Monday, December 3, 2012

Scott Prussing interview

Scott Prussing 
Author of The Breathless Series

Today, I'm interviewing Scott Prussing, the young adult author of the Breathless vampire series.  

What inspired you to write your first book, Scott?
I’m going to give a somewhat complicated answer to what seems a reasonably simple question, because I have two “first books.” One (Unturned Stones) is actually the first one I wrote, but nothing ever happened with it (yet!). The second (Breathless) has been moderately successful and has led to 4 sequels, so far.
In the mid to late eighties, I wrote Unturned Stones, a mystery/suspense novel which I recently updated and put out as an ebook. It’s still my favorite of all my books. I think it’s totally original, well-written, with lots of clever twists. I managed to acquire a New York agent, but he was unable to get it published.
Flash forward 15 years. A friend of mine’s husband, who is an avid reader, read Unturned Stones and loved it. He knows how hard it is to get anything published and uttered this now famous “throwaway” line: “You should write something with vampires in it. Anything with vampires sells.” I thought: I can do that. So I did. And thus was Breathless born.
I decided to make it a “Twilight type” book that was not really like Twilight, if that makes any sense. So I just started thinking about what I could do differently, but still appeal to that huge audience. I made vampires the catalyst for much of the action, but not the lead characters. I also made them a bit more traditional. I invented supernatural vampire hunters I call volkaanes and created one-fanged vampires, who are crippled versions of the real thing. I gave my heroine some definite strengths and weaknesses, and made sure I had an engrossing storyline with several subplots. I think I succeeded pretty well, because there are now 4 sequels to Breathless, with plans for a fifth.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I remember exactly when and how it originated. Shortly after college, I read an article in the local newspaper about a fourteen-year-old boy who was writing a Lord of the Rings type novel. LOTR is my all-time favorite book, and I thought “I could do that.” So I started writing—in ball point pen on a legal pad. I ended up with an eight hundred page Lord of the Rings rip-off. The story wasn’t all that bad, but it wasn’t very well-written, to say the least. It’s what got me started, though. Thankfully, that manuscript no longer exists.

How does your take on vampires differ to what is already on the market?
My vampires are closer to the traditional than to the sparkly, high school attending vampires with special powers in Twilight. The sun hurts their skin, but does not kill them, so they prefer the night or cloudy days, but they can still venture out on sunny days (with a hoodie and long sleeves, and staying in the shade as much as possible.) They live communally in underground caverns, following certain rules (limiting how often they hunt humans, for example) to keep from drawing too much attention to themselves. They can pass as human when necessary, and some of them mingle with people now and then. I also invented one-fanged vampires, who I call grafhym. They are crippled versions of the real thing, far less powerful, and they are shunned by other vampires. Grafhym play a critical role in book one, Breathless. Indeed, one of the catchphrases for the Blue Fire Saga is “It all started with a one-fanged vampire.”

What makes your stories different?
I think my paranormal romance novels have more mystery and suspense than many books in the genre—an offshoot, I think, of having started my writing career with a couple of mystery/suspense novels. I also try to create a few new things in my books, such as the one-fanged vampires and supernatural vampire hunters called volkaanes I invented for my Blue Fire Saga. In Heartless, book 5 in the series, I added another new invention—xenorians. They are members of an ancient sect that believes all magic will eventually turn evil and so must be destroyed.
I also like to do some “cross-pollinating” in my books when I can. For instance, in Mine: A Love Story, I have the lead character reading one of my Blue Fire Saga books and thinking wistfully about what a great relationship the lead characters have. I even have a poster of Breathless on the wall on the cover of Mine: A Love Story. Sometimes I’ll steal a whole scene from one of my other books. As I told a reviewer, “If you can’t plagiarize yourself, who can you plagiarize?”

