Tuesday, August 31, 2021

eSpecs Books Focus #13: Keith DeCandido

I've got a special treat for you this month and next month. I'm going to devote Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays to writers from eSpecs Books. They're a great bunch of folks whom you need to get to know. 

Next up, Keith DeCandido!

Tell us a bit about your latest work. 

All-the-Way House is part of a series of standalone books about cryptids—monsters of various types from folklore. In my case, the primary character is the Jersey Devil, but other cryptids show up as well. All-the-Way House tells the origin of the Jersey Devil, taking the various legends and stories about that monster that is so popular they named a hockey team after it, and puts a different spin on it. In particular, a big chunk of the story takes place during the week in January 1909 when there were dozens of sightings of the creature in central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

The book takes place in my urban fantasy universe in which there are supernatural hunters for hire called Coursers, who deal with various issues involving creatures and magic and such.

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer? 

Well, I was raised by librarians, and reading and storytelling was part of my life from birth. I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer. From as early as I can remember, I was always fascinated by stories and the telling of them, and when I was six I wrote my first book: Reflections in My Mirror. I did it in pencil on construction paper. It was terrible (I was six!), but I still have it to remind me of my roots.

What inspires you to write? 

Everything. That's a facile answer, yes, but there is literally nothing that doesn't inspire me to write. News stories. Walking around the neighborhood. Stuff I see on TV. Conversations I have with my family and friends. People-watching.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work? 

I have a tendency to be interested in the minutiae of how people survive in the world, even if it's a made-up world. How do people feed, clothe, and house themselves? It's a factor that tends not to be present in far too much fiction, yet it's the most critical aspect of pretty much everyone's life.

I love to take a look at characters' histories and see how that affects them in the presence. We're the sum of our experiences, and in particular, when I write media tie-in fiction, I love to look at the entirety of the characters' experiences as seen in prior stories and see how I might use that to facilitate characterization and plot.

I also love to deconstruct tropes 'cause it's fun.

What would be your dream project? 

Being consulted on the creation of a movie or TV series based on one of my works of fiction.

What writers have influenced your style and technique? 

Ursula K. Le Guin. Chris Claremont. J.M. DeMatteis. Harlan Ellison. Laurie R. King. P.G. Wodehouse. J.R.R. Tolkien. Robert A. Heinlein. Kurt Busiek.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do? 

My third Supernatural novel Heart of the Dragon was written in the midst of a very ugly breakup. I wish I could have had one more pass on it when my brain was actually functioning properly.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why? 

Oh, much more on the art end. There is some science to it, but it's definitely art, mainly because science requires replicable results and consistency, which pretty much never happens with writing……

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? 

Organizing my time. As I type this answer, I've also got a short story to finish, a bible for a series of novellas to finish, a comics script to write, and a novel to finish. Plus, there's that whole eating and sleeping thing, plus we can finally go out and see other humans again. It's a tough juggling act…..

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not? 

Mostly by gabbing with each other about our projects. We're always talking to each other about our works-in-progress, and at times it's incredibly helpful, even if it's just to have someone to bitch and moan at.

11. What does literary success look like to you? 

Knowing that at least one reader was touched by something you wrote.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug? 

I've got a story in Devilish & Divine that'll be out soon from eSpec Books. Over the course of the next nine months to a year, I should have three new books out: Feat of Clay, the second book in the Adventures of Bram Gold, an urban fantasy series that's in the same setting as All-the-Way House, from WordFire Press; Phoenix Precinct, the sixth novel in my fantasy/police procedural series, from eSpec; and Ragnarok and a Hard Place: More Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, my second collection of Key West-based urban fantasy stories, from Plus One Press. In addition, my wife Wrenn Simms and I have launched our own very-small-press publisher, Whysper Wude, and we just successfully funded our first project on Kickstarter: the anthology The Four ???? of the Apocalypse, with alternate takes on the four horsemen of the apocalypse (the four cats! the four lawyers! the four PTA Moms! the four librarians! and so on…) by more than two dozen authors, including Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, David Gerrold, David Mack, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Jody Lynn Nye, Laura Anne Gilman, Gail Z. Martin, Adam-Troy Castro, and tons more. We're hoping to have that out by the fall of 2021.

Also I continue to write about pop culture for the award-winning webzine Tor.com, including a rewatch of Star Trek: Voyager, which will be followed by a rewatch of Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as reviews of current shows, and twice-yearly looks back at superhero movies.

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