Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Guest Author - Skyler White (Interview & Giveaway)

Skyler White crafts challenging fiction for a changing world. Populated with angels and rock stars, scientists, demons and revolutionaries, her dark stories explore the secret places where myth and modernity collide. She lives in Austin, Texas.The dark fantasy novel and Falling, Fly releases from Berkley, March 2, 2010 and In Dreams Begin launches December 2010.

Having read the book, I love these two blurbs that nicely convey the feel and strengths of the novel.
“Intriguing from page one …
White asks hard questions about desire,
damnation, love and sacrifice in a beautiful,
poetic way that will keep you utterly spellbound.”
Anya Bast, author of Wicked Enchantment

“A unique and intelligent spin on the vampire
legend … a deeply romantic story … An absolutely
wonderful debut!”
Julie Kenner, author of Tainted
Skyler will be by as time permits to respond to questions. I also have a copy of and Falling, Fly available for one lucky commenter (details at the end of the post). Remember to visit Skyler at her website.



SFG: You have said “I wrote ‘and Falling, Fly’ because I wanted to tangle with Desire”. Can you elaborate on this theme?

Olivia is based on one of the darker sides of myself. She’s that dissatisfied, hungry, searching part of me that wants what she can’t have and is half irritated and half in love with that wanting. I wrote ‘and Falling, Fly’ as an opportunity to interrogate her, to poke around in my relationship to desire – with wanting and being wanted, with wanting and getting – or not getting. I wanted to try to understand why desire can be both motivating and crippling, where it can get twisted into craving or addiction, and where it can open up into liberation and love.

SFG: You have a very interesting interpretation of fallen angels as vampires, with non-traditional attributes. Tell us about your vampires.

My vampires are flawlessly beautiful, (except for the wingscars on their backs) and they are, as beauty is, in the eye of the beholder. Everyone who looks at a vampire wants her, but she has no idea what they see. My vampires can’t see themselves in a mirror unless someone else is looking at them. Their bodies and faces change too, conforming to the ideals of people who look at them. It’s an adaptation, a kind of inverse camouflage, because they can only feed from people who want or fear them.

I’ve tweaked their teeth a little, too. In addition to the retractable vampire fangs we’re all familiar with, they’re also capable of getting what they need from their mortal prey without attracting as much attention as feeding full-tooth tends to create. Their teeth and nails have tiny “quills” that harvest blood from tiny surface cuts that go unnoticed by their victims.

SFG: You feature an inn/hotel for the damned, referred to as Hell, with a fascinating host, Gaehod. How did you come up with your particular hell?

I like that phrase “your particular hell!” You’re right. It *is* mine particularly, but I’m not sure whether I came up with it, or fell down into it. This was a very difficult book to write, and very personal, and sometimes I think I might have more in common with Bear McCreedy than a typical writer – dropped into a hostile environment and forced to write my way out.

My particular hell is situated under the Rock of Cashel in Ireland, but it occupies a space in a parallel or nested reality where those things that are figurative above ground are literal beneath. It’s kind of difficult to talk about without going way down a philosophical rabbit hole, but what I’m interested in playing with is the space between what’s true and what’s real.

It’s Hell, and Hell has no power of its own. It requires human action to drive it. The “steampunk” elements are all energy-capture mechanisms that take the force created by opening a door and closing a window and shunts it back into the system. It’s human engagement with the system that fuels the system, and it grew up, really, as the environment necessary for Olivia. I needed to find a way to make a fallen angel both a girl you could meet in a bar and a ferociously powerful, shape-shifting immortal. Olivia is a paradox, and so the world that I created to house her needed to be able to contain paradoxes. Paradox is painful, which is one of the reasons her home is Hell.

SFG: I loved your suggestion that parts of our genetic code may combine and express themselves resulting in people with the aspects of gods, goddesses and other mythological entities. This would make a great theme for a novel on its own. How does this relate to ‘and Falling, Fly’?

The idea that there’s a mythological genetic code (or biological memetic code) is kind of the backbone of ‘and Falling, Fly’. I built a world where our story legacies are as real as our biological ones; frankly, because I believe it’s true. I think there are stories your grandmother lived that can be expressed in you whether you know them or not, and that narratively coded information is as powerful, as determining, as mysterious, and as heritable as anything we carry in our genes. Writing is my Mendel moment, my tinkering with ancient and modern strains, looking to breed hybrids.

