Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Author Interview: George Sirois
Today I would like to welcome author George Sirois to my blog. Why don't we begin with you telling us a bit about yourself...
I was born in New York City, and grew up in both Poughkeepsie, NY and Richmond, VA. I came back to NYC for college and stayed in that area until this past August, when my wife & I moved to St. Louis, MO. I graduated from college with a Theatre Arts degree, and I’m about to graduate from Webster University to get my MA in Communication Arts. I’ve been writing stories – or at least jotting down ideas for stories – since high school, and my heart fell to writing while I was in college.
What inspired you to write “Excelsior?”
When I was in grade school, my friends & I wrote and drew about characters we created that were loosely based on TransFormers, Star Wars and other shows and films we enjoyed. I eventually lost touch with those classmates when I moved to Richmond, but I kept working on those characters. In 1992, I wanted to create someone new, someone with a mythic element to him, and after seeing John Boorman’s 1981 movie Excalibur, I realized that my new character would be a mix of King Arthur, Jesus Christ and my childhood hero Optimus Prime. The name “Excelsior” came from the word on the NY state flag, and I had experience seeing that word in a lot of pop culture while I was growing up.
How long did it take you to write Excelsior?
It took me one month to write the first draft (thank you Chris Baty and National Novel Writing Month) and about 2 years and change rewriting and working with my friend and editor JeriAnn Geller.
While writing how many times do you go back and rewrite a plot?
The plot pretty much stayed intact from the first day, but the more the rewriting went on, the more both my editor and I realized that certain elements could be compressed so that the book wouldn’t drag and so that we weren’t creating something new just to feed a plot point.
For instance, originally, I had developed a new piece of technology that would be a key factor in getting our villain on Earth involved in the story. But after my editor and I went back and forth on that part, we concluded that instead, we would ditch the technology and have the villain get involved on his own. It’s like the original drafts of Freddy Vs. Jason, how there was a secondary character that would stir up the spirit of Freddy Krueger. Once the story was rewritten, that secondary character disappeared and Freddy was the one creating the conflict. It made him a stronger character, just as this change made our villain more powerful and more dangerous.
You run into a bookstore, where do you go first?
My first stop would be the “Reference – Writing” section. I’m of the mindset that you can never stop learning. Someone always has something to offer you to make you a better writer. If you’re convinced, you know everything about it, then why keep going?
How many books in a month do you tend to read?
My book-reading is not as frequent as I’d like it to be. When I’m on a roll, I can get about a book read per week.
In all the books you've read, who is your most favorite character and why?
I’ve always loved a good “everyman going on an incredible adventure” type of character, so for me, my favorite would have to be Arthur Dent from Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” He comes off as very identifiable with any kind of reader, but at the same time, we meet him at a very critical point in his life: his house is being threatened. And to risk his life by dropping in front of the bulldozer makes him endearing from the start. From that moment on, you’re ready to follow him anywhere and the way he tries to get himself and Ford out of the situations that follow is a real treat.
State 5 random facts about yourself.
– I proposed to my wife on the 70th floor of New York City’s Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Almost 4 years later, I would start working there.
– My favorite film is Network.
– My father raised me to be a New York sports fan: Giants, Yankees, Rangers, Knicks (in that order).
– My main inspiration comes from listening to film scores.
– Since November, I’ve been getting into West Coast Swing dancing. It’s been a blast, and I’m getting better, but I still have a long way to go.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading two books right now: I’m finishing A.K. Taylor’s “Neiko’s Five-Land Adventure” and having a lot of fun with that so far. The other’s “11/22/63” by Stephen King, and that’s just… wow.
What particular place do you write in?
Sometimes I would get a good amount done at my desk at home, but more often than not, I do well writing at various St. Louis Bread Company restaurants. They offer a mug of coffee with free refills for a little over two dollars, and their food is really good.
Yes, I’m one of those guys who HAVE to be pounding away on their NetBooks in a public place, but since I’m in St. Louis, it feels like I’m cornering the market since there’s barely anyone doing that here.
What's your favorite Genre?
