Book Launch! Parallel Lines
Author Interview Questions
1: Hi, and thanks for joining today. In your own words tell us about yourself, not you the author, but just you!
A: Hey , thanks for the invite. Me? I’m a 47 year old Brit exiled in Sweden, and like most English men I’m a huge football fan (that’s the one where all the players can kick the ball, not the one where they wear loads of padding), and a budding chef. I obsessively collect vinyl records and gave away most of my book collection to the prisons in Ethiopia and Sweden. Yeah, that’s random enough for now.
2: Why did you decide to become an author and what’s the best part? Yeah, it’s a double-whammy of a question. So unexpected!
A: It was a conscious decision when I was maybe 16 years old. It was the summer vacation between school and college and I’d fallen in love with reading for the first time in years, and came downstairs into the garden and told my stepfather and his dad ‘Hey, I’ve finally decided what I want to do… I want to be a sports journalist…’ The transition to novelist took a few more years and didn’t really take hold as an ambition until I discovered horror. Before that I was a compulsive fantasy reader, but it was when I started reading horror novels I started to think, hey I could do this… What’s the best part? I’ve been full time for eleven years now, it’s been my only form of employment and I get paid to create these mad flights of fantasy. It’s brilliant. We get one life, and to get to do what you love, that’s priceless.
3: So, tell us about your work. Sell us on it! Why should we read it and why it will capture us?
A: Oh god, I hate this question. I always say stupid stuff like ‘don’t’ because I’m your typical self-deprecating Brit. I was told once I needed to get an ego. Okay, let’s talk about Parallel Lines, my brand new crime novel. It’s been brewing in my head for maybe fifteen years. It started out as a glimmer of an idea, which matured and changed and became something completely different. I was interviewed on tv last night and the guy asking the questions said, ‘I noticed that the plot, the situation, despite being a crime novel could easily have worked as a Doctor Who episode or a Stargate episode…’ and I had to chuckle. I explained that, for me, that’s because the plot is secondary when it comes to the creation, it’s all about the characters, and characters are universal. So one set of characters, really orchestrated well, could indeed tell a compelling variant of the story in any of a number of genres or universes. I guess what I’m say is, for me, it’s all about the lives of the characters who are put into these situations rather than the situations themselves. The rest, that’s the magic…
4: Why did you choose the genre you write in over others to start your publishing career? Did others appeal to you more and you chose this? Was there a bit of choice weighing or was it rather simple?
A: I didn’t consciously choose, not really. I chased an idea I had, which ended up being sort of horror, sort of crime, sort of fantasy, and really hard to categorise as an actual genre. Then I went and wrote a huge horror novel, and after that a weird crime novel. No one ever said, hey you can only write x so I ended up following lots of ideas and genres until I ended up doing two series for Warhammer and the fantasy novels with Slaine, and suddenly I had six mass market fantasy novels of the shelves of bookstores in the UK without ever consciously setting out to be a fantasy author.
5: So far, what would you say has been the hardest part of being an author?
A: With fifty novels under my belt, across four or five pseudonyms as well as my own name, it was the transition from art to job, and realizing there couldn’t be days when I don’t feel like working, because if I don’t write I don’t eat. It’s a great motivator.
6: Now for the ever-so-shocking follow-up question. What’s the best/easiest part, if there is one?
A: I don’t think there is an easy part. I love seeing artists interpret my work. I get a thrill seeing the book on the shelf. I love the challenge of the blank page and wondering where the next book will take me. But for me, every day is harder than the last, because quite simply I want to be a bit better than the day before. And after twenty years publishing that means I’ve got a lot of getting better under the hood. I think if I ever got complacent and simply thought ah, I can do this, I’ve done it fifty times before, I’d probably quit and go and open a coffee shop. I want to be better. Always.
7: Tell us about what your experiences in the author life have been like. I don’t mean the writing aspects. I mean the daily human life. Tell us what it’s like to live the day life you do and be an author at the same time. What’s it like when people in your life and, the people you come across, find out you’re an author?
