Saturday, November 08, 2014

39 Questions for author S. P. Durnin

1.Tell us a little about yourself. Just who the hell are you, anyway?

Who, me? 
Just your everyday crowbar-totin', Guinness-quaffin', kilt-wearin', blue-eyed, Permuted Press author of the inevitable apocalypse!
I'm pretty common really. Two kids, two dogs, two cats, one wife, and a partridge-in-a-pear-treee-eee-
(New model includes crowbar and zombie-fighting 'Kung Fu' grip!)

2. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I try to do as many things in real life -that the characters in my novels do- as I can. Practice the Martial Arts, shoot firearms regularly, I've bungee jumped, zip-lined, zombie runs, things like that. I even take the crowbar to melons (and the occasional bowling ball) to get the feel for realistic brain-smashin' action sequences on a regular basis.

3. What book do you wish you could have written?
The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Say what you want about hairy-toed hobbits, in my opinion (so take it with a grain of salt and a wedge of lemon) that series was -and is- one of the most sweeping and most brilliant sagas ever written, hands down. Besides, always had a thing for butt-kickin' elven women...
4. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

The whole list? How much time ya' got? Just kidding. Here's just some of the top authors, there are a hell of a lot more! Tony Monchinski, Z.A. Recht, Jesse Petersen, Gini Koch, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Scalzi, Glen Cook, Robert Asprin, David (and Leigh) Eddings, Jason Brant, J.L. Bourne, Mel Gilden, Mike Resnick, Lloyd Alexander, Diane Duane, Chris Claremont, and Andre Norton.
5. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

You know, I've actually thought about that (but then again, hasn't every author?).
Jake- Carl Urban- Reaper from DOOM
Laurel- Tara Perry- Marina from THE FLESH BEAT BAND
Kat- Grace Park- Boomer from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
George- Steven Lang- Nathaniel Taylor from TERRA NOVA
Allen- Dominic Monaghan- Charlie from LOST
Rae- Jill Wagner- Kirsta Starr from the television series BLADE 
6. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I've found someone's name seldom defines them, in the real world or a fictional one. Many “cool” people with “cool” names are douche-bags, and not really anybody you want to meet for drinks, let alone spend any amount of time with.That being the case, I tend to sketch a character (or find photos of people who match what I see in my mind for them), then let the ol' back-brain free-associate. Names just pop up. I can't explain where they come from, because it's a mystery even to me!
7. What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

Successfully keeping a firm grip on my temper amidst a world overrun by those who “know what's best”. Politicians, religious leaders, nanny-groups who want to dictate: what you eat, what you drink, what you drive, how you worship whatever deity you happen to believe in (or don't believe in), how you speak, how you think, etc. Anyone attempting to “convert” me, basically. To put it in a succinct and simple way: they can all take a flying leap from a tall structure, flap their arms really fast, and pray real hard for an updraft...

8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
If the zombies don't rise (or maybe even if they do), hopefully the Patriarch of my very own country. It doesn't have to be anything grand or humongous. A nice island off the coast of Aruba somewhere would do just fine. “Mick-opia” has a nice ring to it. Free Guinness and Jameson's Irish Whisky every evening after the bagpipe players perform (Nightly. By law), plenty of corned beef, cabbage, and potato dinners, lots of buxom redheads.... That's paradise baby.

9. Were you already a writer, and have you always liked to write

Honestly, I never considered putting pen to page (or in this case: flipping-fumble-fingers to keyboard) before a few years ago. I was more into the whole “happily produce art for pages in comic books and live in obscurity” thing. But the Dead In My Head just wouldn't shut the hell up. The story/characters kept nagging and nagging and nagging and nagging and nagging at me, insisting that I let the story loose so I can finally (after the first series is finished maybe) get a good-bloody-night's sleep!!
10. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

That no-one can tell you how to write, they can only tell you how they write! Sit down, focus on the reality you want to birth and create it! Don't listen to the 'naysayers', the ones who don't have faith in you, the cretins who want to run you down because they're either to lazy (or narrow-minded) to attempt the same themselves. Even if you're the only one who ever reads it, give your vision life, dammit! 

11. If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?

I'd have liked to be a short-order cook a few universes over. Don't judge. That wouldn't be as strange or boring as it sounds. Who knows? Maybe the laws of physics are different in the next universe to the right. I wouldn't say no to a little Midichlorian augmentation if it came down to it. 

Always wanted a lightsaber anyway...

12. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I try not to obsess over them. Reviews are meat and potatoes for any author. They let us know people have heard us, felt what we have, that they've become invested in the characters we've pulled from the depths of our minds. All of us want the reader to see what we see happening in the story playing out within our heads, so when we're actually able to connect with someone in that way it's a very fulfilling experience.

Some of the good ones (if asked by the person who left it!) I will reply to. The bad ones? Never. Even if they're inaccurate, like say the reviewer references an event or part of a novel that didn't happen in any way or wasn't even written for that matter. 
That has happened to me, and I figured “Why feed the troll?”. That'll just keep them coming back under the bridge looking for more Billy-goats...

