We are pleased today to welcome Anton Strout, author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series. His latest novel, Dead Matter, goes on sale today. Mr. Strout has graciously offered to give away two novels to commenters on today’s post. Winners can choose between any of his novels:
SB Frank: Welcome Anton! On your website, you have the most intriguing factoid. You write that you are the co-creator of the faux folk musical Sneezin’ Jeff & Blue Raccoon: The Loose Gravel Tour (winner of the Best Storytelling Award at the First Annual New York International Fringe Festival). Can you tell us a little bit about the musical, about the festival, and about the award?
Anton Strout: The NY Inter Fringe Festival is a downtown arts festival that happens in every conceivable venue that can be claimed. It’s guerrilla theater at its finest, hundreds of shows every hour of the day… Sneezin’ & Blue are two faux folk heroes bases on old school folkies like Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and the Guthries, Arlo and Woody. They’re modern day folk heroes who spend more time telling a story and tuning their guitars than actually getting to a song. I play Blue, who was given his name out on the Pueblo, sort of an animal totem name. He’s an eager to please guitar playing sidekick, and he must be doing something right because they took the Storytelling award. Other notable shows to come out of the Fringe are Rent and Avenue Q, I believe. Sadly, to date, Sneezin’ and I have not been asked to be on Broadway.
SB Frank: On the subject of Broadway, you also say that you’re a sometimes actor and sometimes musician. Can you tell us a little about both hobbies?
Anton Strout: Sure. When I moved to Manhattan fifteen years ago, I came here from small town life in Western Massachusetts. I went to college for English and Theater. I always knew I wanted to be in New York City, with my small town boy mentality of “I’m gonna BE somebody!” I wasn’t sure if it would be acting, music or writing, but I knew I wanted to entertain somehow. So I dabbled in a bit of everything. I’ve played a lot of instruments over the years, most of them mediocre-ly but I was a pretty good guitarist so I was in several bands. Also acted a bit in off Broadway shows… but it was the writing that really stuck out of everything. I enjoy the rejection cycle of it better. With acting, you audition constantly and face constant rejection. As a writer, you can go for a long time writing something before you have to deal with potential rejection. That suits me better. Not that my writing gets rejected all that often nowadays….
SB Frank: The third novel in your SIMON CANDEROUS series, Dead Matter, comes out today. Have you got any celebratory traditions that you do on book release days? Drinking champagne, dancing naked in the streets, checking out Amazon sales rankings?
Anton Strout: After reading/seeing Paul Sheldon’s rituals in Misery, I decided not to have any traditions, lest I be kidnapped by my “number one fan,” taken to a secluded location and forced to write fan fiction of my own books under threat of hobbling. In truth, I get so busy with promoting the new book, turning in/ revising the next book, writing proposals for new books that it’s hard to find time to celebrate! I try to throw a party for all the people who worked on the book for the past year at my publisher, but even that gets kinda crazy to put together. I do find time to obsess over the Amazon sales ranking, though. I’m convinced it is a random number generated just to mess with the rampant insecurity that most authors have. I’m thinking of cutting off my Refresh button finger because of it…
SB Frank: So, Simon Canderous, the protagonist of this series, is a psychometrist who works for the NY Department of Extraordinary Affairs, Other Division. Throughout this wacky series, he has to defeat red tape and the forces of darkness, when the latter are not crushing on him, that is. For those of our readers who may not be as familiar with the series, can you give us the flavor of what you’re going for? And while you’re at it, can you give us a preview of Dead Matter, which I understand has recently been rated with 4.5 stars by the Romantic Times!
Anton Strout: I came to New York in the mid 90s, and like the character Jane Clayton-Forrester in my books, I did a lot of temp jobs working in corporate America. It’s so mundane and filled with all the red tape and trappings of business culture. I started to wonder what would happen if it were overlayed on a world that had to contend with fighting ghosts, demons and cultists. Some have called the series a blend of Ghostbusters meets Men in Black, and I think that’s a fair comparison, except I’d say there’s a bit of corporate droneship and paperwork from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil thrown in as well. I’m both thrilled and saddened when people tell me they totally either totally get or actually work in the office environment that the Department of Extraordinary Affairs functions within.
SB Frank: Myself, I’m almost reminded of a Dilbert comic strip or the enigmatic movie, Office Space, which I somehow thoroughly enjoyed. Going back and forth between battling evil monsters and then filling out the paperwork justifying why you did it, is a riot. Thank you so much for visiting today. We wish you the best of luck with today’s release.
Remember two commenters will receive their choice of an Anton Strout novel, or if you prefer, we’ll let you choose an alternative from our stacks. So be sure to comment. I’ve just finished reading Dead Matter and think fans of funny, urban fantasy will be greatly entertained.