Monday, May 9, 2011

Author Interview: Brent Hartinger

About the Author:
I am Brent Hartinger, and I live to write. For the last twenty years, I have made my living writing just about everything that involves words.

Read more about Brent HERE.

Zach lives with his grandparents on a remote island in Puget Sound in Washington State. With only his little brother, Gilbert, to keep him company, Zach feels cut off from the world. But when Gilbert is kidnapped, Zach tries the only thing he can think of to find him: astral projection. Soon, his spirit is soaring through the strange and boundless astral realm—a shadow place. While searching for his brother, Zach meets a boy named Emory.

As Zach and Emory track the kidnappers from the astral realm, their bond grows—but each moment could be Gilbert's last. Even worse, there's a menacing, centuries-old creature in their midst that devours souls and possesses physical bodies. And it's hungry for Zach.

Author Interview: Brent Hartinger

Hi, Brent, thanks for stopping by! Can you tell us a little bit about SHADOW WALKERS and the inspiration behind it?
The inspiration was actually some of the criticism I received over my first book, Geography Club, about the fact that two of the gay characters first meet online. This is, of course, an extremely common way for gay teenagers to meet each other, but some people accused me of glossing over the dangers of online meet-ups (I don't think I did), or argued that I was encouraging people to make such meet-ups.

At a lecture once, I was trying to explain all this, and my attitude about the internet, which I see as being this big, complicated thing that is incredibly helpful on one hand, but can be incredibly dangerous on the other hand. "The internet is this vast expanse of knowledge and wonder," I told my audience. "There is both great beauty there, and great danger, and it's really important to teach kids the difference. The internet is like ... the astral dimension, almost."

It was right then that I thought, "Hey, the astral dimension could be a great metaphor for the internet in a book." Which is why Zach is so cyber-connected at the beginning of the book, why he's initially drawn to the astral dimension when his computer is taken away, and why so often the whole realm reminds of him of the cyber-world.

Honestly, I actually believe the astral dimension and the internet are very closely related.

Were any of your characters a particular challenge during the writing process?
Well, the main character (Zach) and the villain (the creature) were really easy to write. They came to me very "cleanly."

But some of the supporting characters -- Simon and Conrad and Evelyn and the woman in the New Age shop -- were tougher. It's always a struggle with characters like that, trying to make them "effective" but not too over-the-top. You want them to be menacing or scary or wise or whatever function they play, but you also want them to be real. You'll notice with all those characters, they have flaws and personality quirks, in addition to being "bad" in some way.
 
What songs would you choose for the soundtrack of SHADOW WALKERS? 
Oh, wow, good question! You know, I don't think I have anything dark and moody and unsettling enough. I did, but I deleted it from my iPod! Maybe Arcade Fire? That's all about angst and frustration. And something weird and funky, like Nick Drake.
 
Tell us about yourself! What are three fun facts about Brent? 
(1) When I was a kid, there was a salmon run in the little creek below my house. The stream was four feet across, but the salmon were HUGE. None of the adults in the neighborhood believed us kids that they were there, and by the time I was a teenager, the salmon had all died out. But when I was an adult, I worked to restore the run. It was a different species of salmon -- the water quality was too poor to support silver salmon anymore -- but it was still really gratifying.

(2) My best friend is a guy I met when I was five years old. That's over forty years! It's really cool having someone who knows you so well know you that long.

(3) I have intense vertigo. I didn't think anything about it until a couple of years ago -- I learned my dad has it too. All these years, he'd always avoided going anywhere high with me. Anyway, it seems that vertigo is genetic!

Oh, and I'm from the planet Krypton. My real parents sent me to Earth right before that planet was destroyed. Alas, my only super-power is my withering glare when people cut in front of me in line.
 
Where is your favorite place to read and write? 
Well, it's a cliche, but I read (on my Kindle) in a chair between of a window and a fireplace. Love it! And I have a cute little office downstairs, which is great, because when I'm done writing, and I can shut the door and leave my "work" completely behind.
 
Any other releases or works in progress you're excited about? 
I have about three novels (and three screenplays) "in the works," but none are scheduled right now. Which is a little weird for me. Usually I know my publishing life about five years in advance!

Thanks again for your time! Any parting words of wisdom? 
If magic and dragons did exist, we'd all probably mostly ignore them or complain about them (and dragons would totally be endangered or extinct). What's my point? Don't take all the cool stuff that is around us for granted.

You can find Brent at this website HERE.

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