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Monday, April 21, 2014

Interview with Seth Skorkowsky (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Dämoren 
Read Building The Perfect Revolver by Seth Skorkowsky (Guest Post)

Seth Skorkowsky really grabbed my imagination with his debut story that mixed urban fantasy, horror and thriller genres in a neat package.  He was also very kind to answer a few questions detailing his publication process, the Valducan series and how Lou Anders changed his writing outlook and his life...

Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic. For starters, please introduce yourself, tell us what inspired you to write and describe your journey to becoming a published author? 

SS: Thanks for having me. I’m Seth Skorkowsky, author of DÄMOREN. I started writing about 10 years ago, after I’d finished college. My original plan was to write role-playing games, but I ended up writing a novel instead. I published a few short stories, but never could sell the novel. Eventually I gave up on that bad piece of work and wrote DÄMOREN

Q] My next question is about the genesis of the Valducan Chronicles, How did its inception occur? How long have you been working on it? 

SS: The inception was the idea of a magical revolver. I mixed that with the idea that monsters such as werewolves and vampires were actually demonic possessions, and could only be killed with holy weapons. That world-concept bounced around in my head for five or six years before I started writing it. Once I decided to write it, I came up with the characters and flushed out the story. The book itself took fifteen months from start to finish.

Q] Your debut novel is the first volume in a series. How is the next book coming along? I’m sure the readers would appreciate any details about the sequel/spinoff “HOUNACIER” and the outline of your plans for the series as a whole? 

SS: The second book is coming along great. I’m about a third of the way through my first draft. HOUNACIER will follow Dr. Malcolm Romero to New Orleans. It’s more of a noir mystery/horror than the first, and delves into new aspects of the mythos. The third book will be titled IBENUS. I’m also planning a collection of “archive” stories that follow past events with different hunters such as Max Schmidt when he was young, and also the grand exploits of Victor Kluge.

Q] Now with Hounacier, you are technically writing a spinoff as it will focus on a different weapon and its weilder. Why the change of perspective both human & otherwise? 

SS: I want to keep it fresh. Every character and weapon has their own strengths and weaknesses. In DÄMOREN, Matt is a lone hunter that has to learn how to work with a team. In HOUNACIER, we’ll not only get to see a new side to Malcolm, but watch how he can adapt to working alone instead of with a team. There will be familiar faces, no doubt, but Malcolm and Hounacier deserve their own story.

Q] You wrote this helpful post about having “a book in the drawer”. Could you talk about your experience and how Lou Anders played such an instrumental role in shaping your debut? 

SS: I attended a three day writing workshop at FenCon 2011. Lou was heading it up. All 20 attendees sent in our first ten pages and all reviewed each other’s prior to the event. Lou showed us what he thought of them as an editor, and gave a lot of wonderful advice. Since we’d all read each other’s work, we all benefitted from everyone’s critiques, rather than just what he said about our own works. The biggest thing he showed was how quickly an editor can decide against a manuscript. He showed we needed to hook them right out the door.

In the end, I finally came to grips with the fact that my first novel was simply a practice piece. Strangely, I wasn't upset at all about that. It was a relief to let it go. Armed with a lot of feedback and advice, I had the courage to actually start DÄMOREN.

Q] Specifically could you give us some insight as to what points Lou raised that you incorporated in your writing which led to the publication of Dämoren

SS: DÄMOREN wastes no time introducing the character and the conflict. Many authors would begin with long-winded weather reports about wind through the trees, and then slowly introduce their characters by Page nine. I knew I had two, maybe three pages to catch an editor’s interest and Lou showed us how.

Shortly after I finished DÄMOREN, I attended an agent/editors conference. Lou was there and sitting on a speculative fiction panel. Ten of us were allowed to submit our first two pages and query letter. I was very happy when his response was, “I’d keep reading this.” That might not sound like much, but knowing how rarely he says that, I was pretty happy. He also gave some helpful pointers on my query letter, which was very appreciated.

Q] Talking specifically about Dämoren, I liked how even though it was urban fantasy, there’s a strong thread of horror in it. I enjoyed this combination and so was that done specifically or was that how you envisioned the story? 

SS: I always planned for the horror aspects to be prominent. I wanted to reader to see the monsters as something to be feared and I needed to sacrifice a few characters in order to show how desperate the situation was. I've always considered Urban Fantasy and Horror to be very closely related.

Q] For your debut, you have gotten a very nice blurb by the supremely talented Elizabeth Bear. As a reader, I haven’t seen her blurb a lot of books, how did this come to be? 

SS: I’m a member of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror. Elizabeth Bear is one of the resident editors who offers advice and critiques to new authors. She gave me a very helpful review on DÄMOREN, and after Ragnarok picked it up, I asked her if I could quote part of it as a blurb. I’m very grateful that she agreed.

Q] You have a series of shorts focusing on Ahren (The Black Raven). Can you talk about its inception & what inspired you to write it? 

SS: The Black Raven started off as a Sword & Sorcery short story about a thief who gets framed for murder and then falls in with a secret mafia. It was supposed to be a stand-alone story, but I kept coming up with more adventures. He’s a mixture of James Bond and the Gray Mouser. I published a few with Flashing Swords Magazine and am now releasing two collections with Rogue Blades Entertainment later this year.

Q] Let’s talk mythology for a bit especially, the mythology you endorse in Dämoren. I found it fascinating how you amalgamated several mythologies and combined them in a Lovecraftian way? What was your thought process behind it creation? 

SS: Werewolves and vampires are the rockstars of modern folklore creatures. I love them as much as anyone else, but wanted to bring in a lot of the other monsters from different cultures that don’t get the same publicity. The Lovecraftian elements were a gradual process that seeped their way in over the course of writing it. Once I noticed them, I just ran with it.

Q] I loved Dämoren as a title, what does it mean? And how did you come up with it? 

SS: Dämoren’s root is “dämon,” which is German for “demon”. I really liked the umlaut because it gives it a non-English feel. Unfortunately, it’s a little hard for people to type and some software to read. I had a few queries come back where the ä was replaced with an error symbol. I can only wonder what those agents thought about a title their computers couldn’t read.

Q] In closing, do you have any last thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers? 

SS: Don’t ever give up on your passion, no matter the setbacks. Keep going. Learn from your mistakes. And most importantly, have fun with it.



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