Self Expression Magazine

The Long Post: A Rambling Game of 20 Questions Between Lucas and Sofia

Posted on the 03 May 2012 by Sofiaessen

The Long Post: A Rambling Game of 20 Questions between Lucas and Sofia

Lucas Bantner
author of "Tourist"

Sofia: Lucas?
Lucas: What?Sofia: I’ve had two guest bloggers in a row. I really should post something myself soon. Do you have any ideas for me, Lucas?Lucas: Oh no, Sofia. You’re not gonna get me to guest blog for you. Sofia: I wasn’t going to ask you!Lucas: Yes, you were.Sofia: No, I wasn’t.Lucas: You sure about that?Sofia: Fine, fine, you’re right; I was going to ask you to write something for me. Lucas: I know you too well.Sofia: Agreed… Would you let me interview you? Lucas: Oh boy, a quiz!Sofia: I said interview, not quiz.Lucas: Same thing.Sofia: Alright, call it whatever you want. Will you answer some questions? Lucas: Sure. How many? Sofia: Twenty. Lucas: Okay. Shoot.
Sofia: What genre do you generally write and what drew you to this genre?
Lucas: I'm a nerd, which lends itself to Science Fiction quite handily. I don't think this is a bad thing in any way. I love science and technology, and I'm smart enough to understand most things in those categories.  Following from that, I find an almost unethical amount of pleasure in making up technology that is based on enough facts that it could, in some way, be considered almost feasible, but at the same time is completely outlandish.Sofia: Yeah, that sounds like you.Lucas: Are you writing this down? Sofia: No, I have photographic memory… Next question - what have you had published to-date?Lucas: The only work of significance that has been published is my novel, Tourist. However, go back five or six years, and my first actual paid publication came when I was paid ten dollars to write a tongue-in-cheek story for a dating website. My story borrowed a bit too much from real life, though, and some very nice people got very mad at me. So I asked the people who ran the website to take the story down and returned my payment.Sofia: People can be so touchy. Where, if not from real life, are writers supposed to get their inspiration from? I’m lucky no one in Drapanias speaks English. If someone from that village read Change of Pace… never mind. Moving on. Lucas, if you have self-published, what made you decide to do so?Lucas: Does it count if I paid to print out a handful of copies of the draft of "Tourist" and gave them to friends and family?Sofia: I’m going to say it does count. Where’s my copy? Lucas: You’ve changed addresses four times in six months. How am I supposed to know where to send it? I’m brilliant, not psychic. Next question, please.Sofia: Do you read eBooks or do you prefer “regular” books?Lucas: I greatly prefer regular books. This might be because I don't have an actual ebook reader at the moment. Maybe picking one up would help turn me to the dark side.Sofia: You don’t have an eBook reader? Thank God! I thought I was the only person left on the face of the planet who doesn’t have a Kindle or a Nook or a thingy-what-bobby. You know, part of the reason I don’t have one is because I’m afraid I’ll wind up killing it in less than 24 hours. I have a very detrimental effect on gadgetry. I once –Lucas: Sofia!Sofia: What? Lucas: You’re rambling. Weren’t you supposed to be asking me questions? Sofia: Oops. Question, question… let me see… Got it! Do you have a favorite fictitious character? Lucas: This changes about as often as my favorite movie or my favorite band. If I had to pick one right now, I'd probably go with Toru Okada, the lead character from "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami. He is, in every way, the most boring human being the world has ever known, and yet all of these completely fantastic, hysterical, unnatural and bizarre things keep happening to him.Sofia: Really? Interesting. If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect Okada was based on me. Anyway, anyway, how important do you think book titles and covers are? And did you have a say in yours?Lucas: Does our publisher read your blog? I might just go ahead and plead the Fifth.Sofia: That’s probably a good idea. I don’t want to ruffle Ms. Samborski’s feathers, not that I think they ruffle easily. She’s a tough bird. What I mean is… Okay, I’ll just plead the fifth now before I say something I’ll really regret. Can a Swedish citizen plead the fifth?   Lucas: Is that a question you’re going to use on your blog?Sofia: No. What are you working on at the moment?Lucas: Far more things than I will probably ever finish. Two, maybe three more novels in the Tourist/The Immutable series; a story about space, three-dimensionality, and alcohol; a short story about a guy who starts getting letters from his dead ex-girlfriend; a collection of songs based on the lyrics written by Thomas Pynchon; Beethoven's Piano Sonata in C Minor, op. 111; a set of ambient/electronic pieces; and designing a website to show all of these things to the world.Sofia: Wow. That’s certainly more than enough to keep you busy. Do you have time to write every day?Lucas: Yes. Do I actually spend that time writing? Not always...Sofia: So you suffer from writer’s block often then?Lucas: It seems like I always have writer's block. Which I know is a ridiculous statement, because I write all the time. If you had mailed me a questionnaire, I’d be filling it out right now rather than working on any of the things mentioned in my response to question number 7. Sofia: That was number 7? You’re keeping count? Lucas: Aren’t you? Maybe you should be writing this down. It appears your photographic memory is out of film.Sofia: Ha, ha. Very funny. Let’s go back to talking about writer’s block. Any advice on how to overcome it? Lucas: When all else fails, I tend to resort to my dreams. I keep a notepad and pencil next to my bed, so when I wake up delirious in the middle of the night, I can scribble down whatever nonsense was spiraling through my dreaming brain. Nine times out of ten it's useless, but that one gem more than makes up for it. Also, read. I write infinitely better when I am reading regularly.Sofia: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?Lucas: A little bit of both. In the early stages of a writing project I tend to just write fast and furiously, letting whatever ideas I may have fall onto the page. If I keep at this for long enough, I usually notice that many of the ideas are of a similar theme, or revolve around the same set of characters, or have other relationships between them. As I start to explore those relationships, the story starts coming together. At that point I write a rough outline, and then start filling in that outline with actual words.
Sofia: How does it make you feel when you hand your work over to an editor once you’ve completed a manuscript? Lucas: Nervous, scared, excited, stressed out.Sofia: Really? When Change of Pace went to the editor, I was fine.Lucas: By fine you mean Freaked Out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional?Sofia: Bingo.Lucas: I’m going to pretend you asked if I do a lot of research and if I enjoy it. Well, Sofia, I actually love research, but it can be a dangerous thing. Sometimes I spend more time on Wikipedia than I do actually writing. For Tourist I spent a lot of time researching geography; making sure my characters were visiting places that actually existed, as well as trying to understand how people in those places act and talk. Then again, my novel is about giant machines that hold the world together. Sometimes a reader appreciates things that are completely made up.Sofia: I’ll try to remember that for my next novel, which I should be working on instead of playing this game with you. By the way, who’s winning?Lucas: Is it a competition now?Sofia: No, no, of course not. No one is keeping score of anything. Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?Lucas: I've entered one or two over the years, but haven't won anything. It's been long enough since I have that I couldn't really recommend anything in particular.
Sofia: Could you tell me what you enjoy most about writing?Lucas: I've spent a number of years working office jobs where it was not clear what, if anything, I had produced over the course of my employment. With writing there is a very real, tangible thing that is produced that I can take and show to people and say "hey, look, I made this." That feeling is very satisfying.Sofia: What advice would you give aspiring writers?Lucas: I could say "write something every day," which you should, but everyone says that. So I'll change it a bit: read something every day. Reading is every bit as important to writing as writing is.
Sofia: Yeah, that sounds like good advice. How many questions have I asked you now? Lucas: Sixteen I think. Possibly more.Sofia: We’ll call this seventeen then - if you could invite anyone from any era for a cup of coffee in your living room, who would you choose?Lucas: Alexander Scriabin.Sofia: I can’t believe you didn’t say, “Sofia Essen, author of Change of Pace.”Lucas: You would have been my second choice.Sofia: I guess I can live with being second to Alexander Scriabin. I’m relieved you didn’t say “Arnold Shönberg".
Lucas: What do you have against Shönberg?
Sofia: It’s a long story. I don’t want to talk about it. Do you have a favorite quote?Lucas: I sort of feel the same way about this question as I do about question 5, re: my favorite fictional character. I'm not big on motivational posters depicting soaring eagles, and the quotes that tend to stick in my head left an impression on me personally because they are either powerful or silly. I will not choose between the first two that came to mind; both are the opening sentences of great stories, both of which were strong enough for me to shut the book, take it to the bookstore counter, and buy it. First, Stephen King's The Gunslinger, Dark Tower Book One: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."  Second, George Saunders' The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil: "It's one thing to be a small country, but the country of Inner Horner was so small only one Inner Hornerite at a time could fit inside, and the other six Inner Hornerites had to wait their turns to live in their own country while standing very timidly in the surrounding country of Outer Horner."Sofia: Sounds like a country I used to live in. I won’t say which one. Instead, I’m going to as what you do when you’re not writing. So? Lucas: Making noise; practicing piano, playing one of the dozens of instruments I've collected over the years, designing software music systems, thinking about getting back to writing that opera I began eight years ago. Also, I spend a lot of time playing hockey and soccer. Sofia: What do you think the future holds for you as a writer?Lucas: It holds exactly what I am willing to put into it. That is all.  I am going to sleep now. Sofia: Hang on, just a few more questions. I don’t think we hit twenty yet.Lucas: Goodnight.    

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