Monday, April 6, 2015

Querying Author Interview: Eric Rasmussen

Happy Monday, all! Today's querying author is:

Eric Rasmussen

Twitter: @mreras

How long have you been writing?
After learning to write in elementary school, I became a writer. I started a novel in fourth grade that was almost identical to Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron, except it focused more on what the characters ate (I was a pudgy kid). I wrote fan fiction based on Lucasarts’ Sam & Max video game and cheesy science fiction. Since then, I have written for school papers, real newspapers, my forensics (competitive speech) team in college, poetry slams, my local arts and culture magazine, and my teaching job.

What inspired the project you’re currently querying?
Last year I finished a novel I started in 2002 and began querying it right away. I followed the advice to write your second while you query the first. That first project earned one request from 97 queries, so it has been banished to drawer. I am now querying that second manuscript, and am having much more success.

The idea for the second story came from contemplating just how much sway our bathroom scales have over our happiness. What would happen if everyone who has ever worried about the stupid number on that stupid device got his or her wish? What would happen if everyone was suddenly lighter?

What’s your elevator pitch for the project you’re currently querying?
One day, without warning or explanation, gravity lessens. Just a little bit. Some people find relief as their physical burdens literally lighten, while others discover their problems are greater than any natural force. A multiple-perspective presentation of the day GRAVITY LESSENS, like LOVE, ACTUALLY with a magical realism twist.

What are you working on in the meantime to keep yourself from checking your email every three seconds?
I am cranking out manuscript number three, of course. This next one is a straight literary story about a lake in northern Wisconsin and how the traditional Midwest residents react when they get a dose of modern diversity. In one year, a gay couple buys one of the resorts on the lake, another resort is turned into a strip club, a third becomes an international gastro-tourism destination, and Tom, the only remaining long-term resort owner, decides to burn his place down. It is another multiple-perspective story that follows each resort owner as they try to fit in to the forest up north.

What are three books that have shaped you as a writer?
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell knocked me over. He showed me how perspectives can be woven to tell a bigger story, and that is what I keep trying to write. I learned about connecting to characters from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. And it may be cliché, but if I can ever create something as significant and lovable as To Kill a Mockingbird (which I teach and have therefore read more than any other book), then I will be a great writer.

Are you a plotter or a pantser or an all-of-the-above-er? What is your writing process?
I take a hybrid approach. I start with an outline by chapter and I know what important and powerful moments my characters will experience. I do give them some freedom in how they get from moment to moment.

What advice would you give to a writer about to take the plunge into querying?
Follow all the advice, and there is a lot of it. Start a blog, manage your expectations, write the query like they tell you to, join Twitter, all of it. None of it will hurt! Every step you take is a thread you string across the chasm, which will one day create a web strong enough to support your career.

How do you take your caffeine?
In as many forms as possible, should disease, global crisis, or aliens disrupt any one source. I enjoy coffee, green tea, and the occasional soda with similar levels of enthusiasm.

Thanks for participating in the interview series, Eric! Best of luck with Gravity Lessens—it sounds fantastic!

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