Podcast: Interview with Jon Mollison

Today on the podcast I interview author Jon Mollison. He currently has three books out (see links below.) His story “Desert Hunt” appeared in StoryHack issue zero, which you can still get for free by signing up for the newsletter.

Notes:

  • [0:20] A little bit about Jon
  • [4:01] Re: the #PulpRev crowd
  • [4:30] How do you define pulp? Jon mentions these 5 pillars of pulp.
  • [6:05] Action. Adventure. Romance. Heroism.
  • [7:05] Jon plugs the magazine. Thanks, bro.
  • [8:15] Classic Fictioneers
  • [10:15] Modern Authors with Action, Adventure, Romance & Heroism
  • [14:35] Jon’s writing proccess
  • [17:15] I’ve only missed my goal to post this by what, 3 weeks?
  • [17:30] Audiobooks
  • [18:15] That time Lee Merriwether (60’s movie Catwoman) shot Jon.
  • [19:30] Jon’s high tech recording setup revealed
  • [24:40] What Jon is working on now.
  • [28:30] The best advice
  • [31:01] Jon pimps the magazine again. I swear, I’m not paying him to say this stuff.
  • [32:20] Possibly Jon’s best line of the interview. “I have too much to read, and it’s still not enough.” I want this on a poster and a t-shirt. Maybe even a mug.
  • [33:05] Seagull Rising

For more about Jon, go visit him on his blog. And buy his books.

Jon’s Books:

Podcast: Interview with comic & new pulp legend Ron Fortier

Special treat today on the podcast. I had a chance to interview Ron Fortier. He’s probably the greatest living expert on the Green Hornet. I guess that makes sense, as he used to write the Green Hornet comic book. He’s been a writer of comics and pulp fictions for over 45 years. He’s the co-founder of the new pulp publisher Airship 27, which has over a hundred titles in print. Next year I want to go to Pulpfest or Windy City Pulp & Paper just so I can meet him. This interview went twice as long as they usually do, and now I wish it was even longer. I might be just a wee bit excited about this.

Notes:

  • [0:10] Ron has been a working comics writer for longer than I’ve been alive.
  • [7:21] How Ron got into writing.
  • [11:58] Getting into big name properties. (Terminator & Green Hornet…)
  • [21:15] Preparing for the right moment.
  • [22:30] How the Green Hornet came to be
  • [28:58] Crafting a legacy backstory from many sources
  • [35:05] Ron’s thoughts on the Green Hornet movie (2011)
  • [39:25] Writers have to be bad guys
  • [43:00] Airship 27 – If you’re a writer
  • [47:00] Airship 27 – if you just plain like pulp fictions
  • [53:15] Where is new pulp headed?
  • [55:00] Final advice: share your talents.

Special Note: There is a movie based on Ron’s “Brother Bones” character currently being kickstarted. Go check it out.

For more about Ron & Airship 27 check out:

Podcast: Interview with Martin McConnell

Through a suggestion via a friend on twitter, I met (in a virtual sense) Martin McConnell. He’s a fascinating guy, and took the time to chat with me via skype.

Notes:

  • [0:15] What it really means to be full-time in the writing business
  • [1:05] The joy of RC Helicopters
  • [1:25] What happened when Martin looked up (at the stars)…
  • [4:00] What do you get when you cross astronomy and writing?
  • [4:50] Historically accurate mooning in fiction. (Would have been a great linkbait title for this post)
  • [5:40] Things he has written
  • [7:35] The story of how Martin bought the farm.
  • [13:00] How his farming affects his writing
  • [15:05] Martin’s kick in the pants (for writers)
  • [18:37] Coming soon
  • [21:30] For more about Martin…

For more information about Martin:

Podcast: Interview with Daniel Swenson

A couple of weeks ago, Daniel made the journey all the way out to beautiful StoryHack Studios for an in person chat. Not that Skype is bad or anything, but it is always much more fun to do these in person. Daniel’s the founder of the Hugo-finalist podcast Dungeon Crawlers Radio. Today, his debut novel is officially released, so it’s time for him to sit on the other side of the metaphorical interview table. Except in this case it was an actual table.

Random show notes:

  • [0:30] Daniel embraces his hair color and laments the loss of gingers in comic-based media
  • [1:50] The Golden Eagles & hockey
  • [3:20] 10 redheads under one roof.
  • Bonus Fact: Daniel has a one-eyed dog that is terrible at playing catch.
  • [5:30] The Shadow Above the Flames
  • [8:15] Daniel’s writing process
  • [11:45] Getting published
  • [12:45] Definitely not a spoiler
  • Bonus Fact: Daniel has chickens.
  • [13:40] Dungeon Crawlers: A History
  • [17:48] The most exciting guest.
  • [20:15] Games & Helping out the little guy
  • [22:22] Daniel has two closets full of games. I only have one, so this made me feel a little inadequate…
  • [23:22] Running rpgs for teenagers
  • [24:45] RPG recommendations – Firefly RPG, D&D, Savage Worlds
  • [28:48] Board Game Suggestions – Shadows of Brimstone, Betrayal at House on the Hill
  • [31:23] What’s next for Daniel? How to find him online.

More about Daniel:

Podcast: Interview with Carl Hackman

Another author interview! This time I had a chance to meet Carl Hackman, who before becoming a published author had a number of adventure careers.

Some interview notes:

  • [0:13] – Off continent? Out of the country anyway. I’m a doofus
  • [0:33] – 3 things about Carl
  • [1:14] – Carl laments not tuning up a guitar to make this a musical interview
  • [1:40] – Carl fled the rat race all the way to the Dominican Republic, where he now resides
  • [2:33] – How Carl got into animal rescue
  • [3:45] – Choosing the Dominican Republic
  • [4:25] – Carl has jumped out of more helicopters than you
  • [5:30] – Carl’s writing process
  • [6:50] – The neighborhood dog choir
  • [7:30] – Gerald
  • [9:41] – What Carl’s working on now
  • [10:05] – Carl’s literary favorites
  • [11:30] – When Carl started writing
  • Aside: I love how Carl pronounces “Jaguar”
  • [12:40] – What Carl is reading now
  • [13:20] – The story of getting published
  • [14:30] – Immortal Works is awesome
  • [16:00] – Juggling ideas
  • [17:00] – Scrivener
  • [17:45] – What should I have asked?
  • [18:20] – Helicopters
  • [19:00] – Wrapping up

If you want to learn more about Carl:

The Last Private Investigator on Earth

For a long time, part of my day job had me driving to Wyoming and back once a week. That added up to quite a few hours with not much to do. Not like truck driver hours, but for me it was a lot. Several years ago, during one of my trips I gassed up at a new (to me) truck stop. While perusing their convenience store, I came across a rack of books on CD by Graphic Audio. (Aside: They do full cast recordings with music and sound effects.)

I wasn’t all that interested in westerns at the time, and I didn’t want to start some other series in the middle, so picked out a piece called “The Plutonium Blonde.” The cover & blurb spoke to many of my favorite themes and genres. Futuristic setting? Check. Private Investigator? Check. Femme fatale? Check. Action and comedy in my scifi? Check and check. So I bought it and it kept me company on the road for the next six hours or so.

I’ll tell you what, the book did not disappoint.

It was every bit as much pulpy goodness as I hoped it would be. Who’d have thought scifi could still be so much fun? Most of my other modern reading should have come stamped “very serious.”

Fast forward to today. There’s this whole pulp revolution thing going on. Folks have remembered how imaginative, exciting, and wonderful scifi can be. It doesn’t have to be morose and preachy. During a recent discussion online about modern authors that write pulpy stuff, I remembered the adventures of Zachary Nixon Johnson, the afore-mentioned world’s last PI.

Inasmuch as I’m making more of a effort here on the blog, I figured I’d track down the author and invite him around. His name is John Zakour. As it ends up, he’s written all sorts of stuff. He has a web comic, he’s scripted a couple of Simpson’s comic books, he’s penned a few children’s books, all sorts of things.

After a little work, I contacted him and he graciously agreed to do an interview. Now that this is the longest introduction I’ve ever written, onward with the questions. I’m in bold, John Zakour’s in italics.

What about you should everybody know?

Nothing. I like to keep some mystery about me. 🙂

When and how did you start writing?

I started out as a gag writer writing for comics and cartoons. I discovered gag writing during the (cough) late 80s when I lost my job as a computer programmer for Cornell. I spent the summer wandering the bookstore and found a book about how to write gags. I tried it and sold like a billion gags. (Okay more like a few thousand.) I branched off into novels to see if I could do it just as Cornell hired me back. I actually got into a Ph.D. at Cornell but decided I’d rather write gags and books than work on mice brains. As I was told “getting a Ph.D. is not a hobby…” My mom never liked that decision until I married the Cornell professor.

I see you’ve written several books by yourself, and several with a partner. What are some of pros and cons of writing with a coauthor?

Pros: You always have somebody else to blame the bad stuff on. “Larry wrote that…” would be my standard response to anybody who complained about the early Zach books.

Cons: Splitting the money.

What advice do you have for somebody thinking of collaborating on a novel?

Think again. Make sure you work with a person you can fight and disagree with but still work with them. There will be disagreements. Also make sure you are bigger than that person just in case.

How did the Zachary Nixon Johnson books come about?

I was a house dad for a few years in Costa Rica while I wrote gags and comics. I saw an HBO movie about a mystic detective. Then I watched Blade Runner. Then I read Hitchhikers guide again. Then I decided to blend them all together into a novel which I wrote in Costa Rica. When we returned to the US I pitched the story on whim to the sci fi channel web site. They bought it as original serial content. That was nice and I thought that was that. Then Larry Ganem told me about this little company called Peanut Press that was starting e-books. On a whim a wrote them about combining all the episodes into a book. They bought the book and it sold really well. So I thought that was that. Then somehow Betsy Wohiem from Daw found the book and told me she wanted to buy it as a full blown novel. I said “sure I could do that.” I really had no idea I could do that. So I recruited Larry to be a part of the writing team as well he knows stuff like verbs and things.

What were some of your influences for writing them?

Douglas Adams and Charles Schultz.

Were you a fan of the pulp detectives and scifi?

No not really. That’s the weird thing. I actually became a fan after the Zach stuff. I did like Dirk Gently and I loved the new series.

What got you into writing your children’s books?

People who know me pretty much say, “you know you think like a big kid who just happens to have a couple master’s degrees.” So I figured writing for kids is an easy mindset for me. They are my demographic. My diary of a super girl series is doing well.

What’s next for you as a writer?

More kids novels, another Zach story (for a pulp press) and I’m writing for a kids science magazine:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/saritamenon/smore-magazine-ignite-her-brilliance

And of course my working daze comic will still keep rolling along as comics are in my blood. Hopefully I will write a couple more Simpsons.

What should I have asked you, if only I had known enough to ask?

What do you tell all would be writers? Have a significant other who has a real job. I love the freedom writing give me. It let my stay home with my son. But insurance and stuff is expensive and the pay for writing not nearly as much as they make it look like on TV. Oh make sure you give that spouse or significant other the credit they deserve as they working the long hours and having to deal with people while you are sitting at home in your underwear going “hmmm, this could be cool story!” Thanks Olga!!!! Love ya!

What the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? To which I would have replied one of the funniest moments in movie history. That’s how I roll.

If you’re interested in learning more about John:

Podcast: Interview with Caryn Larrinaga

Earlier this week, I took a break from reading down the slush pile to visit with Caryn Larrinaga, author of Donn’s Hill. I met Caryn this year at LTUE.

Some notes from the interview:

  • (0:00) Larringata Larrinaga. Apparently I am an idiot. Or maybe it’s just that so many people get my last name wrong that I subconsciously want everyone else to suffer the same indignity
  • (0:40) 1st thing: Donn’s Hill
  • (1:09) 2nd thing: Her shorter works, wherein Caryn refuses to give spoilers
  • (2:37) 3rd thing: Gaming event for charity with Caryn  (& some lesser authors) at Paragon City Games in Draper, UT on March 30, 2017
  • (3:30) Cthulu Yahtzee & other great tabletop games, including the panda one
  • (6:10) The secret thing about Caryn that nobody knows
  • (7:22) How Caryn got into ghosts
  • (9:30) How Donn’s Hill came to be
  • (11:24) Caryn’s writing process
  • (14:30) Hiring a developmental editor
  • (16:00) Getting a publisher
  • (17:50) What’s next?
  • (18:55) The 27 hr day
  • (19:30) League of Utah Writers (Caryn will present at the spring conference on April 8)
  • (21:30) Cats are not hobbies
  • (23:00) Conferences and events

If you want to learn more about Caryn, check out her website, browse her book on Amazon, or follow her on facebook or twitter. You can also hear the first chapter of the audiobook for Donn’s Hill on her publisher’s website.

StoryHack Podcast #1: David J. West Interview

I’m calling this the StoryHack Podcast, Episode #1. However, don’t hold me to any sort of schedule for releasing more of these. I have no plans for regularity. That being said, it was a lot of fun, and I would like to do more author interviews in person.

Cutting now to the chase, I’d like to introduce my first live author interview. I recently discovered David J West. Somehow, I had been following him on twitter for a while now, but I’m not sure how he got there. After we “met” on twitter, I decided to check out some of his fiction. After greatly enjoying a couple of his works, I decided I needed to meet him. Fortunately, he lives less than an hour away. So I used this interview as a pretext to meet him face to face.

David writes great action adventure/horror/western stories.

And like I said, this was my first live interview so I was a bit nervous. Hopefully I didn’t step on David’s responses too much.

Download (~32 mb)

We talk about his journey to getting published, David’s literary likes, writing process, Orrin Porter Rockwell and historical context of David’s westerns, ranking gunslingers by body count, writing soundtracks, Conan and other Robert E. Howard works, and whatever else struck our fancy.

Stuff I learned about myself: I need a less cumbersome mobile rig if I ever do this again. Also, I need to stop saying “okay” so much.

If you’d like to learn more about David, here are some useful links:

Chatting with Maria Lynch

Today’s author interview is with Maria Lynch, author of Beneath the African Sun.

What are three things everyone should know about you?

  1. I love reading fiction and non-fiction books that interest me; fiction—historical fiction, detective mystery and some popular fiction. Non-fiction can vary from philosophy to current trends in leadership, addressing social justice issues and community development.
  2. I write book reviews of the books I read and then post them on my blog www.dovemuse.ca This is really a repository of the books I have read and my opinions of them.
  3. In my past life I was a high school teacher, college instructor and web tutor and am happily now engaged in writing fiction.

What is one thing almost nobody knows about you?

I can’t divulge my secret; then everyone will know once you publish this. Some things have to be kept secret.

What motivates you to write?

  • The need to bring out social justice issues as it relates to ordinary lives in a fiction format that would illustrate the pain and anguish ordinary people endure;
  • To illustrate in fiction format the positive and sometimes negative impact of community on individuals;
  • To apply some philosophical concepts in a story format as it relates to daily living.

What does your writing process look like?

Once I have determined one of my motivational themes from question #3 above, I map out an outline of the story. In a free-thinking manner I write the “almost whole clay” of the story. Then I write many iterations of the story line and determine the protagonist’s role and how this person would fit in the theme of the story. My next step is to determine the flow of the chapters as the story evolves. This leads to the development of the characters and creation of scenes to make the story come alive. Self-editing takes over as each word and sentence is fine tuned to satisfaction. I usually know my beginning and ending but this could change as the story develops through the fingering of the keyboard.

Tell me a little bit about Beneath the African Sun.

It is a story about a young man seeking adventure and a completely different lifestyle in a faraway land of Kenya in the early 20th century. Sabby, the protagonist, for the first time endures the true meaning of segregation in Colonial Kenya which is quite different from his homeland of Goa in south west India. Despite it, he becomes a successful business man, gets married and raises a family of four. Some of the obstacles they attempt to overcome include their own Goan community caste system, the Mau Mau freedom movement from the indigenous Africans to enable them to gain independence from Britain and the ultimate impact of post independence on this one family seeking a sense of belonging to a beloved country.

What kind of research did you have to do for Beneath the African Sun?

I researched the historical facts included in my novel; three official sources are acknowledged in the Acknowledgements page of my novel. There was cursory research done via the Internet; sometimes to verify certain historical facts and other times to include new facts. Then I recalled and relied on the many stories told by my family members, friends and neighbours who were in Kenya during the time span of the novel.

What should I have asked you, if only I knew you well enough to ask?

Do you ever stop? Why do you keep finding writing projects to work on? How does your interest in travelling affect your writing?

Okay then, do you ever stop?

In my past career I used to stop after each project until I would find myself seeking another challenge or project to work through. It helped me to learn and grow. Now that I am writing fiction for publication I have found an activity that seems to last forever. This can be accomplished by writing a series, sequels or trilogies that results in a continuum of fiction writing.

Why do you keep finding writing projects to work on?

Fiction writing has many threads and they lead to a variety of tapestries of stories. Each thread is woven into a different story.

How does your interest in travelling affect your writing?

When I travel I meet and interact with people of the countries I visit. There is a mountain of stories; some are about the local people while others are about tourists I travel with. These stories will be written in a fiction short story format.

Maria’s book Beneath the African Sun is available at Amazon and other major online booksellers. You can learn more about Maria on her websiteher blog or on twitter.

Beneath the African Sun from Maria Lynch on Vimeo.

Max E Stone Stops by for a Chat

Tell me three things about yourself that you think everyone should know.

  1. I’m not perfect. I’m learning my craft as I go in this wonderful world of writing and publishing.
  2. My first stories at 9 years old were anything but child’s play. I impressed and also concerned and even scared many of the adults around me with my tales of murder and downright gory violence (I swear they just came to me).
  3. I love to travel and hope to work the world in my works, one book at a time.

So what are a couple of places you’d like to visit and later mix into your fiction?

I would definitely like to mix in Sweden. I’ll be visiting there soon so I’m sure an idea will pop up while I’m there. I’d also want to try Nebraska, maybe, just to see what story would come out of it.

Tell me one thing almost nobody knows about you.

Some people know this about me but not many others do: I was a huge jerk. I was very mean and my words cut deep. Even when I should, I just didn’t shut up. Its a miracle I didn’t get beat up and that I actually still have friends from my childhood.

Do you have any odd writing habits?

Ice water and jazz. Ice water keeps me awake since I’m off coffee for good and jazz relaxes me and gets the juices flowing.

I’m a big fan of jazz, too. Who are a couple of your Jazz favorites?

Wow, how much time do you have? Just to name a couple, I’m huge fan of Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis. I also enjoy Renee Olstead. She played the oldest daughter on the sitcom, “Still Standing.” When I saw her perform “Summertime” on the show, I was blown away and I’ve loved her music ever since.

I saw on your website something about the Harambee Foundation. What is it and how are you involved?

The Harambee Foundation is a worldwide project that aids parts of Africa through a variety of initiatives that are meant to provide for the many communities there.When I went to Italy a couple of summers ago, I learned of Harambee Gwassi-Kenya, or the Italian Kenya Scout Development Project, from some friends who live there. This particular project works with Kenya in creating and building schools and enriching the land for the betterment of the citizens in accordance with food, nutrition, and more. Its a great cause. They do a lot of good. As for my involvement, I share and talk about it as much as I can, but I’m hoping to do more in the future. You can find out more about Harambee and how to get involved through my website or on their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/IksdpProgettoHarambeeKenya

Tell me a little about your newest book.

My newest book, the third in what I call the Warren-Bennett-Johnson series, One Minute There, centers on Rhode Island Detective Stephen Bennett who, along with the authorities, is on a frantic search for his step-daughter Melissa, an emotionally fragile girl who disappeared leaving a two victims and a blood trail behind. Bennett is desperate to find her first and his search takes him well beyond New England, where he discovers the girl’s numerous secrets and that he and the cops aren’t the only ones looking for her.

[You can pre-order One Minute There on Amazon.]

What’s next for you?

An audiobook of number 2 in the Warren-Bennett-Johnson series, The Bleeding, is currently underway and is being narrated by the amazing Noah Michael Levine. It’s going to be great! Also, I’m currently working on the next in the series, Black Cradle, which is due out in August.

How can people find out more about you and your books?

You can always contact me or follow me on my website, facebook, or twitter:

Stone Patrick

What are three things about you that you want everybody to know?

1. My interest in writing a novel started late in life, when I was in my 40’s, as I resisted putting words to paper for the longest time. Only when I realized that I enjoyed telling stories did I think about creating a book as an outlet to the stories that I wanted to tell.

2. I don’t lead a very interesting life and nothing truly exciting ever happens to me, so a lot of what I like to write about are adventures that I wish I could have.

3. I hope to someday be rich and famous so that I can quit my day job and devote 100% of my free time to travelling the world, visiting the places that I have only read about or seen on TV.

What is one thing about you that almost nobody knows?

1. I would love to be a NASCAR driver!

Let’s say you sell a million copies of your book tomorrow. Where’s the first place you visit?

While this is a tough question to answer, my first choice would be to go on a Mediterranean cruise with my wife. We would start in Lisbon, Portugal and travel to Spain, Italy, Greece, and then end in Israel.

Was there a specific moment that made you say “You know, I should write a novel.”?

That moment hit me when I started reading a e-zine published by Randy Ingermanson aka The Snowflake Guy. His approach to writing a novel was very matter-of-fact, and I continue to subscribe to his monthly newsletter because of the quality of information that he provides to both new and experienced authors.

