Interview: Debut Author Skyler White & a Giveaway!

Filed in Giveaways , Interview , Skyler White , The Obsessed Lover Posted on March 2, 2010 @ 6:42 pm 14 comments
Book Lovers Inc: What is your favorite color and what do you think it says about you or how does it represent you?

Skyler White: I don’t really have a favorite color. Green, probably. Or black. I imagine what that says about me is that I’m somewhat non-committal. Or that I like spring and growth. Or winter and death. 😉

BLI: What is your favorite type of music?

SW: Gak, I’m going to be non-committal throughout, looks like. I like a lot of different kinds of music, depending on my mood. I love the sound of the cello, but I also love the terrible music I grew up with in the 80’s. I’m an old-school U2 fan, but I’m loving Lady Gaga right now.

BLI: Many authors talk about the music they listen to while they write. While reading ‘and Falling, Fly’ I found the writing to have a lyrical style, almost a music of its own. Like music was there in the background but just a bit too faint for me to make out what song it was. Do you listen to music while you write?

SW: I’m completely tone-deaf and can’t sing at all. Which is actually a deep source of pain to me, so the idea that my writing is almost a song means a lot to me, so thank you! I don’t listen to music while I write. I try very hard not to listen to anything. I keep a track of white noise – thunderstorms, specifically – on my laptop and plug into headphones when I write. That said, I love the Collide song we used for my book trailer, and U2’s “Achtung Baby,” Tool’s “Undertow,” and a CD of solo cello were what I was listening to most obsessively in the year I was writing and Falling, Fly.

BLI: Now that we know a bit about you let’s talk about your debut novel, ‘and Falling, Fly’.
Can you tell us how your personal background or interests came together to create Olivia and Dominic?

SW: Olivia evolved as an angel to wrestle with. I was trying to come to grips with my relationship to desire – to things I wanted and couldn’t have, with what it meant to be wanted for who you were or what you looked like. She is the fallen angel of desire – desire in its less-than-perfect state. Dominic is her counterbalance. He comes out of my own interest in neuroscience and from the impulse in me to discount all the metaphysical stuff I’m interested in, but can’t see or prove.

BLI: The universe that you have created in this book is both beautiful and terrifying. Which is how I think a “Vampire” novel should be, but your Vampires are a different and surprising twist on the lore. What inspired the creation of this universe?

SW: The world of and Falling, Fly is really the only world Olivia could inhabit. It grew up to support her. She’s a paradox, and so the world that could hold her needed to be able to contain paradoxes. I needed to find a way to make a fallen angel both a girl you could meet in a bar and a ferociously powerful, shape-shifting immortal.

BLI: Olivia and Dominic have very distinct voices throughout the story. Was it hard to maintain the balance between the ‘logical’ and the ‘mythic’ elements?

SW: It was hard to get into, but once I was underway on a scene, the characters kinda held their own. I do a lot of pre-writing before each scene. I have a little checklist I go through to work myself firmly into the character so that they sound like themselves. Then I re-read pretty carefully specifically for that, looking for places where Olivia’s voice, or my own, bleeds into Dominic or the other way around.

BLI: I think that Ireland is an ideal setting for a dark fantasy, but it is not the first place most people would think of for vampires and angels or demons. What made you choose that locale?

SW: ‘and Falling, Fly’ is a deeply, deeply personal book and Ireland is where I come from genetically. When Olivia needed to go home, it just felt like the right place for that to be. And Ireland has such a rich legacy of mythology all its own, both Christian and pre-Christian, of kings under the mountain and cities both on and under the hills. Also, I’d been there a couple of year ago and still had pictures and notes I could mine.

BLI: What type of research did you do in preparation for writing this book?

SW: Beyond culling through my old notes and daydreaming about that trip, I did some other brushing up. I went back to The Bible, and to Dante and Milton. And my copy of The D’Aulaires’ Greek Mythology is never far away. I did a bunch of new research too, trying to give myself a grounding in neuroscience. It’s such an amazing field and changing so rapidly. I had to change the name of Dominic’s illicit medication twice to keep up with changes in the field!

BLI: In the story there are elements of several different religions, but there is no overt or specific religion in the story. What inspired you to bring these elements together and was it difficult to keep from falling into a specific religious belief system?

SW: Oh, I wish I could fall into a specific religious belief system! No, the patchwork you so rightly call out is just me. Kinda messy, no?

BLI: The Olivia and Dominic’s love story is epic in its scope and feeling. What is your favorite love story and do you think it influenced how Olivia and Dominic’s developed?

SW: That’s an interesting question! “The Thornbirds” and “Gone with the Wind” were two of the earliest love stories I read, and I’m sure I’m part duckling in the way they imprinted on me. “Gone with the Wind” for the love that gets in its own way, and “Thornbirds” for the whole forbidden love, god vs. flesh thing. But my favorite love story… Eros and Psyche.

BLI: I understand that ‘and Falling, Fly’ is part of a series you call The Harrowing’, and the subsequent books will all be part of the same universe, but will not involve the same characters. Can you tell us more about you next book and/or subsequent ones planned for this series?

SW: There will actually be a bit of overlap in characters, but Dominic and Olivia’s story doesn’t continue in the next book. I have some thoughts about who else might reappear in subsequent books, but I ain’t sayin’!

