Category Archives: Author Interview

Meet the Author… Ken Stark

I’ve yet to read Ken Stark’s books, but I know I will… one day. Their blurbs stir something primal that makes you want to read them, to find out if the protagonists are going to survive or not. I’m pretty sure not all of them will… Meet Ken Stark, author of two zombie novels, a novelette about unspeakable horrors, and his new horror novel Arcadia Falls.

Ken Stark

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Biography

Ken Stark lives in Vancouver, Canada, where he worked in the armoured car industry for far too long before finally committing full-time to his one true passion. Ken’s writing tends toward the dark, yet through it all he remains an optimist, seeing a ray of hope in even the most dire of circumstances.

And yes, he once gave his lunch to a rat, but in his defense, the scruffy little thing looked hungry.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?

Ken_Stark_Stage3So many things! But the top two would have to be:

a) Get out and experience everything life has to offer, and

b) It’s perfectly alright to be disappointed, but don’t get discouraged. Good or bad, every experience a writer has adds more color to the palette, and every disappointment brings us one step closer to success.

But younger me probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. He was kind of a know-it-all.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

When the time came to dedicate myself completely to writing, I knew I would love it, but I was surprised at how much I loved it. I expected it to be like satisfying an itch I was never quite able to scratch, but it was more like breathing freely for the first time.

What does your typical writing day look like? How many hours a day do you write?

I actually have nothing like a typical writing day. I might write for 10 minutes or 10 hours, depending on my mood and whatever else I have going on. I punched a clock for so many years that I never want to think of writing as a job. It’s my passion, and passion doesn’t stick to a schedule.

Pen or typewriter or computer?

Ken_Stark_AlphaI would be completely lost without my computer. My brain seems to work at the exact same speed as my ham-fisted typing, so the words have a way of flowing in a very natural rhythm. And of course, a computer makes editing a breeze. It’s hard enough chopping out all of those fine words without having to rely on erasers and White-Out.

Do you write alone or in public?

I’m always alone when I write. I’m sure I could get along just fine in a crowded room, but only if no one was allowed to peek over my shoulder. Tuning out the distractions is one thing, someone reading an unpolished work is another thing else entirely.

What is your favorite genre? Why?

I’ll read just about anything, but when I write, I prefer a good scary tale. Fear is the most fundamental of emotions, after all. Say what you will about love and compassion and caring, it was fear that kept our primitive ancestors alive in a violent world and let us to survive as a species. Whether you shy away from scary things or face them head-on to get that rush of adrenaline, we are all hard-wired to feel fear, and if I can tap into that most primitive of emotions for even an instant, it’s as if I’m kicking up a few million years of genetic memory. That’s a pretty awesome superpower to have.

What is/are your book(s) about? Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Ken_Stark_Arcadia FallsMy latest release is a break from the zombie apocalypse, setting the horror on a much smaller stage. Arcadia Falls is a town with a secret. People are going missing and no one seems to care, until one young man and his little band of misfits start to look into what evil thing might be preying on their town. I won’t tell you what they discover, but you know it ain’t Care Bears!

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

It’s not so much a moral as an observation. As dark as my works are, the common threads running through them all are the simple act of hope and that ridiculously powerful force known as friendship. There’s never a time when all hope is lost, and a good friend in your corner can make all the difference in the world.

How did you come up with the idea for Arcadia Falls?

One day, I happened to ask my best friend’s teenaged daughter what kind of books she liked to read. Her response was, “Something scary, with a monster, and some kind of mystery.” From that barest of outlines came Arcadia Falls. It’s being marketed as YA because I kept the language cleaner than my usual, but that’s the only concession I made. And really, I did that more for the parents of younger readers rather the young readers themselves.

What has been the best compliment?

Ken_Stark_JittersI met a man named Chris Roy on the Deadman’s Tome podcast a while back. He is a writer, currently serving a life sentence in prison. He was interested in my books, so I sent him a few and he shared them around the cell block. Much to my amazement, several of those men took the time and effort to write a review by hand, photograph the piece of paper, and have Chris send me the pix. Understand that these are the kinds of guys who won’t hold back what they really think, and not only did they like the books, but they actually went through the trouble to tell me in those handwritten notes. That response simply blew my mind, and those reviews will always be very special to me.

Where can we find you online?

website,

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon Author page

iTunes book page(s)

Ken’s books are also on sale at:

Barnes & Noble

Audible

Blog Tour – Mark L. Fowler

Blue Murder Blog Tour

Welcome to Mark L. Fowler’s Blog Tour! Mark is promoting his new book, Blue Murder, in the Tyler & Mills crime series. I’ve interviewed Mark again recently, and you can read the interview here.

Mark has been kind enough to give me a copy of Blue Murder in advance. Here’s my review:

I received an advanced copy of Mark Fowler’s second DCI Tyler and DS Mills murder mystery novel, Blue Murder and this review is given freely. Not having read the first novel, Red Is The Colour, I found myself easily engrossed in Blue Murder (trying to finish the book during early hours of the night), enjoying the developing professional relationship between brooding DCI Jim Tyler and the sarcastically witty DS Danny Mills, and getting to know more about Tyler’s dark past.

Blue Murder sees an ex-band member, Adam, murdered. His girlfriend, Daisy, points the finger to her sister, Janine, who stole her ex-boyfriend and lead singer of the band, Johnny, from her. But there’s also Billy, the two young men’s school buddy, who had stepped in to take Adam’s place when he left the band not too long ago. Then there’s the band’s song, ‘All Colours are Blue,’ that’s becoming a hit, and money is being made. Now everybody is claiming to have written the song. Tyler and Mills have their hands full trying to figure out who’s lying about what, which is made difficult with lead singer Johnny missing since Adam’s murder.

Blue Murder is a great psychological thriller about love, fortune, and fame. Tactical interrogations are prime in this well-told story. Red herrings are strewn left, right, and center to keep you guessing. Pick up this book and you’re in for a great, keeping-you-on-your-toes detective novel!

Blue Murder is available as eBook and paperback:

Meet the Author… Mark L. Fowler

Blue Murder Blog Tour

Welcome to Mark L. Fowler’s Blog Tour! As mentioned in my interview with him last March, I’ve known Mark L. Fowler for a few years now. We both joined One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Group (on Facebook) when it only had a few members. Of course I said ‘yes!’ when Mark asked me to be a beta reader for his new book, Blue Murder, book 2 of the Tyler and Mills series. As I’m part of his blog tour, I’d love to give him another boost 🙂 .

