Author Interviews Alphabetical by Last Name

Christiane Joy Allison

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

I’m currently working on the sequel to my new novel, Infinitus. Infinitus is Book 1 of The Infinitus Saga, so I’m working on Book 2, Chimera Rising. In this book, the chimeras make a move to form an independent nation while my main characters continue to be hunted across the globe. Spoiler Alert! Below is the teaser for Chimera Rising.

For three months the world has held its breath with no word of the Red Queen after her bombshell broadcast exposed the horrific Community exploitation and maltreatment of chimeras—human-animal hybrids born of the reemergence of Old World genetic experimentation. Word of their unexpected champion’s message spread like wildfire through the GRID and galvanized chimeras worldwide to unite against Global Fellowship control. Loyal chimeras spurn the Red Queen’s message and fight, in the name of their fallen comrade-in-arms, to safeguard their Community from the anarchy unleashed by her mind. As the Global Fellowship deploys scorched-earth tactics to eliminate her, an uneasy alliance forms between the traditional freedom fighters and the very Community operatives and assassins they have fought for so long.

Hector ‘Hawk’ Warrenson, former covert chimera operative, waits at the bedside of the woman he failed to protect. The Global Fellowship wants her dead. The rebels want to control her. He wants her free and safe. But is he already too late? As Hawk fears his deterioration into Obsessive Attachment Syndrome, he’s determined to find a way to protect her—no matter the cost.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

The Infinitus Saga is a series of cyberpunk adventure novels following the Mallorey family’s struggle to survive in a world run by the Global Fellowship and their Global Reform Interface and Database (GRID) computer system. The series is jam-packed with futuristic technology, tech-savvy rebels, and genetic animal-human hybrids known as chimeras.

The Global Fellowship rescued the Earth from the chaos of hundreds of nations at war. Now, united in peace, all Community citizens have free access to food, housing, education, and medical care. In return, for a few hours a day, they contribute their brain power to the worldwide computer system known as the GRID. Those who don’t contribute are the disconnected, shirkers who live destitute and on the edge of starvation in a world where GRIDcoin is beyond their reach. Among them are the Mallorey’s who are forced to live outside the GRID to hide their genetic disability, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or risk being never seen or heard of again.

The Global Fellowship is the prelude novelette for the series. After his parents’ sudden death, Arthur Mallorey, a severely disabled teenager living in the largest shirker camp in Central Continent, knows he has to find a way for him and his sister to survive. Battling pain and exhaustion, he looks for salvation in the very heart of the Community he was raised to fear.

Infinitus is the saga of Gina Mallorey, a young freedom-loving tech dealer living in the Dregs on her own terms, hiding her disability from the Community. When an explosion forces her into the GRID, powerful forces make her a target. The Community operative sent after her hides a genetic secret of his own, but only time will tell if he’ll choose to be friend or foe.

The world of Infinitus brings together several of my favourite elements into a single story. First, the main characters from the Mallorey family have my genetic condition, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). Their experiences are drawn from real life stories of struggling with that disability and persevering. The story gives the reader the perspective of what it’s like to live in a body like that and connects with those of us who live with the condition. The story also takes place in a society where such disabilities are put away or hidden by the government, putting the characters at additional risk.

Secondly, the world of Infinitus is full of a colorful cast of chimera characters that are human-animal hybrids born from emerging genetics from Old World super soldier experiments. You get to see both their advantages and disadvantages.

Thirdly, the world explores the relationship between people and technology. In the world of Infinitus, people are literally wetwired to the world’s computers and their brains are used as temporary servers. Think about what it would be like to close your eyes and dim the lights or turn up the temperature in your apartment. What would it be like to have an AI that was attuned to your every whim? What happens when there’s no tactile form of money? All of these amazing things and more are explored in the story.

Finally, even though this is not a romance novel, there is romance. The story explores the draw and connection between these characters in a world where long-term relationships are considered mental illness.

Aside from The Infinitus Saga, I have also published two children’s picture books in my Where is Uncle? series. The series is designed to help children who are experiencing the adverse childhood experience (ACE) of the incarceration of a loved one. The first book, Why Can’t Uncle Come Home?, is the first picture book to address the subject of wrongful conviction for very young children. The second book, Timmy & Kate Go To Visit, addresses prison visitation.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

My least favourite part is formatting the book for print. There are so many details that influence other details, and you end up going back and forth a lot trying to get your files just perfect for each book format. It’s very time consuming, but the end result is worth the effort.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

Writing the first draft is the biggest buzz of the project for me. It helps that I know from the beginning that it’s going to need a lot of work, and let’s me explore without my inner editor screaming at me. Because I’m a “pantser” in writing lingo, I’m often discovering the story for the first time as I write each scene. My characters often surprise me, and I have as much of an adventure writing it as any reader will have reading it.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

I would steal Dean Koontz’s skill with description. He has beautiful skill when describing details from the weather to the character’s clothes. In my first drafts, my books are detail and description poor. I always go back in and layer the description in with the dialog as part of the editing process.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Wow! My character could definitely make that claim. I would have to explain that they need to have faith. By the time they arrive at their final destination, all the pain and challenges they’ve been through will lead to a life they couldn’t have dreamed of before I started messing with it.

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Hawk will definitely win, but he’s probably only winning freedom from chores. He’s one of the main characters from my novel and he’s a chimera with heightened senses who’s spent his lifetime as a covert operative. He’s playing against: me, who hates household chores; Gina Mallorey who has no money and has the same illness I do, thus hating chores; and Cate Nightingale from Linda Howard’s book Cover of Night, who owns a Bed and Breakfast and has to do extra chores every day. However, if you throw the hero of the book in, Calvin Harris from Howard’s book, then we’ve got another operative at the table and things get dicier. Overall though, I doubt anyone could beat Hawk’s heightened senses and familiarity with living in the global underworld.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I tend to write sagas, where the characters and conflicts carry across multiple books. One of the pitfalls to avoid in this style of writing is knowing what the conflicts will be one, two, or even more books ahead. Weaving those details into the first book and throughout the series will make a much richer experience for the reader and help avoid you suddenly throwing in conflicts or changing the world rules you’ve established to make your story work. Trust me, readers notice.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

In addition to being an author, I’m also a criminal justice reform activist and public speaker. I’ve been personally affected by wrongful conviction and encourage everyone to learn more about the issue and how you can become involved in positive change in your community in this battle for justice. You can find out what the nearest Innocence Project is to you by visiting https://innocencenetwork.org. Donate, volunteer, talk to legislators, and support local exonerees in their fight for freedom and transitions home. You can make a difference.

Kevin Buckner

  1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

At the moment, I am working on the second book in my series. I’m calling the series The Cudomerie.

  1. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

I have only published one book so far. It’s called The Advent of Zón, Book One of The Cudomerie. It is a fantasy story about demons, druids, necromancers, and thieves. It deals heavily with undead and a little more with other fantasy creatures. It has action, adventure, horror, suspense, betrayal, revenge, and a little bit of romance.

  1. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Editing/rewriting. I do most of it myself and it is so tedious. That being said, I do recognize the importance of it and am glad I did it.

  1. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I love it when I sit down to write and the story takes off, practically writing itself. It’s times like those that I find I lose track of time and suddenly, two hours have gone by and I’ve written over two thousand words.

  1. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

I love the banter the characters in David Eddings’ Belgariad and Malloreon have. I try to have similar interactions between my characters. That’s what I would steal to make my writing better.

  1. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

I’d tell him to be patient with me because I know what his ultimate goal is, and he will eventually meet that goal. I’d help him see that the things that have happened to him are necessary for him to achieve that goal. I’d warn him that he has to go through hell to get there first, though.

  1. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

The stakes would probably be cookies or candy because I don’t see Danny Torrance being allowed to play for money. Of course, he would win because he would be able to read everyone’s thoughts and know what cards are in their hands. After he wins, the main villain in my book, Zón, would probably plot some way to murder the boy in a gruesome manner to get his treats back.

  1. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I think the biggest trap to avoid would be to rely to heavily on tropes and cliches. There are numerous fantasy novels out there, and a lot of them seem to do this. You hear that a character is an elf, and you can practically see everything about that character with no other information. Same with dwarves or orcs. If you fall into those traps, it will make it more difficult for your work to stand out from all the others.

  1. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

In the course of writing The Advent of Zón, two characters were having soup for dinner. They were in the ruins of a city, so the one had to scavenge for ingredients. The other liked it a lot and asked what was in it. As I was writing what was in the soup, I thought it sounded really good, so I made it. I included the recipe in the back of the book.

I’m currently writing the second book in the series, and would like to have it ready for publication in late 2021 or early 2022. I have another book that I wrote the first draft of in 2013. I’m hoping it will be ready for publication in mid-to-late 2021.

Leslie Conzatti

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

Haha, I don’t actually mind telling a bit about myself–I’ve done a fair few interviews by now and I’m pretty practiced at knowing which bits people are actually interested in, and how much qualifies as “TMI”!

But anyway, moving on to the question of “what I’m working on”: Lots! At the time I’m writing this (mid-October), I’ve worked my way down to “only” three projects in-progress, and I’m trying to get as much of those out of the way as I can, before I commence the new one!

