Doctor…Who? Featuring Lance Parkin!

fictionreboot2Welcome back to the Fiction Reboot (with blogger/contributor Keri Heath)! We are happy to present an author feature today: Lance Parkin, a British author best known for his work with the science fiction and fantasy genres. In addition to his own original fiction, he has written guidebooks for works such as Stark Trek, Emmerdale (a British soap that he also wrote storylines for) and the His Dark Materials trilogy. But Parkin has written most prolifically about the outrageously popular science fiction drama Doctor Who. In today’s feature, Parkin reveals why he loves the science fiction genre and how he delves into a new universe.

Author Bio:

25468Lance Parkin has been writing about the television show Doctor Who since the early 1990s. Since his first professional novel, Just War, he has written books for BBC’s Doctor Who series and a History of the Universe of Doctor Who. In addition to his work with the Doctor Who universe, he has written guidebooks for Stark Trek, His Dark Materials, and Emmerdale, among others. His most recent work, published in 2013, is a biography of Alan Moore, who wrote comics such as The Watchman and V for Vendetta.

To learn more about Parkin, visit his website at www.lanceparkin.wordpress.com.

Interview with Who? Lance Parkin!

  1. Most of your work centers on the fantasy or science fiction genre. What compels you about these genres? 

Science fiction gives an author a license to go off on tangents, stretch a point, ignore inconvenient facts. So you can set a story in a more focused, exaggerated environment. In the end, though, you can do that with most fiction. The most ‘realistic’ and ‘grounded’ novels have coincidences and weird little moments in them that seem more like magic. I Cold_Fusionwouldn’t defend ‘science fiction’ as a whole entity, it’s something that encompasses all sorts of storytelling. There’s science fiction that’s really lazy – uses the genre to skimp on the research, or the characterization, or to smooth over the spiky, awkward bits of reality. Or that’s just derivative or playing to existing fans.

We live in an age where we understand that the system we have is flawed. Just about everyone sees that we’re damaging the planet, the economy is geared in a way that’s cruel to a lot of people, technology allows terrifying levels of surveillance and control, where we see lots of things that need to be done that aren’t being done … and we also have got it into our heads that there’s no alternative, that society has to look like this, give or take. Science fiction is a way of exploring alternatives. What do we want the world to look like, what is it we’re really troubled by? What do good guys look like? At its best, science fiction is the best tool we have for seeing our world differently.

  1. Why are you so fascinated with the Doctor Who universe?

I’ve been watching Doctor Who since I was a very small child, and so I know the terrain. It’s sort of a hub for so much of British culture, a show that just about every British actor has been involved with. It’s hard to find much British science fiction that isn’t reacting to it in some way. The internal mythos of the show is rich and wonderful, but it’s the format that makes it perfect. The whole point of the show is that it switches genres from week to week, that it’s a playful deconstruction of anything and everything. It was doing steampunk and mashups and metafiction and everything like that for decades. It’s a funny show, made by people who are smarter than me, but who don’t wear it on their sleeve. It’s Just_War_(Doctor_Who)almost impossible to overestimate it. And there’s so much of it that you can pick one strand and get a set of stories that conform to that style. If you want dumb, flashy action, you can find ten stories like that pretty easily, but if you want twisty, weird stuff that looks like a pop video you can find ten of those, too. There’s very little it can’t do.

  1. In writing the Doctor Who novels, do you ever experience any trouble staying true to the characters’ personalities?

It’s an interesting challenge, because you’ve got to tell your story, you’ve got to move things along, and you’re often taking TV characters, who tend to be all surfaces, and turning them into characters in novels, where it’s all about what they’re thinking. So there are balances to be found – but that’s really what all writing is about: finding the balance between not telling your readers enough versus lecturing them; being evocative without being obscure; being faithful to the past, but saying something new and relevant.

