The Best Interview Ever!

November 20, 2014 at 3:09 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , )

ToriI had the privilege of reading an advance copy of George Wright Padgett’s latest novel, Cruel Devices. I was pleased to share a cover reveal earlier in the season here on my blog; and now, I’m proud to post my latest interview with an author I’ve grown to respect and adore.

AW:I’ve done an interview with you before and I don’t want to ask all the same questions as last time…

Yet, Cruel Devices is so different from your previous novel, Spindown, that old questions apply to your new work. Never mind that you added the pressure of the two of us conducting the best interview ever! I’m not sure I can fill those shoes. 😉

Cruel Devices feels like the story just rolled out of bed completely wonderful and polished without effort. Maybe it fell from the sky like a dream; maybe it didn’t – but was its inception as easy for you as it feels? What drove you to write something so unique from what fans thought they could expect from you?

GWP:

That you say the writing feels effortless is a high compliment. I assure you that it wasn’t the case (just ask my editor and beta readers). It’s said that gold is refined by putting it through the fire seven times; Cruel Devices went through the ‘refinement process’ a lot more than that.

As for the differences between this novel and the last: Let me begin by saying that I love science fiction and I’m so very grateful that Spindown has been well received by the sci-fi community, but I felt it important to avoid being cast as only a writer of that genre. I know it can be risky to genre hop, but I want to establish early on to any readers that may follow me I intend to do stuff that may or may not involve outer space or robots.

I’m hopeful that someone that enjoys reading George Wright Padgett novels are reading them because the stories are well crafted and require them to think about aspects of life while going on an adventure. So after Spindown, I chose a story topic and setting that was as far removed from it as I could get. Cruel Devices takes place on modern day Connecticut on Earth (no alternate universe or anything like that). Just a semi-normal guy around normal people, but exposed to extraordinary circumstances.

I’ve always enjoyed how an author like Michael Crichton would write something like Andromeda Strain (which is a hard sci-fi story if there ever was one) and then he’d jump the fence to do something like Jurassic Park, or Rising Sun, or tackle time travel with a story like Timeline. Or look at H.G. Wells, he delivered The Invisible Man, The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr. Moreau and all those other great tales. They’re wonderfully different stories (BTW he didn’t write any sequels to these), but they can’t be confined to a single genre other that than they’re all speculative fiction – to use a modern term for it.

Hopefully Cruel Devices (and the steampunk detective novel to follow it) won’t alienate my hard sci-fi readers. I’ll return to the genre in a few more books.

Cruel DevicesCoverAW: Cruel Devices feels like you really dug deep into your inner Stephen King (although it is very much your own work and I love it!). Is he an author you typically read much of?

GWP:

Stephen King is without a doubt one of the grandmasters of horror, and Yes, I’ve read him. What’s interesting is the reason that I began reading his work was not for horror at all. My colleagues kept going on about how wonderfully developed his characters were. I realized that I had to check their claims out, and discovered that he is a master of the craft and has a remarkable ability to create characters that seem as real as your next neighbor. It’s worth noting that the main character in Cruel Devices is also a master horror writer on the level as King and even mentions him as a contemporary.

AW: The main character is an author who starts the book out dreading his book signings, finding his fame a nuisance. I love having you out for book signings, please tell me that this particular aspect of your character’s development was not drawn from your own feelings or experience. 😉

GWPGWP:

*Smiles* No, I love meeting my readers in person. Please come see me Dec. 13th at Half Price Books in Humble and I’ll prove it.

I suspect that the character of Gavin Curtis did enjoy his readers at one time, but soured that’s over time. The reason he’s become embittered towards fans is he feels that they’ve trapped him artistically. He views himself as victim of his own success held captive by his creation. He wants to move on from writing pulp vampire detective stories, but his audience won’t let him. A major theme of the book is control, and his readers control him by forcing him to write what he doesn’t want. So he naturally rebels and resents them and the vampire detective character of his stories.

Many years ago I heard something about abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothco. The story goes that when is ex-wife hooked up with his agent, Rothco attempted to sabotage his painting work so the couple wouldn’t financially benefit from him. The more he tried to offer sub-par work the more his popularity and fame increased. I don’t know how true any of that is, but the idea intrigued me enough to include my version of that concept in the novel. Gavin’s fan base grows exponentially the more he mockingly offers worn out tropes in hopes that the readers will stop reading so he may pursue ‘serious literary writing’.

