Author Interview—N.O.A. Rawle

The fun continues today as I interview another author with a story appearing in the anthology Hides the Dark Tower. To obtain this interview, I had to travel all the way to Greece…well, virtually.

NaomiRawleN.A.O. Rawle is a British writer, teacher and translator living and working in mythical Thessalian Plain in Greece. She graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy. After many years of procrastinating, she took the plunge and has started publishing short sci-fi/horror/fantasy stories. She’s had over a dozen short stories and poems published. She’s been published in the anthology Once Bitten, and The Girl at the End of the World, Book II  and the anthology Denizens of Steam.

Here’s the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: How did you get started writing? What prompted you?

N.A.O. Rawle: First, thank you for having me on your blog, it’s great to talk to you. I grew up with books as my dad was a librarian. He had a study stuffed floor to ceiling with books, mostly about fly fishing and theology, but that’s where I got the bug. The actual writing started with fan fiction when I was in Secondary school and progressed into photocopied comic books in my late teens. Published work came a lot later.

P.S.: What other authors influenced your writing? What are a few of your favorite books?

N.R.: Harder to answer than I imagined. I can’t say who has influenced my writing style as I don’t think I’ve really found my own. (At the moment I’m going through a phase of stories in rhyming prose and that comes straight from Dr Seuss and ‘The Night Before Christmas’!) Once I had finished James Herbert’s The Magic Cottage, I remember thinking “I should like to do that.” I love Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Iain M. Banks, George Orwell, John Steinbeck, Bret Easton Ellis, Harlan Ellison and Bruce Sterling…

P.S.: In your blog, you’ve mentioned having thirty writing projects going at once, in various stages. Have you accepted that as a normal state of affairs for you, or would you prefer to be more focused?

N.R.: That’s normal. I live by flitting from one thing to the other and half finished projects everywhere, and I don’t mean just writing. I can focus and do occasionally, to the point of obsessive! That’s when work gets done fast.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

N.R.: Being asked to do edits is the hardest. Not because I’m too proud and don’t want to change what I’ve written but because I find incorporating another’s perspective bewildering. Will it look right to the reader? Have I clarified and tidied up the waffle? The easiest is writing. I can sit and type for hours and hours.

P.S.: Your bio mentions your British nationality, your current work location in Greece, your teaching and translation work, and your education in creative writing and philosophy. In ‘Core Craving’ and ‘Those Who Can, Do,’ you touch on two of those aspects. In what other ways do your varied background and education inspire your stories?

N.R.: I’ve done (counts on fingers and gives up) many jobs since the age of fifteen so there’s always a bit of those experiences in my writing but it’s not necessarily what I know about them. In ‘Those Who Can, Do’ I was more interested in the fact that so many teachers appear to have forgotten the purpose of their jobs and get into some sort of power place ‘us’ and ‘them’. I also had some hideous teachers at school who really didn’t understand that the colour of my shirt was not a factor in the learning process. Greece crops up in my work frequently, I’ve spent almost half my life here now and it would be weird for it not to feature. A character might come from someone I’ve met or the atmosphere of a place might inspire a scene, I’m always trying to paint a picture so that my reader can see what I do.

P.S.: It appears you’re participating in NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month) for the first time this year. How is that going?

N.R.: It’s going…I did it in the hope that I could complete one of those projects I’ve been composting for about a decade as there is outside interest in it after a short story grew from some of the remnants that I had cut from the original work. (‘Synchronysi’ due to be published in the New Year). If I can get the plot down then I know I’ll get it sorted.

P.S.: Lately, you’ve been writing some steampunk stories. Why does that genre appeal to you?

N.R.: It’s what Goths do when they discover brown, or so a friend of mine tells me. No, I like that I can mix up fancy frocks with feminism and mechanical monsters! Oh and rhyming prose, ‘A Walk in the Park’ is the first story I’ve self-published that is Steampunk in Denizens of Steam, an anthology that I helped ‘curate’ to promote the Scribbler’s Den writing forum on the Steampunk Empire.

P.S.: You’ve guest-blogged for Rie Sheridan Rose about your story ‘Core Craving’ in Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001]Hides the Dark Tower and mentioned the research you did on the castle. Had that story idea been kicking around in your mind before the anthology’s call for submissions, or did it all click together afterward?

N.R.: The story was fully formed but had not found a home. Vonnie and Kelly [editors Vonnie Winslow Crist and Kelly A. Harmon] made it welcome in Hides the Dark Tower, an anthology, which is a real treat to read and an honour to be included in! ‘Core Craving’ is such a small story but one that took a long time to build and the first one published which is set in my home town (I have several others) so I’m pleased it’s found its niche amongst so many respected authors.

P.S.: Among your many current Works in Progress (or, as you have quipped, Works in Procrastination), would you mind telling us a little about one of them?

N.R.: I have a story called ‘Touched’ which has been simmering for a long time (read years). It’s a fantasy/horror mishmash involving fae folk who live in the beautiful Greek mountain forests. (I am told, in all seriousness, that fairies do reside there.) I have so much written but on an ancient word processor whose disks I have been unable to print up anywhere since the WP died on me. I’ve been trying to remember the story but there are big gaps in the plot and I am so sad. I’m patching it up but it’s beginning to resemble Frankenstein’s monster not the glorious creation I envisaged. In my heart I know I can make it good but I need determination.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

N.O.A. Rawle: Jim Morrison wrote “Words dissemble, words be quick, words resemble walking sticks, plant them and they will grow…”

Sow the seeds of stories and see what becomes of them. Some will become roses and others prickly thistles that you’ll need to weed out. Like plants, some tales are therapeutic and others poisonous. Some will charm you with their beauty and there will be down-right ugly ones; they will all teach you something about writing but only if you keep tending them.

