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  1. #5
    It's hard being green ChunkyC's Avatar
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    Liam Jackson (6 October 2006)

    Download a copy of this chat in the following formats:

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    A transcript of the chat with Liam follows (edited for continuity and clarity):


    Birol

    Hello, All. Welcome once again to a scheduled chat, the first in a few months. For that I apologize. Tonight’s treat, er guest, is AW’s own Liam Jackson. For those who aren’t familiar with him, I’ll try to embarrass him with a proper introduction in just a sec. First, let’s get back to the whole lack of a monthly chat thing.

    I do apologize for letting the chats slide by the wayside, because I know everyone enjoyed them. We are going to start them up again, but not with me at the helm. Our own Julia Temlyn, who has served as the MC for a good number of these, is going to take over the organization. Please thank her when you get the opportunity. I know she has my gratitude.

    Now, just let me take a deep breath and go through all the technical stuff real quick before introducing Liam. Given the number of people attending, I have moderated the chat. This means voice capabilities are deactivated and you will not be able to type directly into the main room. Except for those few of you who can, you know, like our guest. Should you have any problems, you may contact me, ChunkyC, or Peter.

    PM Julia with any questions you have for Liam. Please don’t be shy. Ask lots.

    We have found that people are prone to timing out during chats. To prevent this, find a PM partner, maybe the person just above or below you in the list of names, and send them an occasional comment in order to remain active. To PM, or Private Message, someone, double-click on their name in the list at the right. A new window will open. Please do not PM Liam, no matter how much he begs you to.

    *whew* With that out of the way, let’s get Liam introduced.

    This is probably the most difficult introduction I’ve ever written for one of these, not just because there is so much that can be said about Liam, but because he is such a good friend not to just me but to so many of us on AW.

    There are the basics: He has had a career in law enforcement and the military and is married to a wonderful woman named Jo who makes him watch TV with guinea pigs. (I understand the guinea pigs get control of the remote.)

    Liam

    *nods*

    Birol

    Recently in the world of publishing – he signed a multi-book contract with St. Martin’s Press. The first book of that contract, Offspring: The Call, was released this week, and has been making the Amazon numbers go up and down ever since.

    With that, I don’t know what else to say without dominating the evening myself, so let’s turn the stage over to Liam and Julia.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Thank you, Lori! And thank you for the kind comments about the future of AW chats. I'm looking forward to being a part of this!

    Welcome, Liam! How are ya doing this evening?

    Liam

    Doing well, thanks!

    JuliaTemlyn

    Wonderful!

    Liam

    At least all the major parts are still working.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Ha ha!

    Liam

    And I appreciate the opportunity to get together with so many I admire from the boards.

    JuliaTemlyn

    I for one am so excited about the release of your book. Did you time it just around Halloween, though a bit early? That may be a silly question, but I can't help but wonder about the spooky supernatural nature of the story.

    Liam

    We decided last year to time it for Halloween ... but I postponed the release for personal reasons.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Ahh, I see.

    Liam

    This is my last year as a guv'ment rat, so the timing works out well.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Wow! Would you mind expanding on that a bit? I know there are some who are probably curious about your role.

    Liam

    *groan* I almost hate the utter the words “Weapons of Mass Destruction detection and mitigation.”

    JuliaTemlyn

    Well, you don't have to. )

    How about telling us a bit about your book, to start off?

    Liam

    Well, this may violate all the rules of marketing, but CAVEAT LECTOR: if dark fantasy doesn't do it for you, dont buy it.

    The premise is pretty simple; using mulitple religions, I drew from the belief/mythos that angels mated with humans as interpretd by some in the Old Testament. These Offspring play an inportant part in the pivitol "End of Days", a free for all between the Host of Heaven, the Fallen, Legion and mankind.

    If the answer seems trite, or lacking just say, "WTF?" and I'll try to explain.

    JuliaTemlyn

    I've heard it compared to something like a Frank Peretti book, but I gather it's darker.

    Liam

    I've never read Peretti but I have talked with him ... it seems Offspring was a little violent for his taste, though the premises of our works are close enough.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Ah, I see. Do you have any religious background that inspired it?

