Author Interview – A.A Warne

Joining me around the campfire today and coming all the way from Australia is indie fantasy author Amanda Warne.


  • Hi Amanda, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hello Matthew. Thank you so much for having me. I’m an Australian writer living in the western part of Sydney. I’ve been writing just on ten years now and publishing for two. When I’m not writing, I’m wrestling three kids, two naughty dogs and exploring the Blue Mountains in search of inspiration. I started writing after the birth of my first daughter when I could no longer practice the messy art of pottery and any creator will tell you, an artist must be creative. So I turned to books and literature and by the time I finished reading the first book, I had a pen in my hand drafting a story. Ten years later and my head is full of stories demanding to get out.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy has no boundaries. Anything is possible and even though an idea or concept might not be present in our real life, it gives us the possibility of being real somewhere in the universe and I love that.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

The Reluctant Wizard was released early September and was a challenge for me because not only was I writing something now accessible for children, but I also placed an expectation on myself to write shorter stories. Ironically, it’s my largest book to date. So I’ve thrown out that belief that I can write shorter books and just allowed the story to do what it needs to.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I don’t think of them as characters but rather real life people. I learn something about them but I know that isn’t a limitation or even a snapshot of who they really are. Instead, we cannot know a person fully, even ourselves. That’s why we surprise ourselves, shock even and I love exploring the depths of personality, what makes someone tick or react a certain way. It’s fascinating watching that in real life, when someone tries to mask their feelings or even the truth, but for a character, we can explore exactly why they do that.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

There is SO much knowledge out there. Everyone is an expert in something – opinions mostly. For me, I wanted to be a jack of all trades, master of writing. But all the writing advice went over my head. So I focused on researching topics that fascinated me while I practiced the writing as a craft or even art practice. Direct feedback from editors you respect is a must and that’s when your writing will evolve. Until then, enjoy it. Love it! Stories are magical and without the magic then the reader would love it.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Pay the children to do cleaning – it’s cheaper than hiring a cleaner. Turn the phone off – you don’t have to answer every call. Social media isn’t real – deadlines are. We don’t have to be the perfect person and that’s totally unreal expectation of today’s society. Find your happiness, throw out the noise and then you’ll notice that deadlines are fun and exciting because it gives you a date that the story will head out of your hands and into the world.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I’m both. I let the stories and characters determine everything. That is, the writing, tone, even how it’s structured. Once I have enough swarming in my head that it must go down onto paper, I write it out. In that mindset, I believe I’m writing the book cover to cover but in actual fact, it’s a summary. After a month or two, I come back and write it out properly. So that summary is full of telling and about 50 pages all up, but the re-write is all showing and can turn into 500 pages.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I have been researching my mega-series for the last five years. It’s a life-long series that I will publish either 2022 or 2023. I don’t want to put it out into the world until I’m 100% ready to do so. My head is full of stories but this one is beyond epic. It’s so large that I will be writing it until I’m in my 90s. Until then, that’s all I can say. However, there will be more of The Reluctant Wizard and my editor messages me so often I think she forgets her other clients. She’s super excited to see the next part and I’m writing away nicely, preparing for all those twists to keep her on the edge of her seat.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I love all stories so it’s hard to chose, but if I had to, I love a faulted hero, and heroic failure, I’m not a fan of labelling anyone good or evil because there isn’t such a thing, and I love dark stories that has light, light stories that doesn’t shy away from the dark. While the world is going through this stage, I want to be reminded how important humanity as a whole is. We are all on this ride together and our local community is who we hold hands with and walk beside however, we’ve been given this gift of global insight, so we can communicate, connect and understand each other as a whole. I want to see  more of that. Community rather than individuality. Whole instead of single. Love instead hate.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star wars! I love Lord of the Rings and I’ve only see the first Harry Potter movie (I know, shock horror!) but there is something truly amazing with Star Wars. It’s a story that covers the universe and beyond. One scene that truly captured me was when Queen Amidala is sitting in a room discussing politics. The seating backs onto windows where we can see just enough of that planet’s life – flying transport, wild colourful outfits, etc. and they’re all there sitting and talking about politics. That doesn’t interest me. I want to know what food they’re eating, what types of work the people do, what does a day look like to them? There are only so many political stories that can be told, but the story of a regular person, a peasant, a person who falls between the gaps – that’s an interesting story because they can get to any part of society. I don’t want to know what a queen does or doesn’t do – she only has one role to play, but a person who has no label or position and yet has a strong drive to achieve something, is amazing to follow in a story. Those are the characters that I want to explore in my stories.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAWarne

Instagram: www.instagram.com/AAWarne

Twitter: www.twitter.com/AAWarne

Website: www.aawarne.com


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Author Interview – D. William Landsborough

Joining me around the campfire today is indie fantasy author D. William Landsborough. Take a seat by the fire and settle in.


