Author Q&A: Arianne "Tex" Thompson talks ONE NIGHT IN SIXES and her superhero alter ego. Plus, a GIVEAWAY!

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Today on the blog, I'm welcoming one of my Workshop peeps and debut author of the rural fantasy ONE NIGHT IN SIXES, Arianne "Tex" Thompson. During the day, Tex is a master teacher for an academic and tutoring prep services company. In her free time - which you'll see she doesn't have much of - she's a regular at libraries, writers' conferences and conventions, as well as being the editor for the DFW Writers' Conference website. And, she writes, natch!  Somehow, with everything she has going on, she found time to answer a few questions about her alter-ego, time management skills, and the future of her hero, Appolosa Elim.

Okay, when I Googled your name to get to your website, I discovered a DC Comics superhero named Tex Thompson. I know I'm totally showing my comic book, superhero ignorance here, but I had no idea your nickname came from a superhero. I mean, it makes sense, of course. As Truvy from Steel Magnolias would say, "There's a story there." Spill. How did you get your nickname, and what made you decide to use it in your pen name as well as your given name?

Would you believe that I didn't actually know about Tex Thompson the DC character?  Thompson is my maiden name, and "Tex" was the pronounceable part of the AOL screennames and message-board handles that I used to play online games, lo these many years ago.  As for how that particular virus mutated and spread offline - well, you know that feeling you get when you walk into the DFW Writers Workshop to read for the very first time?  That kind of sweaty, queasy, five-out-of-six-on-the-Pepto-Bismol checklist terror?  That was pretty much it.  I decided that I could handle getting my life's work eviscerated by a roomful of strangers - but not without a secret identity.  So Bruce Wayne became Batman, and I became Tex - and you know, I think it's worked out pretty well!  (Except for that third-string superhero guy.  Mark my words, Google - I WILL UNSEAT HIM.)

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sixes

I wish I'd thought of the secret identity before reading at workshop. Maybe it wouldn't have taken me six months! Have you ever gone to a con dressed up as superhero Tex Thompson? And, if there was a Tex Thompson superhero movie, who would play your doppelganger?

You know, I am actually a really terrible cosplayer!  If I don't look pretty much exactly like the character, I'm usually too nervous to even try (which is why my one and only cosplay alter ego so far has been the exquisite Pam Poovey, who is not only my body double, but everything I aspire to be.)  I tell you what, though: if I ever get to be in the movies, I'm going to ask Robin Weigert to channel her Deadwood-edition Calamity Jane and get in there for me.  She can drink, fart, cry, cuss, nurse the sick, bury the dead, kill a man, and love a woman - and if those aren't superpowers, I don't know what is.

Rumor has it you started writing ONE NIGHT IN SIXES in high school. Tell me about the genesis of Appaloosa Elim's story and it's journey to publication.

It is truly a long and sordid tale!  And anyone who really wants to is welcome to hear

the whole thing, visual aids included

.  But here's maybe a shorter, neater, cleaner way of saying it: I did indeed start writing a book when I was in high school, starring a guy named Elim.  He was a horny, goofy, sword-wielding idiot, because the anime I watched was full of horny, goofy idiots, and the fantasy I read said that fantasy heroes were kickass sword-guys.  And that didn't really change until I grew up, got an education, got to see some of the world, and decided that what I really wanted to write about were people we don't get to see as often - the ones who might be relegated to villains or sidekicks or victims, or who are just plain not included.  So even though all that's left from that original 11th-grade novel are a few character names and traits, this does in many ways feel like the same book - because for me, the process of writing (and rewriting, and rewriting!) this one single thing over the past 15 years was also the process of figuring out what I really cared about, and what I wanted to contribute to the world's bookshelf.

Where does Appaloose Elim go from here? Tell me everything you can about the sequel! You're website very slyly slipped in a "s" at the end of the word "sequel," I noticed. Is SIXES going to be an epic on par of Game of Thrones? Harry Potter? Narnia?

Oh my cheese, no!  Don't get me wrong - I have nothing but love and respect for the folks who can pull off a ten-book saga, but I don't have those chops (yet!) 

One Night in Sixes

is the first third of a 300,000-word megastory I wrote from 2007 to 2010. 

Medicine for the Dead

is the second part, tentatively scheduled for March 2015 - and Lord willing and the creek don't rise, we'll have a name and a publishing date for Part 3 soon afterward, which will finish the story.  I tell you what, though: as much love and sweat has gone into building this particular fantasyland sandbox, I *definitely* mean to revisit this world and some of these characters.

Full disclosure: I read your

Appearances page

on your website then promptly took a nap from exhaustion. When do you find time to a) write, b) read. More importantly, what are you reading now?

Well, here is a shameful secret: I am TERRIBLE at time management.  I feel like I'm always doing everything badly and at the last minute.  So my TBR pile looks like a giant, dusty game of bar Jenga, and my book revisions are two months behind schedule, and I have so many emails rotting in my inbox, it's like a digital zombie apocalypse.

And speaking of zombies and what I'm reading now, LET ME TELL YOU:  Daniel Bensen's New Frontiers has completely eaten my brain.  It's a story about near-future Earth, where aliens have come in and done to us pretty much what Europeans did to indigenous Americans - and here to try and save our species is Harry Downs, an "exo-erotic diplomat" (aka interspecies gigolo), who's convinced that one good orgasm is all it's going to take to get humanity an equal seat at the table - or, you know, at least keep us from being enslaved and/or eradicated by the alien gangsters currently strip-mining the Amazon.  It's basically Men in Black with a Debbie Does Dallas twist, and you are going to SCREAM in frustration when I tell you that not only is it not available in bookstores, it still needs a publisher!  (He's got the agent part handled, fortunately.)

