Jen: Today we welcome Anton Strout to Romancing the Book. Anton, will you share a short bio with us?
Anton: Anton Strout is the author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series (Dead To Me, Deader Still, Dead Matter and Dead Waters)and the Spellmason Chronicles(Alchemystic and the just released Stonecast) for Ace Books, a division of Penguin Random House. Anton is also the author of many short tales published in anthologies by DAW Books.
The Once & Future Podcast is his latest project, where he endeavors as Curator of Content to bring authors and readers together through a weekly news show format.
He has been a featured author guest of honor, speaker and workshop leader at San Diego Comic-Con, Gencon, New York Comic-Con, the Brooklyn Book Festival and many other conventions.
In his scant spare time, his is a writer, a sometimes actor, sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the worlds most casual and controller smashing video gamer. He currently works in the exciting world of publishing and yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds.
Jen: What is your newest release and where the idea came from?
Anton: Stonecast is the latest book in The Spellmason Chronicles, which came from a short story written several years back for the Spells & The City anthology. The idea came from a deep love of both Manhattan’s art and architecture and my obsession with people who craft magical things. In Lord of the Rings I always wanted to know more about Sauron and the elves who crafted the Rings of Power… the people who used them were interesting, sure, but I always wanted more about creators. So I decided I had to tell my modern tale of the Spellmasons—a lost, secret society that once crafted stonework into living creatures.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Anton: Generally speaking, I’m a pantser. I find that if I write a detailed outline or, worse, a synopsis I lose all motivation to write the book. I mean, with the story down, I can’t imagine then writing it out in the long form of a whole book. I need to have the excitement of surprising myself when I set out on a new book.
That said, I do need some kind of outline, especially since I am writing an ongoing series. For that, I do a bare minimum outline in Excel. I allow my self roughly 30 single lines that start with “In which…”, and go from there. I focus on one scene at a time, only allowing myself to see the end of the book out of the corner of my eye. And surprises happen, and they almost always make for a better book in the end.
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Anton: I’m lucky because as an urban fantasist I get to write fantasy, romance, and mystery, all in one. Pretty sweet deal. BUT…I’d like to try my hand with graphic novels. I have a few ideas I’d love to get down, once I get a little better at writing in that format. I’m also working on an unsold Dickensian street urchin steampunk Iron Man Voltron young adult book. And I have an idea for what are called cozy mysteries… the type of mysteries that are lighter in town like Murder, She Wrote. It would feature magical dogs solving crimes.
I don’t think there’s a genre I’d stay away from. Although I would seem an unlikely candidate for writing hardcore erotica or westerns, I’ve had some cool ideas in those arenas. I’m just so focused on writing the books I get paid for and trying to have a life I can’t possibly get to them all! Which is probably a good thing…
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Anton: This is something I agonize over. Sometimes I start out doing a sort of Dickensian thing where the name indicates the personality, like Snidley McBadderson. Obviously, that can’t stand, so I seek out names that… well, feel right. I don’t know how I know but when I see it, I just know, you know? I have, however, gone down the geek route a few times. My paranormal detective Simon Canderous take his name from an ancient Mandalorean warrior from Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic video game. And in The Spellmason Chronicles there is a spiritual leader who is more than meets the eye named Desmond Locke. I might have been a bit obsessed with Lost….
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Anton: If I could be besties with any of my characters, it would definitely be with Marshall Blackmoore from Alchemystic and the just released Stonecast. Marshall doesn’t possess any powers of the magical sort, but he’s sort of an alpha nerd. Having been a lifelong gamer and fan of Dungeons & Dragons, he’s jazzed to find that gargoyles, alchemy and magic do exist. Filtering the world though his nerdy loves, he’s a master strategist in helping Lexi and Rory contend with the arcane world rising up all around him. Plus he owns a game store called Roll For Initiative and I’m sure he’d give me a discount on miniatures and dice, right?
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Anton: When Dead To Me came out in 2008, I was insanely excited. I still get excited, but you never forget your first, so it always stands out. I did my first reading and signing at the B. Dalton on Sixth Avenue & 8th Street in Manhattan, which used to be the store I once worked at. We then had a book party that included free booze, party food, and an enormous cake with my book cover on it. My dad even came down from the Berkshires… great night all around.
These days there are fewer parties. I instead concentrate my efforts online during book promo time, and the only ritual I have is that I have to buy the first copy of my latest book when I see it out there on bookshelves in a store.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Anton: I am currently working on book three of The Spellmason Chronicles, which promises to have at least 73% more gargoyles, alchemy, and butt kicking than the last!