Hollywood, NY & SF Book Fest Honorable Mention Recipient Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley is an editor for a small press, a professional copy and content writer, and a cohost for a geek movie podcast. He is the author of The Perils of Growing Up Werewolf series. His forthcoming book is The Fate of Freddy Mitchell, book one in the Dead Kid Chronicles, about when the fates of the underworld fail to capture a young soul at his scheduled time of death, and the very fabric of the universe begins to unravel—while the fates scramble to correct their mistake, he is forced to deal with a chatty crow, dark and sinister creatures hunting him through the night, a murderous gang of soul hunters, and the fact that he no longer appears to be as alive as he used to be. Andrew now lives happily in the Okanagan Valley, BC with one beautiful wife, three kids, one cat, one needy dog, and a multitude of characters that live comfortably inside of his mind.
Many of your books seem to have a humorous bent to them. What do you feel the comedic storytelling medium affords authors?
I’ve always thought comedy was a great way to break down barriers as it comes with an inherent sense of relatability. I don’t know that it’s quite as safe to do so today as it was ten to twenty years ago as people seem to take far more offense to things these days (thanks, internet)! However, comedic storytelling gives you the opportunity to attack a story from a different angle. It skews perspective and allows you to explore something in a different way. Also, who doesn’t love to laugh? Go on, name someone! Can’t, can you?
Are there any particular authors or books that have influenced you as a writer?
My favorite book of all time is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It was the first real humorous bit of fiction I read back when I was around eleven or twelve years old. I’ve since read it twenty to thirty times. Adams' humor struck me as something special. It wasn’t that he was just being funny, he was doing it in such a smart and satirical way that it was impossible not to fall in love with it. His asides and tangents were almost as entertaining as the main storyline. He made a robotic sliding door have a personality! The man was a genius! I later also fell in love with Terry Pratchett’s work, and later still with Neil Gaiman (more Neverwhere than American Gods). Douglas Adams in particular has always had a strong influence on my writing and my sense of humor in general.
“I’ve always found a lot of inspiration in fairy tales and myths, and stories that teach some sort of moral lesson.”
Your children’s middle grade fiction series, The Perils of Growing Up Werewolf, begins with the title of Hair in All the Wrong Places…does it contain an important message about going through puberty?
It does! At least I hope it does. I’ve always found a lot of inspiration in fairy tales and myths, and stories that teach some sort of moral lesson. When I started writing about a teenage werewolf, I wanted to run his werewolf transformation story parallel with his journey through puberty. While the main character, Colin, is dealing with his new powers as a hairy creature of the night, he’s also struggling with hormones, girls, and homework. The lesson I wanted Colin and the readers to learn in that story is that even though your body changes as you get older, you’re still the same awesome person.
Werewolves seem to be the perfect engine for exploring what it means to go through bodily changes. Did any other monsters, such as vampires or zombies, previously come to mind?
The subject of teenage zombies was already covered very well by Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies. I’d considered a vampire at one point, but it felt like they’d been done to death (pun intended). I always thought I had a really great werewolf story inside of me (I loved Michael J. Fox’s "Teenwolf" movie when I was a kid), and while this book started out as an adult werewolf novel, it quickly became apparent that the main character was meant to be a tween. The werewolf changes of more hair, confusion, and hunger, is basically puberty in a nutshell. What I’m saying is, all teenagers are werewolves.
Hair in All the Wrong Places was a Hollywood Book Fest, New York Book Fest, and San Francisco Book Fest Honorable Mention recipient. What was it like to win so many honors for your first foray into middle grade fiction?
It was certainly an honor to receive such honors. Joking aside, it’s always nice to be recognized for work you produce. Writing middle grade fiction was a surprising turn for me and occurred when I had young kids who wanted to read something I’d written. Hair in All the Wrong Places was the answer to “Dad, why can’t I read your books?”
“Being able to speak with teachers, librarians, and parents has been a great way to spread the word about my books...”
You seem to do a lot of speaking engagements at schools and libraries. Do you find these events to be a helpful way of connecting directly with your readership of parents, teachers, librarians and students?
In the last three years I’ve spoken to thousands and thousands of students, from elementary to middle schoolers, to high school students and beyond. It’s an interesting byproduct of writing for a younger audience. Connecting with students who have read or want to read my books has been amazing. I get lots of messages asking questions about the story and about the characters. Being able to speak with teachers, librarians, and parents has been a great way to spread the word about my books and word of mouth has been one of the driving forces behind me getting an increasing number of requests for speaking engagements.
How did you find your current literary agent and go on to get future books published?
Well it was a tricky process. I had to wait for a full moon, there was a sacrifice involved, and a lot of Latin. Once the incantation was over, the hellfire had all fizzled out, and the portal was completely closed, and there stood you, Mark Gottlieb from the Trident Media Group. Okay, fine! I didn’t summon you through some elemental dark magic. I was reading acquisitions for a small publisher and met you when you submitted some queries. What struck me was that we shared a similar sense of humor and so we hit it off. Your dedication and hard work has resulted in five of my books being sold to publishers. You're a supportive agent who has been instrumental in my career as an author and is always looking for new ways to push further, something I truly appreciate.
Earlier in your career, you were working as an editor at Curiosity Quills Press. Has a background in editing helped to inform your novel writing career?
It certainly has, without a doubt. For one thing, it introduced me to my agent. But working as an editor and consequently working with other editors has been one of the best learning experiences of my life. Every single time I work with an editor, without fail, I learn something new. As a consequence, my writing is constantly improving.
“...while it’s not an easy thing to get published, it’s the authors that persevere and keep trying that make it in the end.”
What have you learned from the book publishing experience, now as an author of multiple books? Do you have any wisdom to share with writers hoping to become published authors?
I teach a novel writing course that I developed and the final week in the series is dedicated to talking about the publishing industry. The main takeaway, and the best advice I can share is that while it’s not an easy thing to get published, it’s the authors that persevere and keep trying that make it in the end. If you quit after your first rejection letter, you’re 100% guaranteed to fail. However, if you keep going, take the rejections as they come (I received over a 100 rejections for my first novel) and continue working on your craft, you’ll get there in the end. Oh, and keep writing. That’s important. Nothing worse than a writer that doesn’t write.
Can you tell us a bit more about your forthcoming book The Fate of Freddy Mitchell, book one in The Dead Kid Chronicles series?
I’m not an author who is inspired by dreams... Except this one time. I dreamt about a teenage boy chatting with a talking crow. The crow was trying to explain to the boy that he was dead, and the boy was in denial and arguing back with the crow. I woke up and made notes for a new middle grade series: The DeadKid Chronicles' The Fate of Freddy Mitchell follows the title character through a darkly hilarious adventure of murder, mayhem, and supernatural shenanigans. It’ll be my first illustrated middle-grade chapter book and will be published in 2020 from Month9Books. Follow my social media for excerpts, news, cover reveals, release dates, events, and more!