Author Interview – Cameron Johnson

In today’s author interview I chat with Cameron Johnson the author of the excellent Traitor God and other fantasy novels.


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

Hello, and thanks for having me. I’m a totally not-middle-aged (expecting 100+ years achieved via a combination of whisky and cybernetics) guy from Scotland who writes darker fantasy, loves archaeology, history and mythology and exploring ancient sites. I was a library kid and I guess I caught the storytelling bug from that, and it evolved from reading a whole lot to wanting to tell my own stories.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Part of it is revelling in the sheer imagination of it all, from floating castles to terrifying monsters, otherworldly places and fascinating characters landed in situations that suck you in. In a way, reading fantasy is like being an explorer of strange new worlds and as that sense of discovery is a wonderful thing.

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

The Maleficent Seven will (probably) be out in August 2021, and let me tell you, writing seven (and a bit) villainous points of view is a pretty daunting prospect after writing two books with only a single point of view protagonist. In the end, I really enjoyed writing those characters and seeing them develop their own unique voices.

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

I like to vary characters so I don’t have a set type, other than perhaps one with a sharp tongue. One thing I do try to do write are characters that are never 100% good or 100% evil – a bad guy might be a good father or love and care for dogs for example. People are bewilderingly complex creatures. As for how much of myself I put in, probably very little – I’m thankfully much nicer than most of my characters.

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

Know that most authors are incredibly self-critical, and what you read has gone through several rounds of editing and rewrites. When you start out, the first draft of your first novel or short story will probably not be good, and that’s OK – many published novels started life on shaky feet. To write well you need to learn to write, and then you have to learn to edit your work so it makes sense and reads smoothly. Don’t despair at your first attempts and give up – you will learn from writing it, and then learn to edit it.

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

Panic? Hot cups of tea? Perhaps the odd whisky? There are no tricks sadly, just sitting down, avoiding the internet and distractions and getting the words down. It’s easy to procrastinate with a million other things you could be doing, but you just need to resist and get to work.

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

-Almost entirely a pantser. I like to know the start and the end of a story, and perhaps a few important points along the road to give it shape, but other than that the characters make their own decisions and write their own story.

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

Oh, lots of plans. Too many, really. The only problem I have is what one I want to explore next. I have a few standalone fantasy novels I want to write so I will probably toss the dice to decide what one I start writing first.

  • 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’ve noticed a slight preference for less grimdark fiction at the moment, turning to more popcorny adventuresome stories instead. I expect that’s trying to find an emotional balance with the relentless craptitude of 2020.

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

-I’ll go with Lord of the Rings for this one. What a world! That said, I do love The Mandalorian.

Website: http://www.cameronjohnston.net

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CamJohnston

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cameronjohnston13


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Author Interview – Poppy Kuroki

Joining me around the campfire today is indie fantasy author Poppy Kuroki who has travelled all the way from the land of the rising sun, Japan!


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

I’m a ghostwriter and editor living in Japan. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and a lot of my inspirations have come from music and video games, as well as real-life feelings and tragedies.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

It’s limitless! I’m always amazed with the fantastic original worlds people can build from the genre. I write quite low fantasy, but I read a lot of high fantasy with magic systems and worlds so vastly different from ours.

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

My latest fantasy is Oath: A Black Diamond novel. I wrote it a year or two ago and sat on it for ages, wondering if it was good enough. It’s coming out on November 1st and has had some great reviews so far! I was going through a rough time when I wrote it and a lot of that is reflected in Colette’s story.

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

I love characters who go through some kind of life-altering experience and grow with the bad things that have happened to them. I mostly write female characters as I can identify with them more.

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

About writing, I’d say that there’s always room for improvement. Read a lot, especially in your genre, and be open to criticism. Study what makes good writing and identify and weed out your bad habits. For publishing, take up free courses and ebooks (there are tons of them out there) and watch out for scams; unfortunately there are many of those out there, too.

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

I set a word count goal for myself when writing the first draft. 1,000 words today, and it’s OK if they aren’t good, just get 1,000 words down! If I don’t feel motivated, I start with a goal of 200, then 500, and that’s usually enough to get me into it.

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

Definitely a plotter. If I start writing without any idea of where it’s going, I won’t finish it. I had a lot of partly finished projects when I was younger before I learned that lesson. I respect pantsers though, if you can end up with a finished project without knowing where it was going to go, more power to you.

