Author Spotlight – Andy Peloquin
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Andy Peloquin!
Andy Peloquin is, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are his palette. Fantasy is his genre of choice, and he loves to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. He’s also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about his fascination for the worlds he encounters in the pages of fantasy novels. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and his own website.
Thanks for joining us today, Andy. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Easy! David Weber’s Safehold series—I’m reading the 10th and latest book and LOVING every minute. It blends politics, economy, military, technology, science, and philosophy seamlessly with amazing characters and a fascinating story. It’s one of the few series I’ve been full-on addicted to in the last few years.
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?
Another easy question. Always and forever: a half-giant/ogre/tauren (large creature class) barbarian, with either an axe or greatsword as weapon of choice. As a man of “large creature class” myself (at 6’6”), I’m just not cut out for playing a thief.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
Type, every time. Aside from being able to type 90+ words per minute with reasonable accuracy, my handwriting is so bad I often struggle to read it. I used to edit and write notes in the margin of my documents, but I had such a hard time reading them that I stopped.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
If there was “Shrimp Death Metal” (see what I did with that terrible pun?), I’d be all over it. For now, I’ll have to content myself with my usual writing playlist—an eclectic mix containing everything from Selena Gomez to Five Finger Death Punch to Simon and Garfunkel to classical music to Skrillex. Anything that makes me feel, that elicits an emotional response of some sort, it goes on the playlist!
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’d say I’m about 75% plotter, as I write a semi-detailed outline of every series (each book/chapter/scene) before I write it out. However, I leave enough room for creativity that I end up pantsing a bit here and there. Just enough that the story feels organic and natural, but still within the structure of the outline.
I’ve worked from home for about 7 years, and I’ve learned that working in underwear (or sweat pants or the equivalent) makes me feel like a slob, lazy and unproductive. So I get dressed (socks, shoes, everything) and work at my desk like I’m a professional at an office (sans tie). Helps me keep up a steady output and get my work hours in!
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
Probably the TV show Criminal Minds. I love the villains of the week because it gives me such diverse psychological profiles of criminals, serial killers, psychopaths, and murderers. It also helps me understand people and what would drive them to such drastic extremes. When it comes to writing my fantasy—which, I’ll admit tends to be a tad darker than most—it’s very handy for crafting fascinating and grim characters.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
The Rookie, the new show with Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly). I’m a huge fan of his, but I’ve found that the show approaches policing, police violence, investigations, and even just human relationships with a fresh take that we don’t get from other cop shows. There’s an extra layer of humanity to that show that keeps me coming back week after week.
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?
Reading, taking my kids snowboarding (recently discovered interest), cooking for the family, eating out, napping. I’m a simple man with simple tastes.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
The semi-colon. Probably the most difficult to understand and use right, and one we could probably do away with fairly easily with a bit of rewriting.
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
The Silent Champions is a wonderful mix of military thriller and epic fantasy, blending modern special forces tactics and unit composition with medieval-era technology, alchemy, and battles. A team of handpicked warriors are sent on the most dangerous and impossible missions in a desperate hope to stop a war against giant barbarians.
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?
Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards. Just because I’d love to build up the world he’s already established and have a crack at writing two of my favorite characters of all time.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
“Make us care.” My first book was written with the focus on the awesome story, but I failed to give the reader a character they could really care about. Never making that mistake again—every story I write now is about the character!
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I feel I’d have made a pretty awesome Viking reaver during the heyday of Viking raids on Medieval Britain.
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?
It’s on those days that I look outside the window of my comfortable home office and tell myself, “If I don’t write, I might have to get a proper job to pay the bills.” That’s enough to put my butt in the chair and power through those bits I struggle with. Coffee helps or, in a pinch, a splash of Scotch.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Probably one of the best little-known series I’ve read in the last few years is Wielders of Arantha by Patrick Hodges. It’s a mix of science fiction and fantasy, with characters that I found surprisingly engaging, a well-crafted story, and a plot that kept me guessing throughout.
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!
Hope! I paint my worlds and stories dark, pushing my characters into terrible, tragic, and painful situations, only to have them fight through to the light on the other side. You will walk away from every one of my stories with a sense that no matter how bad things get—in this life, as well as in fiction—it will always get better somehow.
Brilliant, Andy. Thanks again for joining us, and good luck with your latest release!
Andy Peloquin is the author of multiple dark and epic fantasy series, including HERO OF DARKNESS, QUEEN OF THIEVES, and HEIRS OF DESTINY.