In Dreams Begin comes out in December. It continues and expands the story world of ‘and Falling, Fly’. In it, Laura Armstrong, a contemporary graphic artist, wakes up on her wedding night channeled in the body of Victorian revolutionary and legendary Irish beauty, Maud Gonne – a woman who may have been part faerie. Maud’s friend, Ida Jameson, the whiskey heiress, introduces Laura to fellow amateur occultist and poet, WB Yeats. The two fall immediately in love but must navigate not only time- and body-shifts, but the Victorian vs. Modern stance on romance, art, religion, beauty and fidelity.

BLI: Do you remember how old you were when you started reading and/or what it was about the stories you read that made you want to keep reading?

SW: I don’t remember how old I was when I started to read, but reading has always been a part of my life. My mom loves literature and read to me lots, especially poetry, from a very early age. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and Alice in Wonderland, but the D’Auliares Greek Myths book was the first I fell in love with.

BLI: What authors or books have influenced your writing the most?

SW: That’s hard! All the early stuff, the poetry and the stories, the mythology, certainly are foundational. I went through an obsessive King Arthur period. Then in college I discovered the more experimental modern writers and they blew my mind. Certainly Tom Robbins and Neil Gaiman and Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne Rice were hugely influential. Also I read a lot of non-fiction. Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi changed the way I thought about creativity and art. I’m easily influenced, I guess…

BLI: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing environment and/or and rituals you go through before sitting down to write?

SW: I really don’t have a consistent environment or rituals, although I aspire to that kind of regularity! My writing schedule is, well, unscheduled. I write when and where I can. I need quiet, but I can manufacture my own with my white noise and earplugs. And ideally, I like to be in a space where I can go an hour or so without interruption. At home, I alternate standing at the pass-through between the kitchen and dining room, where there’s a bar at the right height for typing, and my desk, where I sit on a big physioball. At coffee shops, I politely sit on chairs.

BLI: If there was one thought or feeling you would want readers to take away from reading ‘and Falling, Fly’, what would it be?

SW: Embrace paradox. Life, I think, at its most interesting, doesn’t fall neatly into buckets. It sloshes around all over us, and we do better when we can just get in the mess with it. Life can be an adventure or a vacation. Arduous but worthwhile, restful but dull. A good life is both.

BLI: Last but not least, what advice would you give to someone who is living their life doing something that is not fulfilling to them – but has a dream they aren’t chasing?

SW: Get going! Seriously. You don’t have to run after a dream to chase it. You can just take a few steps every other day in its general direction. Even if all you’re doing is moving slowly towards figuring out what you want, the purpose of life is to have a purpose in life. If you’re unfulfilled, make it your purpose to find what will light you up inside. The world needs everyone out there turned on and paying attention!

About the Author:

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.

Giveaway Info:
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Ends: Thursday, March 11, 2010

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Join the Discussion
  • Martha Lawson March 3, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    This was a very interesting interview!! I love reading about Ireland. Always wanted to go there. I can't wait to read this book, it sounds awesome, I have been hearing really good things about it..

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  • jacabur2008 March 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Wow what an interesting and in depth interview with Skyler. I loved seeing her references to Gone With The Wind and Alice In Wonderland as some of her influence from her earlier reading experiences and the deeply personal connection to Ireland makes me long even more to read this book. So glad to see the next installments backdrop and characters and that it comes out at the end of this year in December has me happy.

    jackie b central texas

  • Misusedinnocence March 3, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Skyler, what's your favorite musical? 🙂

  • Sue A. March 3, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Writing a novel especially in the paranormal genre sounds intense. Do the characters invade your subconscious and come out in your dreams?

    alternate email from blogger
    magenta 2 red [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Skyler White March 3, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Hi everybody, cool questions!
    Misusedinnocence: Les Mis. Hands down. Cry like a baby every. stinking. time.
    Sue: I very rarely remember my dreams. I don't sleep so much as enter a nightly coma. What's really been cool though, is to see the characters enter other people's subconscious. I was having drinks with a group of friends the other night, two of whom had read early drafts of the book, and one guy tipped his chin at the bartender, this gorgeous dark-haired girl with a ring in her lip and said, "There's Olivia." And my other friend argued with him. "Nah, Olivia's taller than that." And it just totally rocked my world that she had invaded them enough that they *knew* what she looked like. One of the coolest Writer Moments I've had yet.

  • Victoria March 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Very interesting sounding book. Looking forward to reading it. Thank you.

  • julie s March 4, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Even though this book is on my want-to-read list, this interview definitely made me more interested in reading it.

    julie s
    julstew at gmail dot com

  • heatwave16 March 4, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Skyler!!! Here's a fun question for you, at least I hope its fun:

    If you were stuck on an island and could only bring 5 books, which ones would you bring?


  • Bethie March 4, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Please count me in. I loved the Greek Myths also.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  • Skyler White March 5, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Argh, that's an excruciating question! God. Five books…. Can I do collected works anthologies? That's probably cheating, isn't it? Joyce's "Ulysses" Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi's "The Evolving Self" A poetry anthology (cheating, I know, sorry) The American Heritage Dictionary, and Winnie the Pooh.

  • Marianna March 8, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I'm fascinated by the interview but even more fascinated by her hair! Wow!
    mannasweeps (at) gmail DOT com

  • heatwave16 March 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    The dictionary??? I think you'd be ok if you misspelled a few words. 🙂 I would have to take the complete collection of Calvin & Hobbs. Need to laugh if you are stuck on an island. 🙂

  • throuthehaze March 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Great interview! I love Tool's "Undertow" as well.
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  • Amanda Leigh March 10, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    That was a wonderful interview! Now I want to read this even more than I did before, if that's possible. I love Ireland as well, and most mythology in general, so I'm very interested to see how that will play into this.

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