A: I tend to write in coffee shops. There are five in the village and I move from one to the other. Everyone pretty much knows what I do and who I am here. For a start I’m the English guy in a village of 12,000 Swedes. Add to that I’m always in the cafes and yeah, it’s hard to be anonymous. I had a complete stranger last week come up and ask me how the new book was going. I tend to be cheerful and chatty when people approach. I’m a very quite guy. I spend a few hours a day walking in the woods with my dog when I’m not alone in the coffee shops writing. Some days the only interaction with anyone other than my wife is those couple of minutes when I’m ordering my coffee and cake. It’s an isolated life, but as I said before, we’ve only got the one life to live and getting to spend it doing what you love is as good as it gets.
8: Tell us about the plans for your series and body of work.
A: Tuesday March 14th sees the launch of the book I never thought would happen. That’s the day after tomorrow. And why is it’s existence such a surprise to me? Okay, time to get a little personal. This idea has been inside my head for a long time. A very long time. Actually going back to my divorce in 2003, really, just a little before. I used to have a long train journey in to the school where I worked – a couple of hours a day, rattling along with nothing but books to read and thoughts to think. My career as a writer was in the toilet. I’d come pretty much to the point of giving up. I’d written and published a couple of kids adaptations of big films in the late 90s (Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World and Return of the Jedi) but I’d also done a load of stuff that went nowhere, a couple of pre-teen romances, one called Castles in the Sand, the other I can’t even remember now, I’d done a kids guide to the internet, and I’d written and failed to sell three horror novels. I’d put all my eggs in one metaphorical basket, writing a book called The Bones of Dominion, which was a big fat fantasy… I spent a couple of years working on it, and then submitted it to my agent, who loved it, and sent it out. Within a week he had a phone call from a major UK editor saying whatever you do, don’t let anyone else buy this… so we both thought huzzah, this is it… this is going to happen… but it didn’t. The rejection came along eventually saying it was too grim. Too dark. (funny how tastes change, it probably would have sold today…)
After that I was pretty much done. A wave of depression so dark hit I ended up getting very ill, my marriage combusted and I quit writing. I was done with the heartache of always been so close, and so close being no cigar…
I think it was about six months without writing a word when I saw a woman on the subway and wrote a scene in my head that ended up in Parallel Lines 15 years later. The thing is, suddenly, seeing her, I wanted to do something again. So I went home and wrote a list of names. This isn’t how I work, not ever. But I wrote down these names, and beside them wrote a line about who they were and how they fit together. It was a mosaic. There were lines like ‘The Goldilocks Whore’ and ‘The Robin Hood Bank Manager’. It was pretty fevered afternoon. I ended up with 13 names and an elaborate grid of connections and enthused, sat down to write my first non-genre book. And it was shit. I mean shitter than shit. It was awful. So I threw it away, threw the idea away and went back to thinking I was through.
Something like five years zipped by, stuff happened. I moved out of my home, with my soon to be ex-father-in-law helping me back and move. During the endless lifting and carrying of boxes I noticed his little finger was twitching. He explained he was due to go in for surgery on a trapped nerve. I’d just finished reading Michael J Fox’s Lucky Man and really hated what I saw, because this guy was one of the best men I ever knew, and the idea of it being anything other than a trapped nerve killed me. The surgery revealed it wasn’t a trapped nerve. The degenerative process was pretty fast after that. A year later we were sitting outside a local pizza place in Stockholm and the waitress had cut up all the pieces of his pizza and he was eating it with a spork because he couldn’t control his left hand when he told me the diagnosis. ALS. Lou Gherig’s Disease. From that day to his death was no more than 2 years. I was in Croatia when the call came that he’d died, due to fly to LA the day of his funeral, and had just started working for Warhammer and was writing properly again for the first time in five years.