Mark L. Fowler

Mark_Fowler

Biography

Mark L. Fowler has five published novels under his belt, and he recently contributed one of his many short stories to the Dark Minds charity collection. Mark’s most recent book, Blue Murder, is the second in a police detective series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills. The first book to feature the detectives, Red Is The Colour, was published by Bloodhound Books last year and shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Book Prize. Mark is also the author of The Man Upstairs, featuring hard-boiled detective Frank Miller, and Silver, a psychological thriller. His first book, Coffin Maker, continues to defy any attempts to categorize it. All of his books can be read as stand-alone works.

Who is the most famous author you have ever met?

Peter James. I met him at the Winchester Annual Writers’ conference many years ago. I attended his workshop and was lucky enough to have a one: one session with him, during which he looked over the opening chapter of my first novel and gave me some sound advice.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love setting off on new adventures, not always certain of where they will take me. I love exploring new characters, watching them develop as I work on them, and finding what makes them tick.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Mark_Fowler_RedIsTheColourFor me, being a writer is absolutely a gift. Yes, it is hard work, yes there are frustrations getting your books out there, but the creative part of the job, the putting pen to paper, developing storylines, creating settings, sharpening dialogue – I just love the whole business of writing.

Do you outline or just write?

A little of both. I like to have a strong idea of my main characters, and a vivid sense of place, of where the story is happening, before I begin writing. I will usually have a clear idea of the primary situation or conflict that will need to be resolved before the story can reach its ending. But detailed plotting is not something that I like to do before beginning the writing. If I had too much plot before I started the book, I would feel constrained and my characters would not have sufficient room to develop. I know writers who plot intricately before they begin a book, leaving little or nothing to chance, while others just go for it. It is whatever works for the individual writer. I’m somewhere in between.

What is your favorite genre? Why?

I read more crime fiction than any other genre, and my writing has increasingly moved that way too. I have always loved detective stories, both on the page and on screen. Most of my published work so far has been in the detective genre, one way or another, most clearly in my Tyler and Mills books and The Man Upstairs. Whilst Silver is more a psychological thriller than a classic detective novel, the main character, the writer and journalist Nick Slater, is effectively playing the role of detective, trying to get to the heart of a baffling and intriguing mystery.

What genre do you consider your latest book and have you considered writing in another genre?

Blue Murder, like its predecessor Red Is The Colour, is a British police detective novel. But the books are also historic crime, set in 2002-2003. Part of my reason for doing this was my interest in a style of policing that is a little less dependent on technology, and more about detectives going door to door, face to face. The action takes place on the streets of a North Staffordshire city, not in forensic laboratories and on computer screens. I have also written in other genres, Coffin Maker being a good example. It’s just that no-one, including the author, can quite nail the elusive genre that can define it! A lot of people really love that about the book.

What is your book about? Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Mark_Fowler_Blue_MurderThe sub-title of Blue Murder is: Fame. Fortune. Murder. And here lies the first clue to what the book is about. Johnny and the Swamp Seeds are a local band on the cusp of success when the singer Johnny Richards goes missing. Then the body of a young man is found in the local canal. The detectives, DCI Tyler and DS Danny Mills, not only find themselves trying to solve a baffling mystery, but at the same time their efforts appear to be doing nothing more than catapulting a now singer-less band to fame and fortune. What a lot of people most enjoyed about Red Is The Colour was the relationship, strained at times, between Tyler and Mills, and in Blue Murder I have worked hard to develop these two characters further. So the book is as much about the detectives, and also about the city in which they live and work, as it is about finding out what happened to Johnny Richards.

What gave you inspiration for your book? How did you come up with the idea for Blue Murder? Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.

I suppose that the inspiration for Blue Murder initially came from being in a band many years ago, though I have been careful to write a work of fiction and not an autobiography. I had the initial idea about the singer going missing at the point at which he and his band were about to break into the big time. Then I began to ask questions about why this might happen, and who might stand to gain. But once I had the basic ingredients, I didn’t want to plot any further. I wanted my detectives to do the work for me. I wanted Tyler and Mills, rather than the author, to dig into the mystery and find the truth. As far as possible, I handed the investigation over to them. After all – they are the detectives!

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

I wouldn’t say ‘hijack’ exactly. While giving the story over to my detectives, in one sense, I still retain the last word. This is why I like to have some idea of the shape of the story from the outset, and why theme is important – to stop the book from veering off course. Some plot developments would seem inappropriate to the story I want to tell, and this comes through experience. The more I write about Tyler and Mills, for example, the more I know when I’m on track. If characters start to act in bizarre ways that give no meaning to the story and for no good reason – if their behaviour ceases to support the theme of the book – then I know I’m getting off-track and need to pull things back. For me this would be one of the dangers of just writing a book completely from scratch, without first getting to know my characters a little bit, and where they come from and where they are heading.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Have you written any other books that are not published?

Mark_Fowler_SilverI have at least half a dozen completed, unpublished novels and quite a number of partially completed books too. In some cases I am simply still not satisfied with the books, and need to return to them afresh to bring them to publication. Others may never see the light of day for one reason or another. In some cases I may have set off writing them too early, without thinking about the characters, the locations and/or the basic plot sufficiently, and then getting into more of a mess than I know how to get out of. It’s all experience though, and I have learned a lot from writing some books that I know may never be read. But these days I would rather set off on my writing adventures with the knowledge that I have enough to get me through to a satisfactory ending. As a writer you never stop learning.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Publishing my books has made me think differently about the whole writing process. I am more aware these days of writing for a readership, an audience. It has made me more disciplined in my approach, asking more questions at an earlier stage in the development of an idea, and a lot less self-indulgent. When I began writing short stories, a long time ago, I used to just let my imagination soar. These days I only allow that once I have a solid base beneath. I do the groundwork first and then allow the imagination of my characters to soar. And on good days they always seem to do just that. Bless them.

Thanks again, Mark, for sharing more about your writing with us. I loved reading Blue Murder and can thoroughly recommend it to anybody looking for a good crime story to read during the holidays!

For those of you who’d like to know more about Mark L. Fowler, you can follow him via:

UK Amazon Author Page

US Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram


Meet the Author… Ian Campbell

I met Ian under the name of Devin Salesman on Twitter. His book, And the Salesman Came to Town, intrigued me. As my love for Terry Pratchett explains, I love it when stories contain a fair share of humor. Ian let me wait weeks for the image (blame was put on the Zon), but it was worth it! So, without further ado, let me introduce me to Ian Campbell, so you can also have a laugh.