So did you actually use the snowflake method when writing The Fallen Body?

I did not use the snowflake method when writing The Fallen Body. Instead, I created a series of action scenes — about twenty or so — that outlined the general plot, and then wrote those scenes one right after the other. I created transitional scenes in between when needed and weaved them all together.

Tell me about The Fallen Body.

The Fallen Body is about a small-town lawyer, Taylour Dixxon, who meets Sarah Cockrell Baines, a New Jersey socialite and millionairess. Their budding friendship begins with promise. However, soon after they meet, Sarah is arrested for the murder of her husband. When Taylour volunteers to defend Sarah, she has no idea that her struggling solo law practice in the sleepy, fictional, small town of Marlinsville, Texas, will be turned upside down. From a lovable, adolescent nephew who moves in with her, to a hired assassin who is determined to hide the truth, and a handsome Texas Ranger who becomes the object of affection in a love triangle between the two friends, Taylour’s life will never be the same.

So what is next for you as a writer?

I am going to continue the Taylour Dixxon series with at least two more books, one of which I have already started. My goal is to have the second one done by October 2014 so that I can start the third during NaNoWriMo in November 2014.

What should I have asked, if only I had known you well enough to ask?

Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The book starts out focusing on the death of Neil Baines, and how a small-town lawyer, Taylour Dixxon, found herself defending the wife, who is the one accused of perpetrating the crime. I chose a small-town lawyer because I wanted to highlight the challenges that these sole practitioners face, day in and day out, as they try to practice law outside of the big city. The message that I want the reader to come away with is that the job of a lawyer, especially in a small town, is vitally important to the sustainability of order in society. It can sometimes be a thankless job, but in the end, Taylour knows that this is where she belongs.

For more about Stone Patrick & The Fallen Body:

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Interview with Daniel Danser

Today I have an interview with Daniel Danser, Author of “The God Particle.”

What are three things about yourself you think everybody should know?

The inspiration for The God Particle came after a business trip to Geneva, Switzerland. I was winding down after a hard days work in the hotel bar when I overheard two technicians from the nearby CERN Institute discussing the Hadron Collider. On the television were the devastating scenes of the 2011 Japanese tsunami. I put the two together, which formed the plot for the book.

Whilst doing my research for the novel I came up against a lot of resistance from the scientific community when I started asking poignant questions, such as: How can we be sure that the recent spate of so-called natural disasters aren’t as a result of something we are doing? Has humanity reached a tipping point of developing technology so profound, that it can destroy the human race? What if the motives for scientific discovery are not necessarily for the benefit of mankind?

Which brings me to my third point; I discovered that the search for the God Particle has already cost the contributing countries $15 billion. Putting that into perspective NASA cut their space exploration program to save $310 million that’s a third of what CERN spend every year on running costs for the Large Hadron Collider. So what are they going to do when they find the God Particle? The last time such a vast amount of money was spent on a single project by so many countries was in 1943, it was codenamed The Manhattan Project and the outcome was the atomic bomb! Need I say any more?

What is one thing almost nobody knows?

What almost nobody knows about me is that since I published The God Particle, I have been threatened and intimidated to such an extent that I have felt compelled, for the safety of my family, to leave my home country and relocate to the relative anonymity of The Middle East…and of course Daniel Danser isn’t my real name!

Hope it’s not too heavy for you but the more people who know the truth, the safer I will be.

Do you come from a scientific profession, or did you start this as a writer looking for good ideas?

I’ve always been interested in science – ever since my first chemistry set as a child. It was my best subject at school and I’ve always kept abreast of the latest developments by reading scientific journals. I’m sure that if I hadn’t taken up writing as a profession, the lure of the Bunsen burner, white lab coat and wild hair would have got me in the end.

You obviously feel pretty strongly about the dangers of some scientific research. Why write about them in a novel rather than pursue a more journalistic venue?

When I left university I worked in the newspaper industry and the sad truth is that stories get manipulated and edited for the benefit of the media owners. The great advantage of ebooks is that you can express your opinions without fear of censorship and get your message over to a global audience.

The other downside of newspapers is their transient nature; a ‘big’ story will hit the headlines for one day, if it gets enough response there may be a follow-up article the next day but then that’s it. It will inevitably get replaced by the next ‘big’ story, such is our appetite for new news. An ebook on the other hand is more enduring, once published its out there for future generations to discover.

Don’t get me wrong, “The God Particle” isn’t the gospel according to Daniel Danser, it’s a work of science fiction based on science fact; an action-adventure thriller that takes the popular theory – “Every time the world’s largest machine (the Large Hadron Collider), fires-up, a so-called ‘natural’ disaster occurs – tsunami, earthquake volcanic eruption etc” – to the next level. The hypothesis has been around for a while, I’ve just added the flesh to the bones in a way that I hope will entertain as well as inform.

So what is “The God Particle” all about?

CERN’s Hadron Collider is the world’s most powerful machine; its sole purpose is to prove the existence of the mysterious God Particles – the essential building blocks of the universe. But after a series of global catastrophes, suspicion arises as to whether they are occurring naturally or are somehow connected to the collider’s experiments.

After the sudden death of the project’s director general, professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tom Halligan, is headhunted by CERN’s governing council to continue the search for the elusive particles.

He is soon embroiled in a titanic struggle against sinister forces that are intent on creating a chain of events, the outcome of which will determine the fate of mankind.

The battle to save the planet from annihilation is being fought by the most unlikely of heroes.

What did you do to help your book crack the Amazon top 30 for its category?

I knew from the outset that writing a good novel was only the beginning of the journey to becoming a best seller. When you put your pen down that’s when the real work start. You have to have a marketing strategy that will differentiate your book from the millions that are available, this involves using all the tools that are available on the web – blogging, interviews, online reviewers, facebook, twitter, youtube and of course your own website.

What is next for you as a writer?

People who have read my book are saying that they can’t wait for the sequel and as tempting as it is to sit down and write my next novel, I’m disciplined enough to know that you have to maintain the momentum generated by the current one, otherwise it could slip into oblivion. So more blogging, more interviews and more tweets. Ultimately I would like to see the book turned into a film but that’s a whole new skill-set I have to learn to attract the right people in the film industry, having said that, I am a quick learner.

What should I have asked you if only I had known you well enough to ask?

Good question – I suppose you should have asked me when my birthday was, so you could have sent me a card (it was last week by-the-way). If I were interviewing myself, I would ask, “What drives you as a writer?” and the simple answer would be to make people think about what’s really going on around them. I’ve already spoken about how certain people have reacted to the novel and if I can inspire others to ask the same questions that I have asked then maybe when there’s enough of us we will get the answers.

To learn more about Daniel Danser:

God-Particle600

Meet William M. Brandon III

Today I’m pleased to introduce William M Brandon III. He just released a new novel called SILENCE and was kind enough to spend some time trading emails with me.

William and his wife.
William and his wife.

What are three things you think everybody should know about you?

  1. I’m a Los Angeles ex-pat, having escaped to the simpler life in NE Georgia. My recent move w/ my Wife and our six-year-old son is the 56th time I’ve changed addresses in my life.
  2. I prefer to write on typewriters.
  3. I began SILENCE when I was 19 years old (I am currently 38)

What is one thing almost nobody knows?

I love the Peaches’ album “Teaches of Peaches”

56 moves is a lot. You’re probably pretty good at it by now. 

Very good; prior to meeting my wife I had my worldly possessions down to three boxes and my typewriters. Less is always more in that regard.

Do you have plans to settle down there in Georgia?

We are definitely very settled. We plan to stay here until our little man graduates from school, then the Wife and I may skip the country for a little while.

Okay, I’m intrigued by the typewriters thing. Do you have one at home that you use to do the first draft or something?

I have several: a Burroughs (of adding Machine fame), a Olivetti Lettera 22,1923 Remington Portable, 1966 Smith-Corona, and an Olympia SM-4. The Olympia is the only fully functioning typer at present, although the Lettera is very close and so is the Smith-Corona. When I start a long project I like to start on a typewriter because it prohibits me from editing the hell out of everything I write. Using a typewriter helps me put together a body of work to edit, rather than editing to death a few pages and paragraphs  which I inevitably do on a laptop. My first attempt at a novel (SILENCE) was written long hand on legal pads at first – my desktop typing was far slower than my printing. While I was taking the initial parts of SILENCE and putting them together, my company performed an office product purge and I took home a late 80s electric typewriter. I loved being able to produce sheets of writing rapidly, and I have a deep nostalgia for the use of typewriters as a means of collecting ideas and thoughts. However, when it comes to editing a 300 page manuscript, I’m a big advocate of the laptop!

burroughs
One of William’s many machines.

Are there aftermarket parts available for those old typewriters, or do you have to search thrift and antique stores?

No sir, it’s all cannibalism now; weak machines have to be sacrificed to keep the strong ones going. For 70s/80s machines there is a dwindling supply of parts, but prior to that your best hope is to find a cheap typewriter on eBay, an antique store, or an estate sale and use it for spare parts. People also become creative, e.g. degradation of the piece of rubber surrounding the platen is a very common issue with antique typers. Industrial rubber isn’t manufactured on the level it once was, so collectors developed ways of stripping wires and taking their coating and applying it to typewriter platens…voila! The outland areas of Hollywood, like Burbank, and North Hollywood are excellent for typewriter shopping: all of the old movie props flow through the second-hand and antique stores and are usually in good enough condition. There is also a full typewriter repair and restoration shop in Glassell Park, California, but I haven’t found its equivalent in Georgia.

Any other hobbies besides writing and typewriters?

I’m an auto-didact, so pretty much anything that inspires me to learn. I’ve been programming in PHP and SQL for a little over a decade. Though I primarily use this skill for profit, it very much began as a quest for knowledge. I also do a lot of design work, from web design, to branding, to publication and digital layout. I’ve also been a drummer in bands off and on for the past twenty-five years. However, keeping up with my step-son’s VAST knowledge of dinosaurs is probably the most intensive hobby I presently participate in 🙂

Have you been writing SILENCE on and off this whole time, or is it something that you just put away for a while and recently dug back out and finished up?

I stopped working on it in 2000, aside from correcting an occasional spelling or grammatical error, it remained untouched until last year. That made the project very interesting: since SILENCE I’ve written several novels, and a bevy of short stories, so my writing has changed, refined I hope. I decided to send the manuscript to my editor, Elise Portale, as unchanged as possible from the 2000 version. Elise did a superb job of challenging me to develop many underdeveloped parts of the plot and to further develop the characters. Making changes, edits and additions in my old “voice” was a lot of fun and less paradigm-shifting than I had feared. I consider the manuscript done now, prior to completing the novella for Black Hill Press it felt unfinished to say the least.

So give me the elevator pitch for SILENCE.

SILENCE is about a man who is almost completely ruled by his desires. He is the embodiment of reckless youth; recklessness I experienced my early twenties. Dean O’Leary, SILENCE‘s protagonist suffers from a lack of subtlety and as a result is akin to the old saying, “He’d burn the house down because the front door squeaks.” It’s a love story, a journey, a and a thriller as seen through the eyes of a person consumed by his desires and always just short of complete personal destruction.
Thanks William!
For more about William M Brandon III:

Plus, if you’re in the area, you can catch William doing book signings this month at Hendershot’s in Athens, Ga, on April 16th (http://hendershotscoffee.com/event/silence-by-william-bill-m-brandon-iii-book-signing-and-reading/) and at Book Soup in Los Angeles on May 16th (http://agentofdiscord.com/book-soup-los-angeles-may-16th/)

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Dean O’Leary is a man who lives on the edge: of life, love, and happiness. After a bank robbery gone horribly wrong, Dean leaves his life of crime in Los Angeles and exiles himself to the cold grey sands of Las Vegas. A cruel and unusual twist of fate shows Dean a life filled with the love and hope that he has always thought impossible, and then rips it away. With nothing left to lose, Dean goes all in on one final crime.
Editor’s Quote:

“Many a yarn has been woven around the quest for love. But that familiar tale starts to fray at the edges when young Dean O’Leary, a bank robber whose pinstripe suit is a better fit than the age in which he lives, packs up his cigarettes and his battered heart to start fresh in Las Vegas. With a voice and style that drag you in, Brandon sets up a character whose neurotic, mile-a-minute mind echoes the desire, anxiety, depression, and insanity found at every intersection on the road to love. From Dean’s ultimate highs to his rock-bottom lows (making a quick pit-stop at the surreal), Brandon will take you on an emotional walk in a desperate man’s wing-tip shoes—and you’ll be hooked from the very first step.”-Elise Portale

The Triumphant Return of J. Dane Tyler

Dane’s been here before, but he’s got new stuff to talk about and an awesome new book out. Unfortunately, no talking robots this time.

You used to give me a hard time about self publishing, and now you seem to have embraced it – what changed?

Honestly, the business model changed. It used to be disastrous; now it’s really awesome. I knew, once I heard about publishing for free online to ebook readers, I knew the race would be on. I won’t claim to have the same insights as Joe Konrath, but I knew self-publishing had become something reasonable. It stopped being a money-pit where writers desperate to get their work to readers would be taken advantage of and bilked out of a lot of money.

Being able to allow anyone to publish, without penalty of cost, is a great business model. And readers finally have real choice, real options. Nothing else has changed — only my mindset. I gave up a long time ago on the notion that making it through the gatekeepers meant being a better writer somehow. It doesn’t. It just means being a luckier writer. I don’t think someone’s opinion should stand in the way of someone else’s dream. Those who felt the opinionated ones validated their ability somehow I pity the most.

Writers can write and reach their audiences directly, without anyone making a free buck from their labors and “screening them out” of publishing. Maybe some who are publishing now won’t be up to public standards in terms of skill, but the readers themselves vet those things out.

Now, rather than sitting around for years hoping and praying, and instead of having to cough up hundreds of dollars and having to buy their own copies as a minimum order, writers can write the way they believe their audiences like their work to be, and publish it, and see it for sale within days or hours, not years.

I like that.

What is your very favorite book about writing and why?

Tough choice! If I had to pick just one, I’d have to go with good ol’ Strunk & White’s “Elements of Style“. I believe it is still the definitive guide to writing good, solid, vigorous prose. It’s a small, non-threatening book which delivers rules in punchy, one-sentence capsules you can embrace as a writer. Find the nuggets particular to your quirks and style and hold on to them, work them into your prose, and before long you’re a stronger writer. It worked for me, it will work for most who give it a chance.

I also loved James Scott Bell’s book called “Plot and Structure“, but if I can only pick one, I have to stay with S&W (not Smith & Wesson, though they’re a good choice too).

How did your affair with Scrivener start?

Well, it’s funny. A few months ago my wife and I were surfing around, and I found several writer-specific software programs which could accommodate my “new story structure method” (which isn’t “new” at all, but that’s another story). My method, of course, was the Larry Brooks adaptation of the Three-Part Story Structure. He changed it to FOUR parts, which makes it a LOT easier to digest and manage, and then there are five milestones to which the writer moves the story. I wanted software which could manage Acts, Chapters and Scenes.

Well, when I heard about Scrivener (long before this), I was instantly jealous because the feature set sounded great, but it was Mac-only at the time. About a year after that, I heard they were producing a Windows version. When they released free trials for beta, I tried it. I didn’t know what I was doing, and figured the software wasn’t what I wanted. Like yWriter, it was just too complicated for me. So I shelved it for a long time.

So, here we are, shopping for writing software again. My wife gives me the go-ahead to buy several, try them all, settle on one and have done with it for once and for all. So I downloaded the three and found myself instantly drawn to them because they could indeed be broken into Acts, Chapters and Scenes, just like I wanted. I could structure the outline in a sidebar to meet my Four-Part structure, insert placeholders for the milestones, and start pecking.

I wrote my latest WIP using one called Power Writer, and I really enjoyed it. I loved managing my outline directly in the document. When it came time to revise, though, I found myself exporting to Word so I could work through the document. (Word 2010, by the way, is a very nice piece of software and it’s outlining capabilities are fantastic.) I did all the edits in Word, then I had to jump through all the hoops to turn my Word document into an HTML file which could then be fed to MobiPocket Creator and THEN uploaded to Amazon. Whew! Lots of work!

Well, for my next book I was torn between which two packages to use. I chose Scrivener because no matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t get “into” the other package. So I took a look at Scrivener’s documentation. I saw a few books on Amazon written about it. I then found out — because I didn’t explore their web site well at all — they had _video tutorials_! Well! Being a visual learner, this was the pot o’ gold for me!

I watched the videos and the more I learned, the more I liked it. Last week, I took my short story “Lucky Caller 7” from the collection “A Fine Cast of Characters” and imported it to Scrivener. I compiled it as a .mobi file directly from Scrivener, without having to go through Word or MobiPocket Creator. It uploaded beautifully to Kindle Digital Publishing, and the next day was for sale. It formatted fine, and what I didn’t like about the formatting I’ve since learned how to change. It’s brilliant. Complete control, and in the end, I’m a control freak where my fiction’s concerned.

So, it’s a long story, but that’s how my affair with Scrivener began. I see us being happy long into the future this way.

scales-of-justice_thumbTell a bit about your new book Scales of Justice.

It’s about a guy who lost his family to a dragon attack. In his world, they’re common. He became a dragon hunter to find and kill that dragon. But he’s been riding the canyon where he first encountered it for 20 years and hasn’t seen it. Then he comes to a little town at the far side of the canyon, where he’s not been before, and he meets someone who’s also lost his family to the very same dragon. He reluctantly partners with the old man, and together they set off to find and kill that dragon. But there’s a lot they don’t know about each other or their adversary, and finding out the hard way could cost them their lives.

Scales of Justice is set in a world very like ours, but not. I wanted to be deliberately ambiguous about the when and where, but drop hints about those things along the way. I hope it worked! I also wanted plenty of action, so this one moves a little faster than I expected. I also tried new stuff with characterization, so hopefully that went well too.

It seems to be a bit of a departure from your previous horror work. How did it come about?

A couple of years ago, I got into cowboys. BIG time. I watched “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “High Plains Drifter,” “Tombstone,” “Wyatt Earp” (which stunk, btw), and “Silverado” (also bad). I watched “3:10 to Yuma” (the remake), I watched “Unforgiven” again (love that one), and basically anything western I could get my hands — erm, eyes — on. I even tried reading a Louis L’Amour.

While I was in this mode, I got this weird idea — what if cowboys had been faced with dragons? What if dragons were wild in the old west? How cool would that be?

I wrote a short story, a vignette actually. Just one. And I loved it.

Then, I got this vision in my brain about a guy standing at an old hard-pack dirt road while his wife and kids get on a carriage. They ride off into the sunset. And against that backdrop, the black shadow of a dragon swoops out of the sky to spew fire on the carriage. I wrote that, too, mostly as a character study, but just to see how it went.

It was only a vignette too, but I ended up turning it into a short story. And I loved it.

Those two vignettes, less than 5,000 words together, became “Scales of Justice.”

What’s next for you?

Well, I have one book mostly outlined and another two are on deck. The next one and one of the two in planning are definitely horror. But the third one is sort of a paranormal-fantasy thing. I think the manuscript I wrote back in 2007 — the one through which you and I met, actually — is going to get an overhaul before too long, too. It’s got good bones, but needs a little touch-up here and there, like an aging beauty. Me, for instance. But that and its sequel are fairly complete stories. I need to outline them, add some Dramatica touches, and then start pounding the keyboard.

To learn more about Dane, check him out on:

New Interview Up.

J. Dane Tyler interviewed me for his blog and it’s up today.

Look forward to an interview with him here on StoryHack tomorrow.

Also, we got together and decided to do a fiction swap or two. I’m writing a short to go on his blog and he’s written one that’s going to appear here. This time, he chose the theme. So look forward for that later this week.

Interview with SBR Martin

Today we have SBR Martin, who is not a pig, but did write the book. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

sbrWhat are three things about yourself that everybody should know?

My email signature reads:

sbr martin

author, journalist, and mother

So I guess these are the three things everybody should know about me. I am an author. I am a journalist. I am a mother. I’m a lot of other things, too, but let’s not get into all that right now. I list these three things in my signature because they are my callings. They are the three things I was meant to be, the three things I am.

What is one thing that almost nobody knows?

Well, I’m a married lady. Everybody knows that. What a lot of people don’t know is that it was I who popped the question.

I proposed to my husband when we were partying like rockstars at Thunder in the Valley, an annual biker rally held in Johnstown, PA. I don’t know many married couples who started out this way, where the lady got down on her knees. I thought it was an interesting occurrence, a twist on the common approach. So I tossed this fact into my fiction.

In “pig,” the main female character proposes to her man, much like I proposed to mine. But the circumstances surrounding their storybook engagement are entirely different than those surrounding mine.

Incorporating a real life event into my work is something I do from time to time. Where fact is stranger than fiction, I use it to my advantage. I take a tiny bit or reality and spin it into an elaborate, exaggerated, fictitious yarn.

What’s the best part about living in Pittsburgh?

My home. Believe it or not, I’ve lived in the same house since I was born. When I went to the University of Pittsburgh for undergrad, I stayed in the dorms for a while, shacked up with a fellow for a year or so, but those places were just rest-stops on my life’s road, a road which always led back to where I’m sitting right now.

