Monday, March 1, 2010
Interview with Skyler White & Contest for AND, FALLING, FLY
"... like nothing you've ever read before. It blends elements of mythology, psychology, neuroscience...it's a wild ride full of riddles, love, desire and read between the lines meaning...I was hooked from page one."
So far, despite massive hype, zombies and werewolves have failed in their attempts to supplant vampires as the most totally awesome paranormal creature ever. But there is another type of character that has real potential to grab and hold onto readers' imagination.
I'm talking about angels, of course, and particularly fallen angels. So I'm very happy to have Skyler White here today to tell us a little about and Falling, Fly, which has just been released and is the first book in her The Harrowing series.
A review at That's Queen Bitch to You says:
"It is a story of desire. Of despair. Of hope when there is no reason to. Of getting what you want versus what will make you happy. It's a journey of self discovery and asks the question of 'why are we here?'
"I love the way desire as a theme was handled in this book. We often associate desire with evil, with the fall, with sin, but this novel points out the oft times overlooked truth that desire is ultimately what drives us, to good or to ill."
Skyler's also contributing a copy of and Falling, Fly for a contest. Read to the end of the post to learn how to enter the contest for this exciting new novel!
MARTA: Welcome to Vampire Wire, Skyler! Why don’t you tell us a little about and Falling, Fly, your debut novel?
SKYLER: In and Falling, Fly, Olivia, the fallen angel of desire and a vampire, is bored with modernity. Tattooist, boyfriend, black-metal singer: everyone you don't love tastes the same. She returns to Ireland's subterranean L'Otel Matillide - the Hotel of the Damned - to bury her hope with her severed wings. There, she encounters a self-medicating neuroscientist plagued with impossible memories. Dominic is convinced that Olivia is delusional, not damned, and urges her to enroll in his new drug trials. She believes he is cursed, but might be redeemed, and they end up pitting mythology against medicine with themselves, and eventually each other, at stake.
MARTA: How did you come up with this innovative world of vampires as fallen angels?
SKYLER: Olivia was the angel of desire first. A group of friends and I had read Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons! and put together a little Yahoo! Group to play around with our own archetypal demons. Olivia (and Alyx) grew out of a personal demon of mine called Too Much is Not Enough. I was trying to get a grip on the nature of desire – what it means when being unable to get something you really want turns into cravings or addictions for things you can, but maybe shouldn’t, have. So desire was the pure idea, but she has fallen. She is desire corrupted or denied.
Also, I was playing with the difference between wanting and being wanted, trying to understand the way my own sense of self and sexuality was tied up in wanting to be wanted; with being the object of someone else’s desire as opposed to the subject of my own. There’s something vampiric about that, and that’s where her inability to see herself in a mirror without someone else looking at her, as well as her shape-shifting to conform to other’s tastes, and her need to feed on their desire or fear all came from.
MARTA: Your book has been called steampunk, which I usually think of as melding science and fantasy in a historical era, such as the Victorian era. Can you explain what steampunk really is and what drew you to write a steampunk novel?
SKYLER: Yikes! I wouldn’t presume to comment on what steampunk really is beyond a wonderfully rich intellectual and aesthetic construct. My understanding is that it explores an alternate history that parallels ours up until the harnessing of electricity. In the steampunk reality, there is no plastic or electricity, so all the mod cons still evolved, but fashioned from metal and glass, and powered by steam. I don’t think of and Falling, Fly as a steampunk novel per se. I love the aesthetic and the people I’ve met who are a part of the subculture are, almost to a person, more intelligent, thoughtful and creative than your average bear. So I like them, but don’t feel like I belong to them. My Hotel of the Damned has sort of a steampunk inflection in that, like steampunk’s alternate version of reality, mine has neither plastic nor electricity. But it isn’t steam-powered either, (it’s run on inertia) and people wear everything from pinstripes and bustles to latex and running shoes.
MARTA: Your book is really about desire, and your character Olivia needs others to desire or fear her to feed from. Sex, love, desire – these can all become a tangled mess for most women. Did you discover anything about desire in the process of writing your book?
