Friday, September 9, 2016

Feature Friday: Lou Anders

Apologies for not having any Monday Muses or Feature Fridays for the summer.  I've been on insane deadlines and the blog got docked for it!

Today I've got the fabulous Mr. Lou Anders visiting!

Lou Anders is the author of Frostborn, Nightborn, and the forthcoming Skyborn, the three books of the Thrones & Bones series of Norse-themed fantasy adventure novels written for boys and girls equally. He was the 2016 Children’s Writer in Residence at Thurber House of Columbus, Ohio, where he spent a month teaching and writing while living in a haunted historical building. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has published over five hundred articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at louanders.com and ThronesandBones.com, on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, and on Twitter at @Louanders 


Interview

A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Lou:
Write all the time. The most important advice I can give and the toughest to hear is this—your first effort isn’t any good. Writing is just like anything else. It has to be practiced repeatedly for a long time to acquire the skill. No one would expect a beginning pianist to play Chopin’s Prelude No. 4 or someone who has never held a basketball before to compete in the NBA. I’m a very big believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s ten thousand hours, the idea that it takes roughly that amount of time to master a skill. Start now, write constantly, spend years. But the good news is—the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll arrive.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Lou:
It’s a toss up between two books. When I was young, I saw Robin Williams in the film, The World According to Garp and fell in love with the story. Subsequently, reading the novel by John Irving made me want to become a writer. But it was The Hobbit that made me fall in love with fantasy and showed me what I wanted to write. Those two books had a huge impact on my career as a writer.

A.L.:
Where do you feel the most inspiration?

Lou:
I write standing up in the kitchen. But place isn’t really important. What inspires me is artwork, a really immersive video game experience, a wonderful film, a good book, a fascinating bit of history. Usually it’s a sense of grandeur in an otherworldly setting that sends me off, wanting to take a journey and explore.

A.L.:
With a few novels behind you, you must have hit a few snags along the way.  Which was the most memorable and how did you fix it?

Lou:
Skyborn, the third Thrones & Bones novel, was a hard one to write. It needed to stand alone as its own story while also providing a satisfying conclusion to the two previous novels. It had to answer a lot of questions and tie up a lot of character arcs, while juggling multiple characters. It went through a pretty extensive restructuring too. But usually when I hit a snag it’s because a character’s desires aren’t clear enough and the fix is to go back and rewrite the introduction in a way that puts the motivation front and center.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters you've written is your favorite and why?

Lou:
That’s a terrible question. They are all my favorite. But I’m very fond of writing dragons. Orm and Orma, from the Thrones & Bones series are great, and I have some more dragons coming up which I can’t wait to share with the world.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Lou:
My journey is a strange one, and I’m not sure that it’s something another could duplicate. I grew up in Alabama at a time when the Deep South was a little deeper than it is now, and although I had a lot of friends, I never quite fit in or felt completely at home. Everyone said, “You must be a writer,” because they knew the south occasionally produced those (William Faulkner and Truman Capote were frequently mentioned). So I went to college and tried to write. And failed miserably. In a fifth year of a mostly directionless education, I fell in love with theater and did most of the courses required for an undergraduate degree. This got me a spot in a summer in Oxford acting program and from there I did a year on partial scholarship in London. I moved from London to Chicago with dreams of being an actor but ended up writing and directing small black box theater instead. Then I met a man named Dan Decker who taught screenwriting, and I moved to Hollywood. I worked in LA for five years as a journalist for Titan Magazines, spending days and days on the set of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5, and its spinoff Crusade. I got to see how television was made across every department while writing some five hundred articles, mostly interviews with cast and crew. During this time, I wrote screenplays with a partner and though nothing was ever produced, we were paid for writing a few of them. Then an old friend hired me to run an online publishing site before there was such a thing and I rode the dot com bubble up and down. When it crashed, I knew as many people in publishing as I did in tech, and so I began to freelance edit. Then around 2010 I began to get the writing itch again, while at the same time wanting to produce something that was suitable for my children to read. After a few failed attempts I hit on the idea to write a book that would encapsulate all the joy I felt reading The Hobbit, would stand for both children and adults, but which would be more inclusive and diverse than the fantasy fiction of my own youth. And Frostborn was the result. These days I’m a full-time author, which means I spend half my time writing and half my time talking to kids about my worlds. And that’s a great way to live.

A.L.:

What are you working on now?  More Thrones & Bones?  Something new?

Lou:
I just finished a new novel not in the Thrones & Bones series. It is more fairy tale than fantasy and has knights and dragons and other creatures. It’s out with readers now for initial feedback, and I’m quite pleased with it.  And I’ve begun work on something new about which I’ll say even less, except that I’ve taken one character from my series, aged them a few years, and sent them on a solo adventure.

A.L.:
You've been both an editor and an author at this point.  Can you tell me the pros and cons of each?

Lou:
When I became a full-time author, a colleague said to me “expect your inbox to get a lot lighter.” It did. I loved working with authors. I loved working with artists even more. I don’t work with authors these days, but I continue to work with illustrators to create all the wonderful maps and character artwork for my fantasy world. I must say that, while I enjoyed my time as an editor and art director, and I’m very proud of the work that I did and very grateful for the relationships it afforded me, nothing compares with producing your own creative work.

A.L.:

Why did you choose to write for a middle age crowd and, likewise, why did you choose to work in the realm of Norse mythology?

Lou:
A middle aged crowd? I think you mean a middle grade crowd, though I do have middle aged fans too! But my desire to write children’s books began with the urge to write something for my own kids. I edited a lot of fantasy books for the adult market that, while I am proud of them, weren’t appropriate to share with my children. I wanted something of mine they could interact with now. Also, my children are biracial, and I wanted to write about heroes who straddled two worlds in which they might see themselves. And I wanted to recapture the joy I felt reading fantasy when I was their age.

A.L.:

What is your favorite paranormal creature?  And your favorite myth/legend?

Lou:
I like dragons. I really like dragons. But one of the fun things I’ve done in the Thrones & Bones series is plumb the depth of mythology for unusual creatures you might not have heard of, like draug (Frostborn) and tatzelwurms (Nightborn). And I love sharing those with readers. As for a favorite myth, when I was a child I was an enormous fan of King Arthur. Arthurian legend loomed very large for me. These days I have a renewed appreciation for Tolkien and for the myths that inspired him.

The Giveaway:
Lou is giving away a copy of Nightborn to US entrants!

Nightborn: For fans of Lloyd Alexander and Brandon Mull comes Book 2 in the acclaimed Thrones and Bones fantasy-adventure trilogy that began with Frostborn.
 
Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves.

Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the Underhand—the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.

Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?

The novel includes instructions for playing the board game Charioteers. Visit ThronesandBones.com for additional games, maps, character profiles, and more!


Praise for Nightborn

“Anders presents a captivating world.” —Kirkus Reviews

”[A]n adventure story with good pacing, well-drawn characters, and engaging action scenes.” —Booklist

Praise for Frostborn
“Future fans of Tolkien and George R. R. Martin can happily cut their serial-fantasy teeth on this first book of an eventual series.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A fun, fast-paced, and highly enjoyable tale.” —Garth Nix, bestselling author of the Abhorsen trilogy

“A powerful, fast-paced tale. . . . The setting is rich, the characters well-defined, and the danger ever-paramount.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred

“An excellent choice for readers new to the genre. The themes of staying true to oneself, teamwork, and individuality will resonate with readers.” —School Library Journal

“The most delightful fantasy I have read in ages. . . . Put me on the waiting list for book two!” —Amy Plum, international bestselling author of the Die for Me series


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