Ian Campbell

Ian_Campbell_W700.jpg

Biography

I am a 53-year-old man, who is married with two adult sons – both of whom still live with me!  Professionally, I am a high school English teacher. And now that I have put this on paper, I’ve realized just how boring I am. I was born in Toronto, Canada, but when I was still a baby my family moved to Winnipeg, where I learned the meaning of a what cold winter is!  When I was young, I was diagnosed with learning disabilities in primary school, and needless to say – I was not what could be considered a model student.  Let’s just say I was heavy on the hyper activity! Unfortunately, when I was 12 my mother passed away after a battle with cancer, and when I was 13 my father sent me to a military school in southern Ontario, near Niagara Falls. I spent the next 5 years at the school – consider it a reward for being a perfect child! My father during my time at school moved back to Toronto, so that I wasn’t too far away from family, and after I finished my education, I too stayed in Toronto. I worked for several years then went to York University, where I studied English Literature, and later I received my teaching qualifications from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY.  During this time, I started my novel And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and available on Amazon! (subtle plug, right?) I also got married, and my lovely wife and I had our aforementioned sons.  As my life got busier I got away from writing, sending most of my free time with my sons.  We went swimming, biked, watched moves and went to amusement parks and so much more. We were thick as thieves. My sons are still very active, they just don’t take me along anymore! I never thought I would be the 3rd wheel! Honestly they would bring me along too, but now that I’m getting older I’ve developed a bad back and cannot do all the things I used to do.  Summers had become boring, and I had an idea – start my book from scratch!  The rest is history – exciting NO! No, no – it really isn’t, but I have started my second untitled novel! 

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be/if you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

Be yourself and get over yourself! The first draft of my book And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and again the – it’s available on Amazon thing, (yes, it’s plug number 2) was written about 20 years ago. I was trying to be all dark and sardonic, somewhere between Kurt Vonnegut and Evelyn Waugh, two of my favorite authors. Then, while I was editing the first half of the novel, a thought came to me. ‘What kind of self deluded idiot would write this kind of preachy and pretentious bull sh**!’ Let’s just say I knew it needed some revisions. The first draft was in truth complete crap, but I still thought it was overall a good idea, and never really gave up on it. And now you know why it took 20 years! Here is my advice, be yourself and get over yourself – to be an author, and you need to find you own voice!  Being self critical, and being able to take criticism from others, will also help enhance your prose.

Who is/are your favorite author(s)? How much is your work influenced by his or her works?

Obviously, Kurt Vonnegut, Evelyn Waugh, then J. R.R. Tolkien, Hemingway, Mark Twain, Johnathan Swift, of course Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Frank Herbert, Shirley Jackson, Eric Walters, Arthur Conan Doyle and J. K. Rowling. I know the last one is an author of kid’s books, but tell me – who doesn’t love Harry! Really, it’s a longer list than this, but in my defence, I’m an old guy so I’ve read a lot of books.

Ian_Campbell_And_the_Salesman_Came_to_TownWho is the most famous author you have ever met?

Austin Clark.  I don’t think he is that famous, but he has won some major literary awards. I don’t get out much!

What made you want to become a writer?

I love stories: books, movies, TV, plays – and of almost any genre. Although I like satire and fantasy/science fiction the best. At heart, I’m still a child!  And, according to my wife, every other part of my anatomy as well.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

Everything!  I wrote And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, I guess you’ve gotten the whole Amazon thing by now (plug number 3 – nice huh?) without having any idea of what I was doing.  Here’s the thing though, I’m pretty sure that I still have no idea of what I’m doing.

What do you love most about the writing process?

Everything, from the outline to the rough draft, and the revisions and editing. I have to admit that I’m not very good at editing myself as I see what should be there, and in many instances, not what is there.  Apparently, neither did the professional editor I hired, he left spelling and grammar mistakes for god…!  Anyway, after some complaints from readers, I have put And the Salesman Came to Town, by… (Well, you know the rest by now – plug number 4!) through an online editor – but I digress.  Even if I had no way of sharing my writing with others, I would still write.  I love every part of it!

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

For me, a gift – absolutely a gift! I can create my own little world, and get a short reprieve from the somewhat messed up real world we live in. I’m a humour/fantasy writer, and all I can hope for is that my audience is having half as much fun reading my writing, as I have had writing it. If that is the case, in my opinion, I’ve done my job as an author!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Ian_Campbell_Spirit_AnimalThis cat right here.  We share the same world view.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Energize! As I already said I love writing, especially humour. Like my novel And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Didn’t think I’d get one more in did you?  Last one, promise!)

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

Oh, very part time. As they say “Don’t give up your day job!” I would be thrilled to be able to write full-time, but at this point, being a somewhat newly self publish author – who has no idea what he is doing as far as publishing goes, I think I’ll have to keep the day job for a while.  And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Okay, I lied!).

Thanks so much for sharing your enthusiasm for writing, Ian. I’m glad to hear you’ve used an editor for your book. Yes, folks, the edited version is online now! I’ve started reading it and am enjoying it very much (although I’m terribly time deprived working on my own books, but I promise I’ll write a review when I’ve finished!).

If you wish you can follow Ian Campbell, aka Devin Salesman, on Twitter.

Just in case you didn’t get it, you can get And the Salesman came to Town on Amazon! Here’s the teaser:

The devil has come to town – but this time he is the CEO of a multinational corporation. This multinational advertises a soul back guarantee for all potential customers – for their purchase of their very own dream life. A semi-alcoholic priest is anointed as – The Chosen – the one who is destined to fight off the evil, and to stop this latest incarnation of the devil. He is sent unwillingly into the battle between good and evil, and what can only be considered to be an excellently executed marketing campaign. John Murdock, a self described crappy priest and aforementioned semi-alcoholic, wakes one morning to a radio commercial outlining the benefits of buying one’s own dream life for the low – low price of their soul. He sincerely hopes that the commercial is a bad joke made by the radio station, or at least a hangover induced hallucination. But finds out to his dismay that it is all real, and that it is his job to fight the devil incarnate, or more accurately stated – the devil incorporated.

My Irish Writers’ Podcast Interview

When I was in Ireland last month, attending the Dublin Writers’ Conference, I happened to meet Máire Brophe (I think it’s pronounced Moira, but do correct me if I’m wrong, Máire!). We got chatting about orcs and other fantasy creatures, as you do. She mentioned that she did podcasts and asked if I’d agree to an interview. Of course, I said yes!

It was a bit scary at first, the thought of being recorded. I hate my own voice, for one, and I kept thinking ‘what if I get stuck with words?’ I’ve had it before, many times, that all of a sudden I get insecure and both the English and Dutch language try to get out at the same time. Or I can’t find the English word I want to say. Yet, it was surprisingly easy to talk to Máire. The interview is actually twice as long as I remember 😄.

Listen to the podcast here.

