Asshole: Hi and welcome to the second episode of the Smart Weiters Blog, soon to be renamed the Gentle Woodchipper but we are also considering the Indie Authors Second layer of Hell, Spam on the Lamb or Assholes Push. We took huge polls in India and China weeks ago to determine the correct renaming but it's just taking much longer to tally up the votes then we initially thought. So yes, it's the show where we Pick apart the Indie authors book, piss on the disassembled parts and then put them back together in a Frankenstein version of their former self. Then we label them with a specific psychological disease based on the strange, creepy and or, erotic qualities their book exerts. With me as always is the man who's former life involved plenty of jelly and large amounts of plastic, a man with no ankles and no sense of pride, it's Brim!
Brim: Hello everyone.
A: And the googly eyed bastard in the corner with one hand under the blanket and the other in his nose, Ben!
Ben: Fuck you.
A: Today we interview author S. L. Wallace about her experiences working as Robert De Niro’s acting coach, how she spent her four years in Tibet and also, a little something about her new book, Price of a Bounty. It’s a book about an alien invasion set against the tapestry of world war two-
B: No, no idiot, it’s not that at all.
A: So what is it about?
B: You didn’t read it, did you?
A: I skimmed it.
B: You’re a son of a bitch. Why did you want to start this blog if you didn’t plan on reading anything?
A: To stroke my ego.
Ben: You’re stroking something.
B: Anyways, the book is about a freelancing killer named Keira who, during an assignment on an elite member finds out the person she’s hired to kill is actually working for the resistance. During the course of the novel, we learn more about the world she lives in, the divide between the classes, who’s working in the resistance and why exactly she is double crossed.
A: Had I known that, I might have read it.
B: So why don’t we have S. L. Wallace introduce herself.
A: Do you go by S? L? Or Slwallace?
S.L. Wallace: It's Sarah, but I prefer to go by S.L. so as not to be confused with the very real award winning investigative reporter who shares my name. Well, who has the same name as my pseudonym anyway.
A: And who is this Sarah Wallace person?
Wallace: I don't know. When I was choosing a pen name, I found that she already had the name I wanted. I'm keeping my name though. I like it. There's good reason behind it. I'm keeping it.
B: Ignore him, he's just trying to bide his time so you don't find out he didn't read your book. I did and found it to be quite enjoyable. It has the classic theme of good vs. evil, the rich vs. the poor which most people can relate to on some level.
A: Yeah, like 90 percent of us poor folk.
B: In your book, there is a very big gap between the two sides with the nexus of good falling with the poor and evil with the rich. Why do you think we continually paint our villains as rich people? Is it possible for an antagonist to be say a homeless person?
Wallace: Of course he could. But I disagree that the protagonist of my book is poor because there are two very real protagonists in my book. One is Working Class and the other is Elite, to use terms from my futuristic dark world. Unfortunately, most of the Elite in my book are antagonists because they have the most to lose if the Divide is closed or narrowed.
B: Speaking of your futuristic dark world, why did you choose it as your setting? Was it a case of the inspiration of the initial idea mandated the setting or did you conceive the setting first and then create a story around it?
Wallace: A little of both I guess. Early last February, I had a dream. I don't usually remember my dreams, but I remembered this one in full color and surround sound. It included Keira, Guy and Eberhardt and basically the whole lie detector scene. As with dreams, I knew the world, and I knew why Keira was infiltrating the camp outside the Renaissance Festival (yeah, I didn't keep that part for my book). I knew about Elaine Ramsey. I kept the dark futuristic world, I kept the lie detector part, I kept the part about Keira being double crossed. I even kept Keira's name. I went to work that morning and typed up everything I could remember instead of prepping my classroom. (I figured with as many years as I've put in, I could wing it for the morning.) Anyway, it just took off from there. I kept creating more of the world and developing the characters and then it happened...
B: Was this your first novel that you wrote?
A: Or do you live a secret life writing horror novels under another pen name, say...S King, something along those lines?
Wallace: Hmmm... should I tell them about? Nah. Yes, yes this is my first novel. And I would just like to clarify that I did have my dream and began writing Price of a Bounty before HE did what he did. That just added fuel to the fire. This novel really was a good outlet for me.
B: Who is He?
Wallace: The demon man, Scott Walker. He made international news shortly after I began writing my story. In my opinion, he is the worst of the Elite, and me and my friends (plus all the other nice civil servants I met marching around the state capitol) are the Working Class. I went to a meeting shortly after the Democrats fled the state and heard a scary statistic about the few who hold the majority of the wealth versus everyone else. My immediate thought was, "Oh, my God! We're living in my novel!" Then 40 years of negotiations were flushed down the toilet when our unions were busted. I'll lighten up now, but yes, this is a very political novel.
B: Writing is very therapeutic. Is it something that you've always done to relieve stress? Or was this a new experience?
