It’s blog tour time! Today we’re taking a look at the book Faulkner’s Apprentice by Val Muller! She’s agreed to put herself in the hot seat for some interview questions, but first, let’s look at the book!
Title: Faulkner’s Apprentice
Author: Val Muller
Published: April 30th, 2013
Word Count: 84,000
Genre: Horror (Supernatural Thriller)
Content Warning: Suggestive themes, non-graphic sexuality, and mild violence
Age Recommendation: 18+
Misfit and struggling writer Lorei Franklin has always struggled in life. Juggling an ailing mother, busy-body friends, and dead-end jobs, Lorei finally catches a break: she has won the L. Cameron Faulkner fiction contest, earning a three-week stay with the reclusive and famous horror writer. But her time at Faulkner’s mansion is not what she expected. She is plagued by a man in a fedora, two frightened assistants, and a series of strange visions–not to mention all the scratches on the walls. She also struggles with her feelings for Faulker–she’s had a crush on him since his cameo appearance in his movie, but he’s much more intimidating, and attractive, in person. The isolated mansion makes it difficult for Lorei to contact her dying mother, the only person who knows the identity of Lorei’s real father. As the novel progresses, Lorei learns that the creepy visions she’s experiencing are flash-forwards of her own future life in the mansion. As she discovers, the man in the fedora has a sinister purpose–as the devil, he has claimed Faulkner’s soul but will relinquish it in exchange for Lorei’s–as it turns out, she is his daughter, and he’s been out to possess her for years. Now desperate, the devil is pulling out all his cards. To beat him, Lorei will have to fight her growing lust for Faulkner, ignore her love for her mother, stifle her fear of the mansion and that which is hidden in the walls, and abandon her dreams of becoming an author. If she can only accomplish those things, perhaps she can escape the devil’s grasp and avoid becoming the tormented old woman in her visions…
Sounds insanely amazing, right? I love a good horror story, especially with a female lead! Now it’s time to get into the head of the author of this book, mwahahaha….
SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
VM: I like organized chaos. Sometimes I write because I have an idea that just won’t let me sleep. Other times, I find an intriguing call for submissions and write based on that. I always have at least the seed of the ending in mind when I start out, so I have a rough outline I work from. But the middle of the outline is never filled as I expect it to be. It’s a sort of guided chaos figuring out how the pieces fit together, often with my characters taking me along for the ride.
SJ: *Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?
VM: No cape, but I prefer writing all my first drafts by hand. I’m really particular about the type of pen I use, and once I start using a pen, I don’t like to use it for anything other than writing that particular story, and I use it until it runs out.
SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
VM: My ideas usually do filter in through dreams, but daydreams are almost as powerful, and they usually come with menial, repetitive tasks like mowing the lawn or gardening.
SJ: * bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?
VM: I love this question! My muse would definitely be something of a tree, maybe a dryad. I love nature, and I feel inspired whenever I’m outside. The only time I get writer’s block is in the middle of winter when, stuck in the cold doldrums, my body and mind have no desire to go on! Other than that, all I have to do for inspiration is step into nature.
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
VM: The story closest to my heart is one I’m currently working on—a YA fantasy. But I have to be careful. I find the stories that I’m too close to don’t turn out that well. The more distanced I am from a tale, the more I’m able to view it critically.
SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
VM: I think it would be dark fantasy. It would allow me to incorporate the darkness of the horror genre—which I believe awakens us from the hum-drum of everyday life and live our lives more deliberately—while also using my imagination to create my own worlds.
SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
VM: I dislike the second round of edits. Writing the rough draft is fun and free. Editing the first time is still a process of discovery—I put together pieces that my subconscious knew about before I realized it. But the second round of edits is tedious, and I have to keep myself distanced from the story, not allowing myself to get lost in the narrative lest I lose the critical eye. I dread getting the editor’s suggestions because I know that several weeks of tedium await.
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
VM: I would definitely choose the YA fantasy I’m working on. It’s a freer world than this one—much of the globe is wilderness, and one could simply disappear from society if one chose. I find that thought freeing. I would put a loved on into the world of Corgi Capers, my mystery series for kids. It’s a pleasant, realistic world, and I think any family member would enjoy it. An enemy would definitely go right into Faulkner’s Apprentice to have a one-on-one meeting with the bad man.
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
VM: I think that would make the writing become stale. A colleague of mine told me that once she discovers the “formula” of each author, she stops reading their books because it’s all the same. I hope never to fall into that rut, which is why I write so many genres—kid lit, young adult, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and literary. I’d rather try things that don’t work than fall into a somnambulant mediocrity.
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
VM: Write because you love writing, not because you think you’ll become successful. If you want a tale of caution, just look at what happens to Lorei, an aspiring writer, in Faulkner’s Apprentice. I write because it makes me happy. Sure, I hope to be able to write full-time some day, but I would do it for free, too.
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
VM: I’ve got a great post (May 1, 2013) on why I write horror: http://www.valmuller.com/2013/05/01/faulkners-apprentice-release-why-horror/. You can read it if you like, but the short of it is: horror awakens us from the monotony of our lives, making us live more deliberately.
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
VM: An engaging storyteller. Whatever genre I write, I want people to enjoy it. A note from a reader is worth more than money.
SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
VM: Faulkner’s Apprentice is a supernatural chiller about Lorei, an aspiring writer who is sort of waiting for success to happen to her. To her surprise, she wins a contest, earning the right to spend three weeks with the master of horror, L. Cameron Faulkner. But when she arrives at his mansion, she wonders what she really signed up for. Faulkner is quirkier than the rumors let on, and a grisly character Lorei refers to as “the bad man” shows up. He seems to have his claws dug deeply into the wills of anyone involved with Faulkner, and Lorei wonders if she’s next. There isn’t explicit violence or graphic sex. It’s more suggestive ideas—I give you just enough details to let your mind take over. The creepiest types of horror, I think, are those that blossom in your mind and creep up on you when you don’t expect it. You can find out more, and stalk me, at: Website: www.valmuller.com
Corgi Capers: www.CorgiCapers.com
Thanks for hosting me!
A big thank you to Val for answering my questions so well!
About the Author:
English teacher by day, writer by night, Val grew up in cold and haunted New England, which seems to have colored her works with a tinge of the macabre. She currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two corgis, a rambunctious and curious dog named Leia, and a kind and obedient (yet terrified) dog named Yoda. Val writes for children and adults and, when not performing her day job as an English teacher, attends book events and elementary schools to conduct writing workshops.
And to get involved on the tour-wide giveaway, please check out the rafflecopter HERE
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
- Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive
- Corgi Capers 2: The Sorceress of Stoney Brook
- For Whom My Heart Beast Eternal
- Faulkner’s Apprentice
Winner may choose between print and eBook if located in the US. Winner will receive an eBook if international.