Once upon a time, I was the little kid running around this house, breaking all the rules, tearing everything apart. Now I’m the parent here, the one trying to exercise control—raising my voice, making the rules, and cleaning up all the messes. At times, it’s somewhat surreal.

My father had a heart attack in this house—the heart attack that killed him. My mother’s heart failed here as well, when she fell on the basement floor, attacked by sickness inside her body. Congestive heart failure. Our Chihuahua crawled to sit atop her distended belly as we bustled to call the paramedics. Several hours later my Mama was dead.

It was in this home that I took care of my grandmother as she was dying, and it was in this home that I woke up at 4:15 a.m. on a June morning to find her dead. She’d died that exact moment, the moment I woke up.

But it was also in this home that I had oodles of birthday parties and found excessive amounts of presents under the Christmas tree. My mother left me notes and poems on the bathroom mirror, one of which I included in my first novel, “in wake of water.” My father sang me lullabies. My sister and I played on the front porch. And, here, right here, is where I brought my newborn babies home as an adult. I walked through the door with my children the exact same way my parents must’ve walked through the door with me.

This house is alive with what life is. It’s seen loss. It’s seen gain. It has become an accessory to my existence, a brick box that stores all of my memories and holds a future yet untold.

As per Pittsburgh itself, it’s a great city, and it’s all I know. I live close to the heart of the ‘Burgh—20 minutes from this, that, and the other place. I know the streets, the neighborhoods, and the personalities they hold. Living here is familiar and convenient for me. And, hey, we got a stellar football team. Go Steelers!

Do you have any strange writing practices or quirks?

Indeed, I do. I read most of what I write… out loud. I like my writing to have a certain rhythm or meter to it; it has to sound a certain way when recited or I won’t use it.

I’ve been told before that I speak this way, that there’s some type of tempo to my talk. And I try to put that into my work. I imagine myself as the narrator. I am the one telling you the secrets, the one letting you know what’s really going on. My voice reveals what’s between the lines.

Grammar and punctuation are the tools I use to bring my talk to my text. Those commas? That’s where I pause. Those complex sentence structures? That’s where I shift the speed of my conversational machine. I break some conventional rules of syntax here and there—and it’s all for the sake of semantics, my friend. I want my books to be lively and have a spirit that cannot be overlooked. So I try to put as much of myself into each book as I can, in hopes that my readers will read more than mere words.

And, for the record, I just read my response to this question aloud. I think it sounded pretty good.

What are a couple of your favorite novels? (Doesn’t have to be the top two per se)

My favorite book of all time (so far) is “Grendel” by John Gardner. I love the story, but love the writing even more. Another favorite is “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire. The story is so intense. The plot is so thick. I really enjoyed every aspect of that novel.

These two books, my two favorites, share a common theme. They both reinvent antagonists from other works. “Grendel” is written from the perspective of the beast in the 8th century epic poem, “Beowulf.” And “Wicked” centers on Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz.” Both works look at characters who were dismissed as “bad guys” in the original works in which they appeared. They were characters who didn’t get a lot of attention in the first place—all that was shown was the trouble they caused. But each of these books steps into an already-established literary world and takes a closer look. As you read these masterpieces, you discover that these “bad guys” aren’t really all that bad after all. They have redeeming qualities, extenuating circumstances, and struggles of their own. You get a full picture, a well-rounded perspective.

This is something that I have carried into my own writing. There are some flawed characters in my tomes. But, just as they are flawed, so too they are gifted with some good. I try to make my characters as believable and sincere as possible. To do so, I must tell the whole story. Humans have peaks and pits in their personalities and behaviors. We are heroes and villains alike. I want my readers to see both of these sides in my characters, to feel compassion for the antagonist once in a while, or to feel disgust at the protagonist when she steps out of line. My books don’t have “good guys” and “bad guys.” They have characters that will strike you as surprisingly real.

I see on your many pages around the net that you went to law school. Were you ever a lawyer?

Nope. I realized, at some point in my second year of law school, that I did not want to practice law. But I finished school, mostly to finish something I’d started.

I had the degree, but nothing to do with it. Then life stepped in. My Gramma was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and I spent my time caring for her. After that horrific ordeal, I found a man, got married, and had two precious babies who’ve brought me tremendous joy.

I learned a lot from law school about reading and writing, and it was my experiences as an editor and contributor to Pitt Law’s Journal of Law and Commerce that got me hired for freelance writing gigs. I soon developed a fat portfolio of articles with media outlets such as AOL’s Patch Network and CBS Local Media Pittsburgh.

So I ain’t a lawyer, but the law school thing helped me get where I am. I’m grateful for the time I spent there, not so much for the money though.

coverTell everybody a bit about your book, Pig.

“Pig” is a cross-genre novel of contemporary psychological fiction. It’s the story of a woman named Lily who’s lived a life filled with ups and downs. From domestic abuse and alcohol addiction to motherhood and amazing sexual encounters, she’s seen it all and bore both misery and redemption each in her own special way.

The entire novel takes place at her husband Bender’s funeral, where she sits alone on a couch in the corner, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper she refuses to reveal. It’s that same scrap of paper that holds the truth about what really happened the night her husband suffered his fatal “accident.” And it is through flashbacks invoked by the familiar faces of funeral home patrons that the rest of Lily’s story and secrets unfold—including a very big secret that’ll make your jaw drop.

What should I have asked you about, if only I knew you well enough to ask?

You don’t have to know me well to ask about this. All you’d have to do is read through my answers to the previous questions to see that I’m partial to something that’s nowadays disfavored.

The serial comma—I love it! I’m a strong proponent of its perpetual use.

I employ the serial comma in my fiction, and in my multi-site online presence. I do not, however, use it in my journalism assignments. I’m not allowed to, as the Associated Press Stylebook condemns its usage except where why-so used for clarity in a complex series.

Kinda irks me a little, having to change something that I consider an integral part of my style so that I can conform to an official Style. But I gotta follow the rules sometimes to get that paycheck, right? I don’t think that’s selling out. It’s just making ends meet by doing what’s expected. Rest assured though, when I’m not under somebody else’s thumb, I stick that puppy in there every chance I get!

For more info about SBR, go check out:

“pig” by sbr martin

“in wake of water” by sbr martin

amazon | goodreads | facebook | facebook

Interview with Hydra Publications

Okay, so this is really an interview with Frank Hall, who runs Hydra Publications. I’ve had several of his authors on the blog recently, and he graciously agreed to spend a few minutes answering my questions.

I always start with the personal stuff. Tell me three things about yourself that you think everyone should know, and one thing that almost nobody knows.

Well lets see three things that everyone should know about me. First off i am a HUGE geek. Plain and simple. Another thing is my passion about books. I love them. My house is covered with books……and games….like i said geek. I am also a big animal lover. Hmm something that almost nobody knows. There was a time i thought about becoming a professional musician.

What is Hydra Publications?

Hydra is a small press that i started a few years ago as part of the bookstore that I own. It has quickly grown into a mind of its own. 

What is your role at Hydra?

Owner/Editor/marketer/press secretary/general contact/whipping post….you get the idea.

What type of reader likes the books Hydra publishes?

All types. When i first started out i was planning on doing Speculative fiction only. You know Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror. So naturally our first book came out and it was a Historical Romance. There is something for everyone in our titles.

What’s the hardest part of being a small publisher?

Dealing with expectations that people have that are just not realistic. One wanted their book to come out at a certain time and got offended when I told them that it was next to impossible to do that….2 weeks.

What’s the best part of being a small publisher?

I would say the best part is finding that new Gem that either someone else missed or has never seen. I love books so being able to see what people come up with before anyone else is a big perk to the job.

What could an author do to increase his or her chances of having a manuscript accepted at Hydra?

There are several things, the most important being write a good story. Then do the submission right. We have guidelines on the site for how to submit to us and it amazes me how many people do not follow them. I delete a lot of messages just because it was not submitted correctly.

What would definitely cause you to reject a manuscript?

As i said earlier submitting wrong is a biggie. If you cannot follow simple instructions off of a website then I do not want to work with you. Also if it is apparent that you didn’t even look over the manuscript when you finished it then that is a big one too. If I open it in Word and red lines start showing up everywhere then its a no. You have not taken the time to make sure your book is good and I won’t either.

What should I have asked you, if only I had known you well enough to ask?

You should of asked about the purple monkey!

www.HydraPublications.com

headertest1

Interview with Raven Bower

Raven_6wRaven Bower writes speculative fiction with her husband Lain. Let’s get to know her.

Tell me three things about yourself that you believe everybody should know and one thing that almost nobody knows.

Oh good ones! Let’s see, the three things everyone should know are:

I’m addicted to reading and haul books around with me everywhere I go. Sometimes more than I need, but hey better too many books than not the right one, right?

I’m a hopeless movie addict, I confess. I’ll watch almost anything that strikes my fancy at the moment.

Gardening! I blather a lot about plants on my blog. Hm.

The one thing almost no one knows, that takes some pondering. I’m allergic to bright colors. Okay, not in a real sense as in breaking out in hives or sneezing, but they do sear my eyes.

Your blog is titled “Gothic Living”. What does that mean?

Gothic Living is about living outside the box. It means gardening with intriguing twists – a Gothic cemetery, haunted orchard and ancient ruins. Decorating outside of the fabled ‘norm’ and creating fun recipes. It’s about celebrating the love of art, movies, writing and reading outside of the mainstream.

What is the process for writing a book with your husband? Do you talk about it and then type up parts of it separately? Do you sit at the computer together while writing?

A little of all of them, depending on what stage we’re at in the story. Usually I design the plots and most if not all of the characters, then Lain reads them over and we bat around ideas based off what I’ve concocted. When the writing begins I generally write the first draft and toss it to him, then he works his magic on it and hands it back to me. We play pass the manuscript for a while until we think it’s about right. During final edits, or particularly finicky scenes, we’ll work together at the same computer.

How do you resolve differences of opinion?

Usually by dropping it for a while, then returning to the manuscript with fresh eyes. Then each one of us makes our case and we decide which to use based off what is truer to the story and what the reader will enjoy more.

Do you find it easier or harder to write a screenplay or a novel? Or is it the same?

Screenplays are easier because of their nature. An average novel runs roughly 300-600 pages, depending on the genre, while the average screenplay runs 80-120 pages. Though a lot of the aspects of creating a novel and screenplay are the same, novels are far more work.

How did you get the “The Nano Effect” screenplay gig? Was that something you had already written and then just shopped around?

The director for “The Nano Effect” approached us. He had this lovely idea brewing in his head and the basics of the story set. However, the plot and characters just weren’t working and he realized that he needed writers. We took his basics and completely rebuilt the world, revamped the characters and created a new plot. It was a lot of fun and best of all it gave him a workable script.

