Author Spotlight!


Hi and WELCOME to Author Spotlight. This is essentially an interview! All of the author's links and books will be linked down below at the end so be sure to check it out if you are interested in finding out more information or purchasing their books!

I currently have a review up for Eye of the Storm if you are interested. You can find that review here.

This month, I will be featuring Frank Cavallo! I am extremely happy that he agreed to do the Author Spotlight!

Follow these links to find Frank on several sites!

Goodreads                              Amazon                              Website                              Twitter         

But now it is time for the Author Spotlight!


About the Author:

What inspired you to start writing
I usually point back to Halloween when I was in third grade. I wrote a series of monster stories that ended up getting passed around by my classmates. Admittedly, I enjoyed the fact that they liked what I'd written, but what I really discovered was how much I enjoyed the writing itself. I just stuck with it after that.

If you could give any advice to a non-published writer, other than to just push through it, what would it be?
A few things, I guess. Number one, read a lot. There's no substitute for that. Read a variety of things, fiction in different genres, non-fiction, etc. The mores tales of writing you see, the better you'll become as a writer yourself. Two, at the risk of being clichéd, write a lot. It doesn't matter what, just write, as much as you can. Good things will happen. Third, be prepared to develop a thick skin.

Go into this knowing that writing fiction is a hard thing to do. To accomplish anything worthwhile, you probably have to take some risks, and inherent in that is the prospect of failure. it will hurt too, because it will be failure at a project you've spent a lot of time and effort working on. But that's not all, even if you succeed, no matter what you write, no matter how well you pull it off, some people still won't like it, and some people will be downright unfair in their critiques. You just have to accept all of that, and essentially learn to let it go

In other words, you have to be in this for the right reasons, for the love of the process, because there's a lot of heartbreak and very little reward. The real reward is in the writing itself.

At what point in your life did you just know that you wanted to become a writer?
For a while I didn't even realize that you could do this professionally, the idea had just never really occurred to me. I knew there were books and I knew that people wrote them, obviously, it didn't quite register though. I do recall a bit of an "ah-ha" moment with this however. One day, maybe in junior high to early high school, I was browsing the racks at a used bookstore and I happened to read some random jacket copy about an author. I had mostly ignored that stuff previously. This one detailed a little bit of the author's life, of how and why he became a writer. Something clicked with me all of sudden, and I remember thinking "Hey, people really just do this as their job. This thing I love to do for fun is actually something you can do as a career." Ironically, I still don't really do this as a career, I have a whole other job that pays the bills. But I'm still dreaming that one day that will change.

If you have done the Pottermore Houses test, what is your house?
I had not done that, but after reading your question I quickly went online and found it. Apparently I got "sorted" into Ravenclaw. As to what that means, I actually have almost no idea, other than what the online test said. I've never read any of the Potter books and I've only seen two or three of the movies.

If you have done that Pottermore Patronous Test, that is your patrons?
One Potter reference is my limit, sorry. It just isn't really my cup of tea.

What books have influenced you the most?
I can mention three books that influenced me (and my wiring) at different times, for different reasons. The first was Robert E. Howard's Hour of the Dragon, repackaged alter as Conan the Conqueror. It's the only novel length Conan piece REH wrote, and it was the first book I ever picked up that immersed me so deeply in its world that I wanted to stay there as long as possible. Reading Howard, as I mentioned before, not only made me want to read more. It made me want to write more.

The second would be Frank Herbert's Dune. The sheer scope and grand vision of this book blew me away when I read it in high school. Another example of a fully immersive, completely imaginary but utterly complete alternate world that I absolutely got lost in.

Third, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere grabbed me too, but not until much later. I was finishing law school when I read that and it kind of re-directed me. I had always turned away from fantasy in a modern setting. I loved Herbert and Howard's alternate past and far future worlds so much (as well as others like them) that I had a hard time with fantasy set in "our world." Neverwhere was the book that changed my mind on that and taught me that fantasy, especially of the dark variety, could actually be way better in a modern setting.

What are you future projects?
As a rule, I try not to discuss future projects. It's superstitious, I know, but the one time I did it the project completely fell apart.

