Sep 15, 2011

A slice of life with Cole Gibsen

The wonderous Cole Gibsen joins me today fresh from a weekend at DragonCon, where she witnessed some amazing costumes, popped up in odd places and resisted using a window squeegee for self-defense. She's counting down the days until her debut release, Katana, comes out in March, after which she'll be world famous and able to retire her squeegees in favor of brass knuckles. Or maybe a super sophisticated sewing machine because she's also a bit of a fashionista in her spare time.

1. Your blog says you first picked up a pen because you love super heroes. Explain that a little more, please!
My childhood was rough. I had strong negative influences on my life at a very young age. What I loved about comic books was, that the good guys always won. No matter how bleak the situation, how tough the bad guy, the heroes always persevered. That really hit home with me. I knew that I wanted to inspire the same type of hope with my writing that comic books gave to me.

2. How long have you been seriously writing?
I always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing little bits of stories, poetry, and songs from the moment I learned how to form words. Unfortunately for me, I had a person in my life who delighted in telling me how stupid I was and how I’d never amount to anything. And, being a young, impressionable child, I believed this person. So I never took writing seriously. It was nothing more than a creative outlet. But in 2007, the economy ate my small business. Without a job, I had to decide what I was going to do with my life. My husband was the one who told me that losing my business was a blessing. It was an opportunity to do what I wanted with my life—to pursue my dreams. And so, with literally nothing to lose, I decided to do just that.

3. How many books did you write and shelve before Katana? (Or write, query and shelve.)

Oh my goodness, I think I started and stopped at least a dozen different books. The first book I finished was this really clich├ęd paranormal romance. I made all the classic mistakes including querying as soon as I wrote the words, “The End.” Oy. Luckily for me, and all readers who enjoy good books, that particular novel is tucked safely away on my flash drive of despair—never to plague humanity with its awfulness.

You wouldn't be a real author without *whispers* a secret file of shame.

4. The quick pitch of Katana is: "Kill Bill meets Buffy," which sounds awesome. How did you come up with that?
I wish I could take credit for that, but that line is 100% the creation of my agent. Now if only I could get him to stop taking credit for my hair...

5. Did you do any martial arts research for Katana? Or if you drew from your own life, explain how that experience wove into your writing.
I’ve dabbled in various martial arts styles (everything from taekwondo to kickboxing) my entire life and used what I’ve learned to write the fight scenes in Katana. I had to stop when I became pregnant several years back and have been itching to get back into it. I’m also lucky to be friends with a third-degree black belt and martial arts instructor. If I have any technical questions or wonder things like, “How can Rileigh fend off a bad guy with nunchuku using only a window squeegee?” he’ll come over and show me (often multiple times) until I can visualize the scene in my head. Interesting fact: Window squeegees are pretty badass weapons. Who knew?

6. Talk about your agent, Chris Richman - why you chose to query him and what you think hooked him.
When I queried Chris, he was an intern at Firebrand who had just been promoted to agent. I read an interview with him where he stated he was looking for “fantasy that didn’t take itself too seriously” and I immediately thought, “That’s me!” So after I queried him, he immediately asked for the full. And a few weeks after that he asked for a phone call. When I was on the phone with him, one of the questions I asked was, “How available are you?” He answered, “Why? Are you asking me out?” It was right then, because of his quirky sense of humor and his obvious enthusiasm for my book, I knew he was the agent for me.

7. How long after signing did you revise? Did Chris give you any general revision suggestions you could share? OR do you have a tried-and-true revision technique?
Chris is a very hands-on editorial agent. He’s the Mickey to my Rocky. Something that really stuck with me was Chris’s fondness for action packed short chapters. If I had a chapter than went over ten pages, he either had me break it into two chapters or cut it for the sake of tension and readability.

