Sean Patrick Traver is back with us again with his new Novella Series, “Bruja Chica,” we’re talking to him about the first book in that series, “The Fat Lady Sings” Sean Patrick Traver is the author of Graves’ End, Red Witch, and Wraith Ladies Who Lunch, all of which are about the intrusion of magic into the everyday world. He is a member of the LA chapter of the Horror Writers’ Association, and also works at the (world famous) Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood, CA. He is composed largely of carbon and oxygen, with some nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium mixed in. The first and second volumes, THE FAT LADY SINGS and SECRET GARDEN, are available now, with subsequent installments to follow.
A brief synopsis: Tomas Delgado, the ghost of a century-old necromancer who currently resides in the body of a black cat, takes a young orphan-turned-witch under his tutelage. This episodic tale takes us from Tom’s earliest efforts to provide shelter and food for a young girl in an unforgiving urban landscape to her eventual maturation into a powerful sorcerer who must decide how to use her extraordinary skills in the everyday world.
Here is our interview with Sean Patrick Traver.
What is your writing Kryptonite? Not sure about Kryptonite, but writing Adamantium is fused to my bones. Typing with Wolverine claws can be a little awkward, though.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? I’ve been on a few! For my thirtieth birthday I drove to San Francisco for a Tom Robbins book signing, and I’ve been to one of Anne Rice’s big signing events in New Orleans, where she pulled up in a horse-drawn hearse and popped out of a coffin. But that’s as a fan and a reader. As a writer, I always go to check out the locations I’m describing here in LA, even if they no longer bear any resemblance to the places I’m describing. The Tree Below the Hole in the Sky figures prominently in a lot of my books, and it in part is based on an ancient tree called El Aliso that once served as a meeting place for indigenous tribes. Today it’s been replaced by a freeway onramp, but I can point out exactly which ramp it is.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? Both, honestly. I want each book to be a complete and satisfying experience, but with connections between them that deepen that experience. They all ultimately take place in a shared universe. Even the sci-fi novel I’m currently working on fits in, as I think of it as historical fiction in reverse.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? Buy lottery tickets.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? I certainly gained some insight into what editors want, but also into why they want it, and that’s been useful. I agree with the way it is more important than the what. Guessing at what editors want can seem like an impossibly futile effort if they’re imagined to be just satisfying personal whims or following fashions. But good editors are applying logical standards of grammatic and structural clarity that can be learned. That it’s not quite as arbitrary as it sometimes feels is a valuable thing to know.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? That time in third grade when I accidentally summoned a demon by sounding out Latin phrases from what I thought was an old Roman phone book. Should’ve known better, since it was bound in human skin. Still had an ear on it, anyway. Should’ve been a clue. But hey, mistakes happen.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Two unpublished and one half-finished, totaling about half a million words. The first two were written when I was in my early twenties, and are not good, though they were valuable learning experiences. The third one I spent several years on before it finally got away from me. I still think of it as part of my fictional universe, though, as some themes and even a couple of characters have popped up in subsequent stories.
What does literary success look like to you? That shifts around, depending on how paid my bills are looking on any given day. But I’m modest. As long as I’m at the pinnacle of the pantheon of literary immortals and can retire on a private island with my demon butler, I’ve got no complaints. It’s the little things that count.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good Ones? I do read them, but I don’t deal with them one way or the other. I’m delighted when a stranger seems to appreciate what I was trying to do. That’s gratifying and fun. If some people aren’t into it that’s all right too, as no book can be for everybody, and I know I’ve written books that I’d want to read. I’m always my own first test-market audience. Outright hostility has been rare in my experience, but it’s easy to dismiss, as it generally says a lot more about the embittered party than it does about me.
What did you edit out of this book?” All the parts that readers skip, as Elmore Leonard would say.
Hear our podcast with Sean Patrick Traver
You can see more about Sean Patrick Traver at his Website