Today, Literary Escapism is excited to welcome Skyler White to the room as we celebrate the release of her new novel, and Falling, Fly.
In a dark and seedy underground of burned-out rock stars and angels- turned-vampires, a revolutionary neuroscientist and a fallen angel must pit medicine against mythology in an attempt to erase their tortured pasts…but at what cost?
Olivia, vampire and fallen angel of desire, is hopeless…and damned. Since the fall from Eden, she has hungered for love, but fed only on desire. Dominic O’Shaughnessy is a neuroscientist plagued by impossible visions. When his research and her despair collide at L’Hotel Mathillide – a subterranean hell of beauty, demons, and dreams-rationalist and angel unite in a clash of desire and damnation that threatens to destroy them both.
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a signed copy of and Falling, Fly – to one lucky winner.
For those of my readers unfamiliar with and Falling, Fly, can you give us a brief look at your novel and what readers can look forward to? Can you give my readers a look into the world you created?
and Falling, Fly takes place in a world where things that are figuratively or mythologically true have the potential to also be physically real. It’s the story of Olivia, the fallen angel of desire who is also a vampire, and Dominic, a ground-breaking neuroscientist who is secretly formulating (and testing on himself) drugs to erase memories he has of past lives.
What was your inspiration when you created Olivia and Dominic? How did you determine how they were going to interact with each other?
Olivia came first. She’s angry and bored and sick of desire. She doesn’t know what she looks like; she can’t see herself in mirrors, unless someone who wants her is looking at her. And everyone wants her. Or is afraid of her. And both of those things, being wanted or feared, distort her. Dominic came into being as the only person who could potentially turn the tables on Olivia. She’s so wrapped up in being whatever people want that she never wants anything for herself. But she can want him. Dominic’s so wrapped up in trying to understand Olivia, that all his desires become secondary to his intellectual curiosity and interest in helping her.
Can you introduce us to some of your supporting characters? The ones we haven’t seen a lot of, but will in the future? Who was the most fun to write? Who gave you the most problems? Are any of your characters modeled off anyone you know?
Dominic and Olivia are definitely the stars, but there’s a pretty good-sized supporting cast. I can’t really say who you’ll see again without giving things away, but outside the hotel, there are the people Dominic works with: Dysart, the senior guy who’s been riding Dominic’s intellectual coattails for a while; plus Peter and Paul, Dominic’s two fellow post-doctoral researchers. In Olivia’s topside world, there’s her current boyfriend, Adam, and Evelyn, one of her vampire sisters. At the hotel, Alyx was a lot of fun to write, as was Ophelia, Olivia’s youngest sister. I could spend hours on the hotel, too. It really became a character for me, and even though I feel like I know the story’s people very well, I can see the hotel more clearly in my mind than I can see faces. It’s a vaguely steampunk-inflected underground netherworld of glass, metal and stone that is powered entirely by the inertia of human movement.
What made you decide to start a new urban fantasy series? What was it about the Hotel of the Damned that made you want to share it with everyone?
I just think it’s so much fun. I wanted to create a play-space that allowed for the sort of games I wanted to develop. For me, it’s tremendous fun to roll out the “Big Serious Questions” and unpack them like a clown car. I come out of the circus and the lecture hall, and this world is my attempt to represent both my realities and share them with others.
Can I assume this is the start to a new series, and if so, where do you anticipate your series going? Do you have a set number of books planned or is this a world you plan to come back to time and time again? If this is not the start of a new series, do you have any other projects in the works that you can tease us with? Will we ever be taken back to the Hotel of the Damned?
What I want to write is not technically a series, although I didn’t know that when I started writing it. I thought of it as a series – I even named it – but a series, it turns out, tracks the same set of characters from book to book and, with a few exceptions, I don’t want to do that.
All the adult books I want to write (I’m working on a children’s book now) take place in the same story-world, though. The second book in ‘The Harrowing’ (my not-series) will come out in December. ‘In Dreams Begin’ is a time-travel story that moves between the world of the Victorian occult in Ireland, England and France, and the corporate world of contemporary Portland. A graphic designer there, on her wedding night, falls asleep and wakes up channeled into the body of Maud Gonne, a famously beautiful Irish revolutionary who may have been part faerie.