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

I’m currently writing a series of origin stories for the characters in Oath and how they became assassins. I’m also working on a steampunk novel. It’s my first time writing in this genre so it’s exciting!

  • 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’ve always loved dark or sad stories. If a book can make me cry, it’s an instant winner. I can enjoy happy tales too – I love Disney films just as much as anyone – but sad stories with deep, dark themes resonate the most.

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

Lord of the Rings! Where would we be without it?

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Twitter: twitter.com/poppyinjapan
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Website: https://poppyinjapan.com

Poppy’s new book A Bard’s Lament is out now!


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Author Interview – Cassie Crow

Joining me around the campfire today is YA fantasy author Cassie Crow. Settle in and enjoy!


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

    Hi. I am the author of The Wayward Haunt, the first novel in The Wayward Series, a YA dark fantasy which was released in June 2020. Since I was very young, I’ve been drawn to stories involving the supernatural. I would spend my lunch times at school creating scary stories for my friends to listen to. Barbie and my dolls would often end up some terrible, haunted, fantasy setting of some kind. I think what inspired me to write was that for a very long time, I couldn’t. I really struggled as a kid to read and write. I hated it. Eventually I was privately tutored by a teacher named Mrs Swann who recognised my love for storytelling. She taught me to see that reading and writing weren’t any different. With her guidance, I caught up to my peers in class. I think I chose to become a writer because I needed to prove that I could do it. Now I write because I love to be creative.
  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

    I love to read and write fantasy because it takes me into another world where anything can be possible. Fantasy is always growing and evolving. Every author brings something new to the genre, which keeps the stories entertaining and interesting. You never know exactly what you are going to get when you read fantasy, because rules are unbound by reality. The author’s imagination can be limitless. I write dark fantasy because I’ve always enjoyed chilling, ominous stories. The Wayward Series is set in a war-torn, dystopian world where magic is prevalent and ghosts exist, but the themes and events are very similar to what has occurred throughout our own history. I think fantasy allows authors to write about what is happening in our own world, by exploring it through fantasy.
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? (include release date etc here)

    My current project is the second instalment in The Wayward Series and is the sequel to The Wayward Haunt, titled The Four Revenants. It picks up directly where The Wayward Haunt finishes. I am halfway through the first draft, which I hope to have completed by April 2021, with the novel released early 2022 (fingers crossed). Just like the first book, it has come with its challenges. Time being the biggest. I feel like there are never enough hours in the day to complete everything I wish I could do with my writing. I work part time, have to organise marketing for the first book, and write a second novel. Sometimes it’s exhausting and I have to remind myself that I’m human and need to take a break. Sometimes it’s great fun and I enjoy every moment. Funny enough, that happens after I’ve taken a break.

    The second biggest obstacle is the fantasy-world building in my story. There is so much history and detail in the world that I’ve created, that it could easily become overly complicated. My biggest fear is that the reader won’t be able to follow it. How do I overcome that? Honestly, I ignore it as I write, even though its nagging away at me. I focus on getting the story completed. After a few weeks, I’ll return to the story and read it. If the world doesn’t make sense to me, I know there’s a huge problem. I’ll need to edit and rewrite. Once it makes sense to me and I think it’s ready, I wait to see what the beta readers say. Again, if it’s too complicated, it goes through another rewrite.

    I think the best thing about writing the second novel is that I learnt so much from the first book, that the challenges are less daunting. They’re still there, but now their easier to manage.
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?


I enjoy writing all sorts of character types. The easiest characters to create are the ones that are similar to me, or have traits I wish I had. I like to explore both the positive and negative qualities in a character. My main character in The Wayward Series, Zaya Wayward, is strong, confident, and assertive, but she’s also impulsive, judgemental, and has trust issues. I have worked hard to make sure Zaya is always driving the story. Sometimes she makes the right decision. Sometimes she makes bad ones. Just like in real life, her mood dictates what she does. I also enjoy creating villains because… well, what writer doesn’t love creating a superbad guy… or girl. You can be entirely evil and get away with it. It’s great fun. But I do try to make sure my villains aren’t two dimensional. They have a backstory. They have a motive they believe is right, no matter what the cost or sacrifice. Even in a fantasy world, the emotions and thoughts of a character need to be real and relatable. That’s the part I love developing.

