close

The Qwillery | category: Forest Avenue Press

home

The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

qwillery.blogspot.com

Interview with Michael Shou-Yung Shum, author of Queen of Spades


Please welcome Michael Shou-Yung Shum to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Queen of Spades was published on October 10th by Forest Avenue Press.



Interview with Michael Shou-Yung Shum, author of Queen of Spades




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Michael:  I have been composing my own stories since I was a young child. I guess I've always felt compelled to write, although it is impossible to say why!



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Michael:  I definitely write by the seat of my pants. It comes from composing stories as a child, where you would begin a story and have no idea where it would lead.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Michael:  Coming up with an attractive form that interests me.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Michael:  Great writing and ideas by other writers--especially living with a great writer like Jaclyn Watterson to bounce ideas off.



TQDescribe Queen of Spades in 140 characters or less.

Michael:  The story behind the Strangest Hand Ever Dealt.



TQTell us something about Queen of Spades that is not found in the book description.

Michael:  It was originally started as a long short story or novelette, and not a novel.



TQWhat inspired you to write Queen of Spades? What appealed to you about Pushkin's Queen of Spades?

Michael:  Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades" is one of my favorite short stories--and one of the few stories that elevate gambling to a high art.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Queen of Spades?

Michael:  Although I didn't know it was research at the time, I spent over two years working as a poker dealer in a small cardroom in Lake Stevens, Washington, learning the ins and outs of what goes on behind the scenes.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Queen of Spades?

Michael:  The cover was designed by Forest Avenue's brilliant in-house designer, Gigi Little. She really hit it out of the park with this one!



TQIn Queen of Spades who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Michael:  The easiest was Barbara because she was the most fun to follow. The hardest was Chan because in many ways he began as a blank slate that I had to fill in along the way--even still, he remains something of a mystery to me.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Queen of Spades?

Michael:  I intentionally made all the traditional "power roles" filled by women. It might seem like a small thing, but it's a start to reconditioning (or deconditioning) our gender expectations.



TQWhich question about Queen of Spades do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Michael:  How would you like readers to be transformed by reading the novel? First, I hope the novel offers readers some consolation in very challenging and difficult times. Second, I hope readers become better persons in some small but not insignificant way. Finally, I hope reading the novel makes readers want to take some risks as a means of improving their life.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Queen of Spades.

Michael:  Everything coheres with what comes before--and what comes after.



TQWhat's next?

Michael:  I am working on a novel-in-stories tentatively entitled Portmanteau.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Queen of Spades
Forest Avenue Press, October 10, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 256 pages

Interview with Michael Shou-Yung Shum, author of Queen of Spades
Queen of Spades revamps the classic Pushkin fable of the same name, transplanted to a mysterious Seattle-area casino populated by a pit boss with six months to live, a dealer obsessing over the mysterious methods of an elderly customer known as the Countess, and a recovering gambler who finds herself trapped in a cultish twelve-step program. With a breathtaking climax that rivals the best Hong Kong gambling movies, Michael Shou-Yung Shum’s debut novel delivers the thrilling highs and lows that come when we cede control of our futures to the roll of the dice and the turn of a card.





About Michael

Interview with Michael Shou-Yung Shum, author of Queen of Spades
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Michael Shou-Yung Shum eventually found himself dealing poker in a dead-end casino in Lake Stevens, Washington. Two doctorates bookend this strange turn of events: the first in Psychology from Northwestern, and the second in English from University of Tennessee. Along the way, Michael spent a dozen years in Chicago, touring the country as a rave DJ. He currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his spouse and three cats. Queen of Spades is his first novel.


Website  ~  Twitter @dr_shum

Interview with Renee Macalino Rutledge, author of The Hour of Daydreams


Please welcome Renee Macalino Rutledge to The Qwillery as part of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Hour of Daydreams was published on March 14, 2017 by Forest Avenue Press.


Interview with Renee Macalino Rutledge, author of The Hour of Daydreams




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Renee:  The first time I wrote a complete piece, on my own initiative, I couldn’t have been older than 6 or 7. It came to me while outside in the yard, and I was conscious of being there and alive and deeply moved by the fact. I wrote a poem as a response to and interaction with a moment of awareness. It sounds profound, but the poem was about rainbows and flowers, the weather. It rhymed, so brownie points for that.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Renee:  I was a hybrid while writing The Hour of Daydreams. I had a general idea where I was going at the start of each chapter, at the end of which I’d have an idea where I’d go in the next chapter. But some of my favorite parts are those that came to me unannounced and seemed to write themselves, like a ribbon unraveling. Chapter 4 was like that, and Chapter 24. Lately I’ve been a pantser, writing memoir fragments inspired by my essays. I think it really depends on the project.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Renee:  Finding time to write. I have a day job and freelance work, and my kindergartener isn’t in daycare. I pick her up right after school, and after that, any chance of writing is snuffed out until she goes to bed. I take a notebook with me everywhere to jot things down, and I write text messages to myself all the time.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Renee:  Reading always fires me up to write. The possibilities of language, the power of voice. I love being swept into a story and feeling my world expand after reading. It inspires me to create stories of my own. People inspire me—if you talk to anyone long enough, you begin to discover their idiosyncrasies and what make them tick. You begin to find connection and develop empathy and see patterns of human connectivity, which to me, is the work of fiction. History inspires me, the desire to understand and learn from it.



