I have been running a series of interviews with female fantasy writers to redress a perception I came across – that fantasy was a bit of a boy’s club. It really isn’t like that here in Australia. We have many wonderful fantasy writers who just happen to be female.
Today I’m interviewing Chuck Wendig because of his amazing ability to come up with 25 things about all aspects of writing, (for instance 25 Things you should know about Self Publishing) and also I thought I’d ask him the same questions I’ve asked the female writers about fantasy writing and gender, to get his perspective as a male writer.
Q: Your ‘Vampire Zombieland’ novel, Double Dead will be released in November 2011. That makes it sound like it is being unleashed on the world and we had all better look out. Having supplied a cover quote, I can say it promises to be a rollercoaster of a read. Did you find that this style of story came naturally to you? As I read it felt like it just poured out of you.
It did come naturally to me. The vampire Coburn is damaged goods, and I find it terribly entertaining to write broken people. Plus, there exists a powerful and obscene joy in writing about vampires and zombies – especially any time you can bring something fresh to it. I’m glad it went down easy.
Q: You’ve signed a two book deal with Angry Robot for Blackbirds and Mockingbird. Are these books very different from Double Dead? What’s the premise?
My initial – and, as it turns out, incorrect – response is that they’re pretty different.
Miriam Black, the protagonist of BLACKBIRDS and MOCKINGBIRD is a girl whose fate and the fates those around her seem woefully carved in stone: she can touch others and see how and when they’re going to die, and by the start of the first novel any attempts to sway death and change the course of fate for these people has only earned her misery. So she subsists as something of a vulture: she steals from the dead.
Of course, then it clicks: in a way, I’m writing about a vampire. A human vampire, one who’s very much alive and with a singular power that differs from the cabinet of horrors most vampires possess, but even still – she is a creature of death, marked by it, and she feeds off of it.
And, in a way, both of these novels ask—for Coburn the vampire and for Miriam the psychic—can they change who they are? Or are they really just monsters all the way to the marrow?
Q: They used to say being good at playing Pool was a sign of a misspent youth. You’ve written RPG games and contributed to over 85 game books. You developed the entire Hunter:The Vigil game line for White Wolf Studios. Is this a sign of a misspent youth? (For an interview on Chuck’s work in the medium see here).
Gosh, I hope it wasn’t misspent, since game writing is how I’ve been making a living writing! And, I’ll add: I seriously believe that all writers would do well to play games. Not just video games or board games, but actual pen-and-paper polyhedral dice role-playing games. Really gets your head around storytelling for an audience.
Q: The Chuck Wendig persona who writes for the Terrible Minds blog is profane, in-your-face, sharply insightful and funny. You have a real flair for humour. Often comedians say their humour springs from a dark, dark place. Is there a dark, dark place deep inside Chuck Wendig?
Thank you! It’s worth noting that the persona is pretty much the reality, though perhaps with the volume knob turned up a bit. Ask my wife – who I am on the blog is the guy she gets every day. (And woe, woe for her.)
As for, is there a deep and dark place inside me? Dang, I dunno. I wouldn’t say any deeper or darker than you’d find in other people. Sure, I hollow out the corpses of government workers and use them as bob-sleds, and I get sexual pleasure from watching owls eat mice, but that’s normal. Right?
Q: Other than the fact that you live on the west coast are married and have a small son, there is very little information about your live available on the net. Is this a philosophical stance you have taken?
As for information about my life – I don’t think it’s all that scarce. I’m pretty bold and forthright about my existence across social media. Twitter, Flickr, Facebook. I don’t keep much of it a secret. I talked at length about when my dog died, about my father, about the trials and tribulations of being a penmonkey parent. About how I got drunk that one time and was found in a New Jersey rest area with an Ambien-dosed llama.
I’m fairly open.
Q: I was prompted to start this series of interviews because there seems to be a perception in the US and the UK that fantasy is a bit of a boy’s club. Do you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?
Oh, jeez. I don’t actually read much fantasy. Though I will say that one of my favorite fantasy writers is a woman: Robin Hobb. I don’t know that it has anything to do with her, ahem, femaleness, but her characterization (particularly across both the Fitz-Chivalry series) is deft and elegant.
Q: Following on from that, does the gender of the writer change your expectations when you pick up their book?
I don’t expect that it does. When I read ZOO CITY by Lauren Beukes I wasn’t expecting anything because of her being a woman.
Nebulous answer: the future. Let’s go with 100 years. Just to see how it all ends up. The past is interesting but ultimately, it’s done – it is what it is and where we are now is a result of that. The future, though, that’s where it gets interesting.
Catch up with Chuck on Google+.
Follow Chuck on Twitter. @ChuckWendig
For a complete list of Chuck’s work across the mediums, see here.