The first seven-and-a-half minutes are an interview with Ann Richardson, who wrote a non-fiction book on Celebrating Grandmothers, and then it’s my turn. You’ll also get a ‘sneek peek’ about the next novel I’m writing!

Thanks again, Máire, for the opportunity, and I wish you all the best with your own novella, After the World, and the Irish Writers Podcast. I do hope you get to write that full novel one day!


PS: If you buy the Suckers Trilogy books from my book store, you get a 15% discount!

Meet the Author… Charles E. Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz is the author of the Legends of Windemere novels (fifteen books already!) as well as various other novels. The covers of his Windemere books attracted me as I retweeted them on Twitter, but, being a vampire-lover, his new WIP War of Nytefall – Loyalty made me contact him for an interview.

Charles Edward Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz

Biography

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Legends of Windemere is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

If I want to be technical, it was in 2nd grade and I wrote a picture story called Hunt for the Ruby Monkey. This was heavily based on King Kong, but I was trying to show characters and build tension without knowing it. This was a gift for a friend, so I don’t have it anymore. Prior to this I was writing little books that involved jokes, my week, or animals.

Charles_E_Yallowitz_ImmortalWarsSince I didn’t really know what I was doing during this attempt, I would say the real first story of mine would be Immortal Wars: The Summoning. I was in high school and decided that I was going to be an author. One of my favorite things to do was read comic books, so I went with superheroes. It was about four teenagers who discover they are immortals and need to protect the universe from a band of evil immortals who are about to return. Each character had a magical weapon built on one of the nine planets. This was in the 1990’s, so Pluto hadn’t been downgraded at this point. I had an entire series planned out with the weapons switching hands, deaths, births, and any twist that came to mind. I only wrote the first book, which was ‘The Summoning’, but then I moved on to fantasy.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

It’s the cursed gift that keeps on giving.  The curse part is that authors can find it hard to explain things to other people. You become very aware of spoilers, so you have to explain stories without going into the details. This can lead to confusion and the sense that nobody understands you. The gift side is that you develop this drive to create and explore worlds that you’re helping to nurture with your words. There’s a thrill to the building of a story from nothing to an intricate world that can draw others into it.

What is your writing Kryptonite? Have you ever gotten writer’s block?

My mood can be my personal Kryptonite. Once I’m annoyed or flustered, I lose the ability to focus on my creative thoughts. It isn’t that I have to be in a good mood to begin with, but I need to have a clear mind. Otherwise, the issues of the real world will get in the way of fiction and that doesn’t always match up. This is really hard for me because I don’t have an office or anywhere private to write.  So, I’m constantly running the risk of being distracted. As far as writer’s block goes, I’m lucky that I’ve never really hit a creativity wall. If I have a problem, I walk away to work on another project and it comes to me the next time I sit down.

What is/are your book(s) about? Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

All of my books are exciting action adventures that can take the reader out of reality. They’re pure escapism, especially since I write in third person present tense.  It’s not a common style, but it means my books read like tv shows and movies where you see things unfolding in real time instead of them being past events.

Charles_E_Yallowitz_QuestoftheBrokenHeartedMy most recent book is Quest of the Brokenhearted, which is on sale for 99 cents until the end of July. This is a spinoff of my series, Legends of Windemere, and it shows the fate of a supporting character named Kira Grasdon. Over the course of the previous adventure, this merchant house heiress lost everything and now she is struggling to survive on the streets. She learns about warriors going to Lacarsis, the City of Evil, which has begun to move. Deciding that she will either find a new reason to live or meet her death, Kira heads into the monster-filled city. This is an exciting, action-packed adventure, but it also looks into the psychology of a hero who has already been broken.  Mentally, Kira is hanging on by a thread and I think this is a state that many people can understand.

Do you have any difficulty writing characters of the opposite sex?

I don’t feel like I have any difficulty writing female characters. I only use their gender to designate clothing to some extent, pronouns, relationships, and physical appearance.  Beyond that, the abilities and personalities for a man can still be used for a woman.  Both can be brave warriors, cunning thieves, or sadistic villains.

Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’m trying to find a middle ground for most of my books. Each book and series tells a self-contained story, but they take place in the same world. Every entry adds to the depth of Windemere and builds it into a playground for future heroes.  This would be similar to Middle Earth or the various comic book universes.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Charles_E_Yallowitz_War of NytefallI’m currently working on a fantasy vampire series that takes place in the world of Windemere.  It’s called War of Nytefall and it’s my current ‘core project’ for the next 3 years. After that I have about 30 other series and one-shot stories that I’ve been outlining over the last 15 years.

What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?

The most useful thing I learned when it came to writing was that I had to write what I loved. If I enjoyed the story that I was working on then that would come through and the readers will have a better experience. The most destructive lesson that I learned nearly cost me the first book of my Legends of Windemere series. I let a lot of people read it over the course of ten years and I tried to implement every suggestion that was given. This made a mess out of the entire story and even caused trouble for future volumes. It required a lot of rethinking and rewriting before I felt comfortable publishing it.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

There are a lot of common traps, but there are two that come to mind. First, there is always the temptation to respond to negative reviews. Not everyone gets the warning that you have to take the lumps in silence. This means a new author can build up the reputation of being a ‘spoiled and combative’ person. The other is the ‘Pursuit of Perfection’. I’ve known many aspiring authors who refuse to publish until their work has met this ideal of flawlessness. They will read every book they can find on the art of writing and tear their work down at the slightest mistake. In the end, they enter a cycle that they can’t get out of that seems to stop at the first draft stage at best and they eventually give up. The truth is that every story will have a flaw of some kind because it’s a human writing it.

How do author friends help you become a better writer?

Charles_E_Yallowitz_LegendsOfWindemere15Discovering the large community of authors online was like wandering into a place that feels like home. You get a level of support and insight that people who never considered being an author can’t give you. Criticism is given in a more palpable method and discussions are allowed instead of the blunt tearing apart that non-authors think are necessary. There’s also a lot of sharing of experience and tools, which helps new authors avoid some of the pitfalls. Honestly, the whole community functions better as a support structure than a pit where everyone is out for themselves.

Where can we find you online?

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

Tumblr

Amazon Author page

Anywhere else where your book(s) is/are for sale:

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Thanks so much for you time and chatting with us, Charles. I’ll be looking forward to reading your vampire stories!

All Charles E. Yallowitz’s books are available on Amazon. Take your pick!

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6 Reasons to Attend a Writers’ Conference

I’m sorry not to have a ‘What to Watch’ blog post for you this week as I haven’t been watching TV all weekend. The reason being I attended the 4th Dublin Writers’ Conference, organised by BooksGoSocial. I flew to Dublin on Friday morning and returned back home on Monday morning. I didn’t blog at all yesterday as I had to catch up on my lack of sleep (I only got about eight hours of sleep over the whole weekend!).

