Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Interview with S.J. Bell

Hi there! Welcome to Rea’s Reading and Reviews. Thank you for taking the time to share some info about you and your book with me and my readers. Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is S.J. Bell.  I'm a new writer with a love of fantastic stories and a particular interest in werewolves.  After a year spent trying and failing to get the attention of an agent for my debut novel, I decided to publish it independently instead.  I'm hoping to make a big splash with it.

1. Describe your book in ten words or fewer.
If I could sum it up in ten words, I wouldn't have needed 90,000.  But I'll try: "Five werewolves fight their wolves.  One werewolf makes them better."

2. With such a large number of books out there, what do you feel sets your apart from all others?
There are a lot of werewolf stories out there, many of them very good.  But a lot of them don't do the concept justice.  Most rely on stock portrayals:  the noble savage, the Dionysian hedonist, the tortured outsider, the vicious monster.  What tends to get lost in the shuffle is the werewolf's most important aspect: his humanity.  The bestial impulses and desires in him are not foreign, they are simply basic, instinctual human desires writ large.  I wanted to write a story not about werewolves, but about people.  And that's what my werewolves are: people, struggling to resolve their humanity and their nature as living beings.

3. Tell us a bit about your influences and just how / why these authors and / or their work inspire(s) you.
I have a lot of influences, but two come to mind in particular.  The first is Babylon 5.  I was a huge fan back in the 90's, and my writing has inherited a lot of Straczynski's style, particularly the modular storytelling style (big stories made out of small ones) and penchant for monologues.  The other is Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville books, because for all their supernatural trappings, Vaughn only ever writes about human beings.  Her werewolves and vampires and so forth aren't defined purely by their superhuman attributes.  Instead, they're people, with the same motives and frailties and emotions and obsessions as anyone else.

4. How did the seeds of this story come to you?
Basically, I was writing another book that was not coming along very well at all, and I needed to clear my head.  I decided to write a short story using the werewolf as a vehicle to explore the shadow archetype.  The short story turned out to be a better idea than I had realized, and eventually it expanded until it was Bonds of Fenris.  The other novel I shelved, though I may get back to it some day.

5. Which five books would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
Books on primitive shipbuilding and navigation.  Why accept a bad situation when you can put yourself in a better one?

6. Who was your first book crush? (Or if you’ve never had a book crush then who is your favourite character to read about?)
That's, uh, kind of personal, isn't it?  No specifics here, but I will say that I love reading about trickster heroes, succeeding with guile and cleverness instead of brawn.

7. Let’s imagine that your book’s getting turned into a movie / tv series. Woo! Which actors can you envision playing the lead roles?
Truthfully, I'd probably want them played by skilled unknowns who haven't made their names yet.  First, the characters are young, which means anyone who's established a reputation in Hollywood is probably too old.  Second, in my experience as a viewer, the movie is better if you cast roles based on who plays them right, rather than looks or reputation.  For example, if you were young and geeky in the 90's, you may have seen a film called Hackers.  There's nobody in the cast that you would have recognized in 1994.  (At least two have since gone on to bigger and better things.)  But they did first-rate work and made a very enjoyable movie.  Plus the money that would have been spent on big-name stars was instead spent on amazing (if cheesy) sets, costumes, and effects.

I admit, however, that in my mind's eye Talia strongly resembles Grace Park.

8. What do you like to do in your free time (when you’re not reading or writing)?
I watch a lot of movies, largely because my girlfriend is a huge movie buff.  I'm an avid board gamer, and indeed have posted reviews of both movies and games on my blog.  I also play Asheron's Call, an old, old MMORPG that has been forgotten by a world that should remember it.  I also like nature hikes, because with all that you've got to get out of the house once in a while.

9. If you could visit your destination of choice, which plane would you be on in the morning?
Planes are too much hassle.  Road trip!

10. What’s your least favourite chore to do around the house?
All of them, I'm a lazy S.O.B..  But especially the dishes, because they never seem to get clean.  And then when you finally do clean them, they're dirty again the next day!

11. Does bacon make everything taste better?
Of course not.  Food is functional first, and form follows function, therefore you must look at the practical purpose of the meal to which you are adding bacon.  Bacon on dessert is stupid because dessert should be sweet, not savoury.  Put sprinkles on your ice cream instead.  Bacon bits on salad is equally stupid because the point of a salad is to be healthy and low-fat, so you're defying the soul of the meal.  If you want bacon and vegetables together, a B.L.T. is acceptable, and often very tasty, but note that this is bacon to which vegetables are added, not the other way around.  Leftover bacon from breakfast is acceptable as a mid-morning snack, but not more than one strip.  With meals that don't normally contain bacon, one must consider carefully the implications of adding it.  If there is already an obvious meat in the meal, the addition of bacon is intolerable decadence UNLESS the bacon is being used for grease rather than taste.  A relative of mine cooks Thanksgiving Turkey with strips of bacon on top.  It adds no flavour, but keeps the turkey moist.

12. Anything else you’d like to share with us all? Extra points if you make us giggle!
Local Public Libraries Rock. \m/ ^_^ \m/

Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. I wish you the best of luck with your future career as a published writer and look forward to seeing the book you churn out next!


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