I would like to welcome Michael Sussman to Books R Us. Michael is the author of Crashing Eden. Thanks for stopping by.
Can you tell me who or what was the inspiration for the book?
The novel stems in part from experiences I had with meditation as a teenager and young adult. I’ve also been interested in world mythology for many years, and am especially intrigued by the widespread myths suggesting that humans have degenerated from an ancient state of grace, symbolized by Paradise or the Golden Age.
The story began to take shape when I wondered what might happen if we were somehow able to recapture the state of mind experienced by people before the Fall. What if we built a device that altered our brains in such a way that we felt like we were back in the Garden of Eden?
To be honest, my son also provided much inspiration and also helped me enormously in coming up with the plot.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Yes, I’ve definitely had periods when I couldn’t write a thing and had no ideas. It’s a terrible feeling. With other types of work you can just “phone it in”, but not with writing.
With mild writer’s block, I can overcome it by exercising, being in nature, taking a hot bath, or simply taking a break from writing. With more serious cases, it takes some psychological/emotional exploration. The blockage may be due to depression. It may stem from avoiding something that you need to write about. In one case, my writer’s block evaporated when I shifted from writing for adults to writing for children!
Can you tell me your experiences in finding a publisher for the book?
Currently it’s nearly impossible to sell a novel to one of the major publishing houses without an agent, so I initially focused on finding an agent. It was a tough sell, though, because the story is quite outlandish and may be considered blasphemous by some folks. Several agents loved the story, but felt the novel belonged with an indie publisher. Sure enough, it was the small independent publishers that were drawn to the story, and I went with Solstice Publishing.
How long did it take you to write the book and how long did it take to get the book
I wrote the first draft in about five months. I then paid a freelance editor to do a developmental edit of the manuscript. Based on her critique, I spent another half year rewriting the novel. After getting further feedback, I spent several more months polishing the story.
One of the great thinks about working with a small publisher is that you don’t have to wait two or three years before your book is available. I signed a contract in February and the novel will be released in May.
Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
I especially like the protagonist’s best friend, Deon Jenks. He makes some great wisecracks and does his best to keep Joss honest with himself.
What are your current / future projects?
I’m working with a fabulous British illustrator on a comical adventure story in verse, titled The Great Gogglemog. I hope to start another novel this summer.
Do you have any tips for a young writer just starting out?
Definitely join a writer’s group. Your writing cannot progress in a vacuum, and you cannot rely on friends or family to give you the feedback you need.
If you’re writing for children or young adults, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (http://www.scbwi.org/). They hold great conferences and can help you find a critique group. Also check out Verla Kay’s chat site (http://www.verlakay.com/) which provides a wealth of information and emotional support.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who would you like the main character to be played by and why?
I have to admit, I’m not very familiar with teen actors! To go way back in cinematic history, I’d want someone like James Dean. Dark and brooding.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not writing? Where do you like to vacation? Can you tell us briefly about this?
I’m a musician and dancer, and I love to read. Most of all, I like to spend time with my son, who is thirteen and a great guy.
Mostly, we like to vacation in Cape Cod or go skiing in New Hampshire or Vermont.
Can you tell me where we can purchase your book?
The novel is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as at Solstice Publishing:
Thanks so much for inviting me to do this interview and helping me spread the word about Crashing Eden!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
For one boy and his friends, the path to Paradise comes at a cost—one they may not be prepared to pay.
When a biking accident leaves 17-year-old Joss Kazdan with the ability to hear things others can't, reality as he knows it begins to unravel.
A world of legends exists beyond the ordinary life he's always known, and he is transported to the same Paradise he's studying in World Mythology. But the strange gets even stranger when his new friends build a device that delivers people through the gates of the Garden of Eden.
Now Samael, the Creator God, is furious. As Samael rains down his apocalyptic devastation on the ecstasy-seeking teens, Joss and his companions must find a way to appease Samael—or the world will be destroyed forever.
Michael Sussman is the author of Crashing Eden, a YA fantasy/paranormal novel, and Otto Grows Down, a children’s picture book featuring illustrations by Scott Magoon.
Dr. Sussman is a clinical psychologist and has also published two books for mental health professionals. He’s the author of A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy and the editor of A Perilous Calling: The Hazards of Psychotherapy Practice.
Dr. Sussman resides in the Boston area with his son, Ollie.