|Posted by Matt Posner on August 3, 2012 at 8:00 AM|
1) Please introduce yourself and the place you come from.
My name is Zachary Rawlins. I live in Oakland, California, with my wife and my corgi in an old Tudor that we are slowly rehabilitating. During the day, I work for an environmental engineering company, doing bookkeeping, graphics, and technology, as well as writing the occasional report. I’ve been writing since I was about fourteen, and I have a degree in Lit and Creative Writing from UCSC. When I’m not writing, I like to garden, take pictures in abandoned buildings, and read.
I am not a big fan of zucchini. Actually, to be completely honest… I hate it.
2) Since you have several series, tell us a lot about each so we can figure out where to start reading. Include some links if you would like.
I have two series going at the moment.
First would be The Central Series, which is generally classified as falling into the Urban Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre. It is primarily concerned with the remarkable life of one wholly unremarkable Alexander Warner. I have released the first two books (of five) in the series, The Academy and The Anathema. Both are filled with telepaths, vampires, schoolgirls fighting werewolves, and the romantic mishaps of poor Alex. They can be bought at the Kindle store here:
My other series would be the Unknown Kadath Estates, the first volume of which, Paranoid Magical Thinking, is current available. Quite possibly the first American Light Novel, Paranoid Magical Thinking is a ‘Cthulhu-Noire’ mash-up, written in the literary-minimalist pop-culture style popular in Japan, complete with amazing illustrations by artist Xi Lu. I am in the process of releasing a deluxe version of the book in the next few months with more illustrations, an expanded text, and a helpful guide, but if you can’t wait for it, then you can buy the current version here:
I want to read about schoolgirls fighting werewolves, so I know where I will start! 2b) What are some of your favorite moments from your books (avoiding spoilers)? Did you know when writing them that they would be your favorites?
My favorite scenes always end up cut from the book during the editing phase, because no one likes them as much as I do. One of things that stuck with me from a creative writing class a million years ago is a teacher telling me that if I really, really liked a part of what I wrote – thought it was cool or funny or whatever – that I was probably too emotionally connected to the section for it to be successful for anyone else.
3) I tracked you down for this interview because your books were constantly on my Amazon page as having the same readers as mine, and they looked cool. But then, I'm a person who likes to meet other writers. Do you also interact with a lot of writers? If yes, in what way?
Honestly, not that often.
I have chatted with a few other self-published authors, but have general found them to be less than friendly, with a few notable exceptions. Authors working for the publishers tend to see me as either stealing sales or destroying the industry, so they haven’t been very nice either.
I do, however, include my email in everything I write, and I answer every email I receive (though it may take a few days, depending on volume). As a result, I have heard from numerous aspiring writers and novelists who would like advice, encouragement, or help of some kind – which has been tremendously rewarding and engaging.
4) Talk about your creative process, any stages from getting ideas to drafting to preparing the final version.
I am an outliner. An idea will kick around in the back of my brain for a while, until it gets fully fleshed out and I have a concept for a story. Then I will create a detailed outline – book by book, chapter by chapter, detailing events, characters, etc. While I will often deviate from the outline while writing the actual book, I can’t work without creating an outline first, so that I always know what I am supposed to be doing with each portion of the text.
I start at the start, and write straight through to the end. I don’t write out of order or skip sections. I write every day, for at least two hours, and most of one day on the weekends. More if I can manage the time.
I work on several different projects simultaneously, so when I fell stuck or burnt out, I can switch to something else and still be productive.
I produce a draft, then edit it myself, then distribute that edited copy to a rotating cast of about six readers that I use for proofing. I will then produce a final edit, which is reviewed once more, then I go final.
5) What has it been like to interact with your readers, online or otherwise?
My readers are awesome! I get tons of email from people around the world, and it is the best part of the whole gig. I love hearing from people who enjoyed my work and want to talk about it. I’ve met some really cool people, and I deeply enjoy conversing with them. In particular, I hear from a number of armed forces members , particularly those that are deployed, and I am always deeply touched and honored to be able to entertain a service member volunteering for their country.
I really only interact online. I’m a fairly shy and private person in real life.
6) What is some writing, art, and music that gives you energy or inspiration?
I will do my best not to turn this into an epic list. I actually make soundtracks for my books – I assign theme songs to every character, make a mix of said music, and then listen to it repeatedly while writing. I’ve done one for every book I’ve written. But, in a general way, my favorite sources of inspiration would be:
BOOKS: Neuromancer by William Gibson, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll , Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, and anything by Raymond Chandler or Dashielle Hammett.
COMICS/MANGA/ANIME: X-Men, Yotsuba, Black Lagoon, Lone Wolf and Cub, 100 Bullets, Bakemonogatari.
ART: Edward Gorey, Camille D’Errico, Gerhard Richter, Zak Smith, so many I can’t count. I’m a fan of classical Western, modern Eastern, surrealism, pen and ink illustration, photography… I even married an artist.
MUSIC: Fever Ray, Crystal Castles, Jucifer, Ludicra, Samael, New Pornographers, Odd Future and Queen Adreena are favorites.
I make soundtracks for my books also! I have an iPod playlist that rotates as books get finished. 7) What are your views on love?
I’m fortunate to have loved the same woman for thirteen years now – my totally amazing wife, Chloe. We’ve been married for nine years now, and I can’t imagine my life without her. Literally everything I do is for her, directly or indirectly, and not a day goes by that I don’t feel blessed and fortunate to have her in my life.
As hokey as it may sound, I truly believe that Chloe and I were made for each other.
My corgi, Ein, is also pretty high up on the list.
Have you ever had a brush with death?
Actually, yes. When I was twenty, I was sideswiped on the freeway by a semi-truck, while moving at about 80 mph. My car was thrown from the road, and my car flew for what seemed like a very long time, before hitting the ground upside down and flipping half a dozen times. I recall very clearly the sensation of being in an upside down car, heading straight for the ground at high speed, and being utterly sure that I was about to die.
I did not feel any fear that I recall. All I remember is a feeling of very profound regret, for all the people that I wouldn’t be able to properly express my love and affection for, for the things I hadn’t done or said for the people I cared about, etc.
In the end, I crawled away with a crushed disc in my back, glass embedded in my face and hands, and a whole new outlook on life. Every day since then has been bonus time – and I am a very fortunate man.
9) In what direction would you like your career as a writer to go? What are you planning to do to make it happen?
Straight up! I would like to put out one or two more books and have them be as successful as The Central Series, so I can write full-time and still pay my mortgage. It would be nice to have a publishing house, physical copies of the book, and a professional editing and design time, but I’m cool with doing it all myself as well, assuming publishers continue to offer absurd terms.
My plans include writing like a maniac – three books out so far this year, and I’m really trying to manage a fourth – which is pretty good when you consider that I started publishing novels last September. I’m in the process of getting a website built, and I have a few other promotional things in the works.
Mainly, though, I’m not much for trying to sell my work. I work very hard to produce the best quality work that I can, put it out there and hope that people enjoy it. Thus far, I’ve enjoyed a response far in excess of anything I had planned or hoped for. I blew away all of my goals and milestones in the first three months, and have had trouble coming up with new ones faster than they are accomplished. I’ve met some really cool people, and kept some folks up late at night, finishing my books.
I am so grateful and thrilled by what has happened thus far, that at all I really want is the opportunity to do more writing , entertain more people, and spend my time doing what I like the best. What more could an author want?