PumaJacketAW: Every author, like Gavin, has those questions they get bored with people asking about their book and their writing process – but also like Gavin, every author has those questions and comments that grab their attention, the questions they wish they were asked. What do you wish people would ask you about Cruel Devices? Why?

GWP:

Again, I’m not jaded like the character of Gavin Curtis, I love answering questions. I think it’s amazing that I get paid to lie (on the page) to people. I especially like questions surrounding themes and concepts of my stories. Some readers simply read for plot and action, which is fine, but I enjoy talking to people about how the work made them think and possibly examine their own opinions on things.

AW: If a book club were to read your book, what would you hope they would talk about? (If a book club were to read your book, would you make a guest appearance?)

GWP:

The protagonist is a spoiled, egotistical, prima donna who at first seems as unlikeable as Ignatius J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces with a mix of Billy Halleck from Thinner. As the story unfolds, the complex layers of Gavin’s personality are revealed one by one until we see at his core he’s actually (do I dare say it?) a hero, or maybe it’s better to call him a reluctant hero. I enjoyed the reactions of my beta/critique group when presented with a seemingly unredeemable main character. Early on in the critique process one of the other novelists in my group took me aside and sheepishly asked “Should I like this guy? He really seems like a jerk.” I informed him that the character’s off-putting manner is deliberate, but he’d be rooting for him by the end of the book.

As far as participating in a book club:
I’d consider it a privilege to attend a book club reading Cruel Devices (or Spindown) though I think it’d be more fun to appear anonymously and at some point during the discussion dramatically tip over the coffee table exclaiming “That’s not what the author meant by using that metaphor!” When the other readers gathered there would challenge this, I’d reveal who I was and storm out of the meeting. Talk about making an impression!

Spindown CoverAW: How was writing Cruel Devices different from writing your previous work, Spindown? I understand that asking an author to pick their favorite out of their own work can be a little like asking a parent to choose a favorite child – but really, which one do you enjoy more? Which one did you enjoy writing more?

GWP:

The question is easier to answer than you might think because I enjoyed them both for different reasons. First of all, the stories are structured completely different from each other. Spindown is more of a quest adventure in which the characters are attempting to gain their freedom by reaching the superintendent station before they expire. Though a lot of introspection takes place along the way, the goal to make it to the end of the moon base is as destination driven as Dorothy finding Oz or Joseph Conrad’s Marlow character in Heart of Darkness going up the river to find Kurtz.

Cruel Devices on the other hand is more of a mystery. Gavin spends much of the book trying to understand what is going on and why things are happening to him.

The second thing I want to mention is since Spindown and Cruel Devices are books in two very different genres (sci-fi and horror) it didn’t feel like I was writing a second novel at all. The storytelling rhythms are noticeably different for the rise and falls of horror opposed to sci-fi. I think I’d actually convinced myself on a subconscious level that I was writing a second 1st novel (which in fact, I sorta was).

AW: Do you feel like you’ve grown as a writer between the two books? In the last few years as a published author, what have you learned about books, publishing, and the writing process that you didn’t know before publication? What do you wish you had known prior to your book deals?

GWP:

My experiences from Spindown helped me know what to pack for the journey of writing this book. Having gone through the process before, I knew to expect there would be times when things would get tough, but I had the confidence to get through because eventually you come out the other side.

I also learned to trust my instincts more on this book – to recognize and allow ideas in that maybe were not in the original blueprint outline for the story. Permitting that flexibility resulted in a much more ‘organic’ story than if I’d remained rigid to concepts that snuck aboard later in revisions. I think this may be how that ‘fall out of bed’ natural feel that you mentioned above was achieved.

As for the publishing business questions, I am grateful to have met up with a small publisher called Grey Gecko Press. I tip my hat to anyone who self-publishes; I understand that to be a tremendous amount of work that I’m just too lazy to do myself. My publisher takes care of all the non-writing behind the scenes details that are necessary to make and format my books. This allows me to focus on writing without getting bogged down in the machinery.

AW: I can’t help but long for a replica of the deadly typewriter to be present at your future events. Any chance of that happening?

