Anton Strout
April 9th, 2011
Event Recap:
Good morning campers, and welcome to the write-up for our
meeting at Well Read Books with our good friend Anton Strout.  
The evening got off to an early start, with folks filtering in from the
warm and sunny afternoon and browsing in mysterious ways
throughout the store.  Some of us who had the gifts of prescience
(i.e. Todd and Ann-Marie) swiftly snatched up their books for
purchase before folks could even hope to get their mitts on a
book.  Hey, it isn't our fault that we are just that good.

Anton arrived around 7:40p and after chatting with the Skees for a
few moments, he sat down with the rest of us and started
discussing all manner of stuff before the meeting.  Much to our
delight, we began slavishly reciting our favorite lines to the
Simpsons' Monorail Episode, and discussing the pro's and con's of
Interning and specialist dialog writers on shows like that.  We
talked about gaming and other assorted fun topics, and somebody
quipped that if you were not quoting Monty Python at least once a
game nobody must be having any fun.  We also spoke of the
dangers of vanity press publication and the issues of distribution,
the strange world of e-Pub, and much more, including what
sounded like an awesome panel on Gaming and Genre fiction that
Anton was on with Jim Butcher and several others (I want to say
Neil Gaiman, but I think that is likely wrong).

Around 8:15 we started the discussion proper, with me introducing
Anton with a flourish of praise and a flurry of applause, mostly
directed at me leaving the spotlight to the person that everyone
was there to see.  Anton was his usual bubbly and personable self,
jovially pointing out that if he seemed a bit down, it was because
he got two "One Star" reviews on Amazon from some guy.  This
turned into an interesting discussion of the merits of the rating
system on websites like Amazon, B&N, and Borders, and a
realization that sometimes folks grab these books and dislike
them mainly because it is not quite what they were expecting.  At
one point, Anton explained that the fellow had asked why Jane,
whose power is that of Technomancy (the ability to magically
influence technological devices) could not just simply use her
powers to get out of a specific situation in Dead Matter.  As both
Ann-Marie and I pointed out: the answer was explained in the
scene before where Jane states that the high degree of technical
sophistication of the building means that she needs to interface a
central controller to do most of her tricks.  It is also the main
reason that she gets in trouble later in the same book.  It seemed
obvious to us that the inquirer had not read the book, or had not
truly understood the practical limitations of the 'sorcery' involved.

The conversation turned to news that the fifth book of the Simon
Canderous series may be delayed due to Ace not confirming that
they will be definitely buying the book.  Hint: BUY ANTON'S
BOOKS!  I must see what happens next!  We then discussed the
reasons behind the characters and their stories in the series, and
Anton indicated that making characters too powerful (a la
Superman) feels like a cheat, and having the characters behave in
a more realistic manner, and get stuck with realistic issues, is
much more understandable and engaging.  I would have to agree
completely, and would like to point out that this is an ongoing
issue with characters throughout the genre: They start off with the
best intentions and eventually become super-powered to the point
where you wonder why they are having issues with some of the plot
points.  Anton provides a lot of good balance, and the characters'
powers remain constant and easily explained throughout the series.

Next we moved on to some of Anton's new projects and a
discussion of writing schedules.  Anton has two sets of specs out
for stories (in addition to the ongoing Canderous series), and he
spent some few moments explaining his Steam-punk YA Ironman
concept and his Gargoyle concept to us.  Both sounded like a blast
to read, and if told in the same manner as his Canderous books
will be successful.  Apparently, Anton respected our input enough
that he wanted us to be part of his editorial process for a
submission that he was working on for an anthology called Weird
West that was due in a few weeks.  He read his story, Lowstone, to
a rapt audience, and then opened the floor up to questions,
comments, and suggestions.  The dialog flowed quickly as Don
Smith asked about the reasoning of why these towns fell out of
communication without some news escaping or the rail or other
folks noticing (this was chalked up to issues of geography, lack of
adequate railway personages, and the fact that folks on foot would
likely have been overtaken by the zombies long before they made
it to the next town a few dozen miles away).  Aurelia pointed out a
couple of dialog inconsistencies, while BJ praised the coolness of
the steampunk 'gun arm' but wondered how the female gunslinger
managed to make the device and still catch up with the monsters
(horses was the explanation, IIRC).


We realized suddenly that the time was now 9:30, and we had
been chatting, formally and informally for nearly 2 hours.  We
broke quickly so folks could buy books and get them signed
(proving the efficacy of folks like AM and I in having already paid
our way as I jumped to the front of the line and got extra 'D's in
my name for my trouble).  We continued chatting about panels,
events, and other fun stuff until Bill kicked us out of the shop so
he could close.  We then retired to the sidewalk where we spent
another fifteen minutes gabbling before Thom, BJ, Gene, and I
headed to the Land & Sea Diner to discuss our plans for global
conquest...

AAAACK!  I accidentally hit send before I was done!

Anyway, to conclude: it was a great evening, with Anton Strout
shining for his supper, as always.  Many of us are looking forward
to Modern Masters' discussion of Dead to Me and I know that I will
continue to be a big supporter and fan of Anton' s work.

Join us next month for Daniel Rabuzzi, author of The Choir Boats!
(write-up by Todd Ehrenfels)
Saturday April 9th, 2011
from 7p to 10p

Anton Strout

Well Read Bookstore
425 Lafayette Avenue
Hawthorne, NJ 07506

This group meets on the second Saturday of each month and
spotlights guest speakers from SF and genre related fields of
interest.

This month we welcome back our sole surviving panelist from
2010's Werewolf Panel, Anton Strout.

Fantasy author Anton Strout was born in the Berkshire Hills
mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne
and Herman Melville and currently lives in the haunted corn
maze that is New Jersey (where nothing paranormal ever
really happens, he assures you).

He has been a featured speaker and workshopper at San
Diego Comic-Con, Gencon, New York Comic-Con, the
Brooklyn Book Festival.

He is the co-creator of the faux folk musical Sneezin’ Jeff &
Blue Raccoon: The Loose Gravel Tour (winner of the Best
Storytelling Award at the First Annual New York International
Fringe Festival).

In his scant spare time, his is a writer, a sometimes actor,
sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the worlds most
casual and controller smashing video gamer.  He currently
works in the exciting world of publishing and yes, it is as
glamorous as it sounds. - from the official website of Mr.
Anton Strout.

Join us for what is guaranteed to be a fun time as we
explore the world of Simon Canderous with the twisted mind
that brought him to us in print!