 

Thanks, Naomi! I know readers of my blog will want to find out more about you, and, luckily, I have that information handy. You have a blog and you’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. You also appear on Google+, Pinterest, and Amazon as N.O.A. Rawle, and on Steampunk Empire as Lady Naomi.

Poseidon’s Scribe

November 15, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Stephen Blake

You may have noticed I have not yet interviewed all the authors who have stories in the newly famous anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Today I’m pleased to bring you one more; I’m interviewing Stephen Blake.

Stephen BlakeOn his website, Stephen describes himself as just an ordinary bloke (he’s English), and a fantasy and science fiction loving geek.  His Twitter page describes him as “Writer & exaggerator. Cat, Dog & Guinea Pig Wrangler. Tai Chi Enthusiast. Cornish and Proud.”

Now, the interview (British spelling and all!):

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Stephen Blake: I’d always spoken about writing, always dreamed that I might be able to do something. It took a redundancy, illness and a lot of encouragement from my wife to actually go for it. I should say that a trip to a convention (BristolCon 2012) also made a difference. I’d always had ideas for stories but never did anything about it. Finally meeting authors who were real people, who sometimes held down jobs and seeing that they were not that different from me – it got me thinking. I realised the only difference between us were my own excuses – so I got rid of them (the excuses that is; all the authors I met are fine and did not meet their demise).

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

S.B.: Ideas seem the easiest. In fact I probably have too many. Having free flowing ideas is great until you can’t decide which one to work on next.

The most difficult aspect for me is that of personal discipline. I’ll procrastinate and dance around getting on with a job but once I start I am usually very productive. It’s just the getting going part.

I should say I also struggle with the reading in public. Unless you write so well as to not need to promote your work, it seems that giving a reading is an important part of being an author. I get nervous but I read in public at least once a month now and I’m dealing with it better all the time.

P.S.: How did you become interested in writing steampunk?

S.B.: I find the whole idea fascinating. I grew up watching things like “Island at the Top of the World,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Warlords of Atlantis.” Steampunk, for me, encapsulates adventure and excitement. The possibilities are huge. You can go fantasy and discover lost races, you can go sci-fi and have clockwork automatons. The setting, usually the Victorian age, is so interesting. Remember how interested they were in the supernatural, the thing to do back then was to have a séance. Someone will say you can do all these things in any setting or time period. All I’ll say is ‘steampunk’ lets you do it with style.

P.S.: What other authors influenced your writing?

S.B.: I’ve always been a voracious reader. Childhood favourites stay with me now, such as Enid Blyton, C.S.Lewis, and Roald Dahl.

At school I always had one book out of the library over and over and that was a collection of Greek myths. Even now, I enjoy reading them.

More recently I’ve enjoyed R. A. Salvatore, Gareth Powell, Kim Lakin-Smith, and Joanne Hall. I read all kinds of things. I’ve not long finished some Agatha Christie and Robert Louis Stevenson. I like reading all sorts, I even believe Stan Lee has had an influence on me, hence my characters always seem to have a disability of some sort or they are a social outcast. I think as writers we can learn from one another. I’m like a sponge trying to take in every lesson I can.

AvastYeAirships (4)P.S.: You wrote “Beneath the Brass” for Avast, Ye Airships!  Can you tell us a bit about the story?

S.B.: It’s a journal, kept by a young woman who has been put into an asylum. There’s nothing wrong with her but she accused her brother of attacking her and he’s made it seem like she is mad. Pirates rescue her and it is her account of all that befalls her during that time. It’s love, peril, airships and automatons but not necessarily in that order.

P.S.: In your website, you mentioned having joined a critique group. How has that group affected your writing?

S.B.: Well hopefully I’m reducing the vast amount of commas I apparently use. Mostly it is just very supportive, knowing that people are going to be honest with you and give you constructive criticism. I struggle sometimes with confidence – believing myself to be more lucky than talented. I know that these people (Victoria and Inez) will be brutally honest, so that when they say “it’s good”, it really means a lot.

Airship300P.S.: Your story “Lord Craddock: Ascension” appears in the anthology Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion. What is that story about?

S.B.: It’s about fighting slavery, fighting stereotypes and preconceptions and using those preconceptions to your advantage when trying to take down slave traders. It also involves automatic carriages and jumping automatons.

Bristol has history of being part of the ‘triangular’ slave trade route and I liked the idea of someone fighting racism and slavery in a steampunk vigilante kind of way.

P.S.: Before writing your stories, do you imagine a scene, a character, or a plot outline?

S.B.: I get an idea. Usually it’s a ‘what if?’ scenario. After that I just think about it and see how it plays out. It’s usually no more than the beginning and end. I normally take a while to figure out what happens in the middle. I can just think and scribble notes for months before I actually start typing a story.

Recently I had a story accepted for an anthology typed out and submitted within ninety minutes. I don’t see that happening often though, if ever again.