Two of them are serials for my blog, The Upstream Writer–usually I try to keep them pretty short, but sometimes I hit a premise or a group of characters that are just way too much fun to work with, and things kind of explode–but in a “glitter bomb” kind of way, not the “firebomb” kind!

The first is called “Priscilla Sum”, and it’s about a girl in college studying archaeology, when she accidentally exposes the fact that her adoptive parents are a pair of minor gods disguised as mortals… just when their arch-nemesis, a powerful demon, escapes from his ancient containment and is about to acquire the amulet that will enable him to control said gods–and by extension, the entire minor pantheon. She ends up on the island dedicated to the worship of her parents, at an archaeological dig orchestrated by followers of the demon, with a handful of classmates, and they’ve got to find the ancient hidden temple where the amulet was hidden, get to it before the professional archaeologists do, and try to smuggle it off the island without the demon finding out! I’ve been writing this one since January, and I’m still only “almost done”!

The second project is the serial I’m going to be posting more frequently after “Priscilla Sum” is done–I started with the first couple installments already, when I thought I was closer to the end of “Priscilla Sum” than I actually was… But anyway!

It’s a continuation of a serial I ran a couple years back, called “The Clan of Outcasts.” That, in itself, was inspired by a bunch of “character inspiration” pictures, fantasy artwork shared by an author fan-group I’m in. I envisioned this story of super-powered individuals (called “Gifted”) in a very generic fantasy-type setting, except it’s more of a “fantasypunk” treatment, as there are things such as electricity and guns. When it first began, I thought it was just going to be a story about a small group of these individuals who band together (the “outcasts” who become the “clan”) and use their abilities to find the missing Crown Prince, overthrow the corrupt government who took over when the king died, and reinstate the Prince as the rightful king. Well! That was “season one”, anyway… but the villains weren’t finished, and their escape revealed the existence of two even more powerful beings on either side–one trying to use the Gifted to foster chaos and pit the people against one another, and the other trying to stop this from happening and restore balance–and after “season two” I was sure that was going to be the end of it.

Well, the character inspiration images just kept coming, and I couldn’t resist the idea of continuing the story, revisiting old characters and incorporating new ones–and so Season Three of “The Clan of Outcasts” is underway! Three years since the end of the last season… And what has happened in those three years? Plenty! Peace and harmony still seems such a long way off, as a new threat emerges, along with new allies, and new villains–the Gifted must band together once more, because the fate of The Realm is in their hands!

The third project is the first novel in a fantasy series I started working on, back when I thought that my first-ever publication was going to be a stand-alone. It’s called The Last Inkweaver, and the premise is something like: a girl living in a world where academic study and factual representation is seen as the height of intelligence is experiencing dreams and visions she can’t explain. These dreams end up connecting her with an ancient group of crafters (Wordspinners, of which the “Inkweaver” is a sub-group) who imbued their wares with the stories they told, giving the objects and those who received them special abilities–or so the rumors state. This one has been through about three drafts in the last five years or so, and the third is still underway and will likely warrant a fourth draft–so this one is nowhere close to publishing, but I’m definitely working on it!

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

In the category of “already out”, I have one self-published novel, and short stories in a few anthologies!

The first anthology I ever submitted to was called Dreamtime Dragons, produced by the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors–various members of a group I’m in. The story I wrote is called “Arthur and The Egg”… a dragon-themed twist on “Jack and The Beanstalk”, only instead of a young boy selling his family cow for five magic beans, climbing a beanstalk and gaining a goose that lays golden eggs, we have Arthur, who is forced to sell his father’s beat-up old truck, and the only offer he gets is a strange old man who gives him five gold coins, and he climbs a rock known as “The Egg” (but in reality, the rock is an egg, a dragon’s egg to be precise), and Arthur ends up with a newly-hatched dragon who bonds with him and takes the name Truck! The Dreamtime Fantasy Authors teamed up again a couple years later, to produce a second volume of stories, Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, and for that one I wrote a twist on “Little Red Riding Hood” which I called “Red, The Wolf”–as you can probably tell, I made Red a wolf-shifter, and she’s the guardian of a small mountain village, protecting their shepherds and flocks from attacks from other wild predators, and defending the people from miscreants and malevolent passersby. Side note: the anthology version is an “abridgment” of the full story, which I had to kind of cut short in the interest of word-count limits and deadlines. I did go back later after the anthology released and write the complete story as a serial on my blog.

The other anthology that is out and available for purchase is called Cracks in The Tapestry, produced by another writer’s group I’m in, The Tapestry Group. For this one, I submitted the short story “Heartsong.” It was also originally a short serial I wrote for my blog, inspired by a writing prompt about the origins of sirens being the women who were cast overboard by superstitious sailors, according to the legend that a woman aboard a ship is bad luck. My concept was that these rejected women could be “reborn” as sirens, aquatic creatures with spectacular singing voices and the ability to hear the “heartsong” of any creature–like, the frequency on which their psyche operates. Singing the creature’s heartsong creates a hypnotic connection between the siren and their victim, and then the siren can change the heartsong, bending their victim’s psyche to their will, which is often encouraging them to drown. The story focuses on one particular siren who attempts to drown a potential victim–but for some strange reason, though she hears his heartsong, she cannot bring herself to sing it and finish him off. She holds him prisoner till she can figure out what makes this man so different. The Tapestry Group is currently in the process of producing a second volume of stories, called Warping the Tapestry–this time, with more of a sci-fi focus. Stay tuned for my story in that one, which is a unique take on the “superhero” genre!

Then, finally, we get to my solo project: Princess of Undersea, a fantasy re-telling of The Little Mermaid. I actually originally wrote and published it with a small-press publisher four years ago, but back then I was treating it like a stand-alone. Early this year, I decided I wanted to turn it into a series, so I worked out a plan with the publisher to kind of “branch off on my own”, made the necessary alterations to the existing story (plus a few other trouble spots that had me absolutely stymied four years ago–but by now I’d figured out how to fix them!), commissioned some cover art, hired a formatter, and voilà! “The Undersea Saga” is now a Thing That Exists!

Princess of Undersea tells the story of Ylaine, a mermaid princess with a magical Gift of Song she received from the fairies not long after she was born. Her father blames the humans for the disappearance of his wife, the Queen, and has used that anger to provoke the Merfolk into declaring war on the humans–and all that remains is to figure out the best way to make that happen. He uses Ylaine’s songs to convince the other Merfolk to agree with him and support him, while ignoring Ylaine’s own assertions that perhaps a solution can be reached if they knew more about what the humans were actually like. She’s convinced that if her father ever met an actual human, he wouldn’t be so furious at them–but the only way this could happen is if a Merperson could somehow become human. The opportunity comes along, and Ylaine is so desperate that she gives up her magical singing voice for the chance to be human. She finds an island kingdom falling apart and languishing from neglect, and meets Nathan, a prince who is dreading the day when he’ll have to assume his father’s throne and by extension the responsibility for the well-being of so many people. Not only that, but the two royals also uncover a plot that not only spells danger for those within the human kingdom, but threatens the lives of the Merfolk as well.

Starting in November, I’ll be commencing the sequel, Fugitive of Crossway. The fairy tale I’m using for inspiration in this one is the story of “Pinocchio.” It won’t necessarily focus on Nathan and Ylaine–they will appear in more of a “cameo” role–but definitely this will be the kind of sequel that expands the fictional world overall, and brings in characters and concepts that will have an influence on later books in the series!

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favorite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Um, probably the worst part for me is when I have an idea that could (and probably should!) require a lot of preliminary research–like I don’t “already” know enough about it to use common sense and bluff my way through the story itself, and just fill in the specific details with research after the fact. I like to know general trivia about stuff, and I don’t mind looking up random things that fall under that category… but as far as the meticulous, rock-solid, comprehensive-type research, I tend to just put off those projects until I can accrue enough “general knowledge” to get by!

One second part that absolutely crushes me so much that my “Inner Muse” would rather come up with a billion-and-one ideas to write instead of focusing on doing it (and also where most of my procrastination happens) is rewriting. Going back over a “finished” draft and trying to figure out those parts that cannot stay as they are, that must change–or (worst of all) looking at a completed scene and knowing it needs to be different, that the way it came out was not quite the way it happened in my head… but at the same time not knowing what words could be the right ones. Sometimes, it could take anywhere from days to weeks to even months to figure out what I was trying to say! In the case of Princess of Undersea, for example, it took about four years to figure out how to communicate what I actually wanted to say in some of the dialogue exchanges!

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

When I have a premise, a “target scene”, and a climax–and I figure out the way everything works together! It’s a big moment for me when I have all these problems, perils, and scattered scenes–and I know exactly how everything is going to go down, and I know exactly why it works together so well! That’s the part of the process that keeps me happy and motivates me to write and finish a story: as long as it’s all working together, I can stay excited about it! I’m less motivated when I don’t have a clear picture of the how/why in mind ahead of time. It’s why I’ll never be an out-and-out pantser!

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Ha! I know exactly who I’d pick!

