Welcome to The Qwillery! Today's guest is Anton Strout, the author of the Simon Canderous series.TQw: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?Anton: Probably my lack of pants. No, wait… scratch that. Hmmm… I’d probably say the various ways in which I can work. Like, I know some people who can only work in silence at home on their machine in their office with no distractions. I can do that, too, but only at a certain point in the process when I’m deep in a continuity pass on the manuscript. I rough draft by hand on my commute into the city, an hour in and an hour out. I then tend to watch tv while entering those words into the computer, where I make a first editorial pass. A lot of time I find the distractions help me pull details out of the ether to fill in scenes, characters and descriptions. Hopefully I’m not watching a Seinfeld marathon when that happens…TQw: Who are some of your favorite writers? and who do you feel has influenced your writing?Anton: I think I wanted to write because of Douglas Adams. It was such a lovely mix of humor and the fantastical that I wished I could do that too. And although I see him knocked a lot, Stephen King has been an inspiration, especially when it comes to writing the darker scenes. I admire his ability to slap down a character and totally have you get them in seconds. If I could take his blood, bottle it drink of his powers I would, but I think I’d only end up pissing his wife off…TQw: What inspired you to write your first novel?Anton: Well, my first novel is something I wrote when I was 17. It was hands down a rip off of the Frank Miller era of Daredevil and I just thought it would be fun to try. And it was. Years later when I looked at it, I think I bled from my eyes at how bad it was. Like straight up fan fiction. It was set in New York even, when the only time I had been there was on a class trip to see A Chorus Line. My New York back then was laughable to read, and not in the good laughable way either.TQw: Will you or have you written any books/stories about other characters in the Simonverse?Anton: I have written several short stories that are out in various anthologies that tie in to the Simonverse. In The Dimension Next Door, I have a story concerning the necromantic activities of one Benjamin Franklin, which is referenced several times throughout my books as a historical fact recorded in their archives. There’s also the tale of head archivist Godfrey Candella and the loss of a special pet in Zombie Raccoons & Killer Bunnies. I consider these to be like DVD extras that give a little more insight into the rich history of both the Department of Extraordinary Affairs and the Fraternal Order of Goodness. There are some other stories I’d like to tell from other perspectives, but right now I’m focused on writing the books that are selling.TQw: What types of music do you listen to? What music does Simon like?Anton: I’m all over the place. If I’m writing I like a nice background loop of music. It frees up another part of my brain to get writing. For that, I usually use some Philip Glass or some techno or electronic. The Matrix soundtrack works quite well. My favorite band to listen to personally are The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones… I like some good punk guitar with a horn section behind it. I even have a book about an old ska band that I’d like to get sold, but I haven’t had time to get back to it with all the success of the Simon series… boo hoo. Poor me, right?As to what Simon likes, I think he likes a lot of music that comes from the downtown New York scene. You can’t live in SoHo and not be caught up in the local music. TQw: Who would you pick to play Simon in the Simon Canderous TV series should there ever be a series?Anton: After seeing him on SNL, I actually think Zach Efron would make a good Simon. Also an old college friend of mine, Kevin Shinick, would be fun to see in the role. He’s a writer for Robot Chicken now, but some people may remember him as Commander Kevin on the PBS game show Where In Time Is Carmen SanDiego? At this point, I’d just love to see it come to television. Given the popularity of Law & Order: Special Everything Unit and CSI, I think a paranormal cop show would be a hit out of the part.TQw: Why did you set the series in New York City?Anton: The honest answer is that I am inherently lazy. I live and work there, so to me researching my books is as simple as stepping out of the door. Also, it’s an amazing place. There’s so much life to it, so much personality. It’s hard to imagine that there’s not a ghost, zombie or vampire lurking in every dark shadow… and believe me, there are a LOT of dark shadows there.TQw: Do you and Simon have anything in common?Anton: In many ways, I think I’d try to laugh my way through the daily horrors he has to contend with, but I am also