Risingshadow.net is proud to present an interview with a gifted new fantasy author, Anthony Huso.
Anthony Huso's debut novel, The Last Page, will be published in August 2010 by Tor Books.
Anthony Huso's official website can be found here.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY HUSOHi Anthony and thanks for allowing Risingshadow.net to interview you. It's nice to interview a gifted new author.
Thanks. No one's ever wanted to interview me before. It feels weird.
What can you tell us about yourself and your background?
Well, I've got a bio up at http://anthonyhuso.com/ that contains some info. I'll try to steer away from stuff already posted there and tell you something different. I like Oreos for instance. I was born in Minneapolis and I have a deep affection for the Midwest that doesn't preclude my staying in Austin perhaps indefinitely – cuz I like Austin even more. It actually reminds me of home. My background is that of a deeply introverted, shy, introspective kid who self monitors more than he should. I've done all kinds of crazy jobs, from ski lift operator, to glove patcher, to bill collector. Bill collector was important because it deeply fractured the shy in me. I've worked factory jobs too. Cabinet making as a swing saw operator and another factory where we made plastic signs: once again I ran saws. I even sold vacuum cleaners door to door for about two weeks.
How did you become a fantasy writer? Have you always liked fantasy?
I have always liked fantasy. And I became a writer simply by picking up a pencil at around age 8. I wrote a story called The Planet of Doom in elementary when I was something like ten. Even got mentioned in the local paper for its literary significance. *smirk* So you see, The Planet of DOOM: I've always been rather brooding. But you know, I think monsters are important because they help us understand ourselves: what we fear, what we need to avoid. And they're fun.
What authors and books can you recommend to readers?
I love Tom Sawyer. I had a huge crush on Becky Thatcher when I first read the book on my grandparents' farm in western Minnesota. Read old books I say. And read stuff outside of fantasy. I always crow about Gatsby. But things more in genre that I am deeply respectful of are works by M. John Harrison, China Miéville, Kelly Link, Laird Barron (Who's newest collection just came in and I'm going to pick it up this evening: "Occultation". Can you believe they didn't have it in stock at B&N? What were they thinking?) I've enjoyed Gene Wolfe and Peake and Yeats and Lovecraft.
Your fantastic debut book, The Last Page, will be published in August by Tor Books. How did you and Tor find each other?
That is a long and twisted tale of sorrow and pain that ended happily. I'll try to sum it up. I got into the video game industry back in 2004 and in 2005 our studio started having a relationship with Valve up in Bellevue, makers of Half Life, Portal, etc. One of the writers there, a fellow by the name of Marc Laidlaw, went out for burgers one night with me and the guys and we started talking. For reasons beyond my comprehension Marc agreed to take a peek at a manuscript I had slaved over and then, equally inexplicably, went on a personal crusade to find me a house or agent that would publish the thing. He literally pushed email addresses and introductions on me for something like two and half years while I moped around and played an MMO. In the end, he foisted me on Paula Guran who reluctantly agreed to read a page or two of the manuscript and promised me a venomous critique. Strangely, the venom never came. She agreed to rep me and sent the manuscript to Paul Stevens at Tor, her first attempt to sell it. Deal done.
How would you describe The Last Page in your own words?
I call it an industrial fantasy because I don't know what I'm talking about. It's not exactly steampunk. It's certainly not high fantasy. What I set out to do was mirror, in many ways, American life and society, but not directly. It's a shattered reflection and all the bits of glass are mixed 'round. I wanted it to feel shockingly familiar and to resonate so strongly with things many Americans are accustomed to. My hope was that this familiarity would pave the way for the reader to just accept the absurdities on the page and be acculturated by this strange place.
I think The Last Page is also, at its core, a love story. But it's a love story set against a backdrop of historical and political magnitude that almost dwarfs the relationship. This is of course why so many relationships fail. Because of the bigger picture and the external forces. That's why, in the end, it's less of a romance and more of a tale of pure struggle.
The Last Page is an imaginative and inventive fantasy book, which combines different kind of elements. How did you come up with the world you created?
As a kid in high school, we role played religiously. I tinkered with world building and settings. This world is a soup of my travels, my experiences, my fears and joys.
For how long did you write The Last Page?
I started this story in 1996 and had a draft done in about a year. I tinkered a while, then set it aside. In about 2005 I rewrote the whole thing nearly from scratch. Then I tinkered some more. Finally I decided that this was the story that would seal my fate. Either this story got published or I was giving up my dream of being a writer. So again, I set it aside and Marc Laidlaw really dragged me across the finish line as I mentioned above.
The Last Page contains darker and more fascinating scenes than several other debut fantasy books. Did you intentionally try to write a darker story for adults?
I think you write what you know, as folks smarter than me have said a million times. I did not write the book for an audience. It was a story that I needed to tell. I think the fact is that I, like many people, struggle with my own adulthood. Even when you're an adult somehow you're becoming more adulter (I'm pretty sure I can make up words now that I'm published). Anyway, the whole process is hard. I don't think I need to break that down. When things are hard, it feels dark. So this is about that kind of darkness and struggle, about not being able to control other people and the frustrations associated with that. It's also about not being able to control yourself. Somehow, you are who you are, and even if you can put your finger on your own weaknesses, that doesn't necessarily mean they go away.
I enjoyed the dark fantasy and horror elements in The Last Page very much. They reminded me a bit of H.P. Lovecraft's stories, so it would be nice to know if you've ever read H.P. Lovecraft's stories or similar weird fiction?
As I mentioned above, I'm a huge Lovecraft fan and I think it's obvious in the book. That's a bit nerve-wracking to admit actually because so much is said to the negative about writers who emulate him, that they don't understand the heart and soul of Lovecraft and that they're efforts wind up as tawdry imitations. I don't think I'm trying to imitate per se...but sure. My affection for Lovecraft, I think, is self evident. And by the way, I think I do understand the soul of Lovecraft. You can read it in The Silver Key. *wink*
Your main characters, Caliph and Sena, are interesting characters. Was it difficult to write about two different kind of characters who have different backgrounds?
No. Creating characters is easy. If it wasn't easy, it'd be a nightmare trying to get inside their heads. Maybe I'm schizophrenic.
Have you already begun to work on the sequel to The Last Page?
Black Bottle is complete. I worked madly on it through the winter but it was never a tacked on resolution. Rather this has always been, in my mind, one story in two books. As a result, I knew the ending of Black Bottle long before I started writing it. I had a lot of fears though because I didn't know if I would ever sell two books. So I wrote the ending of The Last Page to cover my bets and provide a reasonable ending in the case that Black Bottle never saw the light of day. I'm happy to say that Black Bottle is now with the publisher and that the feedback I've gotten so far from my private circle of rabid Last Page fans, is that they love the book. I expect editorial comments back from Tor soon and then I'll start the editing process. I think, at the moment, the sequel is set for release sometime in the summer or fall of 2011.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
It was really nice to answer your questions. Thanks for offering me my first interview.
Thank you for the interview, Anthony.