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Laurence O’Bryan giving his introduction speech of the fourth Dublin Writers Conference 2018

It was my first conference ever, and I had a ball. The cost of the conference wasn’t too bad, but the price soon ramped up as I had to fly to get there and had to organize accommodation for three nights. I made the mistake of not reading the itinerary properly and thought that the dinner with awards ceremony was on Sunday evening. The last plane back home on the Sunday was in the afternoon, so I booked myself another night and a Monday morning flight (it later appeared later that the dinner was on Saturday, and I didn’t need the extra night). I had anxiety attacks since booking for fear of missing my 7am flight (those who know me know I’m not a morning person).

So, if it was costing me a small fortune and causing me anxiety attacks, why would I recommend going to a writers’ conference? Let me count the ways…

1. Boost Your Self-esteem

The anxiety attacks mentioned above are caused by menopause (I only found this out recently). Yes, I have the hot flushes as well, but drinking (any) alcohol makes me wake up in the middle of the night panicking about some trivial thing. This undermined my self-esteem to the point I would let my husband take care of everything.

I put my fears aside and booked the conference, the flight, and the accommodation without any help from my husband. It gave me a tremendous boost knowing that I’m not a pathetic, dependent housewife. I am a woman who knows what she wants and goes for it! Yes, I made the mistake of not reading the itinerary properly, making coming home a tad more difficult, but I did it, and I’m here and still alive 😀 .

2. Making Friends

As you all know, writing is a lonely existence. I don’t know about your social life, but mine is as good as non-existent. And that’s okay. I’m quite happy with that. Alone doesn’t mean lonely. I kinda like having the day to myself, being my own boss, and making my own schedule. I don’t meet a lot of people this way, though.

Allie Marie and I out on the town
Allie Marie and I out on the town

Going to a conference makes you meet people face-to-face. You shake their hands, you see their facial expressions, you hug them when the conference is over. I hugged them as I was truly sad to leave them. These people are at the conference for the same reason as you. They all talk about what you talk about. No longer do you have to see people’s eyes glaze over when you start telling them about your protagonist’s latest character development. You know what I mean. It was emotional to meet all these people sharing the same love.

I’ve made some great friends this weekend, and I’m looking forward to chatting with them online about our stories and meeting them again next year!

3. Gaining Contacts

Not only is going to a conference great for making friends, it’s also great for laying contacts with people in the business. I chatted with a representative of publisher IngramSpark who gave me a discount code, I accidentally sat next to a US based publishing expert who told me the difference between an author and a successful author, and I gave my book to someone who does podcasts and hence interviewed me on Saturday. I even met someone who wanted to write my memoir!

It’s always nice to know the face that goes with the name you see online. When you meet in person, they get to know you and, hopefully, remember you and your books. You never know what may happen as a result 🙂 . One can always hope for some more reviews…

4. Branding Yourself

Wendy H. Jones and I
Wendy H. Jones and I

During the summer of 2016, I attended a workshop in Elgin, organized by the Scottish Writers’ Association. That’s when I met Wendy H. Jones for the first time. Her talk about branding yourself was so inspiring! Hence, before I went to this conference in Ireland, I got out my fangs, bought some ‘Victorian’ blouses, and branded myself all weekend. I think I was the only one who did, but I don’t care. I bet you most people attending the conference will remember ‘the vampire lady’!

5. Pitching Experience

I put my name down for the Algonkian workshop and also for the movie pitch with a Hollywood producer. I learned so much from those two experiences. I knew my movie pitch was not going to be successful as vampire movies are not ‘in’ at the moment. But, I happened to find out that the podcast lady had done a pitching course and she gave me some hints and tips. Afterward, a lot of people told me my pitch was excellent which made it a great experience even though not successful.

6. Learning the Trade

Last but not least, you learn an awful lot from all those speakers. They’ve all been at it for longer than you have and share their wealth of information with you. They don’t want you to reinvent the wheel and want you to be as successful as they have been. That’s what I like about writers most; they are all such nice and helpful people.

I made lots of notes. Not only the hints and tips that applied to my book, but also the ones for others as maybe, one day, they could apply to a book I’ll write in the future. You can never learn too much! Now I have to apply what I’ve learned which is something altogether different 😀 .

Summary

There you have it; six reasons to attend a writers’ conference. Yes, it costs money, but it will be a an experience of a lifetime which will make your life richer in all possible ways!

Let me know if you have another reason to attend a writers’ conference 🙂

 

 

Meet The Author… F.F. John

Funmi is a writer I met through the One Stop Fiction Authors Facebook group, and I’ve seen  her blossom from the start with her first novel in the Nome Chronicles, the Pursual. Today, she’s launching her fifth novel in her second series, LegionMarked, the sequel to LegionBorn. Let’s meet this fantastic author.

F.F. John

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Biography

As a child, F.F. John was inquisitive and loved to find answers in books. When her home ran out of space for mer books, her mother told her to write the stories she wanted to read. So, she did. 

Today, she conjures worlds of characters that have a lot to say about everything. And she lets them as they tend to give answers to the riddles she’s yet to solve.

F.F. John lives at the top of a hill with my husband and children on a small island in the Eastern Caribbean.  I am the author of The Nome Chronicles, a young adult dystopian romance, and the urban fantasy series, LegionBorn. I’m currently working on Excelsia, a young adult space opera series as I expand the LegionBorn universe. Join my mailing list for updates on upcoming books at https://subscribepage.com/greatworlds.

How long have you been writing?

My late mother encouraged me to write for the simple reason that she’d run out of room for books in our home. She would tell me to create the books I wanted to read and I did. It started off with super short stories but soon cascaded into much more elaborate tales. None very good, if I must confess, but she loved them all the same.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? 

Unfortunately, no. However, I distinctly remember the first piece of fiction writing that made me realize writing could be fun! It was an assignment in the 10th grade. Mr. Arnold told us to write five more chapters for A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. BEST. ASSIGNMENT. EVER! At the time, I was maybe 14 or 15 and I loved creating tension between my characters. I still have that assignment and read it a few years ago. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was written with a zeal that I vividly remember. And, I got an A+ so not bad.

What made you want to become a writer?

FF_John_The_PursualMy kids. When they were small, I read everything I could get my hands on to them. In fact, they got to hear me read The Economist to them in utero. Between that and the amount of time they spent surrounded by books, it was no surprise that they constantly demanded stories for entertainment. It came easy to me–teaching them to spell with a story or teaching them to not touch the hot stove via storytelling. I then started a blog about my life with them that became very popular. That and a political analysis website of mine had people encouraging me to write. Then, my kids told me I should turn one of the funny stories I’d made into a book, so that others could borrow it from the library. That got me thinking why not? It took a while but I eventually got to writing fiction.