SFG: Ireland is strongly featured in ‘and Falling, Fly’ and in your next novel ‘In Dreams Begin’. Why Ireland?

When Olivia is ready to give herself over to her own damnation – and that means something very specific in my little story-world – when she was ready to go home, Ireland felt like the right place for her to go. Part of that comes from being genetically Irish myself, and part from the wonderful mythology of the country with its Christian and pre-Christian mythologies of to-be-resurrected kings under the mountain, and cities both on and under the hills. Also, I’d been there a couple of years ago and had research already done.

SFG: You have a new book coming out in December. Can you tell something about it and other projects you are working on?

Right now, I’m working on a children’s book. Both my first and second full-length adult novels come out this year and I didn’t feel like I could tackle writing a third one while all that was going on. I’m taking notes for number three in ‘The Harrowing’ universe, and I already know who the leads are, but I’m not trying to do any real work on it until 2011.

‘In Dreams Begin’ comes out in December. It’s about the Irish poet WB Yeats and a time-traveling modern girl who, on her wedding night, wakes up in the body of Maud Gonne, the six-foot tall, red-headed, possibly party-faerie political revolutionary. It allows me to play with the Victorian occult, modern romance, body image, possession and the fae all in the context of remarkably co-operative real historical people and events. Yeats really was involved in the occult. He and Maud Gonne really did have a marriage “on the spiritual plane,” and Maud was, at the time, in the Irish countryside, widely considered to be of the Sidhe, a kind of faerie known for spiriting away the souls of wives on wedding nights.

SFG: What books are on your To Be Read (TBR) shelf?. What are you reading now?

I almost always keep four books going at one: a novel; a non-fiction book, usually research for whatever I’m working on next; a book of short stories or graphic novel; and a book of poetry. Right now it’s: ‘The City and The City’ by China Mieville, ‘Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness’ by Ned Hallowell, Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman: World’s End’, and the complete works of Arthur Rimbaud.

SFG: If you could have lunch with any author living or dead, who would it be and why?

Would it be cheating to say WB Yeats? Because I’d like to see how close to right I am.







Book Description: Olivia is a vampire bored with modernity. Tattooist, boyfriend, black-metal singer:  everyone you don’t love tastes the same. Since the fall from Eden, she has hungered for love, but fed only on desire. Dominic O’Shaughnessy is a neuroscientist plagued by impossible visions.

When his research and her despair collide in Ireland’s L’Otel Mathillide – a subterranean hell of beauty, demons and dreams – rationalist and angel unite in a clash of desire anddamnation that threatens to destroy them both.

GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES:
  1. One copy of and Falling, Fly to giveaway.
  2. Leave a comment or question for Skyler.
  3. Open internationally to anywhere The Book Depository ships.
  4. Leave a way to notify you if you should win.
  5. Blog, tweet, post on Facebook or other social network sites for an extra entry. Leave a comment here to let me know.
  6. Giveaway open until Midnight, March 10, 2010 EST.

53 comments:

  1. I love the special characteristics you gave your vampires, conforming physical features are a fascinating type of power that aren't seen very often, and I'd love to see how the mirror thing works =D

    please sign me up for the giveaway!
    +1 tweeted
    http://twitter.com/angeltyuan/status/9912167601
    thanks!
    ninefly(at)gmail(dot)com

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  2. Skyler - who do you find is the more difficult audience to please; children or adults?

    dani_babe87@hotmail.com

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  3. My first port of call (last night) for researching neuroscience was Wikipedia. Which websites assisted you the most with your neuroscientific research?

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  4. I am fascinated by the idea of vampires being fallen angels and would really like to read more. Looking forward to reading the book. Also, love the title.

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  5. Hi Skyler! Great interview. I love your book title, the cover, and the story's hooked me in too. Can't wait to read this one. :)

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  6. I read an interview with you on another blog where you were not very complimentary about Irish food.

    It sounded as if you are a vegetarian ? Is that so ?

    Thanks

    Carol

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

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  7. I love the cover art for your book Skyler! Did you get to have a lot of input for the cover and is the girl on the cover a fair representation of the main character, Olivia?

    Thanks.