  • Hi Doug tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi Matthew! My name is Doug, better known as D. William Landsborough, and I’m a dark fantasy author. My debut novel, Archangel, came out in February of 2019 and its sequel, Revelations, is coming out in December of this year. Both books are part of the Shadow’s Advent series.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I think there are two things I love most about fantasy. First, I love the ability for fantasy to be anything, for it to be an escape to be anywhere you want. Even when those escapes aren’t great places—my books take place in a post-apocalyptic world run by demons—you can still get lost in them, learn to love characters and witness things that just aren’t possible in the real world.

Second, I love the spectrum that is fantasy. You can get your high fantasy fix with elves and dwarves, but there is a lot more in the genre. In my writing, my dark fantasy takes place ten years from now. So you have angels and demons facing off, but they are doing so in the ruins of cities. Then you have urban fantasy, which takes everything we love about Middle Earth and shoves it into today’s society. They all share elements, but there is so much variety and diversity within the genre that it’s hard to get bored.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

As of writing this, I have just wrapped up the last little bits of Revelations, Book Two of Shadow’s Advent and the sequel to my debut novel, Archangel. It will be releasing on December 10, 2020.

Oh boy, the challenges. Archangel took me four or five years to actually finish. It was a long road of starts and stops, ups and downs. No one knew it existed except for a handful of close friends, and I wasn’t even sure it would ever see the light of day. Then, when I did get it out there, I didn’t just get a positive response, I got fans!

Then I realized that writing a book was difficult, but writing a sequel is much tougher. Not only do I have to get it out in a timely manner, but there was a constant voice in the back of my head asking “What if it sucks? What if I disappoint these people who are supporting me?”

So I tried combating both. Unfortunately, turning my previous 5-year writing process into a 1-year one was challenging. I wasn’t writing as quickly as I wanted to and after a while I realized I wasn’t writing the story I wanted to. I found about halfway in that I hated what some characters had become and where the story went. So I made a tough call: I scrapped it and started again.

Once I did that and took another swing at it, I realized I was on the right track. I realized this was the story I wanted and I’m confident it’s a story my readers will love. So I forged ahead, behind my initial timeline but content.

Then the pandemic hit. That’s not news to anyone, and everyone has been affected in their own way. Beyond the isolation and challenges that have accompanied the pandemic, I actually became much busier. I’m fortunate to have not lost my job, nor did my partner, and I recognize that not everyone was as lucky. However, I work for a charity and she is a teacher; both of us became exponentially busier and more stressed almost overnight. For someone writing in the early hours of the morning, during lunch breaks or at night, sometimes stress from this crisis just pushed Revelations back… which then served to stress me out more!

Now, the pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere, but I was able to consistently work on Revelations and it’s just about ready for release!

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

Flawed characters are by far my favourite to write. When writing my main character, Uriel, there was a lot of potential for him to have “Superman Syndrome” (at least, that’s what I call it). I find Superman to be incredibly strong, but without flaws or depth. I’m sure there are comics and storylines out there where this isn’t the case, but most mainstream depictions of Superman show him being this bulwark of good who just shows up, punches something and saves everyone.

That’s flat. I like characters who make mistakes, who aren’t perfect. I want my characters to be affected by regret and pain because that makes them relatable. I don’t want them being picture-perfect heroes, nor do I want my villains to be one-dimensional evil-doers. I want them to have their own flaws, to make us root for them sometimes. People are complex and have flaws, so characters should too.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

I have two tips here. First, establish a habit of writing. Archangel took so long because I thought I could only write when it strikes me, when my creativity is at its peak. You have a talent and the only way that book will get written and you’ll grow as a writer is to start writing. Ten, fifteen, thirty minutes a day all adds up.

Second, understand that you and your work will grow and develop. You won’t write it perfectly the first time around, but that’s why we revise our work and why we have editors. While many people have a talent for writing, it’s still a skill. If you practice and make a habit, you will become better!

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Well, as I admitted before, deadlines are tough for me, especially after taking so long to write my first book. One of the tools I use for my writing now is Dabble. I know a lot of my fellow authors swear by Scrivener, but I’m a Dabble convert. I could go on about it, but one of the best tools is their Goal function.

