About a month ago, I discovered Andrew Toy when he followed ‘Deanna’s Writing’. I checked out his blog and, not only was I impressed with his blog, I discovered he’s also an author. So, I extended an invite to interview Andrew on his new release, The Man in The Box, which was just released today.
1. Tell me about your book, The Man in The Box.
On the surface, The Man in the Box is a suspense/adventure novel. It’s the story of a man who becomes addicted to this box that is a portal to a dangerous and terrifying jungle island filled with dinosaurs, creepy-crawlies large and small, demon ghosts, and all sorts of things that the typical paper pusher only fantasizes about being pitted against. This man, Robbie, becomes addicted to going back to this box every time something in his life doesn’t go his way, whether he gets into an argument with his wife, he’s unable to pay the doctor bills, or his teenage daughter starts shunning him. So at the heart of the story lies this man who feels trapped by a monotonous anti-climatic life who then makes the selfish decision to leave his family without a husband and father, in order to pursue his own private adventures and aspirations. But, to be honest, that’s just the beginning. There are many, many twists and turns in this book that so far, have left many people finishing it in just one night! For any skeptics, I like to sum it up this way: Think average family man trapped in Jurassic Park on Skull Island and finds himself in a sort of Hunger Games.
2. What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to push the boundaries of suspense. I’m not much of an action/adventure type of guy, because I don’t think much of the suspense is really all that gripping, to be quite honest. Writing this book kept me on the edge of my seat, and I even laid awake many nights wondering how I was going to get Robbie or his family, out of certain situations. The book took three years to write (and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite), and over the course of that time, I realized I was writing about myself and my own tendencies to keep secrets and pursue my own selfish ambitions at the cost of my family. So it became a very personal book to me, and I’m sure many men (and women) will relate to the main character’s struggles concerning what’s right and what’s wrong. I’ve even been told that there is much of a Lord of the Rings vibe in here, pertaining to the battle raging within.
3. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
In some way or another, yes. I would say storyteller would be a more correct term. Charles Dickens and Ian McEwan are writers because they have a way with words that I just haven’t been able to grasp yet. But ever since I was young I wanted to tell stories. I remember being a little kid and locking myself up in my room on weekends and recording myself telling stories on my little red tape recorder, complete with sound effects and music. As I got older I started telling stories through cartoons and comics. Then in high school you couldn’t fit a paperclip between me and my video camera, and all my friends knew that if they were going to hang out with me, I would have my camera and some sort of script or story idea and we’d film movies that sometimes lasted for weeks. But now, I am perfectly content to sit at the computer and pound away at the keys always searching for that next untold story.
4. What advice do you have for unpublished and emerging novelists?
Edit, rewrite, promote. I hate giving that advice because I was always given that advice and I thought it was so elementary. Then after over 300 rejections I decided to listen to that advice. First, always be editing. Pay for it if you have to – your time is valuable! (I edit for a very competitive fee, by the way, so don’t hesitate to contact me.) While you’re editing, don’t be afraid to add scenes, switch things around, eliminate “cool” ideas that, even if you just have a slight gut feeling that it doesn’t fit… take it out! Always go with your gut instinct. I don’t know how many times I showed my wife a new scene, basically seeking approval for what I honestly didn’t think worked anyway. Save yourself and your spouse the agony and just toss it if you have the slightest inkling that it doesn’t work. And thirdly, promote your book, even as you’re writing it. I used to be very “modest” when it came to writing. I wouldn’t tell anyone I was writing a book because I thought I was being humble. If you’re like that, think of it this way: You cannot self-promote humility. But, you can self-promote your skills and choose to be humble about it. Tell everyone you’re writing a book. They’ll hold you accountable to it, and they’ll be the first to read it when it’s done.
5. What’s next for Andrew as a writer; what future projects are you working on?
I am really excited about some of my upcoming projects! I’ve got a whole list of them saved on my computer. My next book should be coming out next year, and it’s a bit different from The Man in the Box. The tone is more laid-back and it’s more dramatic. It’s called I Am the Lion, and it’s about a widowed father and his daughter, unable to connect after his wife’s death. Because he’s bipolar, her living situation with him becomes a risk for her. But the daughter’s fourth grade teacher steps in and begins to pull them together, helping them face their loss as a family. The next one (should I reveal it?) is more to the tune of The Man in the Box. But instead of dinosaurs and jungle animals, this one involves visitors from above (and I’m not talking about angels). It will be a very unique and fun look at a very familiar concept.
6. Where can readers find your book?
You can go to Blackwyrm.com. It will also be available on Amazon (paperback and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble. And please, I ask that after you read it, be sure to write a review on Amazon and goodreads.com to help spread the word.
You can also find Andrew and his book on Goodreads.