As the son of a librarian, Andy Fitz grew up with a love of books and reading. His masters in Urban Planning, pays the bills, but during a creative writing course at the Writer’s Loft in Chicago, he was inspired to write a novel. His fascination with the backstreets of Chicago inspired A Wolf Like Me, a dark and gritty thriller about a reluctant Werewolf. As our Author of the Day, Fitz tells us all about it.
Please give us a short introduction to what A Wolf Like Me is about.
A midnight ritual by a secret society in the English Countryside nearly costs Thomas Spell his life. He returns home to Chicago to find that he carries within himself something unspeakable - a condition for which he believes there is no cure, until he meets Penelope, a beautiful and brilliant pre-med student determined to heal him. But The Brotherhood searches for him still, convinced that he holds the key to an unimaginable power. As his life begins to spiral out of control, Thomas is forced to confront his own past, as well as the dark forces closing in on him and everything he holds dear.
What inspired you to write a story about a werewolf who is trying to stop an assassin?
I took a creative writing course at the Writer’s Loft in Chicago, and the teacher, Jerry Cleaver - author of Immediate Fiction, planted the seed in my head that I could actually write a novel. After a class one night, the idea for A Wolf Like Me came to me when I was walking home and passed a crumbling stone gargoyle in front of an old greystone. The MC in A Wolf Like Me can converse with spirits that sometimes take up residence in lawn ornaments and other objects, so that’s what I first started writing about.
A Wolf like me is your debut novel. What has the experience been like so far?
I think I could write a book about it (that no one, including me would want to read!). I was pretty naive starting out and thought I could finish the book in a year - it ended up taking eight years - because...life. But over that period I grew as a writer, honed my craft, networked with and befriended other writers and I wouldn’t change any of it. It was a learning experience that I just had to go through. The second book is taking FAR less time as a result.
Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you
My mother was a librarian, and besides giving birth to me (thanks Mom), she gave me the greatest gift imaginable - a love of reading.
I have a Masters in Urban Planning (something has to pay the bills) and I have always been fascinated by cities, especially Chicago. I love the gleaming skyscrapers as well as the gritty neighborhoods and back alleys. It was a lot of fun to work all of that into my novel.
My desert island top five books: The Talisman - Stephen KIng, Radix - A.A. Attanasio, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell - Susanna Clarke, H.P. Lovecraft - pretty much anything he's written, and of course, The Lord of the Rings
Readers describe A Wolf Like Me as a page turner. How did you pull this off?
I like reading books that grab me and keep me reading late into the night, so writing a fast-paced story was a deliberate decision on my part. I tried to craft each chapter as if it were the scene in a movie.
Your book contains quite a couple of twists. Did you plan them all out or did some of them take you by surprise?
I’ve heard writers referred to as either plotters or pantsers - the first type outlines and the second “flies by the seat of their pants.” I’m not overly fond of generalizations, but I would say I ascribe to the latter. Most of the twists happened organically, but not all of them.
Why did you choose to write A Wolf Like Me from a first person perspective?
I wanted the book to be intimate, and I also wanted to be able to get the reader inside of the head of the MC. I felt first person allowed me the ability to accomplish this.
Your book is very descriptive, pulling readers right into the scenes. How did you manage this?
I like books that pull you into a world to the point where you forget you’re reading because you’re so caught up in it. By trying to focus on sentence level writing, I tried to create such a world for the reader.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I am a semi-professional skipper of stones. I credit my Grandfather, Alva Tompkins, who bribed me with ice cream as a child to skip a stone across Bowman’s Creek.
I also like to brew beer, although I’m not very good at it.
What made you nervous about writing this book?
The same thing that terrifies every writer starting out - not finishing.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
I am disciplined in my own way, but I know that each writer has their own method to their madness. I would often get off work at night and head straight to a coffee shop and write for 3 or 4 hours. If I could recommend one thing to other people trying to write a book, it would be this: try to write every day - even if it’s for 5 minutes, even if you just stare at the screen and cry - try every day.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
Write the book that you would want to read - David Morrell said that at a writers conference and it really resonated with me.
What are you working on right now?
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
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