Please welcome Sam Munson to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The War Against the Assholes was published on June 16th by Saga Press.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Sam: Thanks for having me. I started – I think – in first grade, when I was assigned to write a holiday poem of some kind. Under the compulsion of state and society, in other words.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Sam: I have never heard those terms before. If they mean what I think they mean, I’d in all honesty have to describe myself as a sleepwalker or stumbler. I think at least some readers will know what I mean, here.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Sam: Talking about it. Whenever I open my mouth, I get nervous. It seems to verge on violating a taboo.
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
Sam: I don’t want to say that I am influenced by this or that writer, because I think that’s arrogant – claiming to be influenced by Tolstoy, for example, is effectively claiming that your work resembles his – but there are many writers I love. Most of them are Russian or Central European. In immediate private impact, The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil ranks first for me.
TQ: Describe The War Against the Assholes in 140 characters or less.
Sam: The book for everyone who ever wanted to punch Harry Potter in the face.
TQ: Tell us something about The War Against the Assholes that is not found in the book description.
Sam: At least four of the characters would be diagnosed as sociopaths if they ever found themselves in the hands of our psychoanalytical establishment. Which four? That’s the trouble with sociopathy: its adeptness at camouflage.
TQ: What inspired you to write The War Against the Assholes? What appealed to you about writing a contemporary fantasy?
Sam: I discovered, via a coworker, the existence of a book called THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE, which is a manual -- the manual, really -- of legerdemain. And I had always wanted to write a fantasy novel. Though I object to the distinction as a little specious: novels are fantastic by definition, and verisimilar ones the most fantastic of all.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The War Against the Assholes?
Sam: Ashamed as I am to say it, I did very little – I read THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE. Beyond that, nothing really.
TQ: Which question about your The War Against the Assholes do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Sam: Will it stop a bullet? Possibly, but don’t hold me to that.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The War Against the Assholes.
Sam: Endurance equals greatness.
TQ: What's next?
Sam: I wish I knew. Then again, maybe I’m fortunate not to – it might be massive and humiliating failure. But my first novel, THE NOVEMBER CRIMINALS, is (I am happy to say) being re-issued this fall. I don’t know if that counts as “next” or as eternal recurrence, but . . .
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
The War Against the Assholes
Saga Press, June 16, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
Contemporary fantasy meets true crime when schools of ancient sorcery go up against the art of the long con in this stunningly entertaining debut fantasy novel.
Mike Wood is satisfied just being a guy with broad shoulders at a decidedly unprestigious Catholic school in Manhattan. But on the dirty streets of New York City he’s an everyman with a moral code who is unafraid of violence. And when Mike is unwittingly recruited into a secret cell of magicians by a fellow student, Mike’s role as a steadfast soldier begins. These magicians don’t use ritualized rote to work their magic, they use willpower in their clandestine war with the establishment: The Assholes.
Sam Munson’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The National, The Daily Beast, Commentary, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Observer, The Utopian, n+1, Tablet, and numerous other publications. He is also the author of The November Criminals, soon to be a motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Ansel Elgort.