I’m not sure quite how or why, but I picked up that old list of names and released what was missing – our way in, our point of view character – our hero. And I wrote Adam Luke Shaw – ALS – on the paper and a note beside it Bank Robber. Simple as that. Suddenly I had a man with a disease made so much worse by stress, holding a gun he had no control over once he really started to panic… and like the old saying says, the gun in the first act has to go off in the third…
So again I tried, and I wrote a first chapter which I loved. It was brilliant. The best thing I’d ever done. And the computer crashed and I lost it. That was about 2008. I couldn’t believe it, and couldn’t bring myself to go back and rebuild what I’d done… so gave up on it again.
Until around 2014 when I was in London with my friend Jane and she said, ‘Tell me a story’ when we were walking. No pressure, right? So for some bizarre reason I started to tell her the story of Adam Shaw, the bank robber with ALS that I knew had no end. About ten minutes into the telling I jumped up and pretty much shouted “That’s not the story!” and knew there and then it wasn’t about robbing the bank at all… it was about a good man in an awful situation getting away with murder… because that gun has to go off.
So, it was there, the full story. I wrote it up during the night of the Brazil Germany world cup match where the Germans put 7 in the net, as my parents had come over to Sweden to stay with us that day, and emailed it to my editor at Titan thinking well, it’ll take her months to process the pitch, it’s all good. I woke up at 9am, less than six hours later, to the email saying she wanted to buy it. It was the quickest sale of my life and the longest, too, in that it took six hours of waiting from pitch to sale, or sixteen years if you think of first word to last…
9: The writing and publishing world has changed a lot. Self-publishing, small to medium presses popping up, and things like becoming a hybrid between indie pubbing and traditional. What are your thoughts on that? Any predictions on what the future might hold? What would you like to see, both as an author yourself, and, as a consumer/reader?
A: I’ve always been career-focussed, and to that end, I’ve loved the idea of exploring all avenues. Right now I’m writing a campaign for a major roleplaying game, a few years ago I wrote the storyline of one of the biggest computer games of the year, I love stories in all forms, and any way to communicate my stories with readers and gamers, that’s got to be a great thing.
10: The always done and asked question. Who are your favorite authors? What are you favorite books? What are you reading now? Tell us. Tell us!
A: It tends to change, but there are a few that always survive when I make a list, so we’ll do them. David Gemmell, Paul Auster, Graham Joyce, Stephen Lawhead, Stephen Gallagher, Stephen Laws, Clive Barker, Jonathan Carroll, Tim Powers, David Eggars, Michael Chabon, Glen David Gold, Nick Hornby… there you go.
11: I’ve got to know…what’s your favorite word to use. Every author has one. What’s the word you catch yourself using a lot? We’ve all got those as well. What’s your favorite word just to say? Something where you like the way it sounds. What’s your favorite curse worse, if you’ve got one and or use them?
A: Hmm, that’s an odd one. I’m not really sure I have an answer for any of those. I mean there are great words like nictitating and mellifluous, maleficence and moribund that just sound lovely inside the mind, but I don’t think I have favourites. As for curse words, I tend to like them blunt. Fuck works. Cunt works. There’s still power to them.
12: Tell us about your latest release. Or, when can we expect your next one? What are we in store for?!
A: The publisher blurb: How far would you go to provide for your child?
Adam Shaw is dying, and knows he’ll leave his disabled son with nothing. His solution? Rob a bank. It’s no surprise that things go wrong. What is surprising is that when another customer is accidentally shot, no one in the bank is in a hurry to hand Adam over to the police. There’s the manager who’s desperate to avoid an audit, the security guard with a serious grudge, and the woman who knows exactly how bad the victim really was… Eight people, twelve hours, one chance to cover up a murder. But it’s not just the police they have to fool.
15: Lastly, where can we find you? Facebook? Twitter? Website? Links to your material. Go on, don’t be shy. Share!
the website, http://www.stevensavile.com
Click the book cover to be taken to the amazon page to buy, or click the link below: