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In the Spotlight [4]: Author Interview: Tori Centanni

I really enjoyed getting to know Tori! We like the same TV Shows and she made me smiled a lot 🙂 I’m a little Goth at heart and after reading her answers I like her work even more!

Please meet the Author of the Demon’s Deadline

Tori, thanks a lot for agreeing to this interview!

D: Can you tell us about your journey to publish your work?

T:  I seem to do everything sideways and this was no exception. When my publisher, OddRocket, was founded, they threw a launch party in Seattle. I went on a whim because it sounded fun but once I got there, I loved everything about them: their aesthetic, their quirky stories, their passion for fiction. I decided then and there that I wanted to write something for them, but I didn’t think it would really happen. I was working on another novel about teenagers and demons at the time, and had put The Demon’s Deadline on hold because I’d done 7 drafts and felt like it wasn’t still wasn’t quite right. Then almost a year later, at GeekGirlCon, OddRocket hosted a logline pitch practice session and I used TDD as my practice pitch because I had the story concept down. They asked for pages, and after reading the whole thing, they wanted to publish it! I was over the moon.

My editor, Phoebe Kitanidis, and the whole OddRocket team, offered amazing feedback and helped me make TDD the book it is today.

D: What inspired the Demon’s Assistant Trilogy?

Two main things:

1. It was the first novel I wrote after my dad passed away. I didn’t intentionally set out to write about grief and loss. It actually started as a silly short story about a demon interrupting Nicki’s dad’s wedding (yeah, I don’t know) and her cranky boyfriend being surly about the demon ruining things (okay, that didn’t change a lot). But after I’d written a couple of drafts of it, I realized that it was actually about grieving and I saw a lot of my own experiences with grief reflected on the page.

And 2., I was seeing a lot of the “I Just Want to Be Normal” trope at the time. It’s a trope I enjoy a lot, but when I was a teenager, I didn’t want to be normal. I wanted to have superpowers or be a vampire. So I wanted to write about a girl who didn’t want to be normal. Someone who wanted to dive head first into the weird, whacky world of the arcane. But of course, doing so has consequences. I also liked the idea of writing about a teenager who didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life, because I spent a lot of my twenties floundering and unsure, and it was something I could relate to.

D: Who is in your support network? What do they say about you becoming a published author?

All of my amazing friends and family. I’m lucky to have found friends who believe in my writing and my stories, and who let me bombard them with drafts or read things aloud or talk out plots. Most of them sort of figured I’d be published eventually even when I wasn’t so sure, but they’ve all been really amazing and continue to be supportive and awesome. I’m really fortunate to know such amazing people. I’d never have gotten a single book written if not for them.

D: I could see Goth influence in the Demon’s Deadline and I agree with your statement in your Hawaii picture “Goth comes from the soul”  so I was surprised by the “recovering Goth” in your bio. Are you really? Why???? Goth is so cool! 

T: I think once a Goth, always a Goth, but I do wear colors other than black now, much to my mom’s delight.

D: Since you are “a huge fan of television” Can you tell us about your favorite TV shows and how the influence your writing?

Asking me to talk about TV is dangerous because I can go on for hours. I used to want to write for TV, actually, specifically for sitcoms or an X-Files-esque drama. I have a lot of favorite shows: Elementary, Community, Parks and Rec, How to Get Away With Murder, Orange is the New Black. I could probably go on forever.

Pushing Daisies
is one of my all-time favorite shows because of the way it balances dark humor and dark themes with such a happy aesthetic, and of course, its quirky characters and narrative style. I mean, it’s about a necromancer with a pie shop, but it also puts really tight restrictions on Ned’s magic, which causes him so much grief.

I’m also an unrepentant reality competition junkie. I’m a Top Chef fan and I love Project Runway. I’m so completely fascinated by the lived experiences of reality show contestants versus what’s shown on TV and how the reality is edited to form a narrative. I really, really want to write a YA book about the realities of “reality” TV. In the meantime, I highly recommend Heather Demetrios’ Something Real, which is a great YA book that tackles those themes. If I ever write one, it will probably revolve around a Masterchef-like show.

D: What else influences your writing? Favorite genres? books/authors?
Real life people/situations?

T: It’s probably a cop-out to say “everything influences my writing” but that’s sort of true. As for favorite genres, I’m a sucker for the Paranormal/Inhuman Detective-turned-Hero in Urban Fantasy (Harry Dresden, October Daye). I love vampire books. But I read everything. If a book sounds interesting or a friend recommends something, I’ll give it a try. If I had to pick three favorite authors, I’d probably say: Douglas Adams, Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant), and Maureen Johnson.

D: I thought your post about “refreshing the Great Food Truck Race application website far too often to be healthy” was hilarious but it does  deal with a challenge all writers face: writers block and lack of  motivation. I learned that you are a fan of writing prompts, setting writing  goals, and reward yourself when you achieve them. Any other great  motivational tactics you can share with aspiring authors?

T: So just to explain, I have this joke about how sometimes when writing gets really hard, I fantasize about opening a Pirate Themed Food Truck. I spent years and years in the restaurant industry, so the joke is mostly a “the grass is always greener” kind of thing, because I know how difficult food service can be–fun and rewarding, too, but it has its miserable moments, just like writing. There is no “dream job” that isn’t also, you know, a job. For what it’s worth, I’m probably better at writing than short-order cooking. I have mad respect for people who run food trucks though and patronize them as much as possible. (For the curious, my favorite food truck in Seattle is Marination.)

As for motivation: whatever it takes. Setting goals is important for me. I need structure and deadlines, even just self-imposed ones, or a rule like “you have to write 1,000 words a day.” You need to find what works for you. I’ve stolen Victoria Schwab’s sticker calendar idea [link, if you’re curious: https://veschwab.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/star-stickers-and-calendars-oh-my-aka-the-best-writing-trick-i-know/] and that helps me a lot. I know some writers who have to write X pages before they let themselves watch their favorite show or they earn 30 minutes of video game time for every 1,000 words. Writing is fun and amazing and so rewarding, but there are times it’s also a lot of hard work, so you need to find ways to keep yourself going. My advice is to find what works for you and stick to it until you find something better.

But also, learn to tell the difference between when you’re just not motivated and when you’re burned out. It’s good to force yourself to write when you’re just uninspired but sometimes you’re out of juice and sitting there beating yourself up for not getting words on the page helps no one. (I’m still trying to learn this myself!)

D: I really can’t wait! When is the release of Demon’s Company?

Hey, look, a falling star! (Did that work? No?) I’m actually not sure. Sometime this summer, and sooner rather than later.

D: What else are you working on? Can you give us a hint?

Yes! I’m currently working on a contemporary YA novel that involves camping, UFOs, and romance. I love it very much and I’m excited to get that finished. And of course, book 3 in the Demon’s Assistant Trilogy. There also might be some bonus stories that take place in the Demon’s Assistant world coming out soon. But you didn’t hear that from me. 😉

Don’t miss the review of Tori’s book: The Demon’s Deadline

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One Comment

  1. I like this idea of someone who doesn’t want to be normal, for a change ! Can’t wait to read it – and Goths rock ! Great interview, thanks ladies 😉
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