Interview

Interview with Tony Huston

When did you first start writing?

The old Warner Bros cartoons were my first inspiration. After enjoying a Sunday morning full of Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner, I’d run to my room and draw/write my own comic strips. As I blossomed into pimplehood, I went full-nerd and began writing Dungeons and Dragons modules for my role-playing group.

 

What’s the story behind your latest book?

Before The Big Wig, I hadn’t written anything in several years, but I had tons of ideas cloggin’ my noggin. So my plan was to rediscover my voice by writing seven or eight short stories—just to flex my long-dormant writing chops. If I was satisfied with what I’d created, I’d attempt to write a full-length novel.

For my first short story, I plucked The Big Wig from my mental list of candidates because it was something I cared about. Obesity is an ever-growing issue in America, presenting dread consequences for individuals and for society. I wanted to inspire people to pursue a healthy lifestyle in a lighthearted and comical way—without preaching. So I set about writing the story. Twenty pages in, I knew “short” wasn’t going to cut it. There were too many characters and subplots fighting their way into the manuscript. Before I knew it, I was writing a novel.

 

What motivated you to become an indie author?

I knew right out of the gate that I wasn’t going to write a single query letter. There was simply no way I was going to spend months/years finding an agent and begging for a paltry contract from indifferent publishers. In this modern age, self-publishing tools abound. If you can write a great story and you’re willing to do all the hard work that is necessary to become successful, there is no need to supplicate yourself to the gatekeepers, nor suffer their often short-sighted rejections. “Your book is wonderful, but we wouldn’t know how to market it.” Really? I do.

 

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

There has always been something wonderful about using my imagination to create a story out of thin air. Dreaming up characters and scenarios, tying them all together, sticking words into peoples’ mouths—it’s just great fun. And when you’re writing fiction, you can make anything happen—it’s your universe. How fantastic is that?

 

What are you working on next?

A sequel to The Big Wig, of course!

 

Who are your favorite authors?

Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Douglas Adams, Robert E. Howard

 

What is your writing process?

Here’s the typical process. I say “Okay, time to write.” Then I sit down and spend an hour and a half poking through Facebook/Twitter, surfing the web and checking email. Then I say, “Okay, for real, it’s time to write.” But I spend another hour chasing distractions, then I finally write a few sentences and declare that everything is coming out “clunky.” So I go to the gym for a good workout, come back, take a shower, eat something, then sit down to write. Another round of Facebook/Twitter. Check email. Answer a few text messages. Struggle with one paragraph for an hour. After that, I say “Screw it—it wasn’t meant to be.” I put it all away and repeat the process the next day.

But every once in a while, the process is like this. While doing something mundane, I’m struck by a lightning bolt of inspiration. I race to my computer and bleed effortless prose for ten hours straight. My stupid fingers can’t keep up with the sentences that are racing through my mind’s eye. I laugh, I cry, I starve. I bark at anyone who interrupts me. My pee goes un-peed. At the end of that session, I’ve laid out page after page of golden wordsmithery. I am a god.

 

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

Beowulf. Yep, the epic Anglo Saxon poem. I loved it. It was simple, bold, and fantastic, and it featured history’s first superhero. I loved the fact that it was written by an anonymous author—what a wonderful mystery. My middle school classmates hated having to read it, but I was enthralled—my nerdly desire for great tales of sword and sorcery was unleashed. I went on to read Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Then I discovered the greatest fantasy author of them all: Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian. Dude wrote some seriously hairy-knuckled tales of sword-slinging savagery. Ultimately, wanting to be strong and awesome like Conan is what got me into fitness.

 

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

Working out, hiking, biking, reading, spending time with family, and slaying dragons.