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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Welcome to the second installment of this special 2 part Guest Author Post featuring Serban Andrei Mazilu

Welcome to the second installment of this special 2 part Guest Author Post featuring

The Angellove Society


Serban Andrei Mazilu

Author Interview

For the most In-Depth Interview of 2013 read on....

Name: Serban Andrei Mazilu
Born: February 11th 1983
From: Constanta, Romania
Likes: Books, cats and being a geek.
Food for thought: Coffee.

 So Andrei, my fellow Aquarian, welcome to my blog - here we are - coffee in hand, at the perfect temperature and ready to drink. (Does anyone have any choc chip cookies?) 

Let us begin...

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Little bit? That’s a hard job for any writer. We’re all very different, but if there’s any common ground among us, then that’s our gigantic egos. If you don’t trust me on that, ask my publisher. Also, before anything else, I want to mention that I am enjoying this interview a lot so, even if I appear frustrated or annoyed, keep in mind that I actually having a lot of fun answering these questions. Just mentioning this because I am aware that the reader’s perception and reaction might not be what I was going for.

Alright, alright, I’ll try to keep it short... I’m 29 (to be 30 on February 11th), I’m Romanian and I “drive” ships for a living. I hate leaving everything and everyone I know for 4-5 months, but it pays the bills and I’m actually decent at what I do. What I would like to do however is altogether different; I love writing, I love films and videogames, and I love sleeping ‘til noon. It’s why I am writing this series and I hope its success might allow me to dedicate my time fully to this project. I have 2 different fantasy series just waiting to be published and, hopefully, some big shot in Hollywood might actually deem them worthy to become movies. And they would be AWESOME movies!

 When did you decide that being an author was ‘thing’ for you?
Being an author or a writer? Because they’re two different things. I’ve been writing my whole life, but publishing only came to mind when I realized that the story I was writing out of boredom was already over 30 pages long. I never gave it any serious thought until Dana Dorian (who so graciously endorsed me) told me that all I had to do is finish my novel and she will get it published no matter what. That was... 5 or 6 years ago, and I abandoned the project because I realized very few Romanians would actually buy my book, as there’s no dedicated public here for this genre yet. I started writing again, in English this time, about 2 years ago and, a few months later, a journalist friend told me my new novel had big chances to be a best seller. I guess it was then when I decided this might just be what I am meant to be and do.

Can you tell us a little about your latest novel/release?
Oh, man, again with the “little”... It’s really hard! How can I tell you a little about something that hasn’t been done until now? I could compare it to White Wolf’s “World of Darkness”, but that would be so vague. “Crux” is a very complex novel, from all points of view; you have angels, demons, nephilim (I call them Nephalem), witches, vampires, werewolves, wizards and so much more! The action takes place on a world that exists at the core of the Universe and also on Earth! And it’s completely packed with action, humour and breathtaking imagery! ...Did I flatter myself enough? Hah, I don’t know... You have to read it. Yeah, that sums it up: MUST be read.

If you had to do it all again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Don’t get me started, please! I read the first few lines so many times, I’m not sure I’ll be able to read my own novel when it comes out in print... I honestly don’t know. Looking at what I write now, and more importantly HOW I write now, and what my style was when I started writing “Crux”, I see a major difference. I’m definitely more... relaxed and you can tell. Still, I think that that novel is meant to be just what it is now. If the reviewing, the book analysis and the publisher’s meat grinder simply refined its look and didn’t actually butcher my manuscript, then I consider it perfect as it is.

What was the very first book idea you had, did you write it and did it get published?
Ah, my first book... Those were high school days and I was a hopeless romantic back then. I was 17 when I started writing my first novel and I did manage to finish it. I found it a couple of years ago and re-read it... I turned red with embarrassment because it was so cheesy. Thank Heaven I didn’t contact any publishers; it was complete garbage, but I guess everyone writes something like that sooner or later. The book was called “The Maple Tree” and it was about teenage romance. Now I think that’s extremely funny because I have nothing in common (author-wise) with that 17 year old kid.

How long does it take you to typically write a novel?
Considering I finished just one (because the aforementioned one doesn’t really count), I give you an exact answer. After I finished “Crux”, I immediately started working on the sequel and I got 35 pages down in a couple of weeks. That was while I was on board and doing my maritime officer job, but since I came home, I haven’t even went over the text, let alone write on it. In my defence, I was preoccupied with launching the first novel. I’ll get back to you after I finish the next?