In terms of fiction, I enjoy both Young Adult and Science-Fiction. However, since I grew up as a movie fanatic, I find myself reading a lot of books about the behind-the-scenes world of film and television. I think it’s a matter of reading other people’s success stories; it becomes inspiring for me and it makes me yearn to be at that place, where my source of income and my love of writing come together.
Paperback, Hardcover, eBook? Why?
All 3. They all have their places and the only advantage that one format has over the other is portability. The paperbacks are obviously much more manageable than hardcover when you’re at work or on your way to work (I miss the subways!), and eBooks are MUCH more manageable than both.
The perfect example is Peter Bracke’s “Crystal Lake Memories,” his coffee table book about the Friday the 13th series. I wanted to get it so badly when it first came out, but it’s huge and not compatible for on-the-go reading. But at the end of last month, it FINALLY came out on eBook and that’s when I got it.
What is the best book you’ve read?
So many great books, but a big one for me that my heart fell to right from the beginning is “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It’s a Douglas Adams / Monty Python type take on the apocalypse and it’s absolutely brilliant. I would name this one the best based on the amount of people I recommended the book to over the years.
Here’s your chance to market your book. Describe it and why readers should pick it up?
There is something truly universal about Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey,” as well as the different stories that came from that same cloth. “Excelsior” is my nod to that, my tribute to the stories that inspired me. Whether people love it or hate it, that’s obviously up to them, but I know I had a lot of fun writing it since it allowed me to tap into my memories of grade school, middle school and high school, when I was first writing these stories and creating these characters. Plus, it allowed me to give a proper tribute to my cousin Matthew, who passed away seven years ago (March 19, 2005). He was my personal hero, and it was a chance to give him some immortality so I named my main character of Matthew Peters after him.
High school wallflower Matthew Peters has spent the past seven years developing his own web comic about the adventures of a character named Excelsior. With only his uncle looking after him, Matthew has constantly ditched his school assignments in favor of his dreams of seeing Excelsior become an Internet sensation, and it is finally gaining attention outside his school. Now with his burgeoning success, he is ready to reveal his character to a larger audience.
Excelsior is a living beacon of hope for the planet Denab IV. A god in human form, he is the ultimate personification of strength, leadership and innovation. He has fought alongside his fellow Denarians against their tyrannical oppressors, the Krunations. He wields a powerful sword made from the purest elements on the planet, he guides the hands of the leaders and inspires them to create technology advanced enough to reach neighboring galaxies and he lives within the imagination of Matthew Peters.
Or so Matthew thinks.
One day, an intriguing older woman comes into this young man’s life with news that changes his life forever. Not only is she from the planet Denab IV, but that everything Matthew has written and drawn over the past seven years actually happened. They are Excelsior’s memories from thousands of years ago and the lifeforce of this mighty warrior lies dormant within Matthew.
Now, with a skeptical uncle anxious to redeem himself in his nephew’s eyes and Excelsior’s worst enemies returning to power on both Denab IV and Earth, Matthew must bring the legend back to life from within and become his greatest creation.
Any new projects coming up?
I am currently at work rewriting my 2002 novel “From Parts Unknown.” It’s a SF / Action story that was originally published through iUniverse. I’m giving the story a full overhaul and I plan to re-release it exclusively as an eBook this Spring.
Who does your cover art? Did you design it yourself?
My friend Jason Goodman and I came up with the original artwork, and he took the ideas and ran with them. He was unable to update it due to time constraints, so another friend – Ilya Arbit – took the design and enhanced it for its 2012 eBook-exclusive “special edition.”
What advice can you give someone who is thinking on writing a novel?
The main thing I can say about writing is that it’s not as easy as one would think. Just because you get through the 30-day 50,000-word goal from National Novel Writing Month, that doesn’t mean that your book is ready to go. You have to put a whole lot of work into the editing, the rewriting, the cover design, the marketing, etc. And you absolutely cannot do this alone. If you have a great team around you, they’ll be able to see any mistakes you miss and they’ll help you reach a more universal audience. I can’t stress the importance enough of having help with your novel. It can be done, if you’re willing to put in the work.
Where you can find author George Sirois:
Facebook ~ Twitter: @GeorgeSirois ~ Goodreads ~ Website / Blog
Book Trailer on YouTube:
Be sure to come back again Friday, April 6 to read my review on Excelsior!