How has your environment & upbringing colored your writing?

There was a period in time where I would read books just so I could figure out which ones to get for some of my favorite nieces and nephews. Between getting them quality reads and finding stories for my own children, I noticed a lack of books with diverse characters. I knew I couldn’t just complain about it, so I set off to remedy the situation. My books contain characters of all races and are a reflection of the world I want to see–one where the color of our skin, the religion we choose, the sexual orientation we were born with or our chromosomes do not define us. I’m currently working on a fantasy series that will have a Vietnamese-American girl from West Virginia as the main character. My hope is to continue to create diverse story worlds with diverse characters that anyone from anywhere can identify with and be entertained by.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Gosh, I daresay it’s a little bit of both. Per the gift, there’s nothing like meeting a character in your mind’s eye, discovering his/her story and putting it down. It’s incredible to get that in front of readers and have them enjoy it, no matter if that’s only five people.

Committing to fiction writing has allowed me to tap into a side of myself that needed to breathe.

As for the curse of it, there’s a bit of pressure to live up to my personal expectations. I love writing but its a bit of a time-suck and that bites into family and friend time. I’ve been very fortunate because the people who love me have been beyond gracious. I can only hope to repay them for their kindness and patience. I’ve started by writing a few characters into my books. Sister Patti in the LegionBorn series is based on a super cool family friend who didn’t let anything like the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane stop her from getting me my manuscript when I couldn’t get it printed on the island I currently live on.

Pen or typewriter or computer?

It depends on the story. Recently, it’s been a combination of computer and paper. I used to log every thought into a Google Docs document but, since Hurricane Maria in September 2017, I’ve been without internet at home, which means I primarily work offline. As such, my trusty notebook allows me to jot down ideas. Oh, and my voice notes are a key component to my story building as well.

Goals of certain # of words a week or when inspiration strikes? 

When I’m in ‘storyland’, I aim for 20,000 to 25,000 words a week. Once I have an outline or ‘scene list’ (a collection of story scenes), I can knock out a first draft very quickly and I wish I did. Sadly, I don’t edit that quickly. I spend months doing that, my story twisting and changing before my eyes.

Do you outline or just write? 

FF_John_LegionBornOh, I have to outline. I go with the flow when I’m making up stories for my kids on the fly. That’s easy to do because they participate and if the tale goes off track, they reign it in so the conclusion is satisfactory for all of us. (Yes, this is something we’ve been doing since the kids were babies. Now they are teenagers and still enjoy making up silly stories when we’re in the car).

As for my books, I like to have a sense of where the story is going. What happens in the beginning, in the middle and at the end. Then I try to imagine other possible scenes that help flesh out the plot. From there, I craft a loose outline that can be very detailed but I don’t marry myself to it. I know it could change at any time.

Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’ve watched the way my kids read, they enjoy long series with characters getting through extraordinary circumstances. While I don’t have that patience, I’ve learned that my kids are more reflective of the norm in that people enjoy longer book series that they can sink their teeth into. With my urban fantasy series, LegionBorn, I’ve decided to turn it into a multi-book universe. While LegionBorn focuses on Vaughn Prentiss, I have another related-series that will focus on another character. I’ve found that growing the series through the experiences of multiple characters is a lot of fun and the only issue now is finding the time to create more stories. Fingers crossed it will all work out!

Do you consider yourself to be a successful writer? If yes, why? If not, what do you think would make you successful?

It’s funny you ask this because I just realized I’m a successful writer! While my level of success might not be that of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King’s, I consider myself successful in that I’ve managed to craft stories and characters that readers like/hate enough to send me a private message or a demand to get another book in the series done. There’s no way to explain the feeling I get when I have those sorts of discussions with my readers. I’ve still got room to grow, though, and that’s the goal. 

Do your books have a lesson, a moral?

I’m the child of Nigerian parents and I was fortunate to live in Nigeria during my formative years. Nigerian culture plays a huge impact on my life as an author. It has to do with the great respect and almost mysticism there is around the art of storytelling in Nigerian culture. It’s the way elders share wisdom with the young. As such, I will confess that my stories always have a little moral or two to them. The danger of hubris is one that comes up again and again in the LegionBorn series. My Nome Chronicles series features the power of forgiveness among others.

What writing/publishing wisdom would you bestow upon new writers?

FF_John_LegionMarkedI’m still ‘green’ myself but if I could give some advice it would be the following—you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. Once you accept that, it will make the entire process a little easier. Be sure to continuously learn the craft. You will never not need to (yes, the double negative was purposeful). Understand genres as that will make you knowledgeable about reader’s expectations and what your covers should look like. Treat self-publishing as a business. It requires you to understand not just the art of storytelling but also the skill of marketing, networking, researching and much more. You can pay someone else to deal with these things, of course, but if you don’t know the ins and outs of the business, you’ll always feel lost and you’ll lose more money than you should. Ask for help when you need it. There are always authors out there willing to provide answers. Play nice with others and most will do the same. Finally, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You’re in competition with who you were yesterday. That’s it. Focus on getting better. Be inspired by those who do well and know that you are capable of success. No matter how big or small that might be.

Do you send out a newsletter, and if yes, what’s your experience?

Yes, I do and interested readers can sign up at https://subscribepage.com/greatworlds. I have enjoyed this part of my author journey because it reminds me of my good, old blogging days. I share a little bit about my life with each message–what I’m watching or reading, what snack I’m craving (usually chocolate mousse cake), my favorite kitty cat gifs (they are a tad addicting) or how the writing process is going. My readers tend to write back and share their favorite gifs, recipes (yes, I got a great steak recipe from a subscriber that we now use for lamb. It’s delicious), advice on how to solve certain problems and much more. I prefer engaging this way though I’ve been encouraged to also communicate visually on my Facebook pages. We’ll see.

Where can we find you online?

Email: funmi@ffjohn.com

Website: https://ffjohn.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/F_F_John

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

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/F_F_John/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/F.-F.-John/e/B06Y4Z5DPR

Bookbub page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/f-f-john

Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16612509.F_F_John

iTunes book page(s): https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/f-f-john/id1225855673?mt=11

Thank you, Funmi, for sharing a bit of history about yourself and about your writing. It is always intriguing to find out about how others became writers and how they experience it.

Book 2. LegionMarked is launching today, 19 June 2018! To celebrate, Book 1. LegionBorn is on sale for $0.99 but only for one week. Grab it while it’s hot!