Primal-Cover2What is your new novel Primal all about?

The clash of love and hatred, greed and malice! A mix of urban fantasy and romance, it revolves around Wrey and the werewolf Arvon as they attempt to outrun their enemies, and each other.

What’s your next big project?

Right now, we’re working on a romantic, swashbuckling fantasy on the high seas!

What one question should I have asked you, if only I knew you well enough to ask?

What’s for dinner? – blueberry pancakes yum! (I uhm.love food too)

For more about Raven:

Meeting With A Bestseller

Due to a long and bizarre sequence of events, a couple of weeks ago I got a chance to sit down and chat with Chris Stewart. He’s a bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. If you listen to Glenn Beck, you’ve probably heard of him before, as Glenn is currently re-releasing a series Chris wrote a few years ago. Also, it looks like Chris has a lock to become my congressman in Washington next election.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited about the whole deal.

Anyway, this wasn’t really an interview so much as a chance for me to sit down and chat about writing with an experienced and successful author.

Here are a few things he said in our conversation which I found interesting. These aren’t direct quotes or anything, just the stuff I jotted in my notebook.

  1. The traditional publishing world is basically controlled/directed by interns from NYU right now. They are the ones working for the “Big 6” who make the first, and maybe second cuts of all submissions.
  2. Keep your number of beta readers low. Perhaps two people. He said any more than that and you’ll start to lose your voice by trying to please too many differing opinions. As a corollary to this, he’s not a big fan of writing groups.
  3. Write what you love, because at some point writing is going to feel an awful lot like work. If your heart isn’t in what you’re doing, you’ll never finish it.
  4. Writing a lot is better for your skills than writing classes or craft books.

Anyway, it was a great opportunity for me and I’m grateful he would take the time to squeeze me into his schedule.

Interview with Tom Galvin

Today we’re meeting author/journalist/musician Tom Galvin. He’s from Ireland, so please read his responses with an Irish accent.

Tell me three things about yourself that you think everybody should know and one thing that almost nobody knows.

That’s a tough one  . . . but sticking to the writer theme: like most writers I’ve been rejected more times than I care to think about and only now understand why, appreciate why and can live with it; like most writers, self-doubt is a constant visitor;  bad reviews do hurt . . . for a day, that’s all the time I ever give them, the good ones are always at hand; at various stages, I’ve picked an age where if things haven’t worked out, I give up but that’s never going to happen because what else would I do? Anyway, I really think that unlike a lot of writers who wrote great stuff early, I realise now my best stuff is only on its way and it was worth the living to realise it!

You write for magazines and newspapers. How is writing fiction different from the journalistic writing?

Very different. And it really depends on what area of journalism you are in. Things have changed a lot these days with blogs, Twitter and other formats, even news apps. Most people just want their news to be delivered in the most succinct way possible and this is placing a lot of pressure on newspapers who traditionally had to fill pages of white space and there was always room for being a bit more elaborate.

My area used to be features, travel mostly, and documentary-style work and I always took my own photos having studied for the qualification that was designed for media. Sadly, all that kind of glamorous work has dried up, at least when it comes to newspapers and I found myself having to write about babies, housekeeping, mortgages . . . even travel features have become a bit boring. So unless you are working for a magazine that caters for a specific area of interest, being creative and writing Hunter S Thompson material is no longer an option. 

Nowadays, my work in journalism is basic news editing. There’s a strict format and style and no room for anything else. I miss doing the other stuff, but at least I get time to concentrate on my books.

How does your philosophy degree inform your writing, if at all?

It definitely does. I always describe doing my masters in Philosophy as the best worst mistake I made. It took too long and there was never going to be a job at the end of it. But I did it because I wanted to be a writer and an old lecturer of mine always maintained that English and Philosophy were the best combination, presumably meaning pairing good language with disciplined thought. It doesn’t suit everyone. The western philosophical tradition is very rigid, very rational. However, when it came to doing the masters I chose Albert Camus and existentialism (although he was not an existentialist as many believe) and his ideas helped me a lot.

Your website says that other than the writing, you also work as a musician. Could you elaborate on that?

I play in two bands at the moment, lead guitar, a Fender Telecaster with a VOX amp which combined is better than any drug going. I have always played music, learnt classical guitar and played acoustic guitar for a long time and when I lived in Poland I played with a blues band, on the blues harmonica actually most of the time (For more on that, there is a chapter devoted to it in my memoir on Poland called There’s an Egg in My Soup, shameless plug!). I also wrote a lot of songs and someday, hopefully, I’ll get them out there. I often regret giving up the dream of being a songwriter when in college, as I took the advice of many to be more practical. It was good advice, but I wish I’d given it a go rather than allow it to become a ‘serious hobby’.

Now, I play a lot and the music is blues/country blues/Americana-style material. I do it enough to enjoy it – too much and the fun goes out of it.

What was the best thing about living in Poland for a few years?

The freedom to roam, for one. Growing up in Ireland you are always conscious of being on an island in the Atlantic. I loved being on the continent with the ability to hop on a train and be in another country with another culture within hours.

I loved living among the Polish people. While I was lonely as hell at times, there was always the sense that you were never really ‘alone’. The Poles are fantastic in that regard and it is why I was able to stay so long.

I also became absorbed in the history and culture and wanted to learn more about it.

The other element of course was that it was a very interesting to have been there, just after the fall of communism. Very strange, at times almost surreal as an old way of life was being literally cleansed and a new one ushered in. You could sense the young people wanted to embrace it with vigour and the older generation felt they were standing still. There were so many things going on politically that it was amazing to be just there and to have been part of it.

Also, it was where I began writing as there was so much time on my hands. And it was where I got my first job as a writer, so a lot of things fell into my lap that wouldn’t have at home.

I wouldn’t go back to live there now. I visit regularly. But it’s a completely different place and I like to live with the memories I have. 

What is Gabriel’s Gate about?

gabriels-gateThe idea began in college as a utopian type of book. Friends and I who studied similar subjects would sit up drinking and talking instead of studying and came up with lots of alternatives views on society and all that. Of course there have been many utopian novels, but I and began writing it alongside a thesis on Rebellion. When I later went to live in Poland, many of the ideas I had about communism changed dramatically.

So I rewrote the book and tried self-publishing it in Warsaw. It was an exciting if pointless way to go about it and I realised that ultimately the book lacked a context and let it lie to work on other material. I saw the perfect window to revise the novel and press home the central themes – land, youth, man’s inhumanity to man and his blasé slaughter and disregard for the animal kingdom, greed – after the recession hit. There are positive points too though — friendship and good bonds between people, hope, determination etc.

The book is set in modern Ireland – or recession-era Ireland – and involves a group of college kids who decide, rather than be forced to emigrate or remain jobless, to take over a farm inherited by one of the group and to make a living from the land.

What they discover is no fairy-tale – they have to get their hands dirty in many ways, toiling and working the land every day and are forced to do things they never would have imagined doing like killing for meat – but they discover their pace and eventually peace settles on the group despite the hardships, until . . . well, the heart of the story kicks off once the ghosts return, as the farm is, unbeknown to all except the owner, sinking under bad debt and a history of betrayal. This book has been called the first in the ‘recession-lit’ novels, which is flattering, but it’s as much an old Irish fairy tale or a fable with the central themes just given a modern twist. It differs from a conventional novel and it’s also been criticised for that – but you do what you do and stick with it. I was very happy with the results and very, very happy with some of the better reviews that hit on what I was hoping to achieve.

What do you hope to accomplish as an author?

I think every writer shares the same dream – just to write, full-time, as a profession, and not have to do what I do, which is find the time to write. I plan to release two more novels and see what happens then. It is only recently that I now know the type of material I want to write and how I want to write it. Before, to be honest, I was a bit scattered, a bit impatient and my style was very ordinary. I got rejected and now I see why.

Are you currently working on any other fiction projects?

Yes, my next novel is called Everything is Foretold. It is set in Mexico and is loosely based on the (supposed) doomsday predicted by the Maya in December 2012. But I say loosely as I don’t want to restrict the plot line to a date like that. There is a much wider story and it’s a road book, about a group of friends who travel to Mexico to discover what happened to their pal who disappeared. I like it. So I hope others do when it comes out, hopefully, at the end of the year.

Learn More about Tom

He has several sample chapters from Gabriel’s Gate posted as a pdf on his site. Go check him out!

Interview with Gwen Perkins

We’re about halfway through this recent batch of interviews I’ve been doing. Today we have fantasy author Gwen Perkins. She recently had her novel The Universal Mirror published by Hydra Publications. Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll have a sneak preview of Gwen’s upcoming book The Jealousy Glass.

Tell me three things about yourself you think everyone should know and one thing that almost nobody knows.

Three things about myself everyone should know…

Well, I’m a nerd. Not a geek–that implies a level of cool that I don’t think I’ve got. (See? I just proved my point with that sentence right there.) I’m the kind of person that trips over couches, reads Suetonius in the bathtub and will try anything twice… as long as a computer or a D6 is involved.

I shouldn’t be allowed alone in a kitchen. Even my children supervise me when I wander near an oven despite the centrally-located fire extinguisher. I’ve set water on fire, made flaming peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and destroyed so many microwaves that I’m no longer allowed to own one. (Or perhaps that was after I thoughtfully looked at the last microwave and said with a dreamy air and my finger on my chin, “you know, that’s big enough to fit a turkey inside…”)

I love art. Nothing makes me happier than when someone gives me a piece of art that they made themselves. I dream of someday writing novels that inspire others to create in turn.

So far as one thing that almost nobody knows, I’d say that it would be the fact that I’m incredibly shy when it comes to talking to people face to face. I hide it well (in fact, my job consists at times of talking to audiences of hundreds) but inside, I’m shaking with fear every time I open my mouth until I realize that it’ll be fine after all. If you meet me and I’m acting awkward, it’s just that I’m being shy again. 🙂 It wears off, generally quickly.

Your blog says you’re a museum curator. What kind of museum do you work in (when you’re not writing)?

I work in a history museum. History is my field and I was fortunate to obtain a position that both allows me to work in an area that I love while broadening my horizons in terms of examining art and artifacts. Much of my work is in the area of social history and looking at how events or places shape people but I do branch out on occasion. (I’m particularly fond of searching out weird events or interesting people to focus an exhibit or essay on.)

You have an MA in Military History. How does that affect your writing? Aren’t you supposed to then be writing military SF and not fantasy?

I have to be honest and tell you that I pursued my MA more for my work and academic interests than for the connection to writing fiction. Fiction is my first and truest love.