What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you, if any?
Wow, that is a GOOD question. I wanted to say... Creating a character that’s so real, you actually start developing feelings for it and find yourself rooting for it. I think mine, if not all at least a couple, are so well outlined and so carefully designed that a few of my readers became attached to them. So much so that they even anticipate what those characters will say or do. Yes, that’s definitely challenging, but I also think that beating the block is just as hard or maybe even harder. For me it comes in 2 forms: the first is about summoning the strength to sit and write, because I am chronically lazy, and the second is choosing a scene when I have 3 different options and the 4th one just pops up.

What’s your least favourite thing about the writing process?
Definitely correcting the manuscript, because it’s never sufficient reading it just once. I have to go over the text and fix my mistakes, whether that means correction words, finding synonyms or rewriting whole paragraphs. I hate routine work, but I don’t trust anyone else with my work. And that’s just one reason... Going over your own work and realizing you made... MISTAKES? That’s a hard blow; it makes me angry at myself and embarrassed even though only my agent saw those mistakes.

What’s your most favourite thing about writing?
Oh, that’s easy and it actually doesn’t have anything to do with writing! I use to do this ever since I can remember: zoning out. That is what I love! I am addicted to getting lost in thought and fantasizing about amazing things. I guess the answer to that is freedom. I am free, in my mind and on virtual paper, to be anyone I want and to do anything through my characters. I can reshape the world if I choose so or come up with one of my own. Anything is possible there! It’s very similar to that great feeling you get when, without even knowing it, you are living among the actors in a really good movie.

Do you have a playlist that you write to?
One? No, no, no! I have 10 GB of music. I write to whatever feels right. If I want action, it’s going to be hard rock, power metal or rhythmical drum & bass / dubstep. If I’m writing a romantic or sexy scene, it’s going to be jazz or Latino rock. I even discovered that I do great with classics like Chopin and Ravel. As I said, not a playlist but a LOT of music to boost the creative process.

If asked to review a novel, and you didn’t like it at all, would you?
a)      Do a warts and all review and hold back nothing – a total slaughter
b)      Say as little as possible, only voicing a few criticisms with a dash of positivity
c)        Talk to the author first and express your opinions/findings in a helpful manner
I am following my agent’s advice and going for the “sandwich” method. I start and end with what I like about the novel in question and, in the middle, I usually say what bothered me about it.
d)      Keep it as vague as possible and think discretion is the better part of valour, as you hate to be unkind

Do you have any input into the cover design of your novels?
Of course! I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wanted something specific and I didn’t rest until I found the person whose style I appreciated and with whom I could work with. My designer is very talented and I hope he will stick with me because, so far, he gets more praise than I do. We also have a graphic novel project scheduled for autumn 2013 just because we coordinate well and he has the ability to draw what I imagine.

Do you have any advice for newbie authors just starting out?
Don’t? Hahaha, I’m kidding. But seriously, it’s hard. If you think that you can write a book just because someone you know has done that, you’re sorely mistaken. Writing is easy – anyone can do it! Doing it well, possessing the capacity to bare with the corrections, the critics, and going through the many processes it requires, takes a lot of patience and flexibility, provided the talent is not a factor. I don’t know what advice to give, considering I am a newbie author myself. I guess... Hang in there! Don’t give up! Oh, and find yourself a great agent like mine!

Who is your favourite author of all time and if you could meet him/her, what would you say?
Terry Pratchett. I don’t know if I would actually say anything – I’d probably just drool and bask in his glorious presence. The man has an amazing mind, he’s a genius! What could I say except classical stereotypes like “it’s a HUGE honour to meet you!”?  

What was the best book you have read in the last few months and why did you love it?
Pratchett’s “Reaper Man”. Sadly, I discovered his books just a couple of years back and just now we are getting his works published in Romanian... What I loved about it? What I love about all the books in the Discworld series: the amazing combination of fantasy and humour. I’ve read nothing like this before and I found it truly amazing that fantasy, as a genre, can be so incredibly hilarious! I can’t describe it. Really! It’s something that must be experienced.

 Tell us the worst book you have read in the last few months and why you didn’t enjoy it?
Uh... This is shameful. I don’t read as much as you’d believe or as much as I should. Furthermore, I don’t want to badmouth anyone, especially since I’m not in the position to do that. What I’ll say is... It’s a novel signed by a TV show character. I didn’t enjoy it because I love that show and that writer character, and it was just... disappointing. I expected more and got something completely different.

If HG Wells turned up in his Time Machine in your living room, would you get on-board and where would you go first?
Nah, I’d just knock him out and sell the damn thing on E-bay. Serves the b*****d right to upset the balance of the space-time continuum!
Out of the following places to get inspiration, which one would you choose & why:
a.       Deserted Island
b.      Sprawling Megatroplis
c.       Magical Forest
d.      Outer Space
e.      In my own private study, with my own private coffee-making and cigarette delivering butler. Who’s also a mute. Seriously, Deserted Island? I’d be more concerned with finding food than actually writing.