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Meet The Author… Alexis Marrero Deese

I met Lexi on Facebook. I was looking for fantasy authors and her book, Ignited, jumped out. It’s a beautiful cover, and a very intriguing story. I had to get to know Alexis Deese a bit better.

Alexis Marrero Deese

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I am an avid reader of all things Young Adult and Fantasy. Favorite authors include Brandon Sanderson, Jacqueline Carey and Leigh Bardugo. Although a Tampa native, I currently live near Atlanta Georgia with my husband and three dogs. I enjoy gardening, reading poolside and binging on Netflix.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

I do! It was written on a yellow legal pad stolen from my father’s office and was about a little girl who runs away from home only to get swept away into a land full of dinosaurs. She has to fend for her life before she can go back home. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. My mother still has the story and it’s nothing more than a few sketches with some scribble underneath but I remember it very well.

What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Definitely Kushiel’s Dart (honestly that entire series) by Jacqueline Carey. Read it, people! I love stories with rich world-building and this series gets you hooked from page one. There is romance, danger and political intrigue. Basically all the things I love. If she had a dragon in there I’d be done.

Who is the most famous author you have ever met?

I met R. L. Stine a few years ago at a book convention in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was a beautiful day and I definitely geeked out. I stood in line for an autograph 🙂

R.S. Belcher friend requested me and I fangirled just a little bit. Oh, maybe I should change my other answer. Read Shotgun Arcana (the start of his Golgotha series) by Belcher, it’s SO GOOD!

What are your books about? Could you tell us a bit about them and why they are a must-read?

I write Young Adult Fantasy with just a hint of romance. My debut novel, Ignited, is a multiple POV, fast-paced adventure full of elemental magic, political intrigue and dragons. It is the first of a planned quartet titled: Dance of the Elements.

Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’m definitely trying to build a solid body of work. Submerged, the sequel in the series takes place right where we left off at the end of Ignited. With the exception of a couple stand-alone projects I’m working on, all my current and foreseeable projects will be connected.

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

Kay is certainly my favorite. She is a precocious seven year old with too much attitude and too much power. She dreams of riding dragons and she’s kind of a badass. I’m actually releasing a novella featuring Kay later this summer. The novella will show everything that occurs in the two week period between the first two novels of my series. The second book is set to release in February.

What did you edit out of this book?

I actually deleted an entire chapter from Ignited at the suggestion of my editor. She said the chapter was redundant and the flashback was unnecessary. She was right and my novel was stronger for it. Always invest in a good editor! Submerged is currently in the hands of my Critique Partner so its editing fate remains unknown for now.

Can you give us a small teaser of your work?

I’m currently working on both Kay’s novella (title unknown at the moment) and Windswept, the third installment in my series. I’m happy to share an excerpt. Here are the opening lines from Kay’s story:

             For the first time since she’d been taken Kay opened her eyes and knew exactly where she was. The early morning light forced her to squint; someone had positioned the beds in just the right spot so that dawn brought its blinding radiance no matter which bed she chose to sleep in. She frowned down at the row of empty beds and reached blindly for the small glass of water on her bedside table.

            Every morning there was a new glass of the stale, warm water. Kay wondered who had the job of sneaking in her room at night and placing it there. Ash perhaps? She drank the morning’s rations and thought of the crisp water from the well back on her family’s property, somehow the water had always been cold, even in the middle of the summer. Here in the Sand Sea, the summer never ended.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Vanity Publishers!!! In the publishing business, money always flows down to the author. It’s sad how there are so many scams out there ready to trick newbie authors into giving them all their money 🙁

How do author friends help you become a better writer?

I love this question so much because I would be nowhere without my CP (critique partner). She is literally life saving. Having good friends who are also authors helps you in so many ways. Aside from the wonderful constructive criticism, my friends also provide me with motivation to write and answers to the publishing ins and outs. If you don’t have any author friends and you’re an inspiring author, go get some now! Join a Facebook group or a local writers club because writer friends are priceless!

Thank you so much for your answers, Lexi! It’s great to hear you talk so enthusiastically about writing. It’s clear from this and your earliest work you are a writer at heart 🙂

I couldn’t resist. I had to post the blurb for Ignited. Here it is:

AM_Deese_IgnitedA NOBLE DAUGHTER.

A FORMER SLAVE.

SCORCHED EARTH AND DANGEROUS GAMES.

“Jura imagined it sounded like rain.”

Juggling death is nothing new for seventeen-year-old Jura, daughter of the First of the Thirteen, successive rulers of the Republic of the Sand Sea. However, when a blood chain ensnares her father, she is thrust into the seat of power and forced to rule her elders.

“To Tylak, water had never tasted sweeter.”

Jura must track down her father’s assassin and balance a country on the verge of collapse. To find the Prince of Shadows and uncover the truth, Jura puts her trust in Tylak, a former slave accused of stealing from the Everflame—a man she once condemned to death.

In a world where water is currency and enemies lurk around every corner, Jura will use her wits or risk igniting a world war.

You can follow Alexis Marrero Deese via the following social media:

Website: www.amdeese.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorAMDeese

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authoramdeese

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

Alexis Marrero Deese’s book Ignited, as well as the anthology Once Upon a Wednesday which includes her short story called Magic Show, is available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Nook.

Meet The Author… James Dorr

Horror lovers are in luck as I have another horror writer for you to meet this week. Meet James Dorr, past Bram Stoker award nominee and writer of a novel, several collections, and too many short horror stories published in too many anthologies to mention. Apart from writing dark fantasy and horror, he also writes science fiction and mystery. James takes on an active role in the writing community as a member of HWA (Horror Writers Association) and SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). Let’s get to know James a bit better.

James Dorr

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Florida, raised in the New York City area, in college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and am currently living in the Midwest. I’m a short story writer and poet specializing in dark fantasy and horror, with forays into mystery and science fiction. My The Tears of Isis was a 2013 Bram Stoker Award® finalist for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, while other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and my all-poetry Vamps (A Retrospective). As an Active Member of SFWA and HWA, I have more than 500 individual publications. I have also been a technical writer, an editor on a regional magazine, a full-time, non-fiction freelancer, and a semi-professional musician. I currently harbor a Goth cat named Triana. My latest book is a novel-in-stories published in June 2017 by Elder Signs Press, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-day Times of Earth

How did you become a writer? 

I actually began writing fiction and poetry rather late. In college, for instance, I’d been art editor on several magazines, though occasionally doing some fill-in writing. In graduate school the situation somewhat reversed itself with me doing occasional fill-in illustration until I got a job with a university computing center as a technical writer. It wasn’t until I left that job, though, that I (with an M.A. in Literature), began to seriously try my hand at creative writing. Along with that, I’ve also had an interest in music and currently lead, and play tenor recorder in, a group specializing in Renaissance dance music.   