I am very envious of the researching skills of both David Baldacci and Michael Crichton. Crichton, especially, just litters his books with quotes from scientific journals and academic papers, so thickly that you’re not entirely sure if the research is bogus or not, and it really lends an air of authenticity to even his most “far-fetched” premises! And everything that goes into a Baldacci thriller is detailed and specific enough to be vivid–I wish I had a stockpile or network of resources I knew how to use to make my writing just as believable!

I adore the enchanting fantasy styles of Naomi Novik and Cornelia Funke. Both of them create worlds and invent lore that has a gorgeous, folkish, steeped-in-tradition feel to it, and the words and mental pictures they use are just stunning. I want people to read my books and find them just as enthralling!

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Hoo-boy! Well, as you can see from my answer above, I have multiple to choose from–but I think my MC from The Last Inkweaver, Callista, deserves an answer the most! I can pretty much guess at which point in her journey she’d choose to just punch right through that fourth wall and throttle me.

Callista, dear–I know it’s a lot! The dreams and the visions, the way I keep thwarting every attempt to just get back to your “old life” and try to “fit in and be normal”–the difficult decisions you find presented to you, when you don’t think you’ve had enough life experience or you don’t feel qualified to what people are asking of you…

Guess what? You are qualified. I gave you the visions and the Tales and had the Inkweaver leave you that Tapestry because you are worthy of it. Your tenacity, your intuition, the incredible burden you willingly shoulder to do the right thing–those are all hallmark traits that, in you, turn into the strength to bring about the biggest change Gramble has ever seen! Keep following that inner voice, and it will lead you to the Deep Truth that has been rooted in the back of your mind since your very first thought!

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Let’s see… The last book I read was Devotion by Katika Schneider–and the main protagonist was, for the most part (since it’s in the middle of a series), Matthias the White Paladin. My main characters–we’ll say of Princess of Undersea, and the sequel, Fugitive of Crossway, which gives me a handful of names: Ylaine, Nathan, Mellisande, Yssandra, Nykkola, and Simon. I don’t have a whole lot of knowledge of poker, so the stakes… We’d probably just use the chips, not actual money. It would be a friendly game, after all. Ylaine and Yssandra would be at a disadvantage because the Mer-Realm doesn’t have poker, so they’d just be fascinated by the cards and keeping track of their values and all the rules of gameplay, without being able to actually strategize; Matthias and Mellisande would actually be capable enough to strategize, Simon would be too timid to place any kind of substantial bet, and would almost never bluff; Nykkola would be the only one to have an advantage with her magical ability to glimpse into the future, and I… would be too busy trying to explain the game to the two “former Mermaids” to pay any attention to my own gameplay beyond average. Nykkola would win. (Unless Mellisande occasionally chose to use her connection with Nyk to attempt to thwart her by taking the advantage for herself)

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I discovered my “writing voice” early on–ironically, by writing fanfiction and mimicking the “voices” of the different actors or writers I was “copying.” I wrote a Chronicles of Narnia fanfiction spin-off that had some unwitting siblings-of-friends convinced that Lewis himself had written it. I’ve had commenters tell me that they can read my fanfictions and imagine the actors themselves going through those very motions. In my fairy tale re-tellings, reviewers have said I have a knack for bringing in the nostalgia of the original tale, that sense of familiarity that readers find so comfortable–while at the same time throwing in my own unique twists that keep it fresh and lively and unique. I guess you could say that my skill comes in that sweet spot between “the first inkling of an idea” and “actually having enough of an idea to start writing it.” The ability to take familiar things and concepts and turn them into something that makes a reader go “Well, actually… I haven’t heard this one before!”

I think the traps that I manage to avoid are things like “going the expected route”–I start my re-tellings by going over what exists already, reading through the original stories that are going to inspire my story, and then choosing only a few things that I can do, in order to keep the “traditional” feel of the original (Things I kept from the “original” Little Mermaid, both the Disney version and the original fairy tale: the golden shell necklace, inspired by the one Ursula wears; a boating accident that leads to the mermaid and the human crossing paths; a mermaid turning into sea foam at the end), and then looking at the rest and thinking “how can I change this?” and “If I changed this one thing, how would that change the whole story?” (For example: How would The Little Mermaid change if she actually could speak to the human prince? How differently would Beauty and The Beast turn out if the “Beauty” was actually a vain, superficial, self-obsessed debutante who cared a whole lot about appearances?) Fanfiction also gave me practice in avoiding the “expected” things, because I didn’t want to just rewrite existing canon. I approached every project with the thought “how does my headcanon actually fit within the existing canon?” I would hash out as many details as I could to ensure that my work stayed as near-canon as I could make it–which was the thing that lent an air of credibility and realism to my work.

Another trap I actively worked to avoid in developing my own voice is what I call the “reader bleed” fallacy–the mistaken idea that one must not read in the same genre one writes in, or another author’s “voice” will “taint” the writer’s work. Seriously, I’ve read stories by people who say they “don’t read” because they “don’t want another author’s voice to taint the voice in their head.” Those stories were painfully bad. The “voice” of the author had about as much nuance and natural linguistic flow as a robot from the 80’s. The dialogue was stilted and flat, and the narration was a lot more descriptions and outright telling the reader what was going on and how to feel about it, than allowing the reader to experience it and evoke their own feelings.

The way I avoid “reader bleed” is the opposite of what people think is the solution. Instead of not reading anything from the genre I want to write in–I read everything! I read multiple authors, many genres–I try to spend as much time reading as I do writing. As a matter of fact, I find that the more I read, the better I write. I can tell that I’m reading too much of a certain author if my writing starts sounding like theirs–it worked well for the Narnia fanfic, because I wanted my “voice” to sound like C. S. Lewis! But in everything else, I read pretty indiscriminately, and so my “voice” slowly develops from a strange amalgamation of everything I’m reading, into my own truly unique style.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favorite chocolate cake recipe.

I’m not going to take over the world anytime soon… But I would like to share that I have a lot of stories–an eclectic mix of original stories and fanfictions–on Wattpad! Over thirty titles, in fact.

I started with a few stories that I had already serialized on my blog, such as “Protective Custody” and “Cipherstalker”, and moved on to my most popular fanfictions (which quickly became my most popular stories on Wattpad as well!), and as time wore on and I attracted more followers, I started posting some stories exclusively on Wattpad (such as “The Water-Man” and “The Amazon Triangle”). Follow this link to check them out: https://www.wattpad.com/user/KartheyM

If you are interested in reading any of the stories I’ve written, or want to find out more about what I’m up to, what I’m reading, or any sort of writerly thoughts I have, all that can be found on my blog, The Upstream Writer: https://upstreamwriter.blogspot.com/

For a current listing of all the books available (since sometimes I get a story published in a limited-edition anthology, and after a time the editor decides to pull it), head over to my Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Leslie-Conzatti/e/B08C1G68S3

And finally, for up-to-date information about my escapades and notifications of any book deals from authors I follow, cool things I find on the interwebs, and so much more, you can Like and follow my author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeslieConzattiWriter

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

Answer: I’m currently working on my second novel in The Wayward Series, titled The Four Revenants. Keeping in tradition with my first novel, the sequel continues the story and centres on ghosts, hauntings, war, tragic pasts, and star-crossed lovers. It’s a YA dark fantasy with elements of horror. I’m having a blast writing the story. I’m very structured with my writing and have the entire plot listed from scenes and chapters, but sometimes new ideas just pop in my head as I’m writing. Incredibly, they seem to work with this novel. I’m able to weave the new idea right into the scene I’m writing, enhancing the mystery and adventure. It’s like its meant to be and it’s very exciting. I’m about half way through The Four Revenants. So far, I’m on schedule to have the first draft completed by April 2021.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

Answer: My first book in The Wayward Series, titled The Wayward Haunt, was published on June 20th, 2020. It’s set in a war-torn world where teenage prisoner, Zaya Wayward, is conscripted into the Haxsan Guard. When malevolent forces start to haunt her, she suspects her ability to see the dead is the key in a sinister plot to annihilate human existence. Throughout the story, she is drawn to Captain Jad Arden. Together the pair are propelled into a breakneck chase across haunted wastelands, desolate ruins, and ravaged cities. But Jad has secrets, and Zaya’s feelings for him could be her undoing. My second novel, The Four Revenants, is the sequel to The Wayward Haunt. There will be four books in the series altogether, but I won’t be revealing book three’s and four’s titles just yet.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Answer: At this stage, marketing is my least favourite part. As a new self-published author, it is difficult to get a name for yourself out there. Writing a novel is hard work. I’ve found marketing to be triple the work. You have to make people want to read your book and constantly find creative ways to get their interest and ensure them reading your novel is going to be worth their time. Building this trust with potential readers is something that I am still learning to do. I am trying to make the process fun, but I’ve accepted this is something that may take years to accomplish. I believe it will be an ongoing learning experience.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

Answer: Sometimes I do become self-conscious about my writing. I wonder if it good enough or if it needs more work. Of course, first drafts always need more work. The thing that makes me realise I am onto something good in my writing, that gets my brain all wired up to continue, is sharing scenes or chapters with other authors in my writing group. If there is something wrong with the work, they point it out. If they love what I have written, they tell me. If there is something that I may be stuck on or can’t work out, it’s their feedback and ideas that resolve the issue. Discussing your work with other writers, and sharing your own feedback and opinions on their writing, is a rewarding experience. It gives you the confidence you need to continue on your writing marathon.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Answer: I have learnt so many writing techniques from reading great authors’ works. One thing I am absolutely hopeless at though is poetry. I do not possess that talent, so if I could steal an author’s ability to write poetry and adapt it into my own work, I would. I’d also steal Terry Pratchett’s humour, because that would just be an awesome talent to have. I write dark fantasy and horror, but a little bit of comic relief would help take the edge off.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Answer: That is truly a frightening scenario. My main character, Zaya Wayward, is sarcastic, impulsive, afraid, and angry most of the time, which is understandable. I’ve put her in through some very frightening ordeals. When she kidnaps me, she wouldn’t be thinking about what she’s doing or how it would pan out. She’d only want to know the reason why I’m putting her through such a nightmare. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to answer her. I could assure Zaya it’s all for a greater cause. But letting her know that what I’m doing is for own best interest, well, I can’t guarantee that. I guess we’d end up stuck in the same room, broody and irritated at each other.

