Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Author Interview: Charlie Wood

Charlie Wood has written Strike: The Hero From The Sky.

1. What is your name and where do you call home?
My name is Charlie Wood, and I live in a small town in Massachusetts.  My parents own a farm, and I live not far from there now.  It was terrific to grow up on the farm and help with the farm work when I was in high school (even if I complained about it pretty much constantly at the time.) 

2. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?
My most recent book is a young adult fantasy novel called STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY.  It's the story of a high school senior named Tobin who finds himself lost in a bizarre (and dangerous) world filled with superheroes.

3. Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Yes; STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY is the first book in a trilogy.  I am working on the second book now, which is called STRIKE: THE DAYBREAKER RISES.  (I think, anyway--I'm not sure about the title yet.)  I plan to publish it in September 2012.

4. What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I have a ton of inspirations, but if I had to pick two, it would be Jim Henson and Walt Disney.  They both loved to create new worlds and great stories, and both of them followed their dreams, no matter what kind of obstacles blocked their way; they just kept working at it and believing in themselves until they were where they wanted to be.  I can remember clear as day watching the Muppets and Disney movies when I was five or six years old, and they were the very first things that inspired me to tell stories.  Some of my other inspirations are Roald Dahl, Charles Schulz, Chris Claremont, and Steven Spielberg.

I have been writing since elementary school, and I was the weird kid in class who always loved when there was any kind of writing assignment, especially if it was creative.  The first thing I can remember writing that I was really proud of was this weird cross between "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I still have it at my parents' house, and I couldn't write anything that strange now if I tried.

5. Do you gift books to readers for book reviews?
Yes, I do.  I am happy to send ebooks to reviewers for a review posted on goodreads.com and Amazon.com.

6. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
The cover for STRIKE was designed by the awesome people at Streetlight Graphics.  I wanted something that showed the eyes of the main character of the book (Tobin) looking over a city at nighttime.  I also wanted it to look somewhat mysterious, so I pictured the image to be of him with his mask on, covering the lower part of his face.  I knew I also wanted something that showed his super powers, so his eyes needed to be glowing/sparking with electricity, and lighting needed to be streaking across the sky.  I told them those things, and they came back with a design that was exactly what I wanted.

7. Which is your favourite cover of all the books you have written?
Well, this is my first book, so this one is probably my favorite :)  But I am definitely excited to start designing to cover for the next book in the STRIKE trilogy.  I will even give you a sneak peek:  the cover is going to feature a brand new villain, a mysterious creature named the Daybreaker.

8. Is there anything you would change about your book covers?
Not really.  I do love painted book covers, and at first I thought I would love to have a cover that showed all of the different characters in STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY, but then I realized that would take all of the fun out of the story--all of the surprises would be gone, because the reader would already know the different characters Tobin was going to meet on his journey.  Plus everyone knows it's much more fun to imagine what the different characters look like in your head as you are reading.

9. Would you have different book covers for different countries?
I would absolutely love to.  I am fascinated when books have different covers depending on different cultures and countries.  It would be amazing to see what a STRIKE cover would look like in somewhere like Japan or Russia, where the culture is so different that the United States, or even in the U.K.

10. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Well, the original name of the book was simply STRIKE.  When I decided there were more stories to tell with Tobin and his friends, I realized it would sound pretty silly if the sequels were called STRIKE 2 and STRIKE 3, so I renamed the title of the first book to THE ADVENTURES OF STRIKE: A HERO IS BORN.  That sounded too generic to me, so then it became THE ADVENTURES OF STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY.  The HERO FROM THE SKY part comes from how I imagined newspapers might describe Strike when he drops down to the ground to help people in need, or to stop a robbery, etc.  I then realized I was coming dangerously close to the longest title for a book ever, so I shortened it to STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY. (And now when I'm talking about it, I usually just shorten it to STRIKE.)

11. Is there anything you would change about your book? And why?
Hmm, that's a good question.  I don't think so, and here's why: I started writing STRIKE when I was a senior in high school.  I was eighteen years old then, and by the time STRIKE was published, I was 29.  With anything that I write, I could edit it and change things until I'm 90 years old.  But, I knew I had to eventually publish the book because I wanted other people to read it, so I decided it was time to simply let go of it and let it out into the world and finally start the sequel.  I realized I was stalling and putting off publishing the book for so long because I wanted it to be perfect, but someone told me some good advice: if you are waiting for something to be perfect, you'll be waiting forever.

12. Do you have a book trailer? And what are your thoughts on book trailers?
I don't have a book trailer, but I would love one--I think they are incredibly cool.  I have one in mind I would like to create for STRIKE, but one big thing is stopping me: I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever, and if I made a book trailer with music I created, I would sell absolutely zero books :)

13. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
I love e-books, and I sell WAY more e-books than paperbacks, but I have to admit I still prefer a paperback or hardcover book.  I guess I'm old school that way--but I do love having an ereader for plane rides and long car trips.  I have never listed to an audiobook, but I am thinking about trying one soon--it might make my commute to work a heck of a lot more interesting.

14. Are you a self-published / Indie author?
I am self-published.  When I first started trying to get STRIKE published, I sent literally hundreds of letters to agencies and publishers, and quite a few actually requested to read STRIKE--however, obviously all of them passed.  When e-readers starting becoming so popular, and I saw how authors could self-publish on the Kindle so easily, I decided to forget trying to get an agent and just publish STRIKE myself.  I couldn't be happier to know that STRIKE is out there, available for anyone to read who might be interested.

15. Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
If I really love a book, I almost always read it more than once.  I have read pretty much all of Roald Dahl's books over and over, and a lot of Ernest Hemingway's books, too--I'm obsessed with his short stories and  THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA.  I also love Michael Chrichton, and I have read JURASSIC PARK and SPHERE several times, espescially when I was a kid.  THE GIVER is also in my Top Five Books of All Time, and I just recently re-read it for the first time in years--it was even better and more powerful than I remembered.

16. Have you ever read a book just based on it’s cover?
Not really--a good cover will always catch my eye, but I always need to read the back and flip through the book to get a good sense of the writer's style.

17. Has the quality of the cover of a book ever put you off of reading it?
Several times.  There's nothing worse than a cheap-looking cover, or something that looks like it was whipped up in a few minutes.  I know I really shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but it's usually impossible not to.

18. What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
As I said before, I love the Muppets, so right now I'm reading a book about the history of Sesame Street called STREET GANG, in paperback.  If something has a Muppet on it, I can't resist it.

19. Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
Write because you love it, and because you have fun doing it.  Never, ever write because you want to become rich or famous; you will never, ever get anywhere, and you'll be heading for a lifetime of disappointment.  You should write because you simply have to, and because you get enjoyment out of telling a great story.

The best advice I have ever received is something I heard George Lucas say, and it is something I live by:  when you begin a new project, write all the way through until the first draft is done.  You should never just go back and keep rewriting and editing the first forty pages--all that will get you is a really good forty pages, and you will never finish the book.  Even if you aren't sure where the story is going and you feel stuck, always write until the first draft is done, then go back and rewrite and edit.   

20. Where can your readers follow you?

Thankyou so much for taking the time to do this interview and allowing us a glimpse into your writing world!

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