For “Beneath the Brass,” my first thought was, what if Stephen Hawkins was alive in that time period? What if he became a pirate? In the end the story is not about the pirates but about Miss Alice Reynolds, the lady stuck in an asylum. Until you start typing away on your keyboard you can never be entirely sure how it will unfold.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

S.B.: I’ve a few things on the go. My big work in progress is tentatively called “Blood Key” and is a YA fantasy with elements of steampunk. It’s the tale of a young girl who ends up in a world not seen by us since the days when the Celtic druids travelled there. It’s the story of her trying to get home and those who want to use her to get the magic flowing again and seize power.

I’m also working on a really interesting project called “The Adventures of Dayton Barnes.” It’s an anthology of children’s stories designed to encourage young boys to read. It’s very fascinating because each story will actually be chapters. I’ve written three stories for it but that is not the end. I now have to work with the other authors to make all our stories fit seamlessly together as if it were a single book. I’ve got to say this has tested my imagination no end. I can dream up tales of Victorian steampunk, demons and zombies quite easily – trying to put myself in the shoes of a mid west American twelve year old has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever written.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Stephen Blake: Go for it – that is the best advice. You’ve got to give it a go. The more you write the better you’ll get. Lord Craddock was my first attempt and it got published (after an awful lot of editing mind you). For some time I believed that was a fluke and yet here I am with a story in Avast, Ye Airships!, and soon I’ll have another three stories in a children’s anthology, “The Adventures of Dayton Barnes.” All because I just stopped talking about how I’d like to write and did it.

One other thing I realised early on is that writing is like music. One person hears a song and it evokes an intense feeling of dislike within them. Another hears the same tune and they feel it touches their very soul and fills them with happiness. Write the stories you want to write and they’ll find an audience, even if it’s only you (but that is highly unlikely!).

I could go on and on. Join a local group of writers. Read lots. If possible meet authors and compare notes. Keep trying for anthologies because you’ll meet great editors who will take your writing by the scruff and knock it into shape.

Thanks, Steve! All my readers will soon be regular followers of you on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, and will become avid readers of your blog.

Poseidon’s Scribe

Video Trailer for Avast, Ye Airships!

Here’s a marvelous video trailer for the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! 

 

The trailer was made by d chang, and the original music composed and performed by Dan Bernardo.

The music and video have a nice, ethereal quality. I love the sounds of—well, it sounds like rope tightening, or planks creaking—interspersed with the rush of wind. You really feel like you’re aboard a steampunk pirate airship. You may even be overcome by an urge to drop everything and buy the book.

I hope you do, and that you enjoy one story in particular, “A Clouded Affair,” by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Facebook Launch Party

Attention, Poseidon’s Scribe fans, and Steampunk party hounds: there will be a Facebook launch party for the anthology AvastYeAirshipsAvast, Ye Airships! It will happen Saturday, February 28th, from 7:00 to 11:00 PM EST. That’s 6 PM to 10 PM CST, 5 PM to 9 PM MST, and 4 PM to 8 PM PST. You’ll have to calculate it yourself for all other time zones.

My tentative timeslot for this party is 8:30 to 8:45 EST, and I’ll put out a new post or update this one if that changes or is confirmed.

I’ve never participated in a Facebook party before, but my understanding is that it’s like a chat, where you can ask me questions. As a service to my fans, I thought I’d give you some tidbits about the story I wrote for the anthology. These may prompt some questions you can ask:

  • Story title: “A Clouded Affair”
  • Backstory and Setting: It’s an alternate 1920, where large, dirigible airships in Europe have been preyed upon by sky pirates for decades. They’ve developed strong defenses, which forced the pirates to become crafty, hiding in the clouds as a tactic. In the New World, air piracy is a more recent thing, so the big cargo airships fly without escorts, nets, or defensive weapons.
  • Main Characters: William Starling leads an aging gang of English pirates flying a steam ornithopter. They’ve abandoned Europe for the greater promise of American aerial loot. Last to join his gang was young Nell Remige, a female adventure-seeker who worked hard to become William’s first mate. If William isn’t careful, he’ll encounter Crank Deco and his Chicago-based gang who fly a modern, diesel-engine biplane. That could bring on a steampunk vs. dieselpunk contest in the air, the last thing William needs. As for Nell, if she and William somehow make it out of this alive, what does she really want?

Remember, this Saturday night is your big chance, if you’ve ever wanted to party with—

Poseidon’s Scribe

February 22, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Diana Parparita

Poseidon’s Scribe has done it again and now presents another interview with a captivating author whose story appears in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Today I welcome Diana ParparitaDiana Parparita, a Romanian author living in Bucharest who writes fantasy and steampunk.

Read on for the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Diana Parparita: I started writing fiction when I was four or five years old. I hadn’t learned to write yet, back then, so I dictated my stories to my grandmother, but the intent to write speculative fiction was there, even at that age. The reason why I began writing, or, rather, dictating, was that I kept making stories in my head to entertain myself, and I liked them enough that I wanted to share them with others. And I kept forgetting them, so a big incentive for writing was to have a way to remember the best stories that I’d come up with.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

D.P.: The easiest part of writing for me is writing dialogues. My characters feel very much alive to me, and tend to act as if they had a mind of their own, so they talk naturally and I can always picture what they’d say and how they’d say it. The most difficult part for me is writing action scenes. I still haven’t been able to figure out a good pacing for writing action. When I read, I tend to skip through most of the fight scenes because I just want to know how it ends, and I haven’t been able to find a way to keep the reader’s attention on the action itself, at least not my attention.

P.S.: What is your favorite genre to write in?

D.P.: My favorite genre is fantasy, because it offers me complete freedom to create any type of world and society I choose. But I’m also fond of sci-fi, for the same reason, although I find it colder than fantasy.