GWP:

Unlikely – It’s at the bottom of the river *wink*

AW: If you were to select a soundtrack for people to listen to while they read Cruel Devices, what songs would make the list?

GWP:

I love this question. It’s funny you ask because the book originally had a number of songs embedded into it. In the first draft of the novel a lot of attention was paid to the grand re-opening of the bridge near the resort. Radio station WHCN, The River 105.9 (which is a real Connecticut station) was heard in the elevators, restaurant, cab rides, etc. The station contest played songs about bridges and rivers so I had the music constantly in the background of whatever was happening to Gavin.

I used Bridge Over Troubled Water-Simon & Garfunkel, The River– Bruce Springsteen, Take Me to the River – Al Green, etc. to name a few. The only reference to survive the editing process was Bobbi Gentry’s 1967 hit Ode to Billie Joe in which the lyrics describe someone throwing something off the Tallahatchie Bridge. As of yet, I have not attempted to listen to these songs while reading the book. If you try doing this, let me know how it turns out.

A final note: I appreciate all that your blog does to support Indie authors, mainstream writers, and everyone in between. Thanks for featuring Cruel Devices.

Madame K

http://george-p.com/cruel.htm http://georgewpadgett.wix.com/author

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Interview with Science Fiction Author George Wright Padgett

July 20, 2013 at 2:12 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , )

George_Inset_Photo_compactGeorge Wright Padgett is the author of the science fiction title Spindown .  He lives in the Houston area.

1. Describe your book and its inception. What was your muse, so to speak?

I tend to question things about the world and our place in it.  When I started writing Spindown I wanted to explore the age-old topic of nature vs. nurture – Are we born who we are to become, or are we only the byproducts of our experiences?  And what does it mean to be free?  Believe it or not, I leaned heavily on Golding’s The Lord of the Flies as a study of characters reacting individually and as a tribe with and against each other.  I freely admit that the Draad flashlight is a version of the conch shell of authority that is found on the island in his book.

My writing style is that I tend to reverse engineer my stories.  I start with the question and then work my way backwards filling in the holes until there’s a logic for why things are as they are.

For example, I decided to start with characters that were blank canvases that I could expose to extreme situations and watch how they reacted to each other and solve problems.

For it to work I had to answer to myself why would these people would not have any emotional experiences and yet be full grown adults?  The solution was make them have lives that were severely isolated – keeping them from each other as much as possible and when they were forced to interact with each other they would be drugged into a stupor.

Then the question arises how or who would do this – So by reverse engineering I realized that it must be an ore corporation behind it and to save money from sending people to Jupiter to mine, they use harvested clones to do the labor.  That’s just one example of how as I would walk through one door and answer a question, there’d be another waiting behind it.  When all of the doors were opened (save the final one) the story was over.

Spindown box

2. Your book has ‘classic science fiction’ all over it.  What authors do you read and do you consider them heavy influences on your writing?

I’ve read a tremendous amount from the classic authors Asimov, Clarke, etc.  (as a matter of fact, I recently finished Foundation again).

One thing that I’ve always appreciated about those writers is the level of authenticity in their stories.  I spent many months building and rebuilding on paper the vast mining compound on Ganymede before I wrote a single word.  It required a stupid amount of discipline to resist the urge to dive right in, but my deferred gratification paid off. When it came time to write the story, all that I had to do was to ‘activate’ the characters to run and follow them as if I were an imbedded reporter.

I didn’t set out to write a modern story in the classic sci-fi style; in fact I am humbled to have Spindown even compared to those great works.  All that I can attest the results to be my exposure to their styles must have seeped through into my story.  I feel like the character in The Amazing Colossal Man who accidentally wanders into a plutonium blast in the desert. The radiation transforms him due to his exposure to it, not through anything that he did.  I was exposed to the radiation of many great storytellers.

3. Just like when I read, when I write I find myself enjoying some characters more than others – regardless of their role in the story.  Did you have a favorite in Spindown? Who was it? Why?