8. Tell us how The Publishing Call is different from The Agent Call.
The Publishing Call is fun because it takes you completely by surprise. When I received The Agent Call, I knew it was coming. Chris had expressed interest through his emails and we had set up a date and time to speak on the phone. I was literally in the middle of painting my basement when Chris called me to let me know we had an offer. It was a definitely a punch to the kidneys—but in the best possible way.

9. Did you revise Katana again with your book editor? Was this process different than with Chris?
Chris and I revised Katana 729 times. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it sure felt like that many times. And the edits that we did were very detailed and intense. This paid off because when it came time to revise with my editor, the edits weren’t as daunting as I was anticipating. My editor told me there wasn’t much that needed to be done because my manuscript was in such good shape upon sale.

10. So now you're gearing up for pub day. Tell us what you're looking forward to about that day, and what scares you the most.
Okay, so my biggest dream (no lie, just ask my husband) is to go out in public and spot someone reading my book. But, with the ever-growing popularity of e-readers, it’s going to be harder to spot. I think my biggest fear is getting the police called on me for ripping people’s e-readers out of their hands to see what they are reading.

Fast five: Fun, fluffy questions of no particular purpose to which you give witty, optionally truthful and erudite answers - pick as many as you want. Except 5. That one's mandatory bc I need suggestions for my Netflix queue.

1. If you were a vampire, which celebrity would you sink your teeth into?
Joe Manganiello. *Drooooooooooool* Sorry, what were we talking about?

I don't know who that is. *googles frantically* ooohhh.

2. What's your middle name? Your REAL middle name.
Cole. Little known fact, my real first name is Funky and my real last name is Medina. *sigh* Okay, it’s not really. But I’m seriously thinking about having it changed because how cool would that be? Oh, and the real answer is Renee’. With the ‘ because I’m exotic like that.

Renee? That's it? Why did everybody but my parents give their kid a normal middle name?
3. You're stranded on an island. You have a monkey and a ball. A ship passes by. How will you attract attention?
By screaming my head off because I’m on an island with a monkey. (see question 4)

Well, that behavior will surely allow the monkey to survive...

4. What secretly scares you?
Monkeys. Seriously. I don’t know what it is about them that freaks me out so much. If I were to guess I’d say it was because of their opposable thumbs. I mean, no good can come from that, right? We’ve all seen Planet of the Apes.

You definitely should not read Next by Michael Crichton, then. Definitely not.

5. What's the best movie you watched last summer?
No question, X-Men First Class. ;)

I think James McAvoy is weirdly hot. Not as hot as Hugh Jackman, bien sur, but James is definitely worth the rental. (snuck a little high school French in there, as I am wont to do when excited.)

Thanks, Cole! And thank you for stopping by! I'm off to buff up my Tae Kwon Do moves (yeah, I have moves) but would love to read your comments.


Cally Jackson said...

Great interview. I'm sorry to hear you had a troubled upbringing Cole, but good on you for rising above it.

Katana (Kayaks according to my iPhone) sounds like an awesome read. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. Will it be coming out in Australia soon? :-)

Jolene Perry said...

HEY!! I added this book last week :D
Looks WAY fun :D

FAB interview.

That X-Men movie was SOooo good!!

Thanks for the interview Melodie :D

Cole Gibsen said...

Anonymous said...Thanks for having me on your blog, Melodie!

Cally - Good question! And I have no idea. :) But will look into it. :D

And ninja kayakers? Hmmm, the possibilitiers are endless!

CherylAnne Ham said...

Great interview. "Kill Bill meets Buffy" I absolutely love that!

Carrie Butler said...

Note to self: buy window squeegee...

Great interview! I think Katana sounds fantastic. I can't wait. :D

Have a great weekend, ladies!

Sarah Pearson said...

This proves what a good idea interviews are. I vaguely recall seeing something about Katana, and thought it might be something I'd like to read. Now? Now, I really want to read it!

Great interview, thank you.

Melodie said...

Thanks for stopping by all! Hope you are having a fantastic weekend.

Nicole Lanahan said...

I really appreciate your enthusiasm, everyone. :) Thanks for the comments!