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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Interview with Michael Williams, author of Vine: An Urban Legend! #FMBAuthor

Today we also have author Michael Williams here to talk about his book Vine: An Urban Legend! :)

Hi Michael! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and through good luck and a roundabout journey through New England, New York, Wisconsin, Britain and Ireland, have ended up less than thirty miles from where I began.  Over the past 25 years, I have written a number of strange novels, from the early Weasel’s Luck and Galen Beknighted in the best-selling DRAGONLANCE series to the more recent lyrical and experimental Arcady, singled out for praise by Locus and Asimov’s magazines.  Trajan’s Arch (2010) was my eleventh novel, the first published with Blackwyrm Press, and on this blog tour I am promoting my newest book, Vine: An Urban Legend.

I am an Assistant Professor in Humanities at the University of Louisville, where I focus on European Romanticism and the 19th century, Modernism (especially the Modern Fantastic), and early 20th century film.  I am married, and have two grown sons.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book Vine: An Urban Legend?

Vine : An Urban Legend is a new version of Euripides’ Bacchae set in a small Midwestern city.  When amateur stage director Stephen Thorne decides to stage a controversial Greek tragedy in order to ruffle the feathers in his conservative town, he has no idea that the whole process will stir up dark and ancient forces.

Vine is what I call a choral novel.  Parts of it are narrated traditionally, but at points in the book, groups of characters comment on what’s going on, reflect on larger issues, and fuss and wrangle with each other.  It’s a tragedy, all right, but it has funny moments and should appeal to adult readers (YA it’s not!).

What was the inspiration for this novel?

I’ve always wanted to write a Greek tragedy.  It’s a form of story that is political, religious, mythic, and dramatic at the same time, which is a tall order to begin with.  It also deals with grim and large issues poetically, which is something dear to my temperament.  Unfortunately, as I have said, I don’t know Greek and was born 2500 years too late.  Having mulled this cosmic disadvantage, I was inspired to steal fire: to try to write a Greek tragedy regardless of the handicap.

Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?

Oddly enough, it was plot this time.  Usually my books begin with
characters.  I think especially of Weasel’s Luck and Trajan’s Arch, where I had to know my people before I could drop them into a story. But the appeal of writing a Greek tragedy was also the stark, stripped plotlines that almost all of the great plays have.  The problem is, I realized early on that I could never ever match Sophocles or Euripides for that lean, mythic plotting.  So I decided to steal from one of them—to rework Euripides’ plot in a modern setting.  Once that decision was made, the landscape needed to be populated by comparable characters to those in the original cast.  It sounds easy, but it was real alligator-wrestling.

Do you think you may ever go into another genre?

I do all the time. I cross genres like a smuggler crosses borders, blending elements from one with those from another.  It’s the most fun a genre writer can have: conventions and situations and characters and tropes banging against one another, creating tensions and entirely new elements, and sometimes entirely new genres.  My novel Arcady was very early Steampunk, for example, not because I was attuned to other people doing it, because it occurred to me that mixing English Romantic poetry and 19th century technology with traditional quest fantasy might be a fun thing to try.

Can you tell us a few do’s and don’ts for aspiring authors?

Set a regular time to write, where each day you put in at least 90 minutes toward your work.  Keep the time regular.  Yes, you can.  Saying you can’t is a form of giving up, or at least saying your writing isn’t high priority.  If it isn’t high priority, it doesn’t make you a bad person, but it means your writing will read that way.

Don’t do the same thing every time out.  Set yourself storytelling goals as well as variations in your subject matter, so that you’re constantly pushing yourself wider and farther.  There are lots of romantic reasons you want to do this—to grow and develop as an artist is one of them.  But the most important thing is to keep from being bored.

Take the manuscript through one more editorial passage than you think it needs.  Yes, the whole thing.  Check for everything from large movements in the story through consistency down to spelling and punctuation.  Push it one draft further—it’s worth it.

Don’t rush to publish.  Rush to learn your craft.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Thanks for putting up with me for twenty-five years.  I know some of you like some of my work better than the rest of it, but console yourself that other people like the rest of my work better than the parts you like.  Confused by that sentence?  I’m not.  I guess I win.

Is there a genre that you love to read, and would like to write, but just can not?

Science fiction.  I simply don’t have the science.

Random Quickies!

Vampires or Werewolves?

Vampires, as long as they are the menacing Stoker or Murnau vampires.  By the time we’re to Lugosi or Lee or Oldman, we’re already losing the edge.  Twilight is, I fear, something I can’t buy into.

Cats or dogs?

Whichever I happen to own at the time.  Right now we have four cats, all female, all self-absorbed.  They create more drama than backstage at a drag show.

Swimming pool or ocean/lake?
The pool!  Please, the pool!  There’s chlorine against the pollutants, no floating waste or carnivorous elements.

TV Shows or Movies?

MoviesYou can get good independent, non-commercial films.  I don’t see that happening as much in television.

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?

Dark.  My wife says it’s better for me, so it’s what we get.  I like it better.  Really. Honest.  I do, honey.

Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams
Genre: Mythic Fiction
192 pages

Amateur theatre director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives. Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of ancient and powerful forces.
Michael Williams’ Vine weds Greek Tragedy and urban legend with dangerous intoxication, as the drama rushes to its dark and inevitable conclusion.

Michael Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Much of his childhood was spent in the south central part of the state, amid red dirt, tobacco farms, and murky legends of Confederate guerillas. He has spent a dozen years in various parts of the world, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, with stopovers in Ireland and England, and emerged from the experience surprisingly unscathed.
Upon returning to the Ohio River Valley, he has published a series of novels of increasing oddness,combinations of what he characterizes as “gothic/historical fiction/fantasy/sf/redneck magical realism” beginning with Weasel’s Luck (1988) and Galen Beknighted (1990), the critically acclaimed Arcady (1996) and Allamanda (1997), and, most recently, Trajan’s Arch (2010). His new novel Vine will be released this summer.

He lives in Corydon, Indiana with his wife, Rhonda, and a clowder of cats.

·        Michael Williams Facebook Page:
·        Michael Williams Blog:



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