Today, I have author Anton Strout here to talk about his Simon Canderous urban fantasy series. The fourth book in the series, Dead Waters, was released on February 22, 2011.
One lucky commenter will have a chance to win a copy of Dead to Me, Deader Still and Dead Matter. Details are listed at the end of the post.
Fantasy author Anton Strout was born in the Berkshire Hills mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville and currently lives in the haunted corn maze that is New Jersey (where nothing paranormal ever really happens, he assures you).
He has been a featured speaker and workshopper at San Diego Comic-Con, Gencon, New York Comic-Con, the Brooklyn Book Festival.
He is the co-creator of the faux folk musical Sneezin’ Jeff & Blue Raccoon: The Loose Gravel Tour (winner of the Best Storytelling Award at the First Annual New York International Fringe Festival).
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.
Anton: Sure. The books follow the life of Simon Canderous, a psychometrist, the ability to read the history of objects, who used to use his powers for thievery. After one too many brushes with the law, he now works for Manhattan’s Department of Extraordinary Affairs, an underfunded secret agency that runs under the motto, “fighting evil, under budget.” Because his lack of control over his powers have crippled every relationship he’s ever had, he has a bit of arrested development, but ultimately the books follow his desire to do good, and maybe, if he’s lucky, find a little love along the way. Oh, and he bashes evil thingies with a retractable steel bat he carries with him at all times. He also tends to quip his way through fighting off the Lovecraftian horrors of the world. It’s either laugh your way through things or go mad, really…
DFT: Dead Waters is the fourth book in your Simon Canderous series. For readers new to the series, can you give us a quick overview of the previous books in the series?
Anton: The Simon Canderous series has a lot going on in the three books previous to Dead Waters. I’m going to try to do this spoiler-free, so bear with me…
Dead To Me follows Simon in his early days with the Department of Extraordinary Affairs under the instruction of his partner in Other Division, Connor Christos. We are introduced to many things in this first volume, including Simon’s inability to hold a relationship, a dead thief he’s crushing on, cultists and the temps who work for them, and a wooden fish OF GREAT POWER! Sounds silly in summary, but there you have it.
Deader Still involves Simon’s continued adventures, this time searching for vampiric activity in New York City after a boatload of dead lawyers turns up in floating along the West Side. There are zombies, gypsy magic, fashion models, and even a little bit of necromancy… fun stuff!
Dead Matter covers a period of time shortly after the previous book, roughly several months when Simon is left on his own to deal with his abnormal load of casework. His girlfriend mysteriously disappears during an investigation, and an ongoing search for Connor’s long missing brother continues and we finally get answers as to his fate.
DFT: Can the books function as a stand alone or do we need to read the series from the beginning?
Anton: I think each of the books stand on their own plotwise, with some overarcing long haul ideas in place that play out over time…. However, that said, I do think you get a certain depth of character reading them in the order they were written more than coming to them in the middle. Also, my writing got better over time, so there’s that to consider in what order you choose to read them in. The correct order would be Dead To Me, Deader Still, Dead Matter and then Dead Waters.
DFT: If you could describe your main characters with only 3 words, what would they be?
Anton: Not counting their names, and cheating a little:
Simon Canderous- batcarrier against evil
Jane Clayton-Forrester- ex-cultist girlfriend, technomancer
Connor Christos- partner, ghost whisperer
Inspectre Argyle Quimbley- Mentor, British, mustachioed
DFT: Tell us something about your research process and the choices you make when creating the story.
Anton: Some authors write books with a metric ton of otherworldly stuff, a world where vamps and werewolves are everywhere. For me, I prefer to write about the real world we all know, and mix in my paranormal as needed. New York City is perfect for that… there’s so much here that I research simply by living near Manhattan, then I give it a little twist. But not much… Manhattan is rich with the spirits of the dead (and undead) and there are a million stories still waiting to be told.
Anton: I have some long range goals for the series that have been playing out so far, and I’d like to see it all play out, but right now Ace is asking for a second series from me, so that takes priority. I’m planning out more Simon books, but at the moment, we have to wait and see….as far as what happens past Dead Waters, well, that remains a secret.
DFT: Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?
Anton: This time around, I’d have to say Simon’s boss, the Inspectre, Argyle Quimbley. He’s of the old guard of fighting as part of the Fraternal Order of Goodness, and I really wanted to explore what it meant to get old in a world of fighting supernatural horrors. What does it mean to grow old, to be one of those left standing, when the lifespan of the average agent is relatively short? I get to explore some of that this time around.
DFT: Do you have a favorite scene or line from Dead Waters?
Anton: My favorite lines are usually the quotes I add at the top of each book… they’re little Easter eggs that hint at what’s to come in each of the books, if a reader is paying attention, that is… my fave came from Dead Matter:
What then is to become of man? Will he be the equal of God or the beasts?
– Blaise Pascal
Om nom nom…– Count Dracula
Anton: Now that I’m several books in, I have a good idea of who my characters are and who they are going to be in the future… but for me it’s discovering how they will react in new situations. You never know, and sometimes they surprise me. You want to see someone show who they really are? Throw some aquazombies at them and see what they do. I live for them surprising me.
DFT: What other projects are you working on that you would like to tell us about?
Anton: I’m working on a YA Dickensian Steampunk Iron Man kinda thing that I want to shop around in a few months once I’ve polished it up a bit. I also have a proposal out for a second series with Ace based on a gargoyle short I wrote a couple of years ago, and it looks likely that two books in that series will happen, but nothing written in stone yet. Umm, no pun intended there…
DFT: What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
Anton: Well, I’d love to hear the interviewer ask, “So… where can all my millionaire readers bulk buy your books?” That question never gets asked…
Hmm… I’m not sure. What do YOU think I really want to be asked?
DFT: What books/genres do you read when you have the chance? Any must read authors or series?
Anton: I’m all over the damn place when it comes to me reading habits. I try not to miss anything by John Irving, Jasper Fforde, Stephen King… but I also love some nonfiction stuff such as books on the computer industry and gaming. I have surprisingly read less and less genre lately… I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe because I’m too busy writing in it to focus on what others are doing with it. I also love graphic novels and comics, but I’m falling woefully behind on most of them lately….
Anton: Well, I try not to beat myself up too much these days when I don’t make word count or don’t write at all. There are ups and downs and frankly the only days I panic are when it’s close to deadline. Even a day I don’t write is never a loss, not really. I consider even the downtime good for something, like recharging my brain. It needs a break every so often, you know? I also consider time that I’m not writing time that I’m in research mode, gathering details and characters from the world around me so that when I get back to the manuscript there are those added elements of details that give it a certain realism I like my work to have, despite it being all paranormal.
DFT: Do you have a particular writing process or any writing rituals?
Anton: I have a day job in New York City that takes first priority, as many authors have that they must work around. I live in New Jersey now, so part of my writing ritual is handwriting on my commuter bus everyday, going in and going out. I then settle in at home, and spend several hours inputting all my handwritten work into the computer, letting myself edit a bit for that first pass, but charging forward day after day, knowing I can go back and make sense of the disconnects that happen along the way later. Rinse and repeat…
DFT: If you could be any supernatural creature, which one would you be and why?
Anton: I’d have to go for vampire, really. I need some longevity in my life. First of all, I have a lot of stories left to tell, and I’d finally have the time to write as much as I’d like. Secondly, my television and movie cue is getting quite backlogged and, much like the vampires in my series, I’d love the time to sit back and catch up on all my viewing, seasons of shows at a time.
DFT: Thanks Anton for taking the time to stop by.
One lucky commenter will have a chance to win a copy of Dead to Me, Deader Still and Dead Matter.
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