Interview with Tony Bertauski (Flury: Journey of the Snowman)

November 24, 2014 Blog Tours, Giveaways, Interviews 0

Interview with Tony Bertauski (Flury: Journey of the Snowman)

Interview with Tony Bertauski (Flury: Journey of the Snowman)Flury: Journey of a Snowman by Tony Bertauski
Series: Claus #3
on 10-21-2014
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eBook
» Buy on Amazon

Life hasn’t been kind to Oliver Toye.

As if juvenile diabetes isn’t enough, he’s forced to live with his tyrannical grandmother in a snow-bound house. He spends his days doing chores and the nights listening to the forest rumble.

But when he discovers the first leather-bound journal, the family secrets begin to surface. The mystery of his great-grandfather’s voyage to the North Pole is revealed. That’s when the snowman appears.

Magical and mysterious, the snowman will save Oliver more than once. But when the time comes for Oliver to discover the truth, will he have the courage? When Flury needs him, will he have the strength? When believing isn’t enough, will he save the snowman from melting away?

Because sometimes even magic needs a little help.

Tour Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Flury. One winner wins an e-copy of all 3 books in the Claus series so far: Claus, Jack and Flury.

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MichaelSciFan Giveaway

One randomly-picked winner will receive an e-copy of one of Tony Bertauski’s books. Just leave a comment here with what book you’d like and your email address.

Interview With Tony Bertauski

Can you talk a little about what the book is about?

Flury: Journey of Snowman is the third book in the Claus series—a hard-edged yet somewhat playful sci-fi take on holiday figures. I started with Santa Claus and wrote a version of Jack Frost. All the elements of Christmas mythology are explained more rationally (some not-so). Flury is Frosty’s alter ego. The story, however, is more about Oliver, the main character. Regardless, Flury embodies the qualities of Christmas—giving, forgiveness, and virtue.

What makes your book unique?

While it has a magical feel, like most Christmas stories, it approaches these out-of-this-world angles more practically, scientifically. But still fun.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

I started Claus after my nephew mentioned Santa’s secret ninja elves visiting his school. It struck me that out of all the Christmas stories, none were uplifting in a dramatic sense with a sci-fi bent. I wanted to approach Santa and all the mythological figures as real people with real problems, despite all the magic in the world.

Is there any message you want readers to get from reading the book?

The human element. That’s what I strive for in all the Claus books. They’re fun, sensational but don’t ignore the human struggle, whether it’s dealing with childhood issues, abandonment issues, loss or finding one’s place in the universe. These struggles are integral to the stories, something we can all relate to.

How long did it take to write the book?

About 3 months. That seems to be my going pace lately. I really enjoy writing part time on the weekends or time off. It’s a great hobby.

Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?

Jack is still my favorite. He’s over-the-top and not everyone’s cup of tea, but the wacky elements are comedic, childish and, at times, self-reflective. And just plain fun.

Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?

My approach is to start with an overall story arc. Sometimes I know where I want it to go. Usually, it never ends up there. Once I have a grasp of the characters and direction, I’ll sit down with a cup of coffee and doodle outlines on a legal pad. I usually only sketch out three chapters ahead, then I’ll type it out. Sometimes this process requires starting over more than once. This is usually due to characters coming to life as they get into my head. I’ve come to trust the process so that, even when I don’t know where the story is going, it eventually resolves itself in time. And that’s so gratifying.

If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?

If I read the manuscript today, I’d no doubt start tinkering. Some of the feedback is that it doesn’t have enough of Flury in the story, and I agree. On the other hand, I’m still pleased with the end result.

How did you come up with the cover?

The great Mike Tabor. He’s been doing covers for me. He’s very good with graphics and creatively capturing the essence of my stories. When I told him about the orb, he jumped on it. We tried to shape a snowman in the background but the efforts continually fell short. In the end, it worked best to leave the snowman up to the reader’s imagination.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Storytelling has been a long time favorite. However, I didn’t start writing until I was in my 30s. Even then, it was a struggle to learn the craft. It took way too long. I wrote two novels with multiple drafts that are unpublishable by any standards. But they were learning experiences and I enjoyed the process. I think that’s what keeps all writers going.

What was the first story that you ever wrote?

It was titled Caught in a Mosh. It chronicled a fictional character going through college trying to find his place in the world. It turned out to be a loose retelling of my college exploits. Even though it was 80,000 words of boredom, it was a completed project, and it gave me the confidence to keep going. Naiveté is a beautiful thing.

What is your favorite genre, and why?

Science fiction and dystopia. I love the imagination, the possibilities, the exploration of the human element. In a lot of ways, it’s an entertaining thought experiment.

Are there any books you are absolutely inspired by?

Dune. That series captured a make believe universe with such clarity. It seemed impossible that could spring from one man’s mind.

What are you working on next?

I have three active series: Claus, Foreverland, and Halfskin. I’m currently writing the third book in the Foreverland series, Ashes of Foreverland. After that, I’ll write the third book in the Halfskin series. And then I’ll merge the two series. Not sure how.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Write and enjoy. It’s rare for a beginning author to strike it rich out of the gates, but if you enjoy what you’re doing it won’t matter how long it takes to be successful (however you define success).

How do you juggle writing with family time?

I had to learn that, believe it or not. Writing is very solitary. There were times it was taking too much time away from the family. I remember reading Stephen King’s autobiography and his story about the giant oak desk in the middle of the room. And now that he’s older, he has a desk off to the side with the rest of the space dedicated to living. I took that to heart. I carve out a couple hours here and there. It helps that I’m a more efficient writer than I used to be.

About Tony Bertauski

During the day, I’m a horticulturist. While I’ve spent much of my career designing landscapes or diagnosing dying plants, I’ve always been a storyteller. My writing career began with magazine columns, landscape design textbooks, and a gardening column at the Post and Courier (Charleston, SC). However, I’ve always fancied fiction.

My grandpa never graduated high school. He retired from a steel mill in the mid-70s. He was uneducated, but he was a voracious reader. I remember going through his bookshelves of paperback sci-fi novels, smelling musty old paper, pulling Piers Anthony and Isaac Asimov off shelf and promising to bring them back. I was fascinated by robots that could think and act like people. What happened when they died?

I’m a cynical reader. I demand the writer sweep me into his/her story and carry me to the end. I’d rather sail a boat than climb a mountain. That’s the sort of stuff I want to write, not the assigned reading we got in school. I want to create stories that kept you up late.

Having a story unfold inside your head is an experience different than reading. You connect with characters in a deeper, more meaningful way. You feel them, empathize with them, cheer for them and even mourn. The challenge is to get the reader to experience the same thing, even if it’s only a fraction of what the writer feels. Not so easy.

tonyIn 2008, I won the South Carolina Fiction Open with Four Letter Words, a short story inspired by my grandfather and Alzheimer’s Disease. My first step as a novelist began when I developed a story to encourage my young son to read. This story became The Socket Greeny Saga. Socket tapped into my lifetime fascination with consciousness and identity, but this character does it from a young adult’s struggle with his place in the world.

After Socket, I thought I was done with fiction. But then the ideas kept coming, and I kept writing. Most of my work investigates the human condition and the meaning of life, but not in ordinary fashion. About half of my work is Young Adult (Socket Greeny, Claus, Foreverland) because it speaks to that age of indecision and the struggle with identity. But I like to venture into adult fiction (Halfskin, Drayton) so I can cuss. Either way, I like to be entertaining.

And I’m a big fan of plot twists.

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