About the Author
According to family lore, Aaron learned how to read (or knew, actually) at the ripe age of two years old and proceeded to devour – figuratively, of course – every book he could get his hands on like a literary toddler-aged Galactus. He continued to read and expanded his reach to writing when he was in middle school, creating a piece of work that makes him physically upset any time he reads it. Seriously, the ‘working’ title is This Will Never See The Light of Day and that is the point.
Thankfully, he grew out of it and now writes reasonable-quality work that seeks to entertain, with his first book, Robocopter Ski Patrol, blending Doctor Who-style time manipulation with Archer-style humor and moderate to severe vulgarity at times, his second book, Untitled Spy Story: A Novel, creating a world where roundhouse-kicking the Secretary of State on top of the White House after a mescal-fueled dance sequence is possible, and his third book, Ruben’s Cube Alaska: Bullet Point 2: Judgment Day: This Time It’s Real, bringing into the world a possibly-immortal Russian with a pet dire wolf, a search for an artifact that could change the nature of time itself, and a hero who isn’t sure what’s real anymore. Aaron is now a full-fledged PhD so now he has the skills to pay the (ever-increasing) bills…one would assume, is very much single (ladies), and has a Moleskine filled with ideas and concepts for dozens of new books. Video games, the Internet, and a good appreciation of fine beer completes him.
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. How about you tell me about your book.
Depends on which one you’re talking about! For the first three, they’re comedic fantasy (in the broadest of terms) and are send-ups/satires of some of the most basic action movie tropes – the getting the crew together, the one last job, the shadowy conspiracy, all of that. They’re packed full of references and jokes and doesn’t let up until it gets serious.
Other than those, I have a weird Western out for editing right now (which still doesn’t have a damn title) that is kind of like Red Dead Redemption 2 if Arthur Morgan was more violent, sweary, and the world was populated with corrosive gray dust and gold-blooded demon corpses.
What makes you and your books unique? Shine for me, you diamond.
For the comedies, they’re unique because I refused to put any reins on them. One of the hard and fast rules I had for myself while writing them is that if I couldn’t come up with a strong, legitimate reason to not do something, it went in. That’s what gets you three doses of that stupid jaguar, though, so blessings and curses.
For the Western, it’s unique because there is so much of the world and setting that I choose to leave unexplained. Not in a way that takes the reader out of the story, but in a way that shows the world is lived in and populated in a way that doesn’t connect to the story. The larger world is its own thing and is allowed to be its own thing. That’s been fun to write and discover as I go.
What are you working on now/any future projects you want to talk about?
Currently, I’m writing away at the sequel to the Weird Western in the same universe. This one is a sort of reimagining of the twelve labors of Hercules by a bounty hunter looking to redeem himself. I’m having a lot of fun with the world and there are at least two or three sequels to this current one in the queue already. That’s not even talking about the couple dozen books in the Roboverse I need to get back to once I start feeling like I can be funny again.
Let’s celebrate. What’s one of the best things that’s happened to you as an author? Don’t be shy.
Honestly, that feeling I got the first time I finished writing a book. That sense of accomplishment and actually completing something was mind-blowing. I was so proud of it. Still am, in fact. Besides that, I’d say being introduced via a mutual friend to Jonathan French, who has been supportive and a great source of guidance in my early career and also helped me connect with the broader fantasy community. I never would have found the people I have without his help and introduction to the field.
Time to talk CRAFT!
Plotter or pantser, and why?
I’m almost completely a pantser. I do generally start out books with mapping out characters and broad plot points, but even those are changed as I go along. The way I kind of see writing, and it’ll sound weird, is not so much that I’m creating what is being written. Instead, it’s almost like transcribing what’s happening or being said. Since that’s the case, the control I have over my characters and even the main plot or sub-plots is minimal. If I try to lock characters in to one way of doing things, they will find a way to break it. They always do. Bastards.
Do you listen to music when you write? What kind?
Absolutely. I find that music helps me block out the outside world and the oppressive quietness since I write late at night. What kind of music, though, differs night by night! Some nights it’s hard, driving metal music, some nights it’s going straight 80s pop, and some nights it’s even just a weird blend of styles from Billy Joel to Caravan Palace. My writing soundtracks would be nightmarish for anyone who wants any kind of order to them.
What are some of the most interesting rabbit holes you’ve found yourself lost down?
Actually, for my current WIP (a new one that is not currently being looked at by my fantastic editor), I’ve gone down a huge rabbit hole of Greek mythology. Not just basics, but specific details, specific locations, what the location names and person names mean, and how best to translate those names into a Wild West setting without them sounding forced. It’s taken me from Wikipedia all the way to deep dives into ‘behind the name’ websites. It’s either going to work really well or go down in a spectacular conflagration.
Tell me about an unexpected thing you’ve learned, and how you’ve worked it into your book.
