A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guest Post: Gene Doucette

As you may well know, Gene Doucette's book Immortal has been one of my favorites since I was able to get my autographed copy from the author himself.  When Gene - @GeneDoucette on Twitter - posted that he was doing an April Blog Tour to support and promote Immortal, I jumped at the chance to host him.  I've already hosted Adam in my blog, and you can see that post here.  Today's post is an interview I did with Gene.

  1. Of course, the first question has to be...why did you choose to be a writer?

I can’t answer this question without sounding pretentious, but: I didn’t choose to be a writer, I just am one.  To find the “why” I’d have to go back to first grade and figure out what might have happened back then to convince me this is what I wanted to do, because after that my mind was pretty much made up.

  1. What made you decide to go from writing books like "Beating Up Daddy" and "The OTHER Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook" to a novel like "Immortal"?

I try out different things all the time.  I believe the historical order of my writing career is: journalist (high school), playwright (high school and college), novelist and playwright, humor columnist, essayist, satirist, novelist, screenwriter.  Novelist comes up twice because in the dark, distant past there is My First Novel, which will Never Be Seen By Anybody if there is any justice.  Immortal is actually my third completed manuscript.

I started writing humor columns because I had a venue for it, originally on one of the AOL channels back when AOL was something people actually used.  But all I’ve ever been looking for was a place to combine what I do well with what people will want to buy in large quantities.  If the current self-publishing ebook environment existed a decade ago my life would have been much more awesome, I’m convinced.

But okay, I haven’t really answered the question.  The answer is, humor columns got boring after a while.  I needed to try something new.

  1. Where did Adam as a character come from?  What was your inspiration for this man?

I… don’t know, honestly.  I learned about him at the same time and at the same speed the reader does.  In other words, I developed him by writing as him, so the inspiration was more like a series of small decisions. 

I see him as a consequence of his environment, but his environment is the scope of human history, so what would that mean?  To survive this long he’d have to be extremely clever, occasionally paranoid, fully capable of murder, and so on, and so on.  He’d also need a reason to keep on living, so he can’t be so bitter that he’s given up on making real human connections, which means he needs to find a way to fit into whichever society he finds himself. 

These are the kinds of thoughts that helped me create his character, but they came about as a series of if/then statements I posed while I was already writing the book.

  1. I know you're working on the second book in Adam's story.  Do you have an idea of how many books you plan on using to tell his story?

It’s going to take at least three, and I say that because I left some unanswered questions on the table at the end of the first book and I wasn’t ready to answer them in the second book (Hellenic Immortal) so they’re going to be dealt with in the third.  After that, we’ll see how much I have left in me.

  1. Are there other stories lurking, waiting to be told?  Or are you just sticking with Adam's stories for now?

Most of my new writing for the past two years has been in screenwriting, but with Hellenic Immortal in draft form and another unrelated novel (Fixer) finished and awaiting a rewrite, I haven’t had to make time to work on a new novel.  That will change once it’s time to write the third Immortal book.  I also think it might be fun to take the established reality Adam lives in and write for another character in that reality.

  1. I've been asked this question before so I thought I'd pass it on to you...what is your writing process when you sit down to work on one of these books?

The process is, I sit down and start writing.  When I don’t know what comes next I stop, anguish for a few days until something occurs to me, and then sit down and start writing again.  I am very much a fan of letting my unconscious solve my problems for me.

  1. What are your plans for the future in regards to your writing?

Short-term, I’m just trying to get Immortal the attention it deserves.  My hope is to bring up its profile enough to make a mass market deal a reality.  Long-term, I would love to see a screen version.  Adam would translate extremely well in a cable series.

Other than that, I’m sitting on a prize-winning feature length thriller screenplay called Charlatan that still needs a home.  There’s Fixer, which also needs a home.  And I have a few screenwriting projects that are lying dormant and should blow soon.

  1. Final question: what are your views on traditional vs. Indie publishing?

Is this something people take sides on? 

Okay, okay.  I spent two plus years getting notes back from traditional publishing houses saying they loved Immortal, but since they couldn’t figure out how to sell it they weren’t going to try.  What they meant was, it’s not a single genre book and so they didn’t want to take a chance on it.  I hated this then and I hate it now, but I do understand it.  This is a money business with a narrow margin, and there’s more money to lose for a large house that’s printed 10,000 copies it can’t move than for an independent publisher that’s printed 1,000 or gone with print-on-demand.  It’s easy to get down on the big houses for not taking chances, but this is the direction every industry goes when it converts from making things to making money.  The same thing has happened in Hollywood.  And it’s not anyone’s fault; in a free market system the businesses that find the cheapest way to make money—meaning the ones that can most consistently guarantee success—are the ones that survive.

I love the indie publishing market, and I support it as much as I can, but that doesn’t mean if a big house offers me a deal next week I’m turning it down.
You can purchase Immortal on Amazon here and from B&N here and on Smashwords here.

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