Friday, November 25, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with John Zunski!

When you see this present graphic that means there's something extra in it for you!

In fact, two e-book copies of John Zunski's novel SHANGRI-LA TRAILER PARK are up for grabs.  See the end of the post for details on how to enter.

Tell us about you.
I was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia. In 2003, I sailed across the country in a U-haul and settled in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. I'm an insanely private person. I fathom myself a recluse, my wife says that I'm nuts, that I enjoy being around people. I think I enjoy both, but the escape into solitude is increasingly alluring. Living in the mountains has taught me quiet and solace is a wonderful thing.

Tell us about your book.
Shangri-La Trailer Park is a dark comedy with some serious undertones. At its core it is a story of redemption. The protagonist, Maistoinna Standing Bear, is plagued with guilt for not acting to prevent the needless death of his nephew. While hiking the Appalachian Trail, circumstance rears its ugly head and he finds himself stuck in a low-brow trailer park populated with dysfunctional residents.

The ride gets wild during Maistoinna's stay, including the opportunity to intervene on behalf of a boy his nephew's age.

Like life, Shangri-La Trailer Park pulls no punches. It isn't sugar-coated.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
I set out to pen the antithesis of Cemetery Street. The immediate priorities were that I would shift POV. Cemetery Street is written in 1st person, Shangri-La Trailer Park is in 3rd. The second was that no characters were to die.

A more interesting bit of information is that it was started when I lived in Pennsylvania and finished after I moved to Montana. At the time, I was steeped in Blackfoot culture and mythology. My wife grew up on a reservation and imparted her knowledge of Native American diction.

What can readers expect when they open your book? Give us something that isn t on the book blurb.
To be hit over the head with a 2 x 4. The reader may laugh out loud and be repulsed in the same chapter. I can promise you this, there aren't any gratuitous scenes. Every segment has its purpose and the story is tied together in a pretty little bow in the final chapter.

How old were you when you started writing?
I remember sitting before the typewriter on the kitchen table at a very young age. But I was anything but a prodigy. I have a bit of dyslexia and that really held me up through my teen years. I didn't start seriously writing until my late twenties. 

Do you stick with one genre, or have you branched out to others? Which ones?
Life doesn't happen in a single genre, neither does my writing. Cemetery Street is a story of impossible love while Shangri-La Trailer Park is a foray into the darkest recesses of the mind. I set out to explore the human experience, with all its wonder, challenges, and horror.

Do you think you would ever branch out into another genre? If so which one(s).
I will be releasing a ghost story which I'm planning on turning into a series.

Where do you get your ideas?
From life, I'm a voyeur extraordinaire. I've been blessed with incredible opportunities to peer into people's lives. If I didn't write, I would feel as if I'd wasted a precious gift.

Who is your greatest inspiration?
That's a subjective question. I've had many great inspirations. But if I'd have to give an answer, I would say the concept of integrity - it's my duty to birth the stories brewing in my mind.

What are you reading right now?
Home Street Home by Georgia Saunders. Ironically, there are some interesting parallels between Shangri-La Trailer Park and Home Street Home. 

Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite author is whomever I'm reading at the moment. Every book I pick up, I'm rooting for to be the best I've ever read.  If you're asking who are my influences, Stephen King, John Irving, Carl Hiaasen.

What is your current project?
Montana Rural, it's Cemetery Street's sequel.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
Plugging through the first draft of Cemetery Street. I set out to novel with a deep characters and an engaging plot. I kept notebooks on my characters, their flaws, their strengths, their likes and dislikes. Most of the information never ended up on the page, but, it did give me insight into their being. The one thing I promise about my writing, is every piece of work is laced with complex, believable characters. The moment I finished the first draft I experienced an incredible endorphin rush. I believe in the back of my head, that I would never complete the process. In doing so cemented one of the largest victories of my life.
Have you experienced any setbacks for your writing along the way? If so, will you share with us.
Of course... Too many to list. There are times when I become so frustrated with a given story, that I walk away from it for months on end.  

How did you overcome these setbacks?
I've learned when that happens the story needs to percolate in my subconscious. That doesn't mean I stop writing, I switch gears and leap into another project.

Do you believe in writer s block?
I believe writers block can encompass many things, but for me, I've learned that when it happens, something in the story hasn't been thought out.

What is the best writing advice you ve ever received?
Someone once gave me a homemade notebook full of advice, thoughts, and quotes. It served both as an inspirational tool and pedagogical device.  The one quote that I still remind myself of to this day is from an African prince... to paraphrase: Thoughts can no easier escape a page than a deer a pit. Once on a page, thoughts are imprisoned forever.    I love that concept, I find it incredibly inspiring.

What is the best advice you have for other writers?
keep plugging away... don't ever, ever stop. At the same time, cut yourself some slack. Also, when someone says 'it can't be done!', use that statement to fuel your engines.

What is more important to you, plot or character? :Character Are you a panster or a plotter?
Can I cop out and say both?

Preferred POV to write.

Preferred POV to read.

Tell us 5 random things about you the person, not the author:
1. I own a small town bar.
2. I love spending time alone in the woods.
3. I played Dekhockey for 25 years. Won a national championship at 36 years old 4. : I'm a football and hockey junkie.
5. I drive myself insane playing chess.

Where to connect online:

What format does your book(s) come in?
Cemetery Street and Shangri-La Trailer Park are in ebook. Cemetery Street will be released in Paperback early 2012

Where to buy you book(s):

Now, I mentioned a giveaway.  Here's how to enter and it's simple:  leave a comment to this blog post.  A number will be assigned to each comment and a random two chosen.  Good luck!
Deadline:  November 30, 2011