Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Interview with Chuck Wendig and Giveaway - May 1, 2012

I can't think of a better way to start May than with a 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interview with Chuck Wendig. Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1) was published on April 24 in the US/Canada and will be published on  May 3 in the UK/RoW.  You may read Chuck's Guest Blog - Having a kid changes everything. - here.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Chuck:  I twist the head off an albino crow every day before writing.

I’d call that pretty “quirky.” Also possibly illegal? I don’t know, but screw it, one must entreat the gods.

I actually don’t have many quirks, but font is one of them. Every project seems to ask for its own font. And I really need to find that font – I mean, I don’t need to, if I’m forced to write in, say, Courier New or Wingdings, I can. But I really like to hunt the right font down and pin it to the story with an arrow.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Chuck:  Early on, I was absorbed and inspired by the works of Robert McCammon, Joe Lansdale, Christopher Moore, Bradley Denton, Robin Hobb. These days I’m inspired by peers who are doing incredible work, too: Stephen Blackmoore, Saladin Ahmed, Christa Faust, Duane Swierczynski, the list goes on and on.

I should note that Blackbirds in particular follows a style set forth by the wildly underrated master-of-the-macabre, Charles Grant.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Chuck:  Pantser by heart, plotter by necessity. I hate to plot and outline and plan and scheme but if I don’t, my story wanders aimlessly about like an old person lost at the mall.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Chuck:  Patience. Writing takes patience. You need it to plan it. To write it. To publish it either through traditional or DIY channels. To build audience. To let the book find its own audience.

I have all the patience of an espresso-jacked field mouse.

The good news is, I possess patience’s surlier, gnarlier cousin: stubbornness.

TQ:  Describe Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1) in 140 characters or less.

Chuck:  Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die, but can she stay the Grim Reaper's hand? Can she save Louis, or will she only doom him further?

TQ:  What inspired you to write Blackbirds?

Chuck:  Death and the powerlessness it brings. Death is one of the few common threads that binds us all together, and it makes us all its bitch. I went through a time when I was made to realize that, and from that frustration and anxiety came Miriam, a character who embodies—in a supernatural sense, even—the reality of our deaths and the seeming inability to do anything about it.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Blackbirds?

Chuck:  I went out on the road for a year, learned to chain-smoke, and I stole stuff from dead people just to see what it would feel like. I figured I’d really embrace the “write what you know” adage!

Okay, maybe not.

The research was fairly light. The locations in the book were all locations I’ve been to in some fashion or another, so the big thing was researching the nature of death—the book portrays a number of death visions as Miriam sees them.

But, dang, let me tell you: that’s a rough research ride. You see some grisly stuff when you research death on the Internet. It’s like the opposite of porn.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Chuck:  Miriam is probably the easiest, as she and I share certain psychic territory. I’m not her and she’s not me but I get her. I maybe wish I didn’t get her, but I do. When I started writing the next in the series, Mockingbird, I found her voice came back to me easy, almost too easy, scary-easy.

Louis may have been the hardest. The book is about terrible people, many of them made that way by other terrible people, and whether they can fix their own busted-ass moral compasses, but Louis is the one character in the book whose compass is pretty well intact. And that’s actually harder to write because you want to keep him real, keep him engaging and complex even in his simplicity.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Blackbirds?

Chuck:  One of the killers in the book is a brutal little fire-plug of a woman named Harriet Adams. And she’s on the trail of Miriam and her partner(s)-in-crime.

Well, throughout the book I do these “interludes,” which serve as interstitial look-backs in order to illuminate character and plot, and sometimes these are written in the voices of certain characters.

Harriet gets one of those.

And, in typical Harriet fashion, it’s like… a sentence long. And it’s a truly horrifying sentence. It’s one of my favorite moments of the book.

TQ:  What's next?

ChuckMockingbird drops out of the sky in late-August already, so that’s cool.

Dinocalypse Now is available to Kickstarter backers, but will be out for a wider audience in a couple-few weeks.

Bait Dog will soon reach backers, too.

Oh! And I edited an anthology—Don’t Read This Book—which is out now, and features horror and urban fantasy stories by Stephen Blackmoore, Harry Connolly, Mur Lafferty, LA Gilman, Will Hindmarch, Matt Forbeck, Rich Dansky, Monica Valentinelli, Josh Roby, Ryan Macklin, CE Murphy, Greg Stolze, and Robin Laws.

Man, I’ve been busy.

Plus I’ve got other tricksy little secrets up my sleeve.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chuck:  No, no, thank you!

About Blackbirds

Miriam Black 1
Angry Robot, April 24. 2012 US/CAN, May 3, 2012 UK/RoW
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Touch Of Death | The Future Is Written | Free Way | Surviving ]

About Chuck

Chuck’s novel Double Dead hit shelves in November, 2011. His second novel, Blackbirds, is already getting rave reviews prior to its publication in April of this year. Its sequel, Mockingbird, publishes at the end of 2012.

He, along with writing partner Lance Weiler, is an alum of the Sundance Film Festival Screenwriter’s Lab (2010). Their short film, Pandemic, showed at the Sundance Film Festival 2011, and their feature film HiM is in development with producers Ted Hope and Anne Carey. Together they co-wrote the digital transmedia drama Collapsus, which was nominated for an International Digital Emmy and a Games 4 Change award.

Chuck has contributed over two million words to the game industry, and was the developer of the popular Hunter: The Vigil game line (White Wolf Game Studios / CCP). He is a frequent contributor to The Escapist, writing about games and pop culture.