Essentially, you pick a date you want to be done by, an approximate word count goal and how many days off you want, and it will spit out a number that you should write every day to reach your goal. If you hit that word count, you get a nice congratulations message that is actually pretty encouraging. If you write over or under your goal, your daily goal adjusts for the next day.

Once I combined that tool with an actual habit of writing, I could easily track my progress and stick to my deadlines!

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I was a pantser for Archangel and it took me five years to write, so now I’m a plotter. The pantser lifestyle works for some people, but I need at least a chapter-by-chapter outline to write the story I want. That outline must be flexible so I can adapt as my story develops, and sometimes I have scenes within those chapters heavily outlined if I have a really great or necessary idea, but usually an outline by chapter works for me.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

There will be four more books in the Shadow’s Advent series, and book three is what’s next for me. I want to get that out within the year, because I feel like I owe that to myself and my readers after taking almost two years between Archangel and Revelations.

At the same time, I’d like to start exploring other book ideas. I am creating an outline for a near-future climate sci-fi, and I have an idea for a horror novel on the backburner that’s giving me the evil eye. There are some other ideas floating in my head, too, but they are mostly just notes in my phone right now.

Ultimately, I want to get to a place in my writing career where I am putting out one Shadow’s Advent book a year and one other book a year!

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

With 2020 in particular, you’d think I want lighter stories, but my writing style is a dark one. Terrible things happen in the stories I write and enjoy, and I often venture into the bleak category. That being said, I write this way because I think it makes the triumphs or just moments of hope that much brighter. We need Thanos to snap his fingers to have that inspirational moment where all the portals open in Endgame, and it’s so much better for it.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Honestly, with the latest Star Wars disappointments and J.K. Rowling doing everything she can to make me and many others dislike her, Lord of the Rings is a clear winner. Beyond the negatives of the other two, LotR is such an incredible example of world building and it holds a very special place in my heart.

Follow Doug at –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dwilliamlandsborough/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dwlandsborough/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiAPkfJ40u-RA9YijVfdSLQ Website: https://www.dlandsborough.com/


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Author Interview – C.F Welburn

Joining me around the campfire today is fantasy author C.F Welburn creator of the Ashen Levels series.


  • Hi CF Welburn, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

As far back as I can remember I’ve had a passion for writing. Certainly, since primary school when I fell in love with Fighting Fantasy books, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and subsequently, The Hobbit. I was lucky that I had parents that read to me, and some great teachers that encouraged me to use my imagination! I also grew up in the countryside, so playing in the woods and making dens always gave me a sense of adventure!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I suppose it’s just the sense of magic, danger, adventure. Something that used to set my young mind to daydreaming and these days as pure escapism.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I’m currently being torn between two projects. One being a standalone grimmer-darker tale of revenge (TBA 2021); the other being a four book series which will have multiple POVs and be more of an end-of-the-world affair… I’m also working on the narrative for a videogame with my brother-in-law, called The Prison.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

This would depend on the story. For example, in The Linguist the main character is pretty flawed, and his decisions have led him to a very dark place, which was interesting to write and get inside his headspace. But the most fun character to write by far has to be Balagir from The Ashen Levels. Despite myriad challenges he never loses his dark sense of humour, and ability to outwit most of his adversaries.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

I’m afraid my advice will likely be the same old spiel… Write what you want to read, enjoy what you do, never be afraid to push your ideas much further than the initial spark. If you’re in a slump go for a walk, travel, listen to music, read, play! Try to write little and often… Basically, have fun! This is your creation, make it shine!

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

[insert manic laughter] Fortunately, I never tell anyone about my constantly shifting deadlines, to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on myself. It’s ready when it’s ready and if that takes twice as long as intended, or the book doesn’t resemble in any way its original concept, then so be it. The creative process is exactly that; a process. Like making a cake when the kitchen is covered in flour and smells slightly of burning. In the end it’s the final product that you put out that matters. If I’m not 100% happy with it, I’d rather sit on it and write something else. With the Ashen Levels I had some loose plot points, but lots of room to manoeuvre, so the story never was on track, because there was no track… Well, perhaps a dirt track, choked with nettles and riddled with ditches. That made it more enjoyable to write, and gave me more freedom to chase surprising ideas.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I tend to be a little bit of both. I have general ideas, milestones, situations in mind, and then I begin to see how they might all fit together. Of course, this depends on the project. The Ashen Levels’ first draft was 75% pantsing, whilst the series I’m working on at the moment is requiring significantly more plotting to make sure the magic system makes sense…

