Author Interview with A.C. Birdsong

9 Jan


We’re hosting an interview with A.C. Birdsong, author of fantasy novel “Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales” currently touring with Enchanted Book Promotions.

The Interview

Who is your favorite character from your book, Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales, and why?
The Worm. The idea of a lowly bookworm, being enchanted by Palmer’s magic torrents into an all-knowing, all-powerful hermit who only wants an occasional visitor for tea, is great fun for me. It was fun writing and always fun reading. Worm is a happy victim of circumstance who was mindlessly munching through <em>Arthur’s Watch</em> in the <em>Tall, Thick Book of Tales</em> when Palmer bombards it with magic. Worm becomes sentient, magical, and rather pedantic. It remembers the souls of all the books it ever tasted, for, as it tells Jacob emphatically, books do have souls: “Do you think that without a soul, a book could change a mind, a life, or the course of history? Could a mere collection of letters into words, words into sentences, or sentences into paragraphs, for page after inert page, spawn a single spark of an idea in even the brightest mind? No! Ideas do not form spontaneously from simple wood pulp and ink; life force is required to give them vitality. Oh, yes, all books have a soul; once you taste it, you thereby have the essence of its purpose and meaning as created by its author.” Yeah, Worm was great fun.

Why did you choose the fantasy genre for your book?
My original thought that started it all was “What would make someone trap another person in a magic book?” Starting at that point, fantasy is sort of implied. I did consider very early on about dropping the word ‘magic’ from that question, and that opened the possibility for writing a sci-fi novel. But one of the great things about fantasy is you can rewrite all the rules, and still make use of the old ones (something I do throughout Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales). With science fiction there’s simply too much to get right before can you even start. I’ve read quite a bit of sci-fi, and the best always has all the facts locked down. The facts I’m talking about are not only the physics of our real world, but anything that’s possible based on our reality. In the case of my book, I’d have to have a reasonable scientific explanation that would cover someone trapping another person in a book. I figured it would be more fun to have a fantasy, and I’m glad I made that choice.

What did you struggle with the most while writing?
I have no shortage of ideas, and when I’m settled in front of my laptop I have no writer’s block. But there are two things that always seem to stand in my way. The first is Time, and never having enough of it. If I had my own Earl of Southampton, and was able to spend the bulk of my days and nights writing, I’d likely be pumping out a novel every other month. But I don’t, and won’t, so I have to eke out the time slots where I can. The second challenge is getting back into the mental state I was in when I last finished a writing session. Having scenes mapped out helps, as does finishing a chapter at every sitting. But there are some times when you can’t be interrupted, call it a Coleridge moment, and if you are, the whole things suffers. I’ve deleted entire chapters because of this.

Is the protagonist of your story based on someone you know?
None of the characters in the book have any hooks to any real person. I do have what they look like firmly fixed in my mind, though. So firmly fixed that even Jacob – who reduces his age magically so he can better resist Palmer – kept his ‘old’ appearance in my head as I was writing scenes involving the young Jacob. But now that I think about this further, I realize that Roman, the page who can find anything, is based on the magical character I thought it would always be fun to be. A little magical, nearly always positive, and in Gwen’s words ‘…so much like the children he so desperately wants to entertain.’ What’s the point of being magical if you can’t exploit the fun and whimsy that can be part of it?

Name your favorite book in the same genre as your book.
When I wrote Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales it was pretty much from whole cloth. I hadn’t read that many fantasy novels that weren’t grand epics, or that didn’t involve a lot of sword and sorcery. My book fits neither of those descriptions. But between the time that I resurrected the manuscript to work on it and completed the final edit, I discovered the stellar <a href=””>Thursday Next</a> series by Jasper Fforde. I haven’t read any of them yet, because I didn’t want to bleed any of Jasper’s great ideas over. I will have to read them all before I continue with any sequels to Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales, though (I have two strong ideas queued), to make sure our worlds remain distinct, and I’m looking forward to that very, very much.

What are you up to at the moment?
Last spring I wrote a book that I’ve code named Derek One, a near-future mystery that centers on a disgraced rookie cop who’s been ostracized from the work he loves, and is handed a boon – with strings. His world is a mix of high technology and no tech, poverty and opulence, workplace harassment by private cops, off work harassment by tax cops, and small time kingpin wannabees. In this environment he needs to investigate a closed murder case and search for a person who’s not really missing. I like the story, and hope to have it out before the end of spring.

About the Book

18762397Title: Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales

Author: A.C. Birdsong

Genre: Fantasy

On a small farm just outside of a tiny town lives Jacob, the last in a long line of Caretakers of Magic. His mission in life as the world’s only magician (in fact the only person who knows magic is possible) is to preserve magical skill in preparation for the day when magic is needed in the world. Other than what is required to train an apprentice, Caretakers aren’t to be practitioners, a tenet Jacob adheres to religiously.

Jacob has been teaching an apprentice, Palmer, for eight years. As a student, Palmer is a dismal failure, but this does not stop him from experimenting. Feeling that the pace of his instruction is unnecessarily slow, Palmer takes the little magic he knows, twists it, and uses it to trap Jacob and a young neighbor Lucy inside an old book of fairy tales (The Tall, Thick Book of Tales). Palmer refuses to release them unless Jacob imparts all magical knowledge to him in an instantaneous way.

From the moment of Jacob’s entrapment, Birdsong creates three interwoven storylines: Palmer’s dealings with the townspeople, who are searching for Lucy and quickly suspect Palmer for her disappearance; Jacob’s journey to escape, which takes him through scenes written into the book by Palmer, designed to harass Jacob and to speed his compliance along; and Lucy’s interaction with the book’s original characters, all magical themselves, trapped within the margins by Palmer’s spell, and are united in their desire to expel the intruders. Added to this mix are an enchanted bookworm and the fairy tales’ narrator, who have objectives of their own.

Readers will enjoy Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales. Birdsong skillfully mixes the real and the imaginary worlds with a lean and fast-paced style. A well-crafted and fun novel with colorful characters and great dialogue written for any fan of adult fiction, and suitable for young adults and older adolescents as well.

Author Bio

ACB-Author-Photo-2013-12-Book-TourA.C. Birdsong wrote the first draft of Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales during an unseasonably cold winter in Athens, Greece. “I spent all my time either writing the story or searching for a reasonably warm and cheap place to write it. Often this left me huddled near tepid steam heaters in dingy hotel rooms, and drinking endless cups of weak Nes to fight the cold. Eventually the weather turned, which was not only fortunate for me, but for Jacob and Palmer as well, because they probably would still be fighting it out inside that book otherwise.”

A.C. lives in Seattle, where people voluntarily allow themselves to be trapped in books on a regular basis. This is his first novel.



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