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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Interview with Skyler White, author of 'and Falling, Fly'

Earlier, you read my review of Skyler White's debut and Falling, Fly, and I know you want to go read the book now. But first, read this super fun interview with Skyler!
As you guys may recall from my Malinda Lo interview (and everything else I've ever done, ever) I like to mix the serious with the silly...
So trust me. You want to read this one. Not only is it super fun as promised, but there may be a little bonus *cough*swag*cough*
Just sayin'.

Skyler White crafts
challenging fiction for a
changing world. Populated
with angels and rock stars,
scientists, demons and
revolutionaries, her dark
stories explore the secret
places where myth and
modernity collide. She lives
in Austin, Texas.

    Welcome, Skyler! Thanks for coming. :)
    Serious Questions:
    This is something I always ask authors, but I find it especially interesting this time around: How much of 'you' is there in your lead, Olivia? [readers, please note: Olivia is a fallen angel of desire, a steamy vampiress who longs for love...]
    Oh, lots. I created her to help me wrestle some of my own demons. Olivia’s need to parse the difference between wanting to be wanted and wanting things for her own sake comes directly out of mine.
    Who came first, damned vampire/angel of desire Olivia, or cursed neuroscientist Dominic?
    Olivia came first, although I think if I’d written Dominic first, Olivia would have ended up being much the same – they need each other that much. Without Dominic, Olivia’s world would be completely unreal, ungrounded. Without Olivia, Dominic’s world would have no meaning.
    How did the L'Otel Matillide, the Hotel of the Damned, come about for you?
    I needed a world that could house both Dominic and Olivia, a place that was somewhere between pure mythology and the everyday world. It’s a hotel, specifically, because you can’t be at home there, even though the mythological characters think of it as their point of origin.
    It's been said that your stories are "pro-feminism, pro-sex and anti-dogma" *; do you ever worry about alienating readers, or have you ever had any crazy reactions to your work? [*ps, this is right up my alley. ;p]
    Oh, I really I wish I could answer this way: No, I don’t worry about alienating readers. I know what I write isn’t for everyone, and I’m okay with that. But the honest answer is: Yeah, I worry about that all the time. I *hate* it when a reviewer or reader doesn’t like my book. I do want to connect to everyone. But I know that’s not possible. I don’t think anything written today could be universally liked. Even the most popular books and movies have their detractors, and popularity isn’t even my goal.
    I’d like the book to do well enough that I get to write more, but I wasn’t willing to tone it down or soften it to appeal to a wider audience. The mainstream has plenty of folks writing for it. The downside is that my audience is not so well mapped. I’m much more dependent on word-of-mouth.
    The upside is, when my book does connect, it seems to connect strongly, which is deeply satisfying to me.
    As for crazy reactions, well … a couple years back, when ‘and Falling, Fly’ was working its way through the contest circuit, I had a judge give me straight-Fs (literally, she even flunked my spelling and grammar, though the manuscript was sparkling clean) with one line in the ‘Comments’ box: “You’re going to Hell!” (I asked the contest coordinator for my entry fee back … J )
    Whoa. Yep, that's crazy.
    You have a theater background, and as I was reading, I saw very visual, movie-like elements to the story. Any plans or dreams of seeing your Hotel of the Damned on the Silver Screen? If you could cast it, who would you choose?
    Oh, hell yeah, I’d love to see it there! Specifically, I’d love to drag out my theater training, my husband’s music background and my best friends art training and do it Little Rascals-style: “We’re puttin’ on a show!” Casting … Dominic looks like a cross between Ewan McGregor and Max Martini from The Unit in my imagination. Olivia looks like everyone from Bettie Page to Carrie Anne Moss.
    With the glut of vampire books out there, yours stands a bit apart, as more of a thinking person’s, very adult take. How important was it for you to distance yourself and create your own thing? Do you have any plans to remake any other mythological creatures?
    I think I’ll tackle unicorns next. (Kidding.) My next book, ‘In Dreams Begin’, lives in the same story-world as ‘and Falling, Fly’ but revolves around a different cast of characters, one of whom may be part faerie. As for creating distance between myself and what’s out there – it’s not something I really have a choice about. I tried to write a conventional romance once, but it was dreadful and honestly, still not that normal. I’d probably do a lot better financially if I could write a less adult vampire book; I hear there’s rather a market for them. ;-) But at the end of the day I have to tell the stories that come to me, and exploring dark, challenging places is genuine to me as a writer and as a person.
    I'll take part faerie. Hell, I'll take unicorn, for that matter. That could be...interesting. ;D
    Your work is sprinkled with literary allusions; how much research went into ‘and Falling, Fly’, and what did it entail?
    I re-read Milton, Dante and Genesis before I started writing, but most of the allusions are just little games I play with myself –Easter eggs for anyone who has the same esoteric interests I do. I could have a lot of fun with “spot the reference” contests if I wanted to. Writing is hard, and for me anyway, writing is slow. I embroider where I can, because it keeps me engaged when I’m re-writing or re-reading sections for the umpteenth time.
    But I did a ton of research into neuroscience, and I can’t quite bring myself to stop. Years after I stopped writing ‘and Falling, Fly’, I’m still following the updates from the field. If I were a gambler, I’d take stakes that neuroscience will be for the coming generation what computing has been to mine.
    Silly Questions:
    You spent some time in Ireland, researching; tell the truth: is the food as bad as they say?
    God yes! The food really is that bad. Every B&B comes with a Traditional Irish Breakfast – four different varieties of animal product (and by-product) broiled or fried until chewy or slimy and arranged around a single broiled tomato half. It’s just a fiesta of black and red. Of course I also ate the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted while I was in Ireland and the Guinness is unbelievable, but blood pudding? First thing in the morning? ::shudder::
    [Note to self: take boxes of breakfast bars if you ever make it to Ireland.]
    Let's play a game of ‘would you rather’ ... Would you rather:
    -- be one of Vivian's ecstatic victims, or predatory Vivi herself?
    I’d rather be one of her victims, but I’m more likely to actually be her.
    -- be Cursed (reincarnated repeatedly) or Damned (a desire-seeking immortal)?
    I’d rather be damned.
    Now let's play ‘who'd you rather’... ;p
    Depends on whether you’re asking who I’d rather be or who I’d rather do.
    I know how I'd take it, but I'll let you interpret it as you choose...
    -- Dominic or Olivia?
    -- Gaehod or the Snake?
    The snake
    -- Peter or Paul (not those guys, folks, calm down)?
    I am the rock.
    -- Dysart or Madalene?
    That’s hard. Madalene is so clever, but Dysart is happier.
    -- a vampire, a demon or a neuroscientist?
    If I had my life to live over again, I’d totally go into neuroscience. Actually, first I go into aerial silks, then when I got to be about 24, I’d go into neuroscience.
    While in Ireland, would you choose to stay at L'Otel Matillide or Legends, the 'human' mainstream establishment?
    You ask such great questions! Let’s say I’ve stayed both places, but you can only take pictures out the window of one.
    Imagine you're Cursed; in a past life, you were a street performer named Escirval the Flame-thrower in Ancient Persia. Your fondest memory of that life is the wild, round eyes of the children watching, half wanting to believe that everything I did was real, and half afraid that it was. They would follow me through each city I visited, singing my name, begging me for higher and faster and more daring throws, but you dread remembering the time it all blew up in their small faces.
    [Ha! Choked on my tea a bit there]
    Your angel of desire:
    My deliriously tempting fallen angel of desire is monsterously tall with no hair and matte grey eyes that pierce me to my core. My angel likes to wrestle, which makes me tired. Together, we work very hard. Without my angel, my desire, life would be easy. But once Desire and I found each other, we found a real joy in difficult things, and even though we occasionally long for easy, we love the battle and never looked back.
    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.