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I want to write a mixture of standalones and series. These days I’m tending to prefer standalones in the way that they feel self-contained and stay in my mind, like the old classics used to. However, Epic fantasy as a genre works really well in series format and it’s nice at times to get lost in something you know is going to last you a while! I have working titles for my next 3 books, but I’m keeping them close to my chest until nearer the time.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

In spite of the current situation I haven’t found that my reading (or gaming/music) tastes have changed. I like stories that have a fun element and quirky sense of humour, but I’ve always been drawn to the darker, tragic side of literature, too. If it’s too happy I don’t feel as much impact from the story. Then again, too much doom and gloom can be a bit tiresome. Think about a dark, dramatic, stormy day with the occasional shaft of sunlight and invigorating breeze.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Despite being born in 1977 and my early years being spent with the (original) Star Wars trilogy, I’m going to have to go with LOTR. The book formed a cornerstone of my childhood, and I thought what Peter Jackson did with the films was spectacular! (The Hobbit films, not so much). If Harry Potter is on at Christmas I’ll watch and enjoy it, but I kind of missed the Hogwart’s Express on all of that.

Thanks for the interview, Matthew! My website has just had a facelift which you can check out for a bit more about me and my books. Oh, and Part 1 of The Ashen Levels (Fledgling) is currently 99c. If you want to take a stab at something for the price of a Mcdonalds’ cheeseburger, then you’ve not much to lose. It’s not quite as fattening, but may leave a greasy residue. I also occasionally lurk on Facebook and Instagram.

www.cfwelburn.com


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Author Interview – Aaron Hodges

The campfire crackles in the cold night and a shivering figure emerges from the forest. It’s Aaron Hodges, the epic fantasy author from New Zealand. Unlike his homeland that is now enjoying the fruits of spring, the camp is in the grip of winter. We pull up a stool next to the fire and chat.


  • Hi Aaron tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Well I’m a fantasy author from New Zealand and I have to say I’ve always been inspired to write. I think in a similar way I love to read fantasy, writing gives me ability to go off into my own world for a while. I really love having that ability to escape real life for a bit—and especially when I get to share it with others!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I think that it can both give us an escape from real life, but also that it often mirrors the same struggles we have in the real world, albeit in a simpler way.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Well my latest project is a series set in a fallen world, where humanity is at war with the inhuman Tangata, creatures with superhuman strength and speed, which are determined to destroy humanity. I’ve just about finished off the third book, Age of Gods, which is due to be published on the 8th November. In this book, the two main characters are completely separated, and their individual plots and discoveries about the past are both quite complicated. That’s made it really difficult to keep everything in line in my head, and I just hope I’ve managed to write it so that I bring the reader along!

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I love characters that are able to rise above their circumstances. I often have characters based in normal settings, without any particular special ability or skill, but who are determined to lift themselves up, to face the challenges of the enemy and save the world. I’m not sure how much of that they get from me though 😉

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

The value of time management. I really force myself to have fixed times that I go and write and work on my advertising etc. I’ve found without that strict schedule, I don’t get half as much done, and would never be able to keep on track with my releases! Equally, making sure I give myself time off is important too—something I got out of the habit of doing during the pandemic, since I got bored without my work!

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I know about how much time each phase/edit of my work takes, so I pencil in a release date when I first start a project—usually about 3 months from when I start. Then I just use the time management I used above to make sure I am working on it and keeping to schedule!

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

A bit of each, I generally write a general plot outline, then pants the bits in between as I go!

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I am considering dipping more into the scifi genre soon, after reading Skyward by Brandon Sanderson and really enjoying it (before I really had no interest in space ships!). I’m still brewing the story in my mind, but it would be based on a planet where humanity is enslaved by a technologically superior race of aliens!

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Gotta enjoy the good triumphs over evil, but not without sacrifice. Nothing good in this world comes easy.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Harry potter!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fantastic.adventures

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14713614.Aaron_Hodges

author@aaronhodges.co.nz

Latest series: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

            (Book three is out now!)

Thanks for taking part!


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Author Interview – Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Writing by the flickering flames of the campfire I see all sorts of shapes and tales cast by the light. Adventures and heroes, villains and horror. A twig snaps in the woods nearby and I look up to see my latest guest. Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks.