That said, the knowledge that I gained with my degree definitely influences the writing of the Artifacts series. My thesis was on medieval Byzantium and that empire’s intersections with Crusaders in 1204. I used that topic to strengthen and enrich the story of my second novel although I won’t be fully exploring war until book three. While I have studied and researched modern warfare, my interests in the medieval world are what compelled me towards fantasy. At some point I may venture into a little military SF but most of my research (little of it modern) is actually better suited to the epic fantasy environment.

Was The Universal Mirror the first book you ever wrote, or is there a stack of novels in a trunk somewhere that will never see the light of day?

Well, the first book that I ever wrote was written when I was fourteen. It was a story about a telepathic girl and her mother. I’m fairly certain that’s a trunk novel although I don’t know where the trunk is at this point. 😉 There are a number of other half-completed works piled around my house at the moment.

The Universal Mirror isn’t my first novel but it is significant among my forays into fantasy fiction. Until I completed my thesis, I actually spent most of my time writing horror and science fiction. It took months spent in the world of medieval Constantinople and Venice to have enough of a sense of where I could go with those types of settings to feel comfortable giving it a try.

Do you have any specific writing habits?

I normally write after my children go to bed which also means I tend to write after dark. This often spills over into times that they’re not home. I find it rather difficult to write during the day or in silence. Both things make me extremely fidgety.

Another habit that I have involves dealing with writer’s block. When I get stuck on a point, I walk away from the computer and write the scene longhand. For me, something about the feel of pen on paper and the physical motion of writing jars my brain loose enough to get my creativity kickstarted again.

You have another book coming out soon. Tell me about that.

The book that I have coming out this November is The Jealousy Glass, the next in the Artifacts of Empire series. It’s set a year after the events of The Universal Mirror and was written to be easily read as a standalone piece. It follows two of the characters from Mirror (Asahel and Felix) as they travel on a diplomatic mission to the Empire of Anjdur. Felix and Asahel go to negotiate a treaty but quickly find themselves tangled up in the intrigues of the court, the manipulations of the Anjduri Empress, and finally, a war.

What are three of your favorite novels?

This is a hard thing to choose. Off the top of my head, three speculative fiction novels that have influenced me profoundly would be Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, and Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card.

mirrorCoverWho did the cover art for The Universal Mirror? Did you have any say about that?

Enggar Adirasa did the cover art for Mirror. I was the one who selected Enggar initially after many hours spent digging through the internet. It’s a real pleasure to work with him (he’s doing the cover for the sequel as well). One of the things that I enjoy so much about his work is that he captures the spirit of the fantasy novels that I read in my youth. The art is alive and full of color–the story leaps off the cover at you and I love that.

How has being published changed your life?

I look a bit more legitimate when I start talking about imaginary people.

Okay, maybe that’s not all that’s changed. I’ve met a lot of people, readers and writers, who have been a great support to me. There has also been wonderful feedback that has helped grow as an author that I feel I wouldn’t have received otherwise. The first book has gotten a fair amount of attention which is flattering. It just thrills me to hear from people who’ve read the book and have an investment in the characters or ideas. Those kinds of comments also influence and inspire me as I go on writing more stories set in this universe.

What should I have asked, if only I had known to?

“What is the secret of life, the universe, and everything?”

On second thought, I think we all already know the answer so there really wouldn’t be much point in asking. (For those who don’t know, it’s 42.)

Trailer for Gwen’s Book “The Universal Mirror”

More on Gwen and her book:

The Universal Mirror  Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Website

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gwendolynlperkins

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/helleder

G+: http://gplus.to/gwenperkins

Interview with Michael Meyer

Before the interview, let’s read a quick excerpt:

The Munich all around her was bustling with activity. She could hear it from all directions. Munich was a wonderful city, a fun-loving place, the live and let live ebullience of the city emanating from its every nook and cranny. She had had a lovely stay here. All of it had been so adventurous, so new, so unlike life back home in Arizona. She could vividly recall the first time she had ventured into a Munich beer garden, where the liter mugs had been so huge that she had had to lift hers with both hands, and the giggles, from him, until he too had had to use both hands.

The fumbling noises he had been making came to an abrupt halt. He began stroking her cheek again. Gus looked so happy, so young, so full of life. It was so hard to imagine that he could be so heavily involved in all this horror.

Gus smiled at her once more. His eyes were soft, so gentle, so caring, so loving.

Maybe this was some kind of huge mistake. Maybe he wasn’t going to kill her after all. Maybe everything would turn out happily ever after. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

But then suddenly she saw it clearly. It was no fairy tale. There would be no maybe. This was real, as real as the mixture of sadness and fear that now flooded her brain.

And then she died, with her eyes wide open, challenging, piercing his to the end.

Covert Dreams CoverThat’s from Michael Meyer’s latest thriller, Covert Dreams. Now let’s get to know him a little better.

Tell me three things about yourself that you think everybody should know and one thing that almost nobody knows.

Everybody should know that I am a romantic. My brother-in-law is always saying my plans for Valentine’s Day and my wife’s birthday, for instance, continually put pressure on him to do something similar. I believe in love and family.

Secondly, I am an avid world traveler. People keep telling me that I have been everywhere, which is not entirely true, but close.

Thirdly, I am very professional when it comes to my own writing. I am a retired English professor, and my writing is truly a very important part of me.

On the other hand, one thing that almost nobody knows about me is that I am not afraid to cry when crying is called for. I find it a healthy thing to do. I am not afraid to shed tears.

When you were teaching writing, did you teach fiction writing or more professional writing?

I taught mainly composition, all levels, from beginning to advanced, primarily freshman composition. However, I did also teach periodic creative writing courses. I taught at universities literally throughout the world, ending my career at a California community college, so the courses I taught were quite diverse from one institution to the next.

Do you have any special writing habits?

I am a morning person. I like to write just after my morning workout. I find my mind at high alert at this time. The workout gets the blood flowing to my brain, and bits and pieces of what I hope to put down on paper next begin floating through my brain. It is not unusual for me to run upstairs to my computer, even before breakfast, to dash out a scene that I do not want to lose.

Do you plan out your books first, or do you just sit down and start to write?

I have a broad plan of what I want to do, but then I let my characters take over from there. I am like a reader as I write, never quite knowing where things will lead. This makes the writing process enjoyable for me, rather than hard work.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

I write for myself as much as I do for others. I like to lose myself in a good story. As a retired English professor, I strive to make my writing as tight and as exciting to read as possible, going through draft after draft. I hope that others will enjoy my work, but my writing is an avocation, not my vocation. I hope to thrill people with my novels of suspense, and I hope to make people laugh with my comical fiction.

What’s next for you?

I am currently close to finishing a collection of humorous vignettes about a pretentious Englishman and his young friend who simply can see no fault in his dear friend’s behavior. I am having a real hoot writing it. It is entitled THE SIR RODNEY VIGNETTES. After that, I have several options, but one thing is for certain: I plan to write until I die.

What else should I have asked you, if only I had known you well enough to ask?

How can you stand drinking such bitter beer? Well, India Pale Ale is my drink of choice. I love the bitter taste of hops. How anyone can turn his or her nose up while tasting such a flavorful beer is beyond me.

 

  More about Michael:

Covert Dreams: http://www.amazon.com/Covert-Dreams-ebook/dp/B005WO860K/ref=la_B005E7M8CW_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1337985669&sr=1-2

Amazon Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Meyer/e/B005E7M8CW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Goodreads Author’s Site: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/674626.Mike_Meyer

Facebook Writers’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelMeyersWritingLife/app_191387770912394

Pinterest Author’s Site: http://pinterest.com/temmike/#

Interview with Rachel M. Hunter

Yay for author interviews! Today we have Rachel M. Hunter.Rachel4

Tell me three things about yourself you think everyone should know and one thing that almost nobody knows.

Three things, eh? Well, for one, I love the outdoors (assuming the weather is warm, as I hate the chill). If I could, I would spend all day frolicking amongst Nature’s glorious bounty. Well, maybe not actually frolicking, but I would be doing several activities, including kayaking, biking, and mountain climbing. I can think of no better way to connect with oneself than through the elements, Nature’s gifts.

Secondly, I am probably the most random person I know. Seriously. I can go from talking about something as mundane as the weather (and truly, I don’t find the weather that mundane; it’s quite fascinating, really), to something completely different and unrelated, such as conspiracy theories, cyborgs, or Einstein’s theory of relativity. And Joan of Art is not such a bad topic either. Oh – and the universe: space travel, time continuums, that sort of thing. See? I told you I was random. Refrigerator.

Thirdly, I am an author – a ‘wordsmith’. Truly and absolutely. I have two poetry publications to note; a recent short story publication, titled, Perfect Nothing; and my recent fantasy novel release, Empyreal Fate, which is ‘Part One’ of my Llathalan Annal series. Yep. And there’s more on the way: fantasy, steampunk, poetry, and otherwise.

Goodness – now for something almost nobody knows? Well, I am highly nostalgic. And I mean highly. In fact, I have various newspapers and newspaper clippings of random events that have happened during my lifetime. And know where I keep them? Under my bed. But they’re nostalgic for me – just like the Nintendo 64 I keep in the other room. And my GameBoy Color with the ‘Pokemon Gold’ game still inside the slot in my top dresser, beneath the socks. And that art book from when I was ten… pressed between my novels on the bookshelf. Oh, my friends, the list goes on and on…

I see on your website that you go to the University of Oklahoma. That’s where Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) got his degree in writing. How come you’re not studying that? 🙂 (The University of Oklahoma also publishes my very favorite writing book of all time – “Techniques of the Selling Writer” Just FYI)

Really? Jim Butcher went to OU? I actually did not know that. *Googles ‘Jim Butcher’* Well, what do you know! Here is an interview where Mr. Butcher says so himself: Interview. Hm. I learn something new every day. And I was not aware of “Techniques of the Selling Writer” until now either. Maybe I should interview you next, Bryce! 😉

Anyway, to answer your question, I am not pursuing a degree in writing, for I do not think there is any single way to write or to write well. I’ve always loved my English classes throughout the school years, but I never liked the aspect where we’d be assigned an essay in which we had to write in a certain style, and if we did not adhere strictly to that style, the paper was ‘wrong’ and points were docked. No. Rigidity in writing was – and is not – my style. I let the Muse guide me as it will, and I write what feels… well, right. I write what the characters whisper in my ear. Besides, I like helping people too much – ergo my pursuit of a degree in psychology and in the medical field. The human brain truly fascinates me to no end. But I will always write on the side – oh, yes!

What are three of your favorite novels?

*grumbles* A cruel question indeed. Out of all the novels out there, and I have to chose only three? Hm. Well… I do quite enjoy The Dragonbone Chair, by Tad Williams; Pawn of Prophecy, by David Eddings; and Empress, by Karen Miller. But can I call these my favorites of all time? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It depends on my mood.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

There are two, actually:

First, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov (Basically, show, don’t tell)

Secondly, write for YOURSELF. Don’t succumb to the nonsense that you must write for a particular audience or write about a subject that most people are fond of. Not. At. All. Write what YOU are passionate about. Only then will the readers sense that passion in your work. Otherwise, all you’ll find are cardboard cutouts of what you want to be. Don’t write cardboard!

