Monday, August 17, 2009

Make-Believe Monday With Frank Tuttle

Today on Make-Believe Mondays my guest is Frank Tuttle.

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

Frank: The manuscript I’m working on now is called ‘The Banshee’s Walk.’ It’s a Markhat novel – a very long Markhat novel. This one is set just outside of Rannit proper, and there may or may not be a banshee involved. But I’m not saying.

Debra: Well I guess I'll have to read it to find out. Very intrigued by your banshee.

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

Frank: I read a lot. I try to read things that are completely alien to whatever I’m working on. If I’m writing a gentle kid’s story, I try to pick up ultraviolent zombie fiction. For Markhat, I try to read hard SF. I also just shut my eyes and listen to Pink Floyd and let my mind drift. Although I had to stop doing that while driving, after the incident with the petting zoo.

Debra: LOL Well my hubby has turned out the lights while driving at night just to see better but I've never known anyone to drive with their eyes closed. You must be quite talented. lol And now I want to know what happened with the petting zoo.

Ahem. Okay. Back to the questions. Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Frank: Oh yes, but Dr. Phelps says I should ignore them, ha ha. Truly, I hear every bit of dialog, and I hear it spoken in the character’s voice. Especially Mama Hog’s. She cracks me up, and sometimes I honestly wonder where the things she says come from.

When I’m writing the Markhat stories, which are told in first-person, I hear Markhat’s voice as I type. It’s almost as if I’m just transcribing an audio program, when the session is going really well. I know that sounds strange but that’s how it is.

Debra: I love that name, Mama Hog. And I don't think that sounds strange at all. Dickens used to carry on whole conversations with his characters and sometimes become that character for a while.

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?

Frank: Oh yeah. I love making up names – proper names, place names, you name it. The huldra, from “Hold the Dark?” I knew when I started writing the story something called a huldra would play a big role, even though I didn’t know just what role until it actually made its appearance.

Sometimes I sneak in local place names – Pot Lockney, Yocona, Britney Woods – but usually I make them up. And not just any made-up word will do. There’s a feel and a sound that just has to be right. I keep lists of nonsense words, lol. Just because some of them sound so cool.

Debra: Just the sound of it is cool. Huldra. Yeah I like that.

The feel of a word in your mouth as well as the sound. Definately.

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

Frank: Not really. I daydream stuff up all the time, but my actual sleeping dreams always seem to center around being stranded on a desert island with the Pussycat Dolls, and that’s really hard to work into most of my stories.

Debra: Oh but what a fun fantasy for you. ;-)

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

Frank: Everything I read did, lol. I suppose Tolkien had the biggest impact, with L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt’s ‘Enchanter’ series a close second. And another assorted dozen right on their heels – Niven’s Ringworld, Zelazny’s Amber books, the list is pretty long. I read everything I could find, from Amber to Xanth.

Debra: I wonder if all children who devour books end up writing? Maybe soaking up so many words and worlds creates a surplus of them in our minds which then has to go somewhere.

If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Frank: I’d like to think that it would be what I’m writing now, with Markhat. He’s a wise-cracking private eye in a world where vampires and Trolls mix with magics and mayhem. And now I’m throwing romance into the mix. I probably can’t get much wilder than that!

Debra: I like your mix, Frank. Mixing it up is always fun.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Frank: I guess my only message would be this – BUY MY BOOKS. Seriously. I’m begging you here.

Debra: LOL You crack me up. You really do.

Frank: Just kidding. The only message I have is for readers to keep reading. There are so many other pastimes out there, competing for our attention. You could be playing a video game right now, or watching YouTube. And that’s fine, both activities have their place. I’d just hate to see reading fall away over the course of the next century, as video and other media make it easier for us to retire our own imaginations in favor of flashy graphics. And buy my books. Yeah. That too.

Debra: Yes, I agree. And buy Franks books! LOL

Frank, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Readers, you have a chance to win a copy of Dead Man's Rain, thanks to our awesome editor Beth. Leave a comment for Frank and I will announce the winner next Monday.
Debra's News/Debra is watching:

My father is down from Ohio to visit this week, so I'll be running around town with him enjoying his company. Mostly working on the PR and marketing end of writing. Then next week will be back to the pages. I don't get to see him often so I'm making every moment count.

Thank you to everyone who came out to Saturdays book fair and thank you for buying my book! It is still a thrill for me each time I sign another book.

This weeks winner of Dead Man's Rain will be announced next Monday.

Last weeks winner is..........Candice!
email me at so we can send it off to you and thanks for commenting!


Bethany said...

I think the incident with the petting zoo did show up in one of Frank's Markhat books, but fortunately for all of you it was cut during edits!

I have to say, there is no one that I know with an imagination like Frank's. I totally adore his books and if I could would tie him in front of the computer to get them faster.

Pussycat Dolls? Hmmm... and I can't get you to have your characters do anything more than hold hands. LOL!

Frank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank said...

Hey Beth! Thanks for the kind words (rustling sound as a crisp new fifty dollar bill changes hands)

And the hand-holding in the new book is pretty steamy -- there are hints that fingers might have (gasp) intertwined...