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Answer: So, I am playing, Zaya Wayward is playing, and McKenna Brady from Zoe Aarsen’s novel Light as a Feather is playing. McKenna and I are definitely screwed. Zaya will have all the right cards. She’ll win. She’s too damned determined to lose. And she’s clever. She’s had to be to survive this long.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

Answer: I’ve met writers delving into the horror genre for the first time. They put too much emphasis on explaining everything, afraid that the reader will not understand if they don’t elaborate on what is going on, how things work in the supernatural world, etc. They toss a large information dump about their main characters as their introduced. These are all common traps writers fall into. I did too when I first started. My advice is to do the opposite. Horror is scary because of the unknown—because nothing is explained and nothing makes sense. I try to give clues every so often in my chapters, just enough to entice the reader to continue. I keep my characters mysterious, even my main character. Their motivation is not always clear.

Nothing in horror is what it seems. I think the key to writing a good horror novel is to keep your reader wanting to know more, even if makes them afraid. They’re on this journey now, and the only way they will feel safe again is to finish the story and learn the truth. Tiny details and small clues are one way to set up the intrigue, followed by shocking plot twists that tap into common human fears of death, loneliness, and abandonment. That’s what I try to achieve in my writing.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

Website: www.casecrowe.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/casecroweauthor/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/casecroweauthor/
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/20457182.Cas_E_Crowe

The Four Revenants expected release – early 2022.

C.L. Gaber, author of the Ascenders Saga.

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

Hello! I’m sitting in my Nevada office with my new puppy biting the bottom of my jacket going over the edits for Ascenders: X-Catcher (Book Five). The pages have tiny puppy bite marks, which is really cute. At this point, I print the book out so I can really spot any mistakes. I’m also cooking up some ideas for “Claires 2” and making sure that a historical serial killer matches up on the Claires’ timeline. He does – which made my writer’s heart soar.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way. My series is the Ascenders Saga! Here’s the as-short-as-possible description:

 

Walker Callaghan doesn’t know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago…and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences. 

Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead. 

She doesn’t go to heaven or hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were the morning announcement at their high schools because they died young. 

These high school kids are now caught in a strange “in-between” zone where life hasn’t changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. “There are even cheerleaders in death,” Walker observes. It’s not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who “used to have this band.” The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.

Principal King explains the rules — there are none. Why? You can’t die twice. 

There is no homework.
No tests.
No SATS.
You’re just there to learn because the human brain isn’t fully formed until you’re 24. 

By the way, you can’t get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do …because no one knows how long you’ll stay in this realm or what’s next.

“Losing someone you love would be like dying twice,” Walker says. 

* * * * * *
Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. “Is this heaven or is this high school?” she asks.

She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He’s looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.

He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve. 

Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.

Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?

At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.

Ascenders Books 1-4 are currently available on Amazon.com. Book 5 is due out in February. The first spin-off, “The Claires,” is out now.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Honestly, my least favorite part is time. I’m a journalist, so I have deadlines and assignments that I’m grateful to do – especially since I cover the film beat and interview really cool people. It’s just tough sometimes to balance your fiction passion project with regular work, family and life. I think writers have to just find the time, which isn’t always easy because most of us are pulled in a million directions.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I love it when you finally get the first page right after a lot of tinkering. I obsess over openings, tinkering endlessly. You have all these words and then lean it out. There it is! I have one or two trusted people who listen to my first pages and they tell me honestly. Deep in my writerly brain, however, I believe that writers just know. It’s just a relief when you have that part. A book is born.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

I admire times infinity Mr. King’s ability to make a portal a door to the storage closet. He makes magic so beautifully accessible and understandable. I love how he immediately draws such brilliant characters that are so defined and unforgettable, too.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Oh, my poor female protagonist in Ascenders. She was living such a lovely after-life (for about five minutes) in the upcoming “X-Catcher,” but then the shit hit the fan from several fronts. She’s stuck in The Other, the wild west of the afterlife. Her boyfriend’s father takes her hostage. A guy with powers of distortion stalks her. Her friends are AWOL. I would have to explain to her that when the fate of the universe – for the living and the dead – is at stake, you just can’t sit on your ass and fake it. You have to run back into the action. I would explain to her that what I’m going is the best for humanity even though she faces certain extinguishment. Sorry, not sorry.

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Well, the last book I read was King’s “Carrie,” so I’d say the stakes are her sanity. She would probably lose the game because I’m guessing Carrie can’t play poker, and nobody would want to play it with her because she’s an outcast. Plus, that horrible mother would probably think poker was a sin.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I think one of the big traps is rewriting too much at the beginning. I like to do a few chapters and then go back. Another thing I have found helpful is to have one or two trusted people in your life who enjoy hearing your work in progress. I don’t believe in getting five or seven or ten opinions. I think writers give up when they hear so many conflicting opinions. Also, a great editor is key to make sure you aren’t missing some of the rules of your own world.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

Wow, no plots for world domination! 2020 was too exhausting to come up with those kinds of things.

Ascenders is being developed into a TV series, which is cr-a-zy!!! Book 5 comes out in February of 2021, which is so exciting.

And I’m working on a sequel to “The Claires,” the spin-off book, about four sisters who hail from the 1800s, die together at age 17, and then are reincarnated together to a new family.

Please follow me on Instagram or Facebook under CL Gaber. Lots of Ascenders news, plus too many cute dog photos.

About Alan J Hesse

Alan J. Hesse

  1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

I’m working on a lot of different things, but I guess my main activity is to finish the 4th book in my educational comic book series about climate change and the environmental crisis. I’m also spending a lot of time promoting and marketing all my books, and always learning through webinars, courses, etc.

  1. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

I write and illustrate educational comic books, all with an environmental theme and usually with a message about getting involved and taking better care of nature. It all started about 10 years ago when I was still active as a field biologist living in eastern Bolivia, which corresponds to the southern Amazon basin. One of my mentors, friends and colleagues is a renown ecologist called Louise Emmons. She was doing a lot of research in my neck of the woods and I was always involved. Louise was a big fan of my cartoons, and we decided to write up her research as a comic book. She wrote the stories and I did the artwork. This led to my self-publishing my first comic book, Fables of the Amazon, which is a book of short stories as comic strips, all with an ecology lesson drawn from Louise’s own research, and some from my own. Years later I got my foot in the door for a consultancy with the Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galapagos Islands, and one of the products was my second comic book, all about Darwin and his legacy. I didn’t get back to being an author until about 7 years later, when my publisher asked me to do a comic book about climate change. This was a subject that was not yet mainstream at the time, it was about 2015, and I was myself facing a challenge in my conservation job trying to understand climate change, so I jumped at the chance to create a comic about it. With a full-time job and family life, it took me about 3 years to finish that book, an 88 page comic. I did all the research first, and that took months because it involved consulting experts, interviewing them, reading papers, trawling the news and a whole lot more. It was finally published in December 2018, and I’ve been promoting and marketing it ever since. Around mid-2019 I converted the paperback book to 3 ebooks, thus making a series. Just getting it from paperback to ebook was in itself a huge challenge and I learned a lot in the process. The book is all about climate change obviously, as seen through the eyes of the main character, Captain Polo, aka Polo the bear. Polo is an anthropomorphic polar bear with a gift for human languages, sailing and use of cash. These skills enable him to get around the world and meet many colourful human and non-human characters who range from Colombian guerrilla fighters to the Yeti! All have a story to tell that relates to the global environmental and climate crisis, and in this way Polo gradually teaches the reader more and more about the various ways global warming is impacting all life on Earth. The book also covers many climate solutions that are already underway, thus giving a sense of hope and positivity. It ends with Polo’s climate classroom, where the reader is taken through a glossary of technical terms and a somewhat deeper explanation of the more technical aspects of climate change, in illustrated prose rather than comic strip format. Book 4 that I am now working on is the sequel to this story, and sees Polo once again globe-trotting to different countries. This book has an even more playful feel to it, since I am inserting fictional characters and sequences for pure fun, that have nothing to do with anything technical or serious. For example Polo gets mixed up with a Russian nuclear sub, and spends half the book escaping from a crazy fisherman and his motley crew of ruffians. This book will be produced in two editions: one in full colour as usual, and one in black and white as a colouring book.

