TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery.
Rob: Thanks. Nice place. I like the moon.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Rob: That’s an odd question. Let’s see . . . I do have a dead man hanging in my office. Does that count? He watches over me while I write. Doesn’t say much. I do seem to include quite a few dead/undead things in my writing, so perhaps he does have an influence. Is that quirky or just creepy? I think I’ll stop answering this question now.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Rob: Favorites? Jim Butcher, Warren Ellis, Sarah Vowell, Christopher Moore, J. K. Rowling, Matt Taibbi, David Simon, Matthew Weiner, and a bunch of other peoples. I like writers. I like books. Comics and TV, too. Where there are words there’s story and I’m all for that.
As for influences, everything I know about putting pen to paper I learned from reading Stephen King novels. Where else can a body find four decades of entertainment and education in one bibliography? Plus—dead things! Man, I love that guy.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Rob: A plotter, definitely. I wrote an 80 page treatment for Portlandtown. That doesn’t mean I won’t revise on the fly, but I like to have a pretty good idea where I’m going. I can’t imagine writing a novel any other way. (I tried once. Didn’t go well.)
Oddly enough, the opposite is true when I write a short story. I usually have an idea or some ridiculous situation, maybe a character or two, but that’s it. I sit down and start writing until it’s done or I hit the wall. More often than not I hit the wall. This is why I have two dozen unfinished short stories floating around my computer at the moment. Plotter, definitely.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Rob: Page 7. I can usually get through first half dozen or so pages of any story on enthusiasm alone, but around page 7 things start to get real. I start to ask questions. What am I doing? Am I really going to write this? Will anyone want to read a story about a half-blind vegan ventriloquist and his tofu dummy? It’s at this point that I either shrug and go back to writing or start playing Plants Vs. Zombies.
TQ: Describe Portlandtown (A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes 1) in 140 characters or less.
Rob: If you like supernatural adventures about 19th century booksellers, undead outlaws, & zombies in the rain, Portlandtown is the book for you.
TQ: What inspired you to write Portlandtown?
Rob: The inspiration for Portlandtown was a love of zombies and a photograph of downtown Portland during the Flood of 1894. When I combined the two in my head it all came together: wet zombies. Awesome.
TQ: What sorts of research did you do for Portlandtown?
Rob: Not having grown up in the 1880s I had to do quite a bit of period-specific research on the city of Portland, revolvers, bullets, clothing, architecture, floods, Astoria, traveling circuses, language, steamboats, Native Americans, totem poles, the Oregon coast, horses, roads, rivers, and bridges. Trust me, I have extensive notes. This did not stop me from occasionally inventing details or adjusting the facts if it suited the story. Stupid writers . . . always makin’ stuff up.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Rob: The marshal was the easiest. Grumpy old man—how hard could that be? Actually, he’s a little more nuanced than that, but still a natural voice that came readily (steer clear of me when I’m retired, obviously). Much more difficult was Andre Labeau, the African American Shaman/cowboy who never uses contractions and always speaks truth even when he’s telling a lie. Tricky.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Portlandtown?
Rob: Without giving anything away, huh? Okay. If I had to pick a favorite I’d say the Hanged Man’s return (think corpse on display, circus freaks, and a shootout). Takes a few pages to get there, but it’s worth it. I’m also quite fond of Andre’s memory of his mother and the twins first encounter with a living-challenged local.
TQ: What's next?
Rob: Next will either be the sequel to Portlandtown or an unrelated novel called Pumpkin Eater. The later is about ghosts, skeletons, and Halloween. Yeah, I know, more dead things.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Rob: My pleasure.
A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes 1
St. Martin's Griffin, October 16, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Welcome to Portlandtown, where no secret is safe---not even those buried beneath six feet of Oregon mud.
Joseph Wylde isn’t afraid of the past, but he knows some truths are better left unspoken. When his father-in-law’s grave-digging awakens more than just ghosts, Joseph invites him into their home hoping that a booming metropolis and two curious grandtwins will be enough to keep the former marshal out of trouble. Unfortunately, the old man’s past soon follows, unleashing a terrible storm on a city already knee deep in floodwaters. As the dead mysteriously begin to rise, the Wyldes must find the truth before an unspeakable evil can spread across the West and beyond.
Rob DeBorde is the author of Portlandtown: A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes, a story of supernatural suspense, adventure, and zombies in the rain due October 16 from St. Martin’s Griffin. He also wrote a fish cookbook and a cartoon about an accident-prone octopus chef. Seriously. He lives upriver from Portland, Oregon and can be found online at www.robdeborde.com.
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