INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR OF, ALEXIOS, BEFORE DYING, CHANCE MAREE
Hello Chance, thank you so much for this great opportunity. It seems by reading your bio that you have done quite a bit of traveling. Can you tell us about some of the places you’ve been and the inspiration it has given you in regards to your writing?
Hi Kitty! Please allow me first to say how grateful I am for all your efforts towards providing an online literary community. I am in awe of the energy and enthusiasm you bring to reviewing books, and promoting authors! Thank you!
My novel, Alexios, Before Dying takes place in three locations that still hold vivid memories for me: New York City, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico. My other excursions include parts of Europe, Australia, Morocco, and Mexico. I love experiencing new landscapes and cultures. A good novel should mimic physical travel by transporting the reader out of their immediate surroundings. Exploring a variety of places—both in the US and abroad—has helped me learn to walk in other people’s shoes, which I believe animates the characters in my writing.
Would you call yourself a spiritual person and do you still travel today?
I am interested in aspects of being that are delicately refined, but I also give due diligence to things mental and physical, as are required to survive and grow in this world. I’ve not traveled in quite a few years and hope to remedy that unfortunate condition very soon.
Tell us about your book Alexios Before Dying and the inspiration behind it.
Alexios, Before Dying began as an exploration of a potential journey from Creation’s diversity to the Oneness that is so often discussed in esoteric teachings. I’ve met many sincere and intelligent people from numerous spiritual paths and wondered how they could all be ‘right’. The novel is really just my way of acting out a hypothesis about that place where all paths merge like spokes into a central hub.
My goal was to play the scenes out while adhering to rules of good writing—characterization, plot, show-don’t-tell, etc. I wanted the characters to drive the show rather than move them like puppets to forward an agenda, or drag them to a particular end. That goal resulted in multiple rewrites and exciting directions that resulted from each character’s flaws and desires. Inspiration came from many unexpected sources, such as the stage persona of mentalist, Derren Brown, and neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman (writer of “Sum”), the poetry of Rumi, and the discourses of Seth.
What other novels do you have planned and when will your next one be available?
I’m currently working on a science fiction novel titled, Undazzled. Surprisingly, I came up with a tag line even before completion of the first draft: Sometimes a planet must die before our true faces are revealed.
Whereas Alexios, Before Dying explores diversity becoming one, Undazzled concentrates on the diversity that lies behind our common appearance. The ARC should be available this winter, with launch in spring 2013.
Tell us about your writing process and what gets you in the mood to write.
I’m not very structured. A story or scene churns around in my head during intellectual downtime, such as walking the dogs, driving, showering, cooking, eating, and trying to sleep. I write when the idea grows full and I feel so enthusiastic that the words pour out on the page. And then I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until I can’t stand to think about the story any longer. The evolving standard is to give the story to some wonderful and tolerant folks who agree to be first readers. I wait to hear how much they love or hate it, after which the work may be revisited. At some point, I say, “Enough!” and send it away for editing. Continual polishing is a compulsion. I once read about an author who admitted to secretly marking corrections on a copy of his novel in a bookstore. I resonate with that.
When did you first realize that you had stories that you needed to put on paper and share with others?
Since grade school, I think. My parents instilled a love of reading, so the natural course was to make up my own stories.
What other genres have you thought about writing in?
Almost everything I write involves a fantastical element or two. I love to dwell where the imagination is unlimited, ideas are extraordinary, and something thoughtful and wonderful happens. I don’t like to stay within the lines of genres, so it’ll be difficult to meet readers’ expectations. The best I can hope for is that readers will be surprised.
Who are some of your favorite authors that have inspired you over the years?
So many come to mind. I’ll spout off a few with multiple works I’ve enjoyed (not in any particular order): Shakespeare, Cormac McCarthy, Isaac Asimov, Milan Kundera, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, John Steinbeck, Margaret Atwood, Eco Umberto, Steven King, George R.R. Martin, John Irving, Tom Wolfe, Tom Robbins —I dislike making lists, so I’ll stop there. Authors with single novels, or series that I admire and enjoy are Chris Wooding for his Tales of the Ketty Jay, Markus Zusak for The Book Thief, Genevieve Valentine for Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Clark Thomas Carlton for Prophets of the Ghost Ants, Laini Taylor for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Wayne Barlowe for God’s Demon, Sam Landstrom for MetaGame, and China Miéville for Embassytown. I’m certain to remember others and will kick myself later for neglecting to mention them.
Do you have a specific genre you enjoy reading more than others?
I’ll read anything that can spark interest, be it a concept or circumstance. I love books that spring from powerful imaginations and intellects—books written by masters. My least favorite genres are sermons disguised as literature, formula books typically seen in canned romance and thrillers, and sloppy, or hate-filled, or prejudicial work. Those aren’t exactly genres, but they will make me throw the book across the room.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other aspiring authors? Please give us your links as well, so we can learn more about you and your works.
I wish I could give sage advice, but don’t assume that I have any. What I’ll do is pass along personal Post-it notes that I try to write by: 1) Read great and talented writers and learn from them. 2) Write much, often, and for the love of it. 3) Shakespeare’s dead, so don’t take yourself too seriously.
The best ways to keep in touch are through:
Thank you again Chance for this wonderful opportunity, I do hope we can do this again in the future!
Thank you, Kitty. I look forward to future participation in the Great Minds Think Aloud literary community.
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR OF, ALEXIOS, BEFORE DYING, CHANCE MAREE