  1. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Marketing! This is an area that does not come naturally to me, and I found by bitter experience that I actually do have to do it myself; not even my publisher does it, which is why I have actually terminated my agreement with them. I am now 100% self-published, and I have no choice but to learn how to market my books.

  1. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I love researching my locations and settings, which I do using Google images. It’s like travelling around the world right in my office.

  1. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

I would steal Albert Uderzo’s artistic ability (he was the illustrator of the Asterix comics, which are legendary in Europe and many parts of the world, if not in the US), and the textual wit of Goscinny, Uderzo’s script writer and co-creator of Asterix. I would also steal Hergé’s, creator of Tintin, story-crafting genius. Lastly I would steal the marketing savviness of Dav Pilkey, the creator of the cartoon Captain Underpants and Dog Man books that are always topping the best seller charts in Amazon.

  1. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

In my case this would mean that I’ve been kidnapped by Captain Polo the polar bear. The only way I would have ruined his life is either by setting him up to be a globe-trotting hero whose books don’t sell, or by coaxing him out of his traditional existence hunting seals in the Arctic. I would plead to him that my intention was only ever to draw him out of his harsh existence in a melting Arctic with ever fewer things to hunt (this is a climate-related reality) to actually transform him into a messenger for positive climate action, make him a celebrity and set him up so that he will always have as many seals to eat as he wants!

  1. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

So I’m playing poker with Captain Polo, his arch enemies Conor O Connor the crazy fisherman, Tex Greadyman the oil tycoon (a character from my next book), and Marine Private Riley from Jeff Shaara’s The Frozen Hours. The stakes are my career as an author versus Polo’s precious cap, Conor’s old tub of a fishing boat, Greadyman’s 250 million dollar yacht, and Riley’s combat boots. Naturally I will win because I’m the one who made this whole poker game up, and therefore I can do whatever I want!

  1. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

A big challenge I face is getting that equation right between education and entertainment. Because I write educational comic books that also need to be fun to read, this is something of a pet subject of mine. My comics have to be great to read, full of action, humour, adventure. But they also have to deliver their message, achieve their higher purpose, without overloading the speech bubbles. Large speech bubbles take up space, and so the more text the less cartoon graphic artwork is visible. How do you explain something as complex as climate finance or the relationship between climate and war refugees to 9 year olds in a comic book without losing all sense of fun? I also struggle to define my genre, and indeed my audience. Many adults who have read my books find them hilarious, as well as informative. Most kids nowadays don’t read at all if they can avoid it. Yet comic books like the ones I make are traditionally classed as children’s books. Another trap I often fall into is stereotype. Humour is by definition the use of stereotype, in my opinion. All the stand-up comedians use it heavily. Look at Monty Python, dated yes, but nevertheless heavily oriented to using stereotypes. I get a lot of flak for this, but as I always explain, if I make use of cultural stereotypes I’m not doing it to make fun of anyone in particular; everyone gets hammered, and in any case this use of stereotypes for me is actually a celebration of diversity.

  1. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

My Captain Polo character also stars in related books and products, like my climate change calendar, and my short picture book stories and activity books about Halloween and Christmas, all of which feature Polo and have a climate message. I’ll probably soon start making Polo merchandise as well. Another thing to note is that I had to change Polo’s name, which risks causing confusion. At first he was Polo the Bear, but then I found out that the clothing company Ralph Lauren have a product, a teddy bear, called Polo Bear. To avoid potential problems down the line I changed my character’s name to Captain Polo. I hope that will do the trick, but it’s very annoying to have to do that kind of thing.

Aaron Hodges

Author picture

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

I am currently finishing off the third book in my Descendants of the Fall series, titled Age of Gods. I’m really enjoying how the two main characters in the story have developed since I first conceived of them back in March during quarantine, although they’ve definitely made life tricky for me at this book! I just hope I’ve done them justice for my readers!

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

Well this series I’m currently working on is about a fallen world where two species of human exist, one that takes after our own peoples, and another called the Tangata who possess inhuman strength and speed. And the two species are in the middle of a decade long war—one which humanity is losing. They will need a miracle to emerge victorious, or perhaps some divine intervention from the mysterious Gods who rule this world.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Haha is this not editing for everyone? I certainly find it exhausting, but also very rewarding as my first drafts are usually VERY rough, so its nice to see how polished and complete the final product is afterwards.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I actually really like outlining. I generally spend a week brainstorming different scenes and characters that will feature in the story, and while I don’t use every idea that pops into my head, its still my favourite part, probably because it really gets the imagination flowing.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Hmmm, I’d probably say Ian Irvine’s world building skills. I really enjoy creating backstories and geographical features in my books—I’m an environmental scientist by trade so I generally have a good understanding of that sort of thing. But the Ian Irvine takes it to another level, his maps are down to the minutest detail, and his histories make you believe this world actually exists!

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Haha considering some of the stuff I put my poor characters through, I’m not sure I’ll get out of this one alive. I guess I’d pull the whole God card and say there’s a reason behind everything that happens!

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Haha the main character would be Erika, princess of the broken kingdom of Calafe, and Archivist to the Queen of Flumeer. She’s extremely shrewd and cunning, and up against her is Jon Snow (I’ve been rereading GoT this week), who might be a great swordsman but lets face it, probably not the greatest poker player! As for what we’ll win…I’d say both would be pretty happy with a dragon, don’t you think?

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I think probably my number one advice for any writer is not to get held up in the early details/editing of your manuscript. Until you finish the first draft, you don’t even know whether you’ll be able to finish and it is so easy to get bogged down reediting what you’ve written before you even reach the end. So my advice is always: finish, then edit. At least for your first book.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I wrote a dystopian in 2016 titled ‘The Evolution Gene’ (originally the Praegressus project). It ah…predicted a civil war after the 2020 election, plus a plague. I’m a little concerned how closely its mirroring real life at this point…

Courtney P. Hunter

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

Right now, I’m taking a little creative break to figure out my next step. My novel, Sentience, took almost three years to write, and before it was a novel, it was actually a dance performance. I’m a lifelong dancer, and I learned story-telling through dance, so the plot and content started on the stage before the page. When you add the two projects together, I spent almost five years learning and creating the characters and subject matter. So now, I’m just trying to figure out what kind of subject I want to tackle next and what different ways I want to let myself explore it. However, my creative goal shortlist has a sequel for Sentience, a new stand-alone novel, and a horror movie screenplay on it.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

Sentience is my debut novel, and it explores the ethics of AI through a re-imagined Turing Test. It’s been described as genre-bending by readers, and I think that’s a really accurate summation. It’s obviously a science fiction novel, but there’s lots of thrills, romance, and some darker elements baked in. I love anything Promethean, and it was heavily inspired by the A24 Film Ex Machina and HBO’s Westworld. As I mentioned, the novel started as a contemporary dance performance that was showcased in the 2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and from there, I took the world that I built on the stage and transformed it into the world of Sentience.

Sentience follows twenty-four individuals as they travel through a contained natural preserve to participate in a Turing Test conducted by a tech corporation willing to do anything for monetary gain. Throughout their journey, they face obstacles designed by the experiment controllers to elicit human response and emotion. However, four of these individuals are not human. Romance falls together as the world around them falls apart, revealing the lengths people will go to protect those they love, achieve success, or simply survive. While the humans involved wrestle with where they stand on the polarizing issue of artificial intelligence and its applications, the AI in the experiment must prove their humanity to leave the experiment unscathed. The experience of those within the experiment is juxtaposed against those running it, some of whom struggle with the corporation’s intentions for the AI that pass the Turing Test. All of this leaves readers wondering what truly defines humanity and consciousness.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

EDITING! My goodness, I am a creative writer, but I am NOT a technical writer. I think editing is the most challenging part because it’s the total opposite of creative flow. You need to be attentive and incisive, and reading your own work requires this weird level of vulnerability with yourself. Emotionally, it’s a really taxing process.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I really love character development, which I do almost exclusively in my mind before even getting to writing. So earlier, when I said I’m on a creative break, I have actually been testing out some new characters in my head. I like to spend time acting like them and thinking like they would think. I’ll come up with different scenarios in my head to throw them into and work out how they’ll respond. I think it’s important to know your character’s character and code of ethics before you throw them into the world that you’re creating. Otherwise, they can just become a function of the story rather than them having the ability to own their choices.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

This is probably a bad answer, but I really envy any author or any creative that’s prolific. I look at people with these big, robust portfolios of work. Every project I’ve done, be it writing or a dance production, takes a while for me to execute, and most times, each project is a huge mental battle. I wish I had the ability to create more rapidly, even just to stretch my creative muscles more. I think I think about things too much to create like that right now, which is something I’m definitely working on.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Oh man, poor me. First things first, Leo, my protagonist, probably kicked my ass for all the things I’ve done to her in Sentience. However, I would tell her that one day I want to write a sequel where she does things that could change the shape of the future forever, and unfortunately for her, I had to push her to her breaking point for that to happen one day.

