The interview that wasn’t
Posted June 17, 2011on:
This is an interview I did for one stop of my recent blog tour that for some reason or other never happened.
1. Who is Marc Vun Kannon and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
It’s a small city, filled with very dull people. Seriously, I am a husband, father, and author, in that order. I also write computer code during the day. I build bookshelves at need, and I started a small travelling bookstore when none of the bookstores I could find would stock my book. In short, I’m a reasonable guy who occasionally experiences some unreasonable things, and then I do what I have to do to make things reasonable again.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I like bluegrass music, as well as Gilbert & Sullivan. The G&S might not surprise them, though. The lyrics and extraordinarily witty and hard to sing so naturally I’m drawn to them. I love to learn patter songs (such as ‘I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General’ or ‘The Matter Patter’) and Gilbert was the master of that form.
3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming a nuclear scientist?
I am a computer programmer by profession, the writing is something I do whenever I can fit it in, although I’d like to reverse that. It wasn’t a question of interest, though. My stories pick me to write them and won’t leave me alone until I have.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner?
My own favorite authors are Lois McMaster Bujold, for her Vorkosigan series but especially The Curse of Chalion (in my opinion the best book of the decade), Dave Duncan, who created a unique story of technological progress in a primitive world in his Seventh Sword trilogy, Tanya Huff of course, Lawrence Watt-Evans, who writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. (It should be borne in mind though that just because I love an author’s work doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll love the author. But I live in hope.)
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
It’s pretty much the same answer in both cases. My stories are about people and the events of their lives. The reader should be able to put themselves in his place, feel what he feels every step of the way. In fact the reader should have to work at it to stop it. Beyond that, one thing I want in all my books, and what I look for in other people’s books, is a story that can be read and re-read with equal enjoyment. My books tell a story about characters, not gizmos. The problem with gizmo-centric books is that once you’ve read them they’re pretty much done. You already know everything the book has to say. A character-centered book, on the other hand, is a book that you put yourself into, and the so the character and the book changes as you change. It’s not the same book the second time around because you’re not the same reader.
6. Share the Marc process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
I don’t really have a process, although as I write more I discover some techniques that work and hold onto them.
I have only one real rule: If you’ve seen it done before don’t do it again. Which means I’m always looking for some unique spin to put on an old trope, and I never write the same book twice.
As a reader I had any number of pet peeves with the books I read, so when I became a writer I developed a style that avoided those things, such as descriptive prose. I don’t write in my own voice, I try to present everything in the story from the point of view of whatever character is looking at it. I discover the character as I write about him, spinning out his character logic to see what he’ll do. The character changes and grows over the course of the story, and these changes are shown in the way he perceives his world. A lot of people call this sort of thing head-hopping, but it’s the only way I know to show the scene, and it makes the whole process more dynamic.
I didn’t used to outline, but I will try to develop places to aim for during the course of the story. If the character’s logic allows him to go there he will, although how this will happen is something I never know until I write it. Since the story can only progress based on what has gone before I have to occasionally go back and remove/add text to support the storyline as it develops, so I have very little editing to do once the story is done. Everything in there serves a purpose. I don’t know how one would compare this sort of incremental process with first drafts and rewrites, so I don’t try. Every story I’ve submitted has been a first draft. The only exception was my first novel, Unbinding the Stone, which was on a computer that crashed, and I had no backup copies, so I had to rewrite it almost from scratch.
My latest novel, St. Martin’s Moon, is the only one I’ve had to do ‘research’ for. It’s a werewolf adventure set on a lunar colony, so I did a little checking into techniques that would make the colony as I presented it plausible. But my focus is on the people not the place, so most of what I needed I got from all the classic Universal wolfman movies I’ve watched over the years.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
My method is almost guaranteed not to work for you. Everybody has their own way of writing. I discovered mine by simply writing and doing what felt comfortable to me. The only real advice I can give is to pay attention to your life. Everything you will have to put into a book comes from there. Write the kind of book you want to read. Classes may help you refine the craft elements, but be careful they don’t also eliminate what makes your book yours. Remember, all they can teach you is what has been done so far.
8. I saw an amusing t-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Life is a story that you are writing for yourself as you live it. It’s up to you to make it a good one, and to give it a happy ending.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
As usual I have several projects running at any given time. Depending on my mood I’m working on either Ghostkiller, a novel about a man who kills ghosts for a living, or perhaps Tales of Uncle, the third book in my Tarkas series.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?