Interview with Lucas Hargis

Today, I’m thrilled to present Lucas Hargis. I’ve had the pleasure of reading his work, most recently Phreak Show, a novel that is incredibly engaging (and totally awesome). Lucas is here to tell us about his soon-to-be bestseller. Let’s hear it for Lucas…

Q: Hi, Lucas. So much has happened since I last interviewed you on this site. I can’t wait to fill my readers in, but first, can you tell us a little about yourself and when you began writing.

I’m a creative dude. Like a shark that must keep swimming, I’d cease to exist if I stopped creating. {Seriously. Some harrowing tests scientifically confirmed it.} I’ve been imagining and creating since I was a little tyke. I loved writing assignments in school, excelled at creative writing in college, and later sold some articles and illustrations. Now, I brainstorm/write/revise/re-revise at least 5 out of 7 days a week.

Q: Most aspiring authors go down the path of queries and rejections, yearning for the day they get The Call. Can you tell us about your journey down that path and about the day you got your Big Call?

Let me see if I can summarize this with some totals and links…
– 3 books queried
– 180 queries total {holy crap!}
– 18 contests
– 1 offer or rep declined http://wp.me/p2k31x-pK
– 1 offer of rep {gleefully} accepted http://wp.me/p2k31x-sG

Q: What is Phreak Show about?

At its heart, Phreak Show is about each of us embracing our inner phreak.

The story revolves around a modern-day sideshow, where teens are enslaved. Their deepest, darkest fears and personal hang-ups are visibly manifested. They are trapped in the Phreak Show until they confront and overcome their warped self-images.

Q: How did you get the idea for the book? What inspired you?

Confession: I love weirdness. I latch onto that integral part of myself when writing, creating in any medium, and even as I just fumble about living life.

One day, a phrase randomly popped in my head: Being a freak isn’t about looks, it’s a frame of mind.

I started chewing on that idea; what it meant, how I could tell a story that explored that truth. Slowly, the word “freaks” led me to the Victorian sideshow concept. Only, I wanted a tale set in the present.

Who would these freaks be? Where would they come from? Why did they matter?

And the bigger questions: How can I make this story relevant to readers? What will pump it full of gut emotional appeal and so-the-hell-what factors?

If being a freak is a frame of mind, then ANY of us can be a freak. Maybe we all are. At least at times. At least, we can totally feel like freaks on the inside. So, what would happen if—against our wills—our internal junk manifested outwardly for all to see and poke and prod?

Private lives revealed. Personal issues made public. So we no longer only struggled with those things internally, but also dealt with our fears, aches, and pains in front of an audience.

The characters, world, and plot spiraled outward as I answered those questions and explored the theme of self-acceptance.

Q: It isn’t unusual for an author to fall in love with his characters, but you’ve recently begun to commemorate your characters in a unique (and permanent) way. Can you tell us about this?

I’m a very visual person.

I love Phreak Show’s characters for many reasons. I’m also a fan of tattoos {9 and counting…} and have been waiting for the perfect idea {which is to say: excuse} for a sleeve. Combine my love of weirdness with my love of ink, and immortalizing the phreaks in skin-art seems pretty logical and lovely to me.

Come on! Sideshow freaks? All interesting and twisted? Forever living on my arm in vivid color? Total win.

There is also a direct correlation to Phreak Show’s story. The opening scene involves the main character, Tera, memorializing her deceased baby brother in tattoo form. That…doesn’t turn out so well… And so her story begins.

Q: Okay, now the totally unfair question portion of the interview. Which character is your favorite? Was there one that was easier to write, or more difficult to write than the others?

You know I love them all. Every.last.one. They each have a little part of me inside them, or parts of my friends or people I’ve known, real stories and personalities I’ve collected over the years.

Each character has a specific issue s/he is dealing with: guilt, wanting to stand out, wanting to fit in, weight and body image, bi-polarism, gender and sexuality, breaking free from overbearing parents, growing old, letting go of control.

I love the brokenness inside each of them. And also their journey to face that brokenness and come to terms with their phreakiest selves.

Confession: I have a soft spot for Twiggy the Blubber Girl. In a sense, she kind of symbolizes the core idea of accepting yourself as you are. She both breaks my heart and makes me giggle. I love that about Twiggy.