    Judi S
    sidhevicious(at)shaw(dot)ca

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  8. I love your idea for vampires and how their looks change to suit the person looking at them. I would love a chance to win your book. Thank you for the opportunity. :)

    I follow this blog.

    Jase
    vslavetopassionv(at)aol(dot)com

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  9. Wow, the storyline teasers have captured my attention. I must say I'm really intrigued with your idea of Hell and I'm in love with Ireland!! Looking forward to reading your book and GREAT cover!!!

    wendyhines (at) hotmail (dot) com

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  10. I'm Really interested in reading this one, I have read tons of extremely positive reviews on it. Congrats, even if I don't win, I will definitely be reading it!
    +1 Tweeted http://twitter.com/mountie9/status/9927933164

    contestmom AT hotmail DOT com

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  11. Hi everyone: thanks for the interest! Yesterday was official launch day for "Falling," so I'm getting a slow start this morning. I'll try and catch up!
    Danielle: I think adults are a more demanding audience, so probably harder to writer for them, but probably more fun too.
    Tez: Hi! ::waves:: There are some excellent sites written about neuroscience for laypeople. The journals are mostly online too, although sometimes you have to pay. One of my favorite resources is Ginger Campbell's podcast, "The Brain Science Podcast" which has a sister website. http://docartemis.com/brainsciencepodcast/ Speaking of podcasts, your local gal, Natasha Mitchell does a lovely "All in the Mind" podcast I've learned a lot from itoo. http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/about/ Websites I like: The Frontal Cortex http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/ is one of the best. I also really like Neurophilosophy: http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/, Neurotopia http://scienceblogs.com/neurotopia/ and the blog of a brilliant guy named Zeki who writes about neuroscience and the wonderfully named field of neuroesthetics http://profzeki.blogspot.com/2010/02/economic-hoot.html
    Carol: I'm not a vegetarian, and it was specifically only the Traditional Irish Breakfast in all its oily glory that I meant to disparage. Every breakfast I had over there (until I learned to ask for the brown bread) was icky. Every dinner I had was among the lifetime bests.
    Judy: I love the cover too! I was very nervous about it, this being my first book at all, so I put together a whole powerpoint deck for my editor. I don't know if it ended helping or not, but the image they came up with so was good, I don't care. Because of the way Olivia's face changes I didn't have a really clear picture of her face, but it's the stone wings and the detail on the fabric of her corset that blow my mind with this. The same artist, Craig White, does the cover for my second book too. Stoked!

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  12. Sounds great! I would love to win this novel.
    Thanks

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  13. Graet interview.I love this cover and the book sounds really great.I can't wait to read it.

    tweeted http://twitter.com/elaing8/status/9937493604

    elaing8(at)netscape(dot)net

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  14. I loved both the title and the cover. I really want to read this. Great interview!

    carianmoonlight at gmail dot com

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  15. This books sounds great, and has a great cover! Looking forward to reading this :)

    Please enter me in the giveaway.

    van p.

    Littopandaxpress(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  16. This sounds like a great book. I'm very anxious to get my hands on it and start it right away. :-)

    Thanks!
    rosie0512 @ hotmail . com

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  17. Good Luck working on your children's book.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

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  18. It really is a beautiful cover.

    I love the title, too. How did you come up with it?

    roxane.elder (at) gmail (dot) com

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  19. Hi,
    Your novel sounds really interesting. I'm currently doing neuroscience in my psych course at school, so the fact that one of your characters is a neuroscientist really grabbed my attention. And I love the cover and title too :D

    My question is do you prefer writing adult or children's books?

    k8_a_723(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  20. I can't tell you how cool it is to hear so many of you looking forward to reading "and Falling, Fly" ! It's been out for all of two days now and I'm having so much fun hearing back from people already.
    Roxy: The title came pretty early on, part as a summation of Olivia's journey -- it is only through her fall from grace that she can raise of her own volition to the heights she wants to reach – but also as a challenge and a reminder to myself. It wasn't an easy book to write. I had to do more than poke my head over the parapet. I had to hurl myself off it. And hope.
    Kate: Oh, cool! A real, live neuroscientist! You'll have to let me know how I did with it. Writing for adults and children is so completely different it's like trying to say whether I prefer chocolate ice cream or swimming in the ocean. I like them both for very different reasons.

