Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Interview with author/artist Scott Kessman:
8/18/2009 6:42:29 AM
In furthering my quest to bring attention to talented and promising authors with a gift for weaving words into memorable stories, I’d like to introduce Scott Michael Kessman, author of the enchanting fantasy: The Tales of Tanglewood. Let’s begin with an introduction to the readers. What would you like to share about yourself?
SK: I currently live on Long Island, NY, with my wife and two annoying cats. I have always been a writer, since the days of early childhood, when I was first able to put my dreams and ideas into words. I believe that if you strip the world of contemporary shopping malls and mind-dulling technology, you will find the world a magical place to be. That is the main idea behind the Tales of Tanglewood; as children we all know that the world is full of magic, but as adults, we often forget this. In the Tales of Tanglewood, Colin is a child who is fully aware of the hidden world of myth and legend hiding within the woods, and through his adventures, we can all find that magic again.
LS: When I first visited your website, I must say I found it to be completely engaging and enchanting! Are you the mastermind behind this beautiful website, particularly the artwork?
SK: Yes, I was always an artist as well as a writer, and have been involved in the field of graphic design for about 14 years. I also designed the book jacket, and my marketing & promotional materials as well. For the first book, I utilized digitally altered photography for the inside pictures, but I’m not too thrilled with the results as I look upon them now. I’m going to go back to basic illustration for the pictures in the second book, and will be posting a sketchbook on the website as I get them done.
LS: With numerous short stories and your novel, The Tales of Tanglewood, it’s obvious you are a very prolific writer with a fecund imagination. I understand you are inspired by Celtic folklore and fantasy. Why the fascination and what draws you to this particular genre?
SK: Irish & Celtic folklore has a particular allure that captures the imagination, with an underlying sense of realism. There is always something mysterious and magical lurking beneath the words of an Irish tale, akin to something glimpsed from the corner of your eye, waiting to be discovered. Many people today, young and old, still believe in the fey, the creatures of Irish folklore. Such beliefs are like a wish; we want to believe that the magic is real, and that elves, faeries and other creatures still lurk in the most beautifully hidden corners of the forest. We want to be whisked away from reality, if only for a short while, and escape to a place where such things roam free and magic can be felt in the air like an oncoming rainfall. And, of course, my wife being from Dublin, I gained even more appreciation and fascination with Irish and Celtic mythology, especially after my visit to Ireland!
LS: I can only describe your prose as poetic, flowing and with the power to create people and a place that comes alive in the reader’s imagination. This obviously comes with years of practice. Many authors know from early on this is what they’d like to pursue as a career. Have you always been interested in becoming a writer and are there any authors you’d credit for having inspired you?
SK: As mentioned earlier, I’ve been a writer since childhood. It’s in my blood to tell stories. When I write a story, I feel it flow through me like a living entity. I hope that anyone who reads my stories, and especially the Tales of Tanglewood, can feel the same magic I felt while writing it. There are of course authors I admire, and authors I’ve read that inspire, but I feel that I’ve developed my own style throughout the years. It changes dependent upon the story and the mood I’m trying to create, but essentially you are correct: I want to transport my readers to a vantage point within the story itself.
LS: You’ve received wonderful praise for your novel The Tales of Tanglewood. For the readers, can you share a little bit about this story and your young male protagonist, Colin and the adventure he embarks on?
SK: Only the fey magic which runs through his veins has enabled Colin to find what others cannot, the Tanglewood, the 'wood within the woods.
Full of odd characters and creatures of the fey, the Tanglewood is a world of magnificent folklore come to life. As Colin begins to explore the Tanglewood, he will find friendship with the ferrish Ailfrid, the elfin girl Deidre, and Doc Muffingrow, a wise druid.
Colin will also find that there is much magic in himself, as well as dangerous enemies who will not let him find solace in the wood so easily. Ailil, King of the Sprites and ruler of The Below, has laid claim to his spirit, and Colin will need the help of his friends and quite a bit of magic to save himself.
The Tanglewood is a place like no other, and Colin is a boy like no other. Throughout his adventures, he will uncover the secret of the fey blood within him, and help dispel the poisonous corruption and hidden dangers that threaten the inhabitants of the wood and the Tanglewood itself.
LS: Do you foresee additional novels featuring Colin and this setting of Tanglewood? Or do you have other projects in the works separate from this novel?
