I have interviewed people in my professional capacity as a lawyer and I have given author interviews about my work, but I have never interviewed another author or artist for my blog or anywhere else for that matter. Of course, I’ve toyed with the idea and I may have mentioned it once or twice on here, but somehow, with all the looming projects and the unpredictability of life, I never took it any further.
Today all of that changes.
Today’s post features my first interview with another author. And it’s not just any author. He is a fellow member of The Collective SF. Apart from being a talented writer, he is also a musician, a filmmaker and an artist. Known for his sense of humor and his ability to steer from on-topic to off, and let’s not forget his utter obsession with all things Doctor Who, I am proud to have the privilege of working with him. Please welcome Canadian author, Xavier Granville.
Xavier’s début novel, Dinosaur Noir: Curse of the Diamond Heart, is so off the wall different to what you’d usually get in a hardboiled noir type tale, I had to find out his reasons for writing this story, which is apparently the first book in a planned series.
Also, Xavier designed my cover for Hameln-13 and he’s designing the covers for the rest of the books coming from The Collective SF. Clearly the situation begged for an interview. I wanted to know more about this hybrid of talent and why he writes what he writes. Check out the interview below!
Welcome, Xavier! Let’s start with an obvious question: Do you recall how your interest in writing started and do you remember which came first, art or writing?
That’s a very good question. It’s much like that old chicken versus egg argument in my mind. As a kid I was always drawing, always coming up with weird fantastical worlds and characters that my parents and their friends would smile or laugh at. At a very early age I was obsessed with actor/comedians like Mike Myers, Robin Williams, Chris Farley or Jim Carrey, and would memorize lines from their films, some of which are permanently embedded into my psyche.
I was always reading comic books and watching cartoons like the Batman Animated Series or the Incredible Hulk; I guess you could say I was a through and through geek from the get-go. But I guess I’d have to say it was probably the combination of those first few comic books that sparked the writing bug in me, as well as high school, where I excelled in English and won a few writing contests.
What is your writing process like? What comes first, research or the story, IOW, are you a plotter or a pantser?
For me, it comes down to concept, and I always start with a question. What would the world be like if lizards and humans had to coexist as the two advanced species on Earth? What if for every god or deity in history there is a human representative/avatar with all that God’s powers and responsibilities? What would the day job for a man who lives in a world where humans cannot achieve REM sleep?
I used to do the whole pantsing method back when I first started writing– actually, come to think of it, I am pretty sure I was pantsing along all the way up until my first novel. Before then I had only been successful in completing shorter works like novellas or short stories while anything more ambitious would fall by the wayside.
For me personally, anything longer than 40k I find that an outline is needed, otherwise it becomes difficult for me to keep my plots organized. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that any book worth reading requires a solid outline— I just find that if I pave a loose roadway, allowing myself the room to fill in any cracks along the way, I end up with a better product in the end. Things change as I write the first draft, and I’m not enormously strict on keeping to the outline a hundred percent.
And don’t get me started on dialogue. Sometimes a scene will balloon well past my outline’s expectations simply because those characters just keep on talking.
Tell me about Dinosaur Noir: Curse of the Diamond Heart. What is the novel about and how did you stumble upon the idea of writing a hardboiled detective series starring a dinosaur as the main character?
The Curse of the Diamond Heart, the first in the Dinosaur Noir series, is very much a sci-fi re-imagining of the classic old pulp detective story. Set in an alternate history Los Angeles where both lizards and apes evolved side by side, Rick Tyrannus McCoy is a fast talking, cigarette smoking, cynical private detective who has recently taken on a particularly dangerous case, one that just gets deadlier by the day.
And to answer how did I stumble down that particular trail, well, I guess I’d have to tell three seemingly unrelated stories:
A) When I was six years old I saw Jurassic Park in a drive-in theater with my parents and at the time four-year-old brother, Isiah. I’ll always remember watching that Tyrannosaurus break apart that Jeep to get to the children from the back seat of my parents car— it was the single scariest thing I’d ever seen. That movie, to me, was one of those crucial childhood moments.
B) I started a project where I gave myself sets of 4 writing prompts and would brainstorm a plot from each set. The four words I drew for what would ultimately become The Curse of the Diamond Heart were: Dinosaurs, Cigarettes, Robots & Vampires.
and C) When I entered the indie writing scene over a year ago now, I would frequent the after-parties of podcasts like the Self Publishing Roundtable, as well as the chats for Self Publishing Podcast and the like. Between myself and quite a few others, the topic of dinosaurs kept coming up because of the apparent bizarre trend over in the Erotica section of Kindle at the time. Though I had other works in progress, people kept asking how I was progressing on Dinosaur Noir. They wanted to know given the trend if I had written any ‘dino-erotic’ scenes into the book, but of course, the answer is no haha. I leave the dino-erotica for other writers than myself. I’m good with the sci-fi mysteries, thanks!