P.S.: You live in Romania, right? Have you used Romania as a setting in any of your stories? If not, are there other ways that living in that country has influenced your fiction?

D.P.: Yes, I live in Romania. I haven’t used Romania per se as a setting, but the setting for the stories in my Huntsfee series is loosely based on Romania. There are, however, other ways I which living in Romania and being Romanian has influenced my writing. Romania is at the border between several cultures, and has seen a good number of invaders over the centuries, and as a result, Romanian writers tend to incorporate elements from different cultures into their writing. In that respect, my writing stories set in a fictional version of the Victorian age, as well as mixing that with elements from other cultures, is in perfect agreement with my Romanian heritage. To give an example, the story I wrote for Avast, Ye Airships! is influenced by the steampunk stories I’ve read and by Victorian England, but also by Jules Verne and an Italian 19th century writer of adventure novels, whose pirates have played an important part in my adolescence. This mixture of elements from three different cultures is all very natural to a Romanian writer and to Romanian culture.

P.S.: Your story “Miss Warlyss Meets the Black Buzzard” will appear in the anthology Avast, AvastYeAirshipsYe Airships! Please tell us a little about Miss Warlyss.

D.P.: Miss Warlyss is the daughter of a governor, who grew up in a pensionnat, and she’s now being sent home to become the bride of one of her father’s political allies. Which, of course, is something she doesn’t quite fancy doing in the near future. But you’ll have to read the story to see just how she manages to avoid getting married.

P.S.: In your website and in social media, your sense of humor is evident. Do you include humor in all your stories, or are there some purely serious ones?

D.P.: I’ve written some stories that are meant to be purely serious, but I’m afraid my sense of humor does show even in those, though to a lesser degree. I tend to make fun of the worst parts of life, as a form of self-preservation, so the darker the story, the harder it is not to add a touch of humor to it.

P.S.: From your Facebook page, I gather that a cat figures prominently in your home life. Does the cat inspire any characteristics or features of any of the animals in your stories?

D.P.: Actually, the cat in question is a rather new addition to the household. We’ve only had her for a few months. I used to have a cat before her, but she never inspired any characters either. But whenever I write animals, they are indeed based on nature. I always pay close attention to animals when I have a chance, and I try to study them before I use any animals as characters. Except for the horse in the first story I’ve ever published, “Sir Joseph’s Choice,” which was heavily anthropomorphized from a psychological point of view.

P.S.: One of your published books is Doctor Edmund HuntseeHuntsfee’s Perilous Expedition into the Heart of the Flood Plains. It appears this has inspired a series, with a second story published and a third being written. What do you find fascinating about the world or characters in this series?

D.P.: What I find most fascinating about the series is the continuous study of new and original species. Dr. Huntsfee is a sort of natural historian who specializes in the study of fantasy creatures, so each story enables me to create and present in detail a new personal species. But there’s one more thing that fascinates me about this series, and that’s the relationship between two of the characters in it, Miss Ophelia Dalton and Captain Joseph Marlin. They were both created to serve very specific roles within the story: Miss Ophelia is the chaperon of Dr. Huntsfee’s friend and love interest, while the captain was meant to be in charge of the boat the expedition is sailing on. They were never meant to be a couple, and that shows even in the age difference between them, with him being about ten years younger than her, but from their first scene together, they’ve developed a special chemistry that I hadn’t planned for them to have. So now I’m very curious to see where that’s going and I want to explore that budding relationship through many other stories.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

D.P.: I’m always working on several things at the same time, so right now I’m working on the third installment in the Huntsfee series, a steampunk retelling of The Little Mermaid, and a young adult novel about a girl who finds out she’s part dryad and gathers an army to free her country of an evil dictator and the dragons under his command.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Diana Parparita: I think the best advice I can offer is to read the best stories and novels in the genre they want to specialize in, as well as the very best that other genres have to offer. I’ve noticed that quality is something that tends to rub off, so the more good books you read the better. Also, there’s one piece of advice that I haven’t heard enough: live! Get as much life experience as you possibly can. I have a bad record of never staying in a job for longer than a year and a half, but, apart from it looking dreadful on my résumé, this has helped me meet all sorts of people and has placed me in all sorts of environments. The pirates in “Miss Warlyss Meets the Black Buzzard,” for instance, are based on some of my co-workers from a male-dominated workplace I landed in a couple of years ago. Having lived my entire life in a female-dominated environment, it was just as much of a shock to me as it was to Miss Warlyss, and that provided me both with an understanding of her experience and with a good reference for my pirates and for male-dominated environments in general. My pirates would have never seemed authentic if I’d found a comfortable job and stayed in it all my life. So I definitely advise experiencing things outside of your comfort zone.

 

Thank you, Diana! My many readers are urged to learn more about Diana Parparita on Facebook, on DeviantArt, and at her website.

Poseidon’s Scribe

February 12, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — K.C. Shaw

The piratical fun continues! Today I’m interviewing Kate Shaw, who writes as K.C. Shaw, another fascinating author with a story in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships!

Kate writes fantasy and likes to swashbuckle occasionally. I love this quote from her website: “Weredeer, liches, and fairies vs. unicorns. All in a day’s work.”

