Monday, October 1, 2018

Interview with dark fantasy author Craig DiLouie

Writer Craig DiLouie helps me kick off a new week and new month. He’s here to chat about his new dark fantasy, One of Us.

Craig DiLouie is an American-Canadian writer of speculative fiction. His works have been nominated for major literary awards, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for screen adaptation. He is a member of the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, International Thriller Writers, and Horror Writers Association.

Welcome, Craig. Please tell us about your current release.
First off: Thank you for having me on your blog, Lisa!

Published by Orbit, One of Us is a dark fantasy about a disease that produced a generation of monsters, who are now coming of age in ramshackle orphanages through the American South. Scorned by the society that birthed them, they must find a way to fit in—or fight for what’s theirs.

Claire North, author of 84K, described it as The Girl with All the Gifts meets To Kill a Mockingbird, which I think nails it. The book has gotten wonderful reviews in The Washington Post, Starburst, SciFiNow, The Guardian, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, and other places.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was fascinated with the idea of telling a Southern Gothic story with monsters. Southern Gothic literature is dark, over the top, gritty, and deals with subjects like the taboo, grotesque, and Southern society in decay. I thought this was the perfect place to tell a misunderstood monster story, a story of human monsters and monstrous humans.

As I was writing it, One of Us became a much more ambitious examination of prejudice. I love writing stories that entertain while viscerally engaging the reader with a big idea that may cause them to reflect and maybe look at the world with fresh eyes.

Excerpt from One of Us:

       The teacher crossed his arms. “Go ahead, Amy. No need to holler, though. Why do you hate them?”
       “They’re monsters. I hate them because they’re monsters.”
       Mr. Benson turned and hacked at the blackboard with a piece of chalk: MONSTRUM, a VIOLATION OF NATURE. From MONEO, which means TO WARN. In this case, a warning God is angry. Punishment for taboo.
       “Teratogenesis is nature out of whack,” he said. “It rewrote the body. Changed the rules. Monsters, maybe. But does a monster have to be evil?”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently wrapping up another novel for Orbit, a story about a brother and sister forced to fight as child soldiers on opposite sides of a second American civil war. As with One of Us, I expect it will be provocative.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I grew up on disaster and great sci-fi movies in the 1970s, and wanted to create my own similar worlds where ordinary people were tested in extraordinary situations. In the 1980s, I read a ton of Robert E. Howard and for a few years there tried to be Robert E. Howard. I considered myself a writer from then, working hard writing and learning as I got older. It wasn’t until the last 10 years or so I achieved any major success with it. It’s been an incredible ride, gratifying and humbling.

Do you write full-time?
I’m a full-time writer, though it’s split between fiction and nonfiction.

My nonfiction work focuses on journalism and education for the lighting industry. My fiction is then split between “big books” for major publishers like Orbit, and self-published series.

Working at home is great. I had to learn to be self-motivated and be happy with my own company, but I’m so much more productive, I work in my pajamas, my commute is to a coffee maker, and I get more time to watch my wonderful kids grow up. I absolutely love it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I hate a type of “orphan” where a single word dangles on its own line at the end of a typed paragraph. I’ll do anything to get rid of it. Which is crazy, as once it gets into typesetting at the publisher, the orphan would disappear anyway. I guess I just like the way a page I’m writing looks to me while I’m writing it. If it visually looks right, it somehow reads better to me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer, all the way. I’ve never wanted to be anything else.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I thought the most amazing thing about getting into print with big publishers would be seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore, but what’s really been most gratifying is getting reviews or letters from fans who were touched in some way by my work. Anytime you like an author’s work, write a review or write to them directly—more than likely, you’ll make their day.

Other than that, thank you for reading!


Thanks for joining me today, Craig.

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