Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is August Grappin, but you can find my literary works under A. F. Grappin. Last time I checked, I was 33 years old. I rarely act that age, though.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I live in Tennessee, near Nashville. But not on purpose. My family is from Michigan.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Where to start? Well, I have a degree in music theory that I’m not using. My family consists of myself and two cats named after literary characters (of course), but I have a brother who lets me borrow my nephews now and then, if I need to spend time with small children.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
As of right now (Sept 2017), my latest news is the release of Lesson Four of my Deadly Studies series of novellas. The series follows the life of Luc Bertrand, an assassin from John G. Walker’s The Statford Chronicles. So it’s a spinoff series. Lesson 4 is titled Luc Bertrand: Assassin’s Lover. I plan on 10 total novellas, so almost halfway finished!
I also released a standalone dystopian fantasy novel, suitable for mature middle grade readers and YA readers back in December 2016. That book is titled Starsigns. I’m pretty proud of it.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I remember writing my first stories in middle school, about age 11 or so. I was a heavy reader long before that, devouring children’s abridged versions of classic authors. Dickens, Stevenson, Dumas, and the like. I loved Dickens. Still do. I’m not sure what sparked the first story, but whatever did, it didn’t stop there. I’ve been writing like crazy since.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Umm…I think I always considered myself one. In seventh grade, I was lucky enough to have a teacher who really encouraged the unusual pursuits of her students. She noticed my constant scribbling and had me write poems for an entire special education class. I never felt like putting aside classwork to make words was anything wrong, which really helped. It was never taboo, never something I was told I couldn’t or shouldn’t do.
As for being truly serious about it? Maybe around 2010, when I finally published my first novel, Empeddigo. But the line between writer and published writer is really only a single word. You don’t have to be published to be a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I actually wrote a bunch of novels before I published any, but my first published work, Empeddigo, was inspired by 3 things. First, I’d just learned about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month nanowrimo.org) and had like 6 weeks to get ready for it. So I wanted to write a novel in 30 days.
Second, I wanted to do a cress-genre mashup. Specifically, I wanted to breach the line between fantasy and science fiction.
Third, I went to the dictionary, opened to a random page, and searched for a word to spark me. I wound up in the I’s, and found impetigo, a disease. It became the basis for my much worse fictional disease, the empeddigo.
I really don’t remember just what made me go to the dictionary…but hey, it worked, right?
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Well, the disease and a conspiracy behind it ended up being the basis for the plot, but I modified impetigo to sort of cross it with a more contagious, deadlier version of leprosy, and of course I had to rename the disease. I ended up going with a mispronounced version, and then made a more phoenetic spelling of it. Impetigo became empeddigo.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’ve been told my writing style is similar to Anne Rice, which I cannot verify, since I actually haven’t read anything of hers. I have my own style. I very much tend to focus on internal perceptions of my characters, largely on their thoughts and how they see the world. That inflection is the foundation for most of my writing, which is weird, because I normally come up with settings and major plot points before the characters themselves.
Most challenging for me, I think, is dialogue. I have very set speech patterns, myself, and they keep creeping up in how my characters speak. A lot of them end up sounding the same or similar. I usually just get the conversations out in a first draft, and then on revisions, alter speech patterns so characters say the same things their own way.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
As nice as it is to talk about Empeddigo, that book is already 7 years old, and I’m going to switch and talk about the Deadly Studies series, since it’s my most current project.
Luc and I have a lot in common, but he is not based on me or anyone I know, really. I didn’t create him. John Walker did in his book The Sincerest Form of Flattery. John has given me free reign to develop Luc as I chose, though, which is nice. The books themselves are set in real places—Paris, Vienna, Washington, D.C, to name a few—but I take a lot of liberties with the realism. And if any events are based on my life, it’s purely coincidental.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I wish. Google maps is my traveling, plus friends I have in those locations. It’s no coincidence I chose to set two of the Deadly Studies books in Vienna. I have a friend who lives there. Any time I need a type of location or have questions, I just message her.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
StarlaHuchton is my main cover designer. She’s done the entire Deadly Studies series to date (and will do the remaining ones, if I have any say) and she also did the cover for Starsigns, which released in December 2016.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
To answer this, I go to Starsigns. Yes. There is a message. Your life is what you make it. Fate may exist, but more powerful than that are your own choices. You are what you make of yourself. So make yourself the best you can.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is yourfavorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’m a big fan of Django Wexler, Patrick Rothfuss, Robin Hobb, and about a gazillion other writers. It would take too long to name them all.