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

    As a writer, I think the most useful thing I’ve learned is to manage time and be realistic with what I can accomplish. Writing is hard. It took me years to learn, and I’m still learning. I am a perfectionist (something I’m teaching myself not to be), and often I’d get frustrated at how little time I had to write. When I finally did have time to write my stories at the end of the day, I was too exhausted. My writing just didn’t flow. I had to learn time management and be realistic with what I could write in that allocated time. Everyone has commitments—family, work, relationships, sport, etc. For wannabe writers out there, I suggest finding a realistic schedule that works for you. Don’t tell yourself you are going to write for five hours a day if you know that in reality it’s impossible. If you can only write an hour a day, do it. If you can spare two hours on a Saturday afternoon, do it. Writing should be fun and enjoyable, not a chore. You will learn and accomplish far more when you are in the right frame of mind.
  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

    I set daily, weekly and monthly goals with my writing. I write and write and don’t care about editing. I just get the story into the computer. The editing comes later. I take a break when I need to, because if I don’t, I will drain myself and achieve nothing. I exercise. Ideas often drift into my head when I’m out on a jog. I take a notebook with me wherever I go. Inspiration can strike at the unlikeliest of places. Some of the dialogue in The Wayward Haunt is directly from conversations I have heard among friends and colleagues. I am realistic with what I can achieve in a day, or an hour.
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I am definitely a plotter. Everything in my stories, beginning, middle, end, scenes, chapters, are plotted out and written down. I find that this helps me to keep focus and to meet deadlines. I know exactly where I’m going with the story. Sometimes, unexpected ideas jump in my head as I write. Strangely enough, they work for the scene or chapter that I’m writing. They are always nice surprises when they occur. So yes, I am a plotter, but I do not object to new ideas coming along halfway through my stories. It keeps things interesting.

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

    The Wayward Series will be a set of four books, so book three and four are in the pipeline to be written and published. I have many ideas in my head for other novels that I haven’t given attention to at this stage, because my focus is on The Wayward Series, but eventually I will delve into those other stories. I want to write a cozy murder mystery, something along the lines of Agatha Christie. Knowing me, it will have an element of horror in it.
  • 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 enjoy both. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little darker, scarier, and tragic. Other times I want a happy feel good story, or a story where the hero faces dangerous obstacles, but ultimately triumphs. Life throws unexpected situations at us all the time. I like stories to do the same.
  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?


To watch, precisely in that order—Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. To read, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings. I read Lord of the Rings when I was fourteen. It’s a wonderful story. Tolkien is amazing. But honestly, I don’t have the time or the strong mental energy it would require to read it again.

Author Website: www.casecrowe.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/casecroweauthor/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/casecroweauthor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20457182.Cas_E_Crowe


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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 – Lee Conley

Halloween is almost here and what better way to celebrate then with tales of ghouls and the ravenous undead! Coming through the woods with bloodied axe in hand is fantasy author, Lee Conley the author of the Dead Sagas.

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

Hello Matt, thank you for having me. My name is Lee C Conley, author of The Dead Sagas series. I live in the cathedral city of Lincoln in the UK with my wife and daughters. By day I work as a professional guitarist, and by night I am either teaching historical martial arts, and generally fighting with a longsword or a sabre, or I am writing. I’ve always loved reading so it just seemed natural when I wanted to write my own stories and it just went from there.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy is my preferred genre to read, always since I was a kid. I only recently branched out into other genres of fiction in the last 15 years. I think it’s the escapism of it all, a chance to remove yourself from the world and enter another. It’s as simple as that really. I’m a big horror fan too, and believe if a book can scare you the writer has got it right so I am on a little quest to write things that are scary. It just seemed natural to try and do that in the fantasy settings I always knew I’d write in. Fantasy is such a fantastic genre, full of myths, legends and folklore all mixed up with popular historical culture into the pure fantastic. Fantasy and speculative fiction is potentially limitless really. It gives the imagination complete freedom to make up whatever you like, however you like, its pure fantasy and escapism.

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

I just recently released the second book in The Dead Sagas, A Ritual of Flesh, it certainly came with some challenges. One a writing level, this book was the book that really revealed the mystery of the first book, A Ritual of Bone. I took a calculated gamble with the writing of the first book, I knew the second was needed straight away as there are many plot threads that were set up and still needed resolving by the end. I wanted to hook readers and drive them straight into book 2 with questions. The challenges were to weave all those threads together as book two really finished the story elements that were left hanging and completes and resolves the first part of the series. A Ritual of Flesh required a lot more careful plotting that the first. Also this new one was the culmination of my publishing learning curve to date. It is the first novel that I think I got right first time and will not have to make future tweaks to the covers or editing, I made those mistakes on my earlier books and this time it all came together into a pretty workable process to move forwards with.