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Okay, so my most recent read was Long Bright River by Liz Moore, and if Leo Knox and Mickey Fitzpatrick got together to play poker, it would be so bad ass. It also strangely makes a lot of sense, like I feel like those two could totally have their own little fucked-up, sad girl poker club. It would extremely broody and probably whiskey fueled. If anyone unwanted interrupted their game, there would be hell to pay.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I think when it comes to speculative science fiction like Sentience, it’s really important to not over complicate things. It wasn’t “hard science fiction,” so I wanted it to be really readable and understandable to people who weren’t versed in terminology and theory surrounding Artificial Intelligence. I’m also just a science fiction writer and not an AI expert. I had to walk a fine line between making sure the tech I wrote into the story made sense, but also that I wasn’t showing my lack of expertise. A really helpful tip for me was writing those scenes in a way that I felt like I would watch them unfold on television. Trade technical terminology for vivid imagery!

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I’d just like to stress the importance of remembering that writing doesn’t always look like hours sitting at a computer pumping out words. Brainstorming and daydreaming is writing. Researching is writing. taking care of yourself so that you have the energy to write is writing. Take care of your mind.

Scott W. Kimak

  1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

I am currently working on the third book of the “I call him HIM” trilogy. It’s called the “Sword of God” and I’m about 60 percent finished. I’m really excited about bringing the trilogy to its end.

  1. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

My first book is called “I call him HIM”. In a post-apocalyptic world, a warrior and his family are driven underground, fighting for their very survival. 

When they do emerge, the futuristic planet they discover is very different from the one they left behind. Ruled by an evil presence which dominates and controls what is left of mankind, Earth has been reduced to a violent place of darkness, grief and destruction.

I call him HIM follows the journey of this unnamed warrior as he loses both his family and his mind. As he hits rock bottom, all he can think of is his insatiable yearning for revenge until he meets a young girl called Angelica who shows him the true power of faith. Her youth, innocence and strength of character reminds him of everything he has lost and the things which really matter.

But as the armies of the world rise up for the ultimate battle of good versus evil, can Angelica help him regain his sanity and rediscover himself before it is too late?

My second book “The Angel of Death” picks up immediately after the end of book one. Angelica and her companions rise from the ashes of the Battle of Houston, contemplating their next move. After their great victory, they should feel at ease, but Angelica’s newfound powers sense a darkness calling to her from the north. 
An evil awaits the young girl and her friends, ready to test their beliefs. An evil a thousand times more powerful than the Master they had faced. Can they stand against this dark power, and more importantly, who is the lone warrior that follows their steps from beyond?

  1. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Definitely marketing. It’s way too time consuming and takes away from what I truly love -writing.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

When I let myself become the character and let him/her tell the story. I can feel their pain, sorrow, and happiness. It’s a very strange feeling when I fall into that zone.

  1. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

R.A. Salvatore’s fighting scenes. They are so intricate that it makes me truly envious and I only hope to reach that point one day.

  1. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

It won’t matter. I’m already dead. My main character “HIM” can’t be compromised with. He’s a killing machine that doesn’t understand pain, fear, or remorse. At least that’s the way he is until he meets Angelica. So, I better pray that he’s already met her. Otherwise, I’m a goner.

  1. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Lol, I’m reading the Game of Thrones novels and the last chapter I read was about Tyrion. “HIM” and I wouldn’t stand a chance against that smooth-talking trickster. However, if the stakes are truly important then after Tyrion wins “HIM” kills both of us.

  1. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

One of the things that I’ve struggled with is the amount of description that can be used in post-apocalyptic fiction. When everything is dead it limits the amount of colours that can be used. You have to be careful that it doesn’t become to monotonous.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

Email – stxcheer@yahoo.com

Website – https://www.i-call-him-him.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ScottKimak

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/scottkimak/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/scott.kimak/

Links for “I call him HIM”

https://www.amazon.com/call-him-HIM-Post-Apocalyptic-Survival-ebook/dp/B08C7DPQM6

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1050311

https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1540316466

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940164728878

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781005847623

“The Angel of Death” is only available for preorder and launches 5/6/21

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08MTMJVTV


Poppy Kuroki

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

I’m working on origin stories for the assassin characters from Oath. Each short story will tell readers how each character came to be a Black Diamond assassin. I’m also working on a “coming out” Steampunk novel, but that’s going on the backburner for now. I’m aiming to get the first draft done by January.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

A Bard’s Lament, my debut, came out in August 2020. It tells the story of a bard named Ella who hides codes in her music for spies. Oath: A Black Diamond novel came out in November 2020 and it’s about a homeless woman who’s forced to become an assassin. Both are character-driven dark fantasy stories that you’ll love if you enjoy sad stories!

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Doing the final check. By then I’m tired of the story and just want to get it out there – and it’s impossible to find all the errors in your own work anyway.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I love that moment when it all falls into place. You know what you want to happen, but you haven’t been able to make it plausible. Then that final jigsaw piece fits perfectly into place and you know you have a good story.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Jay Kristoff’s amazing prose. Every one of his sentences sings and he has wit to boot.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

I wouldn’t really blame the protagonist of Oath, Colette, for me ruining her life. She thought she’d find her fortune when she sneaked aboard that ship to Ranigh, but things didn’t go quite as planned.

I’d tell her that what she was looking for isn’t so far away, and maybe read between the lines of the rules keeping her in place.

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

A pregnant teenager from London? I’d floor her! I’ve never played poker, though, so I’d distract her with a cookie and snatch up the chips.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I don’t know if I really have an area I’m good at, so I’ll give generic writing advice. Read a lot, especially in your genre. Always know that you can improve. Don’t worry about getting the first draft perfect. Take feedback with an open mind and try not to take it personally. Three-star reviews are a good thing. Drop the adverbs and read about writing; there’s a lot of good (and free) advice out there.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I also have a travel blog about life in Japan, poppyinjapan.com. I do love chocolate cake; Godiva has been selling their cakes at convenience stores and it’s dangerously good. Looking forward to winter – you can’t beat a blanket, hot drinks, and a nice long gaming session.


Chris Lodwig

  1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

I’m currently working on a short story that has to do with transferring emotion and empathy to other people via a social network. I just sent that off to the editor the other day.

I’m about 200 pages into the sequel to Systemic. There are three main story lines, the first of which picks up Lem and Eryn’s story where Systemic left off. I’m starting to suspect it might actually be two books.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

I only have the one book so far, Systemic.

Systemic is somewhere between a eutopia and dystopia depending on who you ask. It takes place several generations in the future. We’ve created a massive AI and for years, it’s been solving all of society’s problems. Of course, now the issue becomes, what happens to us when we don’t have any problems left to solve?

The story itself focuses on three strangers who are each making a pilgrimage to a small town in the middle of the Sagelands called Prower. Maik is hoping to find the woman he loves, Eryn wants to make it home, and Lem is out for revenge against the AI hosted in the town’s data center.

Without giving too much away, no one knows the real reasons they’re headed to Prower, but it has something to do with solving the problem of us not having any more problems.

  1. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Showing what I wrote to my wife. She always tells me the truth, and that’s pretty terrifying. I’m also pretty uncomfortable selling myself like I’m doing right now.

  1. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

So many bits! I love the spilling out, when you let your mind follow its own whims and construct something it finds interesting. Today, I was writing a conversation between 4 kids sitting around the kid table at a banquet. I just got to let them talk and their relationships and personalities just appeared out of nowhere. Those kids, who I hadn’t even known existed two days ago, made my story take an unexpected turn. Totally unplanned. That’s a lot of fun. I also love editing because it feels very tactile to me, sort of like moulding or sculpting.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Neil Gaiman’s ability to write in a million different genres and make all of them interesting, or funny, or clever, or beautiful. All of his work feels so imaginative and rich. Witches in Startdust travelled by candle. That’s a crazy pile of creativity right there.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

An interesting proposition. I have four main characters in Systemic (my recent book) and—as it turns out—I ruined their lives for the better…So, which to choose?

Lem’s life is already ruined by his own hand, he doesn’t need any help from me.

Maik is tortured enough as it is. I’d feel bad messing with him.

The global AI already knows anything I might want to do, so if I ruined its life, it would have manipulated me into doing it. My time in captivity would consist of the System explaining why my ruining of its life was for my own good.

Which just leaves Eryn. The two things she loves in life are being outdoors and her mother. In fact, she’s been planning to call in sick and play hooky from work so she can hike home through the Prower Valley. So, I imagine I’ve ruined her life by telling her boss that she wasn’t really sick. Now I find myself tied to a wooden chair in her tiny apartment. She’s asking why her boss just called her and offered to send a physician over to check on her. As the author, I’m the only one who could have possibly known her plan. Now she wants to know why I screwed everything up for her.

I do feel bad. I know how much the trip meant to her. Work has been tough, and she’s been feeling inexplicably antsy and unsettled of late. But I try, “Trust me when I tell you it was for your own good.” She just scowls at me. Doesn’t say a word. I know her well enough to know she’s struggling to master her anger and think of a way to salvage her trip. Given time, she’ll definitely come up with something. That would be a disaster, “There’s something you don’t know.”

