Interview with Atticus Buckley

What are you working on next?
A series about a young man (14) who loses everything in a devastating earthquake but rises to lead the resistance in an attempt to retake the city from a wealthy oligarch and a maniacal, power-hungry zealot bent on keeping the citizens of Portland under their control. Full of twists and turns, shifting allegiances and a kick ass ending, the first book will chronicle Morrow's rise from the rubble to become the leader of the resistance and the fight to control a secret weapon that has the potential to either solidify decades long control or turn the tide for the resistance.
Who are your favorite authors?
John Updike, John Clancy, John Cheever, Quentin Tarantino, Richard Yates.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The drive to finish another book, again and again and again. If people like it and read it? Well there's nothing better.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Listening, studying, reading, working on crazy projects involving vintage mid-century furniture and Ikea. Long bike rides where I work out how to get character A out of a situation (or back into one).
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
My editor, Heidi Hoogstra, has a never-ending stream of suggestions. I'll never be able to keep up with her queue.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Second grade. Wrote about Darth Vader and Luke fighting on the moon or something. My first fanfic.
What is your writing process?
I get a premise in real life- let's say a news story or a deep feeling or wish for a certain circumstance to be somehow different. Or in the case of BettyBot, a cold email reply from a former love that lights a fire. Then I ask how the situation would change the hero in a fundamental, mythological way. How it would transform he/she into a different character by the story's end. Then I write a three paragraph synopsis followed by a character page laying out all the character arcs. Then I build a spreadsheet of all the scenes and their characters, move them around so they make dramatic tension and emotional sense. Then I start writing based on my template. As I write the actual scenes, the characters begin to take on their personalities and the scene template changes and becomes more rich and complex. By the time the book is finished, the template looks different from where it started, but it is always satisfying. In the beginning I panicked that I didn't have enough material or pages. The real struggle now in my forties is to write less, not more. Not many people want to read erotica the size of Moby Dick.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember reading Pilot Small to my parents when I was 5. The story wasn't important (except that he was a child pilot which I identified with deeply), it was that I had unlocked this inner world of story that was all mine. I didn't have to rely on my parents to be my storytellers and I could enter this world whenever or wherever I was. It may sound like Neverending Story, but there is a liberation as a child realizing you have an inner world that is your own to roam. That and my inner storyteller quickly rose to the challenge, embellishing and opening the books I read even further.
How do you approach cover design?
I dig through hundreds of photos and artwork on DeviantArt (love the artists there), but 10 out of 10 times, the artist is no longer active and I never receive permission to use their work. In the case of BettyBot, I really liked the idea of using a vintage apron on a tailor's dummy. That or a pinup rockabilly girl. That's what I settled for, but I really wanted the apron. Email me and I'll send you the pics I had picked out.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I love Mad Men, so I read everything I see in the character's hands. I am fascinated by the broken nature of American culture in the late fifties to early sixties. We were the richest, most powerful nation on earth and yet such inequity and deep dissatisfaction underpinned everything. There was also a greater social power imbalance between men and women and that makes for a powerful dramatic pull. Women had power, but they wielded it differently than men.
My five favorites in no particular order:
Rabbit, Run John Updike
The Swimmer John Cheever
Red Harvest Dashiel Hammet
Revolutionary Road Richard Yates
Fight Club Chuck Palahniuk
What do you read for pleasure?
Isn't everything pleasure?
I guess I don't consider reading for work reading. I love research, I love other writers' work, I love that I'm not as bad as I always thought I was. I love that the publishing world is leveling and that every author is able to publish. You, me, the readers, we all benefit. Yes, there is far more detritus to sift through, but there have been some real gems that would never have been possible in the old paradigm. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an iPad that I use for writing and running around with. A Macbook I adore for writing and editing (but which never goes on my bike for obvious reasons). But if I am just kicking back and reading? I love my kindles. Yes, kindles plural. I have an old Kindle 2 and a Kindle DX. The Kindle 2 is still the best e-reader ever made. I've replaced the battery and the screen on it and it is still going great. Just the right size, features and weight for reading.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
You tell me. I keep thinking the product sells itself, but we all know it has to rise above the noise. I'm a newbie when it comes to marketing and in the case of BettyBot, the material is not a mass-market kind of book. It appeals to a very specific person. Finding those people is the trick.
Describe your desk
Oh man oh man oh man, you have to see my desk. It's a mid-century Danish mahogany desk with tapered legs, a black 1938 Smith Corona Sterling typewriter that I have fitted with sensors to work as a pc keyboard. Above is a Poulsen PH5 light. It sits next to an almost floor-to-ceiling window looking over 41st Avenue in Southeast Portland. I actually don't write there. I write at coffee places all over town (just like everybody else).
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Colstrip, Montana, and Nucla, Colorado. They were isolated, lonely places, far from the cities and culture. My friends tended to be other sensitive souls yearning to leave and get on with their lives. And they have. I couldn't wait to get the hundreds of miles separating me from the city in my rearview mirror.
As my friends have aged, they've grown nostalgic for our hometowns. I have not. I get the itch to visit every couple of years at graduation time, but that is it. Every election cycle I thank my stars I got out and never looked back.
When did you first start writing?
Professionally? August 2013. Thanks internet.
I needed to have a channel to distribute my work and Smashwords, Amazon and others provided just that. Knowing that those outlets were available gave me the drive I needed.
What's the story behind your latest book?
After a couple years getting over a particularly difficult breakup, I inquired about my former love. Four days later I received this:

"I do not want to have any further contact with you, I made that clear two years ago. We broke up, it happens. I am sorry for hurting you, but we cannot be friends, we cannot have contact.
Please do not contact me again."

This cold reply burned me to the core. How could someone that pledged their undying love for you shut you down so coldly and completely, allowing no room for discussion or conversation. I was unpacking our relationship to really understand what had happened, not looking for reconciliation. I just wanted to know how she was doing and maybe gain a little insight into her motivations when we were together. So if I couldn't have a dialog with her, I would create my own.
BettyBot came out of her cold, cruel response.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I love creating. I wrote music (symphonies and string quartets) before writing words. The same forms hold true in music as they do in writing. There is a motif standing in as the hero. That motif is presented in the exposition, complimented in the secondary theme, challenged and tormented in the development and ultimately transformed in the recapitulation and finale. Like myths, these forms are part of us. They inform us on a deep subconscious level, telling us who we really are.
I told myself on the eve of my 43rd birthday, I would complete my first book before I turned 44. I missed the mark by 29 days. But I did it. Writing a book was a huge success for me as a person as well as a keen motivator in keeping me happy and fulfilled. Creativity is king.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
We'll see. Having a hub that connects readers to writers served as the catalyst for writing my first book. If there hadn't been an outlet, if I had then faced the mountains of rejection from agents and publishers, I may well have never started the journey.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating a world that I want to believe in, inhabit and transform. Watching a character move from small self to big self, standing up for what is right at great cost. It isn't readily visible in reality as it is in fiction and I feel we need more noble heroes. Not silent, powerful figures, but smart, loyal, caring, noble heroes that sacrifice so others can succeed.
What do your fans mean to you?
What fans? Where? I swear if I had some I would gush like a little girl.
Published 2014-08-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

My Totally True Adventures with the BettyBot6000
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 175,250. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Sci-Fi Erotica, Fiction » Romance » Suspense
Remember that time you got dumped? You don’t? Well good for you. For the rest of us, this is the book for you. You know that moment when you roll back through the end of the relationship trying to find that moment when things turned, when he or she wasn’t engaging you anymore? When their words said one thing but their actions told a whole other story? What if you could remove the 'bugs'?