Saturday, 15 June 2013

The second of my current Author interviews - Mr Chaunce Stanton - a day early, owing to family pressures!



This series of interviews is a little different to others, as each question was posed to my ‘victims’ on an individual basis, and in many respects, based on previous responses. This provides a very spontaneous, open, honest, and - I hope, interesting insight as to what it takes to become a writer in today’s world of publishing.

This week’s guest author is a larger-than-life and funny guy, by the name of Chaunce Stanton, from St Paul, Minnesota, USA. 

                                   
Chaunce has one novel already published – ‘Luano’s Luckiest Day’, and his second novel ‘The Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives’ will hit the shelves fairly soon.
                        
                       
Chaunce was my second ‘obvious’ pick of authors to interview, as, along with Megan Denby, he was another of the new breed of authors who was posting on the various discussion groups I explored as a newbie, and again, offered more than his fair share of help and advice.
He also contributes some seriously wicked blog entries.
Chaunce has also been one of my most staunch supporters, promoting my own series, ‘The Borough Boys’ at every opportunity, across a range of media.
He fills his works with reference to magic and mysticism and is passionate about the power of illusion- so be wary as to how much hidden or sublime messaging is included within this entry!

And now for the man himself...welcome, Mr Chaunce Stanton...

Q1 - Would you mind composing a brief personal introduction - Chaunce Stanton the man and the author - how, perhaps, you would like your readers to recognise you? I will utilize this in the opening to the interview.

Hello, my name is Chaunce Stanton. I am an independent author of alternate history, magical realism, and dark humor. I believe that right now is the best time in history to be a reader and a writer.

My readers should expect the unexpected.

My wife, Naomi, and I converted our city lot into a raised-bed organic garden in the heart of St. Paul's North End neighborhood. I prefer walking and riding bicycle to the twenty-year-old junker car I’m driving until it dies.

Q2 - In various sources you have described the relevance of dreams to both 'Luano's Luckiest Day' and to 'Blank Slate...'

I am not a dreamer, as my brain wakes me up when the little men inside my head throw ideas about which I need to wake up for and respond...

Can you describe to readers how you dream, and then, when having recognised the value of a dream, work out how you synthesize it and embellish it in written form?

As you've noted, both Luano's Luckiest Day and The Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives originated from dreams. I woke up from both compelled to write down the scenes I had just dreamed: for Luano, a boy riding a white tiger in the desert; for the Blank Slate, two young women looking from a dark window to a shadowy figure on the street below.

Both dreams shared the fact that I wasn't an "actor" in either one. These were dreams of evocative scenes as opposed to complete story lines. They also left me with very strong impressions. When I awoke, I knew there was more to be fleshed out. For Luano, the dream included the boy who became Luano. I knew the tiger-riding aspect was fantastical, but I didn't pursue a reality where little boys in desert towns ride tigers. Isn't it more likely a little boy would imagine riding a tiger wearing a cape? That was the genesis for Luano's story. He imagines riding the tiger to search for his mother who, in the story, left him when he was still a baby.
The two girls at the window became Emily and Susanna, coworkers at the Blank Slate Boarding House. In the dream, one of the women leaves the room without speaking as soon as she recognizes the shadow man. The shadowy figure they are watching from the window became Perjos, a sinister magician.

We need to honor dreams. We need to savor dreams. Most importantly we need to just dream. I reckon you do dream, Phil, but you're simply not recalling them. Go on, give it a shot. I'll wait for you here.

Q2 - How does Magic or alternative magic feature in your own life, and how does that permeate into your novels?

My first experiences with magic (in the most general sense) were the same as most people. As children, everything around us seemed to spring up and spin in mid air. Colors and shapes mesmerized us. We gave audience to talking puppets and uncles who pulled coins from behind our ears.
Our childhood set the stage for us to at least consider the existence of the unexpected and the improbable. People either keep that expectation of the improbable, or they cut it off like a festering arm. I kept my expectation and am seldom disappointed. There came a point in my life when I stopped being part of the audience, though.
I decided to help make the magic happen and not simply be a passive witness. I spent several years learning the magic of Pentecostal Christianity, and I even dabbled with the practice of things like Wicca through candle magic and very basic ritual work. In college, during that wild experimental phase, I very brief time I touched black magic. There, even the slightest movement created ripples with people and forces I would not care to meet again.
Today I was meditating on magic and on Perjos, who is the world’s greatest magician from the book. He is one expression of magic within my stories. His magic is powerful because he uses the minds of those around him as his stage. They think they see things that aren’t there. His is the most efficient magic show in history, because he doesn’t need props. All he needs is a quick glance into someone’s eyes.
We practice this kind of magic when we write. How else would we know how bad 1850 Leicester smelled if it weren’t for the magical work of Phil Simpkin the Magnificent, for example?
Writers transport readers through time and space and make them see things that aren’t really there, and the craft of writing requires us to tell stories that do not startle readers out of their trance. As readers, we crave the suspension of disbelief. When we read, we nurture our expectation of the improbable, and that keeps alive the magic into which we were all born.