    Liam

    No actual experience, but rather an interest in how various religions treat the same subject matter. It was fun to mix and match the various ideological themes and mythos.

    JuliaTemlyn

    That really is interesting, to take one subject and view it from various religious theories and views.

    Liam

    I had a blast playing with the concept of Sithra Akhra, a plane of existence in fringe Hebrew lore that states this plane is the origin of Legion and so far removed from God, they won't even acknowledge His (Her?) existence. A fiction writer's dream to find or create a setting like that.

    There is one inherent problem with borrowing from mainstream and fringe religion: to some, you'll never, ever get it right. And unlike epic fantasy fans who just gripe, people get seriously bent when you play with religion.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Excellent, that leads to our next question....

    Liam

    Please forgive the typos ... I'm loosing another wrestling match to the Australian Cattledog ... losing, too.

    JuliaTemlyn

    No problem! I just caught one of mine, too.

    Birol

    (We'll have Charlie edit out the typos in the log. Really. )

    JuliaTemlyn

    In the same vein of your last thought ... are you looking forward to being banned by the religious right?

    Liam

    lol ... I'm hoping that they realize this is just a story ... they don't have to like it, or agree with it ... just respect the fact that it presents another view. I'm not sure Offspring will make a dent on anyone's moral radar. Then again, I think some moral radars could benefit from an occasional dent.

    JuliaTemlyn

    It sure sounds like it's thought provoking, and I'd hope people would read it with an open mind.

    Shweta asks: I'm wondering whether the multiple religions [in Offspring] are all Judeo-Christian?

    Liam

    In the first book, yes. In the second and third books, other world religions become very prominent. By the time the second trilogy starts, the characters are thinking more in terms of Universial Truth as opposed to religious dogma.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Interesting!

    Liam

    I hope so

    JuliaTemlyn

    Draco asks: How did you choose your name for the characters? What was your chosen methodology if any?

    Liam

    I actually pulled the names from people I've known and were very close to in real life. A former partner and fallen comrade served as inspirations for two of the MCs. I stayed with traditional names for the angels mentioned in various religious text. The MC Sam Conner is the lone exception. He's EveryKid, growing into EveryMan ... mediocre in every way ... well, except in one way

    Maybe I should add ... that's the theme of the entire book: that ordinary people usually aren't as ordinary as they appear ... layered like onions and sometimes you have to strip away a few layers to find what truly lies beneath and what you find might just surprise the hell of out ya.

    The other theme is that humanity for all its flaws is extremely resilient in the face of overwhelming adversity. Never count out the human race, no matter the gloom and doomsayers.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Macallister couldn't be here, but she sent along a question: What part surprised you most, of the whole process of selling your first book, and then getting it out?

    Liam

    Heh ... like I posted on my website, I was too ignorant of the whole process to be too surprised. But one thing sticks out; as a raw newb, I heard all the war stories about old hacks seeing new blood as "the competition" and they would either ignore you, try to derail you, or brow-beat you into submission. And the truth is, there are a lot of very experienced people who really believe in the pay it forward attitude. I was a little taken aback by the number of published authors willing to share experience.

    JuliaTemlyn

    That's very encouraging to those of us yet unpublished.

    batyler65 asks: Which character in Offspring do you identify with the most?

    Liam

    One might assume it's the college jock turned cop but I think I most identify with the kid, Sam.

    JuliaTemlyn

    How so, if you don't mind sharing?

    Liam

    He's vulnerable in some ways, gritty in others, observant and distrusting until he sees a reason to trust. Once you have his trust, he'd walk across a parking lot of broken glass on his hands and knees for you.

    JuliaTemlyn

    batyler65 also asks: How long did it take to research the religious elements of the books?

    Liam

    Hard to answer. Its always been a hobby of mine, comparative religions, but I didn't really begin a serious study until the year I decided to finish the book. Research took about 6 months, and several, several midnight conversations with the Incorrigibles.

    JuliaTemlyn

    The Incorrigibles?

    Liam

    The Incorrigibles are my ideal readers and did the beta work on two of my books. Once you know their names you'll understand the attribution, a motley lot of whip snappers and task masters.

