about me.

Do you have any opinions on e-books in today's publishing market and tough economy? Do you think printed books will be replaced by e-books or will printed books just become a thing for collectors?
I think both can survive. I think the tactile sensation of holding a book, turning the pages, the smell, the ink… nothing really lives up to that. However, I totally get the e-book appeal… I think the industry needs to agree on a standard as far as how to process then for the right tech markets… right now, we’re seeing a jillion formats come out in the electronic arena… that takes a lot of man hours to do all those conversions in a publishing house, which will ultimately drive the price up to cover all that expense. But I think books can be appreciated in both worlds, as long as people are being entertained and the stories get shared.

If I beg and plead and pimp your book enough, will you send me a galley of book three?
It certainly increases your odds, because if there’s one thing I truly love, it’s human suffering.

There you have it, the King has spoken. He has now commanded you to go out and buy his book.

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