Aaron Galvin is the author of the YA book Salted and the producer of the indie film Wedding Bells and Shotgun Shells; here is a link to his blog:
Q: What is Salted about?
A: Salted follows a crew of Selkie slave catchers charged with recapturing an elusive runaway. When their target leads them to deeper, darker secrets, the Selkies face a moral quandary. Secure their own freedom, or return empty-handed to face the grisly consequences.
Q: What gave you the idea for the book?
A: My mom.
I had written a different book that received numerous rejections. Naturally, I was moping about it. Mom told me to suck it up. Write something new. For about an hour, she gave me various prompts.
“Wizards!” she’d say.
“Yeah…” I’d reply. “Not sure if you know, Mom, but there is this series called Harry Potter…”
Finally, she said, “How about mermaids?”
I didn’t have an answer for that. This was back in 2009 when I admittedly hadn’t been reading much. Too busy chasing my dream of becoming an actor. Anyway, I couldn’t think of any mermaid books at the time. The only response I could come back with was that mermaids were for girls. And really what guy wanted to be seen reading about mermaids? They weren’t cool!
Then Mom said something I’ll never forget. “Find a way to make them cool.”
That changed everything. I’m a pretty competitive person. Suddenly I had a challenge. How could I make mermaids cool for guys like me? How could I make them different?
Salted is the result of that. I like to think I accomplished Mom’s challenge. Readers will decide if that’s true.
Q: Who are some of your literary influences?
A : Stephen King is a big inspiration. I think many people forget he’s not just an author who writes horror. He is truly one of the best, if not the best to my mind, at incorporating elements from many genres to make his stories resonate with readers.
I love most of his books, but my favorite is The Stand, which is where my love of alternating POVs originates. The way King weaves the character storylines, the build up between two forces, and his overall storytelling is nothing short of magnificent.
Others would be J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling.
Q: What makes Lenny an interesting hero?
A: He’s conflicted. It’s an interesting dynamic he’s placed in: both slave and slave catcher. His job is to hunt down and bring back those in a similar existence he’s living, but if he refuses, or tries to escape, then his father will be killed.
It’s an interesting predicament, to me at least. Would you bring back a stranger to a life you also want to escape, or let them alone and try to escape knowing that your decision results in a loved one’s death? It’s fascinating to watch a decision like that play out.
Q: Who plays Lenny in the movie?
A: In addition to being an author, I’m also an indie filmmaker so I’m always making mental notes whenever I watch movies or TV as to who would be great in what roles.
The great thing about your question is that I can’t point to one actor and say, Him! That’s Lenny. I love when an actor no one has heard of bursts onto the scene and just kills it. Just absolutely blows you away with their talent and you wonder where they’ve been all this time.
Another reason I can’t point out an actor is that Lenny is a teenaged little person. The only film I can think of that cast a little person at such a young age was Warwick Davis when he played the Ewok named Wicket in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and starred in Willow.
I like to think it would be a great opportunity to showcase some currently anonymous talent who might not otherwise be given a chance due to limited availability of roles.
Q: What is the oddest thing you have done to promote yourself as a writer?
A: I put the word out to my fans that if they were able to land Salted inside the Top 20 of Amazon’s Bestselling Hot New Releases that I would do the Bernie dance. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m certain it will eventually.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?
A: My day job is currently writing when I’m not headed into L.A. for auditions. It’s a fun balance that keeps my creatively engaged in both arenas. Some days I’m dreaming up stories. Other days I’m just one cog in a great machine that’s bringing another writer’s vision to life. I love both jobs dearly.
Q: What is Wedding Bells and Shotgun Shells about?
A: A behind-the-scenes look at the worst reality show ever produced.
The film is a satire meant to cast light on the overall ignorance associated with many reality TV shows. At the same, it confirms why we as audiences can’t tear ourselves away from watching the train wreck.
Q: How did you go about producing it?
A: I have a hard time asking for money. That’s not meant as a knock against anyone who uses crowdsourcing to raises funds, (in fact, they’re probably smarter than me for doing so). You can call it stubbornness, or the way I was raised, but I hail from a working class background and found funding the same way I’ve accomplished everything else in life: I worked hard, saved every penny I could, and paid for it myself.
Again, was that smart? Probably not.
I didn’t make a dime from Wedding Bells, nor will I ever because of a copyright issue I wasn’t aware of at the time. The lessons I took away from it were huge, however, and have since paid off in other ways, including preparing Salted for publication.
As for casting, I had been working as an actor in Chicago for a few years by the time we made Wedding Bells. That gave me phenomenal opportunities to know other actors. When it came time for casting, I had a short list of who I wanted to work with. I’m thankful to say they all agreed and I’m forever grateful to the performances each of them gave, as well as the crew who worked and froze in the dead of winter for nothing but the promise of warm food and possibly a bed.
Q: When I was a kid (the earth was still hot) the YA market was heavily dominated by slice of life stories by authors such as such as S.E Hinton, Judy Bloom and Paul Zindel, these days it’s heavily dominated by fantasy; what do you think caused the shift?
A: First, I also grew up reading Zindel’s The Pigman, as well as Hinton’s The Outsiders, so it looks like I’m in good company.
Having said that, the fantasy genre has always been my first love. Whether it’s hobbits, talking animals, or anything mythological, count me in. I think what caused the biggest shift is J.K. Rowling. She made magic new again. I still remember the first book being assigned reading for my first collegiate English class. I thought it was a joke, the professor assigning me a children’s book. It was fantasy though so I was willing to give it a shot. I finished the book that afternoon.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)