If you could invite three people to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Hmm, I’m thinking George Carlin, Christopher Hitchens, and Kevin Smith. I’m a huge fan of all three, and for very different reasons. Carlin was a comedic genius with a deep appreciation of language. Hitchens was a fierce debater with a ruthless intellect. Smith is just a super nice guy who I would love to nerd-out with. That would be an epic dinner conversation.
Tell us about your future plans. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
No idea. I stopped planning my trajectory years ago. Life seems hell-bent on derailing plans in crazy ways (cough cough century-defining pandemic), so I just work towards goals and hope for the best. If things work out, great. If not, great. I adjust as needed and keep going.
Name something that makes you uncomfortable or anxious.
Large crowds. This is much different from younger me, who loved going to huge concerts and festivals. It’s a strange mental shift, given that I often attend comic cons to promote my works. But nowadays, the thought of large gatherings really unnerves me. I would much rather stay home and promote my works online. I still enjoy going to sporting events (not at the moment), but I go out of my way to find the most isolated seats.
Up high and alone at a Toronto FC match.
What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?
Hector from Transient, by far. I do not get along with anyone who harbors extreme views of any kind. Hector is a religious zealot. I based him on several real people that I encountered while growing up in the rural south. I can spot that mentality from a mile away, which repels me like a polarized magnet.
It is often said that in order to write something, you must believe in what you are writing. Do you agree with that?
Not at all. Many authors “write to market,” which means that they cater to popularity. They can be very successful while not really caring about the material. Believing in what you write can be a boon for authenticity, but it’s not a necessity.
Do you try more to be original or give readers what they want?
I don’t really think about it. I just enjoy writing interesting stories about interesting ideas. That said, I do lean towards the original side because stories that break boundaries are much more appealing to me. The entire point behind Transient, for instance, was to subvert the saturated vampire genre.
How do you deal with poor reviews?
Poor reviews are part of the writing process. Every author endures them. They can be painful, but also blessings in disguise if the reader offers constructive feedback. I try my best to ignore the nasty ones, which is easier said than done. I often remind myself that writing fiction is like stand-up comedy, in that if you’re pleasing everyone, then you’re doing it wrong.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Definitely both. I enjoy writing sequential sagas, but if the first book doesn’t hook a reader, then they will never get to the sequels. I struggled with this during the Immortal Wake series, because I think the sequels are much stronger than the first book. Nothing against Transient, as it needed to establish the world and character arcs. However, it was my debut novel and I published four more titles between it and Thursday Midnight, so it suffered by comparison. The quality difference was so stark, in fact, that I went back after completing the series and rewrote the first book. It’s still the same story and structure, just much more polished.
Since then, I have embraced a hybrid model. Every Max and the Multiverse short story is a stand-alone tale that serves as an entry point into the main saga. Every title in my upcoming series will exist under the same thematic umbrella, but readers will be able to start with any book. It’s a much more liberating (and less stressful) way to write.
If someone gave you a boat, what would you name it?
SS Craigslist. Boating is not my thing.
If you die today, how would want the world to remember you?
At the risk of sounding emo, I don’t care to be remembered. A good death to me is one that no one notices. Elizabeth, the ancient vampire in Transient, states that “living to be remembered is no way to live.” That’s a decent synopsis of my own worldview. I have no desire to stamp “I was here” on the planet. It’d be cool if people continue to read my books after I’m gone, but it’s not something that I aspire to.