Are you a pre-planning plotter or a go with flow writer?
Both. I have a general idea before I start writing but 99% of the time I find myself deviating way off-course, and end up making things way more complicated and complex than I had originally planned.

Are you working on anything new right now, if so, can you share the details with us?
As I mentioned earlier, I am working on the sequel to “Crux”. I also have in mind a plan for a third book, so I can share something about the “Angellove Society” series. It’s going to be a trilogy, and while “Crux” is mostly based on Crux, a planet for children of angels and demons, the sequel (“Hellbent”) it’s going to take the reader to Hell. As expected, “Hellbent” is way darker and more serious, and the characters you think you know from the first book will reveal themselves to be... different, to say the least. It’s going to show the dark side of the Society and the story will be more dramatic, while some of the heroes will go through major changes and prepare the reader for the third book. Oh, and I am going to give a major spoiler now, so skip the rest of this if you don’t care for it! Marie, who only appears at the end of “Crux”, is playing a huge role in this second novel and is one of the main characters.

Has anyone influenced your writing style and chosen genre?
I can’t say my writing style is similar to anyone else’s, but then again there are thousands of writers out there. I have unwillingly borrowed Pratchett’s sense of humour in some regards, but that isn’t necessarily part of my writing style. A joke, here and there, between all the explosions and gunfights and magical spells being cast, is the salt and pepper on the literary meals I cook. As for the genre, no, there’s definitely no writer influence there; videogames, superhero movies and cartoons, yes! What can I say? I’m a geek!

Out of all the myriad of genres that have appeared in recent years, which ones best describes your work?
I have no idea. Frankly, it was a real challenge for Deea (my agent) and I to find the genre it fits into when the time came to apply to publishing houses. I still don’t know! But I will tell you this: imagine a book version of “The Wizard’s Apprentice” plus “Underworld” plus “Legion” with extra demons happening in Wonderland and on Earth. ...Got it? Now YOU tell me what genre that is!

Which would you rather do and why:
a.       Base Jumping
b.      Hot Air Ballooning
c.       Deep Sea Diving with Sharks (No Cage – muwahahha!)
d.      A Desert Trek

Ummm... I don’t know what base jumping is? If it’s bungee jumping, then yeah, I’d do that. I love the adrenaline. And hot air ballooning as well – sounds like a lot of fun. The other two are needlessly dangerous and exhausting. Really now, here I am, an awesome writer with an amazing book and great plans – why would I want to get eaten by sharks or be stung by scorpions?

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
(Would you have a superhero suit too?)

Just one? Awww, man... Ok, I choose having Wolverine’s super-healing. I’d live forever (or close to that) and nothing could touch me. Yeah, I’d probably have a costume, but nothing flashy. I think black leather outfit with a bandana to cover my nose and mouth would suffice. And you are a cruel person to make me choose!

How do you come up with titles for your novels, do you get the idea for the story first or does that come after you have the title? 
Well, “Crux” was an easy choice. I placed my action on a world that exists on the crossroads of space and time, so it was only natural to go with that after I had a few pages of it... But as I started having more complex plans (with the second and third novel), I picked the titles before I started writing them. “Hellbent”, like “Crux”, has a double meaning and it fits. You’ll see why when it comes out. But, to answer your question (sorry I’m ranting a lot), I pick the story first and try to find a smart title later.

If you could have lived in any era throughout time, when and where would it have been?
I love the present – we have so many amazing things now. But if I absolutely had to choose, I’d pick France or Italy during the Renaissance for obvious reasons. As a second choice, I’d pick the 80’s as a teenager in America. The fashion was funny and sexy, all the cool stuff was being invented and MTV was about actual music and artists. ...Oh! There’s also a third choice! Being a pirate in the Caribbean! (Thank you, Johnny Depp!)

Which method of writing do you prefer for your first draft?

a.       Handwrite the first draft
b.      Laptop
c.       Desktop
d.      The walls in your office! LOL
Laptop or desktop. Doesn’t make a difference. Does handwriting still exist?!

If writing isn’t your main profession, what is?
Mentioned it earlier. I’m a maritime officer, in charge of navigation. I sail on oil tankers and I hope I won’t have to do that for much longer. Sorry, but I really don’t want to talk about it – it is NOT as romantic and exciting as people think a sailor’s life is.

Which would you prefer if your novel was selected by a TV/Film Company:- A TV Series a la Vampire Diaries or a Movie deal a la The Twilight Saga?
First, let me just say that you could have chosen ANY other movie saga EXCEPT that giant @$^# that enjoyed incredible success because of horrible actors playing a genuinely retarded script. I said I wouldn’t badmouth any other writers, but I can’t help it! It makes me furious to think that Meyer has gotten filthy rich by selling shiny marbles as diamonds. Then again, I am avenged and proven right by the 11 nominations for the Razzy!

