First up, I want to share some pretty awesome news. The guys over at ProseBeforeHohos.com have invited me to become a contributing editor at the site. That means my blog post will now be somewhat evenly divided between here and there. All the Prose Bros are cool guys and if you’re not familiar with the site, go give it a follow.
Now, on to Beasts of Burdin blog tour news. Here’s a recap of everywhere I’ve been this week.
I got to share my favorite PIs with Kayla over at Bibliophilia.
I shared my favorite authors with Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Things.
Lola’s Reviews got a list of my favorite foods.
A list of favorite demon books, tv, and movies went to Musings of a Fantasy Writer’s Life.
And finally, over at the Stabby Pen, Jonathan Lister gave me the most professional interview ever. If you only click one link, click this one. I’m honored.
And lastly, I wrote an article for Prose about why writing is a complete waste of time, and that’s not a bad thing.
That’s it. Stay tuned for more next week. Monday I’ve got the most intriguing interview of the tour coming up…
Hey guys, today I get to drop in and share a cool interview I did with Scott Zachary about his new historical fiction, The Least of These. I know what you’re thinking, historical fiction? Really? Yeah, really. I’ve read it and there are no explosions, but it’s still a good read. I’ll add a quick review at the end of this post.
Q: All right Scott, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is the real Scott Zachary?
A: Funny you should ask. I am not really Scott Zachary. My name is Ryan; I inherited the pseudonym from the previous Scott Zachary. The man I inherited the name from is not really Scott Zachary either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Scott Zachary has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia.
Before inheriting the pen name, I had been building Internet-thing for fun and profit for about fifteen years; currently I am just another cog in a great software-producing machine based out of Redmond, WA. You know the one. I have also dabbled in professional graphic design, acting, soldiering, the lay ministry, and a bunch of other odd gigs. I am interested in everything, and get distracted easily.
Q: What made you decide to pursue your writing?
A: I was an avid writer when I was younger, but frankly I was really, really bad. One day I realized that I was trying to write about things I had no business writing about: I had zero life experience. I was always a bit of a shut-in, reading while the other kids were out playing, and I decided to shelve my crummy stories and get out a bit. So I joined the Army. I was seventeen.
After that, and a bunch of other interesting adventures, I carved out a career, had a family, and I sort of forgot about my writing. Then a couple of years ago I read “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott and remembered the passion I used to have for writing. So in September of 2012, I fired up szwrites.com
and started posting shiny new stories. It has been a slow process, but I am chugging along and loving every minute of it.
Q: The Least of These and your short story collection Gossamer Wings are both self-published. Did you have a hard time choosing to go that route as opposed to traditional publishing?
A: Gossamer Wings was just an experiment to test the waters. I had compiled an eBook of some of the first shorts I wrote in 2012 for friends and family who wanted to read my stories, and then I thought, “Well, since I have already done the formatting, I might as well throw it up on the Kindle Store and play around with marketing and stuff.” It has been a great learning experience, and I have had to do a lot of course-correction, but people seem to like the stories. It was never about money, which is one reason I decided to donate all the royalties from that anthology to charity. I just enjoy hearing from people who like my stories; if I can help out a world-class literacy program in the process, bonus!
My decision to self-publish The Least of These was a lot harder. It is a serious story, and it is something I am really proud of. That’s hard for me to say—that I’m proud—because I’m Canadian, but I think it is the best thing I have written so far. I had two separate offers for publication, but I wasn’t comfortable with the terms of the contracts. I politely declined both of them and decided to release it myself.
Q: So what is this story about?
A: The Least of These is a 10,000-word novelette set in Ireland, during a period of extreme unrest and oppression in the early 18th century, and follows the story of an aging Catholic woman named Molly Gregor and her life-changing encounter with a band of Irish Travelers (often mistakenly referred to as “gypsies”). She is already an outcast in her town, for various sociopolitical reasons, and quickly finds herself in direct opposition with the xenophobic prejudices of her neighbors, which is a risky place to be. Fundamentally, this is a story about questioned faith, restored hope, and the true price of charity. I have been going through a long-drawn crisis of faith over the last several years myself, and I think a lot of that comes out in the story.