He currently lives in Pennsylvania with wife, dog, and newborn son. You can find him at his website, terribleminds.com, where he is busy talking about storytelling and the art and craft of writing. You can find his writing advice collected in e-books such as Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey and 500 Ways to be a Better Writer. Give him a wide berth, as he might be drunk and untrustworthy.

Chuck's Links

Terrible Minds (website)
Tumbelog (Tumblr)

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1) from The Qwillery. Please note that should you win the novel will not be sent to you until after it is published in April.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What book are you reading?
What is the last book you've finished reading?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

**Giveaway rules are subject to change.**


  1. Last night, I finished Salute The Dark (Shadows Of The Apt, #4) by Adrian Tchaikovsky and I'm still (re)reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

    Thank you for the interview & giveaway!

    +1 comment
    +1 follower


  2. I am currently reading The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham. :)

    Anyway, Chuck is quite a character, isn't he? I think I would be afraid to meet him in person. He might try to serve me beheaded bat stew or something...

  3. I just finished reading the Fifty Shades trilogy. This book sounds like it could possibly ease my Christian Grey withdrawl.


  4. I just finished reading the Fifty Shades trilogy. This book sounds like it could possibly help me forget my serious case of Christian Grey withdrawl.


  5. I just finished reading Wide Open by Deborah Coates, and I am currently reading Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson & also The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells. I would love to be reading Blackbirds next. ;)

    @timlewis on Twitter

    RT: https://twitter.com/#!/QQwill/status/197282270682419200

    lewis dot tim at gmail dot com

  6. I'm nearing the end of Uncle John's Flush Fiction anthology.

    Beth.L.Cato at gmail dot com

  7. I just finished A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper. I'm going to start Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers.
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC: Vivien
    +1 tweet:

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  8. I'm currently reading Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer Estep. Thanks for such an amazing opportunity! =)

    +1 GFC: Carol

  9. Great interview! I love the premise of this book and I've read some fascinating interviews w/ Chuck around the interwebs. Definitely caught my interest :)

    I'm currently reading Summoning the Night , by Jenn Bennett. I really like it and the first book.

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc: erin

  10. I've just finished reading Dead Rackoning by Charlaine Harris - I know these aren't as good as they used to be but I like to catch up on Bon Temps happenings! :-)

    GFC - Mel S

    Mentioned on my blog - http://melsrandomblogs.blogspot.co.uk/p/international-giveaways.html


  11. I'm reading Fever by Lauren DeStefano :) edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOtcom
    GFC Krystal Larson

  12. I'm reading Celebrity Death by J.D. Robb.

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc follower


  13. I'm reading Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett and I just finished reading Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay. Both awesome books.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC: Barbara E.

  14. I just finished Lesson in Loving a Laird by Michelle Marcos.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  15. I am reading Timeless which is really good. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber. I would love to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

  16. The last book I finished was The Darkest Seduction by Gena Showalter.

    I follow the blog.


  17. I am reading Summer Knight by Jim Butcher. The last book I finished was Grave Peril by Jim Butcher. I love the Harry Dresden series.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  18. Hope your writing has the same humor as that interview Chuck. Alibino crows, huh? Must be difficult to procure. Just shows your devotion to your writing.

    The book I currently finished is Barrie's original Peter Pan and I can't believe it's taken me so long to get to it. Loved it. I'm now FINALLY starting Eowyn Ivey's "The Snow Child." Ordered it immediately after reading her great interview with The Qwillery. If I don't win The Qwillery's generous giveaway then I will certainly pick up a copy of Blackbirds. It sounds awesome.


  19. I'm reading A NIGHT TO REMEMBER by Walter Lord. It is chillingly brilliant.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  20. I'm reading Article 5.

    GOrgeous cover!


    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  21. Thanks for another great interview and giveaway!

    I’m currently reading Necropolis by Michael Dempsey. The last book I finished reading was Fast Forward 1 which is a science-fiction anthology edited by Lou Anders.

    Follower: Lucas Ellinikakis (GFC Name)
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Exarcheian/status/198152970028843008
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exarcheian/posts/348713298522286


  22. I'd love to win a copy of this one! The last book I finished was ZOMBIE by Joyce Carol Oates and I am currently reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.

  23. Hmm, I'm currently reading A game of Thrones.


  24. I'm currently reading, Everybody's Daughter by Michael John Sullivan. Great interview.

    Just signed up to follow your blog.

    Thanks for the opportunity.

  25. Just finished Evil Dark by Justin Gustainis. Second in his series (the name escapes me at the moment) but I love it. Not sure what I'm going to read next.

    I'm also a follower.
    teawench at gmail dot com

  26. Right now I'm reading NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman. The last book I finished was THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green. BLACKBIRDS should be a refreshing change of pace from that one :)

  27. I'm currently reading through The Hunger Games books and World War Z. Would love to add this to my bookshelf.

  28. I just finished MOCKINGJAY & am now reading FANTOMAS, a 1911 penny dreadful by Marcek Allain. It was sitting on my phone minding its own business.

  29. My book in hand today is Deadlocked.

    +GFC Teril

    terilhack at yahoo dot com

  30. Currently reading "The Wise Man's Fear" by Patrick Rothfuss.

    +1 Follow
    +1 Tweet (RT): https://twitter.com/#!/Qwillery/status/197282268929212416


  31. I'm reading Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon.

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follower
    +1 tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/raygarraty/status/198836562069430273

    garraty87 at gmail com

  32. Just finished Article 15.

    +1 Comment
    +1 Follower
    tjahaira at gmail dot com

  33. I just finished Hunting the Shadows by Alexia Reed, a thrilling paranormal, sci-fi romantic suspense story :-)

    +1 Commented
    +1 Follower

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com