Monday, January 14, 2008

Make Believe Mondays With Anton Strout

Today on Make-Believe Mondays our guest is Anton Strout.

Anton, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you're working on now.

Anton: Currently I'm working on three things:

- one short story for City Fantastic (DAW Books) called "Stannis", about a gargoyle and his century long watch over one New York family

- a second short story about magical critters, also set in New York City for another anthology which name escapes me at the moment

- one full length novel which is the second book in my Simon Canderous series after DEAD TO ME. It's a very different experience ... with DEAD TO ME I had several years to write it since I was a n00b, but the second, tentatively title BACK TO LIFE, I've had a year and deadlines to meet. Things are a little crazy at the Strout Compound right now.

Debra: Wow. Yes, I can imagine they would be. There's nothing like having a deadline looming to speed up the process.

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Anton: I tend to think cinematically when I sit down at the keyboard, laying out much of my thoughts like a screen play so my mind's eye sees my characters right from the get go. However, they tend to be a bit skeletal on my first draft as I write it out fast and dirty, but by about two-thirds of the way through I know them well enough that they start to flesh out nicely.

Debra: Skeletal. Yes, it's a bit like layering, isn't it? I like that image, the flesh being the last layer.

Some very famous authors have played with language, creating words for people or places that no one has ever heard of. Have you ever played with words in that way and if so, how?

Anton: I am amazed when I read, say, Tolkien and the myriad linguistic tricks he pullls off, but it's not for me. I tend to cringe at the idea of creating fanciful words for my doesn't feel honest to what I do. I write mostly in reality anyway, only with little twists to it and using names that are all consonants like Krxyzl or something just seems like bad scifi conventions.

Debra: Yes, better not to do it if it doesn't feel organic to the writing. Then it is forced and is as you say, like bad scifi.

For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this ever been true for you? Have you ever dreamed
a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Anton: Dreams don't play heavily into my work, which I suppose is why most of it is grounded in reality. For instance, I love the shows Joss Whedon creates because ultimately they're about real people trying to get through their day as weird shit goes down around them. Buffy Summers is just trying to get through school and date, but unfortunately she is The Chosen One. Mal and his crew are just trying to earn their keep and live peacefully, but they're flying through space dealing with pirates and a world where the Brown Coats lost....I'm intrigued by real people thrust into unreal situations.

Debra: Yes, and the reader can easily get caught up in that scene because what if they were thrust into that world? What would they do? I think that is why a TV show like Lost, for instance can be so popular.

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Anton: I go to a Tolkien rereading binge every few years, but I think of the books from my teen years as the ones that most influenced my style: Douglas Adams, Robert Aspirin and Craig Shaw Gardner - I wanted their levels of humor, William Gibson - I envied the way he dropped you in a story with little explanation and you as a reader had to hit the ground running to keep up, Stephen King - I desperately wanted to tap that vein of universality he hits when he turns a phrase.

Debra: Yes, I do that rereading binge too every so often. But I can't read King. He is so good he gives me nightmares. lol

Anton, thank you for visiting with us here on Make-Believe Mondays.

Readers can visit Anton at

His website

His group blog with other urban fantasists:


News and updates from Debra:

I'm adding this new feature at the end of all the interviews to let everyone know what I am up to as an author, what I am working on, where I am blogging, what I am following in the writing world.

First, I'm thrilled to announce my first novel, A Desperate Journey, will be out July, 2008.
I haven't seen the book cover yet and will soon be working on the edits. I closed down my travel agency at the end of 2007 to focus on writing full time, so of course that is a major shift for me.

I also blog over at
with my American Title II sisters. I'll post a schedule of upcoming topics and bloggers there once we have the 2008 schedule worked out.

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