Here’s the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?
K.C. Shaw: I’ve been writing fiction as long as I can remember, but I didn’t get serious about it until 2007. I was working in a sales office at the time and was impressed at how persistent the salespeople were. I started treating my writing the same way: writing almost every day, submitting stories to magazines until they sold, striving hard to improve my writing.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

K.C.S.: The hardest part for me is getting pacing correct. It’s difficult to see a novel as a whole and know where tension needs to be increased, where the main character needs to stop for a moment of reflection, where plot points need to be worked in earlier. The easiest part is writing dialogue!

P.S.: How did you become interested in writing fantasy?

K.C.S.: Most of my favorite books were fantasy and SF when I was a kid, and that’s still the case. I loved Diane Wynne Jones, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Joan Aiken, Jane Louise Curry, and a thousand other writers. It was natural that I wrote what I loved to read.

P.S.: You write both novels and short stories. How do you decide whether an idea is big enough for a novel?

K.C.S.: A lot of times I think I’ve got a short story idea, and it turns into a novel! I actually prefer writing novels so I often find it difficult to write short.

AvastYeAirshipsP.S.: In Avast, Ye Airships! your story is “And a Bottle of Rum…” Please tell us a little about it.

K.C.S.: In the story, main character Jo has just acquired a new airship and wants to see what it can do. She and her friend and colleague Lizzy move in to take what they think is a helpless blimp only to discover it’s got a heavily armed escort.

P.S.: You’ve written several short stories about your steampunk air pirates, Lizzy and Jo, and they even have their own website. Any plans for a novel with those two?

K.C.S.: Yes! In fact, “And a Bottle of Rum…” is an excerpt from a Lizzy and Jo book. It’s not under contract yet so the title, Skytown, is only tentative, but I hope it will be released some time next year.

WharfRat_ByKateShaw_200x300__18221.1420220732.1280.1280P.S.: Your latest novel is Wharf Rat. Please introduce us to Rone, the protagonist.

K.C.S.: Rone is an elf, but not the kind Peter Jackson would want to film. He’s a dock whore, a small-time thief, and he can’t even read. I had fun writing about someone so different from the usual elf, while still making him sympathetic.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

K.C.S.: I’ve got two projects going right now. The first I can’t really talk about yet except to say it’s the text of a game that’s going to be fantastic! The latest release date I’ve heard is early 2016. I’ve just started world-building for my other project, a novel where all the characters are dragons and humans don’t even exist. It should be a lot of fun.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

K.C. Shaw: When you finish a project, especially a longer one like a novel or series of short stories, don’t be afraid to give yourself some time off. Writing every day is important, but your brain needs downtime to recharge too. Schedule a few weeks to read other people’s books instead of writing. Before you know it you’ll be getting new ideas and will want to start a new project

Thank you, Kate! Readers of my blog can find out more about Kate on her websites here and here, and on Twitter and Goodreads.

Poseidon’s Scribe

February 3, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Ross Baxter

The hits just keep on coming! Today I go to England to continue my series of interviews of authors whose stories appear in the upcoming anthology Avast, Ye Airships!

Ross BaxterI interviewed Ross Baxter, who completed a career in the Royal Navy and now concentrates on writing sci-fi and horror fiction. His varied work has been published in print and Kindle by a number of publishing houses in the US and the UK. He’s married to a Norwegian and with two Anglo-Viking kids, he now lives in Derby, England.

Let’s weigh anchor and get the interview underway:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Ross Baxter: I began writing fiction to relieve the boredom of long night watches when serving with the British Royal Navy Reserve. Not that I didn’t enjoy my time, but it did drag on occasion. That was about twelve years ago. I left the Royal Navy Reserve after 30 years service in October 2011, and finding more time on my hands increased my writing rate accordingly.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

R.B.: Ideas are the easiest things, but committing them to paper is the hardest. I’m not the most academic person, and I’m afraid never listened much in English classes at school. As a result I really have to work hard on grammar and style, both which are a challenge.

P.S.: Your website states you’re an author of horror, sci-fi, and westerns. What about those genres intrigues you?

R.B.: Many will disagree, but I feel westerns and sci-fi are very close bedfellows. Both share an expansive landscape, both are unimpeded by the “norms” of society, and in both anything can happen (literally). Which is why I love both genres. Horror is also a favourite as it can span many genres, which gives a horror yarn a huge scope.

P.S.: Is the Western genre still retaining some popularity?

R.B.: Unfortunately, I think that the Western genre is effectively dead. Yes, from time to time someone tries to resurrect it, yet despite some brave attempts it now remains virtually a small niche. It is a shame that it no longer captures the imagination of the vast majority, and I’m not sure why this is the case. Take the relatively recent TV series Deadwood; to me it was superb in every way and perfectly shows the depth and width of the canvas that Westerns can provide, yet it was well down in the popularity charts. (I should take this opportunity to recommend the novel Deadwood by Pete Dexter; an excellent read).

P.S.: How did your career in the Royal Navy influence your writing?

R.B.: It certainly imparted an understanding of the military, and what it means to live and serve in close confines with others. It also spawned a whole legion of ideas, many based on actual events.

Corporate AlienP.S.: Your novel Corporate Alien was recently published. Please tell us about it.

R.B.: It is my first novel, a science fiction space opera heavily influenced by authors such as Iain M. Banks and Alan Dean Foster. Although sci-fi, anyone who has suffered in the recent economic downturn should be able to easily relate to it. It’s all about corporate greed, corporate (ir)responsibility, and how easy the downtrodden become even more downtrodden. I’m hoping it will sell well in Detroit!

P.S.: What are the common themes of your short stories and novels?