SK: In the second Tanglewood novel, “The Tales of Tanglewood: The Curse of Satyr Stump”,
Colin, Blood of the Fey, returns to Tanglewood shortly before Sahwen night, a time when the magic of the 'wood has a strange effect on all things within it. Things have entered the ‘wood that should not be there, and the pathways are no longer safe.
The blackberries have spoiled, a pooka roams the ‘wood, and a strong calling pulls Colin close to Satyr Stump, where Fionn the satyr has been cursed by Grainne, the Grey Lady.
Tasked to face the dark druidess and help break the curse upon Fionn, Colin seeks help from the druid Bairtlemead Muffingrow, the ferrish Ailfrid, and the elfin girl Deidre. But it will be the satyr chieftain himself who joins Colin, seeking to help restore another piece of Tanglewood that has been claimed by deiney corruption.
But the Grey Lady will not yield so easily, and Colin and Fionn are both nearly powerless in her domain. Colin learns very quickly that during Sahwen, Tanglewood can be a very dangerous place indeed.
Sahwen is the Gaelic pronunciation of Halloween, which is actually spelled "Samhain."
This second novel in the Tanglewood series has been completed, and while the publisher of the first novel has expressed interest in publishing it, I am currently attempting to find an agent as a means to acquiring a larger publisher. I also intend to write a bunch of short stories about the different characters in Tanglewood and publish it as a sort of Tanglewood companion.
SK: Typically my stories start out with a very vague idea or just a sentence or two that pops into my head and sounds particularly good. Good enough that it must be written down. Sometimes these ideas or sentences will languish for quite a while, awaiting the day when they might be expanded or incorporated into a story. Other times, as with The Tales of Tanglewood, I am seized by a flurry of thoughts that cannot be written fast enough, and before I know it, I have pages upon pages of story written. But I always make it up as I go along, as if the story is telling itself, and I am merely the vessel utilized to put words to paper.
LS: As a writer, I’m always curious as to whether other writers have little rituals they undertake before they hunker down to the business of writing. What do you do to get you into that mind frame?
SK: Lately, a bit of appropriate music for whatever I might be writing, and a hot cup of tea is all I need.
LS: The quest to publication can be a long, grueling quest, wrought with heartache and disappointment. Can you share with the readers your experience to make The Tales of Tanglewood a reality?
SK: Completing The Tales of Tanglewood happened fairly quickly, and I suppose I was lucky to have it published shortly thereafter as well, as compared to some that might wait years to find publication. I did, of course, amass a large stack of rejection notices and I was actually ready to self-publish when I thought I’d exhausted all my possibilities in traditional publishing. Then, I received a call from Helm Publishing, which was at that point the only publisher I had not heard from yet, and in fact I had forgotten about. They wanted to publish the novel, and of course I was overjoyed.
LS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
SK: One woman told me how it has brought her and her granddaughter closer together, as they now enjoy walks in the woods and searching for evidence of the fey. Others that know me and have read the book have now been inspired to write as well.
LS: There are more and more titles becoming available as e-books. Do you feel this will drastically alter the landscape of publication, particularly for the mainstream publishers?
SK: There will always be many people who enjoy the experience of owning and reading a real book, as opposed to text on a screen. But e-books have enabled many to continue reading new books where they might not have otherwise been able to due to the rising cost of paperbacks and hard covers. I think it is definitely wise for publishers to have both regular books and e-books available for purchase.
LS: What are you reading now? And what made this book special enough to land on you must-read pile?
SK: I recently finished the King Raven trilogy by Stephen Lawhead. It is an alternate telling of the Robin Hood story from a Celtic perspective. That captured my attention immediately. Unfortunately I have not had time to read much more lately, though the next book I pick up might be the Age of Misrule by Mark Chadbourn. In this first part of a trilogy, Celtic gods and legends are returning to present-day earth, followed by creatures of myth and folklore.
LS: What do you foresee in your writing career over the next five years? Are there possibilities of branching out into other genres?
SK: I would like to have two more books in the Tales of Tanglewood series completed. I also hope to have more of my short stories published, and I have a very old vampire novel written about 12 years ago that is in need of updating and revisions. And of course I’ll continue to write more horror and fantasy as well.
LS: Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into your writing life and sharing in the magic of your fantasy tale!
For more information about Scott Michael Kessman and The Tales of Tanglewood, please visit: http://www.talesoftanglewood.com
Scott can also be found on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Scott_Kessman,
and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=50591359982
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