Seth Mullins has been writing since his teens, inspired initially by Stephen R. Donaldson’s eloquent fantasies and later by the jagged poetical reflections of the Beats and the Surrealists and the metaphysical works of Jane Roberts. He studied creative writing at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico and Lane Community College in Oregon. Seth has lived in Maine, Connecticut, New Mexico and Oregon, and currently resides in Vermont.
Getting To Know Seth Mullins
1. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
I think it would have to be a situation like in the original Star Wars, with a cast of largely unknown actors. Most of the big names, even those whom I really respect, don’t feel like a good fit. I can name a few people I’d like to work with on the soundtrack, though: Mark Lanegan, Billy Corgan, Anton Newcombe, Eddie Vedder, Julian Cope…
2. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
I personally dislike when names are chosen for meaning (for example, a Biblical reference) because then the character seems to me less a human being and more a symbol, a vehicle for making a statement. I go for sounds that somehow resonate with my image of a character; or, I might be inspired with a name first and then the personality forms around it. If you have some knowledge of a character’s ancestry there are a lot of resources on the Web for surnames associated with certain cultures, nationalities. For instance, I chose Brandon’s last name, Chane, because of the Cherokee in his blood.
3. What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
This trilogy (The Edge of the Known). All while I was composing it, it felt like the story that I was born to write; and I still feel that way about it now.
4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I honestly can’t even project myself ten *months* into the future. I follow the Muse, always – and she can be capricious.
5. Were you already a great writer? Have you always liked to write?
There’s been a definite progression and evolution. I used to be overly concerned about sounding clever and inventive – using bigger words than were necessary, just to prove that I could, that sort of thing. Nowadays I think of the needs of the story, whatever will do justice to its core feeling. I’ve managed to subtract my own ego from the process, in large part, and this has made the writing much more powerful. And yes, I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember.
6. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Take time to listen for your own natural voice. Trust it, even when you feel pestered by other doubts that tell you you should be more verbose, educated, intellectual, arty, whatever. The writing that will resonate most powerfully with readers will be your own unique voice set down on the page.
7. If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?
There have been occupations that I’ve fantasized about over the years, but I would have to go back in time and receive the necessary education in order to pursue any of them as careers: Archaeology, anthropology, graphic design, working with animals… One can’t be a shaman for a living in this culture, unfortunately, unless it’s in some self-made capacity.
8. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I always read my reviews, but I don’t respond to them aside from thanking writers for favorable responses. If you put something out there then you have to accept that it’s now a part of the world and people are free to react to it as they will. That’s how I see it. As far as bad reviews go… I’ve fortunately not received any yet, only a couple that were lukewarm. And in those cases, it was obvious to me that the writers just didn’t care for the kind of story that I was offering, overall, so I didn’t take it as reflecting upon my abilities. No story will ever please everyone.
9. What is your best marketing tip?
So far, most of the people who’ve bought my books have had some kind of interaction with me beforehand, so this has convinced me of the importance of establishing personal relationships. The ideal ways of doing that will depend upon a writer’s personality and temperament. The methods I’ve found most rewarding have been blogging, author appearances and virtual book tours.
10. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
I have a difficult time proofreading and editing because I tend to become so emotionally involved with a story as I read along that I soon forget that I’m supposed to be looking out for typos, poor grammar and inconsistencies. I’m not saying that I *dislike* the process, but it probably takes me three times as long as it does other writers for that reason.
11. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
There are actually many, and the reason is that I ‘live’ with the content of my stories very deeply and sometimes can’t achieve a safe objective distance from the subject matter. If I wrote like Stephen King I’d never sleep at night.
12. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
My forte is exploring emotional terrain, so action scenes can be difficult for me at times if they involve a lot of mechanics and little ‘felt experience’. For the same reason, I wouldn’t do well writing science fiction that leaned heavily upon technical aspects to move the story.
13. Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
I actually wrote three novels in High School, which the world will hopefully never see, and two fantasy novels before I embarked upon The Edge of the Known trilogy. I’m not embarrassed about my older work, but it grew out of an overall philosophy and approach that I’ve since distanced myself from. If I have a choice, I’ll be remembered for Brandon Chane’s journey.
14. What are you working on now? What is your next project?
This is a somewhat dramatic way of putting it, but having completed this trilogy I’m now in a mental and emotional state that somewhat resembles the aftermath of a breakup. I need to ‘take time’ before I open myself up to loving again. 😉 I’m grateful that my promotional efforts necessitate touching back in to the story. I may devote my energies, for the next six months or even longer, to reaching out to readers before I actually commit to a new project. Also, these three books were composed over a period of fourteen months, so that’s another cause for my wanting to take a breather. The nature of the story was such that I think it had to come through relatively fast. I doubt that it would have been as powerful if I’d deliberated over it for years.