Now was that not super fun? I thought so, too. Wanna know what else is super fun? Damned temporary tattoos. Skyler has a photo gallery on her website of people and their tats; more specifically, of people showing off her "damned" temporary tattoo.

So this past weekend, when my lovely friends and I got together for my Birthday Bacchanal, we all got a little damned:

Super neato, right? (Oh, and if you're wondering what was going on with my head, I was Betty Boop. Chopped off 6" and got finger waves. Eee!) Even my little brother got in on the action; his damned picture is on the site. (As is mine and a few of the girls ^)

I figured some of you might like to take a walk on the wild side (for a few days, anyway) and get your very own 'damned' (temporary) tattoo, so I have some swag bags for ya!

Leave some love for Skyler for a chance to win some swag! Lots of winners, I promise!
[ps I would love to read your answers to the Fill in the Blank questions; I'll even go so far as to say it ups your chance of swag...]


  1. How fun and creative you are!
    Look at you with your cute 20s inspired curls!
    LOVE it :)

  2. Great interview! Wow, I'm even more intrigued about and Falling, Fly!

    My blanks:

    Imagine you're Cursed; in a past life, you were a hippie named Lola in the UK. Your fondest memory of that life is the groovy clothes, the long hair, the music, the lack of inhibitions but you dread remembering the time that one guy, who was most devoted believer in free love, tried putting his herpes ridden knob where the sun don't shine. Bad times.

    Your angel of desire:
    My deliriously tempting fallen angel of desire is fairly tall with dark, shoulder length wavy hair and beautiful green eyes that pierce me to my core. My angel likes to act, perform in his band, write poetry and take beautiful photographs in the US - as he knows nothing of my existance just yet, which makes me so goddamned impatient. Together, we would have the best life, if he would only he would take a break from acting in Twilight movies, get off his backside and holiday in my part of London - I'm tired of waiting already. Without my angel, my desire, life would be pretty much as it's going now. But once Desire and I found (ahem - find) each other, we could begin a life lived in a silk covered bed and (ahem - will) never looked (ahem - look) back.

    Oh, a girl can dream, can't she? ;)

  3. Jo, that was absolutely MARVELOUS!!!

  4. Okay, fun . . .

    Imagine you're Cursed; in a past life, you were a COURTESAN named ELISA in PARIS. Your fondest memory of that life is THE HANDSOME COUNT THAT SWEPT ME OFF MY FEET AND MADE AN HONEST WOMAN OF ME, but you dread remembering WHEN MY HANDSOME COUNT INTRODUCED ME TO HIS EVIL MAMA.

    My deliriously tempting fallen angel of desire is FREAKISHLY tall with FLOWING DARK hair and GREEN eyes that pierce me to my core. My angel likes to DRIVE, which makes me NERVOUS. Together, we ARE SMOKING HOT. Without my angel, my desire, life would be BORING. But once Desire and I found each other, we JOINED SOULS, UNITING OURSELVES FOREVER and never looked back

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