Thursday, April 21, 2011

Check it Out: Hayden Duvall

Hi everyone! Today you're lucky in that you get a double dose of awesome authors to check out!

First off is Hayden Duvall, author of the novel 665. Not only is he an author but he's also an accomplished artist that made his own (incredibly cool) book cover! (Click here to see his other works.) Hayden was kind enough to take the time to answer some of my questions so you can get to know both him & his book a little better.

(Seriously, isn't that an awesome cover?)

What made you decide to write? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author or was there an “aha!” moment in your life where you suddenly knew that this was what you wanted to do?

When I was ten, I wrote a massive, rambling work of imaginative fiction in Mrs. Corkhill’s class that was so epic in its wordage; it blew the minds of all my friends. It was drivel of the highest order, but the feeling of creative expression I got from writing it opened my mind to the exciting possibilities of being a story-teller.

What inspires you? Do you have a muse that you tap into each time you write or does your imagination respond to different things, like seeing an apple & suddenly deciding to write a story about an apple farmer?

Like most people, my inspiration comes from all kinds of directions. The first time I wrote anything that I genuinely thought was good, I was fueled by a dark wave of teenage angst and self-pity. More recently I have found that I am compelled to rail against convention, and so I try and avoid cliché like the plague. Fantasy, as a genre, is partially blighted (some would say crippled) by a lack of imagination and innovation, which is all the more disappointing when you consider that by definition, fantasy can be anything. Right now, you can’t even walk past a bookstore without being trapped under an avalanche of paranormal romance and vamp-lit.

(Reviewer's note: I've a whole corner of my room filled with stereotypical PNR & vamp lit, so I completely agree with this. I keep expecting my book shelves to come alive & try to either eat me or drive a stake into my chest in an attempt to keep me from buying more of these types of books.)

How do you come up with the titles for your books? These can often be amongst the hardest things for authors to settle on, so how & when in the process do you start coming up with titles?

In the case of 665, I started with the title, and went from there. 666, as a number, has a hefty symbolic presence in much of the world, and I wondered what something that was one short of the “number of the beast” could mean.

Are any of the experiences in the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Obviously the more fantastical aspects come from your imagination, but have you ever drawn on anything that you’ve seen or done (or anyone you’ve known) in real life & used it in part of your story?

It’s probably impossible to eliminate yourself from your work completely, but in my case, the only thing I am conscious of drawing from directly, is the time I spent smuggling guns from the former Soviet Union. Actually, I made that up as well.

Do you have any latest news I can dish for you?

Not at the moment.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Have they helped inspire your writing by reaffirming your decision to write or by indirectly giving you ideas for various stories?

My two favourite authors are Roald Dahl and Alan Moore. Both are fiercely creative and imaginative, but Dahl would probably not have objected to me saying that his work generally contained more whimsy and less disembowelment than Moore’s. That being said, both of these writers often ground their stories in a largely familiar setting before adding the fantastic, which is also the way that I like to work.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

I am a new writer, and so I wouldn’t presume to give anyone advice. I do have a request though: please stop with the vampires.

What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them.

The hardest part of writing for me is overcoming the fuzzy, intangible wall that drops every now and again, temporarily making it hard for me to be productive. I know that this is a very vague concept, but sometimes writing a paragraph is more difficult than beating back a cohort of ninjas with nothing more than a small pot of low-fat yoghurt. In times like this, absolutely everything else seems more appealing, and all you can do is tough it out until normal service is resumed.

In the light of recent infamous responses to negative reviews, how would you recommend responding to negative reviewers?

As far as I am aware, Smashwords will soon be offering an assassination service, and I know for a fact that Konrath has had at least five reviewers kidnapped, and dropped onto a tiny island off the coast of Ecuador. We all deal with rejection in our own way.

What do you like on your pizza? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping!)

I am not a vegetarian, but perversely, my favourite pizza is a vegetarian one (specifically with mushrooms, black olives and green pepper.)


Curious to read 665? You can buy an ebook copy of this on Smashwords & Amazon for the insanely low price of $2.99. Smashwords has a preview of the novel which I admit is pretty intriguing.

And don't forget to enter in my easter blog contest! We're giving out quite a few good books as well as an amazon gift certificate!

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