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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Duncan

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? 

My website has many links and other info about my various projects, especially those that have been completed already. For projects in the works I blog about those extensively.

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Yeah, I know, but I go to South Carolina for the Book Festival they have in Columbia, and I don’t go to Alabama at all.

Speaking of the Book Festival, I just got back from there on Monday after spending four marvelous days in weather that wasn’t rainy and was warm. This time around they decided to hold the festival in May instead of February, and I was lucky that my local festival, Duck Pond Day, wasn’t the same weekend. Actually it was my publisher who was lucky since I wouldn’t have traveled 800 miles for the privilege of losing money if an event literally down the hill from my house was waiting for me. Duck Pond Day is next Sunday, so life is good.

It was also the weekend my new book came out. Yes, St. Martin’s Moon is officially released, although at this moment it only appears on OmniLit.com and the sister site All Romance Ebooks.  I also got a fabulous Triple Espresso review.

At I-Con last month I got to use my new handmade wooden bookshelf on wheels. At SC I was able to use both of them, although I think I’ll have to get some new wheels, the big ones I have don’t fit right and the shelves tilt. We had no room for anything else, there were lots of other authors sharing the space and space was at a premium. Having a lot of shelves was very handy. I even sold a few electronic copies of some of my short stories, that’s never happened before.

The other authors were Sam Morton and Connie Hullander, both of whom apparently live in Columbia or thereabouts. Everyone else had to travel a bit, Sean Hayden and his son Connor came up from Florida, Kieryn Nicolas came down from PA, Marlis Day came out East again and Gale Borger traveled the furthest of all. Even better, almost every one of them had a new book out, and this festival was where it was going to debut (at least the paper version)! I picked just so many new titles to read! And I have to read them, of course, otherwise how could I promote them to all the lucky patrons of my other bookselling events?

One thing we had no room for was a place to sit. I spent every hour of both days on my feet and moving around. You can imagine how stiff I was when I finally got a chance to sit down. If you’re lucky you can’t.

The trip home was less fortunate, in several respects. I left SC on Sunday night after the event ended, making it about halfway through North Carolina before stopping at a motel. After getting lost twice. The motel, a Best Western, was a little pricier than I would have liked but I wasn’t really motivate to try the non-name brands down the road. At least they had a decent complimentary breakfast, and a busload of friendly tourists who were no doubt occupying all the cheaper rooms. And Julia, my daughter who was doing the event with me, got to use the pool. Yay. Well, at least she was happy.

The next day I was supposed to stop in at my publisher’s warehouse and pick up my books, every copy of A Warrior Made I could find. I’m pretty sure most of them were buried, I never saw so many boxes of books in my life! People, you gotta get out there and start buying Echelon books. I mean, seriously.

Anyway, for the last part of the trip I had a thousand pounds more weight than I was used to, and of course that was when a serious accident on the NJ Turnpike closed the road and forced us to make a detour onto Rte. 1, at rush hour. I don’t think we made much better time than the parking lot we left behind. When we finally got back to LI we had to deal with the crappy paving job that I felt every pothole and crack of, thanks to the aforementioned extra thousand pounds. And I was too late to catch the season finale of Chuck. Thank God for VCRs, except of course something went wrong. Thank God for Hulu.com!

Next month, Chicago!

See you there?

I finally finished watching all the episodes of Dead Like Me, a TV series that aired some years back.  It was about a girl, Georgia Lass, who gets killed by a falling toilet seat (falling from Earth orbit, that is, and going a good clip at the time), and is inducted into the ranks of the grim reapers, recently dead people who make the whole ‘death’ thing work by collecting souls and sending them on. Poor George didn’t have much of a life, though, so she didn’t have an ‘on’ to move to. Like Kfir Luzzatto’s book Crossing the Meadow, the show is an exploration, an examination and discovery of the meaning of life on the part of those who are no longer burdened by the business of living.

