Connor Coyne conjures up fantasy and madness in new book 'Hollywood, a novella'

FLINT, Michigan — Flint-based author Connor Coyne’s fifth book release 'Hollywood, a novella' is set to be released on March 3, 2024, through Lethe Press. Coyne’s long-established love affair with fantasy is brought to life in 'Hollywood' as the topics focus on loss, coming of age, self-discovery, and the questioning one’s own mental health. 

Coyne grew up in both Flint and Flushing. After graduating from Flushing High School, he left Michigan for nearly a decade and a half. He graduated from the University of Chicago and later obtained his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the New School in New York City. It was afterward that he moved back to Flint, and has made his home with his wife and two daughters in the College Cultural Neighborhood.

Flintside caught up with Coyne to discuss his passion for the written word, how 'Hollywood, a novella' came to be, and finding inspiration through music.

Flintside: When did you develop your passion for writing?

Connor Coyne: “I really enjoyed reading fantasy literature as a kid (J.R.R. Tolkien and those old Dragonlance paperbacks) and when my parents bought a computer in 1987, I think, it came with a word processor which made writing fast and convenient. I thought I’d try writing my own stories and it never stopped.”

Flintside: 'Hollywood, a novella' is your fifth published book. What was your first along with your others?

C. Coyne: “My first novel 'Hungry Rats' was my master’s thesis. It was teen noir written in second person, and not many publishers were interested in that. I incorporated my own imprint - Gothic Funk Press - and self-published it in 2010. [Other books were] 'Shattering Glass,' a novel (2013), 'Atlas,' short stories (2015), 'Urbantasm,' a four-part serial novel (2018-2022), and 'Impure Lichigan,' a two-part (so far) series (2022-present).”
Connor Coyne.
Flintside: Where did the idea for 'Hollywood' come from?

C. Coyne: “It kind of relates to some of what I described before. In late 2004, I was several years out of college and working a series of crappy jobs in Chicago, and cashing my checks at the currency exchange. But I’d just gotten engaged to my girlfriend and my best friend (also originally from Flint) had just moved from Marquette to be my roommate. 

We had a cheap apartment on the north side, two blocks from the lake, and between all the Chicagoans and Michiganders we knew, everyone was coming over all the time, making art, listening to music, dancing and it was basically an instant art collective.

I knew it was a very special time, and I immediately wanted to tell that story in some way. My girlfriend loved sharks, so it was fun to imagine a kaiju-sized shark in Lake Michigan. I tried a few times, but it never got off the ground. I didn’t have a protagonist. And while I still wanted to get back to Flint, I couldn’t stop thinking of people who just had to change the scenery for their health, sanity, and sometimes, their lives.”

Flintside: Eventually you found the protagonist and the project got off the ground?

C. Coyne: “Ophelia is someone who needed to get out, to get away from the ghosts of her past, to meet new people and gain a fresh perspective, to start to form a sense of her own identity that wasn’t scarred by trauma. She appeared in 'Urbantasm' as a supporting character, but I was curious about what happened in her life after that novel concluded.

She moved to Chicago, completely alone, and witnessed the gigantic shark, and that was what I needed to bring this story together. Ophelia encounters the shark early in the story. Everything that follows is about the ways that experience changes her and she learns to navigate in her new environment.”

Flintside: I noticed you even have a soundtrack which can be found on Spotify. Is this something authors are doing these days?

C. Coyne: “I came up with the idea when I was marketing 'Urbantasm' in 2018, but I’ve noticed a lot of other authors doing this too. Soundtracks are a cost-effective and fun way to bring attention to a book. But more than that, I think a lot of writers are deeply inspired by music. I know I am, and it’s a way of sharing inspiration with readers.

Flintside: Where can people get your book(s)?

C. Coyne: “I always ask people to purchase them directly from the publisher (Lethe Press) or a local independent bookstore. I’m a big fan of Totem and Comma. Of course, there’s always Amazon, which also distributes an ebook version for the Kindle.

'Hollywood, a novella' will be available for purchase through Lethe Press' website as well as Amazon on March 4, 2024.
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