What’s Empyreal Fate about?

462903_10150660690470997_713230996_9573740_222916156_oAha – my time to shine. 🙂

Empyreal Fate: Elves and men – on the brink of war. Love. Betrayal. Lies. Greed. An ancient evil. A dark past. Will true love conquer? Will Fate..?

Filled to the brim with forbidden love, an ancient evil, and a nation in disrepair, Empyreal Fate is a tale of riveting bravery and mortal corruption.
The land of Llathala lingers on the brink of war between men and elves, a dark history surrounding each race. Stirred by tensions of the land, a shadow of the past reemerges, taking precedence in reality and consuming the very soul of mans’ mortal weakness. Darrion, the son of a poor laborer, is ensnared in a hostile world, forced to choose between loyalty to his king or the counsel of the elves. Yet Fate has other plans in store, tying his course to Amarya, an elven royalblood of mysterious quality and unsurpassable beauty. But this forbidden connection incites betrayal from members of their own kin, marking them as traitors to the crown. In a land torn asunder, only Fate’s decree can allow such love to coexist with an ancient enmity.


Behold: A Llathalan Annal:
Empyreal Fate – Part One.

So I have one question for you… Do you believe in Fate? *Second question*…. Do you dare?

What’s up next for you?

Part Two of my Llathalan Annal series, of course! *taps fingers together with glee* Actually, I have five books already written for the series. I just need to take the time to go through edits and rewrites – and major polishes.

But, in the meantime, I am working on my first steampunk piece: a Victorian-era, dystopian, sci-fi, fantastical, all-around mechanical type of novel. If you are interested in following my blog or social media sites, I will be posting periodic updates (I’ve included various links at the end of this interview).

How many books would you like there to be in the Llathalan Annal series? Or do you even have that planned out?

Well, as I mentioned above, I have five already written (counting Part One, Empyreal Fate). However, in the process of edits and such, I may very well add more or take some away. Who knows? The Muse is seldom consistent from day to day.

How has being published changed your life?

I have not only grown as an author and individual in general, but I have met such amazing people – readers, writers, and otherwise – who have introduced me to so much more in life and in the imagination than I could ever have dreamed was possible. My life is forever changed, for creativity thrives within. And the opportunities that have come to me are incredible. I am ever-thankful to Fate, to life… to friends and acquaintances… to family. And to the Muse, which guides the innermost spirit.

What should I have asked, if only I had known to?

Why, you should have asked about my plans for world domination! I would have refrained from telling you, of course, but you should have asked all the same. It’s only proper. At least… *glances both ways* …you did know I had plans, didn’t you?

But, in all seriousness, thank you for having me here today, Bryce. It’s been a blast; and if you or anybody else has any other questions about me, Empyreal Fate, or the randomness of life in general, please – don’t hesitate to get in touch. And – even if you’re not the talkative type, feel free to get in touch anyway. Because, you know, the 21st Century demands social media. And we’re all a part of it. Frightening, I know.

Learn more about Rachel

PI Quips and Mafia Hits with Robert E. Bailey

Today we have an interview with crime author Robert E. Bailey. You can learn more about him on his website.

Tell me three things about yourself that everybody should know and one thing that almost nobody knows.

Three things everybody should know:  That I was the security director at Great Lakes Sugar and Warehousing for five years in Detroit, and I was a private detective for twenty years after that.  After I got injured I wrote my first novel, Private Heat, which won the Josiah Bancroft award and was a finalist for a Shamus award.  Lastly, there are three Art Hardin mystery books (the other two are Dying Embers and Dead Bang) and one short story, The Small Matter of Ten Large, and they all just came out as ebooks for Nook and Kindle.

One thing that almost nobody knows:  I was in the Army and retired as a Major.

What types of things does a real world private investigator actually do?

A PI license is an excuse to perform a long list of “crimes”.  Some detectives do strictly background investigations.  I know one fellow who investigates air crashes only.  Another guy goes out and repossesses boats when the owners are in arrears, and also recovers stolen boats, most anywhere in the world.  These days, a lot of detectives work entirely on the internet locating people.  I know another man who did entirely video surveillances.  I did that, and other things.  Of course there are the insurance fraud investigations.  In some places you need a detective license to be a bounty hunter.  Sometimes we provide security for persons in business (and in some businesses they don’t want to tell you about).  For the ordinary detective, you may find yourself sitting for many hours on a surveillance, or going through someone’s trash.

I think I’m supposed to ask you about the mafia, or maybe Jimmy Hoffa, maybe a shoot out with a hit man?

My novels touch widely on organized crime.  In Private Heat and Dying Embers I portray a small number of professional criminals.  The short story, The Small Matter of Ten Large, is based entirely on criminal men whom I knew personally over many years.  There are some more stories that I am in a hurry to tell.  I’m just waiting for them to die–I’m not “dying” to tell those stories.  It is important to remember that you are not required to be a “Mob” member to be a thief.  In fact, many crooks work for organized crime but are not actually “Duskies”.

Tens of years ago I told the FBI where to find Jimmy Hoffa.  They were absolutely certain they knew he was somewhere else; they’ve never turned up the body yet.  I’ve revealed where Hoffa has ended up in Dead Bang.

I had heard that he ended up in the New River, near Fort Lauderdale.  I talked to CSI people when I was in Fort Lauderdale once.  They said they had recovered at least two white barrels in the river.  I asked them, “Hey, I wonder if they could be Jimmy Hoffa?”  They laughed and said they didn’t think so.  I asked them who were the people they found and they said they didn’t know.  The first information that I got was that Jimmy Hoffa was shipped all the way to the Everglades, so he might not have been in the New River.  It would have been easier to dump him in the river, close to I-95, than to drive all the way out into the Everglades.  Just a guess on my part.

What’s your favorite handgun?

My favorite handgun was the Detonics Combat Master, which I carried for twenty-five years.  Currently, I’ve been carrying a Glock 21.

Reading over your site, it looks like things with your brain tumor have been going in a positive direction. Any recent news?

The most recent news is that the two “areas of concern” are smaller than they were on the MRI they shot in February.  They are also trying to get the swelling down that was caused by the radiation treatments, and that is down a lot but not gone.  I have another MRI coming up in May.  The stupid thing is they still don’t know whether these areas are new tumor or just what they call “radiation necrosis.”  I heard a joke once that “nuclear” medicine is really a misspelling of “unclear” medicine.

Do you plan out a book ahead of time, or just sit and write? What’s your writing process?

When I start I know where the story begins and I know where it ends.  In the middle it’s all up for grabs.  I usually write early in the day.  If things are not going well, it’s a short day.  If things are going well, I work until I can’t keep my eyes open.  When I wrote Private Heat, I was awake for thirty hours straight.  I went to sleep, woke up twelve hours later, and I had no idea where the story was going, but I did know where the next chapter went.

Who is Art Hardin and what’s the latest novel about?

Art Hardin is a middle-aged detective who is married, and has three boys and a Frisbee-getter dog.  His first story was written in 1979 while I was sitting on a surveillance.  I love that story and would one day like to see it in print.  The newest thing that Art is in is the short story, The Small Matter of Ten Large.  Art has a Mob contract out on him, and a Mob guy decides to shoot him because he’s in trouble with his bookie and needs a quick ten large.

What’s up next for you?

I am currently working on a novel called Deja Noir, which is not about Art.  It’s set in Detroit, although I never say it’s Detroit.  Each character tells a chapter in his own voice–or hers.  The female character is named Misty Lake, and was one of the hardest voices to capture.  It’s a noir-style story set in the present day.  Two skinheads come up from the south with a hard drive full of account numbers from an internet fraud scam.  They are to meet with their Russian bosses, but they run afoul of a hardboiled Detroit PI.  They both end up dead, but the case has deep repercussions for all involved.

What is the best piece of writing advice, ever?

“Keep writing!”

Is there anything that I should have asked, but didn’t?

I can’t think of anything.

Thanks, Robert!

Check out his books on Amazon:

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Author Interview: Hillary Peak

Today we have an interview with Hillary Peak, author of “Wings of Hope.”

Tell me a couple of things about yourself that you’d like everybody to know and one thing that almost nobody knows.

I love being a mommy!  I don’t think I’ve ever done anything as much fun.  My two year old wants to make cookies all the time, so my house is overflowing with cookies! 

I went to college and law school in Texas.  I miss it terribly.  I would really like to live near a college that had great football.  Every fall, I miss going to games.

When I was in high school, I made commercials for a drug treatment facility.  Not because I’d been in treatment, just as an actress.

So, in the commercial, did you play the part of an addict?

Yes, I did.

Did you do any other acting or theater back then?

Yes, I was in theatre from the time I was five until I graduated from high school  I even won some drama awards.  

Do you do any now?  

No,  I don’t have time anymore.

What is Wings of Hope about?

The letter said he was dying, that’s all Jules Weinstein knows when she leaves her life in San Francisco and moves to New York City to be with her father. She never dreamed he had liberated a concentration camp, dealt cards to Bugsy Siegel or saved the life of a Black Panther. Little does she know that by getting to know her father, she will find herself. While her father struggles with whether his life was meaningful, Jules discovers that her father’s last gift to her is the ability to reach for her dreams. Her journey teacher her that “the goodbye” is sometimes the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of life. Wings of Hope is a road trip through the memories of a man making peace with his life through conversations with his grown daughter. Hope is the last gift of a father to his daughter–the power to reach for her dreams.

Why did you write “Wings of Hope”? 

I wrote this book when I was pregnant.  My father had already passed away.  I wanted to be sure that I’d have his stories to share with my children.

What’s the hardest part about writing a book like yours?

For me, it was hard to write a fictional character on someone I love (in this case, my father) and keep it fictional.

Do you have any peculiar writing practices?

I do.  Sometimes I write different pieces all over the book, rather than from beginning to end.

What’s the very best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Keep writing.  After being rejected over and over with my first novel, it was hard for me to start another one.  Now I realize that the only way to get better and get a writing career is to keep doing it everyday.

What’s next for you?

I’ve finished a legal thrilled called, Justice Scorned.  I’m giving another try to going the traditional route of an agent, editor, publisher.  I read an article that stated that you should try to get a book published for twice as long as it took you to write it.  So, I’m giving it a year.  Then, I’ll publish it myself if I haven’t gotten anything through the traditional route.

Where can folks learn more about you or your book?

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Wings of Hope on Amazon

Wings of Hope on GoodReads

Hillary’s Facebook Fan Page