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

One striking trait of the people of Arnar in The Dead Sagas is undoubtedly the sense of honour that pervades that culture. It is so steeped in Anrar culture, it is a way of life for them, and that it has given the book a nobledark aspect which was unexpected. Most of the characters in The Dead Sagas, even the antagonists, are certainly noble characters they are just all working to their own ends, in fact it is quite hard to pin down exactly who all the antagonists are. I think a little of yourself goes into any character you write, there is certainly more of my perceived traits in some characters more than others.

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

Get an editor! Definitely polish that work so it is the best it can be, you will need that second set of eagle eyes, no matter how good you are. Getting a good editor is a must, something I learned by having to re-edit some of my previous work.

Also if you’re going the indie route, do not skimp on cover art and book design. The old adage, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is unfortunately, yes true, but also, in this day and age, completely wrong. Your book will indeed be judged by its cover before a reader even picks it up, and with the masses of great books out there, you cover will need to stand out. Don’t skimp on covers or editors, they are the essentials.

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

I don’t like deadlines so simply never use them. In any project, my own sense of obsessive work ethic will simply get it done if it needs doing, and creatively it just takes as long as it takes. I am now studying a creative writing degree and sometimes you need to write to a deadline in that, so I always give myself a few extra weeks and just crack on, often it doesn’t take long for the initial draft anyway I find, and without the pressure I find it helps to keep the creativity going.

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

I am a bit of both. A Ritual of Bone was heavily pantstered in the early stages just to get a feel of how the plot and characters would emerge. As things appear, sometimes they were re-written and a bit of plotting came in to help me really pull it all together and entwine the plot threads in the most effective way that I needed for that scene, for the impact I was trying to achieve with certain elements.

As I said earlier, the second book, A Ritual of Flesh, was much more plotted out. All events and plot threads were woven together to a plan, but the chapters were still pantstered in a way. I knew what I needed to achieve in each chapter but had no idea how that would actually happen until I wrote it, the small details, the sometimes can be the best and most crucial parts.

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

I will be writing the rest of The Dead Sagas in one go I think. It will be two books but I will write them in one consecutive drafting period. Those four books will be the main series, but there will be scope for perhaps a few standalones in the same world. Once I have finished the main series, I may well start a different project before I return to any standalones for The Dead Sagas, perhaps some dark sci-fi, maybe a wyrd west, but possibly a different horror fantasy. We’ll see. I do have plans to release a short story collection, probably very soon as I seem to be amassing some fun short stories and though it would be nice to release a small collection in the next 6 months, so watch this space.

  • 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 always seem to prefer stories with a darker touch, regardless of the world around me. I do like very dark stories and settings with heroes, I do appreciate a good hero, but I just want the themes to be dark and brooding, it’s how I like to escape, strange as that sounds.

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

Easily Lord of the Rings! The films, books, everything—it has been so incredibly awesome! It has had such a huge impact on the genre as a whole, more so I would say, than Star Wars has had on Sci-fi, I’d say fantasy has influenced sci-fi more, and Lord of the Rings is so important to fantasy it’s the winner by far. I do love Star Wars though, especially the games that have spawned from their canon. I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan if I’m honest, I enjoyed what I read but never finished the series, I was content to just watch the films to finish the story but never found to much of a draw to that world, I was more Conan and things like that.

Anyway, that’s all from me, but thank you to Matt Olney for inviting me to do this interview. Thank you to anyone who is reading this for taking the time, and I hope you found my ramblings interesting.

The first two books in The Dead Sagas, A Ritual of Bone and A Ritual of Flesh are out now (links below). If any of my work sounds of interest, please do dive into the world I have created, but if you do, remember… Fear the Dead!

Regards,

Lee

For more information on Lee’s work visit his website:

www.leeconleyauthor.com

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Here!

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Social media links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LeeConleyAuthor/

Twitter: @LongswordLee  or  https://twitter.com/LongswordLee

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Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/14649012.Lee_Conley

Reddit: u/LeeConleyAuthor or  https://www.reddit.com/user/LeeConleyAuthor

Universal Sales links:

author.to/LeeCConley

getbook.at/ARitualofBone

getbook.at/ARitualofFlesh

Many thanks to Lee!

