Interview (& Giveaway): EC Myers, author of Fair Coin

I’m thrilled to have EC Myers on the blog today! EC is the author of the brand new YA fantasy, Fair Coin, and he was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of my questions. Also up for grabs is a shiny new hardcover copy of Fair Coin,so be sure to check out the details at the end of the post.

Please welcome EC to the blog!

You’re the author of the brand new YA fantasy, Fair Coin, and have published numerous short stories! What made you decide to write a full length novel, and have you always wanted to be a writer?
I didn’t always want to be a writer, but I made some attempts at it when I was younger. I knew I had some talent, but I didn’t invest any time in developing it and pursuing writing as a career until after I graduated college, when I finally started writing and submitting short stories.

Many established authors have suggested that you should publish short stories for a while before attempting novels, because writing short fiction is a great way to learn the craft and building a reputation through short stories may help you get an agent or sell novel-length work later in your career. It does seem to work that way for some writers, but to be honest my short stories never got me much attention, as far as I could tell.

Writing them definitely improved and expanded my skills, though—especially through participation in critique groups. I’m proud of all of my published short stories, wherever they appeared, but their real value for me was in disciplining myself to write prolifically and submit my work; learning patience, persistence, and professionalism; and in the many wonderful writers, editors, and publishers I met over the years. Short fiction also helped me get into the Clarion West Writers Workshop, which gave me a big boost in both writing quality and motivation.

I suppose novels were always the end goal for me. The reality of publishing is you can’t make a living from selling short stories anymore; most writers can’t make a living from their novels either, for that matter. I held back for a long time because I needed a good novel-length idea and I didn’t feel ready to make the jump from short fiction, especially since I felt I hadn’t quite mastered the shorter form enough to get published in pro magazines.

Once I did have the idea for a novel though, I decided to ignore my doubts and start writing to see how far I could get with it. I didn’t believe in writing “practice novels”—novels that you don’t intend to submit, just for the sake of learning how to write them—but I did expect that I would learn it all as I went and then revise it into the best draft I could make it, with the intention of querying agents with it.

How did you celebrate when you found out Fair Coin would be published?
We happened to have a bottle of champagne handy, probably left over from some other celebration or party, so we were prepared to toast the good news as soon as I got off the phone with my agent.

Can you tell us a bit about it?
I got the call and an e-mail from my agent a couple of days before Christmas in 2010. At that point, we had an offer on the table but there was still a little negotiating to do, so it wasn’t yet a done deal. But I had a great feeling about my editor—I could tell that he got and loved Fair Coin—and I knew Pyr’s reputation, so I was very enthusiastic about the opportunity. We also still had some other editors looking at the manuscript at the time, so wanted to give them a chance to respond too.

It was an amazing, surreal moment. Publication suddenly seemed like a real possibility, albeit still more than a year away. Fair Coin had a long road to publication, sometimes characterized with disappointment and frustration and a lot of waiting, but as they say, all you need is one yes from the right person. The sale was a surprising end to an incredible month, in which I also got engaged and landed a great job interview—which eventually led to my current job.

Somehow, all the stars aligned for me all at once.

What do you like most about writing fantasy?
This is going to sound bad, but one of the reasons I like writing fantasy—especially contemporary fantasy with a slight magical twist, which some people call “slipstream”—is because it’s more natural for me to write. Does that make me a lazy writer? It’s just that the world building is easier when the setting is a modern day city that actually exists as a reference, or can serve as a loose model for a fictional place, as my hometown of Yonkers does for Summerside in Fair Coin. This lets me focus on the plot and developing the characters and working out the rules of the story without getting bogged down in inventing new geography or weird place names or a faux historical language or tone and spending too many words describing them for readers. I generally don’t write a lot of description in my early drafts, so I always have to go back and add more later. Plus, I really like taking ordinary people and putting them in extraordinary circumstances.

