So enjoy the interview with Skyler and enter the contest for your chance to win a copy of this new authors debut.
Amber – Welcome to Amberkatze's Book Blog! It is great to have you here as a guest! Could you start things off by telling us a little about your debut book 'and Falling, Fly'? It looks like it is going to be a good read!
Skyler – Thanks! I certainly hope people enjoy it. ‘and Falling, Fly’ is, at its core, a love story between Olivia, the fallen angel of desire and a vampire, and Dominic, a self-medicating neuroscientist. Having realized everyone you don’t love tastes the same, Olivia goes home to Ireland, to the Hotel of the Damned, only to meet Dominic there. He’s a radical scientist whose research is fueled by his attempts to cure secret, inexplicable flashbacks to things before his birth, things he’s sure never happened. He tries to enroll Olivia in his research study. She says medicine can’t cure mythology, and that his “seizures” are memories of past incarnations, which is completely unacceptable to him as a scientist, even if it would actually explain what he’s been experiencing.
Amber – How did you come up with the idea for the series? Was it a long process or did it just come to you?
Skyler – The core idea for The Harrowing, to which and Falling, Fly belongs, is also the core idea of my personal philosophy or world view; and yes, developing that was a long process. Using it as fiction, as a setting for a novel, was fairly easy though. ‘and Falling, Fly’ took about a year and a half to write.
Amber – Are you anything like the main character in 'and Falling, Fly'? Are any of your characters based on people in your life?
– There’s quite a lot of me in all my characters. Like Olivia, I have to police a tendency to be cynical. She’s a fallen angel, a frustrated idealist – or a frustrated ideal – which is certainly a battle I’m familiar with. Dominic and I share a curiosity and an almost dogmatic faith that there are answers “out there” if we can just work through it. He’s an idealist too, although he wouldn’t recognize himself as such. But his very belief in the human capacity to understand is a kind of idealism, really.
Amber – Ok, have to ask this one! Who chose the title? Why that title?
Skyler – That’s me! The title developed pretty early in the draft stage as kind of an expression of the book’s journey. It is because Olivia has fallen out of Heaven that love is possible for her. It’s something I believe, about any of us, actually, that you have to come down out off the pedestal a lover can construct for you and be real, fallen, dirty cuffs and all, to be truly loved. Your true love is in the gutter with you, finding his stars in your eyes. But the title was also a statement about risk. You can’t fly standing on the precipice. You have to step into the void. I put it there as a challenge to myself. ‘and Falling, Fly’ is a very personal book and I needed the reminder to keeping putting everything at stake in writing it. You can’t learn to dive in the shallow end, right?
Amber – What kind of research do you have to do to write a book? Anything interesting, or is research boring?
Skyler – I’m a total wonk! I *love* research. I have to be very disciplined about the amount of time I put into research, or I’ll never get the writing done. And I love to travel for research. It’s a wonderful way to put a trip together because it takes you into the strangest places and gives you a mission once you’re there. Once I decided to set the second section of ‘and Falling, Fly’ in Ireland, I went back through the travel blog I’d made of a trip there in 2005. That was a lot of fun, looking at the pictures and reading all my old notes again. And I got to re-read Dante and Milton for architectural notes building my Hell. Finally I got to poke around in neuroscience quite a big, which I loved so much I’m still following several of the field’s best journals, blogs and podcasts.
Amber – How many more books will there be in the series? Are you working on any other projects you would like to tell us about?
Skyler – ‘In Dreams Begin’ is the next book of The Harrowing, but they aren’t really a series. They just inhabit the same story-world. Dreams is set in Ireland, England and France beginning in 1889, but it’s a time-travel piece so it moves between the Victorian occultists and Irish nationalists, and the present day. It’s the story of a contemporary graphic artist who falls asleep on her wedding night in Portland, Oregon and wakes up in the body of Maud Gonne, a famously beautiful, six-foot tall, red-headed Irish revolutionary who may have been part faerie. The woman who channeled Laura into Maud then introduces her to WB Yeats, and the two – Victorian romantic poet and time-shifted, modern cynic – fall rather helplessly in love.
Amber – Have you always wanted to be an author? and why did you pick this genre?
Skyler – It didn’t occur to me as a career until about five years ago. I’d made a foray into online retailing that hadn’t worked out the way I wanted, so I sat my husband and my best friend down with an Excel spreadsheet of What The Hell To Do With My Life. Writing emerged as the common thread between my past, somewhat checkered careers. As for genre, I write what I write, and then my editor tells me what genre it is. I like speculative fiction/SciFi/Fantasy/Paranormal or whatever you want to call it, because its readers are the most generous. They’ve learned to deliberately hold their minds open for you, to bring no pre-conceived notions to the table, and I am both challenged and inspired by that.
Amber – How do you pick the names you use in your books? Do they have any special meanings?
Skyler – I wondered if anyone was going to pick up on that! Yes. There’s a meaning or at least a game in every character’s name. With the vampire girls I’m playing with Eve and ova, so they almost all have a “v” in their names. I like it visually too, it has an almost anatomical quality. But they all have a “v”, or an “ia.” Dominic O’Shaughnessy, in addition to being a good Irish name, which he needed to have, also goes by his initials in a couple of places, which allows me to make a D.O. (dio) play on the name for god being implied in his name. It’s my way of saying, “he comes from this, from Ireland, from religion, even if he would claim to have no part in those things.”
Amber – What is the easiest and hardest part about being an author?
Skyler – There’s nothing easy worth doing! Writing is hard. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing anything, and I could list a bunch of things about it that I love, but I honestly can’t think of one that counts as easy.
The hardest thing for me has been having something so personal be so public. I don’t think I’d really thought about that when I wrote the book, but it puts my most fundamental self on display, and that feels very vulnerable. I know we’re not supposed to need external validation, but it really matters to me. When I hear that the book connects with someone, that a reader or a reviewer “gets it,” it soothes something in me. I feel less alone. It’s a complicated and not wholly gentle world I’m inviting people into, and it feels exactly like asking a busload of strangers into your home. You hope they enjoy themselves, that your coffee’s good, that they won’t ridicule your possessions, that they wipe their feet.
Amber – How do you relax? Do you have any hobbies?
Skyler – Hobbies: I read a ton. I dance. I still see quite a lot of theater. I love to cook. I relax by talking to my husband. I have a few very close friends that I talk to as well, but he and I sit down at the end of every day and talk it all over, his stuff and mine, and that unwinds me more than anything else. That, and maybe a glass of wine.
Amber – A lot of authors have 'soundtracks' for their books. Is there any music influenced your books?
Skyler – There is, actually. The soundtrack of ‘and Falling, Fly’ is a one-hour loop of thunderstorms that I listen to while I write, but there are a number of songs that found their way into the book. There’s Tool, U2, Cradle of Filth and Stravinsky. And Collide in the book trailer.
Amber – What books do you enjoy reading? Do you have any favourite authors/series?
Skyler – I read a really wide range of things. I couldn’t pick a favorite, but I’ll tell you what I’m reading now: The City & The City by China Mieville, Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness by Ned Hallowell, Gaiman’s The Sandman: World’s End, and the complete works of Arthur Rimbaud.
Amber - If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
Skyler – That’s a fun question! A dragon. They can fly and swim. They have no financial worries. They get plenty of alone-time. And I think it’d be really satisfying to breathe fire sometimes.
Amber – Thank you for visiting Amberkatze's Book Blog! Good luck with the new book!
Skyler – Thanks so much for inviting me over!
This week I will be sending one lucky winner a copy of Skyler's debut novel 'and Falling, Fly'.
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The contest will stay open until Sunday 14th of March 2010 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.