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  21. Great interview! The book sounds very interesting and I love the trailer :)
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

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  22. It sounds like a great read. Count me in. I would love to read the novel. I havent read much angel lore. The idea about an angel turn vampire is something new to me. I am curious how that is address in the novel.

    Sue
    okibi_insanity[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  23. Hi, Skyler,

    Congratulations on your first published book! It sounds great, and I can't wait to get my hands on AND FALLING, FLY!

    Do you have any favorite vampire books?

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  24. P.S. Contact info is:
    karenwitkowski AT aol(dot)com

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  25. I can't wait to read this book! I've added it to my tbr list.

    e.j.stevens.author[at]gmail[dot]com

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  26. I loved the interview.

    Skyler, How do you come up with your story lines? They just pop into your head, you hear or read something??

    Thanks for the great giveaway.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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  27. Everytime I hear about this book, I just get more and more curious, and the author, with her interesting interviews, just gets me more curious.

    ana_dreamgazer[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  28. I think that's cool that you incorporated fallen angels and vampires into this. It sounds like a fun read, can't wait to get my hands on it.

    Tweeted: http://twitter.com/Emma015/statuses/9976134674

    findjessyhere at gmail dot com

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  29. Sounds awesome, would love a chance to win a copy!

    saranissa@hotmail.co.uk

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  30. I love the book cover!! So I was just wondering who is your fav character from your book?

    aliciahall0605(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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  31. Sounds like a great book, I'll be looking for this one in the bookstore (assuming, of course, that I don't win it... ;-) )

    I love the idea of chameleon vampires, but it does bring a difficulty to mind. What if two people are looking at her at once? Do they see different people or the same person? And then if she's looking in a mirror -- whose version does she see? Could make a person dizzy. =)

    Cheers,
    Nicole

    bookwyrmknits(at)aol(dot)com

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  32. This book has been generating a lot of great blog reviews and I look forward to giving it a read. Looks like I'm going to be entering foreign terrority - neuroscience. I learn so much from books by googling things I never knew about or thought were only myth. I must admit neuroscience is a little daunting, way over my head, but I've always thought nano technology would be way cool :-) annhonATaolDOTcom

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  33. Please enter me in the contest. Your book sounds really interesting.

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  34. Hello again!
    Karen: I love all kinds of vampire books, but The Vampire Lestat is probably my favorite one.
    misskallie: The storylines sorta evolve. It starts with character for me. I do a lot of pre-writing. So it's about who the characters are and what they need to have happen to them for them to become who they can be.
    Alicia: I'm going to weenie out of that one! They're like children, you love them all equally, but differently. I'll say Alyx and Ophelia were the easiest to write. Which should maybe worry me. ;-)
    Nicole: That's a great question! One my crit partner asked me very early on. The alteration is subtle. She never changes how she looks so dramatically that she wouldn't match her driver's license photo. (not that she has one) As for the mirrors, she can't see herself at all unless someone is looking at her. Then she sees what they do.
    Cybercliper: I've always been intrigued by nanotech too. Neuroscience *is* daunting, but it's also amazingly cool. If I were 18 again, that's what I’d study. It feels like a field just starting to catch fire. I expect we’ll be hearing a lot from it in the next 10 years.

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  35. Congratulations on your release, Skyler! I read the review of your book at DearAuthor and I'm very intrigued!

    Cheers!



    chrissy dot morin at gmail dot com

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  36. Congratulations on your first book being published Skyler! I'm puzzled by the title (in a good way), it certainly catches one'as eyes and makes me stop whatever I'm doing and wondering about it. How did you come up with it? what was the original, working title of the book (if there was any)?

    I tweeted about the contest here: http://twitter.com/Stella_ExLibris/status/10026748843

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

    thanks for this giveaway!

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  37. Hi Skyler!
    oh my, I got goosebumps from watching the trailer... thanks for a very interesting interview, Skyler, your book sounds extraordinary!
    greetings, Ina

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  38. I love book trailers. I can't wait to read yours.

    usignolc(at)yahooDOTcom

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  39. I love your spin on vamp mythology with vamps as fallen angels. I'm really looking forward to reading the book.

    heatwave96(at)hotmail.com

    posted at twitter - http://twitter.com/Heatwave316/status/10102447652

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  40. I've put this contest in a link on my blog - http://mardel-rabidreader.blogspot.com

    For Skyler White; I also like your fresh take on the vampire myth. It's different. I'm wondering too, what type of children's book are you writing? Is it going to be a little twisted? (I'm a lover of slightly twisted children's stories). What age group are you aiming for? AND...will this be your first childrens book, or have you written them before?