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Author Interview – Eric Shapiro

The woods can be a spooky place at night with the shadows of the trees eliciting horror if you allow your imagination to run riot. Tonight I am joined at the campfire by Horror fantasy author Eric Shapiro.


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

Hey, Matthew. I’m the author of a bunch of dark fiction and screenplays and the co-owner of a Silicon Valley newspaper called The Milpitas Beat. As a kid, my mom inspired me to write by instituting a no-boredom policy in the home. If I said I was bored, she’d tell me (lovingly) to write a story. As an adult, I stay inspired by dreaming up characters whose minds I find fascinating and want to explore.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

You know, I think I was thrown at you by my publicist Michael Evan (laughs) even though I don’t specialize in fantasy! The good news is, I have some fantasy stories kicking around in my mind. I also tend to see horror as surrealism, which you could argue is a subdivision of fantasy. Anything psychotropic that challenges the banality of consensus reality is worth looking at. It keeps our minds expanded and healthy.

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

My latest fiction release is called RED DENNIS. It came out this past March from Independent Legions Publishing, just as the pandemic was starting. It was a challenge in the sense that it was my first proper novel, after having written 5 novellas. This book was almost the length equivalent of 3 novellas. So the challenges were keeping it tight and propulsive, and also staying in one narrator’s mind for that long, particularly since he’s a very troubled person. I started thinking I was him at times. So how’s that for being into fantasy? (laughs)

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

I’m almost exclusively drawn to protagonists who are neurotic or psychotic. There’s a ton of me in them. They’re not me, but they’re strong aspects of myself, either latent-shadow elements or more overt representations where it’s just me under different circumstances. The protagonists in my novellas IT’S ONLY TEMPORARY, THE DEVOTED, and LOVE & ZOMBIES sound almost exactly like me, but they’re all individuated – from me and from each other. There are subtle yet huge differences; it’s like I’m an actor playing different roles. The protagonist in RED DENNIS doesn’t quite sound like me, but he’s one door down; he lives in an area I feel awkward and alarmed about. Again, it’s like I’m an actor and each time I draw a protagonist, I’m pulling different points of emphasis but using my own available human materials.

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

The more you practice, the more spontaneous and automatic it becomes. This can be helpful from a productivity and inner-access standpoint (as in having access to yourself and your emotions), but it can be hurtful in terms of finding passion to start something new that’s really special. Once you’re used to the medium and confident in your ability to put out professional work, the bar for what gets you excited gets much higher. So I’ve learned that there’s no replacing ass-plus-seat experience, but as you accumulate it, you might lose a little excitement or edge about the work and have to rediscover or rekindle it.

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

I wrote a whole book about this, also out in 2020, called ASS PLUS SEAT. It’s 21 tips for inspiring writers to finish their books and screenplays. The title states the main ethic: You have to sit down and do it. Start writing and then the muse arrives. She’s not capable of making you begin.

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

A little bit of both, with a strong lean toward pantser. I plot insofar as I have a clear scenario in which to operate, then pants my way through it and usually end up surprised by where it goes.

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

I’d love to do a book series; that’s one of my goals. A trilogy or a saga that expands beyond three stories. I’ve yet to settle on a world or scenario, but I’ll know it when I have it. The whole idea’s set to a simmer for now. 

  • 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?

Anything that’s frank or candid goes down well, at all times. As long as it’s not lying to me, I think it’s part of the solution.

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

Star Wars all the way! I just last night watched A NEW HOPE with my kids for the first time. They loved it. There’s three trilogies, of course: the original, the prequels, and the Disney ones, and major peaks and valleys in terms of motivation and quality, but at its best that’s a ridiculously exciting and inspiring world.

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https://www.facebook.com/eric.shapiro.3386


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Author Interview – James Reid

Today I am joined at the campfire by dark fantasy author James Reid and his magnificent beard. We chuck another on the flames and settle in for a chat about all things books.


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

I am a fan of fantasy books. I always loved the works of Tolkein, Eddings, Jordan, Brooks, Weis & Hickman, and more when I was a teenager. I wanted to tell my own stories set in fantastical worlds of my own!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The creative worlds, creatures, and powers that are impossible in the real world. It lets your imagination be its most free.