Q3 - History - you have brought together some great characters, and I am privileged to have met them at the table, so to speak. How do you look to use history to bring out the messages that 'Blank Slate' carries, 'that perception affects human behaviour?', as you so assertively suggested to Perjos himself, in interview...

I’m really glad you had a chance to read the book, Phil, and that you enjoyed the historical flavor of the story. I know how much work you put into researching your own books, whether it’s the Borough Boys series or your lovely work in myth and legend.
When I first wrote the Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives, it was set in a nebulous time period. While that freed me to do whatever I wanted within the story, it also isolated the story. The characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, for example, were not present in the first draft. Then I picked a date. 1922. Prohibition in America led to speakeasies and the Jazz Age. (The Great Gatsby is set in 1922, by the way.)
When I picked a specific year, things seemed to fall into my lap. I read about the complex relationship between Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for example. Doyle happened to have a lecture series in America in 1922. He also happened to have a presentation for the Society of American Magicians in New York in 1922. It was the year Harry Kellar died, a great stage magician and friend of Houdini.
1922 became the perfect backdrop for the themes of magic and perception. Between wars, people began looking inward, trying to forget or to heal. The industry of magic was in a bit of flux at the time, Houdini representing a kind of disillusionment with the crystal ball and séance crowd that preyed on people’s faith and their conception of life itself. In the 1920s, Houdini actively called out hoaxes. Had there been television at the time, Houdini would have had a very popular show debunking spiritualists and mediums. In his own performance, he would explain his own tricks, which is unusual for a magician sworn to protect the trade. But it’s as if he felt this objectivity gave him more validity. He was presenting magic as reality, much the same way as “reality” television show purports to do, wrenching one moment of reality free of time and holding it up for us all to gawk at.

Q4 - I can see the importance and relevance of bringing Houdini and Conan Doyle to the Blank Slate...and using Perjos to develop the main 'battle' between trickery and illusion and 'real magic'. If you were to be able to physically sit down with any one of the main characters, which would it be, and what would be your objective?

I think you and I might agree on this one, Phil. You, me, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle around a little table watching our drinks glow, discussing writing and his fascinating life. My objective for hoisting one with Doyle and Simpkin would be to create a truly memorable moment, unique in all history, never to be replicated again.
At least that’s what the court order would say.
It may seem odd that I didn’t pick one of the completely fictional characters I conjured for the book, but I feel like I have sat with them long enough, except for Perjos, whom I continue to interview on things magical on my website at chauncestanton.com.

Q5 - Clearly humour is important to you. It is apparent in virtually every form of communication that you publish, from the light hearted banter with Buzz and Doc Hurley, through to the Dark Humour of your 'Collective'... What does humour mean to you, and what is its place in your life. How does that affect the way you write - your books and your blog, etc?

I learned the importance of laughter from my parents, both of whom have wonderful senses of humor. My dad and I would watch Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Carol Burnett Show, and Newhart. From the silly to the sublime, we enjoyed a spectrum of comedy. Mind you; this was back when our little farming community relied on antenna service from television stations in the Twin Cities. The fading of the signal strength during thunderstorms may account for some of my warped humor.

Humor became an important form of communication for my family -- my mom might say "to a fault." I remember one April Fool's Day when I may have been ten or eleven. Mother put on her bedroom slippers and found a raw egg broken in them. When she came bursting into my bedroom to complain, a Tupperware container of water fell on her head from its perch atop the door. She eventually found it funny.

Many of the stories our family told involved some form of punch line. Learning the set-up, development, and pay-off of even the most simple joke stood me in good stead for fleshing out longer story forms. Of course, presentation counts for something, too. Even the best joke can fall flat when delivered like an engineer reporting on street flooding.

Well, actually, that's funny in its own way, too, and I should know. I've worked with hundreds of engineers and architects. That's a future book all its own.
Finding appropriate avenues to go hog wild with humor has always been a challenge. For instance, one time in high school I found it very amusing to use my "office aide" status to spring the entire Annandale High School football team from class, pretending there was an emergency football team meeting. The vice principal, however, was not amused, and I got a lot of homework done in detention.

Humor also has other dark sides beyond truancy. Humor is powerful. It can be used to demean and bully. It can either drive wedges between people, keeping them apart, or it can be playful and interactive. Some of the funniest people you will meet may be the loneliest. I've been through this. I was a chubby outsider kid growing up. I found humor gave me a protective cloak. Other kids found a level on which they could deal with me. It was a role I played -- the comedian.

I still use humor, but I'm approaching it like a chef would approach a seasoning. Just a little, balanced by other seasonings.
Q6 - In books one and two, we have seen dreams, illusions, magic and influence, and they are clearly critical to the way words impact on readers. What future projects, expectations or aspirations does Chaunce Stanton have in the way of writing, and what can readers expect?
Readers: expect the unexpected, the weird, and colorful characters in vivid settings.

They also should expect some genre-busting mind expansion on a variety of subjects. The next novel is about a local book club, and it will feature a more lighthearted style and contemporary setting. I will consider a vacation of sorts from the powerful Perjos magician character I've been living with for two years.