Always take honest reviews with a grain of salt. Remember that you're trying to impart your thoughts to someone. If they manage to understand, awesome. If they just want to spew hate-speech into the atmosphere (or the digital world), let em.
That's why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors of ice-cream. Not everybody likes strawberry.

13. What is your best marketing tip?

Don't be “That Author” or, speaking bluntly, a money-hungry dick. Treat your readers/fans/everyone like a person, not like only numbers or dollar signs. I'm a fan of many authors (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc.) and I wouldn't want them to treat me as such if we one day met face-to-face, so I refuse to treat people who spend time in my apocalypse that way.

I love talking, both online and in person, with readers! I honestly enjoy getting their take/likes/opinions on events and characters. Sometimes you gain inspiration from the conversations. Hell, one of my Beta (reader) Corps actually convinced me a certain event -that I initially cut from the story- should be included in Book 2 of the Crowbar Chronicles! Her argument was sound and the event gave a particular character more depth, so I ended up keeping it in the novel. 

14. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

Sometimes it seems that there's way too much back-biting and in-fighting among people in “The Biz”. There are people who spend a lot of their time ripping their peers, downing other people's vision. Basically “shitting on someone's riff” to make themselves feel better.
That puzzles me. Why bother? We're not critics, we're creators. 

The apocalypse is a lot fun, killing zombies is great stress relief, birthing alternate apocalyptic realities/timelines is wonderfully satisfying, and “Author's Revenge” is therapeutic in the extreme, but when you're able to create heroes... Characters in a novel that causes the reader to look up from the book and think “You know what? The world isn't so dark after all...”?
That's something special.

15. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

-I will never write anything calling for the downfall of America. 
While my ancestry is Irish/Celtic, this is my country. My home. I love it.

-I will also never produce work which condones doing any of the following: hitting women, abusing children, or blowing up buildings for religious reasons.
Individuals (bottom-feeders) who like doing any of that can go suck the death-pipe.

16. Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?

Not so much. When I write, I don't see the paper, screen, or words. It plays out in my head like I'm viewing a movie, or as if I'm just an disembodied observer, watching ghost-like while events happen around me. That's kind of strange I suppose, but it works... 

17. Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
Yup! First one. I have work in a pair of anthologies (which were both great fun, by the way) prior to the Crowbar Chronicles, but KEEP YOUR CROWBAR HANDY was the first that was mine-all-mine.

18. What are you working on now? What is your next project?

Currently I'm hip-deep into production of the third installment in my apocalypse, Book 3 of the Crowbar Chronicles: Assuming Room Temperature. After that, it's on to the fourth and final novel Yeah. I said final. I know, I know. People have asked “Why wouldn't you want them to go on forever??” The answer is simple. These characters aren't warriors or soldiers. They're normal (if slightly odd) people. They can't fight forever. Eventually, they'll become too tired (or too injured) to go on, so the story will have an ending. I've always said there are very specific things in store for them, specific events that have to occur in a certain (if tragic) way, before The End comes down the pipe. I'm just laying out how and when that happens. 
19. Do you write naked?

I have. Not often, and not in public. I have a lot of scars and people tend to point and cover their mouths in horror...
20. What is your biggest failure?

A certain previous relationship. Talk about a “fail”. In all honesty I should've seen that one coming like a dynamite-loaded freight train, but it turned out for the best. After all, I found my buxom, big-brained, red-haired “witchy” wife so I can't complain.

((Note)) Never end a relationship over dinner. Merlot stains do not come out of a tan shirt. Neither does mustard, as it turns out...

21. What is the biggest lie you've ever told?
Why you dirty-... I knew you would ask that! Fine, I'll cop to it.
You know That Question? The one every man fears? You know the one. It kind of goes like this: “Does this (random item of clothing here) make my butt look big?”.

I've lied to a few women over the course of my life by saying “No”, simply because they had really nice rear ends and I wanted to be able to appreciate them...

22. Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?

Does getting stabbed through the shoulder with an ice-pick in one count? If so, then the answer is yes.
((Note)) I broke the buggers arm in two places, so I figure we're even...
23. Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

That would've been during my time in South Texas. Let's see: mauled by a 400 pound wild boar (now have a titanium knee), a close encounter with a group of border jumpers who tried to kill us for our water (still alive), a goddamn alligator (he tasted great barbecued), and three separate rattlesnake bites.
What did I do? Swore (unless the zombies rise) I'll never... ever... go back to South Texas.

24. Do you drink? Smoke? And if so, what’s your favorite libation?

 I drink occasionally. When I say occasionally, I mean a few beers (like 4 or 5) every few weeks, or 2 fingers of Jameson's Irish Whiskey over the course of an evening on the weekend. I find I have to use Spell-check a hell of a lot less if I keep (moderately) sober. I tend not to write the same paragraph over again too.

