Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Aspiring Writers Series #6: Anthony Zullo

It's been a very emotional 24 hours.  I'm finishing Andie's chapter before I start on Keirah's for Awaken 2.  Have you ever been so... sad that you're listening to sad break-up songs and it just rips at your heart even though you haven't broken up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, and, in fact, are incredibly happy with them?  That's how I'm feeling right now, and it's so silly because this isn't me at all.  So I'm writing, trying to forget about it for a while.

Anyways, let's get down to business (to defeat the huns!) with our next interviewee!

Please tell us a little about yourself (if you can provide a picture, feel free to do so).
My name is Anthony Zullo.  I've done a lot of different things with my life.  Massage, web development, and business, just to name a few, but my deepest passion has always been storytelling.

What type of books do you like to read? What type of books do you like to write?
In terms of reading, it doesn't matter the type of book as much as the content.  I mean, I do love a good fantasy book as well as a not so cheesy love story, but to me, it doesn't matter what genre of book it as long as it has deep, likable characters; an interesting plot with a lot of suspense; a little bit of mystery; and a writing style that I deeply enjoy.
In terms of writing, I love to write fantasy books.  Magic has always really fascinated me, and I think in a way that's why I write:  To bring magic into my life.  I also like adding romance to my work, which I blame on the dreamy romantic in me.
What are your top 3 books? What are your top 3 authors?
Abhorsen, written by Garth Nix, is my favorite book.  He's also my favorite author.  I feel like his structured magical world gave me the inspiration to want to start writing fantasy.
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult is up there.  I think I might be a sucker for a tragic endings.  I did love Bridge to Terabithia when I was younger.  It might be because I like that feeling when the author reaches out, grabs me by the heart, and squeezes.
The Giver by Lois Lowry is also a really good book.  The mystery of it all was incredibly enthralling.  Although I wouldn't consider Lois Lowry as one of my favorite three authors, I do think she is a great author.  I actually don't know who I would choose as my third favorite author as it's a bit more difficult.  It's too hard to choose with Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee and Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games.
What inspires you to write?
People inspire me to write.  I end up admiring someone from a distance and then throwing them into a story.  I also find inspiration in random everyday thoughts that kind of just flow into a story.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?
I'm a plotter.  I feel like plotting adds so much depth to my novel.  All of my characters get their own background story, the setting is grander, and foreshadowing becomes second nature.  When I used to be a pantser, I used to never be able to finish writing a novel.  Now, with plotting, it just becomes simple.
What time of day do you write?
There's not really a specific time of day.  Whenever I get the chance, I guess.  I just do my best to add words every day.
What tool do you normally write with? (A pen, computer, phone, etc.)
Computer nowadays, though if I'm truly inspired I'll write with pen and paper.  I also plan a lot through paper and pen as well as use a whiteboard.
Have you ever dealt with writer's block? If so, how did you combat it?
Yes, I think it comes from me getting bored with a story or with characters.  Right now, the story is so deep, and I have so many notes on it that all I have to do is read some of my notes that I've taken to create backstory, and I find inspiration.
Please tell us a little bit about your work.
I'm currently working on a five part book series entitled the Bloodborn Series.  The first of these books is going to be The Guardian's Charge.  It's about what happens when one event returns magic to the world, along with six ancient and powerful Gods who plan to use the world like a giant chessboard.  The heart of the story follows four young adults:  Abby, Sunny, Phillip, and Drew.  They each represent a different overall theme of the series, which is finding your own destiny.
Where did you get your idea for this story?
I had an idea similar to what I'm working on now when I was younger.  It was when I was fourteen years old around the time my dad died.  In order to escape my thoughts, I started to create this reality with magic and powerful entities.  I used to submerge myself in that world and pretend that I was an integral part of it.  Now it's ten years later, and the story finally wants to be told.
What challenges have you faced with writing this story?
It was the first time I had written anything this long in about nine years when I first started.  I was really lacking in my abilities, but since then, the story has improved greatly, especially going into the second draft.  While it's not the best it can be, it's a lot closer than it was when I first began.
Who is your favorite character to write?
Phillip Jackson is my favorite character.  He's namesake and looks are actually based off of someone who was special to me at the time.  The character is just fun and kind hearted, and I really admire his optimism.
What type of romantic relationship do you like to read? (Hate/love, best friend, forbidden, etc.) is it the same type you like to write? Why or why not?
I love to read romances that are developed over time.  Not love at first sight.  I think that's just cheesy.  Best friends turning into lovers is much more interesting and so is forbidden love.  Sadly, I like to read tragic love the best.  I blame this growing up with the movie, Titanic.  To me, a good cry really cleans my soul.
What draws you to a book (to read)?
Writing style is what draws me to books the most.  That along with a unique and intriguing plot.
What characteristics do you look for in your ideal heroine? Your ideal hero? Are they the same characteristics you employ when you write your heroine and your hero? Why or why not?
I like my protagonists to be somewhat self-sacrificing but not to be completely overly zealous when it comes to this.  I feel like the hero/heroine who will give up their life just for the "greater good" is a bit too paper for me.  People have loves and hates, and I think a character has to be really developed and there has to be a reason for why they do the things they do, while other people don't.  I like heroes/heroines that don't let you down but also who are very human with their own flaws.
I do feel like I write my protagonists with these characteristics, but I've also gone astray before and written antiheroes, who are pretty crappy people with a couple redeeming qualities.  While these characters are definitely not my ideal hero/heroine, I feel like writing them allows me to explore different aspects of people and really get into their thoughts.  It's almost like living out your life as someone else just for that moment.
What are you currently reading?
I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath, and it's really good.  It's amazing how touching Steinbeck's work really is.
Finally, what are the ingredients to your favorite book? (A dose of action, a splash of romance, etc.)
Add a lot of suspense, a modest amount of romance and action, and a huge heaping of likable and developed characters.  Oh, and you can't forget about the amazing lot with tons of mystery.
You can follow Anthony Zullo on twitter @anthonykzullo  and make sure to check out his blog here!

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