Interview with Andy Gavin, author of The Darkening Dream

28 Mar

Today I’m happy to welcome Andy Gavin to the blog. I reviewed his book The Darkening Dream a few days ago. You should go check that out. But stick around for a few seconds first. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me,

*What inspired you to write The Darkening Dream

There are two answers to that, the visceral and the cerebral. With The Darkening Dream, the visceral part was this image I had – and some might consider me disturbed – of a dead tree silhouetted against an orange sky, a naked body bound to it, disemboweled, and bleeding out. The sound of a colossal horn or gong blares. The blood glistens black in the sunset light. Bats circle the sky and wolves bay in the distance. But sacrifice isn’t just about killing. It’s a contract. Someone is bargaining with the gods. And on the cerebral side, I’ve always been a huge vampire fan and I’ve read and watched a large percentage of the oeuvre. But also as a history buff I wanted to write a supernatural story that was more grounded in real history and legend. I’m always thinking, “that could have been so much better if they didn’t make up the historical backstory” so I started with the villains. What kind of ancient evil creatures might still be around? What do they want? And what legitimate human reason would they have to destroy the world (Buffy-style)? I don’t exactly answer the question in TDD, because the motives of 5,000 year old baddies should be mysterious. But trust me, they have a plan, and the sheer audacity of it will literally shake the foundations of the heavens.

*Where is your favorite place to write?

My work space is extremely messy but with a great view of Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean. I write on a 12 core Mac Pro with two Apple 30” monitors. Yeah, I’m a computer geek, and an Apple weenie to boot. I write in Scrivener which is a totally awesome writer’s word processor. Any writer still using Word is crazy J.

Unless something distracting is going on I try to have my butt in the chair by around 10am (after working out) and more or less keep it there until around 6pm. If drafting new prose I try to do about 2000 words a day. I write, then I do a polish pass. If I had to rewrite significantly during that pass I’ll do a third sweep to cleanup.

Then I print and run to my wife for instant feedback J. Next I email it to my Mom and my “story consultant” (one of my friends who reads it right away). Feedback is good. I find that I’ll often redraft a chunk on the basis of these early comments.

*What did you find most challenging about writing The Darkening Dream?

The endless re-reading and careful editing is more tedious (although I do a lot of it!). Sitting down to read the entire book again for the 50th time takes some serious will power. The agent query process is also horrible — and not nearly as productive. It’s really wretched and broken in every way, designed only for the convenience and efficiency of agents. But it doesn’t even really serve that. The process is loosely functional but frustrating for both sides in a way reminiscent of American Healthcare.

*If you could meet any literary character, who would you pick?

Dionysus. I’m sure he’d be great to party with.

*Have you been influenced by any particular writer’s style?

Tim Powers is a favorite for his ability to bring to life the fey in a grounded yet truly otherworldly way. Stephen King is another (not all his books but many) for his uncannily ability to characterize people in just a sentence or two and his unerring ear for dialogue. Dan Simmons for the massive scope of his world building and command of pathos. George R. R. Martin for his mastery at making his gigantic cast of characters feel developed and above all, human.

*What is your all-time favorite book?

Just one? I don’t know if I can do that. A Game of Thrones, Hyperion, Carrion Comfort, Dune, The Anubis Gates, A Fire Upon the Deep, Consider Phlebas, The City and the Stars, Time Enough for Love, Great Sky River, Wizard and Glass, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Wyvern, Assassin’s Apprentice, A Horse and His Boy, The Silmarillion, and many more.

*Fun fact about yourself?

Besides having written two novels, thirteen video games, founded four companies, etc., I’m also an incurable foodie and certified Sommelier / Italian wine specialist.

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Thanks so much for the interview! For more on Andy Gavin, visit his website here.

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