  1. When making a guidebook, what is your process for delving into a fictional universe?

The very first thing I do with any non-fiction is work out exactly what it’s for, exactly why people would take it down from the shelf. That’s the test for me. It’s a reference book, so when would you refer to it? I make a very careful study of the other books that are out there. The internet is there for the basic facts, these days. I wrote a biography of Alan Moore … well, anyone with a laptop can assemble a functioning biography of someone like magic-words-vis-1him, even if they’ve only just heard his name the first time, all they need is Google and in a few minutes you’d have a framework for his life story. The role of a book is to go beyond the objective facts, to bring the author’s experience and perspective in there. I’m working on a guide to Doctor Who planets at the moment, and I’m trying to inject some personality into it. If you want a list of things that happened on Telos, planet of the Cybermen, then it’s easy enough to find. So to make it a book people are going to be interested in, I need to find some quirky or weird stuff, pick up on a detail from a story that other people have overlooked.

  1. You also do reviews of different media. What do you look for when you watch a show or movie that you are reviewing?

I’ve been lucky that most of the things I’ve reviewed are things I’ve asked to review. There’s enough snark and pedantry on the internet – and I can be as snarky and pedantic as the best of them – so when I review, I try to look for things I enjoyed, things that worked. That’s not to say every review is positive, or needlessly sunny. The top tips I would have are not to be afraid of expressing your own opinion, and don’t waste too much time double guessing what other people will think. And review the thing in front of you, not the book you’d have written instead. Respect and explore the choices the author has made – if indexthey’re taking an angle on the material, they’ve chosen not to do something else, so explore those choices. As a rule of thumb, I’ve found that any review which asks questions is a waste of time. ‘What was the author hoping to achieve by putting this character into the mix?’. I don’t know – so why not go away and think about it, and come back and write your review when you’ve worked it out?  On the whole, I’m the sort of person who finds it really difficult to mark a book or movie out of ten, or go ‘three stars!’. There are some lousy movies with one line of dialogue or image that I love … how many stars is that worth? There are some fantastic movies that leave me utterly cold.

  1. Do you have any forthcoming work that fans should look out for?

I’m keeping myself busy. I’ve got that guide to Doctor Who planets; a biography of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek; I’m working on another Doctor Who project I can’t talk about yet; I’ve got a couple of articles coming out about Alan Moore, and the paperback version of my biography of him; a book of essays about comics, another on Sherlock Holmes, and in my spare time, I’m writing an original steampunk novel.

  1. Do you have any favorite authors?

Oh, tons of them. I’m lucky enough to have friends and acquaintances whose work I enjoy, so let’s start with the nepotism: Paul Magrs, Paul Cornell, Kate Orman, Mark Clapham, Ben Aaronovitch, Phil Purser-Hallard, Eddie Robson. Sorry if I missed anyone out, there, I mean no offence! I’m a completist for Douglas Adams, Michael Chabon, Borges, Iain Banks, Nicholas Christopher, Ken MacLeod, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, David Liss, Umberto Eco, Stephen Baxter, Paul Pope, Matt Kindt, Philip Pullman. Too many to name, I’m going to think of half a dozen more in a minute. I enjoy Christopher Bennett’s Star Trek novels.  In terms of the reference book stuff, I’m blown away by the Making of Star Wars series by JW Rinzler. One thing those writers all have in common is … um … well, actually, looking at that list it’s not exactly a full spectrum of racial and gender diversity is it? … hmmmmm … OK … need to work on that. Another thing they have in common is that they entertain me, they make me go ‘ooh, that’s clever’, they just connect things up in fun ways. When I write, I think some of the appeal is puzzle solving – the challenge of ‘making it work’.  All of those writers have completed Rubik’s Cubes I wouldn’t have been able to, they’ve surprised me and squared circles.

Thanks to Lance Parkin for taking the time to speak with “Fiction Reboot”!

ABOUT THE BLOGGER:
Keri Heath is a writer and journalist from Austin, Texas. She has written professionally for Austin Fit, Totally Dublin, Austin Woman, and ATX Man magazines. She has also seen her creative work published in NEAT and Straylight magazines, among others. When she isn’t writing, she loves to read, run, and play mandolin. You can view Keri’s work at readkh.wix.com/keri-heath or by following her @HeathKeri.

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Fiction Reboot Author Interview: Barry Lyga, I Hunt Killers Series.