A: This Scott Walker guy is a dickhead but he is a republican so that’s like saying snow is cold.
Wallace: Writing is something I've always done and enjoyed. I just never wanted to publish anything before. (Well other than that one news article. I'm glad to have friends in the biz.) This is the first full length novel I've ever written. And this has caused me to create my first blog. And now I'm working on the sequel. That continues to be therapeutic for me.
B: We'll have to get your blog address at the end. I want to talk more about your writing. It blows my mind that this is your first book. You really hit the ground running.
A: Unlike you Brim. How many shitty books have you wrote?
A: Yeah, six shitty books...
B: Sarah, I wanted to ask you about how you handle twists in the plot. With some writers, it seems to be either ‘clunky’-
A: Is clunky a word?
B:-off or expected. The ones in your book came out of nowhere though and really dislodged me for a second before I could continue.
A: You are an idiot Brim. It’s to be expected.
B: So what I’m really asking is whether you’re an outliner or you just wing it? How are you approaching it in regards to the sequel?
Wallace: Well, I already described how I began. With my dream, you know. So, I wrote down details about the world first, and then I created my main characters' backgrounds (of course, not all of those details made it into the novel, but I know who they are, their backgrounds, their motivations). Then I created a basic story arc (which ended up changing a bit as I wrote). And, then I just began writing. My husband read a little over my shoulder one day and said, "You're writing it in first person? No one does that!" (He's been writing for years, so I listened to him and pulled some other books off my shelf and checked, and guess what? He was right!) So... I changed what I had to past tense and then ran my first 4 or 5 chapters past two friends to see if they thought my writing sucked or if I should keep going. They both gave me some advice but all of it was helpful. So... I fixed my novel some more and continued. To answer your main question though... with both Price of a Bounty and Canvas Skies (the sequel), I stopped naturally when I got about a third of the way through them and wrote a more detailed outline at that point. I was and still am willing to adjust it as I write though. Sometimes my characters don't exactly do what I want them to do. So, from the way you phrased your question, I take it that the twists in the story weren't "clunky" (whatever that means) nor expected?
B: Right, I thought they were handled very well.
A: Where do you get your characters? Do you take someone you know, change a few things, invert their name and hope they don't sue? Or do you make them out of silly putty in your head?
Wallace: Silly putty. I'm definitely a fan of silly putty. Especially when it bounces!
A: And how much silly putty is involved in book 2? Can I expect a whole new cast of people, a few new ones or what?
Wallace: It starts shortly after the first book left off, with April, and shows how she's coping with everything that happened to her. Keira's relationships and friendships are developed. Guy's parents come into play. Brody, who was introduced at the very end of Price of a Bounty is a key character, and two other characters are important - at least at this point. Scott and Dani aren't key characters in Canvas Skies, but I have big plans for them in the third. I can't see this series going beyond a trilogy. (shrug) I already know where it's going and where it will end. Something I really enjoyed about writing Price of a Bounty, was developing supporting characters like Eberhardt and Raquelle, making them more real, you know?
A: Eberhardt is a badass and I will be suing you for putting me in the book. I don’t like Brody either.
B: I believe minor characters like them can help to really make or break the book. Yours were done very well.
Wallace: Thank you.
A: Let’s get down to the most important question of this interview and stop dancing around the subject like two teenagers. When do you plan to have the sequel out?
Wallace: By summer 2012, at the very latest but hopefully long before that. I'm super busy, but I'm trying to fit in as much writing time as I can. Then I'll need time for it to be edited and corrected, then the formatting for publication (that's the part I like doing the least). And, I'll need to give Carl Graves time to make me another cover, if he's willing. That's the only part I hired someone else to do for me.
B: The cover is by far the most professional I've seen in regards to Indie authors.
Wallace: That's because it's a professional cover. I figured people pay as much for a piece of art, and book covers are art. Plus, he sells you all the rights, just like if I'd purchased a painting.
B: Well, it's been a joy to interview you tonight. Was there anything else you wanted to add about your book, the writing process, your inspiration, anything?
Wallace: No more smart ass comments from you friend?
A: I can't think of anything. My brain dries up without beer.
Wallace: All right then, I guess just tell people they can stop by and visit me at http://crossroadsofhumanity.blogspot.com/ Thanks for the interview!
A: Thank you for joining us in our discussion with S L Wallace. Check out her new book, Price of a Bounty on Amazon and other major book retailers available in both paperback and ebook versions.
Ben: If you'd like to be entered in paperback book giveaway, simply post a comment on this blog discussing the book; Price of a Bounty. Leave a comment on this post by Friday November 25th at 8:00 p.m. CST to be entered into a drawing to win this book. One person will be chosen randomly using Random.org. Please make sure to leave an e-mail address with your comment. Books can only be sent to addresses in the United States and Canada.