Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interview with Skyler White, author of and Falling, Fly

The lovely Skyler White whose debut novel, and Falling, Fly just released this month has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her new book as well as future plans and what it was like writing these fascinating characters and the world they inhabit. I reviewed this book awhile back and if you need a refresher on what I had to say here it is.

So, without further ado, here is my interview with Ms. White:

1) ‘and Falling, Fly’ is your debut novel; have you always wanted to be a published author?

No, I’ve wanted to be a whole list of things. All about equally unlikely. ‘Published author’ is a fairly new ambition for me.

2) The story is a fascinating blend of neuroscience, psychology and mythology. What inspired you to attempt a story with these ostensibly opposing elements? Did you find it difficult to blend the science and the myth parts into a cohesive whole?

Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed my crazy salad! The inspiration came from a single starting place. I wanted to get as much of a three-sixty view of desire as I could. I wanted the neuro-chemical and the mythological angles, and well as the psychological and the economic.

3) The hotel, which is such a focal point of the story and is affectionately (or not :P) known as hell by the "guests" there, is a rather intriguing character all on its own. What was your inspiration for this part steampunk and part gothic place?

::grin:: The hotel evolved as a place where the damned would feel most at home. The steampunk elements aren’t actually steam-driven; they’re powered by inertia. It was important for me to create an ecology for Hell that was more environmentally conscious than our world and that also made sense on both a metaphorical and a literal level. Hell is powered by people. All the energy that is used in Hell comes from people in Hell. The mechanisms that capture the excess human energy and re-purpose it towards the upkeep of Hell are all mechanical: they’re cogs and ball-bearings and wheels. And Hell is without plastic or electricity. There’s a story reason for that, but it’d ruin Book Two to explain it now.

4) Dominic and Olivia are two very tortured souls just looking for some peace in life, and both are so sure they know how to achieve it – one through legends and loopholes and one through science and medicine. They are alike in their quest and need for peace, but they are also very different people. Which character was easier or more fun to write, and which was a little tougher?

Olivia is more like I am, so she was easier; but Dominic is more like I’d like to be, so I enjoyed writing him more. But you’re picking up on something that nobody’s asked me about yet, which is how anchored each is in their own world-view. I’m very interested in that. Romance novels used to get a lot of mileage out of ‘love vs. honor’ or ‘love vs class’, but there’s not a lot that can really get in the way of love anymore. Except maybe world-view.

I’m fascinated by what it means to love someone whose way of understanding the world is not only dissimilar to yours but mutually exclusive. To accept Olivia for who she is would require Dominic to sacrifice who he is, because they cannot both exist in the same universe. It’s the ‘immovable object vs. unstoppable force’ question, but in people.

5) Who was the most interesting/fun/difficult character to write in the story? There were so many interesting ones and their personalities all seemed so strong.

Thank you! Gaehod is the most difficult. Madalene and Alyx were probably the most fun. Although Ophelia and the vampire sisters are fun too.

6) Did you always know where the story was going to go, or did it ever take you by surprise?

I do a lot of pre-writing, so by the time I started writing proper, I knew basically where it was going. I still found myself in trouble a couple of times; and several times, I’d go into a scene knowing exactly where it was supposed to come out, and it’d take a sharp turn in the writing that I had to correct for later. And I re-worked the ending a couple hundred times. I knew where I wanted Olivia and Dominic, but everyone else moved around a lot before I found their final positions.

7) Is this a stand-alone novel or can we expect this to be the beginning of a series?

My second novel, ‘In Dreams Begin’, comes out in December. It belongs to the same story-universe, but they aren’t technically a series. In the book, a contemporary graphic artist falls asleep on her wedding night and wakes up channeled into the body of Maud Gonne, the famously beautiful, possibly part-faerie, Victorian Irish revolutionary. In Maud’s body, Laura meets WB Yeats, the very active occultist and dramatically romantic Irish poet.

The story lets me play again with world-view, European Victorian vs. Contemporary American, with questions of body image and fidelity, and with history, which was amazingly cooperative. History gave me an on-again-off-again relationship between the real Yeats and Maud Gonne, which included what they both referred to as a “spiritual marriage”, the bizarre history of the Golden Dawn occult movement to which they both belonged (along with Aliester Crowley), and the belief amongst the Irish peasantry that Maud was at least part Sidhe, a sort of Irish faerie famous for stealing the souls of brides.

8) Is there anything in particular that you hope readers will walk away from this story with? Other than having enjoyed it, obviously ;)

I hope readers will walk away from this story with bits that stick. Ideally, they’ll have images and ideas lingering around in their minds to play with beyond the story. I realize I ask rather a lot of readers. But I hope I can replay the extra effort with extra images and ideas.

I'd like to thank Ms. White for her time and the interesting look into the world she's created and I look forward to seeing what the next book will bring. Thanks to all you guys for checking us out and hearing what we had to say. If you're interested in learning more, then check out the author's website at the link below.

Skyler White is author of dark fantasy novels ‘and Falling, Fly’ (Berkley, March 2010) and ‘In Dreams Begin’ (Berkley, March 2010).She lives in Austin, TX.



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