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

My latest series is Secret of the Jewels, a five-book dark fantasy series that starts with Diamond Stained. It follows Obhin and Avena, two souls weighed down by their guilts and regrets.
Obhin, a palace guard who has fallen after making a tragic mistake, is now a bandit at the nadir of his life. He doesn’t care about much any longer. About the pain he causes others. But when his only friend is mortally injured, he’s spurred to save his life. Joined by Avena, a young woman the bandits have captured, they fight to keep him alive despite the objections of the bandit leader.
This act gives Obhin a chance for redemption. A new beginning, but can he find that new beginning in a city full of crime and corruption where a dark necromancer, a crime syndicate, and political unrest threatens to plunge the city into madness.

And can Avena trust this dark stranger in protecting the most important person in her life: her teacher and famed healer.

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

I like to write characters with flaws and help them overcome them. Probably because I’m such a flawed person and it’s nice to know that people can be heroic and overcome their weaknesses.

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

You need to write, write, write. I could be crap. I could be garbage. It could be nonsense. But you need to get in the habit of writing and develop your mental muscles. You can’t get better if you don’t write, write, write. If you can’t find an hour every day to write, is it really something you want to do? Something you are passionate about? This discipline can be hard to achieve, but if you can get it, you’ll start to find you finish stories and make progress.

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

I write everyday. I have a schedule I follow. This is my job, and I treat it. Wake up and go to my writer’s den.

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

I am a hybrid. I started off more of a pantser, but now I do very loose outlines of major events then write more detailed scene outlines for a few chapters at a time. I write them and that way I can evaluate how the characters reacted and what they should do next. So there is room for my loose outline to change and grow while my scene outlines generally don’t’ change much.

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

I am editing What Mask Hides, which is a sidequel to Secret of the Jewels. It takes place in the same time period of Secret of the Jewels and they have some connection, but each are standalone stories. It’s about a noblewoman who becomes a thief to find meaning in her empty life. Then I’m writing No One’s Tale which serves as a sequel of sorts to both series. It follows villain characters from both series as they search for new place in the world after seeing what their actions caused. One is a shapeshifter called No One who also needs to figure out who he is. In addition, I’m writing a fantasy quest series called Shadow of the Dragons. About a young boy trying to protect his childhood friend after she’s possessed by a dragon and a dark organization needs her for their nefarious goals.

  • 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 like my characters to triumph but to have difficult journeys.

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

Lord of the Rings. Star Wars had three awesome movies, but Disney is running it into the ground with their current soulless stories. Harry Potter is great, but J.K. Rowling should stop writing these Fantastic Beast movies. She somehow ruined the concept of a fun movie about a guy going around with magical beasts into this crazy, over the top mess.

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Diamond Stained Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085X3PHYB


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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/

My Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/nikkinelsonhicks


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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/

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Author Interview: Troy Young

The weather is a bit rubbish today and the wind and rain is lashing down on the campsite. Nonetheless we perservere and put up shelter to seek shelter from the elements with indie author Troy Young.

***

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

My name is Troy Young.  I have always had a creative side, honed through playing role playing games and acting.  I also at one time owned a community newspaper, so I became adept at writing for public consumption and to a deadline.

I am a part-time university lecturer, and in one class I had a discussion with my students about what their second career would be, or what they would do if money was not an issue. Then my students asked me what I would be, and I thought about it and said novelist.  Of course, I had not been writing nor did I immediately start writing. Years passed, and still no writing was done.

Well, I was visiting my parents in Florida when an idea for a story came to me.  I came back from Florida and was telling my idea to my staff (I’m the CEO of a non-profit association) when one of my staff interrupted me to say “when are you going to stop telling us about these ideas and start actually writing them down?”  That was February, 2018.  I immediately started to write.  That novel is set to be released in November.

In the interim, I have released a compilation of cosmic horror stories, a fantasy novel, and a sci-fi novel.  The second compilation of cosmic horror stories will be released in two days’ time of this writing.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I’ve always been interested in armour and swords, the fight against good and evil.  As I noted I have played roleplaying games since I was a kid.  I also fell in love with Robert E. Howard’s Conan at a young age, and of course J.R.R. Tolkien.  I have read the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings more times than I can count.

Mainly though fantasy takes you away from reality, even if just briefly.

