Friday, 18 March 2011

Author Interview: Thomas Sniegoski

Novels: several teen, kid and media tie-ins viewable here; the following adult novels:

Remy Chandler Series:
A Kiss Before the Apocalypse
Dancing on the Head of a Pin
Where Angels Fear to Tread
A Hundred Words for Hate

The Menagerie Series, written with Christopher Golden:
The Nimble Man
Tears of the Furies
Stones Unturned
Crashing Paradise

> What is the premise behind your
Remy Chandler series?

The Remy Chandler series is about Boston based Private Investigator Remy Chandler.  Remy is an all around nice guy, and just so happens to be an angel as well.  Remy (then Remiel) left Heaven right after the great war with Lucifer--tired of all the politics of Heaven, he came to earth, and now lives as a human . . . well, he tries to live as a human.  Things of a supernatural nature have a tendency to dog him--especially since narrowly averting the Apocalypse in the first Remy novel, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse.  Basically, the Remy Chandler books are hard boiled detective novels with a heaping doss of the supernatural--they've got mystery, romance, violence, angels, monsters and dogs.  How's that?

> You've got a teen series and an adult series about angels, what's the appeal of angels?

I was raised Roman Catholic, so every Sunday I would find myself at the nine o'clock mass, and at the church my family attended, there was this great big ceiling painting of the archangel Michael, wearing armor, with his wings spread and a fiery sword raised, and he was standing on the head of a man, whose body gradually morphed into the body of a serpent.  Now, I didn't know it then, but this painting depicted an epic battle between Michael and Lucifer . . . and it changed the way that I perceived angels.  I'd always been told, and seen on TV or movies, or greeting cards, that angels were these nice creatures . . . pretty ladies with cottony white wings, wearing fancy night gowns, or chubby babies in diapers.  Looking up at that ceiling one Sunday morning, I didn't see cute, or fluffy . . . I saw something fearsome, and I think something just clicked inside my brain.

> How do you find writing teen and children's books compared to writing adult titles?

There's really not that big of a difference to me.  It's all about story telling, and the characters that I'm using to tell this story. The biggest difference is that when writing for kids, I have to be careful of my language, and certain adult activities . . . but other then that, it's all pretty much the same process.

> Is working in the comic book industry really as awesome as everyone believes?

There's definitely a cool factor about working in comics, but it's a tough nut to crack. It seems like there are lots of folks out there who want to write comics, so there's quite a bit of competition.

> You've worked on several comics including Batman, Hellboy and Wolverine.  Which was the most fun to work on and why?

> Hellboy and the Hellboy universe of characters are probably my favorites.  There's just something so cool about the world that Mike Mignola created.  It probably has a lot to do with the fact that Hellboy sort of defines everything that I love . . . monsters, unlikely heroes, ancient civilizations . . . did I mention monsters? 

> How is collaborating on a novel (as you've done with Christopher Golden) different from writing it alone?

There's more of a competition when working with a writing partner.  When Chris and I work together, we're alway attempting to top each other.  He'll write a scene--that is completely nuts--and send it over to me . . . I read it, and flip out, and now I have to top it.  So I then write a scene, making it as wild as I possibly can, and then kick it back to him.  This is how it goes, back and forth, with each of us trying to top the other.  It's actually kind of fun.

> What made you want to be a writer?

Even as a little kid I was always telling stories.  I can remember sitting on the living room floor, with all my action figures around me, and actually doing stories with my toys that continued into the next day . . . sometimes the stories would continue for weeks, all played out with my super hero, dinosaur and monster toys.  When  I got a bit older, I would head upstairs to my older brother's room and bang away on his typewriter, writing stories (with no punctuation mind you) about Godzilla fighting other monsters.  It was nuts . . . sometimes I'd be up there for hours.  I wish I had some of those stories still.

> When and where do you write?

I write from very early in the morning, 5:00am, till around 4:30pm or 5:00pm in the afternoon.  By then my brain is fried. 

And I write in my office.  About two years ago we renovated an old porch that ran along side my house into a spiffy new office.  It's pretty great.  There, I'm surrounded by all my cool stuff . . . statues, toys, books, CDs . . . everything that I love is around me as I work. 

> What’s the best/worst thing about writing?

The best thing is that I get to tell stories as my job . . . it's insane to think that my life long dream actually came true . . . that's just nuts to me.  The worst thing is having to create on a schedule . . . there are just some days when the ideas won't come, but it doesn't really matter, that book has to be done by a deadline, or you're in really big trouble.  It can be tough when somedays (weeks even) you just don't feel the spark . . . but there's an editor waiting.

> What is something you didn’t know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?

To tell you the truth, there was quite a bit I didn't know about the publishing industry.  I really had no idea what went into, and how long, it actually took to produce a book . . . and then the process that book had to go through with sales, and marketing, before it even hit stores.  The sad thing is, you pretty much know if you're book is a success or not before it even gets put on a bookstore shelf. 

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

It's going to sound kind of obvious, but they need to write . . . write all the time . . . keep a journal, jot down observations of what they see every day . . . write, write, write.  And they need to read... anything and everything, not just the stuff they like.  They need to be exposed to all sorts of writing, so they can figure out what they like, and don't like--and hopefully learn from it.

> Any tips against writers block?

When you get it, walk away from whatever it is that you're doing, and do something else . . . go for a walk, or run . . . go to a movie, read a book, listen to music, take a nap . . .work on another project.  The time away from the problem project will allow you to come back to it with a fresher eye.

> How do you discipline yourself to write?

I look at my bills . . .HA!  Really, if I don't get the work done, I don't get paid and that opens up a whole new can of worms.  Writing has to be treated like a job . . . you show up, you do your work, and then you stop until it starts all over again in the morning.  Sounds kind of boring, but it's the approach I need in order to do it every day.

> How many rejection letters did you get for your first novel or story?

Y'know, I really didn't get many the first few books I wrote.  The rejections have come around more recently with the down turn in the economy and everything.  Everybody (editors/publishers) are being quite careful with what they're buying . . . they have to sort of know it's going to be a hit, before they take the chance.

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