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Welcome, today we are talking with Francis Gideon! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions.

First, I think it’s important for readers to get a little insight on an author that they don’t necessarily get from your professional bio. You’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can. Don’t answer anything you feel uncomfortable with.

Can you share a little something about Francis Gideon that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?

My first impulse is to say that I'm really quiet and basically nocturnal now since I teach afternoon/evening classes at a college, but aren't all writers that way? I have to say I'm probably a stereotype--especially with my penchant for old man cardigans and thick-rimmed glasses. 

So I'll tell you all that I used to be a track and field runner in high school. I was really good at it--completely dedicated to running--until I injured my shins. Then I was hit by a car. So you know, running got difficult after that. Don't worry, I was obviously fine after my small accident. It was more like a gentle push from the car, so I wasn't that injured. Just embarrassed and slightly sore. 

What are your favorite animal, food, movie, TV show, actor, singer, and author?

Favourite animal: A goat... or cat. Or birds. This is a hard question, so I'll skip ahead and answer the others.
Food: Pizza. Easily.
Movie: The Silence of The Lambs; I'm a huge horror fan and this movie has got to be one of the best films made of the strangest source texts.
TV show: Right now, Brooklyn 99
Actor: Jonathan Tucker! No one ever knows who he is, but I find him wonderful.
Singer: Gerard Way
Author: Another hard question! Let's go with a tie between Kurt Vonnegut and Angela Carter.

What are your pet peeves?

People who take things too personally, hypocrisy, and rudeness. These are all interrelated, but I basically don't like people who make unreasonable demands of others without showing any empathy or foresight into how they're making the other person feel. I mostly developed these pet peeves when I was in grad school and saw how profs acted when they weren't around their first year students. Grad school was basically a crash course in the type of person I didn't want to be. I find that now, when I work with students, I try my best to schedule their work with their other classes in mind. I also strive to not take something personally if they hand in an assignment late. Or at all. That is never a reflection on me and my teaching--but on how overrun their lives are with other work, in most cases. Which I can relate to! I find relating to students as peers in that way, and showing them respect yields the best results. 
Who is your hero?

Hard question! It may seem silly, but I'm going to go with Frank Iero. He's the former guitarist of My Chemical Romance who's also done a million other side projects. I appreciate his work ethic and his constant need to keep himself busy. I also respect that early on in his band's career, he strove to make his shows a safe space for LGBT teens, while also not objectifying women at MCR shows. He and Gerard (lead singer) have always been outspoken on these issues, and it was one of the reasons why I loved their band when I was a teen. It was a safe space to go to while I was still figuring out a bunch of stuff.  

Give us one thing on your bucket list.

Don't really have a bucket list. When I got to twenty-five, I was shocked I lived as long as I did (due to some unfortunate incidents in my past), so everything beyond that has exceeded my expectation. I like setting low expectations so then I can surprise myself. A bucket list would be something that'd stress me out, whereas, if I happen to do neat things before I die, then awesome.  

What would readers find surprising about you?

Oh, I have a lot of tattoos. Most of them are on my legs/back, and I refuse to wear shorts in the summer time, so no one ever sees them unless they catch a glimpse of the grandfather clock on my inner arm. I usually endeavor to wear cardigans at all times, though, so people rarely see my tattoos. When they do, they're usually shocked--since in my day to day life I'm so quiet. I don't look the type to be covered in ink. 
Any bad habits?

Bad puns and awful internet jokes. I show my partner at least one ridiculous animal video or vine a day. 

Now that our readers know a little bit more about Francis Gideon, let’s get down to the business of your novel, Fearful Symmetry, which comes out with Dreamspinner Press. How long did it take you from beginning to end before your novel was completely finished, and how did you decide on the topic and title?

I had the idea for this story ages ago, but it took a while to get off the ground because I didn't originally conceive of the plot with the love triangle in mind. In Fearful Symmetry, the MC Dryden falls for Otto before he realizes Otto is a bad guy. My first idea of the project was just the two of them, and Dryden escaping. It wasn't until a few months later when I realized there needed to be someone else there to balance out the narrative and help Dryden with the riddles. So the fox-shifter was created, because I adore trickster figures. 

As soon as I knew the basic plot, the title was easy. Fearful Symmetry is a line from a William Blake poem (Tyger, Tyger), and though it's been used all over the place (I've seen it in an X-Files episode, a section in The Watchmen Comics, and many other things), Dreamspinner's catalogue didn't have that anywhere. So I lucked out on snagging a great title. 

Thanks to my winter break at school, I was able to write the first draft of the story. After the first draft, it spent a while in revisions before I finally submitted it. I was really surprised at how quickly everything came together with DSP after that. This is my first work with them, but now I'm happy to say I've signed two more contracts. :)

What made you decide to try your hand at fantasy?

I needed to challenge myself. I love speculative fiction--but I have the hardest time with fantasy settings because I love technology too much. I tried to view this as a fairy tale at first, which I have more experience with since I've studied fairy tales academically before--but some of the writing was still a challenge. Most of my revisions ended up being for the setting, since I wasn't able to capture some elements of fantasy when I first wrote the draft. I also had to grill my partner extensively to see if what I envisioned matched up to the genre, since he's way more versed in fantasy than I am. But he's teaching me more about the genre through D&D games, and I want to spend more time writing in this area. Definitely.

Please tell us a little bit about Fearful Symmetry.

As I mentioned before, it's a fairy tale in a lot of ways. There's an enchanted forest, a magic cabin, a shape-shifting trickster fox, and a series of trials involving riddles. Dryden is the main protagonist who loses his father and is forced to fend for himself and look after his mother. When he realizes his mother's stories about the woods surrounding their house were made up, he gets upset at his illusions being shattered--so he ventures out into the unknown. This is where he meets Otto, is seduced, and then has to fight his way out. 

I love fairy tales because they're cautionary tales with a lot of symbolism and they can be easily adapted. So instead of making a typical "don't go into the woods" tale, I wanted to take the cautionary elements that typical fairy tales warn about and flip the script in some ways. When Dryden realizes he's made a huge mistake coming into the woods, and he's punished for it, there is a long conversation with Emmons (the fox-shifter) about how none of it was his fault. The refrain of "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" is flipped as well. It's never the victim's fault for trusting someone. People should be trusted. It's the evil-doers fault for abusing that trust. Otto is a villain for that very reason and Dryden becomes the hero because he overcomes that adversity.

What was your hardest challenge writing this book?

The riddles! I had to find at least three riddles that made sense and were still challenging enough to solve. This was one of the main reasons why the book spend so long in the brainstorming stage.

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters? 

They relate to one another. Emmons, the fox-shifter, comes to help Dryden in the woods because he's been through the riddles and trials before--but lost. The two of them have both been tricked by the villain. While forced together through fate and circumstance, they trust the other implicitly because doing so allows them to forgive themselves and feel love again.

I see that you have several other books out, A Winter in RomeLove and the Undead, and The Boyfriend Rule, just to name a few. Care to tell our readers a little bit about them?

Gladly! I still can't believe I have so many coming out at once. It was an accident of timing, since all three are with different publishers and were all submitted during different months. A Winter in Rome is part of Less Than Three's Intertwined collection call, all featuring polyamorous romances (so romance arcs with more than two people). My story is about an m/m relationship that becomes a m/m/gq relationship, where the third party is a genderqueer person. It's a contemporary story set in Toronto, and since the main love interest Alan is an art professor, I talk about art a lot. And music, too. Which I usually do anyway when I'm not writing fantasy. ;)

Love and The Undead is a zombie YA love story with a bit of a twist. The contagion narrative is a bit different, and we only glimpse the monsters in the last third of the book. The first section involves Mike watching his brother fall in love with someone he meets through writing fanfiction, and then Mike falling for a new student at the school. The zombie apocalypse situation at the end becomes the catalyst for Mike to eventually start his relationship with Ray, and also solve the murders that have been going on around their small town. The tone is very tongue-in-cheek, since what fifteen year old kid isn't a smartass at all times? I also wrote this when I was in my early twenties, so a lot of my sarcasm comes through. Even when I revised it this summer, I still wanted to keep that young and indignant tone because it added so much to the story.

Finally, The Boyfriend Rule is a short (13,000k) holiday story that's a companion piece to my first m/m romance novel called How To Make A Carrot Cake. The first book centred around Nate and Billy, two characters who meet a grocery store. Billy's vegan, so Nate fumbles through most of the book trying to cook for him, while Billy hides a secret about his family. In this companion piece, Billy reflects on how much he hates Christmas--while Nate tries to win him over. 

Any other works in progress?

A series about an enchanted pair of shoes in an urban fantasy setting. Oh, and a space story! I just signed contracts for both of them at Less Than Three, so they'll probably be out by mid-2016 or so. 

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep trying. Keep working. I've heard a lot of flack about Malcolm Gladwell, but in his book Outliers he states that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. I love this advice because of what else it implies: it takes a long, long time to become good at something, and until then, it's okay to be really bad at first. I was so bad when I was younger. But so were most people. Natural talent or genius doesn't exist. So, just keep going and you'll eventually get to where you need to be.

Final words?

I will defer to my favourite piece of Kurt Vonnegut's advice: "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."
Thank you for having me! It's been wonderful to talk. :)






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