SKYLER: You’re the first person to ask that! Yes, actually, I did. I learned I’m not very good at denial. I seem to have this deeply-held belief that if I *really* want something, I can get it. I can convince the universe I’m serious, I can earn it, or work hard enough for it. And I do think a lot of things yield to persistence and hard work, but not everything. There are things where, as in Olivia’s case, God (or the universe or Fate or luck) just deny you. Sometimes, you get told “no.” And I don’t tend to deal with that very graciously. And even though, intellectually, I know that “no means no” I find myself trying to make deals or work harder or dream bigger. Acceptance, which I heard beautifully described once as “a deliberate peace with what is,” comes hard to me.
But I did get to explore my relationships with food and body image and sex, and that, happily, was more productive. I got clearer about what I wanted and where I was substituting, those places where, as Olivia says, “desire denied, consumes.” I lost fifteen pounds just learning to spot that distinction, and I got some clarity about my own wants that I hadn’t had since I was a kid.
MARTA: Angels are becoming much more popular in urban fantasy and paranormal fiction right now. Do you have any ideas why readers are being drawn to fantasies based on stories about the eternal struggle of good vs. evil, and destiny vs. free will?
SKYLER: ::grin:: Can I say it’s because fantasies are the only places where good always wins and we’re not feeling so confident about that in the real world? No, I think the genre is a very inviting ring for wrestling the Big Questions. Fantasy lends itself to symbolism in a way other genres don’t. All the great explanatory stories – from Oedipus Rex to Dante to The Bible to The Hobbit – have that in common. As for why we’re collectively interested in angels, and particularly fallen angels, I think we’re feeling very in touch with toppled ideals. The halos on Consumerism and American Democracy are maybe looking a little dingy, and we’re interested in exploring what happens when our loftiest ideals have to limp on clay legs.
MARTA: Did your career as a dancer and your background in theatre influence your writing…the way you block out or choreograph the action?
SKYLER: I think so, in that they both required me to be able to visualize bodies in space. The muscles you cultivate to “see” in three dimensions in your head had a lot of practice. And I taught ballet, too, so I have a long history of trying to put words around physical sensation and movement. But I think the biggest legacy from my sordid past in dance is, counter-intuitively, my ability to sit still. The most important thing for a writer is the fabled BIC time. (BIC = butt-in-chair, on the off-chance that I’m speaking a regional dialect.) Ballet taught me discipline.
MARTA: What’s next for you, and where can readers find out more about your books and you?
SKYLER: My website has pages for and Falling, Fly and the next book in The Harrowing series, In Dreams Begin. It links to all my social networks (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Goodreads, etc.) and also a page for requesting a temporary version of Olivia’s tattoo, and a gallery you can post pictures of yourself to. There will be prizes.
MARTA: If you were staging a dance version of your and Falling, Fly, what would it look like and what known dancers/celebrities would you like to see star in it?
SKYLER: Oh, that’s a wonderful question!
I’m tempted to over-explain, but I think I won’t. A dance version of and Falling, Fly would feature bodies in unitards that obscured their faces and fingers. It would be a very expressionistic piece. I think it would look like this:
(This is the album cover for ‘Songs of Darkness, Words of Light’ by the band My Dying Bride.)
Is that too obscure? I can tell you Dominic looks like a cross between Max Martini and Ewan Macgregor, if that helps.
MARTA: Thanks for visiting Vampire Wire, Skyler, and I hope you’re keeping Austin weird!
SKYLER: Thanks so much Marta, this was fun! And yes, I’m doing my part here in Austin!
Read an excerpt from Skyler's new novel.
TO ENTER THE CONTEST: If you'd like a chance to win a copy of and Falling, Fly, just leave a comment about a book or a movie (or even a show) that expresses desire, or leave a comment for Skyler. The contest runs through March 10th and a winner will be chosen by random draw.
Hmm, one of my favorite scenes of desire in fiction is in Jane Eyre when Mr. Rochester tells Jane that he must send her away because he's getting married. She protests that though she is small and plain and poor, she has a heart and a soul, and the reader knows it is breaking.
GRATUITOUS VIDEOS OF THE DAY
Today's theme is desire, and here's a tribute to one of my favorite impossible couples, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and the Doctor (David Tennant) of "Doctor Who."
Here's Buffy and Angel and their hopeless passion.
Some of us felt more for Spike and his love for Buffy.
Posted by Marta at 8:17 AM