Wow.  It’s too difficult for me to pick just one – so I won’t.  (I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers for the uninitiated.)  I enjoyed watching Prall 4167 develop throughout the piece.  Here’s a guy that is used to being in control, and is faced with his entire world being turned inside out.  Readers undoubtedly cast him as a villain, but when you clinically review what he does and why he does things, he sort of makes sense.  He’s the most practical one of the escaped clones and never displays a shred of self-doubt.  Don’t misunderstand, what he does/allows is reprehensible to say the least, but he doesn’t see himself that way- he is only about one thing: Survival of Prall 4167.  Can you blame him?  His Machiavellian approach to situations intrigued me to the point that when it was time to assign the characters their suffix numbers, I gave him 4167 (my birthdate of 4/1/67).

Another part that was fun to write was the interactions between Martin and Buck.  By the time we meet up with them again, they have been companions for a very long time.  They remind me of an old married couple; they bicker with each other, but there’s no mistaking the love that has developed between them over the years.

Ah… then there’s Fowler and Sholve.  I enjoyed how Fowler usually has his plans backfire on him or not go exactly how he thought things would work out.  Often Sholve has to bail him out in some way.  In all, they end up making a good team, with her problem-solving skills and his physical strength. One of my favorite exchanges between them is when they have opposing views on if they should ‘contaminate’ the Setter character with the knowledge of what is actually happening to clones on Marius 516.  They come at the situation with polar opposite philosophies, forcing the reader to pick a side- Do we let him go on, and live blindly?  Or do we confront him with the truth allowing him to decide for himself what to do?

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George and Grey Gecko Press at Half Price Books Humble

4. Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?

My inability to spell and use proper grammar is far worse than I could have ever imagined (even with spellcheck)

5. Exactly how much research was needed to pull off this level of scientific expertise? What was that process like?

As I mentioned before, I probably spent way too much time on this.  I found that my compulsiveness seems to require a ridiculous amount of backstory and detail for whatever I’m working on.  An example of this is how an early draft of Spindown had the clones speak a hyper-restrictive tongue called Chone. I developed the entire language removing any ‘hot words’ from their vocabulary.  The result would have made Orwell’s writers of NewSpeak blush it was so limiting.  It took a month of refining over and over.  It was beautiful- and every bit of it ended up on the ‘cutting room floor’.  While readers likely will notice the absence of the personal pronoun of ‘us/we’ from the first half of the book, that is the only thing that remained!  It became too cumbersome for the clones to speak – a month totally wasted!  I also know more about Ganymede than any non-Nasa personnel is allowed.

My habit is to completely immerse myself in the research and the world building of the story.  This is fine, but a good writer has to edit out the artifacts that do not advance the story – sorry, Chone language.

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Click to visit Grey Gecko Press

6.How did you come across Grey Gecko Press? How has that relationship been for you?

I encountered the owner, Jason Aydelotte at a social gathering of other Houston area writers.  He’s the author of the acclaimed Dying of the Light Zombie series.  He had just self-published his first novel in the trilogy and his enthusiasm about publishing was contagious.  He told the people at the table that he was considering helping others learn how to do what he had done for their stories.  Over time, his help and advice transformed into GGP.  He left his day job to start Grey Gecko Press for authors who wanted to ‘storm the castle’ of traditional publishing with him.  I was fortunate (and maybe crazy enough) to be counted among them.  That was ten-thousand books ago.  Since then, everyone there has been remarkable.  Without Grey Gecko, there would be no Spindown because I likely would not have finished it.  Jason’s team was the mid-wife to my book.

7. If Spindown were to be made into a movie, who would you want to tackle it? (JJ Abrams? Joss Whedon? Steven Moffat? Some unknown?)

Sid and Marty Krofft (Google it, kids).

Seriously, I am flattered that so many readers have said that they’d like to see Spindown on the big screen.  I love movies, especially sci-fi, and my writing has been influenced by dozens of classic flicks, but at the end of the day, I’m just a storyteller, not a movie producer.  It’s fun to think of, but what do I know about any of that?  I’d welcome it if someone felt they bring something to the story, but I’ll leave it to the experts.

8. Other than writing, what are your hobbies and talents?

I play jazz piano (under a different stage name), I do graphic design, and am neck-deep in writing the songs and script for a full-length musical.
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9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what were some of the musical influences you had while writing Spindown?

