Monday, 31 October 2011

Interview with Louis Bertrand Shalako, author of The Shape Shifters

As the year draws to a close, so too do my reviews and interviews. With only 7 remaining before I take some time off to concentrate on my own writing, I welcome on of the last authors to grace my blog for a while. Welcome, Louis!
 What inspired The Shape Shifters?

I had this idea that we are all shape-shifters. Every seven years, every cell in our body is renewed, and it is clearly our identity that persists while our body changes. Our identity changes over time as well. And yet we really can’t escape who we are, which is imprinted upon us from a very early age. Even when other people have other ideas of who we should be, our identity is something we cling to without even really being able to define it. We are born as little babies, under ten pounds in most cases, and then we grow up to be young and strong, and then we slowly collapse into ourselves in old age.

Are any of the characters based on someone real?

The characters are based on real personality types, and some of the situations have happened to real people in real life. 

What type of process to you have to get in to the writing zone?

The first thing is to have an idea. To attempt to write in this genre, it had to be some different take or slant, not just on the story, but on the genre. Once I have an idea of the major characters, the story starts to unfold. It’s a question of, ‘What would happen if?” This question doesn’t always involve plot. What is it that makes a fantasy? As a writer, how rational was the choice of having a few talking animals in the story? Most authors spend a lot of time not writing, but daydreaming and visualizing. What doesn’t really work or turn our crank doesn’t make it in. I often have scenes that I would have liked to include, but would just be a sidebar and so I don’t even write it up.

Was this an easy story to write?

This was a fairly easy book to do because I was having fun every time I sat down to write, and by the time I wrote ‘Shape-Shifters,’ I knew I could complete a book. Once you realize that, the most obvious question is, ‘How good is it going to be?” If the question is about motivation, a certain amount of competitiveness in my own character led me to work at it. This book probably took three months of writing every day. While circumstances ensure that a writer will miss a day from time to time, the project mentality takes over and we want to see how it all turns out. So the writer has much in common with the reader in that sense. Back when I had a real job, I liked completing things as much as the next guy. In construction, it’s the only way to get paid. A life of unskilled manual labour puts writing into perspective. Put in the man-hours and you got yourself a book.

Do you have any other projects in the works we can look forward to?

Yes. My new novel is detective fiction with no fantasy elements. It’s called, ‘Redemption: An Inspector Maintenon Mystery.’ It’s based on a character I created in the short story, ‘The Handbag’s Tale.’ That story was written to a length of 12,000 words so that I could submit it to a major magazine, who rejected the story. Yet the short length imposed limitations that could only be addressed in a longer story—and I like the Inspector. I plan on a December 1 release, assuming I can create a good marketing image for it.

How about previous works to keep an eye out for?

That’s a good question, because ‘Shape-Shifters’ is my only fantasy. But the parody WW I memoir ‘Heaven Is Too Far Away’ seems to be doing well for an unknown author. All of my first novels were comedies, if that’s any help. But I’m taking the novel craft more seriously now, and that’s with reader’s expectations in mind. It’s a question of how long I plan on being around.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What are your hobbies?

I read a lot when I can. I like the outdoors and take a lot of landscape photos. In summer I cycle, swim and sit by a campfire thinking weird thoughts whenever possible.

What genre do you enjoy to read for pleasure?

I enjoy history, books on aviation, and science fiction, and oddly enough, the kind of plot-less literary fiction that takes me to a different time and place without causing any real angst. I like westerns and detective stories, and maybe not so much of the airport-type novels.

Do you have any hints or advice for aspiring writers?

Be prepared to suffer, be prepared to work, but also be prepared to succeed.  

Fantastic piece of advice there.
Louis, thank you very much for this opporunity, it's been wonderful.All the best in the future and I look forward to having you back one day soon!
Louis has been extremely generous providing 25 copies of The Shape Shifters to readers. It is also available to buy on and Barnes & Noble. 


  1. Very awesome interview and great advise as well!

  2. Brilliant interview and your book sounds fantastic Louis.
    As usual Casey, you bring us the most interesting and witty authors. Well done!

    *bites n kisses*

  3. Thanks ladies, I do enjoy these reviews and interviews, and I'm glad that the authors and readers enjoy it as well! :)