Author Interview with Geoff Rodkey

I am so excited to announce that the wonderful author of the fantastic book Deadweather and Sunrise will be interviewed on my blog! If you want to read my review click here. Enjoy the interview! :)

1. How long have you wanted to be an author for?

I've wanted to be a professional writer since high school, when I first started writing humor pieces for my school newspaper and got hooked on the experience of having an audience read and like what I'd written. Back then, I aspired to write books, but after I left college, the best opportunities I found were in film and television, so I wrote in those media for a long time. Writing a book became the aspiration that I forgot I had until I was in my late 30's, when I started Deadweather and Sunrise.

2. When you heard Deadweather and Sunrise was being published, how did you celebrate?
I honestly can't remember if I celebrated at all (at least in any formal way) when I first got the news. I think we may have ordered in sushi, but it was the middle of the week, and the babysitter was only staying until 6:00. 

I did throw myself a launch party on the day the book came out, though. About 50 people came, and it was a lot of fun.

3. If you got a negative comment/review on your book, how would you handle it?

Most of the films I've worked on (including Daddy Day Care and RV) got plenty of bad reviews, so I've had a lot of experience in that department. It's painful, and the bad reviews stay in your head longer than the good ones, but there's nothing you can do about it except get up in the morning and keep writing. Or stay off the Internet and don't read the reviews, which I've never been able to do.

4. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write what you love--and more specifically than that, write the kind of books (or stories, or screenplays, or whatever) that you would be really excited to read (or watch, or whatever). 

And then rewrite them. Rewriting is critical, because nobody's first draft is all that great. I can pretty much guarantee you that anything you've ever read and loved went through many, many drafts before it got that good. Inspiration is critical to good writing, but in the end, it's the hard work and long hours that get you there.

5. Where did you come up with the idea for Deadweather and Sunrise?

It came out of a writing exercise that another screenwriter had recommended, and that he'd picked up from a book called The Artist's Way. The exercise is "morning pages" -- as soon as you first get up in the morning, you pick up a pen and write longhand for thirty minutes without stopping, and you do that every day for at least three months. It's useful for a lot of reasons (it demystifies the writing process, you learn not to self-edit too early, etc.), but fundamentally it's about trying to access your subconscious, which is where all the best creative ideas come from, and which you're closest to first thing in the morning when you're just waking up out of a dream state.

I was doing morning pages while on vacation at the seashore, and a character sort of appeared who was a pirate named Crooked Pete. All the other pirates thought he was cursed, so they wouldn't let him on their ships, and the only job he could get was as a waiter in a pirate-themed restaurant. 

If you've read the book, there's nothing at all like that character in it, and it's not a world where there's even such a thing as a pirate-themed restaurant. But it got me thinking about a community of pirates, and what that would look like. That's where Deadweather Island came from, although for the longest time it was called Sweatbath Island. I owe my wife an enormous debt of gratitude for convincing me that Sweatbath was a terrible name and needed to be changed.

The character of Egg started out as an obnoxious, recently orphaned rich kid who hires Crooked Pete as muscle to beat up people he doesn't like, and to kidnap a pretty girl from the island next door (which was where Millicent and Sunrise Island came from). 

Again, none of that was anything at all like what wound up in the book. But in my experience, the best ideas are like that -- they start out as one thing, and then you chew on them for a while, and they turn into something different and much better. That's why it's so important to rewrite, although in this case the rewriting was taking place either in my head or in the fragmentary notes I was taking that eventually became an outline.

6. How long did it take for you to finish writing Deadweather and Sunrise?

I thought about the idea off and on for about two years, jotting down thoughts about the characters, the story, and the world. At a couple of points, I tried to write a first chapter, but they fell over dead. Once I finally wrote what felt like chapter 1 (but actually wound up being the middle of chapter 2 in the finished book), it took about six months before I had a complete manuscript that I was ready to show people. Eventually, there were several more months and several more drafts.

7. What was your favourite book as a child?

I had a lot of favorites, but the ones that stick out were Bridge to Terabithia, The Westing Game, The Book of Three (and its sequels), and The Pushcart War.

8. Who is your favourite character from Deadweather and Sunrise?

I don't think I have a favorite. I like them all, even (or especially) the unpleasant ones.

9. Are you currently working on another book?

I just finished my third draft of New Lands, which is the next book in the Chronicles of Egg series. There will be a fourth draft eventually, but while I'm waiting for feedback on it (which is critical -- it's very hard to see the faults in your own work until someone points them out to you), I'm going to start writing book three, which should wrap the story up.

10. If you could be one character from any book, who would it be and why? 

I have no idea. I don't know if I've ever thought that way about fictional characters. There were some that I wanted to hang out with when I was a kid, like Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia, but I can't remember ever wanting to be one.

Real people are a slightly different story. As a teenager, I wanted to be P.J. O'Rourke, who was a writer for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1980's. Although even then, I don't think I wanted to actually be P.J. O'Rourke. I just wanted his job. 

So that's the interview with the AMAZING author Geoff Rodkey, if you haven't already read his book, Deadweather and Sunrise, then you need to. Now.