My favorite writer… I don’t like to get into that, really. It can be a touchy issue, mostly because of said author’s personal stance on hot button topics. Suffice it to say I like the writing, not necessarily the viewpoints.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported yourcommitment to become a published author.
That would be my best friend, Erin. I’ve known her since I was 15, and she’s been my editor, beta reader, brainstorming wall, and even co-author on a few projects that have yet to see daylight. She’s always been nothing but encouraging, and she readily talks my books up to anyone who asks. And some people who don’t ask.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes and no. Yes, if you consider careers that don’t pay well valid. In that light, I’m already a career writer. But I do have a full-time day job, so… yeah.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
For Starsigns, maybe a few small things. No major plot points, no. I received some feedback from a friend who pointed out a behavioral thing I overused. But mostly, I just take that feedback and apply it going forward.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?The lesson I learn from pretty much every book is that practice is everything, and man, I hate formatting.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Oooh! For Starsigns, I think I would want Cair to be played by Freddie Highmore…back when he was a teen, anyway.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
I got this advice from Mur Lafferty, and it’s some of the best advice I have ever heard.
You are allowed to suck.
Seriously. Artists often have a curse to think everything has to be perfect right out of the gate. Well you know what? It doesn’t. Make crap. Make sucky, one-dimensional character and plot holes. Make junk. And then, you’ll learn from it and make better junk. Don’t give up because it isn’t perfect. Don’t get discouraged. Suck away.
Trust me, you don’t want to see some of the crap I’ve created.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. And know you’re not getting rid of me anytime soon. I have more works in the pipeline.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m always reading like 3 or 4 books at a time. My current list contains Milk Run by Nathan Lowell, Dreadful Tales by Richard Laymon, and NPCs by Drew Hayes
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Maybe not the first book, but I remember a book that was two-sided, both stories about bugs. Cootie-Doo was one side, and the other was Crick-ette.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I have so many feelings. There’s plenty that does both.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I think it would be pretty darn cool to meet Dickens, but if I had to choose for real, I would have to say my great-great grandfather, who was also named August Grappin. I would be curious to hear his story.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
And now you open the floodgates. Oh, I have hobbies. My two main hobbies are podcasting and making chainmail art. My podcast is called The Melting Potcast (themeltingpotcast.com) and it’s a writing variety show. We podcast short and flash fiction from authors all over the world, we interview authors, do book reviews, discuss crimes in literature, and do other writing and reading-related stuff.
My chainmail is under the moniker The Chain Nerd (facebook.com/chainnerd and thechainnerd.com). I specialize in geeky jewelry and art, usually media related, like Hogwarts House-inspired stuff and video game type stuff.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Between all my hobbies, I don’t get a lot of watching time anymore, but my favorite movie is Gattaca. I love Futurama, Supernatural, and Galavant. And I like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, just to throw a few things out there.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love cheesecake and a good steak. Favorite color is dark green. For music, it’s best to go with what I don’t like: most gangster rap, blues, bluegrass, hip hop. Most anything else, I’ll listen to. I usually write to movie and video game soundtracks.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d be voice acting and chainmailing all the time.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He was loved.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and
My writing podcast
My chainmail hobby site
Chainmail Facebook page
Amazon Authors Page
This was a very interesting approach. Most people in the blog I notice answer in general questions but you seemed to keep them focussed to one of your works at all times. It is nice you let us see your different pieces.
I also appreciate the advice for the aspiring writers to allow ourselves to suck. It is part of the process and part of how we learn. Many potential writers are paralyzed on the fear their writings won’t live up to their own expectations and that they have already touched the ceiling, when in reality, we need to face our limitations in order to overcome them and with practice is how we become better.
To been allowed to continue writing for a character you didn’t come up with and being given such a free reign speaks volumes to their trust for your craft and your persona that you will portrait the character right and make it justice.
Also, your hobbies sound really cool too. I hope you’re going strong with them.