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Posts Tagged ‘gizmo

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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My blog tour bas been to a few stops so far.

Jen Wylie had me over first, with my post on How do you know you’re a writer? Not that I really know, but this was how I found out.

At Eva’s Sanctuary I expressed my love of monsters.

At Tea Time with Julie Campbell I discussed my use of creative dreaming to get the story written.

I became the first male guest author at Julia Barrett’s blog, where naturally I talked about Gizmos in Romance. Because I’m a guy. (Actually I try to live according to those wonderful words from Say Anything: “Don’t be a guy. The world is full of guys. Be a man.”)

At the Vivid Sentiments blog I pointed out how monsters look different depending on the genre I’m looking at them with. Which is not always a good thing. I had one lady who volunteered some promo time on her blog, who asked for an excerpt. Since her blog was mostly romantic suspense I tried to come up with one that focused on that angle of St. Martin’s Moon. I attached it, if you want to see it. It’s interesting how the story looks different depending on the genre you look at it with. I wonder if the query letter I never wrote would have been easier to write if I’d done the synopsis from some other perspective.

I was told that there is a site with an application on it for getting a count of the number of books, so I entered the URLs for the stories I have on Amazon, in the hope of seeing some movement in my numbers. I figured I would need about 600-1000 volunteers to get my books and give me a good sample size. Then I thought about it a little more and realized that I don’t have too many places where all the links to all of my stories are gathered. So I’m going to put them all here. I hope you don’t mind.

Short Stories
 
Ex Libris (commando librarians!)
 
Steampunk Santa (bringing Santa’s workshop into the 19th century)
 
Bite Deep (the vampires get what they always wanted for Christmas, a savior of their own!)
 
Chasing His Own Tale (the only thing worse than a story that doesn’t talk to you is one that does!)
 
Boys Will Be Boys (Cyber-pirates…sort of.)
 
Off The Map (No good deed goes unpunished.)
 
Novels
 
Unbinding the Stone 
 
A Warrior Made 
 
 

Monday I’ll be appearing at Reba Foote’s blog, and I have no idea what I’ll be talking about there. Hopefully something will occur to me today. For an author, ‘The End’ is just the beginning.

As a bit of a follow-up to my previous post, I have been reading up on steampunk as a genre recently.  I found this handy-looking little website that gave me all sorts of ideas about the kind of things they should have, they way they should talk, that sort of thing.  This story I’m working on is sort of a ‘Jules Verne meets Rankin/Bass and they beget a Hallmark Special’ sort of story, complete with the stop-motion animation and the squeaky voices, and I have to get it right, since my wife has threatened to introduce me to Mr. Baseball Bat if I mess up.

If that’s not loving support I don’t know what is.

To some extent I’m a little uncomfortable with SF as a genre to write in.  There seems to be such a predisposition to focus on the science, i.e., the setting, and I’m a character-driven guy.  One of the reasons I write fantasy is that I can make up the setting as I go along.  There are details, but fewer of them and I don’t have to worry about keeping them all straight in a single book.  Steampunk as a genre seems to be all about such little details.  Even Girl Genius, the brilliant steampunk webcomic, with all its wonderful characters, turns on an ever-expanding world of strangeness and new toys.

Gizmos.  The Gizmo Effect is when the author becomes so in love with his gizmos that the story becomes about them, and not the character using them.  So far it hasn’t ever happened to me, but I’ve read books where it’s clear the author had nothing else in mind.  Surely you’ve read a few yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like gizmos.  Hell, read my books.  (Please.)  They’re full of gizmos, from one end to the other.  But always because the story needs them.  People using gizmos to do things.  Sure Tarkas has a wondrous sword, but his culture has no word for sword.  Or weapon, for that matter.  And when the Demi-God comes along and ‘educates’ him, via a dose of Triple-Distilled Elixir of Warrior, the story benefits, because now Tarkas has to deal with reflexes, skills, and even thoughts he’s never held before and what do you do with them?  My gizmos tend to have an effect on the man, and it’s the man I’m interested in.

Tomparasil is so in love with his gizmos he’s forgotten what it means to be an elf, and it’s the elf I’m interested in!  This time I’ll have to use his gizmos to explore him from the outside in, rather than from the inside out.  What can I say, I’m stretching myself.  Wish me luck?


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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