Sammie Kurty (author/contributor), signing in! For today’s Fiction Reboot Interview, I fictionreboot2have the pleasure of once again welcoLyga_AfterTheRedRain_HCming author Barry Lyga. You may recognize his name from his best selling series, I Hunt Killers. He has quite a variety of writing under his belt, from middle grade fiction, to YA, to graphic novels.  He even keeps an author blog, talking about books and all the ins and outs of writing.  Needless to say, he’s impressive.  His latest novel, After the Red Rain, (co-written with Peter Facinelli and Robert DeFranco) will be released this coming August.  Today, Barry talks with us about writing like a method actor, Bruce Springsteen, and his future projects. Welcome back to Fiction Reboot, Barry!

Author Bio:

Lyga0110Called a “YA rebel-author” by , Barry Lyga has published fourteen novels in various genres in his nine-year career, including the bestselling . His books have been or are slated to be published in a dozen different languages in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia.

Called a “YA rebel-author” by Kirkus Reviews, Barry Lyga has published fourteen novels in various genres in his nine-year career, including the New York Times bestselling I Hunt Killers. His books have been or are slated to be published in a dozen different languages in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia.

After graduating from Yale with a degree in English, Lyga worked in the comic book industry before quitting to pursue his lifelong love of writing. In 2006, his first young adult novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, was published to rave reviews, including starred reviews from Booklist andSchool Library Journal. Publishers Weekly named Lyga a “Flying Start” in December 2006 on the strength of the debut.

His second young adult novel, Boy Toy, received starred reviews in SLJPublishers Weekly, and KirkusVOYA gave it its highest critical rating, and the Chicago Tribune called it “…an astounding portrayal of what it is like to be the young male victim.” His third novel, Hero-Type, according to VOYA “proves that there are still fresh ideas and new, interesting story lines to be explored in young adult literature.”

Since then, he has also written Goth Girl Rising (the sequel to his first novel), as well as the Archvillain series for middle-grade readers and the graphic novel Mangaman (with art by Colleen Doran).

His latest series is I Hunt Killers, called by the LA Times “one of the more daring concepts in recent years by a young-adult author” and an “extreme and utterly alluring narrative about nature versus nurture.” The first book landed on both the New York Times and USAToday bestsellers lists.

Lyga lives and podcasts in New York City with his wife, Morgan Baden, and their nigh-omnipotent daughter. His comic book collection is a lot smaller than it used to be, but is still way too big.

Twitter: @barrylyga

barrylyga.com

Author Interview.

I’m dying to know, is Lobo’s Nod based on a real place? If so, tell us more! If not, what inspired you?

Nah. I was going for a sort of ur-small town, or maybe the Platonic ideal of small towns. I always get them confused. 🙂 I talk about the origins of its name at http://barrylyga.com/2014/10/the-true-meaning-of-lobos-nod/, and of course the LUCKY DAY novella goes into the history of the town. But it was really just me ruminating on the nature of small towns (having grown up in one) and wanting to evoke it without having to turn the book into a Russian novel!

Your detail and accuracy into Jazz’s troubled psyche is astounding. Any remarks as to how you came up with Jazz’s story? Research you’ve had to do?

Before I wrote the first book, I spent about three months researching serial killer pathology, forensic science, and the history of serial murder. And then I did what I always do with a book: I submerged my own ego and just allowed myself to BE Jazz. It starts with a simple premise and a simple question: “I am not Barry Lyga. I am Jazz. My father is a serial killer. What’s my life like?” And I go. This is the only way I know how to write. It’s sort of like Method acting, except in a chair at a keyboard. And I guess the pay is worse. 🙂

Ever consider making the I Hunt Killers series into a graphic novel? Is television in the future? What are your hopes for the series?

I’m generally not interested in adapting my work. Once it’s done, I’m done. My publisher has the graphic novel rights, so they could do one, if they thought the audience would be there. I tend to think a graphic novel would be tough — it’s a very interior series, very much concerned with inner thoughts and feelings. Those are tough to do justice to in a graphic novel. The TV series looked promising for a little while, but died late last year, so that’s not going to happen. As to my hopes: I really only care about the books. Everything else is gravy. If a movie or something else comes along, great, but my only hope is that people will read the books, enjoy the books, tell their friends…and maybe re-read them every now and again to discover new little nook and crannies.

