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A Q&A with Trevor Shane, author of (128.) Children of Paranoia...

September 19, 2011
I'm thrilled to have author Trevor Shane visiting today! He graciously submitted to a Q&A, and I've got a review of his debut novel, Children of Paranoia...

About the author:
Children of Paranoia is Trevor Shane’s first novel. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

Find Trevor online at his website, on facebook, and on twitter.

Trevor has very graciously taken the time to do a short Q&A for us. Read on!
drey: Hi Trevor! Welcome to drey's library, and thank you for taking the time to do this short Q&A...

What should we know about Trevor Shane, in (about) 10 sentences?

Trevor: Nothing. I don’t mean to be snide but I really hope that my work stands alone. I’m a big believer in the idea that, once you’ve put your work out there, you don’t own it any more. It belongs to your readers. But, to not come off as a total ass, I live in Brooklyn with my wife and son. I’m from New Jersey originally. I believe that loyalty and decency are the most important traits a person can have. I love books and movies and I’m a big fan of the drink Calimocho which is a mixture of red wine and coke. That should cover it for now.

drey: Who are your literary heroes/heroines? Why?

Trevor: I’ve been trying to figure out if my answer is supposed to consist of authors or characters. I have to go with authors, though, because the list of characters would go on for way too long (generally, I’m attracted to flawed, romantic characters who can’t help but question the world around them like Rudy from The Book Thief and Daniel from Shadow of the Wind). As far as authors are concerned, I always thought that what Phillip Pullman did with the His Dark Materials trilogy was really brave. The fact that he wrote what is essentially a response to one of the most beloved series of all time (The Chronicles of Narnia) in that way that he did still amazes me. There a section of those books where a twelve-year old girl goes down to meet all the souls of the dead as they wait for the next life and Pullman puts her in the position of convincing those souls that it is better to simply let go and become part of the universe than it is to wait. It’s really an extraordinary passage. I don’t know if I agree with what he’s saying but I really admire his use of popular literature to get across a really complicated idea.

Then there’s Kurt Vonnegut who remains, to me, the greatest truth-teller of all writers. All of his books are hugely entertaining but they all also say something. It’s a trait that I’d like to emulate in my career.

drey: What inspired you to write Children of Paranoia?

Trevor: I wanted to write a really thrilling action/adventure style story that eschewed the standard good guy/bad buy dichotomy. I love thrillers and action/adventure novels (like The Hunger Games and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy). What I wanted to do was create a story in that vein but where there wasn’t a snarling figure as a bad guy and where it was even sometimes difficult to tell who is the bad guy and who is the good guy. I think that, throughout history, there have been very few villains who thought of themselves as villains. Most of the time everybody thinks that they’re the righteous ones. So, the novel opens with the protagonist following a woman down a dark street and strangling her in front of her home simply because she’s on the other side of a centuries old, secret war. So, right off the bat, there’s your hero committing this deplorable act and where do you go from there?

drey: Will there be a sequel?

Trevor: Children of Paranoia is the first book in a trilogy. It was envisioned and sold to Dutton as a trilogy. My goal is to have each book stand alone as a unique narrative but also to create a really interesting overarching story with the entire trilogy where each new book actually enhances the ones before it. Each book will be written from a different perspective and will, hopefully, pull in different aspects from different genres.

Right now, my editor and I are in the later stages of finalizing book II which should come out some time next fall with the hopes that book III will come out the fall after that.

drey: How did you celebrate getting published?

Trevor: Dutton and BookCourt (the world’s greatest book store) threw me a really amazing book release party the day that Children of Paranoia came out. I’ve got some great pictures from the event on my website (here). I had a lot of friends and family come and my son helped me to autograph books after the I did a reading and a Q&A (my son is the more handsome of the two guys in this picture). It turned out to be a much more emotional night for me than I expected. I knew that it would be fun but I was really touched to see so many people that I love essential there to help me celebrate my own dream coming true. Hopefully I’ll get to return the favor for each of them some day. Also, we sold out of books, which was great for BookCourt and hopefully a good sign. Since then, it’s just been really fun to go into bookstores and see Children of Paranoia on the tables and shelves.

