Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Interview with Author Peter Salomon

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing one of my fellow MSFVSS’ers (that’s Miss Snark’s First Victim Secret Society), except we’re not so secret. ;) 

Please welcome the funny and fabulous Peter Salomon to the blog. His book, Henry Franks (Flux) will be released in a few days on Sept. 8th but you can pre-order it now. Here are a few links to Peter’s on-line shenanigans…
Twitter: @petersalomon

and here is the cover for Henry Franks:

Description from Goodreads:
Four thousand, three hundred and seventeen stitches, his father had told him once. All the King's horses and all the King's men had put Henry Franks back together again.

One year ago, a terrible accident robbed Henry Franks of his mother and his memories. The past sixteen years have vanished. All he has now are scars and a distant father—the only one who can tell Henry who he is.

If he could trust his father.

Can his nightmares—a sweet little girl calling him Daddy, murderous urges, dead bodies—help him remember?

While a serial killer stalks their small Georgia town, Henry unearths the bitter truth behind his mother’s death—and the terrifying secrets of his own dark past.

Sometimes, the only thing worse than forgetting is remembering.
1) Thanks for joining us today! So that description sounds super creepy, and you had me at serial killers. Where did you get the idea for Henry Frank?

I like to tell people that I was trying to figure out the 'Next Big Thing' as I figured vampires and werewolves were a little overdone...the problem with that is I was trying to figure out the 'Next Big Thing' in 2007 (when I started writing HENRY FRANKS) and five years later we still have vampires and werewolves. So much for that whole 'Next Big Thing' thing.

This book actually started life with an adult protagonist, a father raising a son 'off the grid' so much that every single thing his son knew to be true was what he'd been taught and how the father 'programmed' his child. As the story progressed, with the son slowly beginning to doubt the history he'd grown up with, it morphed into a story about the son. So I ended up starting all over again. The example I use is if you are taught that the green stuff growing outside your house is called 'hair' and the furry stuff on top of your head is called 'grass' then you'd naturally speak of mowing your hair and styling your grass (assuming you've been correctly taught the terms for mowing and styling, of course).

At that point, it still wasn't really a horror story, the creepiness factor came naturally once I started constructing a back story for Henry that would explain why he'd lost his memory. And, to be honest, to me the book isn't as creepy as I'd like it to be. It's all so familiar to me that every time I'd read through it during the revision process I'd keep thinking 'this isn't creepy enough...add more creepy...' so I hope people do find it creepy!!

Besides, you can never go wrong with the mantra: "Add more creepy..."

2) So true. You can never have enough creepy…or cowbell. ;) How long have you been writing and is this your first published book?

My first brush with fame and fortune (well, maybe not so much on the 'fortune' part) was in sixth grade when the Principal of my elementary school read a poem I'd written over the loudspeaker to my entire school. Not so much on the 'fame' part either, I guess. I'd been writing poems for a while by then but they weren't all that good. For years I stuck to poetry and even some of those tended to the 'creepy.' It wasn't until an assignment my Senior year of high school that I tried writing a novel (also, not very good). Over the next twenty years I wrote a handful of novels (mostly Fantasy, all for an adult audience) but though the quality of them greatly improved I remained unpublished. As my own children started reading I decided to try writing something they could actually read. I was querying my first Young Adult novel (still a Fantasy) when I came up with the idea for HENRY FRANKS and started writing. Actually, I was still thinking of re-querying that Fantasy when I ended up querying HENRY instead.

 3) I love hearing about twenty-year “overnight success” stories—it shows how important persistence is. Speaking of persistence, do you have a specific writing routine or schedule?

Yes and no. I'm a lazy sort of writer as well as an obsessive one. When I'm in the midst of writing a first draft or of revising/editing, I can spend hours and hours working on it to the exclusion of everything else in my life. But that's only if I'm motivated to start. Motivation is big, as is privacy. I don't like to write if people are in the room with me (well, I don't like to write if people are in the house with me). That first YA I wrote I ended up writing about an hour a day on my laptop sitting in my car in a parking lot. Not a recommended process.

4) That’s refreshing to hear. I’m suspicious of the writers who say they get up at 3am every day and write 2K before breakfast (well, also jealous). Can you tell us what you are working on now?

During the waiting period while HENRY FRANKS was out on submission I ended up writing not one but two Young Adult manuscripts (one action, one dystopian action). Actually I started working on the Dystopian, got bogged down in the plot and then started writing the first draft of the Action novel before going back to the Dystopian to finish it. In the months since I've been heavily editing and revising both of them (concentrating mostly on the Action novel first though the Dystopian is next) with the Action manuscript hopefully almost ready to go out on submission (in one form or another). Also, I've had two picture books that have gone out on submission over the past year and am currently working on another one. The picture book I'm working on now is actually one that I've been working on for about 15 years now and is still a work in progress.

5) Good for you. I personally think picture books are harder to write than novels—one of my critique partners has had several published and I’m in awe of her. What is a recent book you've read that you loved?

FLYING THE DRAGON by Natalie Dias Lorenzi. It's an absolute marvel. I tend to prefer YA to MG but this MG is sheer brilliance, highly recommended. Also ONE FOR THE MURPHYS, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, which, I'm not kidding had me in tears for pretty much the entire second half of the book. Beautifully written, heartbreakingly sad while being truly uplifting. A difficult combination to pull off but this one's a winner!

6) Oh, they sound great, but I’ll need a box of tissues at hand for the second one. Okay, I’ll make the last question a fun one. Tell us something random about yourself so people can get to know you better.

What a great question! I have a degree in Theater and Film Studies (with a concentration in set design and construction for musical theater) and most of the music I listen to is either 80s new wave (which I grew up with) or Broadway. For pretty much the entire writing and editing process of HENRY FRANKS I was listening to Next To Normal and many of the themes of the musical echo the direction I took Henry. Plus the music is just glorious and I need music playing in order to write, I tend to 'feed' off of the emotion of the music, if that makes sense.

That makes total sense--my entire book was based on a song I heard on Pandora. Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Peter, and happy early book release day!


  1. I got my copy of Henry Franks last week and it lives up to all the creepy awesomeness I've heard.

    BTW, Once again I'm struck by how small the kidlit community is. Kristi's my critique partner; Peter blogs with me on Emudebuts, and we're all fans of Miss Snark's First Victim (I entered her very first secret agent contest way back when).

    1. It's definitely a small world--which is why it makes me happy that so many awesome people are part of it!

  2. Great interview, guys!

    Peter, interesting that you can't have people around while you write but need to have music. I'm the opposite. Guess there's no one way... =)

  3. Great interview! I'll have to check out FLYING THE DRAGON, because I don't often gravitate toward middle grade books. There are so many delightful ones, though!

    I also love those twenty-year overnight success stories.