It comes up often in the IHK series, so I have to ask: Which do you think is more important? nature or nurture? (Or if neither, how do you see the relationship?)

Jazz was raised by a serial killer (nurture) and his father is a serial killer (nature). The question is moot for him. And the question that really matters — and its answer — is the theme running through the entire series, both overtly and obliquely…which I’d rather people discover on their own, rather than me spelling it out. It’s no fun if I give away the answers.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

If I did, I’m sure they wouldn’t seem quirky to me! No one has ever called me out for any. Sometimes I freak people out when I can type and talk to them at the same time for several paragraphs.

Do you have a favorite author? One that inspires you?

I have a whole range of people whose work I admire, stretching from the anonymous poet who wrote BEOWULF to Edgar Allan Poe to comic book writers like Alan Moore and Paul Levitz to prose authors like Joe Haldeman, Tom Perrotta, and Ken Grimwood. My biggest inspiration, though, is probably Bruce Springsteen. He manages to tell complete, powerful, compelling stories in about five minutes. It takes me five hundred pages!

Lastly, do you have any new projects? Would you want to dabble in any other genres?

I have a book coming out in August that I co-wrote with Peter Facinelli and Rob DeFranco, AFTER THE RED RAIN, which is post-apocalyptic with a twist. And then I have a very odd sort of middle-grade novel, THE SECRET SEA, coming in early 2016. A quick look at http://barrylyga.com will show that I love nothing more than switching up styles and genres. I’ve done contemporary realistic fiction, thrillers, kids’ super-hero adventure, and even an erotic adult comedy. I plan to keep shaking things up in the future!

Thank you, Barry, for joining us today! You can find Barry on his website, barrylyga.com or on twitter @barrylyga. You can find all of his fantastic books on Amazon or a book store near you!

About the Contributor

sammieSammie Kurty is an English major in her senior year at Wittenberg University and a contributor to Fiction Reboot. She is a proud member of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society. Sammie has been passionate about writing all her life and is about to complete her first novel, Sapphire Lake, a project she has worked on for three years. When she isn’t writing or reading, you can find her practicing makeup artistry or riding roller coasters. Twitter: @Shamtakee

Fiction Reboot Interview – Mindy McGinnis, Not A Drop to Drink

fictionreboot2In today’s Friday Feature, Hannah Hunt interviews Mindy McGinnis, a young adult author who tackles some serious issues on both the environmental and psychological fronts in her work. Her publications include Not a Drop to Drink (2013), In a Handful of Dust (2014), an A Madness so Discreet (Fall 2015). The reads are realistic, fast-paced, and set in worlds that give you goosebumps, but man does McGinnis know her stuff!
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mindy-mcginnisAuthor Bio: Mindy McGinnis is an assistant YA librarian who lives in Ohio and cans her own food. She graduated from Otterbein University magna cum laude with a BA in English Literature and Religion. Mindy has a pond in her back yard but has never shot anyone, as her morals tend to cloud her vision.

Interview with Mindy McGinnis:

  1. Your books have an air of realism about them, and I assume MADNESS, despite the difference in genre, will be no different. How much research went into DRINK and DUST before you wrote them? And into MADNESS?

I did quite a bit of research for both DRINK & DUST. I needed to learn about methods for purifying water, for sure, but there are always little things that pop up. For example in DUST I had to learn just enough about horses to make it sound realistic when one of them went lame. MADNESS was a different story altogether. I researched for a year before writing a word of the novel. The plot the setting, the speech patterns of the characters all had to be realistic in order for me to have any pride in it.

  1. Do you think there’s ever too much research done for a book? Why or why not?

I think it’s easy to go overboard. For example I read three books about lobotomies, and two books about brain injuries that included doctor’s medical notes from colonial times. The sum total of thousands of pages of research influenced about five paragraphs in MADNESS. I executed those few paragraphs and was like – that’s it, Mindy?

Even so, I wouldn’t ever say that you can do *too much* research. Everything I learned informs every line of the book, even if I’m not referencing the research directly.