My friends have been sending me pictures of Children of Paranoia in stores, a few of which I’ve put on my website (here). It has all be tremendously exciting.

drey: What words of wisdom would you share with aspiring authors?

Trevor: I’d say that the three most important things that anybody needs to make it as a writer are, not necessarily in this order: (1) a great story; (2) luck; and (3) thick skin. There’s not much you can do about the luck part so you have to concentrate on your story first.

To make a great story, you need to have something that’s unique, something that only you could write, but something that is still going so speak to people and that people are going to want to read. I personally don’t make any qualifications between genre fiction and literary fiction or high art and low art (every time people start talking about this stuff, I feel like I’m trapped in a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon). If it’s unique to you and still speaks to people, I think you’re a long way there already.

Even with a great story, however, you need really thick skin in this business. Even the best stories get tons of rejection. No matter how good your work is, people are going to ask you to change it. You are going to get bad reviews. Everybody does. Nobody’s ever written anything that pleased everybody. What helped me was to think of the books that I really love that never found huge success or books that I hate that are gigantic. Once you start thinking of those books, you realize that you can’t judge yourself on your sales or your reviews. You have judge yourself on how proud you are of what you’ve written.

drey: Thank you so much for taking the time, Trevor! 

children of paranoia
About the book:

ISBN-13: 9780525952374
ARC: 371 pages
Publisher: Penguin, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Penguin Group

Since the age of eighteen, Joseph has been assassinating people on behalf of a cause that he believes in but doesn’t fully understand. The War is ageless, hidden in the shadows, governed by a rigid set of rules, and fought by two distinct sides — one good, one evil. The only unknown is which side is which. Soldiers in the War hide in plain sight, their deeds disguised as accidents or random acts of violence amidst an unsuspecting population ignorant of the brutality that is always inches away.

Killing people is the only life Joseph has ever known, and he’s one of the best at it. But when a job goes wrong and he’s sent away to complete a punishingly dangerous assignment, Joseph meets a girl named Maria, and for the first time in his life his single-minded, bloody purpose fades away.

Before Maria, Joseph’s only responsibility was dealing death to the anonymous targets fingered by his superiors. Now he must run from the people who have fought by his side to save what he loves most in this world. As Children of Paranoia reaches its heart-in-throat climax, Joseph will learn that only one rule remains immutable: the only thing more dangerous than fighting the war. . .is leaving it. 

drey's thoughts:
Trevor Shane's Children of Paranoia could be set in this very world we live in. But I hope it's not, because all those people killing or being killed, would be just depressing. In the first part of the book, we meet Joseph and find out about this world, the war, and the recruiting. We learn the rules of engagement, and the penalties for breaking those rules. A lot of setting-the-background stuff.

Then we follow Joseph as he goes on his assignments, and watch as he gets his cover blown. We witness his escape and recovery, the dressing-down he receives, and are there when he meets Maria. The question is, who else was? Because in this war, you never know where your enemies will show up... Or who's watching you...

As Joseph tries to get his "career" back on track, we notice his doubts surfacing. Not very handy things, those doubts. If Joseph isn't careful, they'll get him killed--and not just by the other side. And if all of this isn't enough, Joseph and Maria unknowingly break another rule--one that puts both of them on notice, and that lets both sides know they're fair game.

Joseph is not a sympathetic character--after all he does kill people for a living. And he doesn't make any excuses for it either. In his world it's them or him, or someone he loves. He's just a Joe doing his job. Until Maria. Until they're on the wrong side of the line. That's when his character really starts showing some balls, for lack of a better word. And that's when the story really started getting good. What do you do when your side decides you're expendable? Will Joseph and Maria outrun the war or succumb to their fates? You'll have to read it to find out.

drey's rating: Pick it up!

Have you read Children of Paranoia? What did you think?

Check out the book trailer!


Trevor said...

If anybody chooses to comment, I hope it's to say how cute my son is. Thanks for the time and the nice review drey.

-Trevor Shane

drey said...

lol Trevor -- he's adorable!

holdenj said...

I was thinking it was a great interview and if you liked HG, it's probably worth checking out. But now that you mention, the little guy is pretty darn cute too! :)

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