I like science fiction too, but it always requires a little more research, a little more rigor, to get all the details right, and with me there’s always the danger that I’ll get too preoccupied with researching minutia instead of writing and looking up the relevant information as I need it. Sure, the mechanics and cost of magic has to be just as consistent as science does, but I think the fantasy writer has more freedom to just make stuff up. That said, I do write science fiction books, and I’m planning a couple of more traditional fantasy novels that I know are going to be a challenge for me. But I’m looking forward to pushing myself. That’s how you grow as a writer.

What are some of your favorite authors/novels, and which have been your biggest influences?
Not by any means a definitive list… Some classic writers I love: Robert C. O’Brien, John Bellairs, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, William Sleator, E. Nesbit, Roald Dahl, Diana Wynne Jones. I grew up on books by Judy Blume and Bevery Cleary, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and Sherlock Holmes. Some contemporary YA authors I can’t get enough of include Philip Reeve, Scott Westerfeld, John Green, Maureen Johnson, Jonathan Stroud, Barry Lyga, Sarah Beth Durst, Diana Peterfreund, and Sarah Rees Brennan.

One of my absolute favorite childhood novels is The Silver Crown by Robert C. O’Brien, which must have done some interesting things to my impressionable brain. I think the biggest influence on me as a writer was William Sleator, particularly his novels The Interstellar Pig, The House of Stairs, and Singularity. He was a master of integrating real scientific theories into his science fiction stories, while focusing on flawed kids with relatable problems and complex motivations who sometimes made some shocking choices.

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl. Each of the stories in that collection enchanted me in a different way, especially “The Boy Who Talked With Animals”, “The Swan”, and “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book, and if so, which one?
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I only made it 100 pages in before a final exam in my freshman year of college, and I had to bluff my way through the essay question. Fortunately I’m good at making stuff up.

If you could have dinner and drinks with one other author, who would it be?
Sadly, one of the authors I never had a chance to meet and never will in this life: William Sleator.

When you’re not busy at work writing (and your day job), how do you like to spend your free time?
There isn’t much free time left over after all the writing and working, but I can generally fit in a little TV each week. Sometimes I manage to play video games, I read a lot, and I love watching movies. In my ideal world, I would watch at least one film a day, but these days I’m lucky if I accomplish that in a month. I’m trying to find a better balance between writing and the rest of my life.

Is there any advice that you would give to struggling writers?
Keep struggling. Write a lot of different things and read widely outside of the genres you’re comfortable with. Find or start a critique group and be open to constructive criticism. Don’t be afraid to write something bad. Learn to love revising and tolerate waiting. Don’t try to rush things (unless you’re under a contractual deadline)—just write the best manuscript you can. Write stories that you’re proud of today and will continue to be proud of years from now.

Do you have any more news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
I have some readings and group events with the Apocalypsies coming up on the East Coast; you can check my website for my scheduled appearances. I’m always up for more readings, library and school visits, and Skype visits, especially in or near Philadelphia and New York, if anyone is interested.

The sequel to Fair Coin, Quantum Coin, should be out from Pyr Books in the fall of 2012. Like the Facebook page to get the latest updates.

Keep up with EC: Website | Twitter

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS** 
1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Fair Coin by EC Myers to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses ONLY
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry
5. You must enter on or before 4/13/12
6. Giveaway book generously provided by Pyr Books.
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Fair Coin:
The coin changed Ephraim’s life. But how can he change it back?

Sixteen-year-old Ephraim Scott is horrified when he comes home from school and finds his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. The reason for her suicide attempt is even more dis­turbing: she thought she’d identified Ephraim’s body at the hospital that day.

Among his dead double’s belongings, Ephraim finds a strange coin–a coin that grants wishes when he flips it. With a flick of his thumb, he can turn his alcoholic mother into a model parent and catch the eye of the girl he’s liked since second grade. But the coin doesn’t always change things for the better. And a bad flip can destroy other people’s lives as easily as it rebuilds his own.

The coin could give Ephraim everything he’s ever wanted–if he learns to control its power before his luck runs out.

29 Comments:

  1. Wait, have you really only faked reading one book? Most of my education was pretending to have read things I only got partway through. haha.