  • Hi Nikki tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi! I’m Nikki Nelson-Hicks and I think my interest in writing started because I am a reader. My childhood was chaotic and I found solace in stories. That is still where I find peace and the place I flee to when I need some guidance and a cosmic head rub.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The world building. Creating entire civilizations, races, religions, universes, all from the static medium of ink on paper. Think about that. It’s magic.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

This past year I’ve been putting together all the stories from the Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective series into an Omnibus. My first intention was to put them all into one volume but, yikes….it turns out the first one was 300 pages long. I had to split it into two volumes.

The first volume is already out on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. The second one, will be out hopefully in November.

The biggest obstacles I faced while writing…well, I should say re-writing, reformatting and re-editing, these stories was coming the grips that, although they were originally published by another small press company and did pretty well….they weren’t very good. Oh my. Especially that first story. Yikes. What a mess. I’ve grown as a writer and I was able to go back, make corrections, add some meat to a very decrepit skeleton and make the series not only flow better but more enjoyable for the reader.

Oh, and 2020. That pretty much got in everyone’s way.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I love to write heroes that take on the bad guys and fix wrong and make everything right. It’s the Fury in me. I put a lot of my hopes and dreams into my characters. I wish I were as strong as they are.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

I have a poster on my wall above my desk that reads:  QUIT YOUR COMPLAINING. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S FAULT THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S JOB TO ENJOY THE STORIES YOU WRITE AND IT’S CERTAINLY NOT THE WORLD’S OBLIGATION TO PAY FOR YOUR DREAMS. NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR IT. STEAL A PEN IF YOU HAVE TO BUT STOP WHINING AND GET BACK TO WORK.

Oh, and get a chair with good lumbar support.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

When I have a deadline, everything else in my life gets put on hold. The house turns into a pigsty. Meals are whatever you can put together in a pantry. Showers are on a need-to basis. My family learns to deal with life all on their own. Momma’s got work to do.

If I’m not a deadline, I force myself to work at least two hours a day on a story. Hey, I have a day job, a family, 5 cats and 2 dogs to take care of. Two hours is a lot to carve out of my day.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I’m a hybrid. I loosely plot. I need to know the Beginning and The End. The middle bit can be a bit more muddy but I can make my through it as long as I know The End.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I write in all sorts of genres; I don’t like to get pinned down inside one box. (Although I’ve never tried Romance. I’m not sure I have the stomach for it.)

When I finally put the Jake series to bed, I have two stories I want to work on.

 One is called “Crown of Feathers”. It is based on the Appalachian legend that a crown of feathers can be found underneath the pillow of a dying person. If you find it, it means they are going to heaven There are actual examples of them in an Appalachian Folklore Museum in East Tennessee. In my story, set in the turn of the 19th century, a boy steals the Crown of Feathers from beneath his dying mother’s pillow so that Death won’t be able to take her away. Shenanigans ensue.

The other is a modern day thriller called “Hand Me Down”. Short and sweet, it is about a woman whose dark deeds from her past bleed into her present and threaten to destroy everything. There’s lots of murder in it. It’s gonna be fun.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I want my heroes to win. I want the bad guys to get what they deserve. It is bourgeois but I don’t care. If I wanted stark, dystopic reality, I’d watch a freaking history channel. Fiction helps me see a world the way it SHOULD BE and, maybe, it can teach us how to create a better one. If something can be imagined, it can be created.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Did you know that an interview question posited by the FBI is: Would you rather be a serial killer or a terrorist?  It’s a way to tell if a person is an individualist (serial killer) or team player (terrorist).

I feel the same way if a person asks if I like Star Wars or Star Trek? It’s a way to tell if a person is a team player/bureaucrat (Star Trek) or if a person is more of a rebellious streak (Star Wars).

Confession time: I have never read Lord of the Rings.  I have what I call a Tolkien Block. When I was a teenager, a group of girls started up a coven and wouldn’t allow me to join their group because I “wasn’t their type” because I didn’t read Tolkien. Ever since then, I can’t stomach it.  I didn’t even like the movies. I got bored. I mean….don’t even get me started on those damn eagles. WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST USE THE EAGLES??!?!

So, we’re down to Harry Potter or Star Wars.

Huh.

Harry Potter is fun but if you really stop and start to think about the idea of a Wizarding World that, for some stupid reason, lives in a Dickensian dystopia and doesn’t use their obviously laws of physics bending powers to aid the world at large, it starts to fall apart. Seriously. Quills over a ballpoint pen? Owl mail over Email?

Star Wars has a very warm, fuzzy spot in my heart because I was there at the beginning, sitting in the theater, 1977, when that Imperial Cruiser pulled out overhead.  My heart still races when I think of the opening overture.