Music is a very important part of my life, so much a part of it that songs/genres that I listen to when not writing easily distract me when I’m ‘working’.  I do this kind of Pavlovian conditioning thing in which there are some classical and ambient selections that I ONLY listen to when writing. It helps to trigger my brain into knowing that ‘It’s time to write’ when this music is played:

Philip Glass – Symphony No. 9, Low Symphony, Heroes Symphony
The soundtrack to ‘Monster’s Ball’
Brian Eno – Music for Airports
Anything from the band Pauseland
and a minimalist band from Austin called ‘Stars of the Lid’

Listen to Philip Glass/No.9 and read any of the chase scenes from Spindown.  You’ll find that they match up perfectly.

10. If there was just one thing you would want your readers/ fans to know about you, what would it be?

I’m a big dork.  Really I am (my wife and kids will attest to the fact).  I don’t allow myself to take my self too seriously, and I will do anything for a laugh (anything).  I still feel and view myself as the 4th grader version of myself.  Sure, I get to drive a car, I can order wine in a restaurant, and do ‘big people’ stuff like that, but after you pull back all the layers, I am still just as silly, needy, and unreservedly amazed with the universe as I was way back then.  And for better or worse, if I haven’t grown up by now, I think that I’m probably stuck this way – and I’m okay with that.

Click to Visit George's Facebook Page

Click to Visit George’s Facebook Page

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Spindown

July 16, 2013 at 8:03 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Sprindown ReviewTitle: Spindown

Author: George Wright Padgett

Publisher: Grey Gecko Press

Genre: Science Fiction

Length: 372 pages

There are books you read and love but cringe when someone suggests they make it a movie. What if they screw with the magic? What if they ruin it?  But there are some books that as you read, before you even finish the book, just BEG you to become a movie one day.  That’s Spindown.

Visually striking, the novel drops you right into the action from the first page, dripping with images of a future on the largest moon of Jupiter where clones are created to function their entire existence as slaves on a mining outpost.  The writing style reminds me of Robert A. Heinlein (author of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) and Gershom Reese Wetzel (author of Teres, which is unfortunately not available for the public yet); and the story reminds me of some of the more futuristic sides of Doctor Who (episodes like The Rebel Flesh, and such).Spindown art

Always a sucker for dystopian societies, I love the premise and the journey these characters have from mindless machine-like worker bees to passionate beings with more than a vague idea of what is means to be “dormant dead” and no Hemlo to suppress emotions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had the pleasure of meeting George Wright Padgett at Comicpalooza this year.  His publisher, Grey Gecko Press, had a booth there.  In all the hoopla la and excitement, he had a personality that stood out in a crowd and after gathering some information on his book, I was able to set up signings with him at Half Price Books.

The signing at the Humble location was a blast.  Grey Gecko Press brought a banner to put up in the store which looked pretty stellar, the book trailer was running on a flat screen in the background, and we had cupcakes from The Martin Epicurean.  Pulling off fun events in a bookstore has just as much to do with planning and organization as personality and conversation with the author themselves.  Padgett is quite entertaining and could be an event in himself with or without the book!

PadgettsHere is a little anecdote he shared on facebook from Comicpalooza:

So this past weekend at the convention, I was approached by a guy who said his name was Tom Padgett and that his son’s name was Tommy Padgett. He told me that he saw the banner (pictured) that bore his last name, and was thrilled to see another ‘Padgett’ as the author. I don’t know if he (or Tommy) even cares for the sci-fi genre, but he bought a book simply on the sir name.So here’s my strategy for my next three projects: Each novel will be released under a different pseudonym in hopes of securing higher sales from the consumers that buy books based on their own last names. Be sure to tell your friends, family, and co-workers to be on the lookout for new books from ‘George Smith’, ‘George Davis’, and ‘George Johnson’. We’re gonna sell millions now that we’ve got this figured out!
At which point, I want to say: DO IT! Haha.
But seriously, this guy is awesome, and so is the whole Grey Gecko Press crew.  If you are a bookstore, I highly recommend having them come out and do an event.  If you are a reader – go buy Spindown NOW.   If you’re an artist, I personally would like to start seeing some fan art.  If you are a movie producer… get on this, asap.  I’m waiting.  With popcorn.
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(Stay tuned for more pictures from the Half Price Books event.)

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July 2013 Events!

June 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

George Wright Padgett July

Reeshemah at North Oaks

Karyna Humble

Karyna North Oaks

Quilting with Good Books

Melinda McGuire July 2013

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