In Maud’s body, Laura, our modern, professional woman, while still coming to grips with Victorian rules and outfits, meets WB Yeats, the Irish poet. He’s wildly romantic, embarrassingly passionate, ridiculously flamboyant, and she, of course, falls in love with him, only to wake up back in Portland. The story tracks Laura and her new husband over two weeks, and Laura, Yeats and Maud Gonne over almost thirty years, all completely obedient to actual history, but allows me to have a lot of fun with questions of body image, fidelity, morality, and about five different flavors of possession.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m pathologically curious and too impatient for my own good. I grew up on the East Coast, the child of two professors who didn’t quite know what to make of the very energetic, non-academic little girl they’d adopted. They put me in dance lessons to do something for the hyperactivity. I swallowed that hook, line and toe shoe and ended up at a performing arts high school by the time I was 16. There, of course, I discovered I loved the academics. My life since has been a sort of grapevine-swing from thing to thing trying to find something that allowed me to be as physical as dance, but as intellectual as school. Writing while standing is my latest attempt.
How do you separate your imaginary world with real life? Do you often take something you see during your daily life and twist it a little to make it work elsewhere? Have you ever wondered what would happen if any part of your world were, in actually, a part of our reality?
I’ll steal anything! I’ll borrow a hand gesture from one friend and stick it with a verbal style of another. I’ll take an actor’s shoulders and my husband’s teeth. I can’t imagine how anyone could write without being able to crib the stuff around them. And yes, I do wonder about my world belonging in the larger reality. They’re very collapsed for me. Olivia’s airplane companion on her trip to Ireland is me.
What was it about the fantasy genre that drew you to write in it? Was there a certain book that captured your imagination and lead you to think you could do it or did it come to your naturally?
It’s the readers who attracted me to writing fantasy. They’re the most open-minded readers around, willing to bring almost no pre-conceived notions to each new thing they read. They tend to be smarter than your average bear too; more patient with abstract ideas, and more willing to give a writer space to experiment. I think it’s that freedom that attracted me as a writer. But it’s also what I love as a reader. That and the generally more interactive relationship fantasy readers have with the worlds they enjoy. As a reader, I’ve always been attracted to the sort of fiction you could dress up and act out.
Which authors do you read and/or think “Damn! I wish I had thought of that”? Who would you love to sit down with and discuss fantasy literature with?
Margret Atwood would be very high on the list. Although I don’t tend to think, “Damn! I wish I’d written that,” when I read her nearly as much as I think, “Damn! I have no business writing in the first place.” I don’t know if I’d like to talk writing with her though. She’s a little scary.
I’d love to sit down with Charles deLindt and Tolkein, if we can raise the dead. Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon foremost among the living, because they’re both brilliant and they seem to like people, which not all writers do.
When you’re not writing, what are you reading? Have you found an author that’s new to you or one that the rest of the world really needs to find? Is there a certain niche in the fantasy genre that you prefer to escape to? If so, why that one or if not, why not?
Caitlín Kiernan is by no means a new writer, but I think she doesn’t get nearly enough visibility for as smart and subtle as she is. But I’m a total genre slut. I’ll read anything for twenty pages. I read a lot of non-fiction and poetry too, so it’ be hard to say what I prefer. I like to have options to suit my moods.
Contest Time! Skyler has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of and Falling, Fly – to one lucky winner. All you have to do is answer one of this question: Who are some of your favorite characters?
As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat:
- +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
- +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
- +1 Join the Literary Escapism Facebook page and/or follow LE on Twitter
- +1 subscribe to Literary Escapism – either via a reader or email (see the RSS button at the bottom of the sidebar)
- +10 purchase for any print novel through LE’s Amazon store sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: myjaxon AT gmail DOT com. Each purchase is worth ten entries, but it has to be through the LE Amazon Link.
There is one thing I am adding to my contests now…the winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
Also, I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.