If you couldn't be an author, what would your ideal career be?
I'm only a writer on a part-time basis, I'm a lawyer 5 days a week. That's not my ideal career though. If I could do anything, it would either be writing comic books or directing films. So I'd like to be Todd McFarlane or Quentin Tarantino, but I recognize that this positions are pretty well filled and they're not taking applications. I'd a slo love to replace Andre Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain, if either of them decides to hang it up. I love to travel and I am willing to eat almost anything, at least once

What is your preferred method of getting in touch with your readers?
Email is the easiest way to go. I love to get notes from readers letting me know what they think of my work. But I'm not picky. I also interact on Facebook and Twitter, and I love to hear from people.


Have you gone on any literary pilgrimages?
The breasted literary pilgrimage I've ever sone was visiting the ruins of Troy a few years back. Reading a kid's version of the Iliad when I was in elementary school captured my imagination like few other things. I think everything begins with homer, so being able to walk those ruins, to stand outside what's left of the Skaian Gates for example, it was really amazing.

What was the first book that made you cry?
I’m not sure I have a good answer for this one. I literally can’t remember the last time reading anything brought me to tears. If we’re going way back, maybe Charlotte’s Web, when you-know-who dies.

Does writing energize you or exhaust you?
It does both, just in different ways at different times. Doing any writing at all, especially when I’ve been having a hard time with a piece, usually livens me up. There’s something about the process, even when it doesn’t amount to much on the page, that has a way of bringing me back. After getting some serious writing done I feel like a plant that’s just been watered. At the same time, working through a difficult passage can zonk me out. Sometimes I’ll fight through a tough series of pages, trying to write a chapter six different ways before I find something that works, and afterwards I’ll just take a nap. It can be so mentally exhausting that it physically wears me out.

What is your writing Kryptonite?
If you mean what stops me from writing or spoils my ability to do it, the answer is pretty easy: television. I usually have to write somewhere away from TV, otherwise I’ll get distracted and give up.

Have you ever been in a reading slump? If yes was there a specific book that put you in the slump?
I’ve never really quite reading, but after I read Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart some years ago, I kind of lapsed into a slump in my own writing. Quite honestly, it paralyzed me for a while. It was like being a painter and seeing a Picasso for the first time. I felt like there was no way to write anything that could even approach what he’d done. Eventually you have to find your own voice, of course, but for a while I was stuck.


How many unpublished/un-finished/work in progress books do you have?
Too many to count. I have hard drives on multiple laptops filled with them.    

How many hours a day do you write?

That varies quite a bit. If I’m on a roll, I can hammer away for six to eight hours on end, usually that’s on a weekend when I have the free time to devote to it. Other times though, I’ll sit there and stare at a blank screen for an hour or two without typing a damn thing. Then I just pack it up and try again the next day.

Do you read your book's reviews? How do you deal with the bad or the good ones?
I do read them, but not as much as I used to. I always read early reviews, just to get a sense of whether people are “getting it” when the book comes out. After a while, if enough of them come in you start to see a fairly predictable pattern. So I try not to assign too much weight to any single one.
The fact is, if your book is getting out there to a broad enough audience, some people will probably love it and some people will hate it, no matter what you do. That’s just a reality.
No one likes getting bad reviews though, and I have to admit, they bug me as much as anyone. There’s really no right way to deal with them, but there are few things that take the sting out. For one, if it’s on Goodreads or Amazon, then I like to look at what else the person has reviewed. Very often if they really hated something I wrote, it turns out they typically don’t read much stuff like mine, or they clearly have a preference for some other genre and happened to pick up one of my books, only to find it wasn’t to their liking.
In one or two cases I’ve found folks who are so bizarre in their preferences it probably dilutes their opinion in other people’s eyes anyway. You mentioned Harry Potter earlier, I once got a 2 star review on a book and checked that person’s other reviews. They gave 5 stars to the Potter books and low marks to books by guys like Tolkien and Stephen King. So clearly some folks have highly specific tastes. You can’t please everyone.

About the Book:


If you could recommend any three books that are similar to Emotions or that you would like your readers to read, what would they be?