Unfortunately the show was cancelled after only 2 seasons, 2 very good seasons, but they decided to make a movie about it a few years later. So now I want to get the movie follow-up, which seems to be causing my son some trouble. He can’t seem to understand why I want to see the whole story. I understand the show didn’t have the same number of threads going as, say, Firefly, but I really don’t like it when shows are cancelled incomplete. I was very happy with Wonderfalls when they managed to wrap up most of the story threads with a mini-arc at the end. I was very unhappy with Tru Calling when they cancelled it in mid-season and there has been no follow-up or wrap up in any way. In some respects I’m even a little unhappy with the Dead Like Me follow-up, based on the plot synopsis I found, but I’ve seen a lot of synopses for the show that were dead wrong so I’m hoping for the best.

Don’t you pine for closure? I do. In fact, I’ve even refused to read books that disrupt the closure of previous books. Jack Chalker’s Wellworld books were brilliant, so much so that when he decided to write more books in that series I had no desire to touch them. Dave Duncan’s Seventh Sword books are perfect as they are, and I would hate to see him go back there. Fortunately he did a fairly definitive wrap-up that should make that impossible.

On another note…

My publisher sent me the cover art for my newest Echelon short story release, Ex Libris.

And…

I just received a review for my next novel, St. Martin’s Moon!

All sorts of good things happening today.

Many of us have read series that started out great and lose us along the way.  I was just reminded yesterday of the Dragonriders of Pern series, which I stopped reading at Dragondawn.  To my mind, the series up to that point was a fantasy series, despite the occasional bit of tech that showed up.  Mostly those bits of tech stayed in the background of the main series, while the Harper Hall trilogy and filler books like Moreta and Nerilka were blessedly free of them.  In Dragondawn they got shoved down my throat and I stopped reading, but I’m wondering why.

I read the Harry Potter series up to book 4.  I stopped reading Goodkind in book 2.  I gave up on Anita Blake after Obsidian Butterfly.  I loved the early Codex Alera books, and the early Dresden books as well.

Why?

Well, in Goodkind’s case the answer is simple.  I hated the books.  Characters who come back after they’re dead?  Characters who mutate into supergods entirely by internal development?  Pain as a teaching tool?  Killing as an expression of Love?  No thank you.  Finding out he was an adherent of Ayn Rand was just icing on the…well, not cake.  Cow-patty, maybe.

Potter and Blake are different.  Both of them changed the tone of the books as the series progressed, and I didn’t like the change.  Harry got dark, with the murder of Cedric, and Anita just had too much sex.  I tried to read the fifth Potter but the quality of the writing had declined as well.  I understand she was able to prevent any editing of the book and it showed, but really I lost interest because of the war.

The Butcher books just got too overly plot-heavy.  When the focus was on Tavi and Harry, fighting the good fight in spite of all the obstacles they were good and fun.  The introduction of Imperial politics just turns me off.  I haven’t gotten to that point with the Vlad Taltos series by Brust, but that’s getting a bit tangled too.

As for the Pern books, I’m not sure.  I don’t mind technology in a fantasy novel, Dave Duncan’s Seventh Sword series is one of my favorites.  I don’t mind magic in the guise of technology, as Heinlein did so often.  It was much more of a SF novel than the rest of the series, and the characters just didn’t grab me somehow.   Maybe it was just more plot-heavy, like the Butcher books.  That can be a curse of prequels, trying to fill in the holes of what has already been presented as history, presenting characters as actors on a predestined stage rather than as people.  Maybe it just went on so long I grew away from it, which argues for series coming out over a short time.

What stops you?


Unbinding the Stone

A Warrior Made

A Warrior Made

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St. Martin’s Moon

St. Martin's Moon

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Ghostkiller

Chasing His Own Tale

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Struck By Inspiration

Struck By Inspiration

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Steampunk Santa

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Bite Deep

Christmas among the vampires!

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Cyber-pirates. Sort of.

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Off the Map

Reality TV...without the Reality!

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