R.B.: I have to say that most are relatively dark, although I do strive to inject some humour. I do enjoy trying different things though, and this has worked well in the past few years with my biggest selling stories actually being an erotic romance novella, and a story for kids!

AvastYeAirshipsP.S.: Your short story, “Go Green,” will appear in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Can you tell us a bit about the protagonist and his or her main conflict?

R.B.: This is my third published steampunk story, and the characters are the same as in the first two. All the stories are set in an airship converted into a floating brothel, and “Go Green” continues the series based on a flashy, leather-clad ex-Colonel and his level-headed female engineer.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

R.B.: I’m finishing my second novel; a nautical thriller set in South-East Asia in present times, regarding increasing tensions amongst Pacific-rim countries following the sinking of a research vessel by the Chinese off the Spratly Islands. It’s full of murdering Russians, trigger-happy Chinese and the US Seventh Fleet: it’s a scenario that could happen at any time!

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Ross Baxter: Practice, practice, practice…and keep at it. It took me seven years before I got anything published, but the practice and hard work did finally pay off.

 

Thanks, Ross! You’ve reminded me that despite the close alliance between the US and the UK, we may never agree on the spelling of certain words. I certainly wish you great success. My readers can find more about Ross Baxter on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, LinkedIn and his website.

Poseidon’s Scribe

January 27, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Wynelda Ann Deaver

…And my series of interviews continues. I’ve come to the conclusion that the nearly-published anthology Avast, Ye Airships! contains stories by some of the most enthralling authors writing steampunk today.

Wynelda Deaver & sonToday I’d like you to meet Wynelda Ann Deaver. Her website, Wynword’s Weblog, is subtitled “Life, Love, Kids, and Being a Little Nuts.” I didn’t find much evidence of her being nuts, but the other three topics really define her site. They also permeate the answers to my interview questions, which she answered with clarity and brevity:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Wynelda Ann Deaver: I started writing fiction in the fifth grade. I think it was mostly me wanting to be someone else—be the heroine for once.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

W.D.: Ideas are easy. But computers come with internet now, and there’s Facebook, and blogs, and email… Not to mention being a single parent. It’s not that I don’t have the time. It’s that time management is very hard for me.

P.S.: How did you become interested in writing in your primary genre?

W.D.: Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. I read my first one in the fourth grade. My mom read romance, so she flipped through it, saw the “Adult Conspiracy” and knew it would be ok for me. I was hooked.

P.S.: Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

W.D.: Everywhere. Sometimes you just have to take your view and twist it.

P.S.: Your short story, “Steampunk Garden,” is set to appear in the upcoming anthology Avast, Ye Airships! AvastYeAirshipsWhat was the inspiration for it?

W.D.: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of the books that I adored growing up. I still do. So I took it and… twisted it. Made it into a new story.

P.S.: What other authors influenced your writing?

W.D.: Mercedes Lackey, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Anne Bishop, Elizabeth Haydon.

P.S.: Recently your book The Golden Apple and Other Stories was published. Please tell us a little about it.

W.D.: The Golden Apple and Other Storiesgolden_apple_72dpi1 is something I’m really proud of. There are three retellings of fairytales and two personal myths in it. One of the fairytales, “The Golden Apple,” is one my sister used to tell her daughters and me while we were in the car.

P.S.: From your website it’s clear your son has been diagnosed with Dyspraxia. My heart goes out to you. How have your efforts to cope with his condition influenced your writing?

W.D.: My son is a huge part of my life, and in his first five or six years so was his dyspraxia. Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that affects motor skills, memory, speech, balance, emotional health… a lot. When he was younger, I didn’t write very much— too busy with him and getting him up to at least near where he needs to be. Now that he’s older, it’s easier to write. He has friends. He can ride a bike with no training wheels (it took five months, but he stuck with it!). He doesn’t need me quite as much. But I’m finding him popping up in my fiction now: in the urban fantasy, there’s a wee little toddler who has dyspraxic symptoms. In The Golden Apple, there’s a personal myth with a mother and son in a candy garden. This started with a story between my son and I… I just twisted it really hard!

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

W.D.: I am currently working on an urban fantasy. A witch, a vampire and a siren are best friends…

Poseidon’s Scribe:   What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Wynelda Ann Deaver: Just write. And read. Read a lot, but write more. You also have to make the decision— are you writing for love or money? Personally, I have to write the stories I do, whether or not they find a home. My hard drive is full of stories that haven’t found a home yet. I might send them out again. Or self-publish since that’s now readily available in the e-book market. I wrote them for me, the original audience. And sometimes that’s enough.

 

Thank you, Wynelda, for captivating my readers with your answers today. I wish you many sales. Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

 Poseidon’s Scribe

January 24, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Libby A. Smith

When you’re on a hot streak, go with it. I’ve been interviewing some fascinating authors lately.  Today I question another author who contributed to the anthology Avast, Ye Airships!, Libby A. Smith.

Libby A SmithLibby is a two-time winner of the Little Rock Free Press’ Literary Contest. She lives in Little Rock with her three cats.

Libby’s stories have appeared in Caliber Comic’s “Negative Burn” and “Dominique: Protect and Serve,” Hanthercraft Publications’ “Tandra” and “Dragonroc” universe comics and website, and Shanda Fantasy Art’s “Atomic Mouse.” Most recently her story “Newcomers” appeared in the Short Short Story issue of 4 Star Stories.

