|Photo Credit: Kevin Trageser|
I was introduced to author Trevor Shane and his current release, CHILDREN OF PARANOIA, through a series of mysterious postcards a few months ago.
Trevor is here today to answer some questions about his first novel, CHILDREN OF PARANOIA, and his writing.
First, here’s a brief synopsis of CHILDREN OF PARANOIA: Since the age of eighteen, Joseph has been assassinating people on behalf of a cause that he believes in but doesn’t fully understand. The War is ageless, hidden in the shadows, governed by a rigid set of rules, and fought by two distinct sides — one good, one evil. The only unknown is which side is which. Soldiers in the War hide in plain sight, their deeds disguised as accidents or random acts of violence amidst an unsuspecting population ignorant of the brutality that is always inches away.
Killing people is the only life Joseph has ever known, and he’s one of the best at it. But when a job goes wrong and he’s sent away to complete a punishingly dangerous assignment, Joseph meets a girl named Maria, and for the first time in his life his singleminded, bloody purpose fades away.
Before Maria, Joseph’s only responsibility was dealing death to the anonymous targets fingered by his superiors. Now he must run from the people who have fought by his side to save what he loves most in this world. As Children of Paranoia reaches its heart-in-throat climax, Joseph will learn that only one rule remains immutable: the only thing more dangerous than fighting the war. . .is leaving it.
Mason - CHILDREN OF PARANOIA has an intriguing plot. What inspired this book?
Trevor - Different aspects of CHILDREN OF PARANOIA were inspired by different things. The original inspiration was to create a world where the main character can kill a woman he doesn’t know in the first fifteen pages of the book without making him the bad guy and without resorting to simplified concepts of good versus evil. I wanted to write an action thriller centered around some real life ambiguity. I am also just a big fan of what I call paranoia fiction (books like Catch 22, Blindness, Darkness at Noon and so many others). At the same time, family and what the characters are willing to sacrifice (or not sacrifice) for family play and important role in the book and those parts were inspired by things that were happening in my personal life while I was writing CHILDREN OF PARANOIA. I pretty much find that, when I’m writing, a little bit of everything that I know and everything that I am experiencing at the time slips into my work.
Mason - How did you go about doing research for your book?
Trevor - My research has really been limited to small factual tidbits in my stories. That’s mostly because the stories themselves come primarily from areas where I already have a lot of knowledge. I’m not saying that this is always a good thing; it’s just how my brain works. The best example of that is the different areas where CHILDREN OF PARANOIA takes place read much like a travelogue of places I’ve lived or spent a lot of time. I’ve lived in Brooklyn, New Jersey, Montreal and Washington D.C. My grandfather lived in Naples, Florida. My father lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
So, what I end up researching are facts that I try to use to make certain scenes more realistic, like how many bullets certain types of guns hold or the actual impact that a silencer has. My goal there is to take this crazy concept of a centuries old, underground, secret War that is central to CHILDREN OF PARANOIA and make everything within that crazy world as realistic as possible. A lot of times, doing this research is fun (though I don’t know what I would have done before the Internet existed).
Mason - Do you see research as a fun part of the writing process or just as something that is necessary?
Trevor - I think that it’s important to get things right. You have so much leeway as a fiction writer to create but your readers will really rebel if you mess up something that is purported to be based on fact. Readers can accept the fact that your main character has been trained since the age of sixteen to be an assassin in an underground war but the minute he shoots the seventh bullet out of a gun that only holds six bullets, you’ve lost your credibility with a lot of those readers. That being said, if you don’t enjoy the research that you’re doing, that boredom is going to come across in your writing. If the research doesn’t interest you, then I think you’re in trouble from the get go.
Mason - Of all the authors (past and present) you enjoy reading, has any one (or more) been an influence on your writing?
Trevor - I think a lot of the writers that I read have influenced me, though I think the influence is more as a storyteller than as a writer. I’m not really sure where my writing style really comes from, other than within. Some of my favorite writers include Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway. I will say, however, that from the ages of eleven to about fourteen, the only author I read was Stephen King. While I enjoyed his horror books, what I really loved was his more conceptual fiction including works like The Long Walk (which I still think is the best thing he ever wrote), The Body and The Running Man (which is nothing like the cheeseball movie they turned it into). Those books had such a profound effect on me when I was a kid that I still see myself drawing on them today, over twenty years after having first read them. I would love to have that type of impact on someone else one day.
Mason - What can readers expect next from you?
Trevor - CHILDREN OF PARANOIA is the first book in a trilogy. Dutton is publishing the entire trilogy. The second book (currently titled CHILDREN OF THE UNDERGROUND) is set to come out next fall and the third book should come out in the fall of 2013. While the three books make up one larger, overarching story, I hope that they each stand on their own as well. Each book will focus primarily on a different character. For those who have read the first book, the second book really belongs to Maria.
Trevor, thanks for guest blogging today. Your take on research says a lot. If you’re bored with the research then it goes to reason that the writing will be boring too. It’s hard to make something interesting if you don’t find it interesting yourself. Wishing you much success with your trilogy.
Trevor lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. For more on Trevor and his writing, stop by his website, www.childrenofparanoia.com
What are your thoughts on research? If you’re a writer, do you research minor details or just the major ones? As a reader, could you overlook such details as a gun that was shot seven times but should have only carried six bullets?