Author Interview: Anton Strout, author of Incarnate (Book 3 of the Spellmason Chronicles)

Publisher: Ace

Publication Date: September 30, 2014


When Alexandra Belarus discovered her family’s secret ability to breathe life into stone, she uncovered an entire world of magic hidden within New York City—a world she has accidentally thrown into chaos. A spell gone awry has set thousands of gargoyles loose upon Manhattan, and it’s up to Lexi and her faithful protector, Stanis, to put things right.

But the stress of saving the city is casting a pall over Lexi and Stanis’s relationship, driving them to work separately to solve the problem. As Stanis struggles to unite the gargoyle population, Lexi forges unlikely alliances with witches, alchemists and New York’s Finest to quell an unsettling uprising led by an ancient and deadly foe long thought vanquished.

To save her city, Lexi must wield more power than ever before with the added hope of recovering a mysterious artifact that could change her world—and bring her closer to Stanis than she ever thought possible…

Interview: Q. How did writing this book affect you?
INCARNATE is the concluding volume of The Spellmason Chronicles.  When my Simon Canderous paranormal detective series ran four books, I thought there might be more so I left the series with a major twist at the end.  DEAD WATERS story wrapped up, but there was a game changer at the end of it that I thought would get explored in book five.  But my publisher didn’t want more of that. They wanted a new series out of me, and thus The Spellmason Chronicles was born.  Going into my second series, I think I was better at planning.  ALCHEMYSTIC was always going to be about a centuries old gargoyle and a young artist who discovers her bloodline created him.  STONECAST covers a greater picture of what others might do to possess the powers of the Spellmasons.  In INCARNATE, we see how the modern world at large—arcane or otherwise—adapts to the knowledge that gargoyles, alchemy, and magic exist.  The grand arc of the series was better planned than my first, and I’ve had time to make my bittersweet peace with the ending of it.  That said, I already miss my characters so damned much.

But I guess that’s what short stories are for, right?

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
I don’t like writing.  I like having written.  For me it’s the sitting down to get the words out that is hard sometimes, more so in the past sixteen months.  Oh, by the way, did I mention I have sixteen month old twins?

But I’m getting back into the swing of things, making the time to write.  I’ve learned I’m a creature of habit with OCD tendencies, and a lot of getting back to writing is all about rewriting my ruts, find my comfy zone that gets me back to getting words down on the page.  Never realized I had these tendencies until the twins threw a monkey wrench into my old routines. I like a good challenge!

Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?
INCARNATE is the concluding volume of The Spellmason Chronicles, but there will be short stories coming out set in the world.  The first will appear in the Kickstarter for Streets of Shadows, where we learn a little bit more about freelance rogue alchemist Caleb Kennedy.

Q. What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading The Strain because I have found the television series both tense and entertaining and I always try to give the source material of a book its due diligence.  After that I have several volumes of The Walking Dead graphic novels to catch up on.

Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).
I’m excited to announce that next year I’ll be in the FIERCE anthology from Ace/Roc, edited by Kerrie Hughes and the king of my urban fantasy genre Jim Butcher.  I THINK it’s going to be a Simon Canderous story from my first series, but we shall see… terribly excited just to be in it!

Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Hmmm…. People find it odd that I can write with a lot of noise and distraction, that I can do it in front of the television even.  It’s just the way I’m wired.  There are times when I NEED to be alone in silence, near the end of writing a book when I have to upload its totality to my brain at once for cohesion’s sake.  In the early stages, having the tv on is great… when I’m hunting for this detail or that, I can look up and find something to use right there as it flies by.  Oh, the many, many times I’ve killed Snooki!

Q. Please tell us a fun-fact about yourself!
I’ve never broken a bone. Ever.  Now that being said, I expect tomorrow I will break ALL THE BONES as some sort of cosmic payback just for typing that.

Q. Is there anything you haven’t written about that you would like to in the future?
I would like to spend some time exploring William Gibson near-future science fiction or perhaps something in a Douglas Adams vein. They’re both very inspirational in making me want to write.  Or maybe a more traditional high fantasy… there’s so much left to explore!

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would like to learn to write more betterer.

Actually, I think I’d love to learn to fly.  I’ve flown glider planes a little, but I think taking the controls of something with an engine would be awesome.  Or at least awesome for the five seconds before I crash into the ground.

Q. What gives you the most joy in life?
Driving my enemies before me and hearing the lamentation of their women.
No, wait, bacon!
No, wait! I’m supposed to say my family, right?
Yeah, I’ll go with my family, and a near-insatiable need to entertain others.

Q. Which of your characters would you want to be and why?
I admire the traits of one of my main character’s best friends, Aurora ‘Rory’ Torres.  She’s sort of a dance major turned modern day paladin.  She’s got a lot going for her that I wish I did.  She’s fiercely loyal, dedicated to the protection of her friends, and can be vicious in defending their honor.  She’s got Cookie Monster blue hair currently, kept short with black horn rimmed glasses, and dares to wield a glaive gisarme pole arm on the streets of Manhattan because she can make it dance.  A delicious, dangerous dance. Any woman who chooses a medieval pole arm as her weapon of choice is alright in my book.

Q. How do you like to spend your spare time?
I’m a very controller smashing video gamer.  Lately my favorite thing to do is run from my door in the Shire all the way to Mount Doom in Mordor in Lego Lord of the Rings.  It’s very relaxing.  When I get time to game.  It’s day job in publishing, time with the twins, writing time, reading time, binge watching Supernatural and Arrow time, sleep, and if I’m lucky time to game these days.

Q. How did you come up with the title?
INCARNATE just seemed to fit the world of magically enchanted gargoyles.  One of my duel first person protagonists, Stanis, was once human centuries ago, and his life as a gargoyle is his current incarnation.  And there are the thousands of other gargoyles in Manhattan these days, all lost souls finding their way in their incarnate stone forms.

Q. When did you know you would be a writer?
November 5th, 1955.  I remember it vividly. I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped, hit my head on the edge of the sink. And when I came to I had a revelation, a picture, a picture in my head, a picture of this. This is what makes time travel possible. The Flux Capacitor.

No wait, that’s not right.  I’ve always dabbled in writing since at least the third grade.  I won some high school awards for it, but never really pursued it.  Around 2000, my friends in publishing and I decided we were sick of seeing all the other books coming out that we sat our butts down in chairs, critiqued the hell out of each other, and now all of us are published several times over.

I may not have always wanted to be a writer, but I always wanted to entertain.

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
To those who have read my work, you have my thanks.  To those about to read my work, you have my thanks in advance. To those of you not reading me, *points at you with one crooked finger extended*  “thinner.”

Author Bio: Anton Strout was born in the Berkshire Hills mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. He currently lives in the haunted corn maze that is New Jersey (where nothing paranormal ever really happens, he assures you).

He is the author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series and the Spellmason Chronicles for Ace Books, a division of Penguin Random House. Anton is also the author of many short tales published in anthologies by DAW Books. His latest book, Incarnate, the third Spellmason Chronicles book, is coming out September 30, 2014.

In his scant spare time, his is a writer, a sometimes actor, sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the worlds most casual and controller smashing video gamer. He currently works in the exciting world of publishing and yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds.

He is currently hard at work on his next book and be found lurking the darkened hallways of or talking with your favorite SF&F authors on The Once and Future Podcast (, where he is host and content curator.


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