The three things that it quite self-consciously resembles are Edgar Rice Burrough’s Mars/Barsoom books and his The Land that Time Forgot as well as Mike Grell’s The Warlord comic series. It’s really written as a kind of homage to those things, as well as the pulp fiction stuff of the 1920s and 30s—a modern version of those books. To be perfectly frank, I’m not trying to hawk this book to the masses. It really is just meant to be a niche thing. If you don’t like old time pulp stories, or you don’t know them, this probably isn’t for you. Thankfully, I’m happy to say that the readers and reviewers I’ve heard from who do fit that narrow profile seemed to really enjoy it.

Where did the idea for Eye of the Storm come from?
Some of the material was written years ago, as part of a more traditional fantasy novel I was writing, and ultimately abandoned. But the idea for this particular version of the story was more of a process than a moment. I have always had a deep love of old time pulp fiction, and one day I looked at re-writing my failed fantasy project in that mold. Then everything just clicked.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

I have no idea what other writers do, but I’ll give you the best approximation of how I do it. When I’m kicking around ideas I try to “live with” the characters for a while before I write anything at all. I think of it as them hanging out with me, while I eat or while I work out, whatever. I work through their likes and dislikes in my head, talking through their backstories and trying to “get to know” them. Then, once I feel like I have a good handle on who they are, I talk my way through what they’re doing and where they’re going in a story. If I’ve done it right, they usually tell me what direction things should take. From there I compose a general outline and finally, I start writing. Even then, things always take further turns as events develop, so I usually don’t know how it’s all going to turn out until I’m near the end.


We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist. Was there a real-life inspiration behind her?
There are really two “lead” character in this book, one male and one female. The guy is meant to be a kind of Warlord-esque sword-wielding hero. If I were likening him to real life individuals I would say he’s something of a cross between ex-Navy SEAL/Rogue Warrior Richard Marcinko (whose books I love, by the way) and Travel Channel host Josh Gates, who appears on a show called Expedition Unknown. If you’ve never seen it, he basically travels the world looking for treasures and investigating mysteries without ever really finding anything. There’s actually one snarky line in the book about that.

      The female lead I viewed as kind of an anti-Lara Croft. She’s not bold and isn’t looking for adventure, she just wants to learn and to study. In the fullness of time she finds herself thrust into a role she didn’t want, but discovers she’s more capable than she realized.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Trying to walk the line between writing a story modern readers could enjoy while at the same time maintaining a tone that evokes the pulp fiction that inspired it—which is a bit of a different animal from the fantasy that most readers are seeing today.

What was your favourite chapter or part to write and why?

My favorite chapter is probably the one in which Dr. Fayne wanders into the wizard Tarquin’s menagerie and he outlines for her where everything in his “cosmic zoo” came from, including he and his people. Then he shows her where they really are and why they’re in the position they’re in. It was a chance to do several things, to weave in sci-fi & real life cosmology with the fantasy setting, and to take readers in a direction I don’t think too many will see coming when the reveal is complete.

Is there a message in your books that you hope to readers will grasp?

I don’t really write “message” books. I usually try to explore a theme or two, but this one happens to just be a pretty straight-forward adventure story. That was kind of the message, I think. That there is still a place for old fashioned, pulp-style fiction without any deep meaning.

Will you be writing any more books in the world of the characters inside Eye of the Storm?

I do not have anything specific planned. However, the world of the book is broad enough to accommodate more stories, so it is something I might come back to eventually. I certainly would like to try.

What did you edit out of this book?

There was originally a much longer scene after Slade and Anna first arrive in the alternate reality, when they go to the island of the Founders. I wanted to really drive home that this isn’t just a lost world fantasy, that there was a highly advanced civilization present that somehow collapsed long ago. Ultimately the scene interrupted the pacing too much and all of that information comes out in the narrative later anyway, so I cut it.

What was the hardest scene for you to write?
Probably the climactic battle at the end, so in order to avoid spoilers I won’t say anything specific. What made it challenging was that I wanted to keep multiple threads all going at once, all moving toward a single conclusion. Balancing the right amount of attention with each thread was tough. Linger too much on one and the others suffer, don’t do enough with another and the whole effect is thrown off.
On the whole, most people so far seem to have enjoyed it, so hopefully I managed to hit the notes right on that.


***


I just want to say thank you to Frank for an incredible review! Your answers were so detailed and interesting to read. I'm glad I got to do this interview with you! I've have learnt so much from this interview.


Yours in Reading,

Melleny

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