They were like “HEY DO YOU WANT TO INTERVIEW ANSON TROUT” and I was like, “The guy from Happy Days?” and they were like “NO THE GUY WHO WROTE THOSE COOL URBAN FANTASY BOOKS” and I was like, “You mean Anton Strout,” and they were like “THAT’S WHAT WE SAID, STUPID.” Needless to say, it’s a no-brainer to have the lovely Mister Strout here. Please to enjoy as he answers questions about Stonecast:
Tell us about yourself. Who the hell are you?
I have been told by some I am the anti-Wendig, by those who know us both. Which sucks because you keep posting really profound things about writing that I can never quite articulate myself, but they are so on the money! So if I’m the anti-you… then I guess I post profound pity things about writing!
When not overthinking this comparison I somehow manage to write me some quirky urban fantasy because the pain of missing Buffy & Angel runs too deep still. I’ve discovered the soothing balm of Supernatural, which is helping…
Give us the 140-character story pitch for Stonecast.
Damn you. Hmm…
A female Spellmason, D&D nerd, & a glaive guisarme wielding dancer struggle to find the whereabouts of a gargoyle once sworn to protect them
Where does this story come from?
There is a store about three blocks from my office at Penguin… I found it under Gargoyles Cartoon Fan Fiction.
Actually, the whole Spellmason Chronicles stemmed from a one shot short story I did for an urban fantasy. As with most shorts, you’re really capturing a moment in time. There’s usually a before and after that the author must know to color the tale, but it doesn’t get written. In creating the short Stanis, I discovered when I was finished that there was more I wanted to tell about the world I had created. I ran it up the flagpole at Ace, and they went for it… the fools!
How is this a story only you could’ve written?
Well, first of all, Joss Whedon keeps refusing to take my calls to collaborate! I find this an unsettling trend. The whole reason I got into writing was because I found no one was telling exactly the type of stories I wanted to be reading. Yes, there’s a lot of books out there that I love, but I felt that there was a vacuum, and I was the suck to fill that vacuum! Or something like that…
For a long time I called my Simon Canderous series a sort of Diet Dresden Files, but now that I’m working on book three of my second series, I find I can’t quite compare myself to other books. Not that I’m incomparable. I just think I’m… me. I write stories mostly set in the modern world where the only reaction to the shambling horrors out there is to either scream or meta-deconstruct them with a reference about Hogwarts or the Beholder from Dungeons & Dragons.
What was the hardest thing about writing Stonecast?
Probably handling the two first person narrators to the tale. One is a gargoyle that’s been around since the 1800s, and the other is a twentysomething artist caught up in her family’s true legacy. Keeping the voices of the two unique and separate was a challenge. The gargoyle, Stanis, doesn’t get modern or idiomatic language, doesn’t contract his words. There’s a sad, quiet stoicism to him that I’ve come to enjoy writing from his perspective. Alexandra Belarus, our heroine, is a child of our times… her language has a different almost cinematic flow to it. And somehow I have to make these two perspectives thread each other to create one cohesive narrative… it’s certainly one of the most daunting tasks I’ve put upon myself.
What did you learn writing Stonecast?
How to cry a lot…? The lessons I learn along the way are rarely obvious to me. Occassionally in retrospect I can see it, but not always. In the case of Stonecast I think I learned subtlety. I have had a tendency in my fiction to overstate things for fear the audience would miss it if I didn’t put a spotlight on it. And then a second and third spotlight. My editor has been beating that out of me for years. With writing the dual first person narratives I’ve had to work at the craft of implying things so that narrative 1+narrative 2= narrative 3, where narrative 3 is something I never actually wrote on the page.
What do you love about Stonecast?
What’s not to love?! It has all sorts of things that I am thrilled to have in one book. I got to include alchemy and witchcraft and Dungeons and Dragons references… I even have a tiny brick golem named Bricksley who waddles around doing chores. Oh, and tons of gargoyle-y action.
What would you do differently next time?
I’ve had time management issues on my last two books. It’s led to a lot of panic writing, which causes burst of inspiration all its own. I need to get myself back onto a more regular schedule. Having twins in May is REALLY helping with that. *cries* Actually, what helps is reading a lot of what you post online about write. It makes me feel less crazy, or at least there are other people banging their heads on the padded walls just like me. Comparatively, I feel like a whiny bitch… which is usually when I get motivated again.
Give us your favorite paragraph from the story.
“Hey,” she said, raking her blade in sparks against the brick golem. “We used to wish there to be magic in the world, and we got it.”
“I’m not asking for much,” I said. “Just some real instruction. A Dumbledore, a Snape . . . hell, I’d even take a Trelawney right about now.”
What’s next for you as a storyteller?
I’m under deadline through the end of the year on The Spellmason Chronicles 3, but I’d really like to fit in more work on a half finished young adult book I call my Dickensian Steampunk Voltron Iron Man novel. And there’s a gnawing idea for a graphic novel burrowing into my head… I need to teach my newborn twins to pick up some of the slack, dammit!