This week Write Well, Write to Sell interviews fantasy writer Daniel Rabuzzi, the author of the “Longing for Yount” series, which comprises The Choir Boats and The Indigo Pheasant.
I first met Daniel at a local sci-fi convention 2009 in Rochester, NY. He had come here from New York City to promote his new novel. It sounded interesting, so I purchased a copy, read it, loved it, and Daniel and I have been friends ever since.
There is no adequate way to describe The Choir Boats in terms of genre beyond it being fantasy. I recommend checking out the various links in this post to get a better feel for it. One of them says that reviewers have called it: “Gulliver’s Travels crossed with The Golden Compass and a dollop of Pride and Prejudice.” To that I’d toss in a bit of Charles Dickens. But none of these comparisons does it justice.
I admit that I have not yet read the second novel (not for lack of desire, but for lack of time). What I loved most about the first one was how Daniel pulled me into his world and wrapped me up inside it. He put me there in a way that few novelists have. Prior to reading The Choir Boats it had been a while since a novel had so thoroughly engrossed me. If you’re looking for something different, not the same old copycats, try his novels. They are well worth the price, especially the paperbacks, which are of superb quality. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The writing is stunningly gorgeous.
I also recommend checking out his website (link at the end of the post) and reading his fascinating bio.
With that introduction, let’s get into the interview…
(1) WRITE WELL: Tell us about your publishing experience.
DANIEL: ChiZine Publications (link below) published both my novels: The Choir Boats (2009; ISBN: 978-0980941074) and The Indigo Pheasant (2012; ISBN:978-1927469095). CZP, founded and run by Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory, is an excellent small press, dedicated to eccentric and nuanced speculative fiction (“embrace the odd,” as the CZP tagline has it). Being published authors themselves, Brett and Sandra provide significant editorial guidance and lavish much time on the overall impact of the work, including layout and design. I am very happy to be a CZP author.
(2) WRITE WELL: How do you like working with a traditional publisher and would you go that route again?
DANIEL: I definitely aim to go this route again. With CZP I get the best of all worlds: the close reading and literary approach of a small press, the publicity & marketing of a much larger operation (CZP is distributed globally, and across all major platforms). CZP granted me great control over the artwork—something almost never allowed by larger publishers. And CZP struck the deal that got my novels issued on Audible.com
(3) WRITE WELL: What was the biggest holdup/hurdle in your writing of this series: the writing, the publication process, other?
DANIEL: I was blessed: writing the novels about “Longing for Yount” flowed, was a real joy. I was likewise lucky with my publisher. The chief hurdle is the one that plagues all of us who write as an avocation: the lack of time for deep concentration, focus, and the act of writing. The first novel took me eight years, the sequel three more. I scraped every spare minute, on weekends, late at night, in the pre-dawn hours, on vacations. I love my vocation, my “day-job,” and I love my writerly work in “the night kitchen.” No complaints whatsoever… I just wish the day had an extra hour or two to encompass a wee bit more of my literary desires!
(4) WRITE WELL: How did you come to write this series?
DANIEL: The seeds of the story have been with me since I was barely out of childhood—they germinated quietly in the attic of my mind for decades before sprouting exuberantly. I have written about the explosive spring here:
(5) WRITE WELL: I’ve heard this classified as a steampunk novel series, but of course it’s not that because the time period is early 19th century, around the time of the War of 1812, in fact. But in every other way, they’re really steampunk, or aren’t they? So, how would you describe the novels?
DANIEL: I love the term “steampunk,” though I did not consciously set out to write a “steampunk” novel—that just sort of happened. Steam was very much (pardon the pun) in the air in the European and American early 19th century: the initial rush of the classic industrial revolution, precision engineering and heavy power machinery driving the English towards victory in the Napoleonic conflict. How humans interact with our inventions, how we re-shape ourselves as machines re-shape our work… these are themes that fascinate.
(6) WRITE WELL: One of my favorite aspects is your use of made-up words that are so convincingly real that in a few cases I dove into my dictionary to be sure they weren’t real words. Your thoughts?
DANIEL: Words beguile, have a life of their own. Many of my scenes, sometimes entire corridors of the plot line, stem from a word that came to me in the middle of the night… I scribble words and phrases into my notebook all the time, some derived from old dictionaries and glossaries, some snatched from half-heard conversations on New York City streets, some plucked from obscure poems, and so on… I think about the word, brood on it, polish and turn it until it yields some new meaning. The words insist on ordering themselves into sentences, which become paragraphs, and before I know it, there’s an entire sub-story in place.
(7) WRITE WELL: How many novels do you plan in this series?
DANIEL: The Indigo Pheasant concludes the arc for most of the characters we met in The Choir Boats… but at least two (no spoilers!) will continue in a third novel.
(8) WRITE WELL: Any plans for something else yet?
DANIEL: I will return at some point to the world I created in “Grebe’s Gift” (my first published story, in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet; always grateful to Gavin and Kelly at Small Beer Press)—there is a novel brewing. Altogether different is a side-project about a New York City that mirrors and maps to our own, but not quite entirely or directly—call it a “not-quite-right Apple.”
(9) WRITE WELL: Is there something we didn’t ask you that you’d like to comment on?
DANIEL: Just thanks to you for interviewing me and caring about my work—your attention and care mean a great deal to me as an author. Authors are first and last readers—we produce for one another as fellow readers, for an audience, and the audience is a key element of the experience. So: thank you.
You are most welcome, Daniel. The pleasure has been ours. We wish you much success, and we hope that in some small way the interview here will spark interest in some of our readers to give your books a try.
Daniel and his books can be found at: