Saturday, October 15, 2011

Interview with David Farland

David Farland author of Nightingale
Today I am pleased to welcome David Farland, a friend and mentor of mine and many others in the writing world.  Thank you, David, for stopping by.

Read my review of David's new release Nightingale

Nightingale focuses on a different audience than most of the stories  you write.  What made you decide to focus on young adult?

I've actually dabbled with a number of young adult and middle-grade novels.  I did one Star Wars young adult novel, four more tied to the Mummy series, another dozen middle-grad pieces for Star Wars, and of course my own middle-grade fantasy series.  Most of those were written back when I was writing science fiction under the name Dave Wolverton.

Over the years, a number of my students have had a lot of success in young adult--people like Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, and Stephenie Meyer.

I finally decided that it was time for me to get serious about it.

Setting plays a large role in Nightingale--what research did you do  in St. George to provide such a sense of place?

For years I used to go to Saint George on writing retreats, and in 2003 we moved there.  My daughter attended Tuacahn, the school I use in the story.  So I went with a teacher and took a tour of the school.  Then I had my daughter read through the book and make more suggestions.  I also traveled to other locations, like the small town where Bron lived, and took pictures of the houses that I use as locations.  Even the swamps in Louisiana and hills in North Carolina are all based on places I've been.  But I took it one step further.  When I wrote about scenes, I wrote about them on the days that the scene occurred, in many places, in order to get the details right.  For example, when Bron goes out to watch a meteor shower, it happens on a day when I went out and looked at one.  If I talk about a storm one night, and smoke from wildfires the next, it's because those were prevalent on that night.

You have a police officer in your book named Rick Walton.  Is there any connection to the children's book author?

I love Rick, so I thought that I'd immortalize him.  But then he turned out to be such a nasty cop.  Guess we all have our dark sides. Rick Walton is an old friend, and when I was writing the character of Sheriff Walton, I had just been reading an email from him.  I decided that Rick needed to be immortalized, and since he's one of the nicest guys I know, it only seemed appropriate to turn him into a scoundrel.  Seriously, as I began writing about Officer Walton, I didn't realize just how nasty he'd turn out to be!

What are you hoping that readers will take away from Nightingale?

This is a novel that deals with a lot of things--feelings of abandonment, the pain of being a teen, the anxiety of dating, the struggle to be human.  My hope is that as people read my stories, they see themselves in my characters, and that at the end of the novel, they feel like they're better, stronger, more enlightened individuals for having read my work.

At the same time, I don't write books that very sweet.  I like books that make you "live" through them, where you laugh one minutes, are shocked another, and find yourself crying the next.

Somewhere along the way, I try to "discover" the deeper meaning of the story.  I don't set out to preach, simply to ponder facets of life that I might not have otherwise considered.

Tell me about your new publishing company. What is unique about it?

At East India Press, we're trying something that I haven't seen anyone else do.
Most publishing companies in the past have made their money selling books in hardcover and paperback.  In the past twenty years, audiobooks have come to make up a significant portion of the market.  In the past four years, electronic books have grown to the point that, if the last figures that I heard were accurate, more than 50 percent of all book sales are now electronic.

But the exciting new thing that's coming is "enhanced novels," books with color illustrations, animations, video clips, soundtracks, and annotations, along with possible videogames.  These books are interactive to a degree, more like a movie than a novel.  Such novels can be "updated" instantly, so that we can correct typos or add new features to the book, such as the ads for an upcoming movie.  So the enhanced novel is a sort of living document.

A few companies have started up with the idea of doing these, but we thought, "Hey, why not publish the book in all of those formats?"  My partner, Miles Romney, has a background in illustration, acting, singing and writing.  I've worked as a screenwriter, videogame designer, and novelist.

So we're doing enhanced books, e-books, audiobooks, a hardcover book, and a soundtrack--all based upon this one novel.  We're pulling the entire line of companies under one roof.

It's fun.  In some ways, we're the stodgy old publishers trying to make sure that we've got the highest quality hardcover available for book collectors, and on the other hand we're creating cutting-edge content.

Are you accepting submissions?

In the very near future.  I'm thinking that by the first on November, East India Press will be ready to take on its next project.

I see that you are having a writing contest.  What is the purpose of  the contest?

The East India Press Short Story Contest will do a couple of things.  First, it will help promote writing.  It may very well bring to our attention some young new writers who are immensely talented.  And last of all, we're hoping that it will create some name recognition for the newest publishers on the block.

What do you eat while writing/reading?

I drink diet Mountain Dew or water.  I find that if I eat, it makes me tired.

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