This week, as promised, I am hosting a guest blogger and novelist: Pierre Dominque Roustan of Writingandreadingtoday–a blog in which Pierre talks about the publishing industry, genre, writing in general, books, even film and also, as an added bonus, plain crazy, random stuff that would make you wonder why it’s actually on the blog in the first place.
You call yourself the wretched writer . . . define wretched.
Ahh, yes . . . the word “wretched.” It is a superbly emotionally-charged word that defines, in broad terms, a man/woman who faces the world without fear, but yet with a quiet resignation that everything and anything ends with imperfection and impiety; usually, “wretched” is accompanied by the action of “trudging,” which Geoffrey Chaucer in the movie A Knight’s Tale wonderfully described as the willful, weary walk of a man who has lost everything but still continues to “trudge” along (naked, mind you) without fail and without fear. Hence, I’m a writer who willfully, wearily WRITES (while facing the world without fear and, yet, with a quiet resignation that my writing will always be flawed and yet passionate and powerful; it’s always from my heart and soul), but finds that the publishing industry, in its majesty, will look down upon me with quiet eyes, shaking its giant head, waiting for me to try again and again until I’ve WOWED the industry with something even better than my previous work; hence, the term . . . “Wretched Writer.”
What was it that pushed you into writing, and what is your favorite genre to write in?
I always had this strange desire to want to write, and a large part of it was this need to always tell a story. You could ask any member of my family—when I was young, I was honey-glazed ham, an actor of mammoth proportions. I loved telling a story. As I got older, that desire to tell a story and write turned into the prospect of actually writing WELL. I, as well as a wonderful community college professor, saw in me a possible gift, a gift only God could give, and it was creative writing.
Naturally, ever since I was little, I enjoyed reading fantasy. As my craft evolved, I realized that my own personal passion as far as genre was concerned was urban fantasy, horror and thrillers. It always got my blood boiling.
Would most writers laugh (totally identify with you) at how much have you made from your writing career so far??
Only after I started laughing halfway through telling them, because it really is quite funny how much (little) I’ve made. However, if they started laughing BEFORE I began laughing, I’d have to kill them all.Who is it that has to put up with your long hours at the computer and what do you do to soothe their loneliness/bitchiness/tears? On occasion, my wonderful significant other, my angel, my muse, my love, my princess Krysta has to put up with my hours on the computer, pounding away at the keyboard. However, she hardly ever seems lonely/bitchy/sad because I write so damn fast anyway (she motivates me, basically).
What do they think of your writing?
She absolutely adores it. She thinks I should win the Pulitzer. She thinks I’m a genius. No, seriously. She does.
You say that you have been working on your novel, The Cain Letters, for far too long. As writers, many of us can never finish the long projects that we start. What possessed you to finish your novel? What’s the secret?
It’s funny that you mention “far too long,” as the amount of time spent on the manuscript isn’t solely based on my efforts. In all honesty, I wrote the whole manuscript in about five months. Within a span of a year following the completion of the manuscript, I had nothing better to do but to tweak it as much as I possibly could, because during that time I was querying it to literary agents and a few smaller publishing houses, looking to see if the manuscript could be a potential prospect. That whole year felt long.
Now that Eirelander Publishing has signed me, I’m in the midst of some heavy editing, thanks to the remarkable editor-in-chief (my editor actually (lucky me)), who uses editing like the U.S. marines use heavy weaponry on terrorists. Her words are like bullets; SO, the question isn’t necessarily what possessed me to finish my novel, as in, actually completing the work from start to finish, but to finish the novel , as in, “perfecting” it as much as possible without going insane (which is happening slowly, but what else is new?). The secret is lots and lots and lots of coffee, Doritos, pop, Facebook games and lots of kisses from my pretty lady, Krysta.
What was the magic phrase you used that garnered the attention of 3 agents?
Honestly, I’m not entirely sure . . . I can only make a guess in that currently (as literary agent, Nathan Bransford, on his blog, had stated by stats from comments), vampire literature seems to be on the rise.
