Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Author Interview-Infernal Stock by Ronnie

Today I'd like to welcome Ronnie Schiller over for an interview!

Dixon Azel is in eminent danger of going to hell. His boss and coworkers believe that he has lost his touch. As a demon soul broker in the employ of The Corporation--the business side of hell--a reprimand for unsatisfactory performance is a serious affair. Dixon's been in the world too long to go back. He can't imagine giving up sunshine, processed cheese, and network news in exchange for sulfur and flames. A demotion is more than the affable Dixon can handle. Zack, his young manager, gives him an ultimatum, demanding ten souls by the end of the year. Dixon approaches the challenge with his usual arrogance and enthusiasm. He uses romance to ensnare his prey, hunting the gullible members of online dating sites. It seems that Dixon may prevail with finesse. His masterful plans unravel when the young female demon Dixon has been mentoring disappears while working in the field. When she is captured in unfavorable company, the ensuing inquiry opens Dixon's eyes to a new world. He is introduced to an extraordinary group of people who strive to bring balance to the universe. Dixon's experiences change his perspective on a life that he has lived unquestioningly for over 1,000 years. He must choose his path. Should he cling to the career he has mastered, but hates, or risk all to explore the dangerous world of collaborating with the competition? How can he follow his heart if he doesn't know what that means? Full of dark humor, it is the tale of a regular guy working for a heartless corporation, where the CEO happens to be Satan.

Why/how did you start writing?
I started writing when I was in elementary school.  I had a blue plastic manual typewriter, and I'd sit in front of it for hours during the colder months.  I was a solitary kid, and I observed many things that I wanted to preserve.  I continued to write throughout school. I enjoy writing to capture those small moments that often pass unnoticed.

What’s the most common mistake do you think that beginning authors make?
I've noticed that people tend to disregard the mechanics of language. Your story will not enchant readers if you can't spell or use punctuation.  At least, not this reader.

What worries would you tell your past self to get over in the beginning?
Don't worry so much about writing to an audience.  Be true to yourself and the characters you have created. Don't be pretentious.

What would you tell your past self to worry about?
Pagination and proofing.  Do it right the first time.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser-do you do outlines, or do you write what comes to mind?
I suppose I'm a pantser.

If you’re a pantser, how do you wrap up all the loose end?
When I'm writing about Dixon and his friends, I'm retelling events that happened to people I know.  That's how I feel about my characters.  They are as real to me as the people I know in my life, and their world is as developed as my own.  Telling their tales is a natural process for me.
I do jot down a few notes in a separate document as I'm writing so I can keep technical aspects straight, and each of the characters has a profile document--like an online dating profile.

What inspired your first book?
Oddly enough, I had a pet parrot that turned from sweet to vicious overnight.  She had reached breeding age, and it made her so cranky that I had to cover my head when I entered the room, lest she bite my ears.  I joked that she was possessed by the devil.  The story unfolded in my head.  Commuting long distances is awful, but it gives a person plenty of time to daydream.

Do you listen to music while writing?
I listen to music that the main character would like. Dixon likes Chicago blues and Motown soul.

What’s your writing space like?
It's a complete mess.  I sit at a corner desk in my office at home. It's littered with reference books, style guides, and empty coffee cups that never made it back to the kitchen.

Do you have any quirks when it comes to writing?
I would have to have a context to determine whether my behaviour is quirky, so I'm not certain. I refuse to read any other books while I am working on my own.

How did you come up with (main character’s name) and who they are?
Dixon is the sort of anti-hero that I would like to see in fiction.  He is a supernatural character without pretence.  He is a demon, but walks among humans without detection because he's a regular guy...mostly. Dixon's own words:
I look as good as a human can with this ridiculous pink skin and watery eyes.  You have to remember, I’m not actually some guy who hasn’t reached mid-life.  I’m a demon.  I’m the brother of the subtle serpent, the smoky seducer with blue eyes and blue jeans that fit snug in all the right places.  I have strong arms to hold a lover, well-defined abs over a trim waistline, and a broad, muscular back for the ladies to sink their nails into while they cry out in ecstasy.
My well-formed cheekbones, sensual lips, and perfect nose define the very word symmetry.  My black hair is thick and soft.  I stand at 6’ 4” tall.  I’ll withhold further measurement, except to say that I have never risen from the bed of an unsatisfied woman.  That is a fact.

What are you currently working on?
I am wrapping the second book in this series, Infernal Stock II: Dovetail.

What *wrimo* sites are you on? 
Just the main OLL site for NaNoWriMo.

What future plans do you have for your book?
I don't have any specific plans for this book.

If you could write any book that you’ve ever read, what would it be? Why?
Walden.  It's such an inspiring book full of pragmatic wisdom, spiced with a dash of rebellion.  Thoreau lived with integrity and appreciated life.  He gave up material possessions and existed in a place of pure observation and efficiency of action.  I wish that I had that kind of courage.

What authors may you have learned from, from sites and reading their books?
I was very fond of Ray Bradbury when I was younger.  Bradbury created analogies, turning universal human emotions and experiences into alien adventures. He coaxed the reader into discovering truths about everyday life because one has to examine such a foreign circumstance.  He was brilliant.  "All Summer in a Day" is one of my favourites.
I have adored Stephen King since I was 12 years old. His descriptions are some of the best I've read.  He really knows how to get visceral.  I appreciate his tendency to mix magical forces into real life without getting cutesy.

Which of your characters do you relate to the most?
That's a tough call.  Both Dixon and Julia are manifestations of my personality and desires. Dixon has more of my flaws, so I think I favour him.

Do you prefer books to movies in the film adaptation from books?
Ugh. I have to view films as distant cousins to the books, or I go crazy.  The films have to stand on their own merits.  Several people have told me that I should turn my book into a screenplay, but that gives me chills.

Do you get writer’s block? If so, what do you do to pass the time, or get rid of it?
If I get stuck, I talk to one of my friends about the plot.  I pretend I'm recounting events as a witness.  That's usually enough to get me rolling.

One book you wish you hadn’t written, if any?
I wrote a very messy autobiography for my first NaNoWriMo.  It had no central focus.  I'd like to try again and forget about that one.

Authors you look forward to new books from the most?
I'm a big fan of Charlaine Harris right now.  I'm looking forward to her next release in May. I'm looking forward to wrapping up Christopher Paolini's series, The Inheritance Cycle.  I'm always trying to keep up with Stephen King.

Do you have a writing schedule?
I do the bulk of my writing in November, with NaNoWriMo.  I actually save up my vacation time throughout the year so I can spend one week at home around Thanksgiving.

On the top of your head, how many plots and characters do you think you have or have created?
Dixon's universe is so well defined in my mind that I haven't imagined a limit yet. I have at least two more books planned.

A short line from your book that you love?
Her eyes rose and fell as he moved as though she was listening to a song with lyrics she knew by heart.  I was learning to sight-read it.

Your favourite quote?      
The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad,
and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior.
What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?

from the chapter "Economy" in Walden by Henry David Thoreau

*Wrimos are writing months, based on NaNoWriMo in November, there is at least one for every month*

Thank you, Ronnie! You can check out her book here Infernal Stock!

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