    JuliaTemlyn

    lol

    Liam

    Lori, Barb, Mac, and Ray (Maestro) were with me from start to finish on the project.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Ahh, that makes more sense now. ;o)

    Birol

    At least one of us is eagerly awaiting the sequel to Offspring. It's far better than what my professors assign.

    Liam

    Charlie and Rtilyarms also weighed in on the early chapters and Jim MacDonald provided some very good suggestions for book two.

    ChunkyC

    I'm tellin' Mac you said she was motley, Liam.

    Liam

    She knows, Charlie ... remember, she invited Uncle Cletus invented, rather. And Barb ... well, we've all seen pics of Bud in the hot tub.

    JuliaTemlyn

    lol

    TsukiRyoko asks something in a similar vein: How long did it take you to write the book?

    Liam

    Six months to write, a year to edit (thanks to my publisher *grumble, grumble*)

    Another lesson learned. Eds aren't the control freaks that most of us hear about. We did have some rounds over keeping or losing a character and they wanted more violence when I thought I had already killed off enough chars to populate a 51st state. In hindsight, it was a pretty painless experience. The only battle I lost was over the cover.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Medievalist and jdkiggins have similar questions: When you began writing Offspring did you know you would have enough material for three books? And were all three books plotted out in advance? (And you must expand about the cover too!)

    Liam

    A tiny bit of backstory here....

    Twice in my life I've been in a hospital for longer than two days. The first time, I wrote the outline and much of the book and I did it out of sheet boredom. I had no intentions of publishing a book. I was flat on my back while the bones in my chest and shoulder knitted and I needed a diversion. Telling myself stories was the diversion. I was more surprised than anyone when I finally counted the words and found I had written a 400k+ "short story.”

    JuliaTemlyn

    emmanuel_goldstein asks: What insights have your career in the military and in law enforcement given you into the human condition, and do you find that that the harsh realities inherent in those careers has made you more empathetic toward your characters, or do you find cynicism creeping in sometimes?

    Liam

    (anyone want a good deal on an Australian cattledog?)

    Good question, and no easy answer. We'll start will human condition.

    First, no one calls the marines, the army, or the police when they're having a GOOD day. Generally, you only see the worst case scenarios in those jobs and that can't but help jade your mindset to a degree. I've seen humanity as its most compassionate and heroic and at its monstrous worst. I worked Child Sex Crimes unit for a short time, it almost broke me. I'm not hardwired to deal with the victims and I think it shows in the way I handled some of the violence in the book.

    As far as the characters and empathy, thats a funny equation. Yes, I was empathetic ... all the while I was pouring more misery on them. However, I always left a light at the end of the tunnel ... they just had to find it for themselves.

    Birol

    Liam, if I can interrupt for a moment,

    Liam

    Sure.

    Birol

    I put you on the calendar for an hour and a half, the hour part of which is up.

    Liam

    We need to quit early?

    Birol

    I know that Julia has more than a half hour of questions lined up though -- HA! More like stay longer or Julia needs to start doing a hard sort on questions.

    Liam

    I'll stay as long as people have comments or questions ... sorta like a book ... sure as hell don't want to bore anyone

    Birol

    I'm not seeing any danger of that. Okay, need to stretch or a bio break since we're at the hour mark?

    Liam

    Take five?

    Birol

    Five it is.

    Birol

    Everyone smoke 'em if you got 'em. Let us know when' you're back.

    Liam

    *groan* you said that "bio" word!

    Birol

    lol

    Jenna's asked me to voice the room and let everyone mill about while LJ is gone.

    *general milling about in the lobby, with much discussion about a topic the subject of which requested not be included in the transcript....*

    Birol

    Sorry to break up the party, but our host tells me he's succeeded in getting the cattle dog out of the chair so he can come back. If everyone could resume their virtual seats, I'll get Shweta to remod the room.

    * Birol leaves the stage.

    JuliaTemlyn

    btw, nevada volunteered to take the dog, Liam. )

    Liam

    Send me an address.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Ha ha! Okay, back to some questions....

    We want to know more about the cover, since you mentioned it earlier. Medievalist asks: Liam, what do you like best about your cover?

    Liam

    I like the concept, not at all crazy about the actual art. Marketing out voted me, so that was that. It DOES do a nice job of conveying the message of the angelic bloodline thats invisible or inert until time of crisis. Other than that ... blech! Like the editor told me; you're not paid to critique artwork ... go write another book. Soooo ... I did.

