Now it's time to introduce you to another gifted storyteller I met this year at Connoga -- Andrew Toy (talk about having a perfect last name for this line of work).
Tell us a bit about your latest work.
Think average family man meets Jurassic Park meets Hunger Games. Everyman Robbie Lake discovers a dark and imaginary world inside an ordinary cardboard box. The more he returns to it, the more addicted he becomes to his new world, apart from his wife, his kids, and every day stresses of life. It's Narnia for grownups!
What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?
Addiction and how it not only affects you, but those around you. The love of power, and our desire to be worshiped is there too. And of course, a little bit of love and selflessness is thrown in.
What would be your dream project?
I'm working on it now! But I can't reveal it yet. Or shall I say it? ...Aliens!
If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?
I self-published a book called Dreaming of Heaven several years back. It's pretty heretical in hindsight, really. I would redo it by actually studying the subject matter a bit more. But as of now, the house rule is that no one's allowed to mention that book. It's pretty embarrassing, actually.
What inspires you to write?
The fact that there is still a market out there for quality storytelling, and there are guys out there that make a living telling quality stories. i.e. the guys at Pixar. I watch any one of their movies and I'm pounding away at the computer screen for hours.
What writers have influenced your style and technique?
Steinbeck, for one. He knows how to take an otherwise boring topic and spin it into something interesting and sometimes gripping. John Grisham writes like you're watching a movie. Louisa May Alcott, because she had a strong knack for developing characters. And right now, I'm reading one of my first Stephen King books, Under the Dome, and I just admire the sarcastic tone he takes on as the narrator - it makes it so much fun! But I'm also a fan of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien for two opposite reasons. Lewis could take a complicated story and make it simple. Tolkien could take a simple story and make it complex. I like when guys can do that.
Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?
Writing is definitely an art! It has rules, but they're meant to be broken. Creating art of any kind involves the heart, and emotions. But that's not to underscore the fact that it takes brains to communicate those unseen forces intelligently and clearly. There's very little science in writing (or should be very little). Some of the coolest writing I've come across breaks all the rules that we were taught in high school.
Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?
I'm shopping my literary novel around to publishers called I Am the Lion. It's about a bipolar widower who is incapable of raising his less-than-confidant daughter on his own. The Man in the Box went for suspense and adventure, but this one's going for tears-down-the-face.