You have VERY creative worlds, yet the emphasis of your books seem to be more weighted to the story. What are your feelings on world building vs. character building vs. storyline and how do you manage and balance it all during the process?
 I think all three are important. If readers don’t like your characters, they’ll have a hard time enjoying the story, regardless of how good it is. I’ve always been more of a “story guy” than anything else, so that come easiest to me. I think that’s one reason people way beyond my core audience love Breathless (even men), because in addition to the difficult, supernatural romance, there is a definite plot with several mysteries and some suspense.
My books have been set in locations I know, so there is little “world building” needed for that. Since I invent and use some different kinds of supernatural characters, I do have to build a way to fit them into the everyday world and to make it logical and real. It’s kind of like world building with the real world. The last thing I want is for a reader to come to some part in the story and say “that doesn’t make sense.”
Description doesn’t come as naturally to me as the story, so I have to remind myself every time the location changes to spend at least a few sentences describing the new place (sights, sounds, smells, etc.) I don’t enjoy reading books that go on and on and on with descriptions, so I try to be very descriptive without using too many words, if that makes sense. It’s actually been a surprise to me when readers and reviewers call my books things like “wonderfully descriptive.”

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of writing?
My favorite thing is when I write a section that I KNOW is really good in some way… clever, funny, inventive, creative, flowing, etc. It could be a scene, a piece of dialogue, a description or even a character. My least favorite part is when I get stuck, where I know what I want to say but can’t figure out how to say it in a way that is smooth, flowing and clear. Sometimes it takes longer to write 3 sentences than it does to write an entire page.

What do you do to help you write? Do you down the energy drinks? Eat junk food? Blast the tunes? Do tell.
I’m kind of boring here, I’m afraid. I just sit down at my computer and start writing. I hate to admit it, but writing is usually (but not always!) pretty easy for me. Sometimes I have the radio playing music, sometimes I don’t even remember to turn it on. I don’t eat or drink anything while I’m at my desk. If I get stuck, I’ll sometimes stretch out on my bed with my eyes closed to think (my computer is in my bedroom). For some reason, if I’m really stuck, a shower helps. Like I said, all in all, pretty boring.

Okay, let’s get a little more “personal.” What are 2 things that always make you smile and 2 things that never fail to piss you off?
Two things that make me smile are getting amazing positive comments about my book from readers, and seeing the dolphins swim by the end of the pier near my apartment. I’m pretty even keeled, so the “piss me off” part is more difficult. Intolerant, arrogant people do it for sure. I’ve also noticed that more often than not, when someone pisses me off they are on their cell phone (driving too slow on the on ramp of the freeway, chattering away in a restaurant, forcing me to listen to their problems because I happen to be near them in a line, etc.)

Tell us ten interesting or unusual things about you, please.
1. I have never owned a cell phone (or a lap top computer, for that matter).
2. I eat the same breakfast every day (bran flakes with raisins, non-fat milk).
3. I have never taken anything to the dry cleaners.
4. I’ve driven across the country eight different times, taking four different routes.
5. I LOVE Cheez-its (and cheesecake, though the two bear no relation).
6. I can see palm trees out my window from where I’m sitting right now, at my computer.
7. I have never driven through the Drive-Thru lane at a fast food restaurant.
8. In high school, I was both a National Merit Scholar and Honorable Mention All-County in        football—a smart jock or an athletic egghead, I’m not sure which.
9. I have never taken a writing class. In college, I took only one semester of required             freshman English, and I actually avoided any classes where I would have had to write    papers, like history, sociology or political science.
10. My all-time favorite books are Lord of the Rings and The Fountainhead, but I don’t             really like anything else that Tolkien or Ayn Rand wrote.

Breathless is the first book in the Blue Fire Saga, a paranormal romance series set at a small college in present day Connecticut. There are currently four books in the series. Weston College freshman Leesa Nyland has been fascinated by vampires since she was three years old. That's when her mom started acting weird, insisting sunlight hurt her skin because she'd been bitten by a one-fanged vampire. 
But fascinated doesn't mean Leesa believes. Any more than she believes in blue fire, people who live for centuries, and kisses that can kill. But when her beloved older brother suddenly disappears, she is forced to consider all these and more. She also has to figure out what to do about her mysterious new boyfriend. She knows Rave likes her a lot--so why won't he kiss her? 
As Leesa draws closer to finding her brother, she faces some gut-wrenching decisions. Should she risk her mom's life trying to "cure" her? Should she continue seeing Rave, after he reveals his dangerous secret? And most terrifying of all, should she make the ultimate sacrifice-give up her humanity-to save her brother?

Readers can stalk Scott Prussing at:
Amazon Author Page:

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