I did smoke for a while, but gave it up. Far easier to breathe while running in the morning now.

24. What is your biggest fear?
Going “Dark Side”.
People joke about it all the time, but it scares the shit out of me. I've got a pretty good idea of what kind of pain/damage I could cause if I went full-on bastard. That's why I always remember to daily question both the motives behind my actions, and the type of man I've become.

25. What do you want your tombstone to say?

“Xavier's Institute for Gifted Youngsters Alumni: Class of '94'.

27. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Just one? I know it's cheesy, but I'd pick flight. Invulnerability would be cool, super-strength even cooler, and who doesn't want to have Adamantium claws? But can you imagine being able to fly up and pick the Statue of Liberty's nose? 

28. If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?

Good lord, I have no clue.
Batman chose his because a bat flew through his window, but the Big-Blue Schoolboy (Superman) got his from his girlfriend... I dunno. Mach? No capes. Like a wise woman once said, capes will get you killed. I'd go with black or dark grey body armor (handy for creeping through the shadows), cowl with a full throat and mouth cover (not using face recognition on me, evil mastermind!), and a big ol', honkin' pair of Springfield .45's.
What can I say? I was always a big Rocketeer fan.

29. What literary character is most like you?

Aw man. You went there.
I'd love to be able to say Aragorn or something equally as bad-ass, but to be truthful I'm more along the lines of Wedge Antilles. I'm no uber-warrior, I don't want fame (though I wouldn't say no to fortune), and I'm not looking for any Death Stars to blow up. I just want to live, read (and write) a Mega-chain bookstore's worth of novels, and wonder about what's going on in the next universe to the right...

30. What secret talents do you have?

I'm pretty bad-ass when it comes to Karaoke.
Seriously. I tell people I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but that isn't actually the case. Disturbed, White Zombie, AC/DC, Fall Out Boy, Seether, Skillet, Metallica, Queen. I can sing 'em all.

31. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?

Alpha Centauri.
I'm pretty sure we're not alone in the universe -that's too depressing of a thought to even consider- and I'd like to see/meet just one species from another world before I shed this mortal coil. 

32. What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

See: become the Patriarch of my own country and meet an alien comments.

((Note)): Preferably one of the green, Orion, dancing girls. Just saying.

33. If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

What can I say? It's in my blood.
Besides, the wife thinks kilts and the whole “roll your R's thing is sexy, so...

34. Do you have any scars? What are they from?

Oh, hell yes.
-Bullet wound (.22 cal. Bounced off my 3rd rib and is currently lodged in the underside of my scapula.)
-fang marks (3 separate rattlesnake bites)
-knee replacement (thank you, wild boar in South Texas. Porky bastard.)

35. What were you like as a child?

The same really, just without all those pesky adult bills.
Kinda dorky. Loved comics/movies/books/video games/the Martial Arts. Wanted to be a Jedi. You know. The good stuff.

36. Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

My dreams (if you can call getting tortured within an inch of your sanity every damn time you close your eyes 'dreams') aren't really fit for causal discussion. I'll just say you bloody-well can feel pain in your dreams, and I envy anyone who hasn't been through that experience. Mine normally entail razor wire, claws, and a shit-ton of fangs...

37. You’re being attacked by a hoard of brain eating zombies at this very moment, and all you have is a butter knife, a week-old lemon and a cheese grater. How would you extract yourself from the situation?

Drop the lemon and cheese grater. They're useless. I don't care if it is just a butter knife, you can still put that puppy into a zombie's brain by way of its eyeball.

If they're the classic slow-movers, walk/trot away until they lose sight of you then make tracks at a ninety-degree angle away from the horde. They should keep moving in the same direction they last saw you heading
If they're fast-movers, apply the same concept. It's going to take more effort (and more time), and you'll have to use wreckage/obstacles to slow them down, but you'll still need to get out of sight at the first opportunity.
Remember: “The less attention you attract, the less attention you'll attract!”
((NOTE)) Would hopefully have the trusty crowbar handy too...
38. Do you have any regrets? (Besides volunteering for this interview)

A few.
-I regret (daily) not being able to verbally tell my wife I adore her except by saying “I love you”. I always think of smooth, romantic things to say, but when the time comes to say them, that's all that goes through my head and comes out of my mouth.
-I regret not buying a Benelli SPAS-12 riot shotgun when I had the chance.
-I definitely regret ever going to South Texas.
-I regret not taking up the Kung Fu at a younger age. I should've started practicing them at age five or six, not age thirteen.
39. And last, but certainly not least, do you have any books you’d like to recommend/ shout-outs?

Holy hell, yes.Ready for a list?
I'm sure by now many will have given plenty of examples for zombie/apocalyptic fiction, so I'll stick to other genres here.

BLUE MOON RISING by Simon R. Green
OLD MAN'S WAR by John Scalzi
CROMM by Kenneth C. Flint
BELGARATH THE SORCERER by David and Leigh Eddings


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