Here’s the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Libby A. Smith: I’ve always known I was going to be a writer. My first poem was in a local newspaper when I was around 7 years old. I don’t recall seriously writing fiction until I was in college. I went on to earn a BA in English with an emphasis on creative writing.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

L.A.S.: The easiest aspect for me is writing dialogue which leads to developing the characters. I love people watching which really helps me “keep it real” no matter how strange the story itself is. There’s very colorful real life characters everywhere. Normally, I also am speaking the dialogue out loud when I write. This helps me determine how “real” it sounds.

The hardest part of writing for me is knowing where to start the story. I’ve learned to relax about it and just start writing. Many times what I intend to be the story’s end turns out to be the beginning.

AvastYeAirshipsP.S.: You have a story, “Plunder in the Valley,” in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Without spoiling anything, can you tell us a little about the story, and what inspired you to write it?

L.A.S.: The inspiration for the story came from the editor reminding me I had about 24 hours to submit a story! Truly! The year was a rough one, ending with a friend being found dead on Christmas Day from natural causes. He was a huge science fiction fan and had written a few stories. I was just drained physically and emotionally. When faced with the deadline, I recalled a partial story I had in my files which my friend loved. Although I ended up completely rewriting it, the original rough draft provided good “bones” and the tone I wanted.

In this case, the characters created the plot. I grew up in a small yet fast-growing town with a fantastic oral history and many colorful “old timers” around who were still going strong. Some welcomed the newcomers to town, some didn’t. Although not based on specific individuals in this case, they provided the soul to the characters and story. I’d describe it as “country humor Steampunk.”

P.S.: I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Country Humor Steampunk sounds fascinating and original. What other genres do you write in?

L.A.S.: “Plunder in the Valley” is definitely steampunk even if it is different than the norm. When I have a story to tell, I don’t really worry about genre unless it is intended for a specific market as in this case. I’ve written southern lit, gay & lesbian, poetry, comic books, science fiction, comic book scripts, and fantasy. I’m sure I’m leaving something out!

P.S.: Are you interested in writing a sequel to that story, with some of the same characters?

L.A.S.: Definitely! It’d be a lot of fun if I get the opportunity to do so.

P.S.: What is the audience you’re aiming for in your stories?

L.A.S.: It depends on the story. But even when it seems rather specific such as ‘gay & lesbian,’ I want my work to speak to others. After all, there’s a universality to the emotions we all experience.

P.S.: What other authors influenced your writing?

L.A.S.: Every author I’ve read. The biggest single influence is Maya Angelou. I recall reading  “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in around fifth grade and realizing she was once a little girl in Arkansas. That’s when it dawned on me that I could really be a writer and I didn’t have to live in a big city.

I’ve never thought about this until now but another would be Lois Lenski. She was my first “favorite writer” when I was in second grade. She’d traveled the country visiting different areas to research her books like ‘Strawberry Girl.’ They told the stories of what it was like to be a child in different areas and situations. Each time  I read one of her books, I thought, “Wow! This could be me if I’d been born there.’

Yes, it is odd that they aren’t science fiction or fantasy authors. Quite a few did and do influence me like Stephen Donaldson, Arthur C. Clarke, and so forth. But a good story is a good story no matter the genre.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

L.A.S.: To be honest, nothing! I’m also an actor and have been auditioning a lot lately. This is on top of a full time day job and being extremely involved in my church’s music ministry. I have bits and pieces of stories started as well as formulating in my head, I just haven’t serious started working on any particular one.

Yet.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Libby A. Smith: Remember to live. Making a living only from writing is very hard and, believe me, it becomes too much like work. If you find another way to make a living wage, you’ll find writing is easier since you don’t have to worry as much about the yucky things like shelter, food, a working computer, etc. I used to hang around science fiction conventions with a group of folks about my age who’d also just broken into “published writing.” Those who quit their day jobs eventually stopped writing from the stress of surviving. I kept plugging along in the mundane world and am still writing.

If all you focus on is writing, you aren’t living. Your stories and characters will be less “real” because you aren’t experiencing real life. You need to mingle with people or at least get out and observe them. Ease drop in public places such as grocery stories. Go to a park with a snack and just watch people around you. Volunteer somewhere that gets out and among people other than your immediate family and friends. Hang out occasionally with others outside your writing buddies. You can’t write believably about the world—or any world—without going out to discover what makes life an adventure.

Every person is a character in a story. Every life event is a plot. Everyone truly does have a story.

 

Thanks for inspiring the readers of Poseidon’s Scribe today, Libby! Fans can find out more about Libby A. Smith on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Poseidon’s Scribe

 

January 23, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Ogarita

The authors of stories in the upcoming anthology Avast, Ye Airships! continue to be willing to be interviewed by me. I haven’t scared the remaining ones away yet.

Speaking of scaring others, today’s interviewee is author Ogarita, no stranger to the art of terrifying readers, while armed with nothing but her bare words. Think I’m kidding? The opening picture on her website is of a lonely cemetery, in the dead of winter. My internet browser was afraid to open the page the first time, and now refuses to go back.

Here’s the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Ogarita: I’ve noodled around with writing stories since I was ten years old and conjured a girl, dumped in a boarding school, who is transported (via a mysterious and never explained glowing rectangle) to a world combining elements of Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain. I turned to writing daily about three years ago, after retiring from an active-duty career in the U.S. Navy.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

O.: Most difficult? I always, always begin a story in the wrong place. A couple of novels ago I decided this just didn’t matter . . . for first drafts, at least. I save that pain for subsequent revisions, during which I suffer the recurring and depressing realization I will never produce anything as wondrously creative as the beginning of Nabokov’s Lolita. Regardless of one’s opinion of that story, the opening is fabulous writing.