But to answer your question, I think I would go with the movie deal because my books are just so... visual. There’s amazing landscape in there, there are magical spells and complexly-designed characters that demand movie budget and movie actors. I’m a perfectionist and I wouldn’t have it any other way... Unless Joss Whedon gave me a call, in which case I’d probably just repeat obsessively “whatever you want, oh, Great One!”.

 Who would be your dream Movie or TV series cast for your novel?
No, no, no! I’m not going to go there. There are so many great actors I’d like to see playing my characters that I don’t dare imagine that. I’ll only tell you this: Chris Hemsworth would be an amazing Maar! (the main character in “Crux”)

How do you make time to write?
Simple! I sail for 4-5 months, I stay home 4-5 months. When on board, I just write in the 7-8 hours I have between my shifts. It may sound crazy, but I feel very inspired at night, when I am truly exhausted.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Sex! Or... computer. No, wait! Cigarettes! ...No! Coffee! ...Again with the choices?  Stop torturing me!

Are there any marketing tips for promoting your novel that you’d like to share?
Marketing tips? That’s amusing. I have no idea. My publisher gave me some hints, but the book came out 2 days ago so I, personally, haven’t tried anything yet. Deea, however, is working day and night doing just that. You’ll have to ask her. I use Facebook and Twitter, and basically spam the damn things! I kid. I don’t know. Just speak from your heart to the public and try not to be aggressive. I’m honestly counting on a certain amount of luck too.

Which five words would you use to describe yourself?
Brilliant, sexy, funny, original, creative. I have more though! Yeah, you already know that.

What’s your personal take on E-Books, and do you prefer reading them over a traditional hard copy?
I don’t own any E-Book reader or any E-Books for that matter. But I do live in a country that’s a decade behind civilization (if not more), so that would be rather useless. I don’t even know how to use my debit card properly. I love the traditional books because they are just beautiful. You can hold them, you can smell them and they look great in the library! I am sincerely saddened by the market’s trend, but I guess it’s unavoidable and necessary. I’m an animal lover and try to do my part for the environment, so if E-Books means less trees being cut down, I’m all for it.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Oh, my God...! That would be working as a reporter for a tabloid. I only did it for a month and it was a pain. Almost as painful as waiting tables, but slightly worse. Don’t judge me – I REALLY needed the money.

Are there any little secrets that you’d like to share?
No, not really. But that’s because I’m a pretty honest person and that actually gets me in trouble more than it helps. You just need ask.

If your house was about to be obliterated, as in The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, what would be the one thing you would save and why?
My mobile hard drive! I have everything on that thing!

Growing up, were you:
a)      A total bookworm devouring everything in sight
b)      More of a comic book kid
c)       Preferred pictures over words
d)      Completely disinterested in books altogether
I did very little reading as a kid and I wish I could have had access to comic books. As a kid, I caught the pre-’89 period, when communism allowed very little, and after that it was pretty much the same, except for the Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny issues that can’t be really called comics.

If you could choose any author to mentor you, who would it be and why?
Saved the hardest question for last, I see... Okay, I will pick Chris Metzen then. He is not a traditional author and I don’t remember him signing anything other than a short Warcraft-related story, but he is the guy who created that universe, as well as Diablo and Starcraft. I can’t help but admire that kind of creative force and wish I could have it as well, so if there’s anyone I would like to learn from, Chris would definitely be that person. Oh, and if he ever reads this, he return the favour and endorse me.
Well that’s it…. I leave the rest up you! J
The rest would be a BIG “thank you!” for this chance to reach potential readers. I started this project with half a manuscript and a handful of friends willing to help. It has been low budget since day one and every boost I got towards publishing, towards getting to be known and towards quality as a whole, I got through good people willing to give me that one (very important) shot. I was very happy to participate in this interview and I’d be delighted to do it again, any time you want to. Thank you and may the books you read forever be EPIC!


Very many thanks to Andrei for sharing many aspects of his life with us today and I wish him the greatest success with his novel, and just in case you missed the links in the last post, here they are again!

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Author/Buy Links



Facebook: Serban Andrei Mazilu

GoodReads: www.goodreads.com

Barnes & Noble Nook: 

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So that's me done for the day, I sincerely hope that you enjoyed this interview as much as I have and who knew, that we share the same favourite author - the most venerated Terry Pratchett - a Literary God among mere mortals!

Thanks for joining Andrei and I today.

See you soon with more fabulous posts and not forgetting The Friday Book Feature tomorrow, where I continue the ongoing YA Book Expedition!


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