TQDescribe The Hour of Daydreams in 140 characters or less.

ReneeThe Hour of Daydreams imagines the history of two characters in a Filipino folktale. What were their secrets, and who did they impact with them?



TQTell us something about The Hour of Daydreams that is not found in the book description.

Renee:  There’s a scene from the book that’s inspired by an embarrassing moment that took place between my husband and me. He loves telling the story, so I figured it would be okay to add. The couple that relives that moment is not Tala and Manolo, my protagonists, but Manolo’s parents, Andres and Iolana.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Hour of Daydreams?

Renee:  The Filipino folktale, The Star Maidens. It’s about a man who steals a star maiden’s wings so that she cannot fly away, and he marries her. In the end, she finds her wings and leaves him. This left me with more questions than answers and the desire to tell their story. It also gave me the opportunity to explore interesting themes like marriage, identity, the legacies we leave, and the way in which stories are passed down.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Hour of Daydreams?

Renee:  The book takes place in the Philippines, where I haven’t been since the age of four, so I googled a lot of random things about setting, like “Are there lions in the Philippines?” and “Are there shantytowns in the provinces?” and “Number of doctors in Philippine villages.” I made many phone calls to my parents and asked them lots of questions when I saw them. I also read some excellent books, like Eye of the Fish, a wonderful nonfiction narrative about the islands, by Luis H. Francia.



TQPlease tell us about The Hour of Daydreams' cover.

Renee:  Gigi Little, Forest Avenue Press’s designer, created the cover. It captures a beautiful time, at the intersection between day and night. It shows a feather, a hint at wings, falling from the sky. The feather, illuminated, is reminiscent of the moon. There are seven stars in the sky to symbolize seven sisters. Among the contrasts in my novel is that between city and country—and the sky on my front cover continues around to the back cover, where the green country landscape changes to a cityscape.



TQIn The Hour of Daydreams who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Renee:  Andres, at one point in the story, says, “Objects were simply objects, men were men, women were women. It was all so simple and for now—for the simple here and now—so divine.” His philosophy extends to him; he’s definitely a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy, so he was the easiest to write. Tala was the hardest. Her past is complicated, and it was a constant challenge to balance what to reveal and what to keep a mystery.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Hour of Daydreams?

Renee:  It felt impossible to write a book about the Philippines without touching upon social issues like sex trafficking, guerilla warfare, poverty, and government corruption. This is the world where my characters live, and these are issues they live through, among others. I didn’t set out on purpose to cover these issues; it happened organically in the context of my storyline and my preoccupations as a writer and Filipino.



TQWhich question about The Hour of Daydreams do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Renee:  Why is my book called The Hour of Daydreams? In a chapter by that name, the hour of daydreams is the time when a grandfather tells his granddaughter stories. It is a very specific and special time for them. It is also representative of a moment of time at a river, when the main characters, Tala and Manolo, bear witness to one another, and their memories of this time begin to feel like dreams. Finally, it is representative of the hours between the book and the reader.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Hour of Daydreams.

Renee:  “Without Grandfather Andres here to light a candle in my heart, I gaze at Papa differently, curious about the stories he hides, of the real woman and not the fairy tale, seeking her there in his hidden quiet. Without the stories, I realize there is nothing left.”



TQWhat's next?

Renee:  I’m working on short stories, novel two research, essays, and memoir writing. Find my short story, The Cigarette Thieves, in The Tishman Review in April.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Renee:  Thank you so much for having me!





The Hour of  Daydreams
Forest Avenue Press, March 14, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 232 pages

Interview with Renee Macalino Rutledge, author of The Hour of Daydreams
Manolo Lualhati, a respected doctor in the Philippine countryside, believes his wife hides a secret. Prior to their marriage, he spied her wearing wings and flying to the stars with her sisters each evening. As Tala tries to keep her dangerous past from her new husband, Manolo begins questioning the gaps in her stories—and his suspicions push him even further from the truth. The Hour of Daydreams, a contemporary reimagining of a Filipino folktale, weaves in the perspectives of Tala’s siblings, her new in-laws, and the all-seeing housekeeper while exploring trust, identity, and how myths can take root from the seeds of our most difficult truths.





About Renee

Interview with Renee Macalino Rutledge, author of The Hour of Daydreams
Photo by Tesa Lauigan
Renee Macalino Rutledge was born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area from the age of four. A long-time local journalist, her articles and essays have appeared in ColorLines, Filipinas Magazine, Oakland and Alameda Magazine, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Literary Hub, Mutha Magazine, Ford City Anthology, Women of Color Anthology, and others. The Hour of Daydreams is her debut novel. She lives in Alameda, California, with her husband and two daughters.





Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram

Twitter @ReneeMRutledge



Interview with Jamie Duclos-Yourdon, author of Froelich's Ladder


Please welcome Jamie Duclos-Yourdon to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Froelich's Ladder was published on August 9th by Forest Avenue.