But as schlocky as it is for me to take up page-space here with an unpublished work, whose author is a friend of mine, the point that I really want to make is this: as a reader, every time I get bored and cynical and start to feel like I'm drifting on a sea of been-there-done-that books, I find something that totally pushes every one of my buttons, feels dazzlingly smart and fresh and relevant, and fires me up all over again.  I LOVE that feeling.

I don't know about you, but I have books I re-read on a regular basis. I call them comfort reads. Do you have a book(s) like that or are you one of those weirdos who only read a book once and think, "That's that! On to the next book!"?

Ha!  Would it redeem me at all if I told you that I didn't actually *mean* to be a one-time-only weirdo?  To tell you the truth, what I've noticed happening is that I actually have TWO piles these days: Books I Want To Read, and Books I Want To Have Read.  The former is pretty much the same as it's always been.  The latter is made up of important new releases in my genre, "touchstone" books (things like

The Hunger Games

and

Game of Thrones

that are too big to ignore), and books that are assigned reading for my tutoring students.  As long as those lists are, going back to a book I've ALREADY read feels like an unfathomable indulgence.  I tell you what, though: whenever the nightmare-clowns find me or I'm up at 3 AM with a bad case of the pork sweats, the

Calvin and Hobbes

books always come out again.  I definitely hear you on the importance of having comfort reads close to hand.

For a chance to win a signed copy of ONE NIGHT IN SIXES, leave a comment below.

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sixes

The border town called Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day. Still, Appaloosa Elim has heard the stories about what wakes at sunset: gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient earthly gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight.

If he ever wants to go home again, he’d better find his missing partner before they do. But if he’s caught out after dark, Elim risks succumbing to the old and sinister truth that lives in his own flesh – and discovering just how far he’ll go to survive the night.

My Writing Process Blog Tour - Fantasy writer Anna Hess

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Today on My Writing Process Blog Tour, we hear from genre busting, but mostly fantasy, writer Anna Hess.

Why do you write what you do?

I write because there is a steady stream of characters in my head that I’ve become good friends with. They’ve helped me through hard times and embellished good times, but mostly they have helped me learn about myself. I’d like to share these characters and their stories with others, and if only one other person has as much fun with them as I have, then that was worth it. And if not, well, I still had fun with them. I also write because I’d like to contribute to the children’s/young adult age when I was inhaling any book I could get my hands on.

How does your writing process work?

I’m not sure if my writing process has a pattern, but if it did it would work something like this - I picture something ridiculous happening, build a scenario around it, feather it into a basic storyline, and immediately jot down a series of notes that I spend an inflated amount of time, and many pots of coffee, trying to interpret later. Then, after many months of yelling ‘Just do it already!!’ at myself, I sit down and put a solid string of scenarios on paper. I carry a notepad and a small pencil around with me almost all of the time. Though, it never fails that ideas come to me when I’m in a pitch black theater or have hands full of gooey bread dough and am utterly incapable of writing. More than once I’ve found a shredded and dried piece of a napkin in the dryer and have spent long moments trying to understand what “cave tree orgooo bler” means. I write very quickly (tpyos are common) and with a steady flow, so it’s very difficult to me to go back and change small portions of a story, I mostly have to change a huge chunk of it. Also, you can throw in the usual amount of the author self-loathing cycle, following “This is amazing! This is horrible! I hate myself! *pour coffee*”.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My writing probably differs from similar genres because it is fairly advanced in humor, cynicism and relationships and spans across the border of children’s and young adult. I try to write for advanced young readers. When I was growing up there weren’t many books for children 9-15, and after reading everything on the shelves at the local library I read Jurassic Park (I was 9, and the librarian was worried it was too violent) and then started the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (admittedly that took awhile). I’m so happy that there are authors adding to the young adult genres, and that I can always see my younger cousins tucked into a corner with a book. If I could contribute to this, I’d consider that a great accomplishment.

What are you working on?

I’m working on at least a dozen different projects ranging from beginning readers to advanced adult. Most of these are fantasy, though I also delve into the horror genre sometimes, but moreso with ghost stories and psychological thrillers. Currently my favorite project is a young adult fantasy series in which my characters are animals and mythical creatures trying to strategize in a non-classic battle of good against evil. I’m also reworking some short stories that were published in newspapers, including a mini-series about a multi-universe bond between two teenagers, and another about a ghost wolverine (which, frankly, is terrifying to me). I am currently publishing a study on butterflies and bison, and at the moment I am editing my answers to Melissa’s blog (thanks so much for including me!)while I wait for a satellite image to process.

anna hess
anna hess

Anna Hess is a chronic daydreamer and musician that finally settled on an enigmatic career in cartography so that she could mix science and art. She fell into a series of job opportunities including saving prairies, surveying powerlines, finding patterns in how floods occur, saving butterflies, and preparing chemistry laboratories. Through her 11 years of college (she did get a doctorate) she worked with theater companies doing everything from acting to props to stage management to substituting for mannequins. However, she enjoys writing fantasy more than anything else. You can find her on Twitter

@AnnaNHess

.