Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Interview: John B Dutton

Tell me a little bit about your book.

The Embodied trilogy is an unusual web of adventure, romance, fantasy, and science fiction.
Book one, Silent Symmetry, introduces smart, plucky Manhattan prep school student Kari Marriner, who becomes aware that mysterious aliens called the Embodied and their pseudo-religion, the Temple of Truth, have been influencing her family’s life for decades. As she falls for Cruz, a boy at school, and meets warring Embodied siblings Noon and Aranara, Kari starts to question her emotions and finds herself ensnared in a mystery that reaches further than she could possibly have imagined.

In book two, Starley’s Rust, a charismatic young English artist named Starley, who is plagued by race memories of the Embodied, convinces Kari that he can find her missing mother if she flies to Paris with him to draw out her kidnappers. But the Embodied seemed to have vanished, and now there’s a new, more terrifying visitor from the Dark Universe – a Thoth high priest in the form of a dragon. Kari soon discovers the mind-blowing extent of the Embodied beings’ involvement in human history and her own family’s tragic past.

In the trilogy’s thrilling conclusion, Diamond Splinters, Kari has a heart-wrenching choice to make: rescue her mother or save the Earth. And her only hope to figure out a solution is to team up with the one person she can never trust. When a submarine trip to the bottom of the Hudson River ends in death and disaster, Kari is scarred, both emotionally and physically. She wants to run and hide, but digs deep to find new sources of inner strength. As the storm of the century hits New York, a child’s life hangs in the balance and Kari gambles everything in a final confrontation with the genocidal Thoth.

Title: The Embodied Trilogy Special Edition eBook Collection

Publication Date: Jul 11, 2016
Publisher: Self Published
Age Group: YA
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 560
Find the Book: Amazon | Goodreads

If you had to write this one all over again, go through the whole editing and publishing process from the beginning again, is there anything you’d do differently?

I would get my editor involved earlier. I did use an editor for books 1 and 2, but the person wasn’t available to work on book 3, so I hired a different editor. She went back over books 1 and 2 and had some great insights that I used to create new 2016 editions of both books. In terms of publishing, I would have concentrated more on writing and less on marketing book 2, so that I could have completed the trilogy sooner. But self-published authors have to learn as they go, so I’m fine with the decisions I made and I’m proud of how the trilogy has turned out. Hopefully readers will feel the same!

Are you a plotter and know what’s going to happen or are you a pantser that lets your characters lead you by the balls?

Plotter. While leaving some room for pantsing. For example, the entire Embodied trilogy was vaguely outlined while I was writing book 1, Silent Symmetry. But when it came time to write books 2 and 3, well... I literally dreamed up the basic story of Starley’s Rust, so that threw a wrench in the plot, and then there was plenty of Diamond Splinters that I made up as I went along, while still hitting major plot points. Starley, especially, led me. But on the whole, I’m in charge.
What’s something that you are really good at that most people don’t know about?
Speaking French. My friends where I live in Montreal know it, but you wouldn’t know that about me if you just ran into me somewhere. I’d like to think that I’m also really good at playing soccer, but I’ve a feeling that it’s wishful thinking!

Do you think being a writer is a gift or is it a curse? Why?

Definitely a gift! Words are like magic. I mean, they literally have the power to influence people, whether positively or negatively. They can uplift or they can crush. They can inspire or they can depress. They can cause laughter or tears. When writing, I basically feel like I am able to wield the most powerful sword ever created.

Parents like to say they don’t have a favorite child, but we all know that’s not true. I could say the same for writers. So who’s your favorite child... erm, I mean character?

Actually I do have a favorite child! Okay, I’m kidding, but the reality is that you love each child for different reasons, so it’s easy for me to say “You’re my favorite son,” and “You’re my favorite daughter,” and they both smile and understand. With characters it’s a similar situation and I think it would be a shame if I didn’t like lots of them for different reasons. However... I do really like Starley, the title character in book 2. Maybe it’s because he’s British, like me, maybe it’s because he likes cheese, like me. Or maybe it’s because I had more fun writing his dialog than for any other character in the trilogy. He’s also involved in a very dramatic scene at the end of Starley’s Rust which I know gives readers major feels.

Do you usually root for the heroes or the villains?

That so totally depends on the hero or the villain! For example, Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories and the Master/Missy in Doctor Who are kind of awesome, whereas Darth Vader just seems like a grump. In fact, that’s a great question because one thing I find fascinating in books and movies is how writers get the reader or viewer to identify with someone who’s clearly the bad guy/girl. I think for me, there’s something about rooting for a truly gleeful baddy that’s kind of liberating precisely because it’s only fictional.

Who are your favorite authors?

Nabokov, Cervantes, Dickens, Orwell, Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Douglas Adams, Conan Doyle, Umberto Eco, John Wyndham, Steven Pinker, JM Coetzee, Donna Tartt, Anne Rice.

