Friday, 24 August 2012

Author Interview: James R. Tuck

Deacon Chalk Novels/E-Novellas:
That Thing at the Zoo (e-novella)
Blood and Bullets
Spider's Lullaby  (e-novella)
Blood and Silver

Hired Gun (collection)
"He Stopped Loving Her Today" in One Buck Zombies
"Shop 'Til You Drop"
"Twas the Fright Before Christmas"


> What can readers expect from your Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter novels?

Guns, monsters, heroes, action, thrills, chills, spills, sacrifice, a new look at a supernatural world, a different kind of hero, action AND adventure.

The Deacon Chalk books are a rollicking, thrill-ride of kickass. They are dark, and scary, and violent, and apparently funny too.

I would recommend my books for someone who is looking for something different in the urban fantasy genre. I wrote them from the idea of: "If these things existed, if monsters were real, then what kind of man would hunt them for a living?" The answer is a man like Deacon. He's damaged, dangerous, and deadly. He has a laundry list of issues inside himself from the loss of his family five years ago at the hands of a monster, his choice of lifestyle which drives him to do horrible things to keep humanity safe, and his personal desire to die and be with his family but his religious conviction that he cannot kill himself or he will be separated from them for eternity. He's a complicated hero.

> What did you chose to write dark urban fantasy?

I love the genre of urban fantasy so when I decided to write a book it was the genre I wanted to start with. I write dark urban fantasy because I was tired of reading books where everyone is safe and you know they will be safe at the end of the book. Most urban fantasies you read almost have a Happily Ever After, and they pull back from truly putting the characters in any danger. Not my books. In my books all bets are off and NO ONE is safe. It's a dangerous world in the Deaconverse. Here there be monsters and the monsters are vicious and cruel and powerful. My characters get hurt, things change drastically for them, people die. Don't become attached to anyone because they are soldiers in a deadly war and there will be casualties. I write these as if the events were real and give them the consequences that would happen in the world if they were.

> Why did you decide to epublish several novellas, both in and out of the Deaconverse?

The novellas are a great way to put story in the hands of the readers for a VERY affordable price. Plus the books happen about 6 months apart from each other on the timeline and the novellas really help to bridge that gap. Each one of them is a nice stand-alone story, you can read them in any order or alone and they are complete from beginning to end, however if you read from THAT THING AT THE ZOO (e-novella 1) then follow straight through to the end of book 3 next year then you will have one long story that will be like the first season of a really kick ass urban fantasy television show. And let me tell you, the character you meet in THAT THING AT THE ZOO is not the same man you find at the end of BLOOD AND MAGICK (novel 3 March 2013)

> What made you want to be a writer?

A really terrible urban fantasy that was supposed to be an awesome, dark, violent, gritty urban fantasy. I read it, put it down, and said out loud "I can write better crap than THAT." Then I looked into how to write a novel and found Lilith Saintcrow's writing advice blogs, read them all, and realized that I could write a novel. So I did. That became BLOOD AND BULLETS (novel 1).

> Who is you favourite character from the Deacon Chalk universe and why?  

I love them all. There is a lot of me in Deacon. He is closest to my voice and my viewpoints on the world. But I love the supporting cast. Charlotte the Were-spider is a scene stealer. She is a huge fan favorite. She is both terrific and creepy when she is in full-on spider lady mode. I like Tiff a LOT. You get to see her as she transforms from a fairly immature young woman into someone who not only knows who she is but also what she wants. And her being human means she interacts with the craziness of the Deaconverse much differently than Deacon or any of the other supernatural cast and crew. And what's not to love about Father Mulcahy? The foul-mouthed, chain smoking, coffee-swilling, whiskey drinking Catholic priest that is mentor and father figure to Deacon. I love writing him because I am not writing him as a joke. A lot of people add a priest into a book that is as dark and supernatural as this one and they either go for the funny or make him some sort of comment on the Catholic church. In my books he is a real character. He is a man with a dark, terrible past who is honestly working to atone for his sins and truly is a convicted religious man. His faith is grounded in the reality of the world he lives in, monsters and all. And in this new book you get to meet some NEW characters that I think readers are going to really enjoy.

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

NO. Absolutely not. All my characters have suffered great tragedy and loss. They have to give so much, sacrifice sometimes everything they hold dear because of the world I have put them in. I would not want to be them, not even for a moment. I will stick to my quiet life with my wife and children. :)

> What were your literary influences for BLOOD AND SILVER?

My early influences are Robert E. Howard who wrote the Conan stories, and Don Pendleton who wrote the Mack Bolan stories. You can see both of those in my writing. I am also pretty heavily influenced by Lilith Saintcrow. She writes nice, dark characters and NOBODY writes an action scene that reads so much like poetry like she does in her Jill Kismet series. I love the Sonja Blue series by Nancy A. Collins and think she is one of the early pioneers in the genre of urban fantasy. Simon R. Green, Steve Niles, Richard Kadrey. I am a HUGE Laurell K. Hamilton fan. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files are on my must read list. I get every new one.

