Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Quarantine - Q&A and Giveaway

Today we have one half of Lex Thomas with us here at Pinky's. 

Thank you for joining us today Lex Hrabe.

Tell us your latest news?

The big news is that QUARANTINE: THE BURNOUTS is out July 22nd. It’s the conclusion of the trilogy that we began in 2010. Looking back, it’s hard to believe we’re at the end. It has been as much of a saga for us as it has been for our characters. So many challenges, but so many rewards.

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?

This is a hard question, because if you pick the wrong authors, you might end up at a table full of quiet, cagey maniacs (which has its own appeal, I guess). But I’d want to make the most of it. I’d want to hear stories. Two gregarious, vibrant authors that come to mind are Ray Bradbury and James Dickey. That would be a fun table, I think. Throw in Hunter S. Thompson and J.G. Ballard just to keep it weird.

What are your current projects?

Thomas and I are both working on novels right now that involve the supernatural. And then, we’re kicking around an idea for our next co-authored novel that’ll be really larger than life. Big in every way, totally fantastical. A comedy and an adventure at the same time. We tend to like stories that make really bold moves and don’t apologize (hence Quarantine).

What books or authors have influenced your writing?

Two of the authors I mentioned before have definitely had an influence on me. Dickey’s Deliverance blows me away every time I pick it up. It moves at a thrilling and satisfying clip, and yet he sacrifices nothing in the prose. It’s poetic and profound and gets better  with every read. And Bradbury is a hero for reaching for the stars conceptually, yet he always stays grounded in character. He really is a master of fiction. I also think of those two as highly visual, highly cinematic writers, which is important to me as a reader.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?

David Wong. John Dies At The End was the most fun I’ve had reading since I was a kid.

Tell us a little about your background. When did you start writing?

I recently found an old box full of papers from elementary school. Art, spelling tests, that sort of thing. But there were a couple stories in there too. They were about aliens and ghosts mostly. So, I’d consider that the start of my writing career. I don’t really think your caliber of ideas changes from when you’re a kid. If anything, your imagination is more fertile then. What changes is how well you can express your ideas. The art of storytelling takes years (decades) to get right, and those years are filled with a lot of glorious mistakes, which pretty much sums up my writing career between then and now.

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas come in a split-second. They’re these lightning flashes that show a perception of the world that I hadn’t thought of before. Or that feels fresh. Sometimes it’s a full premise; sometimes it’s a character; sometimes it’s something vaguer. You either run with it, and build a world around it, or you stash it for later. As to where they come from, I think they’re always there. They’ve been there since the beginning of time, you just haven’t tripped over this one before.

What is your writing process?

I’ll flesh out an idea to make sure there’s enough a story to warrant writing it. I want to make sure that it’s clear and pitchable, that it has a hook that would make someone want to read it. Then I’ll think about what will happen in every act. After doing a beat sheet, once I’m satisfied that the idea has someplace to go, I’ll flesh out that beat sheet with my best guess at a chapter list and synopsis for each. In the case of collaboration, that’s where we do most of our thinking together in the same room. We have to get on the same page as far as what we’re about to dive into. After that, we’ll write a rough draft where one of us will write a chapter, then pass it off to the other for revision and notes. We’ll go through a whole draft like that, then read what we’ve got at the end. We’ll take notes on the resulting draft, then divide the hard labor of revision and creating essential new content for the next draft. That’s the draft we’ll submit to an editor. Once we receive our editor’s letter, we create a battle plan to take on those notes and revise again. And again.

Tell us a little bit about The Quarantine Trilogy?

It’s an apocalyptic survival story set in high school. When the students of McKinley High are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults, their school is quickly quarantined, and they are left in the dark about what’s happening outside school walls. A year later, the social cliques have devolved into gangs that occupy various territories across the school. David and Will Thorpe are brothers without a gang. As if life wasn’t hard enough, they become targets of Varsity, the school’s most powerful gang, when David accidentally kills one of their members. This sets off a chain of events that challenge the brothers’ will to live and their loyalty to one another over the course of the trilogy, one we fashioned to move at break-neck speed.

How long did it take you to complete?

From the moment we first started noodling with the idea to the last revision we made on the final book, it was four years.

Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?

There are. Sometimes that works out really well, helping you flesh out a character that didn’t have shape. And sometimes it feels like an indulgent choice. But thankfully, we’re the only ones who know which is which.

Do you ever incorporate yourselves into your characters?

Personally, I find it impossible not to. How can you write a character that doesn’t reflect some shade of you? Even if the character is your total opposite, he or she comes to life through you and therefore has a bit of you in them.

Tell us about your covers. Did you design them yourself?

We love our covers, although we can’t take credit for them. Early on, our editor asked us for thoughts and we sent them vintage covers we admired. I think that influence is reflected in what The Loners cover ended up being. Along the way, Egmont gave us the opportunity to give feedback on the designs, which was nice of them, and when they agreed with our notes, they implemented them. Not every author can say that of their covers.

Where did you get the inspiration for your covers?

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