Interview with Jamie Duclos-Yourdon, author of Froelich's Ladder




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

JDY:  I began to write short stories when I was thirteen. I come from a family of voracious readers, and writing was my way of participating in a broader conversation.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

JDY:  I’m a rigorous plotter (though I do love the term “pantser”). I gained an appreciation for act structure in a screenwriting course, in which I also learned that I’m a sucky screenwriter.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

JDY:  The most challenging aspect about writing, for me, is cultivating patience. I write 300–350 words a day; at that pace, it feels like I’ll never accomplish anything.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

JDY:  I’m most strongly influenced by the members of my writing group, The Guttery. We meet every Wednesday night, so I’m constantly being exposed to their work. They are a brilliant group of artists.



TQDescribe Froelich's Ladder in 140 characters or less.

JDY:  Curmudgeon lives atop a giant ladder until being abducted by a cloud and his estranged nephew is enlisted to find him. Plus bowling.



TQTell us something about Froelich's Ladder that is not found in the book description.

JDYFroelich’s Ladder was conceived as a Shakespearean comedy, such that it culminates in a series of couplings.



TQWhat inspired you to write Froelich's Ladder? What appealed to you about writing what your publisher calls "...a fabulist adventure novel..."?

JDY:  Sometimes realism can feel like a joyless magic trick. “Is this your card? Good.” I was inspired to write Froelich’s Ladder because I wanted to create something fun—something that was ridiculous and exuberant.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Froelich's Ladder?

JDY:  I spent the most time researching Johnny Appleseed, because the details of his biography are ambiguous. But I also learned about the Naturalization Act, the Fourteenth Amendment, the Donation Land Act—basically, a bunch of arcane laws from the 1800s.



TQIn Froelich's Ladder who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

JDY:  Josie and Uncle Frank were the most difficult characters to write, because I wanted to represent their (Scottish) accents in dialogue. Binx was the easiest character to write, probably because, in an early draft, he narrated the book from under the ladder.



TQWhich question about Froelich's Ladder do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

JDY:  No one has asked how the characters got their names. I used to walk by the Froelick Art Gallery in downtown Portland; I lived on Harold Street; Binx was the name of a British guy who punched me in the face; Josie was the name of the girl who contributed to my getting punched in the face; Gak was a noise I made one time; Francis Meyers is a play on Fred Myers; and Gordy is a play on Yourdon.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Froelich's Ladder.

JDY:  “Indeed, it was for this reason that clouds were reluctant herbivores: not by choice, but of necessity.” My copy editor, whom I never met in person, wrote of this quotation, “This is the greatest sentence.” And, man, did I swoon.



TQWhat's next?

JDY:  I’m currently at work on book-length Mesopotamian ghost story, with talking crows and people rising from the dead.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

JDY:  Thank you! This was a lot of fun.





Froelich's Ladder
Forest Avenue Press, August 9, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 248 pages

Interview with Jamie Duclos-Yourdon, author of Froelich's Ladder
Froelich nurses a decades-old family grudge from his permanent perch atop a giant ladder in this nineteenth century madcap adventure novel. When he disappears suddenly, his nephew embarks on a rain-soaked adventure across the Pacific Northwest landscape to find him, accompanied by an ornery girl with a most unfortunate name. In their encounters with Confederate assassins, European expatriates, and a general store magnate, this fairytale twist on the American dream explores the conflicts between loyalty and ambition and our need for human connection, even at the highest rungs.





About Jamie

Interview with Jamie Duclos-Yourdon, author of Froelich's Ladder
 Photo by Katherine Rosenbaum
Jamie Duclos-Yourdon, a freelance editor and technical expert, received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. His short fiction has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Underneath the Juniper Tree, and Chicago Literati, and he has contributed essays and interviews to Booktrib. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Froelich's Ladder (Forest Avenue, 2016) is his debut novel.



Website  ~  Twitter @JamieYourdon  ~  Facebook

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Froelich's Ladder by Jamie Duclos-Yourdon


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Froelich's Ladder by Jamie Duclos-Yourdon


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.


Jamie Duclos-Yourdon

Froelich's Ladder
Forest Avenue Press, August 9, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 248 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Froelich's Ladder by Jamie Duclos-Yourdon
Froelich nurses a decades-old family grudge from his permanent perch atop a giant ladder in this nineteenth century madcap adventure novel. When he disappears suddenly, his nephew embarks on a rain-soaked adventure across the Pacific Northwest landscape to find him, accompanied by an ornery girl with a most unfortunate name. In their encounters with Confederate assassins, European expatriates, and a general store magnate, this fairytale twist on the American dream explores the conflicts between loyalty and ambition and our need for human connection, even at the highest rungs.

Interview with Michael Shou-Yung Shum, author of Queen of SpadesInterview with Renee Macalino Rutledge, author of The Hour of DaydreamsInterview with Jamie Duclos-Yourdon, author of Froelich's Ladder2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Froelich's Ladder by Jamie Duclos-Yourdon

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?

Cancel
×