About why you screwed up my vacation?”

No. I mean—in a way—yes. But I didn’t do it because I’m angry or jealous or worried about the old hermit who lives along the trail.”

She wants to appear calm, but she’s breathing heavy through her nose. She’s furious. But she doesn’t interrupt. She just raises an eyebrow in an expression that insists, “This had better be good.”

You’re happy, right?” She doesn’t answer. “Your happiness is rooted in who you suppose you are, and how you understand the past to be. If you go on that hike; if you find your way to Prower, you’ll learn things—about your past, about your memories—and once you know them, you’re understanding of that past will collapse. And once you lose your past, you’ll lose yourself, and once you’ve lost yourself, you’ll lose your joy. Stay here, delay your trip by a few days. A few days is not too much to ask. A few days will provide you a lifetime of happiness.”

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

That would be Horza from Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas. From my book I would choose Lem. Lem is certainly smarter than me, so he’d probably be a better poker player, but as soon as he thought he was going to lose, he’d fold. He’d probably say something like, “This is stupid,” and toss his cards on the table and storm away.

As far as Horza is concerned. I’m pretty sure he’d beat me. He’s gone to at least one Damage game and so he’s familiar with emotional stress, plus as a shape-changer he has precise control of every aspect of his body, so I bet he as an impressive poker face. I’d get my ass handed to me.

As far as what we’d play for, not money. Aside from the fact that none of our money would be compatible, both Horza and Lem come from post-scarcity societies, so anything I could ante wouldn’t matter much to them. So, I guess just bragging rights.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I have two things that are both dangerous for me for the exact same reason. I love imagery and descriptive writing, and I like to geek out on ideas. Induing in either—or worse, both—of these runs the risk of going too deep for the sake of my own entertainment, and at that point I’ll lose the audience.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I have no plots to take over the world that would not be totally ruined by telling the world about them. So…no. Instead, here is my favourite home brew beer recipe.

Recipe Name: Take 5 IPA – Pliny the Younger

Beer Type: IPA

Ingredients

Grains:

  • 0.6 lb (272 g) Crystal 45 malt
  • 0.6 lb (272 g) Carapils (Dextrin) Malt

Extract Sugars:

  • 3 lbs Golden Iight dry malt extract
  • 3.5 lbs of Pilsen Light dry malt extract
  • 0.75 lb (340 g) Table sugar

Water Agents

  • Calcium Chloride – 1 tsp
  • Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) – 1 tsp
  • Epsom Salt (MgSO4) – .4 tsp
  • Irish Moss (Need amount!)

Hops

  • Bittering:
    • 3.50 oz (99 g) Columbus 13.90% A.A. 90 min.
  • Flavoring:
    • 0.75 oz (21 g) Columbus 13.90% A.A. 45 min.
  • Aroma #1:
    • 1.00 oz (28 g) Simcoe 12.30% A.A. 30 min.
  • Aroma #2:
    • 1.00 oz (28 g) Centennial 8.00% A.A. 0 min.
    • 2.50 oz (71 g) Simcoe 12.30% A.A. 0 min.
  • Dry: #1
    • 1.00 oz (28 g) Columbus 13.90% A.A. Dry Hop (12 to 14 days total)
    • 1.00 oz (28 g) Centennial 9.10% A.A. Dry Hop (12 to 14 days total)
    • 1.00 oz (28 g) Simcoe 12.30% A.A. Dry Hop (12 to 14 days total)
  • Dry #2
    • 0.25 oz (7 g) Columbus 13.90% A.A. Dry Hop (5 days to go in dry hop)
    • 0.5 oz (7 g) Centennial 9.10% A.A. Dry Hop (5 days to go in dry hop)

Yeast:

  • Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast

Quick sheet

Done

Event

Sugars

Hops

Instructions

Notes

 

heat water

  
  • 1 Gal of water to 165

 
 

165f

  
  • maintain heat at 165

  • Add Steeping Grains

 
 

30 min steep

  
  • Remove and rinse grains with hot water

  • top up kettle (as much as possible)

  • Heat to boil

 
 

(boil) 200 f

Add Malt

 
  • water additives

  • add Malt Extract

  • Add Dextrose

  • Bring to boil

 
 

t- 90

 

Bittering:

3.5 oz Columbus

  • Add bittering hops

  • Set 45 min timer

 
 

t – 45

 

Flavoring:

.75 Columbus

  • Add Flavoring Hops

  • Set 15 min timer

 
 

t – 30

 

Aroma #1:

1 oz Simcoe

  • Add Aroma #1

  • Set 30 min timer

  • Add Irish Moss

 
 

t – 0

 

Aroma #2:

1 Centennial

2.50 oz Simcoe

  • Add Aroma Hops #2

 
 

t – 0

  
  • Cool to 67f

 
 

67f

  
  • Remove all hops

  • move to fermenter

  • Oxygenate

  • top off to 5 gal

  • pitch yeast

 
 

Fermenting stops

 

Dry:

1 oz Columbus

1 oz Centennial

1 oz Simcoe

  • Rack beer

  • Dry Hop #1

 
   

Dry:

0.25 oz Columbus

0.5 oz Centennial

Dry Hop #2

 
 

Rack + 14 days

Priming

 

Bottle

 
 

bottle + 4 weeks

  

Drink

 

A. R. Meyering

A.R. Meyering

  1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

Currently I am working on a philosophy paper on determinism for my PhD applications. On the creative side of things, I recently finished the final edit on a manuscript about a shamed king who flies around his country in a hot air balloon looking for redemption and a way to stop a massive celestial body from crashing down and destroying everything. It’s got sky whales!

  1. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

My new book, The Resurrectionist, is about a 19th century surgeon who suffers a curse that will corrode both his body and soul. It’s also a story that solves the mystery of what happened to the infamous murderer William Hare. The Burke and Hare murders were a series of killings that happened in Scotland—the two criminals sold the bodies of their victims as cadavers for dissection. After they were caught, Hare sold Burke out and escaped into obscurity. No one knows what happened to him.

  1. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Oof, starting a book is the hardest part! There is so much anxiety leading up to that first chapter, no matter how much outlining I’ve done.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

This might sound strange, but I really love research. I find history so fascinating that I love following rabbit holes when I read an interesting fact. So many of the crazy things I find while researching shapes my writing. I also love writing the scary scenes in my horror books, that’s just pure fun.

  1. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Neil Gaiman’s sharp sense of wit, for sure. That man can sure turn a phrase. That or the poetic prose of David Mitchell. Some of his stuff makes my heart ache to read it.

  1. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

“You’ll like this life much better than the one you would’ve had, trust me. Now, for goodness’ sake, put that scalpel down!”

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

I recently read The Last Unicorn, so I suppose I’d be up against the titular unicorn and Edgar, my surgeon from The Resurrectionist. It’d be tough to win without opposable thumbs, so the unicorn is probably out of luck. Edgar’s way smarter and more logical than I am, so he’d probably have me beat! Drinks are on me.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I’d say, in horror, know how to use gore and violence in the right way. It can be tempting for writers of horror to go totally wild and let the blood flow with abandon, but I think you need to plan for what you’re saying with violence in your book. It needs to be used as a storytelling tool instead of a shock tactic. Better to use it as a necessary part of the plot and your story’s overall thesis, not just grotesque window dressing.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

My new novel The Resurrectionist is available on Halloween of 2020! The audiobook was just completed, too, and the narrator, Alan R Gron, did an absolutely phenomenal job, so please check it out. If you like the book and want to see more content from that world, I do some (very amateur) drawings of my characters on my Instagram.

Links to my books on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/A-R-Meyering/e/B00HONLSRA

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/armeyering?lang=en

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/_tanpoponoko_/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/AlexandraMeyering/

  1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

I’m working on a fantasy series called The Big Fairy Adventures. It centres around a slightly overweight fairy called Tinker Tanker (she likes her nectar too much!) but she is brave and has a heart of gold. It is generally set in the huge fairy queendom called Layleamonee.

  1. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

The first two are already published on Amazon. Book 1: How It All Began, really puts the whole of the adventure series in order for you, hints of what is coming up. So a case of forewarned is also forearmed. This is also a freebie.

Then Book two is the start of the series proper: The Golden Quandrill. This is the most powerful wand in the cosmos, no charmed piece of stick, no way, here we have a sentient being that incorporates biologically with the person used the wand.

We are introduced to Orcs, Craggs, Grobs, humans, Trolls and of course humans, or specifically so far, one human, a humourist who is Chinese and called Ding Ling.

Half-way through the 3rd Book called Maldranan the fairy witch. Not someone you would invite to your dinner party. Plus an Orc that has a partial lobotomy, but the surgeon hiccupped during the procedure and removed the ‘male’ sense part of his miniscule brain, so now we have a hulk male Orc who likes to wear pink slacks and false eyelashes. Things do not bode well for him. I suspect he comes from the same mould as ex-president Trump!