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

The challenge as an indie author is always to convince new people to read it.  I started writing my fantasy novel, The Stone of Death, in February 2019.  I just published it on September 1.  It got shelved as I started to write my short stories. It got shelved for at least nine months.  There then was a bit of a continuity issue, as well as getting back into the characters. It finally was ready to go and I started getting a cover made (which took longer than I expected).  But it finally got published and is out there and getting read.

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

I like misfit characters that go against reader’s expectations.  Like my characters in The Stone of Death; the main character is a former mercenary who is not a great warrior at all.  He’s untrained with a sword yet insists on wielding one because in his mind that’s what heroes do.  But he sucks.

The other “heroes” in the book are a crippled Magus, an older priest (by older I mean early 40’s, and he’s a PoC) and a LGBTQ woman who is the most capable of the bunch.  While I have included a PoC and a LGBTQ character, the fact that they are this is not relevant. It is mentioned, but nobody cares and it isn’t a big deal because it shouldn’t be a big deal.

As for how much of myself goes into the characters, there is always a touch of ourselves, but if you have the ability to create dynamic and unique characters, you need to find a voice different than your own.  You need to be introspective and aware and a good judge of human nature to effectively write a variety of characters, otherwise they will be static and boring and similar in every story you write.

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

Just write.  Like any skill, you need to practice it.  Write, write and write some more.  I also do most of my own editing (contrary to what everyone says).  I use both Grammarly and ProWritingAid and have at least one of them running live as I write.  It has allowed me to identify errors immediately, and has made me more cognisant of the potential error before I make it. This in turn has helped me write better, and faster.

I sent my first novel, the one from Florida, to two different copy editors and both of them returned it no charge as they could not see anything, they would need to do to improve it.  I chalk that up to practice and the two editing programs.

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

I don’t.  I write when I am inspired.  I don’t force myself to write every day.  I tend to plot out my next chapter in my head and write the entire chapter.  Taking breaks from writing recharges me.  I get most of my best ideas (or clarity) on a walk. Good thing my dog needs walking, so it forces me to address and deal with plot holes and the like.

I have never had a tough time hitting my deadlines.  My sci-fi novel, I managed to write it in 12 days because I was in the zone on it.  It’s sequel is on pre-order for December 16.  I am only on Chapter 8, but I know I will have lots of time to finish it.

I guess setting up a pre-order is a good way to scare you into finishing!

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

Pantser.  I know where the chapter has to end, and obviously I know where I am starting, but I often don’t know how I am getting from A to B.  I start to write and the characters tell me where to go.

I remember reading something Stephen King said.  He said something along the lines of being a writer was like being a palaeontologist. The story is a fossil hidden from sight.  It is the writer’s job to uncover the story.  It already exists, you just have to brush away the dirt and expose the bones.  I like that.  Makes me think my characters are real people somewhere. Like that Will Ferrell movie Stranger Than Fiction.

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

Still have more short stories in my cosmic horror series to finish (14 of 18 are complete).  The sequel I am working on needs to be finished.  My Florida novel is part of a five part series; part 1 is ready to publish, part 2 needs a good edit, part 3 needs a major rewrite and parts 4 & 5 need to be written.  I have a half-finished historical romance I am working on (more action-adventure with romantic elements than a full-on bodice ripper).  The sequel to the Stone of Death needs to be started (it will be a four book series, each book written from the point of view of one of the four main characters; the second book is from the Magus’ point of view). So yeah, I have a lot on my plate.

  • 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 do like a good hero tale.  The best parts of a movie are when someone does something heroic. Like, when Thor in the first movie goes out to face the Destroyer armour without powers and proves his worth and gets his power back, that is awesome.  When the elves show up at Helm’s Deep (in the movies), it’s such a rush. When Arwen (again in the movies) turns to face the Nazgul and says “you want him, come get him”; oooo, chills.  When Theoden (man, I must really like LotR), after saying “Where was Gondor when we needed them?” is told about the beacons, and you know despite what he said earlier, the Riders of Rohan are going because dammit, that’s what heroes do.  That and a good redemption story are pretty awesome.

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

Like all three, but Lord of the Rings is where it is at.  Those three movies (along with Princess Bride) are as close to movie perfection as you can get.  Peter Jackson did an amazing job winnowing out the less important stuff from Tolkien’s epic and making it tighter.  The casting was amazing.  And movie Aragorn is way better than book Aragorn. To me, Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn is the ultimate movie hero.

Thanks Troy!

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