Friday, June 21, 2013

Sea Change Blog Tour - Interview with S.M. Wheeler, author of Sea Change - June 21, 2013

Please welcome S. M. Wheeler to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews and the Sea Change Blog Tour. Sea Change was published on June 18, 2013 by Tor Books.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

S. M.:  Thanks for having me. I’m charmed by the name.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

S. M.:  It depends on your definition of ‘writing’. If the material created when I still had to guess the difference between b and d counts, then the answer is ‘before I could read back what I’d put down’. If we consider those stories of dragons and mythical birds as being artistic impressions of the written English language rather than true works of fiction, we must go a little further into the future. During one of my performances of a story—this involved sound effects, mimicry of facial expressions, and interruptions to explain tricky matters of emotion and appearance—my father informed me that it needed to all be written down. It’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten, though it’s possible to take it too far. Learn from my experience: readers do not need a painstaking catalogue of all a character’s facial features and their positions relative to each other.

Why did I start? Well, I never knew that there was another option.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

S. M.:  I have a common law marriage with the semicolon and the em dash. Ours is the most beautiful of all polygamous relationships and I regret nothing.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

This is my first exposure to the term ‘pantser’, and I find myself not entirely fond of it. On account of this, I will be labeling myself as a plotter. I am a little bit of a liar in saying so, given most of my outlines are constructed after I have written the scenes and my breezy descriptions of plots-to-come are devised on the spot, but I am certain my pants have nothing to do with the process.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

S. M.:  Leaving what I have made alone. I am under the impression that I can do everything today better than I did yesterday, despite all objective knowledge that this is untrue. The constant rewriting this results in makes finishing drafts very difficult and explains why most of my completed works are under five thousand words in length (that being about the max of how much I can write in a couple days). That the various drafts of Sea Change culminated in a finished manuscript can be attributed to my being careful not to read what I had already written.

TQ:  Describe Sea Change in 140 characters or less.

A woman, her kraken, and what follows from his capture.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Sea Change?

S. M.:  For the sake of variety—everyone likes to ask this question—I’m going to tell you why I finished Sea Change rather than one of my numerous other projects. Once I had created the characters of Lilly and Octavius, the solemn young woman with a facial birthmark and her sea monster, I couldn’t keep away. Octopi are lovely, complex creatures, and I think that has something to do with the original fascination. Too, this work provided many opportunities to utilize the ideas derived from my recent devouring of The Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

The moment that saw me doomed to work on the novel until I had finished it, however, was the realization that it wasn’t Lilly who had to leave Octavius: no, the kraken was the one who left. Indeed, it was worse than that: he was abducted. Now the story had all the drama and drive it needed from a narrative perspective, and meanwhile I felt a strange and perhaps mentally unstable need to reunite these characters so cruelly pulled apart.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

S. M.:  Lilly meets a boy named Horace in the course of her quest; he’s a semi-feral, amoral, kind of gross creature, and I really enjoy writing someone who has his variety of spontaneity. He makes a good foil for Lilly, and despite his original crankiness with her, he also initiates what are some of the sweeter social interactions in the book.

I mulled over the second question, and I don’t know that I have a serious answer. I spent a great deal of time with these characters during the drafting process, and all of them are very much distinct and boldly drawn in my mind’s eye. In such a case as I was forced to answer, I would say Lilly’s horse. You would not believe how many times I tried to write that animal out of the book. She is so well-behaved, it’s boring.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is your favorite scene in Sea Change?

S. M.:  There are a great number of contenders for that place, given there are quite a lot of ways to like something. I’ll go ahead and discuss one. As a writer, I think there are sometimes scenes that won’t stand out for readers but which I have a special fondness for. One such is a short interlude that happens while Lilly is traveling and has gotten off track. She encounters a little fay person with whom she shares her food, and then it points her in the right direction. It’s one of the book’s straightforward fairytale moments. It’s possible I am also pleased at all opportunities to include individuals that I can describe as ‘sexless’.

TQ:  What’s next?

S. M.:  Perhaps the sequel, in which I take the character I broke a little more than I meant to and get her somewhere safe.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at the Qwillery.

S. M.:  My pleasure!

About Sea Change

Sea Change
Publisher:  Tor Books, June 18, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages
Price:  $24.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-0-7653-3314-8 (print)

The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly's quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

A powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author, Sea Change is an exhilarating tale of adventure, resilience, and selflessness in the name of friendship.

The cover artist is Sam Weber.

About S. M. Wheeler

I spent the first thirteen years of my life on a slow-motion tour of the United States, following my father’s work in the telecommunication business, with a brief side trip to Jamaica. Settling down at last in Upstate New York when my parents purchased an inn, I spent a difficult year attempting to adapt to the small local school and the company of my agemates. Ultimately, my family made the decision to educate me at home. Some of my time came to revolve around the business, which grew to include a bookstore and restaurant; some of my attention went to the school textbooks from which I learned. Mostly, I read and wrote.

Fantasy, science fiction, myth, folklore—I favored the unreal in reading and told the same sort of stories as soon as I could articulate those ideas in words. This became an important tool when I developed several chronic health problems in my adolescence. Rather than using the world of fantasy to escape from these, I normalized them by creating disabled characters within the familiar landscapes of the fantastic. One o’ clock in the morning with an unruly mind and aching joints was best faced with characters whose hallucinations and missing limbs were oversized projections of my own difficulties.

I flew out of Upstate to California for college with one suitcase of clothes and ten boxes of books. I am now living with family while attending the University of San Diego, where I am pursuing an English degree, a Classics minor, and all excuses to write fiction.

Website  ~  Twitter @SMWWrites

The Giveaway

What: Three  commenters will each win a copy of Sea Change and a Sea Change Pin from Tor Books. US/CANADA  ONLY

Sea Change Pin

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on June 30, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

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  1. My favorite fairy tale is Snow White!!

  2. I have been enjoying Eloisa James' newer books that she is basing on Fairy Tales. The last one that I read was "Once Upon A Tower". I loved it!!

  3. I really enjoyed Eon by Allison Goodman... love the dragons!

  4. Cinderella stories are my favorite.
    debby236 at gmail dot com