10 January 2007

Author Answers with Marcus Sakey

Better later than never on a Wednesday, this week's spotlighted author is Marcus Sakey. Sakey's debut novel, The Blade Itself, hit shelves yesterday.

Early reviews of the book have been top-rate, including a starred review in Publisher's Weekly and the book being named a January pick by BookSense.

For more about Sakey, check out his website.

WN: The Blade Itself just came out. What should readers know about it that will compel them to go pick it up?
SAKEY: The biggest compliment I've received was from a woman who emailed to say she called in sick from work because she was 170 pages in and didn't want to quit. I think before anything else, novelists should be compelling storytellers, so that made my day.

WN: What was your reaction when you first saw your name on the cover of a book?
SAKEY: People don't realize this, but there is an enormous lag in the book industry; I actually sold THE BLADE ITSELF more than fifteen months ago, and have written another book since. So I've been living with the anticipation so long that seeing the reality was at once spectacular and supremely surreal.

WN: Killer Year. How has being a part of that group been helpful to you as a debut novelist?
SAKEY: Killer Year is a group of fourteen suspense novelists with debuts coming out in 2007, and we've pooled our resources to help each other. It's been a wonderful experience--writing is generally a solitary trade, so being part of a larger whole is a delight. It's like having a marketing team, a cheerleading section, and a support group all in one.

WN: What’s the best part of being a writer to you? What’s the most challenging part of writing for you?
SAKEY: This is a great job. I grew up loving books, loving stories, so creating them professionally is a dream come true. And the idea that other people can buy, and hopefully read and enjoy these stories, it's a wonderful feeling.

The most challenging part comes around page 200, when you're deep in the middle of a novel and doubt hits. It's tough to keep up the day-to-day progress, to remind yourself that doubt is just part of the job.

WN: What’s next for you as a writer?
SAKEY: I've actually completed my second novel, about a discharged soldier who returns from Iraq to find a similar war raging in his Chicago neighborhood. It's got greed and corruption and gang warfare and a love story and redemption and Roman history, all the good stuff.

WN: What is the best/most influential book you have ever read and why did it inspire you?
SAKEY: Oh, there's no answering that question. Or rather, it changes according to mood. And you're always hoping a new book will come along and knock the old contenders off the top of the heap.

If you held a Glock to my head, I'd tell you that my favorite book is CLOUD ATLAS, by David Mitchell. It's a masterpiece, a perfect blend of method and meaning, of theme and technique. And it's a great read to boot.

WN: What is your favorite word and why?
SAKEY: I like what I call "tasty" words, words that have texture and succulence on the tongue. Gnarled, eviscerate, languid, shimmer, aureole, tsunami, slither.

WN: What piece of advice helped you out the most as a writer?
SAKEY: Start at the beginning and write to the end. Everything can be changed once you've finished the book.

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