Please welcome V.E. Schwab to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge
was published on September 24, 2013.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery.
V.E.: Thank you so much for having me! Crazy that the time has finally come.
TQ: When and why did you start writing?
V.E.: As an only child with a vivid imagination, I’ve been creating fictional worlds—of which I am queen, or God—and populating them for as long as I can remember. I’ve never been great at living in the real world, but I’m ace at making up my own. As for the writing part, I started putting stories on paper when I was in middle school, and then transitioned to poetry in high school. In college I toyed with poetry, non-fiction, screenplays, short fiction, before finally trying my hand at a book, just to see if I could. Luckily (in retrospect), that book didn’t sell, but my next one did. I simply haven’t stopped since. Though, in truth, I can still see myself trying my hand at other forms. It’s a dream of mine to write for comic books and movies. Maybe one day ;)
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
V.E.: Like, in my writing? Or while I’m writing? In my writing, I always try to sneak in “half-” as in “half-rotted.” I have no idea why, but the phrasing always shows up. As a writer, I end up perching on the least comfortable furniture in the house, Gollum-style, when I’m plot-stuck. I’m pretty sure I mutter to myself as well.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
V.E.: I’m a connect-the-dots-er. Before I seriously start writing a book, I come up with the 5-10 plot points/moments that must be there for the book to be my book. Sometimes they are twists and sometimes they are gasp moments and sometimes they’re very quiet beats, but they’re vital to the story I want to tell. Once I have those, I let myself find my way between them. This gives me enough freedom to discover plot without wandering too far from my charted course.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
V.E.: The beginnings. And the endings. And the middles.
In truth, I think the most challenging thing has been getting better, because as you get better, you get worse. Worse at handling the fact that you still have to write something before you can make it better. You become more aware of what you’re doing, but you still have to get through the messing up part, and the going astray part, and the stumbling. And the self-awareness…I can tell when something’s wrong before I know how to fix it. I can predict which things people will like, or be frustrated with, or miss. Too many voices in my head.
TQ: Describe Vicious in 140 characters or less.
V.E.: Two pre-med students discover the key to superpowers--near-death experiences--and set out to create their own abilities. It doesn't end well.
TQ: What inspired you to write Vicious?
V.E.: I’ve always loved hero and villain culture, specifically the anti-hero that exists in between the classic two. I knew I wanted to write a villain lead (we all know the phrase, “Every villain is the hero of their own story”) and I wanted to play with the idea that there are no heroes and villains in the world, only people with labels put on them, by themselves or someone else.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Vicious?
V.E.: I did a lot of medical research. The whole foundation for supernatural powers in VICIOUS is this idea that under the right circumstances—the threat of imminent demise--a permanent chemical shift could take place in a person. Eli, the book’s antagonist, claims that it’s equal parts mind and body, the mental state as important as the physical. It becomes as much about psychology as physiology. But the physiological aspects are key, especially when it comes to the bringing people back part. I consulted EMTs and medical professionals, and did a lot of research on adrenaline, various modes of death, and which of those modes one could feasibly revive from, especially with household or hospital-stolen equipment.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
V.E.: Victor was the easiest. My editor and I joke that Victor is my sociopathic supervillain alter ego. He lives inside my head with perfect clarity. Eli on the other hand is a much more emotional character, the product of a traumatic religious upbringing. He has a serious sense of being “burdened with glorious purpose” to borrow Loki’s phrase, and was much more challenging.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Vicious?
V.E.: Ooooohhh, that’s hard. I honestly think Eli and Victor’s death scenes (that’s not a spoiler, they both kill themselves fairly early in the book in an attempt to generate abilities) are my favorite. Which is pretty sick, I guess, but I am intensely proud of both. ☺
TQ: What's next?
V.E.: So many things. I’m in the middle of a YA series about a library of the dead (the second book, THE UNBOUND, hits shelves in January). I’m writing a set of three Middle Grade books about a Doctor Who-esque guardian angel—EVERYDAY ANGEL--that kicks off next summer. And I’m working on an adult fantasy set in three Londons—one you know, two you don’t—full of cross-dressing pirates and thieves and bad magic and sadist kings.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
V.E.: Thank you so very much for having me!
Tor, September 24, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.About V.E. Schwab
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.
V.E. Schwab is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing, Schwab has a penchant for tea and BBC shows, and a serious and well-documented case of wanderlust. Vicious is her first adult book.Website
@veschwab ~ Facebook