Six Rounds: with Marc Sorondo
Welcome to the first edition of Six Rounds, my creator interviews from people working in all different mediums of art.
I felt it only fitting that the first interview be with a fellow author, and who better than one of my very best friends, Marc Sorondo, who recently had his short story "Split" published in 'Strangely Funny IV' which also contains my story "Ghost Train Out". Look at that synergy!
In respect of full disclosure, you and I have been hetero-life partners since the early 2000's. This leads me to my first question: How lonely would your life be without me?
I'd need to be more of a poet to describe the depths of that loneliness.
But seriously, do you recall when you decided to become an author? Was it a particular piece of work, or something from your childhood?
Well, I knew I wanted to be a writer pretty early on. I've known since middle school. I never had to worry about what classes to pick in high school or whether I should change majors in college. My focus has been on the writing for a long time, and that focus always guided those decisions.
I don't have a specific moment when it all hit me that writing was what I'd like to do. I had always made up stories in my head, but as a kid I went through a few phases where I thought I wanted to be a paleontologist (would have made a good one had I stuck with that) or an FBI agent (thank the X-files for that one). It was in middle school when it started to dawn on me that all of those jobs would, in reality, pale in comparison to the stories about those jobs that I made up in my head. I figured out that it was making up stories that I liked; all the jobs I thought I wanted to do were interesting to read about, and fun to make up stories about, but wouldn't really be all that great to do in reality.
I started my first novel then, and worked on it for years. I finally finished it during my freshman year of college. The last time I actually looked at it, it was pretty poor stuff, but I worked at it for years, so I'm still proud of it, flawed and unpublishable as it is.
Having read much of your work,I can see the influence those early career thoughts have had on your writing. Are there any particular works that guided your particular writing style? Or more broadly, any authors whose voices reflect your own?
I know which authors I really enjoyed early on (and still do) whose works I hope to have learned from. I've always loved Stephen King (find me a horror author who claims otherwise and I'll call him or her a liar), and I hope to eventually be able to weave a tale the way he does. Also, his book On Writing is a must read for any writer, regardless of their chosen genre. In terms of pure writing style, I think Ray Bradbury is the master; his prose is poetry. He has a sort of ethereal and beautiful quality to his writing that I admire.
I'll limit my answer to those two. If I don't stop now, I could keep going forever.
Those are two great sources of inspiration, and two authors whose work is easily admired. And as artists, we can appreciate when we come across other work of exceptional quality. Not concerning fame or monetary success (I mean, come on we're authors, when has money ever been a concern?) is there any idea or creation that you've read or seen, and were almost envious you hadn't thought of first? Or on the other hand, an idea you know you could have written better?
As far as an idea I'd wish I'd thought up, I often find myself admiring a book or movie and thinking that I wish I'd had the idea. In this case though, I would have to go with the Prestige (both the original novel and the movie version that was made of it). While the film made a lot of pretty significant changes, in both cases I was so impressed with he way the structure of the piece served the story it was telling. Also, I've got to mention Peter Straub's Ghost Story. I was blown away by that book when I first read it. It was a rare occasion when an extremely hyped up book not only lived up to the hype but exceeded my expectations.
As far as a piece that I thought I could have done better, I'm going to go with a film rather than a book. I generally enjoy the books I read because I'm always pulling them from a long list of books "to be read" that I add to when I read great reviews and things like that. That being said, the quality of the books I read is generally higher than the quality of the movies I watch. I'm going to go with the Paranormal Activity movie. I think the idea there was really unique and creepy. Having a camera recording the strange goings-on at the house while the couple slept could have been used to great effect. That being said, I think the characters acted in ways that were ridiculous and ruined the whole damned thing. I think I could have started with the bare bones of that idea and done more with it.
I've got to say I wasn't expecting that. The idea behind the Paranormal Activity movies never appealed to me, maybe if the execution was better I'd have given them a shot, but I'm not so sure..
Well, we just spoke about ideas you wish you had come up with, what about ones you did write? What book/story would you say you are most proud of? Either for originality or execution.
In terms of pure literary merit, the story I'm most proud of is called "The Suicide of Iara Teegan." It's a weird tale, but it's not really a genre piece. It was published in Bourbon Penn a few years ago (an added bonus since it's a publication that I respect a lot, so I'm additionally proud to have had a story published in it). You can actually read Bourbon Penn for free here
In terms of horror stories, since that's my genre of choice the vast majority of the time, I'd say there are two stories that I'm really fond of and which I think turned out really well. One is called "Law of the Bullet" and it's sort of a weird western. It was published in an anthology called Monster Hunter: Blood Trails. My favorite line from the story is actually a bit of dialogue, as well as the source of the title: "This is a land of chaos. This is Hell on Earth, a haven for killers and gamblers and whores. The only virtues here are violence and greed. The only law here is the bullet. The only God here is me."
The other is called "Creative Process" and was published in Pavor Nocturnus, Dark Fiction Anthology: Volume 2. You revisit some stories after being away from them for a while and you're impressed by stuff you've forgotten you included, details and turns of phrase and whatnot, and this one definitely falls into that category for me. I don't really have a single favorite line, but I do have a favorite image. It's actually the image that opens the entire story, that of a boy sitting in the school library sketching a face.
Lastly, I feel like I should mention the thing I'm most proud of that hasn't actually seen the light of day yet. I'm working on a novel series, the first volume of which is finished. I'm really pleased with the character and the world I've been building. The main character, Aedan Halloway, is my fictional version of my own son, and I have a lot of fun putting little bits of his personality and his appearance into the stories, and he loves hearing about his future exploits hunting monsters.
So you mention that the Aedan novel is a fictionalized interpretation of your son. I know you also have three daughters, without getting too personal, have you included any (or all of them) in any other stories?
I do write stories for each of my kids. My eldest daughter has a fairytale written for her. My son, second eldest of the four, has the series focused on him. I actually just recently finished the story I wrote for my middle daughter. It's a nerdy crime caper, for lack of a better description.
I have't yet come up with a fitting idea for my youngest (she's currently just four months old), but it's a question of when, rather than if. My one big rule for the stories I write for my children, especially for the girls, is that I want them to be the strong heroes of their stories. They don't need to hear that they're princesses that'll be rescued by a prince. In the fairytale, it's my daughter who does the saving; in the crime caper, a fictionalized, much older version of my daughter is a badass, well-educated thief and scholar.
So daughter number four will have a story forthcoming, what does that leave you to work on now? Anything special you can discuss?
I'm always working on something. I am actually just starting a new story, one that is going to be a bit an unusual project for me. I'm writing a story about a play, one that will incorporate some epistolary elements. I'm not going to tell the whole story that way, but I'm going to include bits of script from the play, fictional interviews with actors in the play, etc. along with normal sections of prose.
It's an idea I've been sitting on for a long time, letting it marinate in the very back of my mind. Then, I recently started trying to write something else, and this idea just demanded my attention. I could not get into that other story and kept mentally coming back to this one.
I anticipate it being a fairly long piece, so I'll probably be working on it for a while.
Thank you for your time Marc, and thank you, dear readers, for joining us in the first interview at AzarRising, Six Rounds. If you want to read more from Marc, you can check out his very own webpage, here.