TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Edward: It's the build up to sitting down and starting. You know how some athletes are superstitious -- they eat the same meal before a game, wear the same lucky jersey, take the same route to the stadium? I have a writer's equivalent of that. My routine is pretty OCD, and I have elements of OCD in my behavior. Have kicked coffee from the routine, but a few weeks ago I fell off the wagon and the chapters I wrote were among my favorites. Might need to jump off the wagon for a few weeks when I do my revisions on book two.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Edward: Many of my favorite writers have influenced both my desire to write and my technique: Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, J.R.R. Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, and Frank L. Baum are my main genre influences. Shakespeare, Ayn Rand, Jonathan Franzen, Toni Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and John Irving are some of my literary influences.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Edward: I'm an unabashed pantser with plotter tendencies (75 / 25). I know certain points I need to hit in the story, and work toward them, but don't meticulously lay each step of the journey out before hand. I sometimes draw out a timeline if things get confusing.
TQ: Describe Awakenings in 140 characters or less.
Edward: Awakenings is an urban science-fantasy adventure mystery that's a smidgeon of Amber, a drop of Game of Thrones, a dash of Neverwhere, and a sprinkle of Talisman. (135 characters.)
TQ: What inspired you to write Awakenings?
Edward: I was a big into role-playing games in my youth -- D&D, Magic the Gathering, etc. And I always loved making up stories. I love reading stories. It just seemed obvious to me that this was the next logical step. Does that sound weird? I have a lot of friends lamenting their desire to write a novel and not being motivated or not having the time. I guess I had the motivation and I made the time. I chose not to go out many times or take vacation in order to finish the book. It has to be your everything.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Awakenings?
Edward: Observing life, traveling, reading and watching the news. I've been a life-long New Yorker, and some readers have told me the color in my story is good. (That means description of the settings and ambiance ring true and are artistically sound.) I've been to most of the places my characters have been. I follow the news and keep up with what's going on in the world and my community. That's how I came up with my short story for Playboy. Real life is the best place to draw inspiration. Then you ask yourself, "What if?" Then you add your twist to it, your voice, and -- wallah! You've created something unique.
TQ: Why did you set the novel primarily in New York City?
Edward: Besides it being the greatest city in the world, you mean? It's my home. I grew up in NY and work in Manhattan. I'm in the city 6 days a week. It's got a frenetic energy to it that only a handful of other cities in the world come close to. From a story sense, it's a logical place for my characters to end up based on how and where they showed up on the scene. (You know this stuff's all real, don't you?)
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Edward: Seth and Daniel were the easiest because they have the most of me in them. Two aspects of myself in particular, one noble and one selfish. Callum was harder because he's more like the person we all strive to be, and so I had to do more research and pull more of him together from outside influences to make him believable. New York's full of decent guys like him. He's the guy who would run into a burning to save an elderly widow who'll probably be dead soon anyway. (Right now, I'm at the point where I'll run into a burning building to save an attractive single woman that I hope will date me out of gratitude. I'm hoping to work my way up in the following order: kids, puppies and kittens, men, unattractive people, and finally old dying widows.) Do you see where Seth comes from now? Ha!
Cat and Lelani were harder to write. I find women tougher, never having been one. But I try to do more than just tell the reader "she's a female" and then put words in her mouth. I care that the characters ring true, so I consult and revise. I've got some generous female friends and I rely on their judgement.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the book?
Edward: The one where Gandalf tells the Balrog, "You -- Shall -- Not !..." Oh wait... they made me take that scene out. (Friggin' lawyers.)
My favorite scene is toward the end when Daniel stands up for his friend (keeping it vague) when he has every reason in the world not to do so. He has no special powers, life hasn't been particularly kind to him, nor has the friend been particularly loyal to him -- no one would blame him for taking the easy way out. He makes the kind of brave decision that would be hard for any adult to make.
Edward: Three for now. A possible second trilogy, Or I might just do a fourth book depending on where I want to go with the third one. I have to have an idea that motivates me to write.
TQ: What's next?
Edward: Next is book two, which is currently titled "The Lost Prince." Down the line I have ideas for other SF/F books I'd like to write.
I am currently reading Diane Gabaldon's Outlander and enjoying it.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Edward: I'm honored. Thank you for having me.
AwakeningsGuardians of Aandor 1
(Tor Books, August 30, 2011)
Cal MacDonnell is a happily married New York City cop with a loving family. Seth Raincrest is a washed-up photographer who has alienated even his closest friends. The two have nothing in common—except that they both suffer from retrograde amnesia. It’s as if they just appeared out of thin air thirteen years ago, and nothing has been able to restore their memories. Now their forgotten past has caught up to them with a vengeance.
Cal's and Seth’s lives are turned upside down as they are stalked by otherworldly beings who know about the men's past lives. But these creatures aren't here to help; they're intent on killing anyone who gets in their way. In the balance hangs the life of a child who might someday restore a broken empire to peace and prosperity. With no clue why they're being hunted, Cal and Seth must accept the aid of a strange and beautiful woman who has promised to unlock their secrets. The two must stay alive long enough to protect their loved ones, recover their true selves—and save two worlds from tyranny and destruction.
Awakenings launches a captivating fantasy saga by an amazing and talented new storyteller.
EDWARD LAZELLARI has worked as an illustrator and graphic artist, doing projects for Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, and Jim Henson Productions. His short story, “The Date,” won Playboy magazine’s prestigious college fiction contest in 1999. Lazellari lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. Awakenings is his first novel.
Ed’s website: http://www.edwardlazellari.com/
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Awakenings/170940192959270