Today’s interview is with author Sean DeLauder. He’s talking about his new sci-fi/fantasty/adventure/satire/philosophical novel, The Least Envied.
During his virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, Sean will be awarding $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.
This author has held several positions in recent years, including Content Writer, Grant Writer, Obituary Clerk, and Staff Writer, and is under the false impression that these experiences have added to his character since they have not contributed much to his finances. He was awarded a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism and a BA in Technical Communication by Bowling Green State University because they are giving and eager to make friends. He has a few scattered publications with The Circle magazine, Wild Violet, Toasted Cheese, and Lovable Losers Literary Revue, and resides in the drab, northeastern region of Ohio because it makes everything else seem fascinating, exotic, and beautiful.
The Least Envied is a hero, mystery, science fiction, adventure story set on a world reduced to a wasteland. Into this world is cast a writer tasked to detail the events of a history gone unrecorded, a boy who wants to be a hero, and a grizzled and cynical winged man who must complete his mission before he can go home. All of these tasks are complicated by the existence of tiny monsters named wogs, a disheveled beast called the Forest Monster, and a being bent on the destruction of what little remains of humanity.
The book presents itself as a humorous adventure in a desolate world, but it shifts, gradually, into something more serious as it becomes apparent that the stakes are much higher than they seem.
I think there are themes in this book everyone can relate to. Not the standard, hackneyed (yet still effective) themes of the importance of friendship and believing in yourself. Rather, there are themes of how one deals with abandonment, by your family, those you care about, even the omnipotent being that created you. How do you respond to that situation? What do you do with yourself? Do you succumb to cynical paralysis? There are themes of frustration with a task that is seemingly impossible, as though designed with failure in mind to shatter one’s faith in oneself. What would a person be like who received such a task and, more importantly, what would they be like if they managed to accomplish it?
I attempt to raise these questions subtly, throughout the book, and they become more prominent as the story wears on, but they are not a distraction. They are merely another lens through which to view the tale and a component of my characters’ development.
I’ve always been fascinated by myths and heroes, and by association what Joseph Campbell called “monomyth”, that overarching story arc that forms the backbone, however subtle, of every hero myth. At the same time, I’ve always been one to put a kink in cliché, or eschew it entirely. You’ll definitely see that play out in my book.
“That statue,” said Andrew. He gave the stonework a quick look, then looked back to Hobert. “It's a hero?”
Maybe the statue represented a hero who came before this era of desperation and despair.
Hobert cast a somber gaze into the street and nodded.
“A hero. Yes,” he answered. “He's very tall.”
Andrew found himself suddenly interested. This was the story he wanted to write. A story about a hero, the obstacles he faced on his path to heroism, his guides, his arch enemy, the ultimate goal of being a hero, and, of course, whether the story continued or had an end.
“What made him a hero?”
Hobert shrugged, removed the pipe, and gestured toward the statue with the stem before poking it back into the corner of his mouth.
“He's very tall,” he repeated.
Andrew paused, waiting for Hobert to continue, but that was all.
“Tall... and what else?”
Hobert's smile faded and he faced Andrew, somewhat irritated. Two gray trails of pipe smoke jetted from his nostrils.
“What else what?”
“Beside being tall,” Andrew clarified. “To be a hero.”
Hobert fixed Andrew with a hard, querulous stare, then shook his head as though the question didn't make sense.
“Being tall is being a hero,” he answered.
“What what?” Hobert replied. “What don’t you understand?”
Andrew spread his arms.
“Oh,” the fellow replied. He leaned back in his chair and pulled his hat down over his eyes. “Then you’re hopeless.”
I’m working on the sequel to this book, A Hero, and then I’ll write the book that comes before this one, A Villain. Highly appropriate and illuminating titles. Where The Least Envied followed the path of a boy who wants to be a hero, A Hero follows the exploits of a hero in the process of discovering the nature of himself and the world he knows, and learning his knowledge is false.
Those familiar with the series will note that I started with book two, am proceeding to book three, and will finish with book one. I promise this is not simply a deliberate effort to aggravate people with obsessive compulsive disorder. It was more out of necessity. The second book is the essentially the trunk from which all the other stories grow. However, I couldn’t list them in the series in the order I was writing them because that wouldn’t make sense. And I couldn’t write the first book that clarifies much of what appears in the second because that wouldn’t make sense either. So I’m writing them in the order that makes the most sense to the person who is most familiar with the material.
Despite a long-established propensity for writing, being a writer is something to which I will always aspire. I don’t think it’s up to me to determine whether or not I am a writer. I am not who I think I am; I am not who you think I am; I am who I think you think I am. Or so the saying goes. My goal is to make you believe I am not just a competent writer, but a clever and convincing one. At which point I’ll believe it too.
Writing is my job, yes. Storytelling is something I have to find time to do, however. I’ve done technical writing, course writing, newspaper and magazine articles, and more. Storytelling is my preference, but it’s the one aspect of my writing career that doesn’t create much revenue. Fortunately, the practice of creating people and worlds, and examining their struggles, both internal and external, is rewarding in and of itself.
I also have a wife and two boys, which are my after-work past time. So how do I find time to write? Simple. I don’t sleep. This, as you might expect, has some unfortunate but easily anticipated consequences.
I very much enjoy anthropomorphism. Objects and environments are conscious, or have a purpose suited to their nature. A rock, for example, might revel in its heaviness and do its best to resist being picked up. The sun might hunt for shadows and unload quivers of sunbeams in an effort to penetrate them. This might come through in their depictions or, as in the case for one character in The Least Envied, they may speak to him directly.
I’m not a shaman or Shinto, but I find bringing the world to life around my characters interesting. It’s so much more engaging to think of the inanimate as alive, and it adds a way to explore and understand the world.
I never had a clear idea of a specific career, only that I wanted to be great at something—it seemed like a perfectly acceptable, absolutely nebulous goal, but one I never surrendered. I wanted to be good at the things I did, and I was, with varying degrees of success and recognition. I always excelled at writing, so it made sense that I would gravitate towards a field in which I felt comfortable and competent.
It’s important that you read my book. Then reread it. No, don’t reread the copy you already own, buy a new one. They need to be… ah… fresh.
Also, I sneeze in threes. When I sneeze more or fewer times I wonder, fleetingly, if it’s a sign that there is something out of balance in the world.