What about up and coming authors? Anyone caught your fancy?

Michelle Hodkin, though I guess she’s well beyond up-and- coming!

Tell me one thing that’s on your bucket list.

Visiting Japan.

If you were asked to write a book in a different genre than your current works, what genre would you choose and why?

I’m already doing that! Last year I heard about a newly defined genre called dreadpunk that incorporates gothic horror elements but treats them with a modern sensibility, and was instantly hooked by the idea of writing something in that genre.

What are you working on right now?

So my dreadpunk work is a series of novellas set in Victorian Montreal. They are gothic horror stories with very realistic historical backdrops featuring deadly disease, engineering marvels, economic upheaval and dark family secrets.

I’ve also started writing another Embodied story that’s set in ancient Egypt and involves some familiar characters as well as some new ones. This will be the first of several Embodied stories set in different eras that will have less science fiction content than the original trilogy and more historical fantasy. But it’s not really in any shape to be shared yet.

Care to give us the first sentence of the last chapter you were working on?

On that fetid August morning back in ’47, Michael had muttered a final prayer, crossed himself again, and driven away from the fever sheds’ grief-riven chaos.
So, say you just got arrested. What’s the most likely reason the cops are carting you off to jail?

Speeding. Or naughty stuff I can’t mention here!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever researched for one of your books?

Wow... great question! Apart from the Dark Universe itself that appears in the Embodied trilogy, and which even scientists don’t know much about (hence the name “dark”), I’d have to say that the strangest thing was needing to research the minimum temperature required to destroy a diamond. And that was for Diamond Splinters, book 3 of the trilogy, so the title itself gives away something about my conclusions.

I also had to research the name of a hardware store in 1980’s Chicago for a flashback segment in the same book, and soon got sidetracked with a bunch of other stuff. It’s so easy to get distracted, and that’s why I called my blog Sitting at Your Desk Isn’t Work.

What’s the one book you wish you had written?


Tell us about your most embarrassing bookish experience.

Jeez, I don’t get embarrassed very easily. Um... I recently sent Friend Requests out to three random people in Kenya by mistake after they liked my author Facebook page, and now I get their updates on my wall! I guess that’s embarrassing. Ish.

When you were little, what did you dream of being when you grew up?

A soccer player. I still have that dream.

What’s your writing quirk? Every author’s got one ;)

I’m a manic file saver. Even though I have Autosave set for 5 minutes, I hit “Control+S” practically at the end of every sentence. So paranoid about losing my precious words!!

In your most recent work, would you tell us about some of the material that didn’t make it past the cutting room floor?

Without giving away any spoilers, there was a pretty big chunk near the end of Diamond Splinters that my editor recommended I cut or change, so that’s exactly what I did and her advice was spot on. I had a long scene in a hospital during a mega hurricane where Kari is in a coma and her boyfriend Cruz has a tense stand-off with bad girl Aranara.

Cruz makes a decision that seems to have ruined everything for everyone and tries to make up for it heroically. In the rewrite, I was able to condense those scenes to make the ending tighter and even more dramatic. But I decided to include these scenes (what amounts to an alternate ending) in the Embodied trilogy special edition ebook collection.

In fact these deleted scenes are part of what makes the ebook a special edition. I hope readers get something out of this peek behind the curtain of the writing process.

What’s your favorite Disney movie? Seriously, this one is super important. Your life depends on your answer here.

The Jungle Book.

Where can our readers find your work?

The Embodied trilogy special edition ebook collection is exclusive to Amazon and the US store link is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H7U1QOE but it’s also available worldwide.

What/When is your next release coming out?

I’m aiming to publish at least one Embodied short story (for sure the one I mentioned earlier that’s set in ancient Egypt) before the end of the year. I’m also pondering whether to republish a short story called Bianca as a standalone. It originally appeared in my story collection Life is Good (published as John B. Dutton) and is a retelling of the Snow White story, set in 18th century Bolivia. The dreadpunk series will be out in 2017.

How do you want readers to keep in touch with you?

I love receiving questions and comments from readers, so please don’t be shy to email me at ask@jbdutton.com. Here are my other social links if you’d like to post comments:

Blog: http://JohnBDutton.wordpress.com
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6949179.J_B_Dutton
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009297EM2
Professional Facebook page: http://facebook.com/JohnBDuttonAuthor
Twitter handle: @JohnBDutton
Tumblr: http://JohnBDutton.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/johnbdutton/

About the Author:
After graduating from film school in London, England, JB Dutton emigrated to Montreal in 1987,
where he still lives with his two young children and their even younger goldfish. He spent over a decade as a music TV director before moving into the advertising industry as an award-winning copywriter for clients such as Cirque du Soleil. JB Dutton has written novels, short stories, blogs, screenplays and a stage play. He also writes adult fiction under the name John B. Dutton. 

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