Welcome today to author Ian Thomas Healy, who has kindly agreed to stop by for an interview!
1. What do you write about? Tell us a little about your previously published works.
I write primarily speculative fiction with an emphasis on superhero novels, although I’ve experimented with Western/epic fantasy (The Pariah of Verigo series), urban fantasy (Blood on the Ice and Rooftops), pure science fiction and space opera (STARF*CKER, The Milkman, Troubleshooters, and Assassin). I’ve written some mainstream Young Adult novels for my agent (The Guitarist and the forthcoming Making the Cut).
My labor of love, though, is the Just Cause Universe and all its related stories and novels. The three prior books in the JCU deal either with the young superheroine Mustang Sally as she works to grow from a novice to a full-fledged hero (Just Cause and The Archmage), or with her mother Pony Girl in the 1970s (Day of the Destroyer). They’re tied together through the history of one of the JCU’s villains, known as Destroyer. My forthcoming release Deep Six broadens the storytelling universe by introducing the employees and residents of the most secure prison facility in the world, used to contain those convicted criminals for whom a normal prison will not suffice.
2. How do you handle bad reviews?
No, really I just mark them as unhelpful and continue on with my day. If I’m feeling particularly vindictive, I will go through the other reviews that person has written and mark all them as unhelpful as well. Yes, it’s a little junior high school, but it keeps me from making the Big Author Mistake of replying to them.
3. Tell us a little about your work in progress.
I’m currently working on two projects, a novella called Space Sharks (which is exactly what it sounds like), and a new short story set in my Muddy Creek Tales universe, called “Angus’ Ghost.” The Muddy Creek Tales are my popular Weird Wild West stories, collected in an anthology called Tales of the Weird Wild West, as well as a free ebook short story called The Mighty Peculiar Incident at Muddy Creek.
In November, I’ll take on a send-up of epic fantasy tropes for my tenth consecutive NaNoWriMo challenge in a book called Horde. Once that’s done, I owe my agent a new YA project, which will be a heist/caper novel called The Scene Stealers. Then I’ll tackle a new JCU project which could be any of several ideas I have kicking around.
4. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Write as much as you can, read as much as you can. Learn how to self-edit. Then learn how to edit other writers’ work. Then learn how to revise based upon edits others have done for you. Develop your writing voice. Find out what you’re good at and exploit it. Find out your weaknesses and practice improving upon them. Write. Revise. Rinse. Repeat. Learn about the industry and whether self-publishing or traditional is the best direction for your project. Understand that you don’t have to go with just one or just the other. Learn how to throw a manuscript in the trunk and never take it out again. Learn how to take a trunked book and fix it after you’ve gotten a lot better at revising. Learn when to let a trunked book go. Write. Read. Revise.
5. What is your personal writing process?
My day job allows me a lot of thinking time while I’m doing physical labor, so I spend my days plotting and “prewriting” in my mind, so that when I finally get a chance to sit down on the computer or with my phone (I’ve written several stories and a couple of novels with my thumbs on my smartphone), the words flow right out. I’ve had a lot of success recently using the Pomodoro Technique (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique) and applying it to my writing. I tend to have a couple of projects going on at any one time. Usually I’m writing a short story on my phone, a “bigger” project on my computer, and have completed projects in various stages of revision/production.
6. Who are a few authors you look up to?
My favorite authors in no particular order are Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Karl Schroeder, Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick, Aaron Allston, Carrie Vaughn, Genevieve Valentine, Allison M. Dickson, and the collected authors of the Wild Cards series of novels edited by George R.R. Martin.
7. What book are you reading now?
I’m working my way through George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. It’s kind of a struggle for me, because I’m a terribly slow reader, but I want to get myself into a good fantasy mindset for my upcoming NaNoWriMo project.
8. What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote my first story at age 7 or 8, using my thumb, my dad’s inkpad, and a pencil. It was called “The Happy Days Gang Goes to the Disco” and was about a group of little cartoon characters having a dance party. Not exactly high literature, but you can find it scanned on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/authorianthomashealy). Ever since then, I’ve been finding ways to tell stories.
9. What books have most influenced your life most?
In no particular order, the Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns graphic novels, Santiago by Mike Resnick, the Timothy Zahn Star Wars novels, the Wild Cards series, and the Spellsinger series by Alan Dean Foster.
10. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m changing the font. It didn’t look good in print. LOL
11. What do you find particularly challenging about writing?
Marketing. Self-promotion is a necessary evil for any author trying to build a fanbase and develop sales. I would love to be in a position financially to hire someone to do promotion for me, because it would give me so much more time to produce new work or revise existing projects. I generally have my story/book-writing schedule planned out for twelve to eighteen months in advance, and every hour I spend on promotion is about fifteen hundred words less that I can write during that time.
12. If there was one message you could send to everybody who reads your books, what would it be?
“Please let me know how you liked (or didn’t like) my book. Reviews are the only way I know that I’m reaching my fans and whether or not they’re enjoying my work. It’s how I know that I should keep writing a series, or that I should stop.”
13. Have you ever used characteristics from someone you know in one of your books?
Of course. Every writer does that. I’ve also used (highly-stylized) real events in my life in my books. I leave it to those who know me best to pick out “Hey, that’s me!”
14. What inspires you to write?
I don’t know how I could ever not-write. I don’t do it because I’m inspired, although sometimes I’m more inspired than others; I do it because I’m compelled to. If I couldn’t write stories, I think maybe I’d die from my brain exploding.
15. Where can readers find you and your work?
They can find me in my favorite coffee shop if they’re lucky. If they’re not local, the best places to find me are on Twitter (http://twitter.com/ianthealy), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/authorianthomashealy), Scenic http://www.ianthealy.com, and on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/author/ianhealy).
When criminals are convicted, they go to jail. When they have parahuman abilities, they go to Deep Six, the most secure prison facility in the world. Six thousand feet underground, nobody has ever escaped from the maximum security facility.
A parahuman terrorist called Misrule engineers a mass breakout, and it falls to a pair of prison guards to stop the world’s most dangerous criminals from reaching freedom, and Just Cause won’t be able to help them. Despite being overmatched and underpowered, the two guards must find a way to prevent the escapees from their ultimate goal.
Deep Six releases worldwide in print and ebook formats on November 29, 2013.
Preorders are available at http://localheropress.ianthealy.com/pre-order-deep-six-today/.
Check out the book trailer:
Find more of Ian’s work here: