Author Spotlight: A.Z. Anthony
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is A.Z. Anthony!
A.Z. Anthony is best known for his genre-warping fiction whose popularity commonly crashes global markets. Also, his humility.
More realistically, he is the author of several award-winning short stories. His debut novel, “Servant of Rage,” is out now. He’s also hard at work on an additional standalone novel, the two sequels to “Servant of Rage,” and is a contributor at The Fantasy Hive.
Though his family hails from Cyprus, he was born a Jimmy Buffet-loving, sweet tea-drinking, scuba diving Floridian. He currently lives in eastern Massachusetts, but hopes to end up south of the Mason-Dixon soon.
You can learn more at Azanthony.com.
Thanks for joining us today, A.Z. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
A great book, huh? Hold up. I’m going to my bookshelf. One moment.
Okay. I’m a picky one, so this was a tough question. Andrew Rowe’s Sufficiently Advanced Magic was a book I very much enjoyed recently. I found the world quite unique and the magic system a lot of fun. The best part was the Serpent’s Spire, however. I want more of that delicious, deadly, trap-filled, adventure tower! It’s like American Ninja Warrior in a book, and with magic. Oh, and monsters trying to kill you.
That sounds great! Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Healer, definitely. There’s a decided lack of healing magic in the stories I write (largely because I think it lessens consequences) but I’ve always been the healer of the group. From MMOs to FPSs to D&D, I’m the guy with the heals. Go ahead, jump off that cliff. I gotchu. As to weapon? A mace, I think. All those years of baseball have to pay off sooner or later…
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
Type, absolutely. The romanticism of handwriting is nice. And it makes for a wonderful aesthetic on Instagram, but damned if it isn’t slow. I usually type around 600-1,000 words per hour and there’s no way I could do that on paper.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
There’s a running joke in my family about how little I enjoy shrimp and how often my mom wants me to try them to see if I’ll like them more this time. So not shrimp. Definitely not shrimp. I’d have to say music, though it has to be specific music. Lyrics tend to throw me off my writing groove. My go-to playlists include movie and television show soundtracks like Pirates of the Caribbean or Outlander, and techno (are we still calling it techno?) like The Glitch Mob and Dance with the Dead. Sometimes, though, you gotta dip into a bit of head-banging rock. Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch fill that void wonderfully for me.
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
I’ve been both a plotter and pantser at different points. Now I’m not sure where I fall. Somewhere in between? As to something unusual about my method, I had to ask my fiancée on this one. In my own head I think I’m a totally normal human being when it comes to writing (aren’t we all?). She reminded me, however, that I work out while I write. Not in between keystrokes, but every forty-five minutes to an hour I bang out a quick routine. I find it helps the creativity flow to step away from the keyboard briefly.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
The entire Harry Potter collection is on HBO Go right now and my fiancée and I are working our way through that. Aside from the movies being the classics that they are, I find they do a standout job of conveying a sense of wonder. That’s something I’m working on in my own writing, so I’m low key taking notes as we watch.
Harry Potter is always a huge win! A.Z., the world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
Video games, my friend. Lots and lots of video games. I thrive on competition. Bit of a humble brag here, but my best friend and I are in the top 3% of players in the world for Rocket League duos. Some have said if I played less video games I might get more writing done, but they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
Semi-colons. Seriously. Does anyone actually understand them? You can’t trust those slippery devils. Soon as you think you know how they work the definition seems to pivot and suddenly you’re left with a horde of editors chasing you, red pens and torches in hand.
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
Well I’m obviously working on the sequel to Servant of Rage, but I do have a background project I’m in love with:
“Senesio Suleiman Zhao doesn’t want much, just wealth beyond measure, fame beyond reason, and maybe a small kingdom somewhere warm. His latest adventure – conning his way onto an expedition to the remote jungles of the far wild – seems the perfect opportunity. But as Senesio and company soon learn, the monsters that stalk the far wild are the least of the expedition’s concerns.”
This sounds fantastic! If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
My good friend Graeme Penman, for sure. He’s a master of creating unique worlds, fascinating characters, and he understands writing on an otherworldly level. Collaborating with him would require dragging him into contact with another human more than twice a week, however, which he and his award-winning beard are known to despise.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Write every day. Look, I know it works for some people, and I’m fully capable of writing every day, but I hate the pressure of it. If I approach writing with the mindset of “I have to write today” it becomes a chore. I’d rather think “I get to write today,” which makes it a hell of a lot more fun. And I find that if you’re having fun writing it, the readers are probably having fun reading it.
That’s such a great outlook! *makes notes*
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Assuming I don’t have to worry about dying? East Asia during the rise of the Mongol empire. Assuming I most certainly have to worry about dying? The Biltmore during the height of its use. Or Victorian England, perhaps. I’ve heard they had some good poets back then.
Not so great hygiene, though… in fact, visiting Victorian London might be as deadly as visiting the Mongol empire.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
Quit and play video games. Okay, that’s only half the time. The rest of the time I tell myself to suck it up and write. I find that once I get into the writing it becomes easier. Rather than waste time saying “I’m stuck and can’t write,” I’d rather bang my head against the proverbial wall trying and hope something good comes out. Something more than blood, at least.
Again, great advice! A.Z., tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. Okay, it’s a Crichton book so it’s not that underappreciated. But so many people I know love the movie and have never enjoyed the book. It’s a whole new adventure with all of the fun of the movie, but taken to another level. I know, I know, every book is better than the movie, but this one is something different. It’s really that much better.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
Considering Servant of Rage just released, I’ll stick to that:
“When the khan’s fiercest headhunters, brothers Subei and Bataar, are struck by lightning from a freak storm, they awake to find unnatural powers growing inside them. And they’re not alone – all across the land other “heirs of the ancestors” have been similarly blessed. To kill an heir is to consume their power, but as the brothers’ power grows, so to does a primal, uncontrollable madness within.”
Brilliant. Thanks again for joining us, A.Z.!
A.Z. Anthony is the author of Servant of Rage, which is available now.