Fantasy Authors Unplugged is back and I hope there will be more posts for the feature soon. Today, fellow Story Empire contributor, C. S. Boyack pays a visit with his latest book, The Hat, in the spotlight. I’m pleased to have Craig back today…
Thanks for having me over again, P. H. It’s been a while now.
You’ve written a wide range of books from anthologies to novels. How do you approach a story and decide what the length will be?
I have a hard time with this one. Like most authors, I started out writing tomes that were huge. As I learned to me more efficient with my words, I often have a hard time making word count these days.
I still want specific projects at certain parameters though. The Hat was designed to be a novella, because there is a market I want to approach. I would have liked another 5000 words or so, but I don’t want it to bog down at all. The format doesn’t allow for a lot of navel gazing by the characters.
I really like the approach of making stories as long as they need to be. This works well with short stories and micro-fiction. With the longer work, some planning is required. Even knowing that, many of my novels are on the short side these days.
What’s the inspiration for The Hat?
It’s kind of funny, because most people think they know. I can tell you it wasn’t the Sorting Hat. It was actually one verse from a popular Christmas song. How it turned into a paranormal romp is beyond me, but we can blame my imagination for that.
What’s the storyline for The Hat?
It involves a twenty-one year old woman, Lizzie, who dropped out of college based upon circumstances beyond her control. She’s really trying hard to make ends meet, when she comes into possession of her grandfather’s old hat.
Turns out the hat is actually a creature from another dimension, and Grandpa had a bit of a secret history. The hat has been in Lizzie’s family for several thousand years, and takes up with one family member every generation.
The two of them have to combine their knowledge, skills, and abilities to rescue some babies from some human traffickers.
Did you base the characters on any real people or personalities?
I did not. I like to let my characters blossom on the page, and this is exactly what happened with The Hat. I knew who they were, what they had to do, and made a storyboard to hit all the beats. Character just showed up all on its own, and I’m glad it did. It makes the story so much more fun.
Do you plan to write more about The Hat?
Not specifically, but I’m open to the idea. I have a few other projects that I want to address, but if I keep it novella length, I believe Lizzie and the hat have more stories in them. More on this down the page.
What other projects do you have in the works?
Ugh. I’m working on a second novella currently that will be more of a suspense/horror thing. I also have partial outlines for several novels. One of which will mark a return to science fiction for me. It just needs a few more situations and ideas to make it workable. There is also one that started off as a fantasy, but seems determined to become more of a flintlock-fantasy, or even a pirate story.
I’ve learned to always have a couple of storyboards working. I also have a long list of either short stories or micro-fiction with an eye toward a third Experimental Notebook.
Lisa Burton is a great character you’ve leveraged for your marketing. Do you ever foresee her in another novel? Is she interested in another novel?
Lisa is always interested in another novel. I keep putting her off by telling her it ends with her in a car crusher. Having said that, I actually have a decent idea for one. I should mention that Lisa is a concept model robot, and that’s why the car crusher threat.
It would be a coming together of many of my former characters, including Lizzie and the hat. Lisa would be one of the characters in this story. They come together under the guise of the secret society that Dr. Gina Greybill heads up in my novel The Playground.
I need to find a theologian who knows something about alternate bibles before I can move ahead with it. I’m certain I saw a quote somewhere, but it was not King James Version.
Lisa works these days as my personal assistant, and is the spokesmodel for my writing career. As such, she has posters for every publication. Your readers might enjoy this one from The Hat.
When you launch a book, what feelings do you normally have?
Honestly? I freak the hell out every single time. That long wait to hear back from Amazon is a killer. I’ve learned to do a bunch of advance work for my releases these days to help me tone it down.
I pre-write several blog tour posts, email those who either wanted to help or who I might target with the release data. This leaves me with a bit of custom writing for others, and this interview is a good example of one of those.
What do you think would happen if Lisa Burton ever wore the Hat?
Not much, and they’d both probably resent the request. The hat has standards, and only helps Lizzie’s family.
Lisa is not human, so the hat would not be able to meld with her like he can with Lizzie. He’s also not internet savvy, while Lisa is a walking and talking computer.
Thanks for having me over today, and I hope your readers will enjoy The Hat. It’s priced at 99¢, and will take about one afternoon to read.
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.
I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.
I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.
Purchase link: http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B078YYCNSF
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Thanks to Craig for stopping over for the interview. I’ve already enjoyed The Hat and highly recommend it. Just use the link above or the cover to find out more about the book. If you’re interested in Lisa Burton, you can find her on her weekly show over at Craig’s blog – here’s a link to her interview of one of my characters from The Bow of Hart Saga.