Yeah. I gotta go with Star Wars (despite the terrible prequels and then even sadder sequels). At least we have The Mandalorian. #itistheway

My blog is:  https://nikkinelsonhicks.blog/

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Author Interview – John B. Rosenman

The flames crackle and the light flickers as the campfire finds new vitality from the fresh kindling I’ve thrown onto the fire. The night is cold but that doesn’t stop another author making their way to warmth of the flames. Tonight I am joined by prolific sci-fi and fantasy author John B. Rosenman.


  • Hi John tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

 Hi. I’m John B. Rosenman, and I’m a retired English professor who writes speculative fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal (and one young adult). I’ve published a couple dozen books as well as two hundred and fifty stories in places such as Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Fangoria, Galaxy, Endless Apocalypse, The Age of Wonders, and the Hot Blood erotic horror series. My novels include action-adventure scifi novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars, Speaker of the Shakk, A Senseless Act of BeautyAlien Dreams, and the Inspector of the Cross series (Crossroad Press). I’ve also published a four-book box set, The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman  (MuseItUp Publishing). Recently I completed a science-fiction novel Dreamfarer which is the first in a new series.

I love ideas and story concepts. In fact, I always have.  When I was a small child I would say to my father, “Tell me a story.” His stories by my bed at night planted the seed. I like to create alien worlds, fascinating characters, and prose and something poetry that is as good as I can make it. I also like to revise, though sometimes it’s a struggle.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy makes the invisible visible. There are other worlds, other realms, other universes with beings as wild and as beautiful as I can make them. So-called objective reality is not the only reality. I recall a line from a movie that said you can live in the Imagination. That’s the most beautiful nation of all.  My favorite title for a science fiction / fantasy magazine was If. If you can imagine it, in some way it must be true and exist somewhere.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Crash is due out in mid to late November. It’s the sixth novel in my Inspector of the Cross scifi / adventure series and reflects a new approach to the adventures of my hero because the alien enemy, the Cen are no longer involved. Also, Turtan loses his memory and no longer knows who he is. Oh, he faces all sorts of challenges, and I had to reimagine the whole series. Plus, I faced other challenges because circumstances required me to pack up the whole series and move it to a new publisher, Crossroad Press.

At the same time, I resurrected a novel I wrote nearly forty years ago. Dreamfarer is about a world where machines give people dreams that are so much more beautiful, exciting, and fulfilling than real life.  At the age of thirty-two, you can have yourself “interfaced” and dream the rest of your life away. What could go wrong? What’s wrong with that? Dreamfarer will be published by Crossroad Press, but I don’t have a date yet. I’m also at work on a sequel, Go East, Young Man. Like Dreamfarer it focuses on the adventures of Sam Adams, a man who had the misfortune to wake up forever from his wonderful dreams and who is determined to destroy the dream industry because of its terrible impact on humanity.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m addicted to noble, tormented heroes who battle evil and sinister forces. Sometimes they’re Christ-like in nature as in my Inspector of the Cross series, and occasionally they have godlike powers of healing as with Dax Rigby in Dax Rigby, War Correspondent. I put a great deal of myself in them, particularly my desire to be like them. In my mainstream, coming-of-age novel, Johnny Roth embodies two traits I yearn to have. They are to be a great boxer AND a great artist.

Sometimes I try to see things from girls’ or women’s POV. Sky in Skyburst is a fifteen-year-old girl dying of cancer. What must it be like to be a young girl faced with such a problem? Ah, but as with others of my heroes, she has great, even transcendent abilities. Stella in Beyond Those Distant Stars is turned into a cyborg after she has a radioactive accident. Like Sky she’s tormented and apparently doomed, yet she manages to find love and fight against an alien enemy that seems invincible.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Above all, never give up or let yourself be defeated by rejection and negative thoughts. If you’re a writer, you will be strong and forge on.

Beyond that — Read, read, read; write, write, write; revise, revise, revise. If possible, join a good writers’ group where expert criticism and critiques are supplied on a regular basis. Analyze everything. If a work of creative fiction astonishes you, try to identify some of the elements that make it work. Read critical articles discussing them and take a course or two in creative writing.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

If I have a deadline, I will make it because I want to be published. I guess you could say my desire is my writing trick. If there’s a deadline for submitting a short story, and I have a good idea or like the subject, well, then, I will get my story or stories in on time. The same goes for a situation in which a publisher indicates that a certain date is the deadline for getting my novel in. In this case, NOT BEING PUBLISHED is my writing trick.