Who are your favorite authors and how much is your work influenced by them?

James_Dorr_TheTearsOfIsisTwo authors that I often cite are Ray Bradbury (who I approached as a science fiction reader, but stayed for the “dark bits”) and Edgar Allan Poe. Both, for their juxtapositions of both horror and beauty, have influenced me immensely. In fact, my Stoker® nominated collection The Tears of Isis is dedicated to Poe, “who led the way,” and is based in part on a passage in his essay on “The Philosophy of Composition” stating that the “most poetical topic in the world” is the death of a beautiful woman. Well, not everyone dies in the stories in that book, necessarily, but art does walk hand in hand with destruction, led by a poem about Medusa as a sculptress. And then, more death-centric, my novel-in-stories Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth also borrows another theme from Poe, that “[t]he boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague” (cf. “The Premature Burial”), as well as borrowing its very form as a “novel-in-stories” from Bradbury’s masterpiece, in my opinion, The Martian Chronicles. Then for two quick additions, Bertolt Brecht’s theories of “epic theatre,” particularly in terms of artistic distancing, have been an influence on some of my fiction while Allen Ginsberg, especially in his longer works with their cadenced rhythms, have been an inspiration for poetry.

Pen or typewriter or computer?

I almost always compose prose directly on the computer, though I may work out individual scenes or portions with problems with pen on paper. Poetry, on the other hand, is almost always drafted in pen, then rewritten to the computer.

Why do you write horror?

I like to get in characters’ heads, to write about, and figure out, characters under stress (not to mention invent situations to put them there), and for stressful scenarios horror seems the place to go. I’m also interested, though, in myths and legends and people’s beliefs in the inexplicable, where horror, again, provides a place to work these sorts of ideas out. 

Do consider yourself to be a successful writer? If yes, why? If not, what do you think would make you successful?

James_Dorr_VanitasjpgYes, in that I’m doing something I enjoy, I’m being published and at least some people are reading it, and I’ve received some honors for doing so.

No, in that I don’t have as many readers as I’d like, publishers are not exactly beating down my door, and at best I’m just earning supplemental income, and not much at that. I’m admittedly not that good a self-publicist, but interviews like this help (and thank you, Jacky!). Also more reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, etc., would be very helpful so, if you should read this and consider buying one of my books and like it, please consider reviewing it too — just a few lines are fine, and any writer is helped by reviews, even if not all are four or five stars.  

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If yes, why?

As a graduate student, I did a series of humorous science essays for an alternative newspaper under the name “James Bearson.” I was in a Ph.D. program in English at the time (I later got out and accepted an M.A., but that’s a different story) and did so in part to avoid questions like “what does an English major know about science?” as well as from some of my professors like “why are you wasting your time on that stuff instead of studying more for my class?”    

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

My most recent book is a mosaic novel, or “novel-in-stories,” Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth. In it a Ghoul-Poet, an eater of death, contemplates a city in which all have finally died, seeking to find out what it was that made humans human. It is divided into five sections and with an “Entr’acte,” the sections in turn divided in self-contained story-chapters, about half of which also have also been published elsewhere. To quote from the publisher’s blurb: “It had been a time when the world needed legends, those years so long past now. Because there was something else legends could offer, or so the Poet believed. He didn’t know quite what – ghouls were not skilled at imagination. Their world was a concrete one, one of stone and flesh. Struggle and survival. Survival predicated on others’ deaths.

James_Dorr_Tombs“Far in the future, when our sun grows ever larger, scorching the earth. When seas become poisonous and men are needed to guard the crypts from the scavengers of the dead. A ghoul-poet will share stories of love and loss, death and resurrection.”

As such, Tombs is listed by Amazon as both “Horror” and “Dystopic Science Fiction,” to which I might add “Science Fantasy” and “Dark Romance” (but beware: in that last category some stories are tilted toward adult consumption). It is not a “happy” book, I would say, but not an entirely despairing one either. To quote again, this time from Amazon and a review by Heidi Angell: “Yes, despite the uncomfortable and dark future predicted in this future world, key elements, like love, money, and humanity’s ability to carve out some sort of life in even the direst circumstances carries on with a heart-broken tinge of hope and legends.

“I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes to think deep thoughts about what they read. For anyone who has an interest in politics, social issues, climate issues, anthropological studies, biomedical, and for the curious who like to imagine how the world could turn out. For me, this was more realistic an outcome than the Divergent series, Hunger Games, or Maze Runner, though definitely not for the same audience. This is a grown up’s view for grown-ups of what a dystopian world could potentially provide.”

What is your writing style?

I don’t think I have a single style, but rather try to provide what a story needs. Tombs, for instance, is written in a more literary, almost Baroque style because I thought the overall story wanted a serious, “classic” feel. Tales in The Tears of Isis, however, may vary from stream-of-consciousness, fairy tale, noir, dreamlike, more action-filled, even to light humor (though with a dark side too). 

Does your book have a lesson, a moral of the story?

For Tombs I like to think “love conquers all,” but, boy, does it have trouble doing so! 

What motivated you to become a published author? How did you break into publishing?

James_Dorr_StrangeMisstresses.jpgI first met Joe Morey, then editor/publisher of Dark Regions Press, at a poetry reading at a convention when he asked me if he could reprint a long poem I’d just read. From there we talked about a possible collection, from which Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance came about, mainly short fiction but with a poetry section as well. Several years later I approached him about a second volume resulting in Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret. I would add though that I’d built up a number of single sales in each case, allowing me to choose about 25 stories for each book from which Joe would pick just over half, so I wasn’t exactly unknown. Then a few years after that, with PMMP’s Max Booth III, I’d also already sold him a couple of tales for publications he had worked on, so when he was ready to start his own press he contacted me, in this case offering me pretty much a free hand in editing and story choice (the only constriction that the book had to total more than 60,000 words), from which The Tears of Isis was born.   

Thank you, James, for letting us get to know you better. I’m sure many of us authors are in the same boat regarding getting reviews and sales and feel your frustration. I’m glad you took up this offer for more exposure. I hope many authors will follow your example and head over to the ‘For Authors’ section on my website!

Most of James Dorr’s anthologies as well as The Tears of Isis and Tombs, are available on Amazon.are available on Amazon.

You can follow James via the following social media:

Email: edgarc@rocketmail.com

Website (blog): http://jamesdorrwriter.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/james.dorr.9

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/James-Dorr/e/B004XWCVUS

Just to let you know I wasn’t kidding about the numerous works James has been published in, here’s the list available on Amazon!

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