Interview with Author of “Warm Bodies” Isaac Marion

Dragon Soul Press had the great honor of interviewing Isaac Marion, author of the Warm Bodies series, during the anticipation of the release for the fourth book this past November.

You can follow the author here: Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, Website.

 

Q: When did you decide to become a writer? What’s your genre?
I was 14 when I realized that there was no reason I couldn’t write books just like all the books I loved reading. I started right away, wrote a 1000 page epic fantasy novel, tried and failed to get it published, and went right on to the next, which was a mostly realistic story set in the town I lived in. I don’t “have a genre” any more than I “have a mood.” My genres change from story to story, or at best, they combine several.51Cw06tOHYL

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
From looking closely at the world and people around me, noticing patterns, feeling desires, sensing mysteries. Traveling, dreaming, movies, music, and other books. From everything.

Q: Do you ever get writer’s block?  If yes, how do you overcome it?
I get it mostly between books, when I’m trying to get a new story started and I haven’t built the emotional momentum yet. That’s hard and I haven’t written enough books to have found a solution. When it happens deeper into the process, when I get stuck on a plot hole or can’t find the right approach to a scene, I usually find that physical activity helps break up the sediment and get the thoughts flowing again. Running in particular has been really helpful for me, the combination of fresh oxygen and the rush of scenery seems to clear my brain and turbo-charge it to break through those blockages. It’s remarkably effective for something so blunt and non-intellectual.

Q: What is the hardest thing for you about writing?
Generating the story. Ideas, concepts, and feelings all come easily to me, but inventing the chain of events that allow those things to unspool into a coherent story is always a challenge. Sometimes it feels like the road is going to evaporate under me while I’m walking. There’s always the fear that the answers just won’t come to me. But so far, it’s always ended up working out, so maybe I need to trust myself.

Q: Are you currently reading any books?
I just started The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. Never Let Me Go devastated me so I go into this with high hopes, even though it seems very different in tone and subject. I’m a big fan of writers like him who weave “genre” elements into literary material without making a big deal out of it, because it shouldn’t be a big deal. A story is a story. The lines we draw between “literary” and “genre” are reductive and limiting and should be destroyed.

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Q: Can you sum up the Warm Bodies series in just a few sentences?
A dead man finds his way back to life, falls in love with a young revolutionary, and together they search for a cure to the metaphysical plague that has destroyed civilization, while fighting the bizarre corporate militia that seeks to harness those forces.

Q: How did it feel when you were finally able to share your novel, The Living, with the world?
It was like telling a secret that I’d been keeping my entire life.

The Good Short Story Tips and Tricks: Hook and Pacing

DSP typically plans and produces six anthologies a year with a short story word count ranging from 5k to 15k words. Technically, there is no sole right way to write a short story, but there are a lot of wrong ways. However, we’ll focus on a couple of methods used to entice your reader and get them hooked on your story for the next twenty to forty pages.

Let’s assume you know the components for proper characterization, tension, theme, POV, etc. For a good short story, you only need to place heavy emphasis on two aspects of your story; a good hook and your scenes moving at a face pace toward the climax.

The Hook

The hook is the opening line or scene to ensnare your reader. It’s a statement that makes them develop an interest in your story right off the bat. For a short story, you want them vested in your tale from the very beginning because you don’t have a lot of words to develop your character or theme. There are several easy ways to write a hook that will have your reader jump into your story; in media res, mystery, and disturbing.

In medias res means, “in the middle of the action”. Instead of starting out those teenagers having sex by the lake and then getting killed one-by-one by the psychopath in a hockey mask, you start the story with one of them running for his life while being chased by the psychopath. In my story, Malicyne’s Puzzle, the hook took place with a battle between a pirate ship and a naval frigate. Thela’s Angel started with poor Thela getting beaten to a pulp by her husband in the inn. Daughter of Darkness starts the story with the holy knight, Rhain, landing a killing blow through a demon lord’s heart in the temple of night elves dedicated to the worship of the Tri-Headed Queen.

Mystery is a very common mechanism. You start out with a profound statement or an enigma for your story. In my book, Fallen From the Stars, it opens with the following:

“Come with me.”

A gunshot rang out, followed by a woman’s scream and the world turned to utter darkness. That’s all I can remember.

Was the main character shot? What happened? Who said, “Come with me?” Readers don’t find out until Chapter 12 Bad Memories, but in a short story, you reveal the mystery of the hook usually at the climax or at the end.

Disturbing is a less common one but is great for grimdark fantasy, horror, or something in which you’re going for shock value. It makes your reader shout, “WTF did I just read?!?” and then they are compelled to read on just to figure out why you wrote that. The Disturbing method will typically contain triggers (again, for shock value).

A word of warning about using the Disturbing method – know your audience. If you’re a fantasy writer who typically writes YA epic fantasy and you want to try your hand at grimdark fantasy, your loyal fans are in for a rude awakening. Secondly, a lot of publishers have a “no graphic [anything]” rule (or rules on certain triggers in general), so don’t violate submission guidelines by writing something that will make people wonder if you’re sane or turn your editor off to you.

Pacing

After you’ve written your hook, all your scenes following should be paced as if racing toward the climax. You’re not walking or building up to the climax, you’re running to it. A perfect example of how you should pace your story is by watching the promo trailer for Dragon Age: Origins. Here’s the link (Warning: Violence and Blood):

What did you see here if this was a story? An intrepid band of adventurers on a quest in monster-infested mountains filled with ice, snow, and death. There is the brief pause by the main character, a weapon is thrown from the ice and then boom, we are running through the action building up to the climax of the sorceress Morrigan casting a powerful lightning bolt that lays low the dragon. Did you note how fast the action moved and how it flowed from one character to the next? This is how your short story should flow from one scene to the next, and then building up to the climactic battle with the dragon at the end.

Master this and you’ll sweep your reader up for an intense ride with only a few thousand words.

Happy writing!