    JuliaTemlyn

    jdkiggins asks: You're at a book signing and a woman says, "I don't read fantasy or religion. Tell me what will make me want to read your book." What will you tell her?

    Liam

    Religion is a side plot, fantasy is only relevant if you don't believe in the existence of demons and angels. However, if you don't, it's still a pretty good suspense yarn and if you dont like suspense, well, the self-help section is right over there.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Ha!

    Liam

    Not much else I could say lol.

    The Pub markets the story as a thriller. That was another very short battle. It's kinda funny, when marketing calls my home, they talk about HWA (ed note: Horror Writers of America) nominations, and when the editor calls, he refers to it as a "thriller", while a very close friend in the publishing business calls it a supernatural epic. So, I really have no idea what genre it falls into.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Jenna wonders what you wanted it categorized as?

    Liam

    Barnes and Noble stuck it in mainstream fiction. I almost swallowed my tongue on THAT one.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Wow, that's all a broad range!

    Liam

    Supernatural thriller is as close as I can figure, with horror coming in a close second. Amazon placed it in the thriller category, too.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Just out of curiosity, is it not for the squeamish? I always wonder when I hear "horror."

    Liam

    Julia, this goes back to what I said about being a poor marketer. I tell people real quick, there are only 5-6 violent scenes in the story, but they're graphic. I figured if I was going to show "good" in all its glory, I needed to remain true and show "evil" in all its depravity. Maybe not a good idea ... we'll see.

    JuliaTemlyn

    TrainofThought asks: Which writers inspire you?

    Liam

    Early Stephen King, and later collaborations with Peter Straub ... Straub may be the most underrated horror superstar of all time. Jack Ketchum, brilliant writer. Cussler as a thriller author. Crichton because he's so intelligent he's spooky.

    If you haven't read Straub's Ghost Story, treat yourself this Halloween *grins*

    JuliaTemlyn

    Liam, have you figured out what's up with the mods' user titles and sigs yet?

    Liam

    Only that there's a conspiracy to paint my sig in fuschia

    JuliaTemlyn

    lol

    Lori, care to expound?

    * Birol fails to look innocent.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Or maybe you should go into AW and look, Liam....

    Liam

    I'm afraid to. Very afraid.

    Birol

    This one was not my primary doing or sole doing. Let's just say that we're letting our true natures show in our titles and in our own sigs.

    Liam

    Oh lawd! Save us from Lori and company. Amen.

    (ed note: to honor Liam and his book, nearly a dozen of the admins and mods had changed the titles under their names to the names of various fallen angels and demons ... two days before this chat.)

    * Birol bows respectfully in Liam's direction.

    I've had a good mentor.

    Liam

    Well, there is that. Any other questions?

    JuliaTemlyn

    jdkiggins had one more that goes along ... if we have time?

    Liam

    You bet!

    JuliaTemlyn

    jdkiggins: What are the proposed deadlines for the sequels? And how close are you to meeting the deadline for the second?

    Liam

    Heh ... deadline for the second book was ninety days. The third is one year.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Wow!

    Liam

    It's about the release schedules. The major pubs plot two releases a year; spring and fall. So, depending on when you sell your book, you may have six months to finish the draft and all the edits. Or ... you can negotiate a release for the following year. You can ask for extensions and many times, you can get them, but again, it all depends on the release schedule.

    I know many writers spend years working on that first book. Unless you're JK Rowling or King, you wont have that liberty for the second book. You've heard Uncle Jim and others say "start immediately on the next book?” Most excellent advice

    If you're a fiction author, and unless you're very talented and VERY fortunate, you'll likely enter into a career as a midlist author. And if that happens, the key to earning a living is multiple titles in print, so stay busy.

    JuliaTemlyn

    Thank you so much, Liam!

    Liam

    My pleasure.

    JuliaTemlyn

    We appreciate you going overtime with our questions, and just being here tonight!

    Liam

    I really appreciate the opportunity and the turnout ... simply awesome ... thanks again.
    Last edited by ChunkyC; 10-08-2006 at 08:06 PM.
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