Friday, January 6, 2012

Author Interview: Evan Townsend of Agent of Artifice

I am thrilled to share Evan Townsend with you today, he is a great new author you will really enjoy "meeting" him!  Thanks go out to Marissa at Sizzling PR for giving me a spot to feature Evan!

About the Book:

They live among us.  We know they are there.  No government can control them; no authority can stop them.  Some are evil.  Some are good.  All are powerful.  They inhabit our myths and fairy tales.  But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers?  What if they were called "adepts" and were organized into guilds for mutual protection and benefit?  And what if they started mucking around with the affairs of "lessers" (that is, those humans not able to match their powers)? 

During the height of the Cold War, Michael Vaughan is a rogue without a guild.  He survives by working for the CIA as NOC (Non-Official Cover).  Shortly after the funeral of President Joe Kennedy, Jr., he is sent to Cuba to assassinate Castro.  There he finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game with adepts working for Fidel. 

About the Author:

S. Evan Townsend is a writer living in central Washington State. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives with his wife and two sons, aged 17 and 20, and has a 22-year old son attending the University of Washington in biology. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.

Evan Townsend on the WEB

Author Interview:

What do you think is the sole purpose of books?

The sole purpose of books is to make memory permanent.  The memory might be organic chemistry or someone's romantic fiction novel.  But books make that memory permanent.  My worry is that if books go 100% electronic, that memory could be threatened if we don't use some sort of permanent, always readable storage (such as ink on paper).

How would you convince a young person to pursue writing?

I wouldn't.  Either that young person has a passion for writing and will pursue it without much encouragement or has no passion for writing and nothing I can say or do will convince them to pursue it.  Even though some lucky writers have best-sellers, make oodles of money, and have some celebrity, most of us labor to sell enough to pay our expenses (and a lot of writers have "day jobs" to pay the bills).   We write because we love it.  A young person with that love will need no convincing.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Like a lot of my writing, it had a complicated beginning.  In 1987 I wrote a short science fiction story about Alexander Chun, a Korean-American working for a Japanese company that mines asteroids for the metals they contain.  The story was, unfortunately, lost in the great hard drive crash of 1996 when my tape backup failed to recover about half my data.  Later I was writing another story and I mentioned the Chun-class spaceship.  And I decided if Alex was going to have a ship class named after him he must have done something great.  So I abandoned that story (it never got finished) and wrote a novella about Chun's great deed.  I was in a writing group in Seattle at the time and they told me I should turn it into a novel.  It became Rock Killer, a science fiction novel that is going to be published soon by World Castle Publishing.

Agent of Artifice was my third novel, second novel published.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I tend to write fairly straight-forward.  I don't go for flowery description or long passages of inner dialogue.  I like to use what I call "impact words" that convey an emotion or action in one or two words.  "Fred was slapped to the pavement."  I think there's a rhythm to writing; you want to give your reader a chance to catch their breath.  So hit them with a few pages of intense action, then back off for about double the number of pages.  Keep the plot moving and don't let go of your reader.

How did you come up with the title?

Agent of Artifice wasn't the original title of the novel.  My publisher didn't like that title but as she read the novel, she said the word "artifice" fit the main character, Michael Vaughan "to a T."  Between us we decided to use that word in the title.  And since Vaughan becomes a CIA agent, we chose Agent of Artifice.  It also has a nice symmetry with the prequel Hammer of Thor.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I'd like the reader to come away from Agent of Artifice knowing that there are things in the world worth fighting for other than your own survival.  There are, indeed, things to risk your life for.

How much of the book is realistic?

Other than intentional historical errors to indicate that the book is set in a slightly different universe than ours, it is very realistic.  I heavily researched Cuba, the time period, the CIA, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Chicago mob.  I tried to make it historically and culturally accurate for the period it's set in (1958 - 1963).  One could almost remove the fantasy elements and have a complete story.  But it wouldn't be nearly as fun.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I made my hero, Michael Vaughan, originally from the same part of Idaho I'm from so I was better able to describe the history and culture of the area.  Some of the things Vaughan experienced as a child I took from my father's childhood: the poverty, the hard work, the struggling with shortages during World War II (although they had plenty of gasoline to run the tractors and if it got diverted to the car, no one was the wiser).

What books have most influenced your life most?

The books that most influenced my life are Ringworld, by Larry Niven (the first science fiction book I read for pleasure), Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (never mind the politics, I probably stole most of my writing style from that book), Expanded Universe by Robert Heinlein (inspired and encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing), and The Princess Bride by William Goldman (the first book I read that wasn't a school assignment and Goldman's (probably fictionalized) account of becoming a writer planted the first seeds of my wanted to become and author).

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Robert Heinlein.  In a three-year period I inhaled everything he wrote that I could get my hands on (I was in the military and had lots of time to read).  He inspires me to this day.  If I need some encouragement I'll pick up one of his books and read for a while.  I guess it's like a painter looking at the Sistine Chapel or an athlete watching video of the greats.  It's inspiring.

What book are you reading now?

As I write this, I'm reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  It is the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who during World War II was a bombardier on a B-24 in the Pacific.  After a crash and surviving 47 days in a rubber raft (an amazing feat in itself), he is captured by the Japanese and sent to various prison camps where the mistreatment is horrifying.  I'm about half-way through it (I am, unfortunately, a slow reader).  I'm hoping it has a happy ending.

After that I plan to read Flandry's Legacy by Poul Anderson, a collection of stories and novels by one of my favorite science fiction writers.


1 comment:

  1. This book sounds interesting and your background sounds even more so. How does one go from military intellegence to Forestry? What a leap. I'm thinking that might make a good book.