I hope you´re all having a great weekend so far! I´m very glad to welcome yet another awesome author today for a Q&A, Sean Cummings, author of SHADE FRIGHT and FUNERAL PALLOR. Just like with so many books I really really want to read, Amazon yet again tests my patience and takes a lot of time to deliver it.
Now, without further ado, please welcome Sean Cummings!
As I´ve already told you, I´m eagerly waiting for my copy of Shade Fright to arrive. Can you tell me in your own words what it´s about?
SHADE FRIGHT introduces the reader to Valerie Stevens, a thirty-something apprentice mage who works for the Canadian government in a benign sounding ministry called "Government Services and Infrastructure Canada". She's mentored by a 2000 year old dwarf troll mage, her best friend is a zombie and her boyfriend Dave drives a dumptruck. When a grain bin goes missing, Val is drawn into a mystery where organic matter all over town is starting to die, birds are falling out of the sky and all hell is going to break loose in Nose Hill Park where a seriously bad dude is intent on killing everyone in town with a dark spell to summon the Prince of Darkness. Val has to stop this from happening and she's introduced to a world where a shadowy organization known as the Conclave uses dark magic and any number of evil deeds to further everything from global terrorism to assassination. Val's spirit guide is the always annoying and very entertaining ghost of former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. With his help and that of her allies, she's going to put the beat down on a dark mage with a hate-on for Calgary Canada.
Is there anything you can say about Funeral Pallor without too many spoilers?
We catch up with Val a year after SHADE FRIGHT. The book opens with Valerie and Fifty Dollar Bill discovering a huge nest of zombies. After nearly being overrun by the creatures, she's rescued by a pair of middle aged head bangers who kill zombies for sport and she's drawn into a mystery where someone has been stealing bodies from local funeral homes, a plot to turn people into the monsters using a 5000 year old spell. Meantime her best friend Caroline the zombie is having blackouts and Val's employer is under the mistaken belief that Caroline is the source of zombie activity. They've dispatched a bounty hunter named Tim Reaper (who is a BLAST to write) and the book culminates with a crescendo of heavy metal music, blazing guns and a small army of the monsters.
Your cast of characters in Shade Fright is quite extraordinary. How did you come up with them?
Fifty Dollar Bill is a great character and he's based on former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. King was a closet occultist who liked to commune with the dearly departed so it was kind of cool to have his spirit refusing to cross over because now, after death, he prefers the company of the living. Caroline the zombie is just a wise cracking character but she's central to the series and there's a pretty huge hint in FUNERAL PALLOR as to what's going to happen to her in future books. Val's boyfriend Dave is "everyman". I wanted her love interest to be a steadfast nice guy who supports her one hundred percent. He's a great character and will be featured prominently in book three. D.T., Val's mentor is inspired by Yoda (who else).
Your book has a different cover that your usual half naked, tattooed and leather clad hero/heroine wielding a glowing weapon of some sorts. Did you have any influence on it? Can you share the name of the cover artist?
Anna Torborg is my cover artist and from the outset, we wanted to have a cover that was so glaringly different that most other urban fantasies with a strong female protagonist. We were inspired by some of Jasper FForde's covers and I think Anna did a fantastic job. SHADE FRIGHT was all her idea and for FUNERAL PALLOR, well, it was my idea to do an homage to the Queen II album cover because headbangers and rock and roll are featured throughout the book.
Which is your favourite character in the books?
Fifty Dollar Bill - hand's down. He's a fantastic character, he's wildly eccentric and he's the key to why there's a new arms race in the world where the weapon of choice is magic. Tim Reaper is another great character I love to write and I'm working on his book right now.
Urban Fantasy is a genre that is mostly dominated by female authors. Are guys too cool to write it? :)
Far from it. Yes the genre is dominated by women but that's because there's some fantastic female authors with equally fantastic world building going on. Nancy Holzner, is a friend and a great writer. Her book Deadtown kicks ass all over the place. Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding is a FAN BLOODY TASTIC book ... there's a lot of great female authors. That said, Jim Butcher is my personal favorite. I mean, what's NOT to like about Harry Dresden? Changes ... best urban fantasy I've ever read. Period. Simon R. Green is another favorite of mine, too.
I think that if you've got a great story, people are gonna read it regardless of your gender. It just so happens that women do make up the lion's share of urban fantasy authors and of them, a great many rely heavily on romance (something I suck at writing.)
Why did you write an Urban Fantasy book? Or did your story just happen to be Urban Fantasy?
I've been reading it for years. It's my favorite genre and I set out to write a uniquely Canadian urban fantasy series with a kick ass heroine.
Would you say that your love for comic books affects your writing? If so, how?
Comic books are the starting point for me. From way back in the late 70's when I was reading Marvel's Dracula and Werewolf By Night, I just became tuned into how these monsters who should be hounded by peasants with pitchforks were blending into a modern world. Comics inspired me because as I write, I think of my story as a comic book. How would the panels be laid out. How does the action fit in. Does it have a nice flow to it?
One of your current writing projects is Tim Reaper as in THE Reaper. Now I´m curious. Is it Urban Fantasy? YA? or something else entirely?
Tim Reaper is urban fantasy but with a twist. Instead of duking it out with vamps and shape shifters, Tim Reaper is the only supernatural character and he's got a big time hate on for serial killers. (That's all I'm saying for now...)
Where do you get your inspiration from? Music, books, TV shows or real life?
A curious mixture of all. Comics figure prominently. Fan fiction is a biggie. Smart TV like the brilliant but canceled THRESHOLD or JOURNEYMAN. All of these have a huge influence on my books.
A question that I am always curious about (but could be kind of personal) is: are your characters based on people you really know or maybe even a little bit about yourself or are they all purely fictional?
I think most authors draw on the familiar. There's a little bit of me in Valerie, but there's a bit of me in Tim Reaper, too. (Actually there's a lot of me in Tim Reaper...) I draw more on the relationships I share with friends in the present. I think about people I've known from my time in the army to way back when I was in high school. My brain is an amalgam of eccentric people and frankly, I'm kind of eccentric myself. That or curmudgeonly...
How did you chose the names of the characters of your book? Do they have a special meaning?
That's a tough question. Valerie Stevens just flew onto my keyboard. Her BF Dave ... well I purposefully called him Dave because the market is flooded with books where the heroine's love interest is "Steel" or "Ash" or "Kabel" or some such name that nobody in the real world has for a love interest. Everyone knows a Dave. As for the rest, I resorted in some cases to baby naming websites for ideas. :)
What do you like most about being an author? And what annoys you?
What I like most is that people are actually freaking reading my stuff. That is MIND BLOWING, frankly. I've been writing for more than twenty years with a goal to be published. Now in my early forties it's happened and it's a huge thing for me. I want to become a better author and write stories that are going to stick with people. I want people to relate to my characters. What annoys me are revisions. Ugh... painful but necessary revisions.
Did you ever have a writer´s block? If so, what did you do to deal with it?
I have on occasion, but it's usually due to physical factors like fatigue. If I'm dead dog tired, I have less than no creative energy. That said, when I come up with a cool story idea it inspires me and I just want to write my butt off.
Tell us something about your favourites:
Jim Butcher. Simon R. Green. Kelly Meding. Nancy Holzner. Catherine MacKenzie.
favourite paranormal creature?
Zombies. Always zombies.
favourite all time hero/heroine?
Batman - hands down. For heroine it has to be Anita Blake before Obsidian Butterfly. After that, not so much.
favourite all time villain?
Darth Vader followed closely by Magneto
Which one do you prefer, book or e-reader?
Sony PRS 505. I love the damned thing
Is there a book you love above all? One that had a great influence on you or your life?
Ten Lost Years by Barry Broadfoot. It's about the Great Depression on the Canadian prairie and it is a fantastic book.
Was being an author something you´ve always wanted or did it just
I've been writing since I was a kid. I wanted to become and author and I'm grateful for the opportunities my first two books have given me. I have big plans and I hope to continue to become a better writer with a growing fan base.
Is there any question you always wanted to be asked? And if so, what would be the answer?
I can't really think of one. :(
A question that is inspired by another interview I did with an author and seems to really fit in the context: If you would be Superman, what would be your kryptonite?
Ex wives. (jk) I imagine it would be inconsistent sleep habits. I am an insomniac and it's a nightly battle to get a decent amount of sleep.
What are you reading at the moment/planning to read/waiting for to be released?
I'm reading World War Z by Max Brooks. I'm dying to see what happens in the next Harry Dresden book and I'm patiently waiting for Nancy Holzner's second book to come out.
And finally: Is there anything you want to say to your/my readers?
Thanks for reading. I hope you get a kick out of the Valerie Stevens series. Write me!!!
Thank you so much for for stopping by my blog and answer all of my questions. I´m