I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Skyler White, author of the recently released Dark Fantasy Novel, 'and Falling, Fly'. She was kind enough to answer some questions about her book and share some insight into her life as a writer. Thank you so much Skyler for making the time during your busy schedule!
'and Falling, Fly' was released March 2nd, 2010 by Berkley Books.
(You can read my review: HERE)
Skyler’s contact info:
☠ I absolutely love the cover of 'and Falling, Fly'. What does it tell us about the story written beneath it? Do you feel it's an accurate portrayal of the novels heroine?
SW: Thank you, I love it too! And I wish I knew more of the story behind it than I actually do. My editor at Berkley asked me to put together a list of features – hair and eye color, etc. – for the two lead characters in preparation for the cover conference. So of course I, being a newbie author and nervous, built her a giant twenty-slide PowerPoint deck. She went into the black box that is ‘cover negotiations’ and emerged, several months later, with Olivia and her stone wings. I have no idea where the stone wings came from conceptually. I certainly didn’t think of that representation of Olivia’s state, but I think it captures it brilliantly. The leaf-trimmed, vein-or-branch bodice is a bonus, as is the wonderful filtered, slanting light. I still don’t know who I owe drinks to for any of it though – my editor, Berkley’s art department or Craig White, the artist – for the ‘big idea’ behind it.
☠ What initially drew me to 'and Falling, Fly' was the title. Is it the original title you came up with or did it go through various transitions?
SW: It’s the second title, but the only real one. 'Reborn and Undead' was the working title at first, but I always knew I wasn’t going to use that. I was waiting for the right one. ‘and Falling, Fly’ hit me one day, and it never changed after that. Although I’m superstitious, so the folder on my desktops still says “Reborn.”
But the title was important to me, as much a challenge to myself as a summation of the book. It’s both process and product. This was a difficult book to write, and I had to keep throwing myself off the ledge as I wrote. And that same “can’t learn to dive in the shallow end” the Ace of Cups lesson is one of the driving ideas of the book.
Both Olivia and Dominic have very entrenched world views. They each think they’ve got the world sussed. But to see one another, they have to become willing to walk into unknowing, to become comfortable with uncertainty – or at least tolerant of it – to meet the other in their own terrain. Because, to me anyway, that’s what love is. It’s about being willing to be wrong, to love even what you can’t understand. Because risk is part of love. And part of writing.
☠ With the continuous rise in vampire books and growing popularity, what sets 'and Falling, Fly' apart from the others in this budding genre?
SW: Well, ‘and Falling, Fly’ is a very adult book, for one thing, and many of the new vampire books are YA. In ‘and Falling, Fly’, it’s the female character who’s the powerful supernatural creature, and the male who’s human, which is also a little outside the norm in paranormal right now. But I think the biggest difference is the way I’m using vampirism symbolically, not as a bestial or even predatory thing, but as a co-dependent or commercial transaction.
☠ One of the aspects I loved the most about 'and Falling, Fly' are the many different elements present in the story – Did you do a lot of research to build the characters and mythology?
SW: Thank you! I love mythology! And yeah, there’s a lot of research involved in this book. The mythology, both classical and Biblical, is all stuff I had access to, but was fuzzy on. So, for example, naming the nightclub ‘Pandemonium’ came out of my memory of that being the capital of Hell in Milton, but when I wanted to put his language in Gaehod’s mouth, I had to look it up. Same with most of the specific references. They’re there in my memory, but I have to check things out, make sure I’ve remembered correctly, to fill in the details.
With the neuroscience, there was nothing there for me to draw on. I had to learn everything new. But it was so fascinating that my challenge really was to keep myself from totally geeking out on the science, and giving Dominic these long, discursive paragraphs where he explains why temporal lobe seizures might cause the visions he’s experiencing. This is why writers have editors.
☠ L'Otel Matillide, the subterranean Hotel of the Damned, is such a weird, yet fascinating place. Did the idea arise from Ireland itself, or at random?
SW: The hotel came before the Irish location. In fact, I think there are other hotels in other places, although only in Ireland would they be literally underground. The hotel arouse as the place where the “damned, cursed and misbegotten” would feel at home.
☠ In the Media Angels and Talking Points section of your website, you say "and Falling, Fly is the anti-Twilight" which gave me a good chuckle and provided an interesting question: do you feel that the portrayal of vampires has grown rather soft in recent years?
SW: Or at least rather sparkly. I hadn’t read ‘Twilight’ when I wrote ‘and Falling, Fly’, but when I read it subsequently, it was hard for me to imagine two books, both with the same central monster-as-metaphor, being more utterly different. Not only in what the monster means, but in how sexuality, feminism, language and love are interpreted. Almost anything you can say about ‘Twilight’, the inverse is true of ‘and Falling, Fly’.
☠ Setting the bookish questions aside for a moment, I wanted to delve into what fuels you as a writer. Do you have any writing "must-haves" or inspirations?
SW: I don’t mean it to sound like a cop-out, but my biggest must-haves are my two best friends: my husband and a college friend who (unfortunately) lives halfway across the country. Without those two, I wouldn’t have the courage. On a more pragmatic level, my earphones are pretty damn close to musts. I get distracted by noise easily, so I rely on my in-ear headphones and a track of white noise (thunder and rain, go figure!) to keep me on task. Beyond that, for me the biggest necessities, aside from the obvious stuff like uninterrupted chunks of time and a decent laptop, are other people’s artwork. I need to read other writers, see movies, go to plays, and listen to music rather a lot. It feels like fuel to the fire for me. I can’t create if I don’t consume.
☠ Describe your writing style in 5 words or less:
SW: Oh lord. That’s kinda like asking me what I’m like in bed. I don’t know. My style is an extension of myself. I don’t have enough objectivity to describe it. If you’ve read my book, you’ve slept with me in a sense – so you describe it.
☠ Because I couldn't resist, what are your guilty pleasures?
SW: I don’t have any. If it gives me pleasure, I don’t feel guilty. I have guilty displeasures though. Things I do that aren’t productive but don’t give me enough pleasure to make them worthwhile. I fritter. When I’m resisting diving into The Next Thing, whether it’s the dishes or chapter five, and I’m not quite committed, I leaf through stuff. Catalogs, websites, snack cabinets. I’m not engaged enough to be working or playing, so I don’t get anything out of it. It’s stupid and it makes me feel icky.
☠ 'and Falling,Fly' delves deeply in the dark fantasy universe. Is there any particular genre you wish to tackle in the future?
SW: Not really. Fantasy, to me, is all genres collapsed into one, with the added bonus of above-par readers. Fantasy readers are smarter and more open-minded than those of any other genre. Really. Literary fiction readers are smart, self-help readers are introspective, horror readers are tolerant, sci-fi readers engage really deeply, romance readers bring open hearts, but only fantasy readers are all that plus eagerly open-minded. I don’t like to say “never”, but I can’t imagine a reason to write for anyone else. Except little kids. I have a children’s book I’m working on now. But it’s also a fantasy.
☠ On your website, you mention that 'and Falling, Fly' is a part of a series, though it stands on its own. What do we have to look forward to from its successors?
SW: My next book, ‘In Dreams Begin’, comes out December 7. It’s kinda-sorta-but-not-really a series. I think of the books as all belonging to a world I call ‘The Harrowing’, but in publishing-speak, a series follows the same cast of characters, which ‘In Dreams Begin’ doesn’t. It’s linked by story world and by glancing reference, but not by protagonists.
‘In Dreams Begin’ begins with Laura, a contemporary graphic artist, who wakes up on her wedding night channeled into the body of the Victorian Irish revolutionary, famous beauty, and possibly part-faerie Maud Gonne just before she’s introduced to the poet WB Yeats. Laura, the modern cynic falls, rather embarrassingly, immediately in love with the wildly romantic Irish poet whose involvement in the occult is partially responsible for her time-travel and body-hopping.
It’s been a tremendously fun project to work on, because history kept handing me such amazing stuff, allowing me to explore body-image, feminism, fidelity and possession across a hundred years, through several perspectives, and all echoed with lines from Yeats’s published poems and letters.
☠ Lastly, is their anything you'd like to say to the fellow readers and potential readers of your book(s)
SW: ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’. That’s it, really. Writing for readers is really just the first salvo in what I hope will be an on-going and mutually interesting conversation.
Skyler White is author of dark fantasy novels ‘and Falling, Fly’ (Berkley, March 2010) and ‘In Dreams Begin’ (Berkley, March 2010). She lives in Austin, TX.
Purchase 'and Falling, Fly':
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