I hope you’ve had the chance to catch up on Quan’s tour this week. I posted a review on Wednesday, and you can find it here. Quan kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us, so I hope you enjoy the interview.
In 2nd grade I wrote and drew a comic book about a generic masked superhero called MANGLOR. I managed to finish about five issues of it before I lost interest. I even drew my own Met Life ads within the book. (“Get Met. It Pays. Better do it, or you’ll pay.’)
When and why did you begin writing?
My first published “book” was a small mystery novel I did as part of a 5th grade class project. It was a class assignment, but it really opened my mind to the possibilities of what could be done with words and stories.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In the 6th grade my English teacher had a daily “fluency” session, where she had the students spend an hour writing about whatever was on their minds at the time. Then she would invite a student to read what they wrote in front of the class. I used the time to work on a book. Each session I would write a new chapter. When I was invited to speak, I read a chapter of my book, and the class responded quite well to it. That reaction told me that I was onto something.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was unpublished, a literary epic (and technically historical fiction because it took place over 20 years ago), chronicling a fictional rap group. I had gotten dragged by my girlfriend to see Waiting to Exhale, and I wanted to write a more guy-friendly version of that type of story.
How did you come up with the title? For Godmode,
I wanted to set a specific tone, and in the case of this book, the tone was of a high action videogame. So I needed a gaming term that fit the action and theme of the story. Godmode is a term used for a secret code that grants some form of extreme boost to the player, whether it be invincibility, or unlimited ammunition, or unlimited lives, and things like that. I felt that matched what my hero feels when he loses control of his rage and turns into an unstoppable fighting machine.
Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?
Sometimes, but not always. The heroine of my first published novel “The Leopard Man” was entirely based on my niece. And the things the male protagonist in my latest novel ”Queen of Hearts, King of Spades” experiences, are uncomfortably close to situations I have actually been through. But often, I just make stuff up based on my imagination and research.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
The biggest influence on my writing style would have to be my godsister, who is also my content editor. Her input, questions and criticism has had the most direct impact on what I do as a writer and storyteller.
Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?
Stay tuned! If you thought GODMODE, or any of my other books, were cool – you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!
How long does it take you to write a book?
Depends on a number of things: how much time I have to write, my inspiration level, how much time I have to spend on research, etc. I wrote the leopard man in a year, but Double Entry took me a mere 8 months, while Godmode took me three years to finish the first draft.
What does your family think of your writing?
Most members are supportive. My parents are both songwriters, so they understand the writing process. Some of the family is a little on the doubting Thomas side. I think that for them, until I sell more than 1000 copies of my books, what I do is just a hobby.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found work best?
I use any method, technique or resource I can get my hands on: blogs; banner ads; book tours; signings; merchandise…anything is fair game if it will help spread the word.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m an all-around creator. In addition to novels, I also produce webcomics, board/card games and music. Most of what I do can be found at my personal website: www.quanwilliams.com, except for my music, which can be found atwww.jugghead.quanwilliams.com.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
The story dictates the genre. I just write the story and decide once I have a good general idea of what direction the story is going in. My stories have been hard to pigeonhole into one category. The Leopard Man was a young adult thriller. Double Entry was equal parts romance, family melodrama and business fiction. Godmode could be classified as either sci-fi, pulp action or horror.
Do you suffer from writers block?
Quite a bit. But the advantage of having a lot of ideas is that when I’m stuck on one idea, I can shift focus to another idea until a solution to whatever kept me from continuing the first one presents itself.
What was your favourite chapter to write?
I like writing action, and am always looking for better ways to do it. The flight-gaunt fight scene from Godmode was fun to write because it gave me a chance to really showcase my protagonist’s scientific mind as well as show some cool fighting action.
What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.
I’m trying to get beta readers, an agent and/or a publisher for my literary love story, “Queen of Hearts, King of Spades.” Also piecing together concepts and ideas for an epic urban high fantasy adventure series. Finally, I dabble in music (check me out at www.jugghead.quanwilliams.com), and I’m currently developing a concept rap album which will also double as a poetry chapbook. I’ve got about 8 songs written, which is half of the album. If you like James Bond, you’ll love this project. So stay tuned.
What has been the toughest criticism you’ve received, and the best compliment?
The most damning thing you can hear as a writer is “I really don’t care about these characters.” Your central characters can be good or evil, rich or poor, or whatever you want, but most importantly they have to be INTERESTING. If not, then you’ve failed as a writer, and I had to do some serious soul searching when my first proofreader told me that about Elijah. But I loved it when my content editor told me that I have a great ability to tell a story. To me that means I have a natural knack for plot and pace, for building suspense and for keeping you wondering what’s going to happen next! It’s something good to build on.
Is there any advice you’d like to share?
One word: WRITE!!! Don’t talk about how you want to write something someday. Write something now. Don’t let your ideas fester around in your mind until they are either forgotten or they drive you crazy. Write them down. Don’t just tell people about those crazy dreams or fantasies you’ve been having. Write them down. Got a strong opinion about something? Is something happening in the world that is bothering you? Write it down and put your opinions in black and white. Just had an epiphany or some life changing philosophy, quote or catchphrase come to mind? Write it down! You can go back and refine your writings into something publishable later. Just get it out of your head and into some tangible form. This is who you are. This is what you do. Runners run. Singers sing. Fighters fight. Travelers travel. Writers write.