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Monday, June 6, 2011

My Interview with the talented Athanasios, author of Mad Gods!

Of course, you can just call him Tom. He is very talented and it was a pleasure to interview him. Without further ado, here it is!
1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I've been creative all my life and have always striven for outlets to express it. I've tried strict Fine Arts, including drawing, painting and sculpture. I've tried graphic arts, illustration and animation, and I've had a measure of success in all of them.
The one form of expression I feel the most comfortable and immersed in is writing. So to be specific, about 20 years ago, when I saw that the most creative and best feeling I've had was when I finished writing something. I didn't have the impatience I have when drawing or creating something visual. It was simply giving in to the process and moving with it.

2) How long did it take you to write Mad Gods?

It took about ten years. It's gone through many incarnations. First the title Mad Gods is an appropriation of the Joe Cocker album Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Never had it, never heard it, but I saw it in an old record store & thought it was a cool title. It stayed with me till I wanted a title for an earlier comic book version that I called Mad Gods & Buried Children. It was about a giant guy, a natural hulk who was also scarred badly in his youth. Due to his abnormal size he was thought of as a monster, a damned creature that had to be a creation of the devil. So the Antichrist hadn't come into my mind until way later in the Mad Gods & Buried Children timeline. So this huge hulking guy, Bear, comes along in my imagination with this terrible childhood. That's the buried children part. So I follow the ideas in my head till since he was considered a monster & was damned, creation of the devil, yadda, yadda, yadda, that's when I thought, why isn't he the Antichrist? I also didn't want him to be huge but wanted him to be beneath notice, an everyman, all the more insidious because he could be anybody, look like anybody. Medium height, medium build, brown hair, brown eyes, no discernible racial characteristics, nothing impressive or frightening until you find out he's the Antichrist.

3) What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I'm a morning person. Well not bright and cheery, but I can get TONS done if you just leave me alone to do it, in the morning.
That's when my mind is closest to subconscious and I have the shortest trip to get to what I'll need to write. I have a day job where I can do a lot of the preliminaries and promotional parts of indie authorship. Yet when it comes down to doing the grunt work of pulling the tale out of my head I need quiet. I can do my job, graphics and video editing listening to music, or watching some television, or documentaries on my computer and have no problems with concentration. Writing, however, is totally distracting. I can't do anything else. I can't listen to music, or watch anything on computer. So it's difficult to find a place to concentrate on it. It's getting better, though because I can work on the train on my way to and back from work.

4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

There are different fortes I've noticed I exhibit with different modes of writing. Desktop or iPad are good for pure revision and or outlining the plot, however, I've found I'm at my most creative when I"m writing in longhand. That's right you read correctly, I write it out first and then transpose it to computer and revise, revise, revise.

5) Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Religion in general. Documentaries specifically. I've always loved historical fiction, the work of Mary Renault in particular so my work has evolved into that vein.
An amalgam of occult, paranormal, historical fiction where history is fitting because the themes explored are timeless. My most consistent go-to research tool has been the web and more specifically Google. I don't rely on Wikipedia but it is a starting point. I like to take different information about what I'm writing from many sources so that I don't get bogged down with one opinion. I use alternate histories, i.e. crackpots from all over the web explaining world governments, global elite and the like so I can cherry pick the most plausible and mould them into my own unique vision.

6) What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I watch a lot of television, documentaries and movies. Much of what I do in my off time also fuels my writing, yes, I know quite nepotistic, is that a new word?
I practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day, which helps me focus easier. I'm also a Howard Stern fan in the truest definition of the word. I listen to him every day and love every minute of his show. I haven't missed it since I first heard him when he was broadcast in Montreal in 1998.

7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I learned that I liked it much more than any other creative process, I do. Although I started it much later than drawing, painting or graphics it is my favourite of all.

8) Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

The only readers I've heard are from the many slush pile readers at the literary agents I sent Mad Gods to; i.e. all bad, total disinterest sometimes followed by tepid interest, then being strung along and got another rejection. Then enthusiasm followed by bitter disappointment.

9) What do you think makes a good story?

Passion or at least definite enthusiasm of the writer for the subject. Taking everything else away, if the writer doesn't make you care about what's going on and the character it's happening to it's not worth reading.

10) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Too many things to list here. The trite cowboy, police man, soldier, superhero were followed by specific characters. Batman, Conan, Elric of Melniboné, Corum Jhaelen Irsei. Now in my forties I've settled pretty contentedly into a graphic artist on the cusp of international literary renown, i.e. I've sold a few copies in amazonkindle US, UK but not DE yet.

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