> Beyond the matter of length, do you find it easier writing short stories, novellas or novels?

I am a huge novella fan. I like the length of them and think they give you just enough room to hit your stride as a storyteller but are short enough to keep you on task. I like the way a novel gives you the ability to really flesh out your story and character, but a novella is a clean, sharp cut.

> What's the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

BLOOD AND BULLETS was my first novel. It took me about 9 months to write and revise. I was writing by the seat of my pants for some dumb reason, just letting the story flow. Now I outline and I have really picked up my pace. I just wrote book 3 and e-novella 3 in about 2 months.

> What was the hardest scene for you to write?

There is a scene in the new book BLOOD AND SILVER that I wrote with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I certainly hope it affects the reader the same way.

> When and where do you write?

I am pretty mobile. I write on my laptop, the desktop at work, the desktop at home, just wherever I am and have time.  I also write at different times. Lots of late night writing sessions and a lot of writing between 2 and 7 pm at the tattoo shop I own. I just go in my station between customers and write.

> What's the neatest tattoo you've done for a customer?

The neatest tattoo...hmmmm. I've been a professional tattoo artist for over 16 years now and I have done a ton of really cool tattoos. I am blessed with a clientele that does let me do a lot of my original artwork on them. I've done big tattoos and small tattoos and a LOT of tattoos that I didn't care about at all. (Sometimes you are making art, sometimes you are paying the electric bill.) But my neatest? I think that would be a small star with the face of Andre the Giant in it. It's the Obey star by artist Shepard Fairey. About nine years ago a gorgeous woman came into the shop I was working at and wanted that tattooed on her arm. We talked during the process. It was small, took only 20 minutes, but she was charming and funny and intriguing. Plus, as I mentioned before, she was a knockout. One thing led to another and at the end of the tattoo I got her phone number. We've been married now for over 8 years. So that would be the neatest tattoo I ever did.

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

I love everything about writing. I really do. I enjoy writing the first draft, coming up with all the ideas. I even enjoy revision and copy editing. Most writers find copy editing to be tedious and nightmarish, but I truly look forward to it. I also love being a writer. Going to a convention and meeting a reader, talking to other authors, discussing publishing with industry professionals, meeting bloggers and reviewers, it's all a blast.

The worst thing is trying to remember character's eye colors. lol.

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

How LONG everything takes. Publishing moves really slow. Write a book and sell it and it might hit the shelves a year later. You have to be patient in this gig. Write your ass off and bring your long game.

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Four words: HEAD DOWN, MAKE WORDS. You have to consistently write. If anything is more important then just go do that. You may find you need a certain time, a certain word count, a schedule, you may free form it...whatever works for you, but you cannot let more than a few days go by without writing. A lot of writing is just having the disciple or stubbornness to simply put your ass in a chair and type.

Oh, and go read Lilith Saintcrow's writing advice on her blog and pick up THANKS BUT THIS ISN'T FOR US by Jessica Page Morrell. It is HANDS DOWN the best book on writing I have ever read (and I have read a LOT). Lilith Saintcrow taught me I could write a book. Jessica Page Morrell taught me how to write it well. I do credit that book for my series selling. And remember kids, I sold the FIRST book I ever wrote to a major publisher in a 3 book deal without an agent. I credit that book as the reason why. I cannot overstate this. If you only buy one book on writing ever it should be that book.

> Any tips against writers block?

Realize it doesn't exist. Okay, it does exist. If you get in an accident or a barfight and break all the fingers on both hands THEN you can claim writers block. Other than that you have the ability to write. You may have STORY block, especially if you are a "seat of your pants" writer. If you are just letting your story come to you without an outline or a synopsis then you will probably suffer from story block. When that happens change your game. Get up, move around, motion creates emotion. Go for a walk WITHOUT headphones, go for a drive without the stereo on. Don't clutter up your head with distraction and lyrics and music. Make your body move in a way that your mind doesn't need to think and then it will disengage and feed on what you put there last which will be the story you are working on. It won't take long for your brain, that wonderful chemical super computer that God stuffed between your ears, to do some calculating and spit you out a new way to go in the story.

> How do you discipline yourself to write?

I sit down in front of a computer that is on, open up the document, make a few notes about what I want to accomplish in the next chapter, and then BANG! KAPOW! ZOOM! I am off and typing.
Oh, and turn off the internet. It is nothing but a waste of time. You do not need that devilspawn timesuck up and running seductively in the background with it's siren call of "it's been 2 minutes you should check your email or see what your friends are doing online".

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

I emailed about fifty queries to different literary agents seeking representation. I had some requests for partials but all of them came back with a rejection or no response at all. Even after my publisher made the offer I still got rejected by agents. Contract in hand I had no one say yes. So, I am proof that it can be done on your own if you work hard and try to be smart. Persevere. Keep writing. Keep submitting. You will get there. Chase your dreams and when you catch them you handcuff your self to them so they can't get away!

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