So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Friday, February 02, 2007

Book Chat with Robert Liparulo

I mentioned yesterday that one of the books I finished last month was Germ by Robert Liparulo. Today, more on the book and Five Questions with Robert.

I admit I had a hard time getting into the story. Might be my fault, I'm more of a mystery guy, not so much a thriller junkie. Despite the fact that the opening chapters were a high-speed freeway chase with guns blazing and tech gear glitching and blood and mayhem and intrigue, it took me three concerted attempts to get through the first forty or so pages. A lot was happening, but it didn't feel like a lot was happening.

That's probably a rotten thing to say, but I know there are readers who will put a book down and never pick it up again (or buy it in the first place) if they're not immediately grabbed. To those people I'd say, give it time. (It took me about six tries to get into The Lord of the Rings, so Germ's in good company. And I was reading an advance review copy, so it's possible changes for the better came before the first edition went to press.)

Things take a turn around Chapter 20 -- when the adrenaline-pumped opening is done, the stakes have been established (Liparulo's not foolin' around, folks), and most of the important backstory has been divulged -- and I found myself more immersed in the story. Cliffhangers began to appear at the breaks and, suddenly, the next three- to five-page chapters became must-reads.

I finished the book in a couple late night sittings. Up past 1am the final night to find how it all turned out. I'm happy to say I liked the result. Worth the initial effort, definitely.

If you're looking for a story with action, suspense, and more gooshy moments than a CSI marathon, give Germ a read.

And now, Five Questions...
  1. Common writing advice is to "kill your darlings," those characters, scenes, moments, sentences in a book that are brilliant but just don't work with everything else. Anything in Germ that wowie-wow-wowed you when you wrote it, but had to take one for the team and ended up being cut?

    With most of my writing, I’d say no. I tend to write slowly, methodically, editing as I go. I also have a very clear picture of the story in my head before I start writing. Germ, however, was a bit different. I really enjoyed the characters and the story. As a result, I over-wrote. Originally, I had more backstory of Julia and Donnelley's, more about her mother, more of Kendrick Reynolds's role in the creation of biological warfare and Karl Litt, and his search for Litt of the years. My original word count was about 200,000. By the time I killed my darlings -- tightening the writing and picking up the pace -- I had about 135,000. I killed off a whole bunch of children.

  2. If the director or casting agent for "Germ: The Movie" asked you to appear in a cameo, what character would you most want to play (and why)?

    Even though I’m not of South American decent (but rather Italian), I’d like to play Jorge Prieto, the escapee from Litt’s camp who faces Gregor’s wrath and the Deadeyes. He’s a tragic figure, who just wants to get home to his family, or at least let his family know that he had been kidnapped and did not simply abandon them. He’s a man of principle.

  3. Among my favorite scenes in the book was the one that took place in Sweaty Dave's comic book store. Were/Are you an avid collector? What titles? What impact, if any, did they have on your creativity?

    Larry Hama is a friend of mine. He wrote many of the Wolverine, X-Men and G.I. Joe comics. I do collect Wolverine and X-Men, plus anything Frank Miller does. Larry inspires me to be a concise writer. He’s a master of word economics. Frank’s work inspires me to do my best. He really is a genius, so visually minded, and he knows how to share what’s in his head -- the most difficult part of the writing (or any artistic) process.

    When I was a kid, I collected Tales From the Crypt and a weird comic that didn’t last long called Plop. It featured stories of people who always got their comeuppance in the end. Real black humor.

    Sweaty Dave is based on a person who once stalked Larry all around New York and through several conventions. James Byron Huggins and I laughed until we were sick when we heard Larry’s Sweaty Dave stories.

  4. Who'd win in a biowar fight, Karl Litt or Sato Matsushita, the plague-maker of Tim Downs fame?

    Oh, I’d have to say Karl would. As nasty as Sato is, Karl’s got this German (in fact, Nazi) blood flowing through him that makes him tough as nails. Couple that with the insanity that losing his family triggered -- he’s a man with nothing to lose and those are the worst to face. I have to say, though, Plague Maker is a great book and Tim is a terrific writer.

  5. Any further adventures for Julia Matheson? And if you're not working on that, what are you working on?

    I would like to revisit Julia’s world—eventually. The producers who bought the rights asked about a sequel, which got me thinking. So, my answer is a resounding... maybe.

    I just finished Deadfall. It’s the story of a group of guys who go up into the Canadian wilderness to get away from it all. They’ve all had a really rough year. They encounter some rich gamer punks who are terrorizing a small town with a new weapon one of their father’s companies developed. Very high-tech. So now these guys, armed with only a bow and arrow, face off with these young people with very little moral values -- and a big, nasty, seemingly unstoppable weapon. Oh, and the good guys are also trying to save the townsfolk.

    It’s full of the same sort of action/adventure/suspense I put in [first novel Comes a Horseman] and Germ, but it’s very different from those books, as well, in that it all takes place in a small area of Northern Saskatchewan, there are no cops, and no big conspiracy. My intension was to write a very entertaining, fast-paced story that is also intimate and character-driven. I just finished it this week, and I think I hit the mark. We’ll see.

  6. Thanks for playing along, Robert.

Be sure to check out robertliparulo.com for more on the thrillers, "Germ: The Video Game," a chance to win an iPod Nano, and more!

And visit other CFBA sites (see sidebar) for other blog tour stops.

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