Q: I know there are two opposing viewpoints in the story. Do you find it hard to write believable characters opposite of the fence?
A: I was worried about writing Molly, since the story focuses entirely on her and really gets inside her head. I am not a woman, nor late-middle-aged, nor Catholic, so there was a lot of trepidation at first to get her voice right and make her believable. I am somewhat of a “method writer” though, and have a background in acting, so once I got into the character it came surprisingly naturally. Writing the antagonist, on the other hand, was tricky, because it was so easy just to make him a cardboard caricature. If I ever write a novelization of the story, I think I will want to spend some time telling his story and giving a little more context for why he is the way he is. For a novelette though, there’s really only enough space to get into one character’s head without randomizing things too much.
Q: If a gaggle of Cthulus (Yes, there are more than one. Don’t question me, I’ve met at least three, maybe four) ascended from the depths of the Earth and named you the most interesting human being on the planet and as holder of this title they required you to name one movie, two books, and three albums that signify humanity’s awesomeness, what are your choices?
A: Assuming the Elder Gods are staring at me, and I might be a wee bit nervous, and probably soiled myself, I’m just going to rattle off the first titles that come to mind.
Movie: The Princess Bride
Books: Good Omens and A Movable Feast
Albums: Hoodoo Man Blues, Rattle and Hum, Blue Train
Q: Okay, last one. In 12 syllables or less, tell the world why they should buy your book.
A: It is a promise of hope, in a hopeless world.
There you have it. Now you and Scott-Ryan are best friends, pretty much. As his new bff you should do him the honor of checking out his new book. You can purchase by clicking on his well-crafted cover art here:
Or you can click here to add it to your Goodreads list.
If you’re still hanging around, here are my two cents about the story:
I’m usually the kind of guy who reads books with explosions and gun fights, but Scott has given me a reason to care about a little group of Irish travelers. Scott tells his story with crisp prose that isn’t overly wordy. He gets in, tells his story, and doesn’t drabble on with irrelevant details. This is a solid little story that I would happily recommend to any of my friends or family, even if historical fiction isn’t usually their thing.
Now stop reading about it and go actually read it. That’s an order. Or a very impolitely worded suggestion. Either really.
Okay guys, so in three days my cover for Beasts of Burdin is going to be revealed to the world. I’m super excited and can’t wait for you all to see it. To get everyone ready for the reveal I thought I would tell you a little bit of what went on to get the cover what it is.
Disclaimer: I think my cover is awesome and I think the team at J. Taylor did a great job at bringing a picture to my words. I was very picky about the cover and they worked with me every step of the way.
When my book was first approved I was asked what other cover designs I liked to imitate for Burdin. I like the idea of something simple like Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man or Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt books. I definitely wanted a cigarette and glass of whiskey on the cover. Oddly enough, I don’t smoke and drink only occasionally, but Ty Burdin does both to excess.
Cigarettes and alcohol got vetoed. They sent me a cover to see how I liked it. As soon as I opened the attachment in my email my heart dropped. It was a picture of a dark alley (good) with a man on the cover that looked more like he belonged on Jersey Shore than drinking himself into a hole.
I spent a very long time trying to craft an email back to the publisher to express how little I cared for the cover. After a couple more idea exchanges we ended up with the correct person on the cover. Then came the color disagreement.
The publisher wanted a blue hue for the entire cover and I wanted more of a sepia color tone. Burdin has a very retro feel about him and I wanted that displayed on the cover. I was told that blue looked more like urban fantasy and we needed to remind readers what kind of book Burdin really is. After a great deal of complaining on my part we came to a beautiful agreement and that is what you are going to see on Monday.
Thanks to everyone at JTP for giving me a cover I’m proud of and I hope you all like it.