Friday, November 26, 2010

Interview with Grey Dogs Author, Ian Sandusky

While I’m on an interviewing streak of sorts, I figured it was time to do another. This time I had the pleasure of sitting down with Grey Dogs author Ian Sandusky. I was able to pick his brain about his writing, his process and also about his book.

SDA: Tell us about your book, Grey Dogs.
IS: The short synopsis of the book is ‘When a vicious illness rips across Southern Ontario like wildfire, Carey Cardinal must confront his past or fall victim to the rabid infected tearing with their broken teeth at anything in their path.

SDA: How did it come to you?
IS: On the wings of angels. No, not really. Over the course of slogging through bad memories - some real, some invented - mixed with a healthy dash of inspiration from works I previously loved reading.

SDA: I love how the best stories just kind of happen like that. Tell me why this story was important for you to tell?
IS: Some stories are important to tell, others are created to entertain - and I think this falls somewhere in between. I don't think I can be as pompous as to think the world would be seriously deprived of quality literature without GREY DOGS, but I think the whole story of striving to overcome something much larger than yourself despite your past transgressions may strike a chord in more people than not.

SDA: I know I’m jumping around but going back to the beginning, what led you to be a writer?
IS: In honesty, the lack at the time of the kind of horror fiction I wanted to read. After one night and a few glasses of wine, the decision to write what I wanted to read myself hit me in the head like a ton of bricks, and I haven't been able to stop since.

SDA: It kind of happened the same way for me as well. Once you decided to write, what do you feel was the hardest part of writing a book?
IS: Editing. I don't know how some people can love it. The last thing I want to do is carve apart my glorious mind-child after I just reared it to adulthood, only to stitch it back together into something resembling Frankenstein's monster on crack. Let's just say my red pens often don't get the workout they should.

SDA: What was the longest part of the process, writing the book or publishing?
IS: Publishing, by far. I actually wrote GREY DOGS over the span of approximately ten weeks, but the publishing process from acceptance to release on Oct. 31st took about six months - but even then, that's pretty fast for print publishing. Apparently chasing down good, solid cover-art is a big part of the battle, but the wait was well worth it.

SDA: That being said, what was the deciding factor for publishing how you chose to?
IS: Print publishing was the only way I wanted to go. Call me old school, but I just spent countless hours working on a digital copy of the book - the last thing I wanted was to see another digital copy. ePublishing is a great thing, but my goal was to have my story bound in paper.

SDA: So now that you’ve finally done it, what was the most gratifying moment of writing the book?
IS: Scrawling "END" at the bottom of the first manuscript. No matter how badly in need of editing it was, it was finished. I had set out to write a book, and I finished. I didn't care what anyone thought of it - getting it finished after weeks of work was more rewarding than anything I had done to that point.

SDA: Well the whole thing is a pretty great accomplishment overall. That being said though, if you could change anything about your publishing/writing experience this far, what would it be any why?
IS: If I could change one thing, I would have pushed to get an agent a little more when I was first offered a contract for GREY DOGS, rather than panicking and signing more or less right away. That was a pivotal moment, and I likely could have cashed in on it by gaining representation - but hell, that battle wages on for everyone in my shoes.

SDA: Do you infuse characteristics of people you know or yourself in your characters?
IS: Of course, I think that every writer does it, whether it be conscious or unconscious. People write about what they know, and everyone has at least witnessed some form of the human condition interesting enough to write about. Just make sure you leave the names out - nobody likes a lawsuit!

SDA: Well now let’s talk about other influences. Who has been your biggest creative influence?
IS: Other writers, who's stories I hear via forums, Twitter, blogs, and the like. The schools I've attended and the cities I've grown up in have all had at the very least small groups dedicated to artistic pursuits, but for whatever reason I've never really connected with them. Reading the success stories of other writers making their dreams into reality is what makes me want to sit down and churn up some ideas of my own.

SDA: Who has been your worst critic?
IS:Myself. Without a doubt, but I don't think that's unusual. I think I'm still in shock anyone wanted to invest in what I threw on the page, if you catch my drift.

SDA: Well what is this worst critic’s writing process, meaning do you have a certain setting you have to be in to write?
IS: I brood in the dark confines of my oak-panelled library as a crow perches on a stained bust of a Roman senator while the rain splatters the stained-glass windows. Since I lost that place in a poker game, I usually just have to sit down, push away the distractions, and get down to it. Any setting is a good setting in which to write, provided you can get a steady, uninterrupted flow going for a substantial length of time.

SDA: Speaking also of critics, if someone gave you a less than stellar review of any of your work on a public forum, would you respond, and if so how?
IS: Likely? No. I've seen too many authors ruin their reputations defending their works in flame wars on review sites. At the end of the day, someone isn't going to like your work. Responding to one only shows you're willing to argue with anyone, and that usually doesn't turn out too gracefully. If anything, I would thank them for their honesty, and hope they would reconsider something else of mine in the future.

SDA: I'm testing a few theories about writers and would value your input on it...Do you consider yourself a procrastinator?
IS: A hundred times yes. I would find translating the Bible into Klingon interesting, if I had a paper due the next day.

SDA: Have you ever struggled with writer's block?
IS: Every day, to some degree or another. I've never been so blocked that even a few words erk out though - that would be a sad, frustrating day.

SDA: Also, do you feel that writers are all in some way deep down masochists at heart?
IS: To some degree - who else would willingly put their thoughts on the page? Someone's bound to tear it apart - that's just reality. Beats staying silent, though.

SDA: I will close with this. You did it, wrote a book start to finish, got it published, so have I. That being said what do you think is the biggest thing holding most writers back from becoming authors? IS: Commitment. I know, I know - everyone says it, but 'writer's write.' What they often forget to tack on is 'often.' Anyone can hammer down a few words, but an author is someone who commits themselves to a manuscript and finishes the bloody thing. It isn't pleasant, and it certainly isn't glamorous, but you can't pitch a half-completed work.

Thanks again Ian for the chance to get a glimpse inside your world. It was much appreciated. If you would like to check out more about Ian Sandusky or his novel Grey Dogs, check out his website:

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