The easiest part of writing? Everything other than beginnings.

P.S.: On your website, you’re known as Ogarita (not your real name), and the story of how you got that name is fascinating.  Is that family tradition of bestowing strange, secret, family names likely to continue to future generations?

O.: My family’s history is filled with bizarre names, among which Ogarita figures as fairly tame. This custom took a steep dive, however, two generations ago, when my grandfather abandoned the name Yakeley and renamed himself Robert. The love of eccentric names continues, however; throughout my childhood my mother expressed frequent regret she hadn’t named me Hepzibah. It’s possible this close call inspires me to write stories filled with fear.

P.S.: Ogarita it is, then. You’ve said you write stories of “ghosts and banshees, creepy houses and spooky cemeteries, stalkers and extroverts.” How did you become interested in writing tales of that type?

O.: First, discovering the best ghost movie ever filmed: The Uninvited, made in 1944 and based on Dorothy Macardle’s 1941 novel, Uneasy Freehold. When, three-quarters of the way through the movie, the double doors bang open . . . glorious terror! The book isn’t bad, either, although the secondary female characters tend to be a bit soppy. Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House kept me awake at night for three days after finishing it, and I’m still not keen on holding hands in the dark. I’m always searching out well-written stories in which sympathetic characters find themselves inadvertently involved with the supernatural . . . and scared nearly to death.

P.S.: You call yourself a middle grade and Young Adult author. In what ways is that different from writing for a more general audience?

O.: A fair number of writers, and I include myself among them, claim there is and should be little difference between writing for MG/YA and adults, other than the former being a bit less overt in depicting violence, sex, and in using profanity/obscenity. These, however, are far from being hard rules. The characters in John Green’s collaborative book (with David Levithan), Will Grayson, Will Grayson, don’t hold back in terms of verbal obscenities. Nor does Stephen King dumb down the dangers faced by nine-year-old Trisha (in The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), when she’s lost in the woods. Are Green and King writing for adults or middle-graders?

In my MG/YA ghost story novels I shoot for spinal meltdown moments, hoping to ruin the sleep of all my readers. That’s what I’ve loved since I was a kid and still do today.

P.S.: You have a story, “Captain Wexford’s Dilemma,” in the anthology AvastYeAirshipsAvast Ye Airships! Without spoiling anything, can you tell us a little about the story, and what inspired you to write it?

O.: The superheated steam produced by a ship’s boilers, properly controlled, creates enormous amounts of beneficial power. Controlling the steam, however, requires careful maintenance and the right materials—steel, for example—that can withstand the intense and high heat. In October 1990 the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) docked in Bahrain for repairs to a steam valve. A contractor mistakenly chose metal fasteners of brass, rather than steel, to fasten down the bonnet of a steam valve; when the ship got underway, the fasteners gave way and the ship’s boiler room flooded with superheated steam. Eleven men died because of a small, crucial, mistaken choice. Captain Wexford’s Dilemma allowed me to create and take control of a similar situation, but from that starting place spin a fantasy with a different outcome, one that I found emotionally salvific. And, because I have long worked in the field of religious diversity, humor crept in as the story revealed itself and Captain Wexford struggled to find ways to deal with a far less material challenge to the safety of her airship.

P.S.: What other authors influenced your writing?

O.:

  • Terry Pratchett. A genius who made Death one of fantasy’s most believable character.
  • Barbara Hambley. Those Who Hunt the Night (1988) a vampire-filled murder mystery, uses suspense and a sense of place exceptionally well.
  • Katherine Catmull, Claire Legrand, Stefan Bachmann, and Emma Trevayne. The Cabinet of Curiosities (2014) contains thirty-six inventive and beautifully written short stories. I read these, then decided I needed to explore this form; the result was “Captain Wexford’s Dilemma.”
  • Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. I Remember You (2014; 2012 in the UK) is the best ghost story published in the last five years, hands down. Like Stephen King, Sigurðardóttir isn’t afraid to allow her characters to develop before she turns loose the ghosts.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

O.: I’m finishing the first draft of “The Lake Eerie Ghost,” a MG murder mystery/ghost story about a group of kids attending summer camp on a fictitious island in Lake Erie. There’s a haunted lighthouse involved, because I’m crazy about lighthouses. At the same time, I’m revising another MG story that I hope will delight and frighten: “Curse of the Banshee,” in which a young girl and her twin cousins investigate a series of near-fatal accidents and an ancient curse. Murder, mayhem, and spooks make each day of writing pure pleasure.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Ogarita:

  • Don’t let anyone, editors or readers, tell you the semi-colon has no place in fiction; this fabulous bit of punctuation has ably separated closely-related independent clauses since 1494.
  • Write or revise or outline every day. Every. Single. Day. Doing this has been a trial at times, but it has also improved my writing and kept at bay writer’s block.
  • Ignore those who say one’s best writing (or revising and outlining) is done early in the morning. I’m convinced early-morning writers are masochists.
  • Exercise. Walk, lift weights, bike, swim, do yoga, anything that keeps blood pumping and muscles toned!
  • Find or create a support group of other authors. A good group celebrates success, understands rejection, and keeps dreams alive, often with cupcakes.

 

Ogarita, thanks so much for that fascinating interview. My readers can find out more about Ogarita’s spine-chilling tales on Twitter and at her website.

Poseidon’s Scribe

January 21, 2015Permalink