Also, if a story or novel is going well, if my inspiration is hot and flowing, I tend to harness my inspiration and keep scribbling. This is especially true with a novel, which requires dedication and the long haul. Skip it for a few days or weeks, and I may never go back.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

       I’m a pantser. Often it’s like I’m wandering in a fog and only gradually does the road ahead become visible to me. I may have an idea of the eventful conclusion but no clear, overall plan of how I’m going to get there. I used to walk through a local Barnes & Noble that I found particularly conducive to inspiration and sometimes the slightest thing there would suddenly spark a story. For example, I saw a book titled The Calm Technique and instantly a story leaped almost full-blown into my head. The Death Technique is about a man who has the       gruesome ability to make his body rot and resemble a corpse. I sold it to a pro anthology.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

      I plan to finish Go East, Young Man, the sequel to Dreamfarer and see it published.  I’ve       been thinking of shifting my focus after that and concentrating on short stories. They take less time and sometimes can be written quickly. There are various publishers I’ve published with before and various anthologies and magazines that have published my fiction. It would be nice to submit short fiction to them. I also love “theme” magazines, newsletters, and anthologies. Recently I published revised, previously published stories in Flame Tree Press’s Endless Apocalypse and Dying Planet collections.  In addition, I hope to generate some new stories. Will I try Romance? I doubt it. Nor do I see myself getting into elves and faeries. But you never know. It’s better to be fresh and try new things. 

With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

   I used to like horror and dark fiction more than I do now. Heck, I was Chairman of the Horror Writers Association. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to prefer tales where the sun occasionally shines and good tends to triumph over evil. My science fiction / speculative fiction novels feature heroes who ultimately conquer or prevail over villains.  But I do love my villains, whose darkness sometimes threatens to overshadow the goodness of my heroes because it’s more compelling and interesting. I do continue to like subtle, atmospheric dark fantasy or horror, where darkness is suggested and hinted at rather than shown. Please, no extreme, gory horror, though I used to write some.

What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars, I think, primarily because I sometimes write space opera novels with swashbuckling heroes and larger-than-life bad guys. I read the first two Harry Potter novels. They were okay, but I never went back.  I read the first 560 pages of Lord of the Rings and then stopped reading. Please, somebody, tell me why and where I’m wrong!

Visit his website at http://www.johnrosenman.com

Blog: http://johnrosenman.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Writerman1

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnBRosenman?ref=hl   

Facebook Home Page: http://www.facebook.com/john.rosenman

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/938855.John_B_Rosenman

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-b-rosenman-50287218

E-mail: jroseman@cox.net

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An Interview with Damien Larkin – Author of Big Red

Big Red

 

Q1. Tell us about your upcoming new book Big Red, what’s it about and who will enjoy it?

In a sentence, it’s about an Irish soldier in the British Army on Mars!

Big Red is a military sci-fi told from the perspective of Mars Occupation Force soldier Darren Loughlin. After waking in a highly traumatised state following a year-long tour of duty on Mars, it becomes a race against time for the authorities to piece together what happened to his shattered battalion and what caused the sudden loss of communication with all of Earth’s off-world colonies.

With time running out, Darren is forced to recall his year in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony and his part in the vicious, genocidal war against hostile alien natives. But as his memories return, he begins to suspect he is at the centre of a plot spanning over forty years.

Big Red is an ideal read for fans of Robert A. Heinlein, Joe Haldeman and David Drake.

 

Q2. How long did the book take you to write?

It took three and a half months to write the first draft and a further six weeks of editing, proofreading and re-writes. I’ve since done at least six rounds of edits over the last few months to get it just right. It’s amazing that even with all that effort, you can still miss things from previous rounds, so I’m trying to be as thorough as possible.

 

Q3. How much research did you do for the book?

Loads! I wanted the Mars Occupation Force to be a British-led organisation, so I delved into everything I could find about the British Army’s organisational structure and operational methods. I also researched everything I could find about Mars and current colonisation plans, to get a better idea of what would work and what wouldn’t. I looked into a lot of conspiracy theories too. Over the last few years, there’s been several claims from ex-service personnel about secret off-world colonies, which really helped me with developing the back story and the universe of Big Red.

 

Q4. What inspired you to write Big Red?

A really vivid dream! I’ve always had an overactive imagination and because of that, I tend to have vivid dreams (or nightmares…) The first two chapters are based loosely on that dream. After waking up, I remember trying to work out why these soldiers were so traumatised and that became the seed that grew into Big Red.

 

Q5. What genre do you prefer to write in, Sci-fi or fantasy?

