The following is reposted with permission from Seth Chamberlin’s blog, III am on the occassion of the upcoming release of Andy Peloquin’s Blade of the Destroyer, which I am currently reading. Look for my review here sometime next month. In the meantime, come hang out with me this Sunday from 2-3 pm at Andy’s Release Party on Facebook.
I first met Andy Peloquin when I was hitchhiking cross country to join aVegas chorus line… Wait, no. That’s the plot to Showgirls. Take 2: I met Andy not so long ago while we were both slinging marketing mojo on Twitter. That doesn’t sound inappropriate at all after reading the first three sentences, right? MOVING ON!
[I tried coming up with Showgirls related images, or those of a big bald guy in drag and the image to the right was my personal reaction to most.]
Andy is one of those people that immediately comes across as excited about what he’s doing and where he’s going. He also is genuinely interested in what others are doing, and that’s how we became friends. I’ve only known him for about a month, but in that time I have already learned a lot about marketing as an author. Whether by design or intuition, he’s really tapped into the heart and soul of what building an author platform is about in this publishing age, and that is connecting personally with people.
He took time out of his very busy schedule to answer some questions about himself and his new dark fantasy novel, Blade of the Destroyer, which drops tomorrow (Aug. 21, 2015). Click here to read my review.
Andy- I’m a solid 6′ 6″ (2.02 m) tall. I’ve been this height since around the age of 17 or 18, so I guess I’m used to it. But compared to my wife, I’m a giant.
Q- You have an interesting background and family history. Where are you from, and what is your family like?
Andy- I’m Canadian by nationality, born in Japan to American and French parents, and have spent much of my time in Mexico. I come from a family of 11 siblings, and every one of them artistic in some way. I’ve finally found my way of being artistic: through my writing!
Q- This is your second novel, so I still get to ask, what is your professional and educational background before becoming an author? I ask because many of the readers of this blog are also writers and it’s always interesting to know where people come from.
Andy- I have ZERO professional and educational background in writing. I completed my GED at the age of 17, and haven’t done more than look at a college textbook since then. I’ve taken the occasional writing course (I’m currently participating in a Bootcamp course), but other than that, I’m a self-taught writer.
Q- Blade of the Destroyer is unlike any fantasy book I’ve ever read. Could you tell the readers about how this novel was first conceptualized and the evolution from there?
Andy- It was a pretty unusual journey. It started out as a piece of short prose written for an online competition, which (after 10 years) I decided to write into a comic book script. When the script went nowhere, I turned it into a novel.
Q- Blade of the Destroyer is about a character called the Hunter. He is what I would call an anti-hero in pretty much every way. What do you think is the draw for such a character?
Andy- I’ve always loved anti-heroes and villains, almost more than the classic heroes. I know many other readers love to see the moral “shades of grey”, and the Hunter’s story provides people with the chance to see the other side of things. This isn’t a classic “good versus evil” or even “right versus wrong”. It’s simply one man trying to make his way through his life, and doing what he needs to do to stay alive.
Q- In the initial drafts, was it difficult to make the Hunter likeable enough to carry the story, and if so, how did you solve this problem?
Andy- I don’t know if it was hard to make him likeable enough, but it was more about fleshing him out and making him a relatable character. Everyone loves a bad-ass, but if the protagonist is too bad-ass or undefeatable, there’s no tension. That was the hard part–trying to find the balance between his “immortality” and the [story’s] need for him to face defeat.
Q- While reading, I couldn’t help but notice how the relationship between theHunter and his dagger, Soulhunger, made him very much like a serial killer. In Jeff Lindsey’s Dexter series, Dexter refers to the niggling voice in his head that drives his urge to kill as the Dark Passenger. Was this book meant to be a fantasy twist on the serial killer trope or is that a happy accident?
Andy- It is a happy accident! The idea for the voices in his head comes from an episode of Criminal Minds, where one of the antagonists has to kill to try to silence the accusing voice of his father in his mind. It fit so beautifully with what I was trying to do with the Hunter! Plus, the “dark passenger” is an established principle of psychology, and I’m fascinated by psychology’s understanding of the mind and the crazy things it can do.
Q- You have a great deal of technical fighting in the novel, from fencing techniques, to dagger fighting. The Hunter even uses a sword breaker, which some readers might not be familiar with. Was there a great deal of research that had to go into the fighting narrative, or do you have some sort of background training with such bladed weapons?
Andy- I’ve never trained with bladed weapons, but I have trained in martial arts. I never quite learned fencing techniques, but martial arts does give you a pretty good idea of what your body is capable of. Writing those fight scenes was easy to do, as I simply pictured in my head what I would do in my own sparring/fighting matches.
I think this calls for a fighting montage.
Q- This being book one of The Last of the Becularii series, you obviously intend to carry on the story of the Hunter. Have you determined how many books will be in the series?
Andy- I know there are at least five books in the series. I have enough story for five and a half books, so either I add more to make it six or cut some to make it five. I’ve written the rough draft of Book 3 already, so I just have to figure out two or three more books.
Now for some questions about your craft. As I said, I have a great many writers that follow my blog and I’m sure they are interested to know about your process.
Q- What is your approach to writing a novel, specifically, are you a outliner or pantser?
Andy- I’m a drafter in the sense that I know where I’m going before I sit down and write. But I don’t like to get bogged down in plot details. There are many parts of the book that I will write as a pantser, especially secret “plot twists” or “reveals” that connect to the next book or the continuation of the story. I like to be surprised, and my brain hasn’t let me down yet!
Q- Are there any books, blogs, or other writing resources you would suggest for new and developing writers?
Andy- I would advise all fantasy writers to crack open a Brandon Sanderson novel. I try to emulate his writing style as much as possible, as his background as an English professor gives him a solid foundation of how to write well. That isn’t to say that I steal his style, but his flow and sentence structure is (in my opinion) some of the best around.
Q-How long does a 125,000 work novel take to draft for you?
Andy- A rough draft will take me 6 to 9 weeks, depending on how much time I get each week. I average about 10 hours of writing a week.
Q- Any tips for staying motivated and plowing through that first draft?
Andy- That rough draft, for me, is the easiest and the hardest. There is a thrill of creation, but it’s hard to keep on track with the story. The second and third drafts are always the challenge. When you’ve read over the same sentence a few times, you get pretty sick of it. It’s all about having the discipline to keep working when the last thing you want to do is make edits.
Q- What would you say is the strongest part of your author marketing platform?
Andy- Me, as a person. I’m dynamic, passionate, and bold, and I have no problem talking to anyone about anything. I market my books and myself VERY well in person–less so via email and social media!
Q- Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Andy- Actually, there is! I’m giving away FREE copies of my debut novel, In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent on my website (http://andypeloquin.com). Anybody who loves to read stories of Atlantis, fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction all rolled into one, pop on over and grab yourself a copy! It’s quick and easy…
For more on Andy I’ve included links to places you can connect with him and where to get his books.
https://twitter.com/AndyPeloquin or @AndyPeloquin
Currently listening to Big Pig Break Away (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, of course!)