Today, on the eve of the re-launch of EXCELSIOR, I’m interviewing a very fascinating author, George Sirois, late of NYC, STL transplant, and accomplished ballroom dancer:
When did you first write EXCELSIOR, and how long did it take you to finish?
The character had been sitting in my head since 1992, so I had about 16 years to decide what kind of hero he would be, and how he would fit into this tiny little universe in my head (a universe that was originally created in 1985 with my grade school friends) before I would write the first page.
The first draft was started on June 1, 2008, and I wrote “The End” on June 30 at 11:35pm. It was for a National Novel Writing Month type of challenge called the “Southern Cross Novel Challenge,” which is the same thing as NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words in 30 days – except it’s in June instead of November.
Later drafts were started in September of 2008 and weren’t finished until late June, 2010. My editor JeriAnn Geller was such a huge help on this and every question she had for me helped to expand this universe further than I ever thought possible.
What made you decide to republish the book?
After the initial paperback & eBook release of “Excelsior,” I started tinkering with the manuscript a bit. As it’s always the way with writers, we think of some great stuff to put into our work AFTER it’s released, but I knew that I could update the eBook version and push that as the definitive story, as opposed to its paperback counterpart. Early in the year, I started researching CreateSpace so that I could discontinue the 1st edition paperback and upload the finished eBook version, when I suddenly saw that RHP was accepting submissions.
I had already begun writing the first of two “Excelsior” sequels when the original was accepted by RHP. I realized that I could not only make sure that this manuscript reflected the much-better eBook version; I could also add elements that tie into what I was writing in the sequel. So after all this time, I can finally say that the version that’s about to be released is the definitive and FINAL version of the original book. I promise!
You’re a native New Yorker; why St. Louis, and how do the two compare?
I’m from New York, but my wife is from St. Louis. We agreed that our money would go a lot further if we moved here, and if we wanted to have a child, it would work a lot better if we were closer to family (my closest family member was over two hours away from where we lived in New York City).
It took a little while to get used to St. Louis, but it wound up being the best decision we could have made. Both of us have great jobs, we’ve made great friends and the opportunities given to us here outshine what we had in New York City.
Don’t get me wrong, I love NYC and always will. (I’m still a loyal Yankees & Giants fan, but I’ve had a lot of fun cheering for the Cardinals and I know the Rams are a year or two away from being constant contenders.) But everything we have now, we couldn’t have gotten in New York.
What project do you have in the works now that EXCELSIOR is about to be re-launched?
I’m working on two separate projects now. One is the sequel, which is called “Ever Upward: Part Two of The Excelsior Journey.” It’s been a lot of fun to write so far, since I’m constantly adding elements that expand the mythology of the character and the planet Denab IV.
The other is a rewrite of my 2002 novel “From Parts Unknown.” Originally, that was just going to be a single book, but I decided in 2012 to turn it into a five-part serial. So the plan is to release it in serial format on eBook and then, once the whole story is told, release all five parts as one complete paperback.
Once that’s done, then I can finish “Ever Upward” and move on to the third part of that trilogy, which leads to another group of characters, the latest versions of the ones created way back in 1985. I can’t wait to get going on that.
Writing aside, what’s this about dancing?
During our six years together in New York City, my wife tried to get me into West Coast Swing. She showed me DVDs, she gave me basic lessons, she hunted down different places that hosted WCS dances, and nothing worked. I just couldn’t get into it. It was only when we came here to St. Louis when it started to come together for me.
In early November of 2011, I was really depressed. I wasn’t comfortable living in St. Louis. I was homesick. I was just a mess. And my wife suggested that we go to a place that she knew was hosting a WCS event, at the Crestwood mall. I got to meet a whole bunch of people who knew this was my first time, and everyone was genuinely willing to help me with it. I didn’t know any moves, but I had the rhythm down right away and I knew the basic steps. Walk, Walk, Triple Step, Triple Step. The next week, I took my first official lesson and I was hooked.
I’ve been dancing West Coast Swing now for about two years. I’ve competed twice in the annual Meet Me in St. Louis competition, coming in third in the Jack ‘N Jill competition, Newcomer division, both times. I’ve taken private lessons to clean up my basics, and this January, I’ll be working with my instructor at my church, where we’ll be teaching WCS to the members.
Be sure to come by All on the Same Page Bookstore on Saturday, 1:00-3:00 p.m., to meet George and pick up your own copy of EXCELSIOR!