  1. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

It has to be the very last little bit, from marketing to money coming into the bank. A realist realizes it is rare to become a millionaire to just write books. Why is it that marketer’s will say ‘Pay me lots of money, and I can’t guarantee any success!” Might as well burn my money on a bonfire! Don’t you think I am right? (I’m breaking into song now…) All I want to do is write, and not bother with the other stuff

  1. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I’m a pantser and write by the seat of my pants. My last big project, The Wand Chronicles, an epic fantasy, there are 400,000 words, all happened when I sat down and let my imagination run riot. But is my writing good? Well, so say professional reviewers and readers seem to rave about them

  1. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Well, you only have to read some of the very dark passages of Tolkein to make you want to jump off the river bridge, so I like Terry Pratchett..I like humor, fantasy humor. I also love Jane Austin, the command of the English language, in for example, Pride & prejudice. How the written language can illustrate all manners of emotion so perfectly well

  1. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Well, for me, that is a fairy called Tinker Tanker, she is a little overweight. But she stands at 8” tall. Very tall for a fairy , but her wand packs a powerful fun, and for some reason thinks it is fun to creep up behind a human and touch her wand on the buttocks of that human, and watch them jump in the air with the shock of it all. I will try to explain that I am trying to convince people to love fairies, and that they are real

  1. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

So myself, Tinker Tanker and an elvish sorceress called Elfistra is sat around the table. Not good. She will never trust a human, and has enough magic in one snap of her fingers to cause havoc. She would win, she likes winning. Tinker Tanker is too nice to notice anything untoward. The stakes are the use of the most powerful wand in the cosmos, Elvina. Elfistra will win it, in any case, it will only integrate into her body.

  1. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

Sitting down to write, for characters to pop up, to plot out a line of action, to construct a chapter with a beginning, middle and an end, is not a problem, so far, for me. Period. It is all the other paraphernalia, the promotion, the marketing that I abhor. All I want to do as an author is write

  1. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I created a board game to accompany my Wand Chronicles Trilogy, with all the main characters in the book. It went on to be voted in the top ten of best board games in the UK.

I also constructed a fairy garden to inspire my writing for The Big Fairy Adventures, I now get visitors who travel great distances to see it.

I will be adding to it and in January have another Grand Opening. Of course I will be proving free fairy cakes!

Joanna White

  1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

Haha, that is very true! At the moment I’m writing Light Magi, Book Two of my Republic Chronicles. A lot of people would consider it sci-fi, but I insist that it’s just high fantasy. I don’t like technology, so I’m using magic. I built an entire galaxy with tons of races and planets and I’m having a blast with my mage characters saving the galaxy from trouble. I decided to take my time and focus on it for a while, since I did the million word challenge last year and wrote a new novel every two weeks during 2020. So, I needed a bit of a relaxing, fun break, haha.

  1. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

Well, Volcano is my next release and it came out on March 23rd. It’s book one in my Calamity’s Hope Series, which is a series of standalone romances that end in natural disasters. I love the story and it’s about a famous YouTuber, Liam, who took a bad injury and can no longer do the dangerous thrill-seeking adventures he’s used to. So, his best friend takes him to a vacation on Hawaii to try to help him, but they have no idea that the worst volcanic eruption in Hawaii’s history is about to happen.

  1. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Marketing! Oooof, trying to gain readers and convince them to buy your book without sounding salesy or pushy is something that is so hard for me too and sometimes a bit frustrating. That and editing, but I think marketing is worse, for me.

  1. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

The writing part lol. I can lose myself for hours in a story, which is why I write so much, I suppose. I escape into the world and get so involved with the plots and characters; I write what I want to read but I also get to experience the story as well and it’s an amazing feeling. It also makes me feel closer to God when I’m creating things. It’s like a sliver of His creativity, since He created everything, which still blows my mind when I think about it.

  1. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Cassandra Clare’s descriptions of places. Oh my goodness. When you read any of her stuff, you get so immersed into the scene because there’s paragraphs of details that you can’t get unless you’re there. I don’t know if she travels or is just that good, but I wish, wish, wish my description skills were like hers.

  1. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Hehe. I can’t. I’m going to die. Kyren would kill me. And then blame me for making him… dark. LOL. There is no chance I would make it through this alive—nothing I could say would change his mind.

  1. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Well, the last book I read was called Love and A Little White Lie, I believe and the MC was a woman named January. My MCs are Kyren, Kaian, Ayka, and Chi. Kyren, Kaian, and Chi are Magi (mage users who protect the galaxy from evil) and Ayka is a Diplomat (a senator who helps run the Republic that governs the galaxy). Goodness me; we are likely playing for money, I suppose, not that I gamble. I think Kyren and Kaian would gamble, but I don’t think Chi or Ayka would. January might gamble. None of my MCs know anything about poker, since in my galaxy they have a gambling game called Mirzakki. If we were playing it then, Kyren would likely win. He’s a bit better at it than Kaian, but it would be a close call. But with poker, probably January. She’s from modern earth like me, but likely would know more about poker than me. So, I’m going to say her. We would all lose our money, LOL.

  1. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

Probably avoiding repetitive plot ideas at all cost. My area of expertise is writing a lot and doing it pretty quickly. So, the risk with that is that you write so many books that your ideas may start to feel very similar. So, I always try to think of a new way to spice up ideas so I don’t do the same thing over and over again. I have a tendency to do that with ideas I love, so it can be a bit of a challenge.

  1. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

Haha, no plots to take over the world because I’m too lazy, but Volcano is out and available for pre order. You can get it from Amazon or directly from me (which helps because then I receive all the royalties rather than part of them).

Volcano from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08TB8T1NL

Volcano from me: https://authorjoannawhite.com/product/volcano-ebook/

And feel free to join my fangroup on Facebook because we play games and have giveaways and memes for nerds (especially Star Wars fans like me). https://www.facebook.com/groups/jwwarriors

KT Wilder

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

Right now, I’m working on the sequel to my first novel Between Worlds. I have another project that is unofficially being called The Story of Us.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

Between Worlds is my debut novel. I self published it back in July. The story starts ten years after a virus appeared out of nowhere and destroyed massive amounts of the population. The majority of what is left are those that were children during the first outbreak. Our protagonist, Faelyn, is one of the guardians who monitor and protect the remaining peoples with her creature partner, Celestin. Together they are one of the only guardian pairs classified as rangers, spending their time travelling and surveying. Things come crashing down for them when signs of the virus return and Faelyn runs into someone from her past who should be dead.

The Story of Us is actually a multi-arc and definitely multiple novel story about a family rooted deep in the tradition of managing supernatural creatures. It focuses on the parents first, primarily the hedgewitch matriarch Benirah Haze and how her family starts – with a horse. Benirah and her husband Henry have eight biological children and each end up affected by the supernatural in one way or another. Vampires, werewolves, witches, professional equestrians, nurses, geniuses, field researchers, immortals, and falling through universes… it’s an exciting story about the importance of family and home, even if family isn’t always blood.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Editing! Editing my first manuscript was a nightmare. I did everything in google docs and it did me no favors. I wrote this story over the course of 10 years so by the time I was in draft 8, I was filling notebooks to make sure the story stayed straight. A close second would be naming characters, but editing takes the cake.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

When I get so immersed in writing a scene that I can’t stop. It doesn’t happen all the time, but that moment where I will literally let the room get dark around me and forgo sleep even though I have to work the next day. When I blink and it’s 5 am? I LIVE for those moments!

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Sarah J. Maas’s characterization skills. I adore her books and the characters are so unique and well written. Her newest book has completely blown me away and once again she is showering us readers with excellent characters to cry over.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Oh goodness. This could be bad, I put Faelyn through a lot! My reasoning would be “It’s going to hurt but it’s going to make you strong. In the end, everything falls into place. I don’t write sad endings, and I can promise yours is one of my happiest!”

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

The last book I read, or rather re-read, was A Natural History of Dragons. With my characters and Lady Elizabeth, she would probably win. Celestin would cheat. Warren would have just learned how to play and would not be exceptionally good at hiding his expressions. Faelyn would suggest using the power charged crystals every guardian uses day to day – Faelyn would give Elizabeth some of hers so she could play – though I have a feeling Elizabeth would also be interested in Celestin’s tail feathers. Or any of Faelyn’s energy activated weapons, books, or other items of interest she happened to be carrying at the time.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

Something I originally got caught up with while world building was being too specific in details that really weren’t important. While it’s good to be detailed in world building, there’s a point of over explaining that sort of begins to loop. As the writer its important to lay a framework so things make sense, but its not my job to do the thinking for my readers. Sometimes its best to leave things vague and let the reader’s imagination fill in the rest. There’s a comic called ‘Cow Tools’ published in 1982 by a man named Gary Larson and its an excellent example of this.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I do have an amazing roasted peaches and lavender recipe that I will share because it is life changing.

http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2012/06/recipe-gluten-free-roasted-peaches-and.html

I’d also like to share my facebook page. I have a lot of fun with it! Each week I share a blog post on a random topic, moodboards for characters, places and creatures, as well as songs from the soundtrack I put together. There’s also lots of memes.

https://facebook.com/ktWild.r