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  41. I also posted about this contest over at http://mardelwanda.livejournal.com/

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  42. This book sounds awesome! Please enter me! Thanks!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

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  43. Awesome interview!

    Why did you decide to write a novel featuring W. B. Yeats (I love his work!!)?

    Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/jmspettoli/status/10133312900

    spettolij AT gmail DOT com

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  44. You sound a lot like me, at least with the four books going at any given time. I have an audiobook in the car for the commute, one on the nightstand, one in the purse for any long waits or possible sip'n'reads, and an audiobook for my desk at work...I can tune out the world and get some good reading done.

    Please put my name in the hat for the contest.

    VWinship at aol dot com

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  45. I love this interview! What amazing questions and answers! Most interviews have the same questions and of course the corresponding responses but this was WONDERFUL! I do have two questions. As a hopeful writer, with two novels already finished, who is looking for an agent and/or publication I was wondering what you would like to say to all of us out there trying to get into the publishing industry and how many tries it took you to find your shot?

    Thanks so much for posting this! It was wonderful to read.

    Sincerely,
    Emma Michaels
    SincerelyEmmaM@yahoo.com

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  46. This is an amazing blog for question! You guys (and SciFiGuy) are great!
    Mardel: The children's book will be a tetch twisty, but it's for pretty little kids, so it's less waaaay less twisted than "Falling" or "Dreams." But it's way more allegorical. The first part of the logline for "Falling" was "a dark fable of desire" but writing for children lets me be more more firmly rooted in fable. It's for early gradeschool kids, 6-10. It's an allegorical story of framing and coping techniques for kids with ADD.
    jmspettoli: He's wonderful, isn't he? I wanted to write a novel centered on Yeats for a couple of reasons, but the biggest one was how nicely history cooporated with me. His involvement with the occult, his on-again-off-again love affair with Maud, her independence, involvement with the occult, and reputation as being part fairy... I wanted to play with questions of body and fidelity and possession and I wanted to put a modern, working woman complete with ironic Tshirts and secular marriage up against the most romantic, soulful, and sincere figure I could conjure up.
    Vickie: Ack! ::grin:: I didn't even think to list the audio stuff. I'm a huge podcast junkie.
    Emma: I'm so glad you're enjoying it as much as I am. He *does* ask good questions, doesn't he? It took me a year to get "Falling" sold from the time I started querying it. I'd already written, queried and buried a novel, and I honestly had no expectation of being able to sell "Falling." As for advice, the contest circuit was very good for me, so I'd recommend that. Get tons of feedback. But keep your focus on the writing, not the selling. As long as you're writing, you're a writer. Being a published writer is a lovely modifier, but that's all it is.

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  47. LOL Blushing over here. I may write some questions, but Skyler and other authors that I interview do all the heavy lifting.

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  48. What is your favourite paranormal movie?

    faked_sugartone at hotmail

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  49. Thanks for hosting a great giveaway! This is my favorite sort of UF, different than anything that's come before. I'm glad to see a new take on the traditional vamp. :)

    Thanks!

    heather y
    click4cash4me(at)gmail.com

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  50. This book sounds really interesting.

    +1 Tweet: http://twitter.com/Sparima/status/10267587002

    spav05(at)gmail(dot)com

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  51. No, srsly - that interview format is awesome and you ask really thoughtful questions. :)

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  52. This sounds like a fabulous book, I look forward to reading it!

    The different characteristics you have given your vampires are intriguing. I love a twist on the vampire canon.

    I have posted on my livejournal as well: http://sleep-aurora.livejournal.com/13976.html

    sleepingaurora at hotmail dot com

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  53. I always love reading someone's differing view of similar themes. Sounds great! lilianril(at)gmail(dot)com

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For bloggers comments are like water to a man (or woman) wandering in the desert. A precious commodity. I love to hear from everyone and do my best to respond to every post.