Give a rowdy welcome to adventure author, Guy Worthey!
Intro: What’s your name, what do you write, where can readers find you on social media? And just for fun, if you could be any mythological being, what or who would you be?
Hello! My name is Guy Worthey. I’ve been writing a novella series about Ace Carroway and her adventures in a world that bears an uncanny resemblance to 1920s earth. I’m @guyworthey on Twitter and @guywortheyauthor on Facebook and I blog at guyworthey.net.
Mythological being! I tell Greek myths a lot, and what I notice is that none of them have happy endings. What’s the use of having awesome snake-hair if some hero comes along and chops your head off? But the myth that comes closest to a happy ending is the story of Perseus and Andromeda. They have adventures, but end up together for a long time and they have lots of kids. And the kids, for once, don’t kill the parents. So I’d like to be Perseus or Andromeda. I’m not picky about which.
1. At your day job, you are an astrophysicist. What got you interested in writing?
I’ve always been a reader and writer, and from time to time in my youth, I would send a short story off to “Analog: Science Fiction, Science Fact.” None got accepted, for good reasons, I’m sure, but the experience of selling a story never happened. In my day job, I have to write technical papers, and the opposite happened: all my journal articles were accepted. Now, I’m back at fiction writing, this time armed with more confidence.
- How does your knowledge of spectroscopy influence your writing?
Pardon me while I resemble a deer caught in the headlights for a few minutes! All right, I’m recovered, now. I’m going to broaden “spectroscopy” to just science nerdism in general. If one happens to be steeped in technical jargon and esoteric lore, firstly, there are more puns available. (Did you hear oxygen went on a date with potassium? It went OK.) Secondly, the bar is raised high on the science aspects of one’s writing, and in my case Ace Carroway deals with plenty. Thirdly, I think this generalizes to basic plot and character integrity. Plots need to be logical and so do character reactions, and I’d like to believe that I can engineer a working machine, metaphorically.
- What inspired your current project?
In hindsight, a couple of things. One is a deep and abiding nostalgia for pulp fiction, especially the more fantastic stories such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, or the Tom Swift and Doc Savage stories that were written by ghost writers. The other thing was feminism. It’s just time for some smart, strong heroines. At the time of writing, of course, neither of those things was consciously present in my head. I just wanted to spin a fun yarn.
- What is it about?
It’s about dastardly villains, narrow escapes, humorous banter, and outrageous plots. It’s basically 1920s earth, but with undiscovered lands and a few touches of steampunk advanced technology.
- What are the characters like?
Our hero is Cecilia “Ace” Carroway. She’s strong and smart, and trained throughout childhood to get that way. She leads a totes-adorbs collection of five male associates of different shapes and sizes, abilities, and dispositions. Mostly, she gets them out of trouble, not vice-versa.
- What have you done in the past year that has influenced your writing journey the most?
The last 12 months have been a freaking Nike commercial. I went from giddy and naïve first drafts (that I thought were Newberry award winners at the time) to publishing the first two novella lean, clean, and tight. I sincerely hope (but also rather expect) that I will still agree with that judgment five years from now! I worked my writing/critiquing groups hard, I learned about the publishing landscape, I learned to hate my own propensity for passive voice, and I learned how to hunt down adverbs and slay them.
- Favorite quote from your own work?
Ace pushed open the door.
Wing Commander Joyce Harcourt glanced up and commented drily in Oxford accents, “I thought it might be you. Market shares in breath mints rose sharply today.”
“There’s a career in vaudeville waiting for you after the war, Commander.”
- Traditional or Self-publishing? Why?
Agents had a hard time categorizing Ace Carroway. I didn’t know why, at first. Now, I do. If you browse the teen section at a bookstore, you find zombies, vampires, and dystopian fiction. Full stop. Ace is adventure, and that category doesn’t exist these days. I’m positive Ace will gain fans, but she’ll do it by being so awesome people will just fall in love.
- If you could only write in one genre for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
Nuuuuuuu!!!!! I’ve got a high fantasy and a hard sci fi in the works!
But if I were to die tomorrow, I’d be happy I put Ace Carroway first. Somehow, I feel like the world needs her right now. What category is that, you ask? Well, it’s adventure. With dashes of sci fi, steampunk, noir, and pulp.
- Name one book that affected the way you write?
I have a vast array of influences, but Ace Carroway is informed by pulp fiction most of all. So I grasp wildly at the zillion titles buzzing around my cranial cavity and nab the first one that resolves: Doc Savage and the Polar Treasure.
Okay, that’s not a bad choice. I think it’s by Lester Dent. It’s short, action-packed, and a bit bizarre. The characters are sharply drawn. It gives the reader the feeling that they are in the hands of a good storyteller, but the reader cannot guess how the tangled threads will connect at the end. That’s the sort of thing I strive for.
- Three authors you recommend and why?
- G. Wodehouse builds a better world than this one to live in, then convinces you it’s real.
- G. Wells melded mind-blowing concepts with timeless human truths. He’s still eminently readable, now, 120 years after publication.
William Gibson wrote Neuromancer and I don’t think the seismic ripples from that have died down any.
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I’m pretty sure it’s greed. We need to tone that down. With less greed, I think we’d be feeding the starving, curbing population growth and climate change, and building starships.
- What do you believe is your main purpose/motivation as a writer?
This question splits me into two halves. One half says, “Pshaw, it’s all for fun.” The other half says, “If it’s all for fun, why do you subliminally model alternative social structures such as various visions of true gender equality?” To which the first half replies, “Shaddap.”
- What’s your favorite writing-related memory?
Perhaps it is when I discovered the word “beezer.” That means “nose.” Of all the 1920s slang I have learned, I mourn the loss of the word beezer in modern parlance the most. Why can’t we use that word anymore? It’s a pure bolt of utter delight.
I can’t speak it (and be understood), but I can write it, and so I have. Of course, I can’t overuse it, so I’ve only written it once so far.
- What’s a favorite moment you’ve had with a fan/someone who’s read your work?
The first time a perfect stranger wrote a review …
My writer’s craft escapes me. I can’t adequately describe how that felt. But it felt as if I had arrived at a milepost. It felt awfully nice.
- One fun fact most people don’t know about you?
I’ve been in most of the bars in the state of Montana. One summer when I was a lad, my garage band somehow landed an agent, and he booked us into all these bars. I think I might’ve been under the drinking age at the time. I definitely remember reeking of cigarette smoke. Then, as now, I don’t drink or smoke. The smell was entirely secondhand.
- One piece of advice you would give to new writers?
Patience. Hey, look, one piece of advice, summarized in one word! To amplify, even if your writing is truly terrific, it takes a long while for that word-of-mouth to spread. A corollary of that theorem is to make sure your writing is terrific.
Thank you, Guy! What thoughtful and spunky answers. If you like adventure, follow Guy @guyworthey on Twitter and @guywortheyauthor on Facebook and his blog at guyworthey.net.
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As always, keep making magic, word weavers!