Author Interviews

Interview with Voss Foster on 29-April-2014

Author's Interview

Let's start with you telling us a little bit about yourself, Voss.
Well, there's really not a whole lot to tell, in point of fact. I live in the same hole in the ground town I grew up in. I like to cook. I actually studied culinary arts for several years before settling on English. I occasionally manage to drag myself out of the house to spend time with friends and family… though not enough for most of their tastes, I admit. And I write. I write a lot. I write every day.

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
I was a state award-winning trombone player in high school. Oh! And I like basketball. That one always throws people for a big loop.

When did you start writing, is it something you've always been interested in, or did it develop later in life?
When did I start? 1st grade. Not that anything I made back then was all that great, but I was writing. First story I ever wrote was on our old typewriter. The Adventures of Super Duck!

Has it been everything you thought it would be or not?
I've got to admit that it's completely different, on this side of the page. I think the biggest thing for me was this realization—and it sounds very stupid, trust me—that writers are people. That they have families and have to go through trials and tribulations to get through a book and get published.

That being said, it's all very enjoyable. The people that you get to meet through this career path, the connections you make, the interactions. I wouldn't trade that for anything. I can't imagine, now, leaving this profession behind. Even after winning the lottery, I would be writing and publishing. Although I might buy myself a new charger for my laptop… maybe.

How did it feel when you realized that your very first book was going to be published?
To be honest (the acquiring editor has no clue about this one), I thought it was a scam. I got the acceptance back on 'Tartaros' after one day. Less than twenty-four hours. I actually spent a good six or seven hours waffling back and forth between the legitimate acceptance letter theory and the much less logical (albeit more fun) someone hacking into the publishing house's email system and sending out acceptance letters to every submission just to acquire books that would be unpublished, but unsellable anywhere else.

Once I got past that, though, it was exhilarating. I went out and bought chocolate to celebrate, so you can tell it was a pretty big deal.

What's your favorite part of writing a book?
When I make myself cry. It doesn't happen in every book, but I savour it every time it happens. It tells me that I've done something right.

Do you get time to read for pleasure? If so, which books do you enjoy?
I force out time to read, even if it means sacrificing a couple hours of sleep. I can't help it—it's a compulsion. And of course I read speculative fiction, but I'm open to read just about anything, so long as it's decent. I tend to shy away from historical fiction (unless it's alternate history) and westerns, and I'm very picky about my horror, but I don't always have the option. When you read as much as I do, you have to get the books you can find. Whatever's closest to your eye at the time.

Are there any other genres you'd be interested in writing?
Many many many… but all under that speculative fiction umbrella, still. I have a not so secret obsession with retrofuturism (steampunk, dieselpunk, atompunk), but I haven't had much opportunity to write it. Bits here and there, but not a whole lot. And I love bizarre and magic realism… but they're a bit finicky to pin to a real definition. One that I'm toying with—and coming very close to working with—is wuxia. I wrote one short that sort of fit the genre, but I'd love to try it again, soon.

Please tell us a little about your most recent release.
Zirkua Fantastic is my newest baby. It's the first book of a trilogy, although it really wasn't supposed to exist. When I wrote it, I was planning on doing a completely different book (I believe it was sci-fi… maybe). But then Zirkua popped into my head. And I fell in love with it. The atmosphere of the circus, the magic, the chance to include mythological characters.

Basically, Zirkua Fantastic is the story of Toby, a hoop dancer with the circus. But Zirkua Fantastic isn't just any circus. It's magic, controlled by a centuries old contract and only existing to bind King Jester, the spirit of discord. But it doesn't work out at all. King Jester's sister, Dragon, manages to free herself and comes looking to let her brother out of his bondage. And they start playing with Zirkua Fantastic, as well as Toby's boyfriend, Marley.

I wont' give any more than that away. Don't want to spoil it for you, after all.

What can we look forward to in the future from you?
Well, after I've wrapped up the other two books that come after Zirkua (The Jester Prince and A Fool's War), I have a very exciting project going into its final stages of editing. A sci-fi. Now, this one won't be young adult like the rest of my books, but it's a concept I agonized over for six months to get written. I'm very attached.

Anything you want to say to your readers?
Yes: I hope that you enjoy these books. I enjoyed crafting them and, now that they're written, they really aren't mine. They're your books, now, your stories and characters and lives. Your escape, perhaps, or just that thing you smashed a spider with that one time. But I pass hem to you, in the hopes that the magic they gave me will touch you, as well.