That would probably be this particular quote from my third book:
“Calling what happened merely ‘good luck’ would be like calling an Annie Wilkes impromptu talocrural re-adjustment ‘slightly painful’ or a Damian Hirst modern art installation ‘a bit pricey’.”
There are about three or four references there that I 100% looked up simply to make jokes. That quote is immediately followed by one of my ‘editor’ characters insulting me as a writer for going too obscure with the references. It’s…a weird book.
Let’s talk BOOKS!
Tell me about an underappreciated book, and why everyone should read it.
I’ve got two choices here. First, I’m going to go super unknown here because why not? It’s a series called Mesopotamia//Tiamat by a lady named Ashley Wrigley. It’s this futuristic cyberpunk-ish series that has all these different factions scuffling over this broken planet. It’s incredibly engrossing and one I wish that more people could hear about (plus I know what it’s like to be beyond obscure so giving that love forward can’t hurt my author karma).
The other choice is the Autumn’s Fall series by Jonathan French. Before he went all SPFBO-winning badass with The Grey Bastards, he wrote a couple of other fantasy books involving shapeshifters, living constructs, and rooster knights. Yeah. They’re really good as well.
Sarah: I tried to get these two images below to be smaller in size but this new WordPress makes me want to light things on fire, so they are still huge. I decided my mental health was more important. Apologies.
What book would you like to see turned into a movie, and who should play the leading roles?
Selfishly, I’d love to see my second book (Untitled Spy Story: A Novel) turned into a movie. It’s ridiculous and funny and just turns the fourth wall into shards. Ryan Reynolds as Will Texas, Elizabeth Debicki as Paisley Canada, and maybe Jason Isaacs as Secretary of State Vincenzo Matterhorn would be amazing to see on-screen, plus they would have to get Lou Bega to do a cameo because he’s such an important part of the book. That’s not hyperbole.
Hobbies & All Things Weird
I am a firm believer that we all have to be a little weird to do what we do. What makes you delightfully wacky?
I don’t have a ton of reverence for many typically ‘scary’ situations. Every time I’ve been to the hospital, I try to/do make the nurses and doctors laugh, despite the fact that I’m in pain or dying (damn appendix). When I tore both my triceps (damn LA Fitness), I made the guy trying to find a vein for blood have to leave the room because he was laughing so hard that he was scared he may miss and hit something important. The same goes for public speaking. Even if I’m nervous, I do what I can to make light of it and get people laughing. Screw spiders, though. They have no sense of humor.
What’s your strangest talent?
I have the ability to identify a very large number of songs just by their opening chord or by a random note or word in the middle of the song. I’ve driven people crazy in restaurants by interrupting a conversation to point out that the song being played – and muffled by loud people – is King of Wishful Thinking by Go West or Keep Pushin’ by REO Speedwagon or something. It only applies to songs before the early 2000s though. Anything after around 2004 is a complete crapshoot. I’m an old man, musically.
If you had to pick a superpower, what would you pick and why?
I love this one because it’s not a typical choice but is so useful. I’d pick the ability to refill whatever I want. Think about it. Bank account low? Refill it. Wallet empty? Refill it. Scotch or wine bottle empty? Refill. Medication or cleaning supplies or gas tank or fridge wiped out? Refill. Toilet paper roll empty? Re. Freaking. Fill. Instead of having to worry that you may run out of anything, you’d have the peace of mind that it’s all just a snap of the fingers away.
What’s your favorite food from a country you do not live in?
When I was in Prague with my brother a couple summers ago, I got rabbit kidneys at this restaurant and it was almost a transcendent experience. I doubt I will ever have them again but, for that meal, I was floating.
Tell me a strange, random fact.
“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is a grammatically correct sentence. It essentially means “that bison who are intimidated or bullied by bison are themselves intimidating or bullying bison (at least in the city of Buffalo)”. I love when English breaks itself.
Sarah’s personal note: Holy shit, reader, I verified this to be true. Mind = blown.
What’s your favorite swear word and why?
Well, I’m a big fan of the usage of ‘fuck’ in any context that requires it, but I really have to admit I love the word ‘cunt’. It’s so obscene – especially in the US – and so vicious and the sound just lands. The hard kuh sound with the finish of the tuh hits twice and packs in power with it. I mean, Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It and In the Loop or Bricktop in Snatch? It’s so weighty. Love it.
Any final thoughts?
Things are broken right now in a ton of different ways. My hope as an author is that what I write – funny or not – allows whoever is reading it to set aside the world outside and just dive into something that helps them relax. There is the need for people to read things that say something meaningful, but there is also the need for people to read about feral velociraptors or drunk-on-mescal dance sequences or near-immortal Russian men with direwolves. There is room for all of it and I hope that people read my things and enjoy themselves.