Naturally, my query had the term “vampire hunter” in it and immediately, I imagine, their ears perked up. I also used the term “urban fantasy,” and currently, urban fantasy is extremely hot, especially Young Adult urban fantasy. Thank you, Stephenie Meyer.
Tell us what The Cain Letters is about and, also, fill us in on how you came up with the plot/story line.
Wow, you’re killin’ me, Sally . . . that’s like asking me to outline my life from the age of 2 to now. I’ll give it a shot, though!
To make it easy, here’s my query. It should pretty much outline for you what it’s about:
The dark origin of vampirism has lurked since the beginning of time beneath the clouded eyes of the world, until an ancient book surfaces, uncovering a sinister secret the Bible never revealed—Cain’s hidden lair and his hellish awakening.
Genesis 1:15. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. The Bible, however, never reveals Cain’s deal with the devil, which enabled him to become the first, most powerful vampire to walk the earth. As “father of the damned,” Cain would become a target for other vampires wanting to kill him for his power. If they had that book.
The Cain Letters is a 74,000-word urban fantasy thriller featuring Alexandra Glade, a fierce God-fearing vampire hunter, who must do the unthinkable: protect Cain to save humanity. Any human can slay Cain and face the wrath of God sevenfold, but a vampire, a monster that has become the evil of all mankind, will throw the wrath of God onto the world.
And there you have it. How I came about the plot and storyline is actually pretty interesting, in that I was still going through that “religious thriller” phase, thanks to Dan Brown. I also read Unholy Grail by D.L. Wilson and saw, without a doubt, that religious thrillers exploded. With all of that came the amazing religious speculations and theology and controversy in Christianity.
I, being a born-again Christian myself, was always fascinated with the discussions of faith, philosophy and theology of many principles relating to life and such; however, I was also very, very interested in urban fantasy and horror, particularly things of the supernatural and paranormal. I remember watching a documentary on Vlad the Impaler, the one true historical “Dracula.” I flipped through the pages of Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian as well and found a fascination with speculative history; then I thought of how sexy and cool The Matrix was, and the rest is all history. Without a doubt, The Cain Letters has a high concept: it’s Blade and Underworld meets The Da Vinci Code. The thought of that was like candy to me.
I’ve heard that authors are supposed to write a publishable book a year if they want to eat. Aside from the many hours you spend editing your current piece of brilliance, what’s in your head for the next book, or have you decided to change professions and become a Trinity dancer? (They get to wear nice noisy shoes.)
The thought of being a Trinity dancer is appealing in that it would keep my body healthy (and those nice noisy shoes wouldn’t hurt either). Plus, I like dancing, too, a lot; but honestly, not as much as writing. First off, I can write a lot longer than I can dance. That’s a given. What’s in my head for the next book is actually very much a valentine for me, in that I currently already have my sequel to The Cain Letters finished–back in September 2008, I believe. There are two other projects that I’m waiting eagerly to develop: one of them is the third installment to The Cain Letters; the other is a separate novel, also urban fantasy.
Finally, have you any sage words for those who have written their novel but they have avoided going back to work on it because it’s so horrible in its current state (cough, cough)?
Sit down, kiddies, and listen to your daddy. Gather around. First off, let’s make one thing clear. I don’t care how awesome a writer you are. Maybe you’ve won the Pulitzer (and I’m jealous of you in more ways than I can count on both hands). Maybe your writing can wipe me out like Windex cleaner on a window. Here’s the fact, though: from your point of view, your work’s probably going to ALWAYS look horrible; hence, there’s no point in you fretting about whether or not you should go back to work on it. The answer is: you SHOULD go back to work on it. You should ALWAYS work on your work. Working on your work is work, but it’s good work. It works your brain and your heart, and any work that works your brain and heart, while being hard work, is work that’s worth working on.
So don’t give up on your work. Trust me. It works. It’ll make you feel better.
Thank you so much, Pierre, for telling us all about your writing world. So, now that you know a little about The Cain Letters, keep an eye out for its release and then buy yourself a copy. Oh . . . and read it during the daylight hours!
(Please excuse the formatting; it’s a WordPress problem.)