a far bigger coward than he is.The one thing we have in common is probably the hypoglycemia he experiences after using his powers. His blood sugar drops rapidly from his psychometric visions, and as a diabetic, I am prone to dealing with that same sensation from time to time.TQw: What's next?Anton: Just as book three in the series, Dead Matter, drops, I have to turn in book four. I also owe a few short stories to some anthologists out there. I also have some other ideas I’d like to develop—some adult, some YA—but I need to sit down and actually find the time to flesh them out. As far as future books set in the Simonverse, only sales on books three and four will tell if there will be more. TQw: Thank you for being with us at The Qwillery today! Now for the goodies! One commenter will win 1) All three Simon Canderous books, which have been signed by Anton: Welcome to the Department of Extraordinary Affairs Other Division- New York's answer to the underfunded world of paranormal investigation. It’s a job caught up in red tape, memos, and office politics, but its becoming par for the course for recent recruit Simon Canderous. After a life of petty crime and twenty four years of watching his power of psychometry—the ability to divine information solely by touching an object—destroy any chance of a real relationship, he’s joined the forces of Good hoping to gain some control. But when the mysterious ghost of a recently dead woman shows up at the Lovecraft Café, he and his mentor must figure out how she fits into a nefarious plot involving the cultists rights movement, a large wooden fish, and the forces of Darkness crushing on him.
It's hard to catch a break when you're the woefully underfunded Department of Extraordinary Affairs's lone psychometrist. In the aftermath of a nefarious plot by some lowdown, dirty cultists, Simon's hoping New York City's paranormal scene will stay quiet for awhile...but the uncanny has an uncanny knack for ruining Simon's day. When a Hudson River booze cruise sails into port full of bodies--drained of blood, no less--Simon thinks he may soon be hearing a lot of the dreaded V word (vampires), as well as the dreaded P word (paperwork). And if things weren't hectic enough at the DEA, his girlfriend is studying technomancy a little too closely with her boss, his mentor seems to be hiding something from him, and a dangerous flame from his criminal past has blown into town and threatens to make his life a living hell unless he helps her out with one last art heist. Oubliettes, living statues, Illinois gypsies, more zombies that you can shake a retractable steel bat at... it's all just another day at the office for Simon Canderous. When the paranormal raises its otherworldy head in New York City, the Department of Extraordinary Affairs executes a flawless, stick-the-landing smackdown. That’s the idea anyway, and Agent Simon Canderous can usually count on help from his mentor, Connor Christos. But Connor’s left Simon to handle a double case load as he cashes in on five years worth of saved vacation time. Simon suspects that Connor isn’t Club Medding so much as Club Deading it up—investigating the disappearance of his long lost brother.
Simon especially needs Connor when the spirit populace of Manhattan is shaken and stirred by someone intruding on their well-deserved R.I.P. But Connor’s relentless ghost whispering has sent him off the deep end; he’s haunted every night by visions of his brother’s ghost at his window. Simon’s partner may be going crazy—or worse, maybe he’s not...Dead Matter has received 4 1/2 Stars and was a TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews (March 2010).2) An official Department of Extraordinary Affairs Mug:
3) An Official Department of Extraordinary Affairs Pin:
and 4) Lifesavers!
So here is what you have to do to have the chance to win all those goodies: leave a comment. Names will be placed in a receptable of our choice and one pulled out to win the goodies. But wait! You can get more entries! If you tweet the contest, we’ll put your name in for the tweet as well. You can tweet as much as you like, but it only counts once. If you also mention the contest on Facebook, we’ll add your name again. You can mention it on Facebook a zillion times, but you only get one extra entry. You can also get an entry for mentioning it on your blog. So you can get your name placed in the receptacle a maximum of 4 times (comment, tweet, FB mention, blog mention). Provide us a link in the comments so we know that you tweeted or Facebooked or blog mentioned.
Please note this giveaway is only open to those of you with a US mailing address. Contest ends on March 7th at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.You can find Anton as his internet home Undead Approved, on Facebook and Twitter and at The League of Reluctant Adults.