August 28, 2012

Writer Wrangler: G.T. Almasi on Blades of Winter + Alix Nico

So if you've dropped by our blog last week, you might have seen this review I did where I dropped a couple of French words. In case you missed it, it's for Blades of Winter, penned by this guy who graciously stopped by our blog today to talk more about Alix Nico and his debut novel.

Talk Supe: Hi G.T.! Thanks for for indulging our interview request. 
G.T. Almasi: Glad to be here.

Talk Supe: Like I mentioned in my review, I had a hard time classifying Blades Of Winter in terms of genre. It has a sci-fi feel to it but its so much more than that. I know Blades Of Winter falls under several but if one is to box it, in what genre would it fall under? I think you're the best person to consult with.
G.T.: I saw an interview with Maurice Sendak where he indicated that he did not consider himself a writer of children’s books. That categorization came from everyone who read his classic book, Where The Wild Things Are. 
My book mashes-up several genres, so I also have a hard time classifying it. I didn’t set out to write in a genre, I just wrote whatever I wanted. I guess the fact that Blades of Winter is being published by Random House’s science fiction imprint Del Rey means it’s Science Fiction.

Talk Supe: There are a lot of teen heroines running around the book world, makes Alix different from the rest?
G.T.: I think all the teen heroines running around are pretty different from each other. Lisbeth Salander, Bella Swan, Katniss Everdeen, Hannah Heller, Hermione Granger and the other female action leads are unique characters, each in their own worlds and situations. 

What makes Alix unique is that violence is her chosen profession. She carries out her missions with a fevered zeal that reveals a certain lack of empathy, which I believe all killers carry, whether they’re government-sponsored or not.

Alix’s story is not intended for young readers. The language is strong, the violence is graphic, and her attitude is not always that exemplary. In this way she’s similar to Lisbeth and Hannah, but unlike these two characters Alix intentionally immerses herself in the sort of hair-raising situations most people, even these other characters, would run away from if they could. To paraphrase Bud from Repo Man, the life of Alix Nico is always intense.

Talk Supe: Was it hard for you to write about a story with a female lead and a teenager at that?
G.T.: The female part was not too difficult, but the teenage part was tricky. In my early drafts Alix was barely past puberty, yet her behavior was more like what you’d see from a late-teenager or early twenty-something. I based her advanced maturity on the poise I see from teenaged Olympic athletes. 

However, no American publisher would touch a story about such a young hit man, so I made her nineteen instead of fourteen. A concession I wrangled from my editor was that although we meet Alix when she’s nineteen, she’s been in the field since she was fifteen. We just haven’t gotten those stories from her... yet ;)

Talk Supe: How long did it take for you to conceptualize Shadowstorm and write the first book, Blades of Winter?
G.T.: I have notes from more than ten years ago. As more ideas came to me I’d add them to my journal, (note to all aspiring novelists: keep an Idea Journal!). Eventually I had so much material that I said, “Wow, I could write a whole book about this.” Then I said, “Well, why not?”

The original draft for Blades of Winter took me about a year to write. I’ll never forget the thrill of typing “The End.” Wow! I’d done it! 

Then the real work began. Five years and nineteen drafts later, hardly any of that original version remains, but I’m really happy with how it came out, especially since it’s the first book I’ve ever written.

Talk Supe: Which part of the book was the most challenging for you to write?
G.T.: The detective story part. Spy stories have a strong detective-story element, but when I read or watch a detective story I always think the butler did it.

Talk Supe: How many Shadowstorm books are you planning to write?
G.T.: Three for now; Blades of Winter, Hammer of Angels, and an as-yet-untitled third book. But I’ve left hooks all up and down my alt-history timeline for lots of other stories.

Talk Supe: What should we expect from Alix in Hammer of Angels? (I really love the book titles.)
G.T.: More ass-kicking craziness, with a greater sense of the impact her missions are having on history. She also grows up a bit from the experiences she has in both the first and second books. And her supporting cast receives some fun additions, not all of them entirely fictional.

Talk Supe: What would Alix say to convince the readers to buy her book?
G.T.: Oh man, nothing I could repeat in polite company. It would be really persuasive, that’s for sure.  ;)
Talk Supe: I think it'll be somewhere along the lines of Get it! Blades is Fuckin A!

Day jobGraphic designer / web developer.

Favorite band/song/albumMy favorite album is London Calling by the Clash, although my favorite song is White Riot, which is on their eponymous debut album. My favorite active band is Anti-Flag.

If you're to keep only one book from your library, what would it be? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.

Living person you're dying to meet: Elie Wiesel, author of Night.

Favorite / least favorite classes in high school: My favorite classes were art and computers. I aced all my art classes, and my teacher was the one who suggested that I apply to RISD. I was “that drawing kid,” and classmates used to bring their notebooks to me so I could draw elaborate illustrations of Conan (or whatever) on them. One kid had me paint an Iron Maiden album cover onto the back of his denim jacket. It came out really well and he paid me with a case of vodka. 

I also had a leg up in computer class. My father had already helped me learn how to program my own video games in BASIC, so I knew more than the teacher did. I used to write these short malware apps, label them something irresistible like “Space Invaders,” and give them to the asshole jocks who used to whip me with wet towels in the locker room. When they ran the program their computer would lock up and wail like the siren on a police car, which attracted a lot of negative attention from the teacher.

My least favorite classes were everything else (I hated high school). One possible exception was French class because my friends and I had so much fun pronouncing everything phonetically, (“je suis ici” became “jay swiss eye-kie”). Of course our teacher rewarded us with, “F-moins. Cherchez-moi.” (F-minus, see me.)

Blades of Winter, the first book of G.T. Almasi's Shadowstorm Series is out today. Trust me, it's worth adding to your collection.


  1. That was a FANTASTIC interview!! Funny ! I love you are still saying F&*((ing A! ha!!!

    I am very intrigued to read this book as you sound very excited about it:D


  2. "In this way she’s similar to Lisbeth and Hannah"

    AND THAT SOLD ME! Lisbeth and Hannah are (two of) my FAVE KICK A$$ CHARACTERS!

    The interview was fabulous too. I love learning so many different things about the ppl who write the books we love.

    I promptly added this to my TBR.

    I am the 1 Thousandth Customer! Do I win a prize? lolz

    Thanx for the awesome interview..Have a gr8 week!

  3. Great interview and review! I have to say, I'm in love with this cover. Very hardcore. I'll definitely be reading Blades of Winter soon.


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