Monday 19 March 2012

Authors In The Limelight: Cornell DeVille

The Golden Disk 1: Cannibal IslandI want to thank and welcome author, Cornell DeVille for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. This is Cornell’s second appearance on my blog. His book, Lost in the Bayou was featured on December 1st, 2011. Please click HERE to read it. His new book, Cannibal Island, the first story that will lead to multiple sequels, can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Cannibal Island?
You're not the first to ask that question. And I've yet to come up with an answer. This is the first book I've written that just sort of wrote itself. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's true. It was actually an effort to complete the Nano project. So I just started writing. I wrote the first 50,000 words in 10 days. It was just pouring out. It ended up being over 70,000 by the time I finished the first draft. Then I spent nearly a year editing it, changing things, adding things, deleting things. I know that doesn't answer your question, but it's the best answer I can give you.

What sets Cannibal Island apart from other books in the same genre?
I think it has a character that's missing in some of the current adventure books. I grew up reading Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. One editor told me that Cannibal Island has a kind of Dickensian voice to it because of the sentence structure and the setting details. I'm hoping that was a compliment. I wrote Cannibal Island with the idea of creating something I would have enjoyed reading when I was a teenager. It's much more boy-centric than most of my books. So maybe that's what sets it apart: It will probably appeal to boys, especially reluctant readers because it moves pretty fast and there's a lot of adventure and danger involved at every step of the way.

Could you explain what the “Steampunk” genre entails?
My understanding of Steampunk is that it must have specific elements. It's typically set in turn-of-the-century (Victorian age). It involves a lot of clockwork mechanisms, goggles, dirigibles, steam-powered devices and "futuristic" mechanical items that probably were not around during the time the story is taking place. And there must be "gizmos" of various kinds that appear at the right time to help the protagonist out of a dilemma. They may also be set in an alternate history situation, i.e., a world in which Germany won WWII, for example, or JFK wasn't assassinated. The possibilities are endless.

What is your writing process when planning a trilogy or a series, Cornell?
One thing you must do is keep close track of everything you've written in the first novel. You can't have a character change hair-color from one book to the next. Secondly, you need to have an overall idea of the entire sequence of events from the beginning of Book 1 to the final line of Book 3. Finally, you need to figure out exactly where you're going to end each installment. In other words, if you think of the trilogy as one complete work, then you need to simply divide into three sections that have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, although the ending isn't REALLY the ending. But the ending has to have a bit of denouement in order to satisfy the reader. Although you don't want to satisfy them completely — leave a bit of a question or some unresolved issue, an important one, that makes them crave Book 2. Then begin Book 2 at the point Book 1 ended, etc. Suzanne Collins did this masterfully in her Hunger Games trilogy.

Well said! I keep character tracking sheets and a list of ideas for my YA series. How long did it take for you to start and finish Cannibal Island?
It took me 30 days to write the first draft. Then a little over a year of editing and polishing it into a publishable form.

Do you have any advice for other writers who are planning to write a trilogy or series, Cornell?
My only advice would be, as I mentioned earlier, to keep notes on your characters including physical assets, speech habits, etc. They have to remain true to form throughout the adventure, aside from some emotional or psychological growth they experience during the story. Secondly, if your premise is not broad enough, don't think of it as a trilogy. Write the first book, then ask yourself whether there is any more you can bring to the reader that is as worthy as what you've already written. If not, stop there. Don't do a sequel. Come up with another story entirely. Some characters and premises are rich with potential for additional work. Others aren't. It's up to you to decide if you have the skeleton for a multiple-book adventure.

Great advice! So, what’s next for Cornell Deville the author?
I'm currently working on the first sequel to Cannibal Island. It's very different than the original book. In Book 1, we follow Richie Armstrong, Angus Callahan, Kuko, and the little monkey, Nugget, from England to Peru aboard a state-of-the-art steamship on an adventure searching for a Golden Disk that's supposedly a time-travel device created by the Incas. Naturally, they're being pursued by the persistent, oily-haired and spotty-faced archenemy Hans Von Hisle in his dirigible. It's high adventure and a race against time with high stakes and a tremendous treasure in store for the victor. I won't give away the ending, except to say that it's a bit unexpected. Book 2 takes up where the first adventure concludes, and, I didn't think it would be possible, but it's actually turning out to be even more exciting than the first book.

Lost in the BayouFACEBOOK: Author Cornell DeVille:
TWITTER: cornelldeville



  1. Cornell, your book sounds epic, possibly movie material. Interesting advice about writing a trilogy.
    Wonderful questions, as always, Sharon.

    1. Yes, I can hardly wait for Cornell's big screen debut!

  2. Very exciting premise, and it's nice to see a NANO project turn into a successful artifact. Congratulations, Cornell. I wish you terrific sales.

  3. Great interview, Sharon and Cornell. I read Lost in the Bayou, so I can't wait to get started on this one. I haven't read much steampunk, but it's a very fun genre. I wonder how much added fun the monkey will bring to it.

    1. Apparently Cornell loves to monkey around with his novels, Codelia!

  4. Cannibal island and sequel sound like a Steampunk raiders of the Lost Ark. I like it! More please...the stack of books to read hasn't reached the ceiling yet.

  5. What are you going to call Book 2? (Definitely NOT Return to...I bet)!