    LOVE Roald Dahl.

    • Ha! I love reading and I was always a dedicated student, so it never would have occurred to me to skip a book. I would have finished Invisible Man too, if I’d had enough time. I have definitely faked reading individual assignments, though.

  2. I faked reading probably 15-20 books in my undergrad days. But I was an English major and had to read a book a week in multiple classes, so I don’t feel that bad about it 🙂

  3. Lol I second the other comments. I definitely found it difficult to read any of the literature in school. Everyone does!

    • For some reason, even good books become harder to read the moment they become homework. Thus, school has ruined many a great work of literature for generations of children.

  4. If you could write a book with your favorite authors as characters, what genre would it be?

    • I could see it working as either fantasy or science fiction. Magic can explain anything, and I could probably gather all of them together via time travel, a la Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

  5. Looks interesting. Thanks for the interview.,

  6. Is there anything in YOUR life you would change if you could with the flip of a coin?

    • I don’t think so. I have this bizarre notion that I should work to get what I want, and up to now, things have always seemed to work out for the best. I believe there’s some luck involved, but I wouldn’t want my life to depend entirely on chance. I’m not much of a gambler.

  7. Victoria Zumbrum

    Sounds like a really good read. Please enter me in contest.

  8. Thanks for the giveaway! This book is in my TBR 🙂

  9. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway!

  10. I love many of the same authors as you. I’m a cover junkie and i love the cover for this book. Can you tell me how the cover came to be. Thank you so much.

    • It’s a great cover, isn’t it? I had the pleasure of meeting the illustrator last night, actually. His name is Sam Weber, and he’s one of my favorite artists. He shared some of his process at a reading: He basically came up with some concepts that he thought would fit the book and did some rough sketches. Once he and my editor, Lou Anders, picked the one they liked best, Sam looked for models who matched his vision for the characters. He painted their portraits in acrylic and digitally manipulated the final image for the cover. He was going for something that would be engaging, that people also would view differently once they had read the book. I think he did a marvelous job.

  11. i see that you have a sequel coming out this year…
    Do you plan for this to be a series?
    Many thanks, Cindi

    • I don’t have plans to write more books in this series beyond the sequel. And I’ll also reassure anyone who might be concerned: Fair Coin has an ending that I hope readers will be satisfied with. I don’t tend to enjoy cliffhangers, so I wanted to make sure the first book told a complete story. But I do hope everyone will be interested in what happens next!

  12. That is one awesome cover. After reading the description about the book, I am hooked and I am thrilled to hear that there is a sequel. thanks for the giveaway.

  13. Very nice interview. I liked the advice you provided authors.

  14. Chelsea Hornbacher

    The book sounds great, can’t wait to read it! 🙂

  15. Thanks again to EC Myers for taking the time for the interview, and thanks to my wonderful readers for making him feel so welcome!

  16. Great interview! I will definitely have to add this book to my tbr list : ) thanks for the giveaway!!

  17. Sounds like a great read, will be adding another book to my wish list. Thanks for stopping by and a chance to win a copy.

  18. This sounds like a good book…I can’t wait to read it. I also look forward to reading your thoughts on Quantum Coin.

  19. Glad to see you like Roald Dahl. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the book that started my love of reading.

  20. Rachel @ thejeepdiva.com

    I like the cover of your new book. Also I was at work and I seen a women holding a copy of your book. I would like to read your book.

  21. Pingback: Women in SF&F Month: Kristin of My Bookish Ways | Fantasy Cafe | Reviews of Fantasy and Science Fiction Books

  22. I also love that you are a fan of ROald Dahl. The BFG was one of the first books I remember reading and I really fell in love with it. I’m actually taking part in a Roald Dahl reading challenge this year and I think I’ll be adding The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More to the list. I’m really looking forward to reading Fair Coin, I’ve been wanting to read it since first reading about it a few months ago.

  23. This is one one of those books that I have heard a lot about, including raves from other reviewers. Count me in for the giveaway. And thanks for the review too!

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