Voss Foster's recent release:
Zirkua Fantastic

Zirkua Fantastic has been running steadily since 1753, amazing its patrons with acts of otherworldly skill and prowess. But that talent comes at a steep price: each artist must give a year of his or her life to the circus. None of them know why, only that the circus' owners will go to whatever lengths are necessary to ensure it. Toby, the hoop dancer at Zirkua Fantastic and son of one of the owners, is content with his life: he enjoys performing and Zirkua's wandering life, and even has a boyfriend among the circus' hawkers. But when a new artist arrives, bringing with him a strange flask and a number of odd occurrences, Toby falls face-first into the truth behind the circus: Its contracts bind King Jester, the immortal embodiment of chaos.

Zirkua's performances and contracts have held King Jester prisoner for centuries, but now something's amiss. King Jester's sister, Dragon, has escaped her own bonds and is working to free her brother, and his power is growing. If he is loosed on the world, it will mean the worst war in human history and the end of civilization... unless Zirkua Fantastic can find a way to stop him.

Excerpt from Zirkua Fantastic:
As the caravan rambled down the interstate, Tobias rolled onto his side. The prop wagon wasn't the most comfortable. He'd have to opt out of practice to sleep once they got the tent up. No hope for that here.

He tossed aside the air silk he'd been using as a blanket and sat up, looking around, listening to the truck's tires thud across potholes and cracked pavement. He checked the straps holding the crates, tightened one that had loosened on the drive. "Crap." If one came loose, others could, too. He pushed himself off his stack of crates and toppled when they hit a particularly nasty bump. "When was the last time they fixed up this road?" He dragged himself up and stumbled toward the rear door of the truck, cranking straps tighter as he went. Once he got used to the movement, he sped up, tightening down all the cargo in fifteen or twenty minutes. Only the first strap had come loose.

Wood scraped against wood. His heart beat faster, breath catching. He scanned through the truck. Nothing had moved, to his eye. "Just another bump." Palm pressed to his chest, he tried to force his heartbeat back down to something normal. "Nothing to worry about."

He sat back on his crates and wrapped himself in the air silk. Sleeping or not, he needed a barrier against the cold and, though he would never admit it, it left him feeling safer, more protected against whatever probably wasn't in the truck with him. He scanned the boxes a final time, just in case he had missed something.

Still nothing out of place. Not that Tobias could see much in the dark. He tossed the silk over his head and lay down on the crates, desperate for some semblance of sleep. He sucked in a deep breath. The silk smelled like tobacco.

He heard some kind of rustling and flipped the silk back over his head. Cerulean eyes filled his gaze. The familiar, heady scent rushed into his nostrils. "Marley."

"You sound surprised."

"A little." Marley lifted the silk and climbed in next to Toby, snuggling up so close his scent filled the cocoon. Nice to have you here. "I mean, this is an artist's wagon. It's not really the sort of thing you do."

He chuckled, hot breath cascading over Toby's back. "That's not quite true." He kissed Toby's neck, sending a chill racing along the corded muscles. "I end up in the prop wagon most nights."

"Do you?" He did his best to sound unfazed. In reality, he fought back warm, nervous laughter. "I'd think I would have noticed."

"Well, you did this time."

"So I did." Toby scooted closer, relishing in Marley's warmth. "And I'm very happy about it." He leaned his head against Marley's chest. The slight movement of the fabric wafted more of the intoxicating perfume into the space. "How much longer 'til we get to the next town, you think?"

"I'd give it an hour. Maybe a little more. If I'm any good at guessing distance." Marley pulled Tobias even closer. "You need to get some sleep, babe."

"Not if it's only an hour." He turned over and nuzzled into Marley's shirt, staring up into bright blue eyes. "I'd still be completely useless with only an hour's sleep." He yawned, and then slapped Marley across the arm. "Stop being so damn warm." The end of the sentence got muddled by a second, gaping yawn. "It's like sleeping with a space heater."

"You can't blame me for being hot. In fact, I remember you thanking me profusely on more than one occasion for it."

"Well, it's not very helpful when I'm trying to stay awake."

Marley chuckled. "Then get off."

He nestled closer in response, muttering into Marley's chest. "It's not that unbearable."

Marley wriggled his hand under Toby's chin, lifted his face, kissed him. "I figured that much."


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