The first two books I hope carry some weight with readers. The themes of perception and illusion, for instance in The Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives, are very important at all times, but even more so in an age where we are slipping rapidly away from true independence to the ultimate dependence.
Beyond that, I have a long list of other books in the wings. As a writer, my goal is to write, so I'm crushing that. The most challenging part is all of the other important, non-writing tasks that we writers have to get up to now: marketing; blog posts; schlepping boxes of books to Iowa book fairs; hosting book launch events; coordinating with editors, cover designers and beta readers; and formatting interior pages for Kindle uploads.

That's a serious job. My goal is to do that job well over the next few years and just see where it leads. If I don't try my best right now, it will not get any easier later, and along the way I am having a blast! Meeting you, for example, is a happy and unexpected result of going outside of my comfort zone to develop an "authorial" online presence.
The independent, self-publishing avenue is right for me. I'm not interested in query letters and finding an agent or wasting my energy imagining a "professional book deal." I have everything I need to be successful: ideas, product, initiative, media, and readers. It is a difficult path, but I am not alone on that journey. We independent writers are building up one another and amplifying an important, age-old message of empowerment that should excite our readers and inspire them to pursue their own dreams to the fullest.


I would also encourage you all to visit the following link, which explains more about Chaunce’s next release;-

If Chaunce doesn’t mind me disclosing another of his talents, he is also an occasional poet, as you may glean from this touching tribute to my own characters...

Plodding up to Cock Muck Hill
I couldn’t see the blighters’ flight
Fog was in, obscured by gloom
Truncheon gripped tightly in the night
Shaking handles along my beat
Just a constable third class
Drunks and ladies of the night
Laugh at me when they pass
There’s no stopping off for a wet
At the Golden Lion or Nags Head
Donning tall hat and dense serge cape
Smith’s stick going ‘tank tank tank’
“Straight to your beat at Regulation pace!”

Sergeant Wright said, “Boys, I’ll be Brief”
Keep an eye on those on relief
The vagrants, rogues, and the thieves
And take no tea from the licensees
The Borough Boys down Carley Street
Beddows said to do my best
Three cells to fill with loads of tosh
“Sort ‘em all out at the inquest!”
Dollymops and bunters in the alley
Lamps lit dimly by the gas
Hobnails sparking ‘clack clack clack’
“This dirty bugger t’aint no lass!”

I asked Beddows how to collect a snitch
“Treat ‘em hard, but treat ‘em fair”
No tellin’ which way or if they’ll switch
For an odd coin here or a blind eye there
Might toss an odd coin down the line
Open a bottle of stout or two
A new chimney boy missing every week
Must be stuck up the chimney flue
Find some scraps of coal and cinder
Beddows lit his pipe made out of clay
Frost crunch-crunching beneath our feet
“Son, you’ll make a good Copper one day!”

Hey Chaunce, this guy really does look like you! Perhaps we do live or have lived in an alternative lifetime?
I hereby appoint you an honorary ‘Borough Boy’!
(Photograph copyright history.powys.org.uk) 
Thank you Chaunce Stanton, the Bard of St Paul’s.  I love it!

Other links;-

Twitter           http://www.twitter.com/Chaunce_Stanton



8 comments:

  1. A very revealing and quite fascinating interview about Chaunce's inspiration and exploration into the world of "magic."

    I think a lot of writers are influenced by their dreams. It's not something I do myself though although I dream a lot. I write about them on my blog but that's only because they are such nonsensical rubbish it's a source of comedy for me:)

    I am looking forward to Blank State. I find magic and its darker qualities quite fascinating but it's not somewhere I want to go. A work of fiction would suit me fine:)

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    1. Hi Jane; Thanks for the post. Our Mr Stanton is a man of many tastes and talents...and great fun to work with at interview, as he was very spontaneous...no dwelling on answers...just wham, bang, etc.

      I have been very privileged to read and review 'Blank Slate', and you will not be disappointed with what Chaunce has crafted. I daren't say too much for fear of spoilers, but it is a very mystical, darkly magical tale!

      We have a very interesting bunch that we engage with!

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  2. Your investigations are reaping results, Phil. This interview was a fascinating read...well done, interviewer and interviewee!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Teagan! Looking forward to doing yours, next! Get ready for the Haiku interest, cos there's lots of it!

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  3. Another fantastic interview. Really enjoying the way you've approached these, Phil. Jonathan Ross had better watch out. Have to say I'm a little bit scared of Chaunce now, knowing he has all that black magic up his sleeve. ;-)

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    1. Hi Keri; Thanks for the feedback. I don't know about Jonathan Ross...but you are right about Chaunce. I think he has a lot more up his sleeve!

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  4. Wow, Chaunce is a fascinating character himself. You've done an amazing job of getting down to the nitty gritty, Phil and now I am going to have a closer look at the work of Chance Stanton! Looking forward to the rest of your interviews - or as I think Chaunce more aptly described what you do - the rest of your 'interrogations' - friendly though they are!

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    Replies
    1. Hey Megan; Thanks very much! I have left further comment on the Fb link!

      You take care now!

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