  1. What would you say is your weakest skill as a writer, or what have you had to work hardest at in your drafting (e.g. character building, world building, plot, etc.)?

Character movement. I hate it. I hate physically moving a person from one room to the next and trying to keep that interesting. It’s almost impossible. I’d rather just scene break.

  1. Do you have any writing quirks (e.g. writing with a bowl of jellybeans on the desk, in your pajamas only, when a cat’s perched nearby, under the shroud of darkness, etc.)?

I write in bed, because I work full time so my writing time is at night. I recently started putting on some white noise, it’s like a protective sound barrier around my brain.

  1. Your journey from writer to published author is a long one. Any advice for those following a similar path of writing and waiting, or those maybe losing their faith in the craft?

I don’t like hearing the advice “never give up,” because I think it’s therapeutic to go ahead and give up once in awhile. It took me ten years to get published and I gave up more than once on the journey, but always found my way back to it. A lot of the factors in publishing are completely out of an author’s control so constantly pressuring yourself to do better, be better, MAKE IT, isn’t necessarily going to be beneficial. Outside factors like the market and editor’s personal taste might be what’s not allowing you to break through right now, and that’s not something an author can control. Write your best book, then walk away and come back to it (trust me it still needs work). Take those breaks.

  1. What are some of your most memorable experiences so far with the publishing process (with any of your books); and from meeting your fans?

I had an adult male tell me that DRINK was the first book they’d ever read in their life, and DUST would be the second. That’s pretty humbling. It’s an amazing thought that I can bring the love of reading to someone later in life. Highest possible compliment.

  1. Some people suggest using a pseudonym or pen name when writing/publishing in different genres. It’s clear you don’t plan to with your switch from dystopian fiction to historical; why is that?

Good question. Even with jumping genres the voice of MADNESS still fits my author brand. I write dark, and this definitely fits in that category.

  1. You were a part of the Darker Days tour with HarperCollins after DRINK debuted in 2013; how is an organized tour different from scheduling your own talks throughout the rest of the year? 

Ha, well – it’s a lot cheaper, for one thing. A tour like that is paid for by the publisher, but when an author schedules their own events the costs are on us entirely and it’s a gamble that you hope pays off in sales. And sometimes it doesn’t. The other thing is that when you get to do a group tour like Dark Days it builds amazing camaraderie with fellow authors. You’ve got inside jokes after three hours. It’s fantastic.

  1. If you could pick a setting from any manuscript you’ve ever written (published or not) to live in for the rest of your life, where/when would you live and why?

Oh man, none of them. I write horrible things. I’ll put fake people there, but that’s it!

Thanks so much to Mindy for interviewing with us! You can find her on her website, blog(s), or around a smattering of social media sites. On Twitter she goes by @MindyMcGinnis.

What Critics are Saying:

index2Not A Drop to Drink:

The intensity of action moves the story forward, but not at the expense of character development. The complex, authentic characters are neither fully evil nor unbelievably good. The honest and hopeful ending—while not “happily ever after”—will resonate with readers and leave them asking for more. — Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

In A Handful of Dust:

Tension’s maintained by constant, subtle foreshadowing (rather than transparent cliffhangers), and the characters rarely feel safe enough for readers to relax. Hard to put down. — Kirkus Reviews

A Madness So Discreet:

Brutal, relentless, and haunting. Every character in A Madness So Discreet is more colorful and unforgettable than the last. With a realistic, emotionally complex, and clever heroine, readers will find themselves rooting for Grace from page one. Her story and McGinnis’s style is too gripping to ignore. — Madeleine Roux, New York Times bestselling author of Asylum and Sanctum


 

About the Contributor:

HannahHuntPhotoHannah Hunt spends her free time writing about pickpockets, cyborgs, and global conspiracies. Just not at the same time. She’s served on the submissions review board for Flip the Page and the Wittenberg Review of Literature and Art, and has published several short stories. When she’s not working on one of her manuscripts, you might find her painting, burrowed beneath a pile of books, or plotting world domination.

You can visit her blog Write, Read, Sleep, Repeat or find her on Twitter at @hannahhuntwrite.