ANTON STROUT was born in the Berkshire Hills mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. He currently lives in historic Jackson Heights, New York (where nothing paranormal ever really happens, he assures you).
His first urban fantasy novel DEAD TO ME is due out March 2008 from Ace Books and the second book in the series will follow soon after.
His short story “The Lady in Red” can be found in the DAW Books anthology PANDORA’S CLOSET and a tie-in story to DEAD TO ME entitled “The Fourteenth Virtue” can be found in DAW’s THE DIMENSION NEXT DOOR in Fall 2008.
He is the co-creator of the faux folk musical Sneezin’ Jeff & Blue Raccoon: The Loose Gravel Tour (winner of the Best Storytelling Award at the First Annual New York International Fringe Festival).
In his scant spare time, he is an always writer, a sometimes actor, sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the worlds most casual and controller smashing video gamer. He currently works in the exciting world of publishing and yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds.
He is currently hard at work on the next book featuring Simon Canderous and can be found lurking the darkened hallways of www.antonstrout.com.
1. What makes you think you can write?
This has been a longstanding question with me. I don’t always love what I write and sometimes I flat out hate what I write. The only answer I can give is that despite the general neurosis I think all writers feel, I simply shut my mouth about how bad I am and keep writing, hoping no one notices. Seems to be working since publishers keep buying my stuff. Just don’t let them in on our little secret, k?
Note to publishers: Move along. Nothing to read here.
2. Clearly you need some sort of creative outlet to keep you out of trouble. If it weren’t writing what would it be?
I play a lot of instruments, most of them to a pretty mediocre degree, but I’m pretty good as a guitar player. Over the years, I’ve had some moderate success in bands and even won the first annual New York International Fringe Festival Award For Best Storytelling on this faux-folk musical I co-wrote. We were so cutting edge. We were A Mighty Wind before it happened. I’d probably be doing music if I didn’t have it in me to write… although now that I think of it, I always seemed to get in more trouble as a musician than as a writer.
3. Who or what influences your work?
When I was young, I imprinted early on Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which set the tone for how I wanted to write. I also was a fan of the Robert Asprin Myth series and on the more serious side William Gibson. I ignored my writing for many years, pursuing acting, music and a day job in bookstores and publishing instead. Later in life, I became a big Buffy fan (I miss the show terribly, but it probably ended when it should have) and that was a big part of rekindling my interesting in humorous sci-fi and fantasy.
I dig on the paranormal, but the quirky paranormal. It’s the type of stuff I’m attracted to as a reader, but I never thought to write it. While I struggled with several hopeful fiction projects, opportunities arose for me to try my hand once again at stories that were funny, spooky and (hopefully) had heart. To my surprise and delight, these were the works that sold first, and I found I had a lot of fun writing them. For years, I had ignored the roots of the books I love to read, but eventually they reared their spooky heads once again and took over.
4. Do you remember a favorite ghost story or scary urban legend from childhood? Well, spill it.
This isn’t from my childhood, but I’ve spent some serious vacation time in west Texas. Marfa, to be specific. There are two oddities that qualify as urban legends there, although there’s nothing terribly urban about a town of 4,000 people. The first are the Marfa Lights… much is made of this local phenomenon which can be viewed from an official rest stop where viewers can take in the dancing unexplained (possibly UFO) lights far off in the distance. The second is this creepy old lady who wanders the Texas highways with her donkey, shotgun, and worldly possessions. I tried writing a supernatural horror story about the Donkey Lady. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out and my workshop leader author Jennifer Belle officially listed it on her website at the World’s Least Scary Story.
5. Name one thing we might not know about you and would be surprised to find out (keep it clean too, you dirty bird this is a family blog).
I have an unnatural obsession with the punk/ska band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I started going to their shows back in the early 90s when I lived in Massachusetts. I went all over the Tri-State area just to catch their lives shows for many years, getting on stage to get my swerve on with Dickie and their strange dancer Ben. They broke up several years ago, which inspired me to start a book about a now-defunct punk band. The book is well over two thirds done, but these damn fantasy titles keep getting in the way of finishing it!
6. I tell people that if they like _______, then they’ll love me.
I tell people that if they like Joss Whedon, Douglas Adams or Jim Butcher, then they’ll love me. If they don’t, I’ll cry and no one wants that.
7. Since you make stuff up all the time, I assume you were a great liar as a child. Tell us one.
I was a horrible liar as a kid and here’s why. Making stuff up in a story is a lengthy sit down process for me. Most of the time I was caught lyng was more of a conversational, on the spot kind of thing… spontaneity was my enemy. Now that I’m all professional-like, I am much better at lying all around. I’ll be teaching a class at The Learning Annex on it starting in a few weeks.
No, I won’t. That was a lie. See how good I’ve gotten at it?