My readers know about The Collective SF and about our unique approach. Can you tell us more about your scribe and about the story you are writing for The Collective SF?
Sure. Since the basic idea of the Collective universe is about the creation of alternate realties brought forth by the God-Machine and the series of Scribes linked to it, I wanted to try to work out a way where I could tell both sides of the story— what is going on inside the God-Machine, and what is going on out in the universe as a direct result of those actions within the God-Machine.
Within my scribe posts, I share the tangled thoughts of Vexillar Reaving, who is a Scribe at the tipping point of insanity. He has been attached to the God-Machine for so long he has forgotten his own past. He has watched on as his writings shaped the fabric of the cosmos, and with every day that passes the more damage he feels he has done. He knows his influence has brought radical changes to the universe. He is plagued by visions of fire, destruction, and a strange woman who seems… familiar to him.
On the harsh desert planet known amongst the civilians as Ember, a red-hooded woman takes shelter within the Dead Forest. She, like all the others on the surface of the planet, has escaped from the underground prison that makes up the entirety of the planet’s core. She has rebelled against the Collectors, and has joined the ranks of the Hoods.
Now, with their rebel numbers severely lowered after a surprise enemy ambush, the Red Hood seeks the help of a contact known only as ‘Grandmother’. But there is more danger in the Dead Forests of Ember than the Collectors or the dead spirits that cry out in the desert winds. In the dead of night she can hear it coming… a strange and monstrous howling…
As far as I am aware, you’re the official artist for The Collective SF. As an artist, do you have any influences, inspiration, muses and how do they inform your cover art?
Official Artist. Now there’s a title haha. Design is tricky as it’s constantly evolving in the sense of what is selling or how it is being done. There are so many ways to approach it. The best thing you can do is to do your research. Get familiar with different styles of composition. Look at every level of the design before you say yes to anything. But ultimately, be yourself. If you really want to be recognized as an artist, you need to find your own style.
As far as inspiration, currently I’ve been really switched on by the works of Tom Webster, who has done some fantastic work for the folks over at Big Finish, a company that produces new audio episodes of classic shows like Doctor Who and Dark Shadows.
Check out this article that shows how much their covers have changed over the years since their inception in 99’.
You’re also a member of the podcast series, Self-Publishing Roundtable. What can you tell us about this series, apart from the obvious? What is the series about precisely and how did you get involved?
The Self Publishing Roundtable is a podcast initially set up by indie-author Carl Sinclair. Since its inception, the show has had a plethora of different rotating panelists, hosts, and guests, where each week we talk about the current state of self-publishing. I was asked to join the show almost a year ago now when Wade Finnegan stepped up as moderator after Carl left the show. We try to provide useful information to the indie community while at the same time simulate that feel of a late night panel show where a few authors can just have a drink and shoot the shit together.
Any advice for other writers/indie authors out there you’d like to share?
Be pleasant. Don’t spam. Make friends.
The one thing you should avoid is thinking other authors are your competition. We’re all in this together, and thanks to the power of the Internet, we now have so many different ways in which we can interact with not only readers, but each other. So please, be civil. Find equally minded people and strike up a dialogue. Don’t feel nervous about sending that initial email.
And above all else, be healthy. You’re no good to anyone if you’re slacking on your own health. I know this is a business, and it is easy to get caught up in the pressures of money and responsibilities. But remember health over wealth. Always.
Normally I hate getting this question so I will frame it differently: at this precise moment in your life, what are your top five books and top five movies?
Darn. I hate this question as well! I guess for movies I’d have to go with:
1. Jurassic Park, directed by Steven Spielberg
2. The Fountain, directed by Darren Aronofsky
3. It’s A Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra
4. Muppet Treasure Island, directed by Brian Henson
5. eXistenZ, directed by David Cronenberg
And for books I’ll go with:
And there we go. My first interview on WoelfDietrich.com. I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did. If you would like to get a copy of Dinosaur Noir or read more about Xavier, click here, or if you want to make use of his design services, whether for designing a book cover, interior formatting for either e-book or print, or even print cover design layout, click here.
And because I don’t like to do things half-measure, I’ve decided to do a series of interviews with all the members of The Collective SF. The plan is to post one interview a week, aiming for either Thursdays or Fridays.