Monday, December 09, 2013

Interview with E.L. Tettensor, author of Darkwalker (Nicolas Lenoir 1) - December 9, 2013

Please welcome E.L. Tettensor to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Darkwalker (Nicolas Lenoir 1) was published on December 3, 2013 by Roc.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

E.L.:  Thanks! It’s nice to be here.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

E.L.:  I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, on and off. I think I got serious about it in the third grade, following my triumph in a poetry contest dedicated to the wonders of mud. I won this amazing dragon kite. It was a kaleidoscope of colours and had a thirty-foot tail, and it was by far the coolest kite in the neighbourhood. That really opened my eyes to the glory and riches that come with writing.

True story.

Anyway, my first memory of consciously trying to write a novel was around the age of thirteen. I was going through this Star Trek phase, and I decided to write a Star Trek book. I sat down with my mom’s old Smith-Corona typewriter and pecked out a few chapters. I never finished it, but that was the beginning of a long-standing pattern – starting, and eventually abandoning, various sorts of spec fic novels. I guess the whole writing thing was sort of pre-programmed.

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

E.L.:  I’m not sure if it’s interesting, but I use a lot of semi-colons. I try to keep it in check, but it’s hard; they’re just such so much more organic than full stops.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

E.L.:  Plot, followed by pants, followed by plot. I get a nice, detailed outline going, and for a while, I follow it pretty closely. Usually, though, when the momentum really starts to pick up, I veer off track – sometimes way off track – and when the train starts to slow down, I have this moment of panic that I’m way off course. That’s when the outline saves the day. It’s not a map, but it is a compass: it shows you where you want to go, if not how to get there. Then it’s just a question of finding that switch – that plot point, that bit of dialogue – that puts you back on course.

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

E.L.:  Titles. Oh, how I loathe them! I got lucky with DARKWALKER, and I can only hope it’s the start of a new trend. But up until now, titles have been the bane of my writing existence.

TQ:  Describe Darkwalker in 140 characters or less.

E.L.:  Sherlock Holmes meets X-Files, with a distinctively African flavour.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Darkwalker?

E.L.:  I tend to be a very visual writer. Long before an actual idea takes shape, my head gets cluttered with images – characters, landscapes, colours – that don’t necessarily fit together right away. For DARKWALKER, I think I was originally inspired by the visuals in films like Underworld and Van Helsing. There was something about those bleak, cinder-and-ash palettes that really appealed to me. And once you start playing with that imagery, you can’t help being drawn to a lot of the tropes of gothic literature – the corruption, the ‘outsider’ protagonist, the fixation with the occult. And of course, the monster.

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

E.L.:  I think the biggest source of research for DARKWALKER was my own travels. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taxed the patience of family and friends by lingering a little too long at a castle, running my hands along the stone, or wandering around the dark nooks of a cathedral, smelling the damp air. There’s a scene in DARKWALKER that’s straight out of my own experience of walking into a magic shop in Johannesburg, South Africa. Traditional research is important, but when it comes to describing the taste of absinthe or the sound of a flintlock rifle firing, you just can’t beat first-hand experience.

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

E.L.:  Lenoir is the easiest to inhabit for me. He’s actually a lot of fun to write, because he gets to say the kinds of things I’ve often been tempted to say, but thought better of. We all have our inner snark, and if you want to know what mine sounds like, spend a little time with Lenoir. He’s the grumpy, pre-coffee E.L. Tettensor.

The hardest to write was Zach. One of my pet peeves in literature is badly written children, and I really didn’t want to fall into that trap. I wanted Zach to be remarkable for his age – clever, resourceful, street savvy – but he’s still a nine year-old, and making that authentic was a real preoccupation for me.

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

E.L.:  There’s a scene where Zach takes Lenoir to a rough part of town to try to recruit some muscle, and something happens that really rattles Zach. The essence of that scene was actually suggested to me by a friend, and I love it because it shows us so much about Lenoir, about his relationship with Zach. It’s the first time Lenoir really pauses to think about why the boy matters to him, and it’s crucial to understanding what drives him later on. It also shows us a softer side to Lenoir, and lets us glimpse how much is going on beneath that stoic surface.

TQ:  What's next?

E.L.:  The sequel to DARKWALKER is almost done, and I’m really excited about it. The characters are starting to fit like well-used baseball gloves, and that means I can focus on taking them to new places, literally and figuratively. There are some new faces, too, characters who appeared in DARKWALKER but play a much more pivotal role in the sequel. I can’t wait to introduce them to the world!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

E.L.:  Thanks for having me!


Nicolas Lenoir 1
Roc, December 3, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

He used to be the best detective on the job. Until he became the hunted...

Once a legendary police inspector, Nicolas Lenoir is now a disillusioned and broken man who spends his days going through the motions and his evenings drinking away the nightmares of his past. Ten years ago, Lenoir barely escaped the grasp of the Darkwalker, a vengeful spirit who demands a terrible toll on those who have offended the dead. But the Darkwalker does not give up on his prey so easily, and Lenoir has always known his debt would come due one day.

When Lenoir is assigned to a disturbing new case, he treats the job with his usual apathy—until his best informant, a street savvy orphan, is kidnapped. Desperate to find his young friend before the worst befalls him, Lenoir will do anything catch the monster responsible for the crimes, even if it means walking willingly into the arms of his own doom…

About E.L. Tettensor

E.L. Tettensor likes her stories the way she likes her chocolate: dark, exotic, and with a hint of bitterness. She has visited fifty countries on five continents, and brought a little something back from each of them to press inside the pages of her books. She lives with her husband in Bujumbura, Burundi.

Website  ~  Twitter @ETettensor  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads


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