Today I’m thrilled to welcome back both Michael Fletcher and Clayton Snyder to W+W as we kick off the Norylska Groans Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! This upcoming week we’ll be showcasing their Grimdark Noir collaboration, Norylska Groans, the first book of the series with more on the way. Fletcher’s Manifest Delusions and Snyder’s Thieves’ Lyric are among my favorite reads ever (definitely check them out if you haven’t already!), so I’m super excited to hear what people think of this one! Stay tuned for some fantastic features from our Roadies across blogs and social media – it’s going to be a great week.
These lovely gentlemen stopped by for a chat about collaborating on a novel in a unique genre, the research involved, what they hope readers take away, what lies ahead, and more! So, keep scrolling to learn more about the book and authors, and check out the awesome interview!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Norylska Groans. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews and more.
JUNE 30TH – THE KICKOFF
Whispers & Wonder (@whispersandwonder)
Out of This World SFF
Beneath A Thousand Skies
Fantasy Book Critic
JULY 6TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.
with the weight of her crimes. In a city where winter reigns amid the fires of industry and war, soot and snow conspire to conceal centuries of death and deception.
and the weight of a leaden sky threatens to crush her people. Katyushka Leonova, desperate to restore her family name, takes a job with Norylska’s brutal police force. To support his family, Genndy Antonov finds bloody work with a local crime syndicate.
with the weight of her dead. As bodies fall, the two discover a foul truth hidden beneath layers of deception and violence: Come the thaw, what was buried will be revealed.
Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author, a grilled cheese aficionado, and a whiskey-swilling reprobate. He spends his days choreographing his forklift musical (titled “Get Forked”), and using caffeine as a substitute for sanity. Any suggestions that he is actually Dyrk Ashton in disguise are all lies.
Clayton Snyder is the author of SPFBO semi-finalists River of Thieves and The Obsidian Psalm, and a host of other novels. As a hybrid author he has self-published, placed novels with small presses, and had several short stories published, including Mother Time, Father Death, at Helios Quarterly garnering a WSFA nomination. His most recent, Injustice, at Three Crows Magazine, was compared to Gene Wolfe’s work. He currently splits his time between work and writing. He has worked as a systems admin, chainsaw operator, and once did a brief ill-advised stint as a bodyguard.
Meet the Authors
Welcome back to Whispers & Wonder, you two! Thanks so much for taking the time to have a chat about this new collaboration of yours. Describe Norylska Groans for us in ten words or less.
Clayton: People are meat sacks with feelings.
Mike: Oh, my gawd. Ten words? How the fuck am I—
What made you guys decide to work on a project together?
Clayton: Insanity. Mike approached me with what he described as a terrible idea. I’ve never really been one to turn down terrible ideas, so I agreed.
Mike: I saw a book (Obsidian Psalm) with a title that was a little too close to my Obsidian Path series. Curious, I read it. It was freaking mental. I had this idea to pull a concept from some cyberpunk short stories I wrote years ago and port it into a dark low-fantasy setting. But as I was also working a day job and busy writing She Dreams in Blood, I didn’t have time to write the idea. And so, I tricked Clayton into writing half the book for me. Genius! So… yeah. Insanity and laziness.
How did the dynamic of co-authoring a book work for you? How were responsibilities split? Was there an outline you followed, or was it more of an on-the-fly-passing-back-and-forth creative endeavor?
Clayton: There was a good deal of planning up front. When we’d finished that, we jumped into the actual plotting—three chapters at a time, pausing to see if they met the goals of the outline. If not, we course-corrected, or changed the outline to fit new goals.
Mike: We figured the easiest way to co-write a book was to kinda write two stories taking place in one city. We came up with two skeletal plotlines and a vague idea of how they’d crash together in a proverbial train-wreck. Things really only got tricky when the two plotlines started impacting each other. Once we hit that point, there was a lot of back and forth, me firing deranged ranting emails about random topics at Clayton at 4am, him mumbling about coffee and replying with grunted one-word answers. And as he mentioned, we’d stop every three chapters to read and edit each other’s work. That kept us updated on where the other storyline was at, and meant our first draft was surprisingly tight.
Do you have any advice for authors that are considering co-authoring a book with a colleague?
Clayton: Go in without ego, and be willing to compromise. Listen, and don’t expect to charge forward with every idea.
Mike: What C-Dawg said. Even though you might have a really clear idea on what you want, you have to listen to the ideas and input of the other writer. When we were editing each other’s chapters, we’d drop in comments and suggestions. It’s amazing how many times these were catalysts for “AH HA!” moments. We also began the project with this very simple set of rules: No stress. No deadlines. No egos. And then we banged out a first draft in about two months.
Can you share with us something about Norylska Groans that isn’t in the blurb?
Clayton: Every fifth line spells out a pancake recipe.
Mike: It’s about being trapped, and what you’re willing to do to escape. It’s about what makes you you. If you could wear a stone that tweaked your personality, would you? If you could remove certain memories, would you? And if you did, would you still be the same person?
Was there any specific research you’ve done for this story of yours?
Clayton: Mostly scattered. Russian mafia structure, food, drink, some culture. Location, etc. Also, bits and pieces of the language. Turns out Russian has a built-in structure for nicknames for people called diminutives, and they can be anything from formal to semi-formal to familiar. Which makes it interesting when you’re trying to figure out where people stand in their relationships.
Mike: I ended up doing a fair amount of research into Russian history, particularly the Tsars. Not much of it actually made it into the story, but it definitely helped get the right feel. We did a pretty insane amount of world-building that never got touched on. We have a world map, and a basic history for a pile of countries that never get mentioned because we like wasting our time.
To get the magic system right, I also had to do a fair amount of research into what constitutes a ‘personality’ trait, and just how far you can push the idea and still remain true to real neuroscience.
What do you hope your readers take away from Norylska Groans?
Clayton: Hopefully they already love this sort of story, and take away what any writer hopes they gain from it: enjoyment. And if not that, maybe a splitting headache.
Mike: The story is…dark. But history is dark, and Russian history has some particularly dark moments. And then there’s that great Russian sense of humour! My hope with every story is that it will haunt the reader. I want to crawl into your brain, infect your thoughts with my ideas. I want you to take what I started, and run with it, take it somewhere new. What would you do in that character’s situation, how would being given the opportunity to carve out the parts of yourself you don’t like change the person you are?
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Clayton and Michael. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Clayton: Currently working on the next book set in Norylska. In addition, I’m slowly putting together the next Demons book.
Mike: Gah! I’m writing the last Obsidian Path book, planning the last City of Sacrifice novel, thinking about whether my heart can withstand the last Manifest Delusions book, contemplating a real-world horror novel, and writing another book set in Norylska with a Clayton and a secret writer who might be Krystle Matar, author of the amazing LEGACY OF THE BRIGHTWASH.
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Norylska Groans tour page over at Storytellers On Tour to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to share!