Interviews

Nine Questions With… Querus Abuttu

For the inaugural post of Nine Questions With… I’m joined by author Querus Abuttu.

Querus, let’s introduce you to the captive audience that we have before us. 

Querus Abuttu, “Q,” is a MFA student in the “Writing Popular Fiction” program at Seton Hill University. She enjoys writing horror, bizarre tales and dark science fiction and loves reading more of the same. Her work has been published in the online magazine, “69 Flavors of Paranoia,” and is the first short story in an anthology titled, “Hazard Yet Forward.” She has worked as a Certified Nurse Midwife and Forensic Nurse for the Indian Health Services and United States Navy for over twenty years. Querus lives in Ventura, California with her most understanding husband Jim, two resilient teenagers (Kira and Sean), her dog Paris and three cats (Nyha, Maddie and Chi). When she’s not writing; she’s surfing the wild Pacific waves or dabbling in a little local ghost hunting which has yet to result in locating real ghosts. Despite her failure at tracking the paranormal, she still hopes to capture the phantoms one day and make their stories her own.

Querus dedicates the story of her writing career to her unofficial mentor and horror writer/professor, Scott Johnson, and to her official mentors Tim Waggoner and Timmons Esaias. Her critique partners Gina Greenway, Stephanie Wytovich and Joe Borrelli have provided amazing and valuable points of view on her work, and the Ventura Fiction Writers Group (Broos, Mark and Wendy) constantly keep her honest in her work. An additional shout out goes to horror writer, Larry Connolly, who encouraged her to submit her stories and helped her cultivate a necessary faith in her art. And to Q’s family, who put up with endless hours of her typing on the computer and who listen to her stories as she reads them out loud over and over again . . . she is eternally grateful for each of you and loves you more than you will ever know.

Now that we have that out of the way, how would you describe your writing process?

I wander around city and country until I find an idea, I write it down and I expand on it. From there I do a basic outline. I’ve recently discovered the 9-Box-Plot method, which is sheer genius, and I use it as a set up for all of my stories (short and long).

The 9-Box-Plot method? I sense a Google search in my near future! Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

No. I already write a variety of genres (Sci-fi, fantasy, horror and non-fiction). I don’t feel like I have to “break into it.” I just write for the love of writing and if someone likes a piece I send in then it’s a bonus!

Writing in numerous genres is great way to do what you love, I cannot agree with you more. Let’s delve into your reading habits for a moment and ask: what are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Ender’s Game (The entire series really). Orson Scott Card was a mastermind when he wrote this series of novels. Ender’s game incorporates the hero’s journey in a very different way. It’s from the perspective of a young boy (and later a man) as he grows up and makes horrendous mistakes and tries very hard to live with them. Ender’s game is a book I can read over and over again and never tire of the beautiful way it’s put together. It’s strategic, heartbreaking and cold…all at the same time!

The Alchemaster’s Apprentice is a wonderful tale told by the German writer Walter Moers. I fell in love with Moers’ method of allowing me to see through the eyes of a wonderful cat named, “Echo.” Moers does a fantastic job with creating a genius world filled with amazing creatures and his imagination is boundless! He can tell an extremely brilliant story and I’m amazed he doesn’t have a greater following in the U.S.

I’m a Dan Brown fan, and while some people feel the author is not worth his weight in gold, what I admire most about the man is his tenacious research abilities and his knack for incorporating facts into a fiction story that make the reader feels as if they’ve learned several juicy tidbits of knowledge while they are living inside an exciting thriller. The program titled, “I write like…” which analyzes an author’s writing, told me that I write like Dan Brown. Since I love his fast paced writing style which is filled with ancient knowledge and artefacts, I can’t say I’m disappointed to be compared to such a popular author.

Great choices! I have tried that program with two different samples of my writing (different genres) and ended up with Dan Brown and H.P. Lovecraft. Let’s just say I was humbled! Changing gears for a moment, if you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

I would choose Johnny Depp to play “Dr Stench” in my one of my novels in progress, “The Flatulent Adventures of Dr Stench and the DC Underground.” Tim Burton would actually play “Hairball.” Matt Damon would be Nano the mouse and Angelina Jolie would be a mischievous batfish named “Siren.”

First off, I love the name of your WIP! And that’s certainly a great cast! Just from my own observations, it seems that most books that get made into movies are from bestselling book lists. What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I would roll over and go back to sleep. My dreams are where I get the BEST ideas, and if I’m on the NY Times Bestsellers List, then I figure that’s probably the last time I’m going to get a lot of sleep all at once. I’ll take advantage!

Ahhh, sleep. That gentle mistress. I dare say, it’s one of my vices… Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

My favourite cigars (Man-o-War Ruination) and a good Scotch (McClelland comes to mind).

So, what do you do when you’re not writing?

I work as a Midwife/Nurse Practitioner for the U.S. Navy, and so most of my time is spent seeing patients during the work-week. When I have some off time, I go to the movies with my family, go surfing or engage in a Pilates class. I belong to a writer’s group in Ventura and I meet with them most Sunday mornings. But, truth be told, most of the time, when I’m not writing…I’m wishing that I was writing. And it’s as plain as that.

Now it’s onto the nitty-gritty! Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

From the novel titled “Sapien Farm.”

December 24th, 23:59

“Look here. I’ve modified the germline cells, and the oocytes are ready.”

“And the phenotype?” Miriam put on a pair of gloves.

“Difficult to say with absolute certainty, but it’s a useful blend of what was ordered. The organs will be interchangeable, and the entire species should grow rapidly. One thing I can’t guarantee is . . .” Ben moved away from the microscope and let his senior scientist have a look.

“Yes?”

“How intelligent they’ll be. The Cullers wanted options.”

The room was silent for a moment, except for the whirring of a nearby centrifuge.

“And the host is ready?” Miriam lifted her face from the microscope, and peeled off her gloves.

Love that title! Love the excerpt – “The Cullers wanted options.” Such a fantastic line!! If you wish to read more of Q’s work, take a look at her story in Hazard Yet Forward of which a reviewer on Amazon says “Hazard Yet Forward is an incredible compilation and I’ve just begun reading it. The introduction from Mike Arnzen is heartfelt and wonderful and the first story by Querus Abuttu is chilling in its physical sense of place and subject matter.

Seventy-six writers connected to the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction program have created a multi-genre charity anthology entitled Hazard Yet Forward. All proceeds from this project will benefit Donna Munro, a 2004 graduate of the program. Munro, a teacher living in St. Louis, Missouri, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Genres represented in the book range from horror to romance to mystery – and everything in between. Some of the notable writers in the anthology are World Fantasy Award winner Nalo Hopkinson, Bram Stoker winners Michael A. Arnzen and Michael Knost, Bram Stoker nominees Lawrence C. Connolly and John Edward Lawson, ALA/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults winner Jessica Warman, Rita finalist Dana Marton, Spur award winner Meg Mims, Asimov’s Reader’s Award winner Timons Esaias, Rhysling Award nominee K. Ceres Wright, and WV Arts and Humanities literary fellowships winner, Geoffrey Cameron Fuller.

It’s available on Amazon.

You can also read about Q’s WIP – The Flatulent Adventures of Dr. Stench and the DC Underground on her website: http://site.theflatulentadventuresofdrstench.com.

Check back with me Next Wednesday when Aaron Marcusson stops by for a visit.

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