Book Tour Q&A: Jack of Thorns by A.K. Faulkner
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Jack of Thorns by A.K. Faulkner! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
You’d think seeing the future would make life easy, but Laurence Riley knows better.
No matter how hard he tries to master the chaos, everything slips out of control. His violent ex-boyfriend, his supernatural talents, his drug addiction—seeing what’s coming doesn’t help with any of them.
He needs help and he knows it. Help that only a god can provide.
The answer to his prayers is Jack, who offers help reining in his powers and mastering his life. In exchange, all Jack asks is regular offerings of sexual energy from Laurance’s conquests. A month ago, that would have been just fine with Laurence. If not for Quentin, it still would be.
Devastatingly handsome, incredibly desirable, and so far out of Laurence’s league it’s not even funny, Quentin is the flame to Laurence’s moth. Laurence doesn’t want anyone else, he can’t think of anyone else, and neither Quentin’s frustratingly chaste behavior nor his uncontrollable telekinesis are enough to put him off. Not even if his focus on Quentin means breaking his bargain with Jack and facing the consequences of disappointing a god.
Laurence doesn’t need to see the future to know that’s a bad idea, but he has no clue how dangerous Jack really is…
On to the interview...!
This is one of our standard podcast opening questions, so we’ll include it for written interviews as well! Tell us something great that’s happened recently! :)
I spent a lot of time trying to decide how to answer this one, because there were two main options:
1: A simple “I had surgery,” which explains nothing more than “it was great,” or
2: An in-depth explanation of the medical condition which necessitated the surgery just to contextualise “it was great”.
Instead, I carved out a middle ground. Behold, haiku:
surgery can help.
Writing is a hard and lonely affair in the best of circumstances. How do you achieve a good work/life/writing balance?
I don’t. Please send help.
What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
I love that we are finally getting more options when it comes to diverse stories and storytellers. And that is absolutely not to say that we never used to have options, but it’s no secret that colour or sexuality were frequently edited out of stories before they made it to a bookshelf, and disability was something to “cure” with magic or technology. Now we’re getting authors and stories which are joyfully queer, neurodiverse, disabled, of colour, and these are essential for us as human beings. Diversity is strength, it is essential for empathy, it is the reminder we all need that not all lived experiences are the same, and surely the whole point of reading SFF is to explore worlds that are not our own?
I want to see more pushback against “it’s realistic” as an excuse for including or tolerating bigotry in any form of fiction, but particularly in SFF, where it’s literally our job to make shit up. When we imagine strange new worlds, we should be imagining the societies which populate them, and not merely that there are dragons or fancy tech.
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
I love character-driven stories. Let me get into those messy brains and watch people fight for what they love in spite of everything! But with added magic or superpowers. At a pinch, spaceships.
Can you give us an elevator pitch for your book?
HEY YOU do you like fantasy books that are PRETTY HECKIN' GAY?
Do you like it when CHAOTIC DISASTERS have BARELY-CONTROLLED SUPERPOWERS and EVEN LESS CONTROLLED PERSONAL LIVES?
Do you have a yearning for HORRIBLE TRAUMA interwoven with KINDNESS AND COMPASSION?
I’VE GOT JUST THE BOOK FOR YOU!
In your opinion, what kind of reader would like this book?
Readers who enjoy watching characters grow over time and learn from their experiences, who are messy and make mistakes but who work on themselves. And, for some, readers who want to know that they are not alone, or that people who have experienced trauma can go on to become the hero and not be relegated to someone else’s tragic backstory.
What would you like readers to take away from this book?
The burning desire to read the rest of the series? But, more seriously, the recognition that everyone is fighting battles we can’t see, and perhaps a little kindness and compassion is warranted at all times (except for Nazis, of course, because fuck Nazis).
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
I plan somewhere between “every single chapter” and “no planning we die like men.” Lately my writing process has descended into pure chaos and I will write into the void, stare into space for a few weeks, then get back to it.
I edit as I go, because my brain cannot move forward when it knows there’s something it needs to fix, so that by the time I reach the end it’s surprisingly easy to go back and edit the whole book.
I also take bullet-point notes as I go: One page of a notebook per chapter, listing the pivotal moments in that chapter, and then a two-page spread every quarter (i.e. every 25,000 words) to collate everything that must be carried forward into either the rest of the book or to be picked up on in a later book. Then, when I start a new book, I begin by collecting all of the left-over plot points from all previous books into a new two-page spread, and then I dive on in.
Chapter by chapter I fire it off to my alpha readers, because I require constant praise to continue working. Moisturise me.
After all that’s done, it goes off to my editor for a while, and when it comes back I have fresh eyes to tackle it with, and then it’s away to the proofreaders.
Do you usually write to background noise, music, etc. or do you prefer silence?
I prefer silence… I just so rarely get it. I’ll make a per-book playlist which I listen to while driving or doing chores (aka while thinking about the book and working out the plot), but the writing part needs silence so I can get into the zone.
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
I always write in deep third PoV, so the writing style takes on the characteristics of the character whose point of view it is for any given chapter. The vocabulary will shift depending on whose chapter it is, the sensory details will be the ones that character would focus on, and so on.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
All of me. Every single character is me. The setting is me. It’s all me.
Joking aside, all we can ever really put into a story is ourselves. Everything we ever take into our brains is filtered through our perception and understanding of the information that we absorb, and by the time we regurgitate it – whether as an anecdote we share with friends, or as a book we write for strangers – it has gone through many more layers of filtering, of smooshing into shape. We’re all convinced that we’re being utterly honest, but even the information we chose to expose ourselves to in the first place is one step in that filtering process. What did we consider important enough to absorb, and what did we discard before we even looked?
In media studies there is a concept called mise en scene. It means “staging”, and it encompasses literally everything in a shot or on a stage: the scenery, the actors, the makeup, the lighting, the clothes, the way items and people are arranged, the point of view of the audience and cameras. Everything presented to you in media has been intentionally placed before you, whether by literally putting a prop in an actor’s hand, or through the more subtle art of choosing what is and is not in view of the audience or viewer. What is included matters, but what also matters is what is excluded. This seems less important for a film or theatre production, but becomes far more instructional when applied to factual broadcasts, which is where we see editorial bias in what stories do not get told (for current example: the utter dearth of news coverage about protests for trans rights, versus the glut of coverage from cis people wanting to “debate” those rights).
So it’s unavoidable that everything I write is all me. I chose to write about these particular topics, I decided what to include and what to leave out, and sometimes that is unconscious bias while sometimes it is choice. I chose to write about things that anger me, so in a way Inheritance is close to a million words of rage, but I also choose to write about approaching the world with kindness and compassion, because I believe that we should.
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
I’m currently working on the ninth book in the Inheritance series, which involves a desert, a helicopter, and a group of rowdy teenagers.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! We always enjoy this little peek behind the curtain. Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
If there’s one thing we all learned from Inception, it’s that action sequences are a hundred percent improved when the protagonist is wearing a suit.
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
I’m @poopraven on both Twitter and Instagram, or my newsletter signup (fewer than four emails a year but at least they’re on topic unlike the rest of me) is at https://discoverinheritance.com/signup. We also have a Discord server at http://discoverinheritance.com/discord.
Where to buy the book:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940161429259
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=O5KbDwAAQBAJ