As long as there’s a military element, I enjoy both. My first project was a Military Fantasy called “Children of the Dying” and allowed me to explore sword and shield style battles, as opposed to the modern warfare shown in Big Red.

 

Q6. Where can people buy Big Red?

Big Red will be available on Amazon and all good bookshops from 14th May. You can also check out the link on my website which links to several different online stores:

https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/preorder-big-red

 

Q7. How can people follow you online?

FB: https://www.facebook.com/DamienLarkinAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/damo_dangerman

IG: https://www.instagram.com/damo_danger_larkin/

Website: https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/

Thanks Damien!

Author Bio

Damien Larkin is a part-time Planning Analyst and a full-time stay-at-home father of two young children. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland

Tips for Indy Authors part 1: Planning

Hi everyone, I was working on my latest book and being distracted by social media (Damn you Facebook!) when I realised that there are so many writers out there that don’t have a clue how about getting their work out there. In this new series of blog posts, I’ll be covering some of the basics.

Now you may be thinking that it might be a bad idea to help other writers. After all the competition out there is fierce and I myself would be classed as a struggling author. In reality, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt over the years is that helping one another is really important.

One of the most common questions I see on social media is about how authors go about getting started and planning their books.

It all starts with an idea

A muse, creativity, imagination call it what you like but there has to be something that creates that initial spark. Not everyone possesses such a thing whereas others can be consumed by it. In my case, I get inspiration from the world around me. The news, hobbies such as gaming, people watching (not in a creepy way) and history are great sources of inspiration. It’s hard to describe the feeling when an idea takes root but you know it’s a good one when your mind constantly goes back to it. This where the idea of a muse comes in, a little voice in your head that nags you to look into it more. Sometimes an idea can be tenacious, other times it can hit like a lightning bolt or a Eureka moment.

In fantasy especially, I often start out by creating the world the story will be set in. I’ve written about world building before so check those posts out here. At this phase, you can get lost in creating a history or lore of the world and its during this phase that planning rises to the fore. I have notebooks and word documents filled with timelines, character and place names. I find it helps to write them down by hand first and then compile them onto a computer later.

Once this initial burst of creativity has occurred the actual story is the next step. Now, this is where being an author gets a little weird. In effect, you become something like a god. You create characters that in your mind might be as real as you or I and then you plop these ‘people’ into the world you created. I myself have experienced and been told by other writers that once they do this their characters often do unexpected things that shift a story into an entirely unexpected direction.

I’ve been experiencing this in my current project and while interesting such detours can put a spanner in the works of the story you’re trying to tell. This is why planning is so important.

Pantsing vs Plotting

I am what would be considered a pantser writer which means aside from having a broad outline of how I want a story to go I just let my mind run free and make it up as I go along. Others really struggle with this method and instead intricately plan out every page of a story. No method is better than other as a pantser can often write themselves into a corner thanks to troublesome characters not behaving and a strict planner can become stifled and trapped by their plan to the point of feeling trapped. The perfect method would be to incorporate the two, which is something that I myself am trying more and more.

raybradburyplot

In my current project, I still have a beginning and an endpoint that the story has to reach but whereas before I would wing it and see what happens to reach that end, I am now creating strict plot points that each chapter has to hit. How they are hit however is left to my imagination and it can be tricky reigning in a plot that is trying to go off on a different tangent.

There is software that provides plenty of planning functions and options but for me, a good old-fashioned notepad works best.

Writing is a learning experience and we all develop our own ways of planning out our projects. I’d love to hear what techniques you use. Are you a pantser or a strict planner? Let me know in the comments.

In part 2 I’ll be covering the common question of ‘How do you find the time to write?’.

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The Lake District- A Land of Fantasy

Hi folks, I’ve just got back from a few days away to the Lake District, which is in Cumbria. I’ve been there a few times over the years but this was the wife’s first visit and as it was her 30th birthday we wanted to do something special for it. We stayed at a cozy little inn just south of Lake Windemere and travelled across the district taking in the sites including an ancient stone circle. The hills and lakes evoke a sense of fantasy that is similar to the stunning landscapes seen in the LOTR movies.
As I looked out across Derwent Water I couldn’t help but think of the legends of King Arthur and Avalon. If you want inspiration, then this is the place to get it. I’ve a few pictures below for you to enjoy.
Now that we’re back in Worcester I’ll be cracking on with the Empowered Ones Book 2 and I’ve finished the outline for Sundered Crown book 4.

Happy Reading!

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