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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Author Interview: Bo Savino / A.J. Rand

Today I am pleased to present to you all the fifteenth in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the schizophrenic Bo Savino / A.J. Rand and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I'd like to start by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Bo / A.J.:  I used to write everything out long hand, so I’d get up in the morning and write before my brain fully woke up. Now I’m training myself to type my thoughts directly into the computer, which has always been very hard for me. The biggest part of that ritual is to finish writing before I accidently (oops!) hit the internet button and lose myself for the rest of the day.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Bo / A.J.:  I like fun books that I can lose myself in, usually in the sci-fi/fantasy or horror genres. I’m finding contemporary fantasy wins out a lot. Most of all, I try to stay away from books in the same genre that I’m writing in.  (i.e. I can’t read YA Fantasy while working on Reggie & Ryssa). I’m a big Kim Harrison fan, and sometimes Laurell K. (now that she’s back on track with her storytelling). I like sassy heroines who everyone thinks are strong except themselves.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Bo / A.J.:  Something along the lines of taking a trip through the Looking Glass and trying to maintain an intelligible conversation with Robin Williams and the Animaniacs while riding on the back of Timothy Leary’s bike. Possibly fun, but would you really want to go there? Not even I try to make any sense of it. I’m just sayin’…

Paul:  What is a typical day for you?
Bo / A.J.:  Writing, poking around on the internet, trying to find something worthwhile to say in less than 140 characters on Twitter… I’m a novelist. Facebook vs. Twitter is like Novel vs. Short Story for me — almost an impossibility. I spend time with family and friends, a wealth of time dealing with the voices in my head that speak volumes (literally) of new words for me to put on paper, and whatever other new creative project I have decided to throw on my plate.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?
Bo / A.J.:  In my young adult series, that’s tough. There are a lot of great peripheral characters, each with their own quirk and/or secret that make them special. If I were to pick just one, I would have to give too much away of what’s to come by explaining why. In Broken Wings, the more popular of my adult series, I would have to say the Archangel Gabriel. He’s gone from arrogant to, well, okay. He’s still arrogant. But at least he’s starting to gain a soft spot for humanity, thanks to Yeshua. Or maybe he’s just starting to “get” Yeshua. Either way, it’s a scary, big step for him.

Paul:  In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it?
Bo / A.J.:  Thinking that I could edit my own stuff. I am a great editor… for anyone else’s writing. For your own stuff, you are just way too close to the work. Or you want to polish when you should be scraping and cutting. Or you have read it so many times that you start to skim instead of read and make glaring errors. Or you are just too excited about getting it out the door. Whatever the case, just don’t do it!

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Bo / A.J.:  I can’t just “find” the time to write. If I leave it to a possibility, it doesn’t happen. I can easily let the rest of the world take over my time. There are never enough hours in the day. I have to make the time to write, and keep to it, or it just doesn’t happen for me.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Bo / A.J.:  When Joe Nichols came up with the song, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”, I swear he must have been out drinking at the same bar as I did some long ago forgotten night…

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Bo / A.J.:  I started the traditional route and earned the rejection notes I use for wallpapering my bathroom. Then I started looking at all of the small press and Indie authors out there having to do the exact same thing that the big authors do: promote themselves. I realized (as many before me had), that I have to do the work, regardless, so I might as well do it for myself. I like the fan interaction I get to 
maintain on this level.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Bo / A.J.:  I do plot my stories. Then I write out a chapter by chapter 1-2 line synopsis to keep myself heading in the right direction. After I convince myself that I have a clue as to what I’m going to do, I give up and let the characters run off with the story. As long as they maintain certain plot points, I’m good with letting them have their way. I learned a long time ago that they have a better handle on the story than I do.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Bo / A.J.:  It does get better with time. With the last Broken Wings release, my editor handed the manuscript back to me and said, “Despite the fact that the red ink looks like I slit my wrist and bled all over your pages, this is the best thing you’ve written yet.” Then she got the 2nd Reggie & Ryssa and had to go through it several times before she realized she might not have to buy as many pens in the future.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Bo / A.J.:  I do. For the Reggie & Ryssa series, I have a whole binder devoted to Celtic mythology. With Broken Wings, I have a binder separated into Angelic hierarchies, Fallen Angels, Demons, ancient gods that I have to put a modern day twist on, various “end of the world” viewpoints, and metaphysical meanderings. I enjoy the latter the most, because I get to take all the seriousness and wrap it in sass to build the story.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it.
Bo / A.J.:  Published, in editing, or in writing? The most recently published was Reggie & Ryssa and the Scavenger Hunt, the 2nd in my young adult fantasy series. In editing, I have Wings of Thunder, which is the first in a spin-off series from Broken Wings. I am currently writing Threads of Darkness, the 2nd book in my Tapestry series, which are the only fantasy books I’ve written so far that are not in a contemporary setting.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Bo / A.J.:  In all cases, my answer is the same — the readers. They have been poking at me about moving forward in each series, and while patient, they have (rightfully) been busting my chops over it. The funny thing, is that even with Sky Gold, the one book I wrote to be a standalone novel, I have people poking at me to write the prequel, because they want to know how the world got to be so screwed up in the first place.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Bo / A.J.:  I used to write poetry, but nothing that I feel would match up to the others who pursue it regularly. Not even close. I am always amazed by those who can write short stories, because the closest I’ve ever been able to come is a novella… which has since turned into the storyline for another novel in the Tapestry series. And I have done non-fiction ghostwriting for eleven different internationally published books.

Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Bo / A.J.:  Yes and no. I actually had two that I never expected would. Keeper of the Flame was one of them. A friend asked if I had an old manuscript stuck away that they could use as a sample for a publishing project they were working on. I did a rewrite on Keeper and gave it to them with my blessing. People read it, liked it, and asked for more. The 3rd book in the Tapestry series is the 2nd of those manuscripts, now in rewrite.

Paul:  Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Bo / A.J.:  I do, but not for my novels. I have entered several screenplay contests, and while not a “winner”, I have received good marks and even a couple of requests for my scripts from producers.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Bo / A.J.:  Quite a bit, actually. I used to just market my books, but I am learning about branding, and it makes a lot of sense to me.

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Bo / A.J.:  My favorite part is connecting with people I might never have met otherwise. I don’t think that will ever get old. My least favorite part is the marketing, but it does open the door for connecting with new people, so it makes it feel less like work. My biggest surprise? The first time I saw a girl use one of the characters from Reggie & Ryssa as her login name on a website. It sort of blew me away.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Bo / A.J.:  I’ve been teaching myself video production and having fun with it. I’m turning the 27’ yurt on my property into a green screen studio, and we already have a fully functioning recording studio for audio. Hmmm… I’m starting a new eZine dedicated to sci-fi/fantasy, horror, and the paranormal: Genre. I like to play with my pitbull, my glock, and Angry Birds. Not in any particular order, and not usually at the same time.

Paul:  Well thanks Bo, that was great. You're certainly very busy and I wish you all the best for future success.

About Bo Savino / A.J. Rand: Bo Savino writes Young Adult Fantasy, and uses the pseudonym A.J. Rand for all of her other, more adult-flavored titles. She is also one of the start-up editors for Genre: A new Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, and Gaming eZine scheduled to launch in October.

Bo's Blog: Diary Of An Unleashed Mind
Bo on Twitter: @bosavino
Bo on Facebook: Bo Savino
Bo's latest book: Reggie & Ryssa and the Scavenger Hunt (Amazon)

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