Q: I have a confession too–I love each and every one of your characters too! So, what’s next for the Phreaks? Will you write any more books based off these characters, or are you working on a different project?

The phreaks are currently in the very capable hands of my agent, Lousie Fury. {Lovingly redubbed Phury.} She and her team are shredding the manuscript, so we can make the heart of the story shine so brightly it will dazzle and amaze. The editing process is just beginning, and I’m pretty phreaking excited {and nervous} to see where that process leads.

I have the seed of a follow-up tucked neatly in my soul, and could easily dive back into the phreaks’ world. But I’m of the strong opinion that it doesn’t make sense to draft a sequel or create a series until the first book definitely finds a home. What good is a second (or third) book if the genesis story doesn’t take root?

Besides, I have too many weirdo ideas clanging in my head to latch too tightly to a single one. The others deserve life as much as the phreaks.

My current work is Epistle of Doff: The Most Blasphemous Monker. While my heart’s been thumping for it since my first novel, I have been ?scared? to write a queer YA story. But Doff is magical, his story is rich, and his voice won’t quit. {Dude breaks my heart. And cracks me up. Much like Twiggy.}

Doff journeys to find his true purpose and seeks to reconcile his “blasphemous” desire with the roots of his magical faith.

But this aint your grandma’s religion. The belief system is populated by a pantheon of historic and modern-day deities and saints {e.g. Goddess Gaga, Saint Cobain, Holy Mother of the Infinite Grooming}. His story begins with a life immersed in zealotry, breaks free into a trainhopping vagabond adventure, which then morphs into stint with a mesmerizing cult. And then ends with…well, you’ll just have to wait and see where Doff’s journey leads him.

Doff is currently with CPs and betas, and the encouraging feedback is just starting to roll in.

Then there’s the budding outline of an MG {what?!} story about a weirdo girl named Twixie. (Her short story Twixie’s Wishbone will appear in the winter issue of Underneath the Juniper Tree. Then there’s a completely non-fantasy {what?!} story about this dude named Cad…

Q: What advice do you have for new or aspiring authors?

Ugh. My least favorite question. Only because I often find myself eye-rolling when folks {with their toes barely wet in the publishing waters} dispense advice like it’s canon.

I can approach it from more of a personal standpoint—a private revelation.

Writing is different than other art forms.

Every word is worth something. Each sentence further hones a writer’s craft.

I’ve always created visual art, and part of the draw for me is exploring new media, testing out unconventional materials and techniques. But the issue with that tactic is that I never stick with one long enough to master it. The newness wears off and I move on in search of a virgin challenge.

But writing operates differently.

Each piece of flash-fic, short story, or novel gives me that same thrill of newness. The different structures and genres, new characters and worlds, smell and taste sooooo fresh. The possibilities are limitless.

But—and here’s my key point—all writing deals with the same medium: words.

The more I write, the stronger my writing gets. That experience builds on itself, and I just keep leveling up. No word is wasted. Even if what I write is shite. I can use the same 26 letters, arranged in a gazillion ways, to make new art. And unlike switching media once I learn the biggest secrets, there will never be an end to how much I can manipulate those 26 letters.

Or how much they will surprise me.

Q: Beautifully said. Where can my readers go to learn more about you and your work?

For a cornucopia of Lucas weirdness, randomness, and phreaky goodness
Twitter: @LucasMight

For weekly posts on writing, tattoos, antiques, oddities, and whatever strikes my fancy
Blog: http://johnlucashargis.wordpress.com/

For an occasional short story or {rough!} WIP excerpt
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/LucasHargis

Thanks so much for having me stop by, Tricia. Two years ago, you interviewed me when I was a fledgling, newbie novelist who’d barely finished his first manuscript. I totally appreciate that. That made me feel special, and was effin encouraging. Please keep using that gift to nudge us along. {And if you don’t include this part in the interview, I’m sending the worst phreaks imaginable to come steal you away in your sleep.}

 

Tricia: Thanks for sharing your great news with us, Lucas. You ARE special. I can’t wait to have you on this blog again. (And, by the way–your phreaks don’t scare me. I happen to find them quite lovable.)

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One thought on “Interview with Lucas Hargis

  1. Congrats, Lucas, and I sincerely can't wait to interview you on my blog. I am not one of your betas or crit partners, but I can tell you that I am excited to read this book. I believe you have a gem of future! 🙂

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