Q) Do you have a bibliography that you can share (stories alluded to, books used for information or inspiration, etc.)? Many club members find bibliographies or playlists of songs authors listened to while writing to be really fun ways to connect with the author a bit, or to get a sense of what was influencing them while they worked.
A) Here’s a link to a blog in which I discuss the use I made of the American literary canon: http://www.tomdoyleauthor.com/2014/11/20/american-magic-loose-transript-of-library-of-congress-presentation/ (it’s particularly detailed on what uses I made in the Hawthorne and Poe sections at the end). I looked at a lot of nonfiction sources. Among the many histories and courses I read or listened to on early America, The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, American Jezebel by Eve LaPlante, and the lighter The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell remain memorable. For Puritan folklore, I made particular use of Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer. For some of my military family characterizations, I was inspired by the life and writing of Lucian Truscott IV, who was a grandson and son of military officers.
[Song list is in an earlier blog entry.]
Q) OR, rather than trying to make a bibliography, could you just say a bit about your influences (people, ideas, life experiences, etc.), whether for American Craftsmen specifically or for your work overall?
A) Another important influence was my friend Dave “Boobie” Dutch, a veteran of the First Gulf War who gave me invaluable background on special operations.
Originally, American Craftsmen was going to be a sweeping epic of American magic generally. My fellow Clarion Workshop alum Stephanie Dray saw an early version of the military opening, and she said in no uncertain terms that that was the story I should focus on. I’m very grateful for her advice.
Q) What were the most enjoyable and difficult aspects of writing American Craftsmen (and its sequels, though we can’t quite relate, yet)? For instance, did you have particular fun writing a certain scene or character? Any notable trouble with the same?
A) Endicott ended up being a fun character to write, once I decided that the modern-day Endicotts weren’t Dale’s true enemies. But he did start as a problem: a stereotype of the stick-in-the-mud Puritan that goes back to Shakespeare. This didn’t please me or my initial readers.
I dealt with this by giving Endicott a healthy dose of self-awareness. He has some idea of how he appears to others, and he even plays off of that image at one point to try to rattle Dale. He has a churchy sense of humor about his relationship with God, and he’s the first to realize the absurdities of the various situations he gets himself into. He’s vulnerable to being fooled once, but not twice.
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise then that Endicott is the first person point of view protagonist for The Left-Hand Way. His character has the most room for further interesting changes and events.
Because of all the necessary worldbuilding, American Craftsmen was more difficult to write than The Left-Hand Way, which is relatively streamlined in terms of exposition and holds a faster pace.
Q) We completely understand if you can’t answer this, but is Roman really going to turn out to be a villain in the next installment?! The man’s so likable and entertaining, which made it very easy to forgive his “sketchiness” (hiding his powers and all that)! And it makes me inclined to think that his stealing Roderick’s spirit isn’t necessarily an evil act in itself, just an ill-advised one that might be under orders from some unknown person(s). I’m excited to find out for sure!
A) If The Left-Hand Way is my Empire Strikes Back, then Roman is somewhat parallel to Lando Calrissian–a rogue who has made a deal with someone far more evil, a deal whose cost he doesn’t yet understand. But there the similarities end, so you’ll have to read book 2 to see how he turns out.