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#Author #Interview With Michelle E. Lowe on #Writing & #Steampunk Novel “Legacy”

Interview with author Michelle E. Lowe. Find them on social media:

 

Q:  Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

A:  I find that the world itself holds an abundant of inspiration. Real stories, small moments, even a basic conversation someone might be having on the bus. If a keen ear listens in at just the right time, an idea for a novel is there. I’ve gotten lots and lots of helpful insights from history and love to incorporate certain historical events into my work.

 

Q:  What books are currently on your nightstand?

A:  I’ve just started on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. I’m on Book One: The Gunslinger. It’s very, very good so far. I’m aiming to get through most of the series before the TV show adaptation comes out. The release date just got pushed back, so I might be able to make it.

 

Q:  What would you like readers to know about you the individual?

A:  For starters, I’m a big nerd at heart. I love watching and reading science-fiction and fantasy stories, and I highly enjoy old B horror films. I’m extremely fond of old Atari video games, like Dig Dug, Montezuma’s Revenge, Space Invaders, Centipede, Mrs. Pacman, and so on. I collect worthless little knickknacks, and I enjoy oil painting as a hobby. I’d like to do a lot more world traveling, starting with England. Also, I adore animals, and wish I had many more of them around to take care of.

 

 

Q:  What do you write?

A:  Generally, I write fiction. Recently I’ve ventured into steampunk. That’s a fun genre to go into. It takes a lot of imagination to succeed at it too. That’s what I love about fiction and writing fiction; people can play around with facts and build worlds. There’s a lot of intelligence and creativity that goes into writing fiction, I believe. There’s much that can be created, so many imaginative ways to explain how made up things function. You really work your brain coming up with how everything goes and make it believable no matter how unbelievable it is!

 

Q:  What was your first published work and when was it published?

A:  In 2011, I self-published my first novel, The Warning. I had joined the wave of entrepreneurs, staring wide-eyed at Amazon’s free self-publishing program. Freedom! We thought. A chance to show our work to the world without the gatekeepers telling us our stories aren’t good enough, or dumping thousands of dollars in a vanity press in the hopes that we’ll make that loot back. There have been loads of pros and cons with this vastness of published work constantly being pumped out; one being that it’s extremely difficult for just about any author to get notice. In the end, though, it’s nice that storytellers can share their tales without the heavy hand of Big House Publishing halting them. I will say that it is also nice to have something you’ve written recognized by a publisher.

 

Q:  Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing?

A:  Not only do I listen to music when I’m writing, but when I’m also planning evil deeds. 😉 Seriously, listening to music is a must for me. I’m listening to music right now while I’m answering this! The dead silence bores me to tears. When it comes to inspiration, music has helped in many ways. There have been certain songs that I’ve imagined scenes to books I’m writing or about to write. Kind of like a montage taking place inside my head. One song in particular, if I’m allowed to say it, The Underground by Jane’s Addiction, opened up ideas for me in the third installment to my Legacy series. Music is downright a wonderful art form that I never want to be too far away from.

 

Q:  Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?

A:  If locking yourself up inside a dark room and cutting off from the outside world for so long that your friends and family start worrying if you’re alive or dead, glamorous, than sure! Completely! I don’t view an author’s life as being glamorous in the least, but it is interesting, especially how authors are able to pull stories out of thin air, and the rituals they do to go about getting their work done. After the book is written, polished, and put out there with a shiny new-to-the-world cover; the proud author signing his or hers novel to a line of eager fans, it could appear to be glamorous, I suppose. In truth, there is a lot of self loathing, insecurity, constant self doubt, pressure and great strain that a writer is always going through, no matter what level they are in the profession. In my opinion, a cocky writer is most likely not a very good one. For a story to reach a certain peak in order to be a great tale, the writer needs to sweat, worry, and always second guess themselves. It forces us to rethink and make the book better for our readers who deserve nothing less from us. The least glamorous thing I’ve done in the past week was getting into my car and driving south toward Mexico just to get away from the frustration of writing and revising.

 

Q:  How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

A:  Published books, only eight as well as a collection of short stories. I’ve written out five more books for the Legacy series already, and have just completed a standalone for it as well. With any luck I’ll have the second and third Legacy books polished and released by this year. I’m not too sure I have a favorite, there’s something that I greatly enjoy in each of my stories, but if I had to choose, I choose the Legacy series. I had such a great time writing these books, even though I had forced myself to write one after the other nonstop. There was so much that I had put into these stories, little bits of myself stored inside. I enjoyed every character, and learning more about them as each story progressed. It really opened up my imaginary box when crafting out the Legacy tales. Even now, I’m still adding in new things before the books are submitted for editing. I adore my protagonist, Pierce Landcross. He’s one of the most entertaining characters I’ve ever created, and if the Legacy series does well, I will continue his story in the next series, The Age of the Machine.

 

Q:  When a new book comes out, are you nervous about how readers will react to it?

A:  Absolutely! No matter how good I think it is, it boils down to the reader. The worst part is giving away dozens of free copies for review, and if you’re lucky, you’ll receive maybe a few in return. When you receive no word back whatsoever, it makes you wonder if anyone is actually reading it, or if they had read it and don’t want to say anything because they didn’t like it at all. Silence is more troubling to me than getting a bad review because at least the review tells me what someone thinks of my work. I believe every writer feels that way. I mean, like all artists who toil over their craft for months or even years, putting so much time and effort to create this work of art, it becomes a very personal thing. We’re truly wearing our hearts on our sleeves, leaving us in a very vulnerable position each time we put our work out there.

 

Q:  What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?

A:  As I mentioned before, I aim to get the second and third installment of the Legacy series published. I’d like to turn the first Legacy book into an audio book, expanding its reach to more readers. Soon I’m going to offer ghostwriting services to people needing help with their own stories. Also this year, I’m planning on writing a few screenplays. Loads to do. J

 

Q:  Do you outline your books or just start writing?

A:  I do, indeed! For me, it’s a must. It helps to somewhat get a grasp of where the story is heading, how it could end and such. I jot down significant fragments of details that I would otherwise forget if I tried keeping it solely stashed away inside my head. Characters’ purposes are made known to me a little clearer, and I understand what the story will contain a little more. Even so, an outline isn’t the story, it does mean that I’ll write the book just as it is in the outline. For me, an outline is just a compass pointing me in the right direction, it’s not a barbwire fence keeping me from breaking out of my own story shell. In fact, a lot of times I’ve changed the story so much from some of the outlines that they’re completely different storylines altogether, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t helpful.

 

Q:  Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A:  Mostly they come from my own imagination. There may be some traits of actual people in a few, but all in all, they’re compete creations of my own doing. Having said that, these characters of mine usual start out as complete and utter strangers to me. I’m too lazy to write out any character profile, documenting what they look like, their habits and such. I just write them. A lot of times, even with the protagonists, I have no idea who these individuals are. They’re almost like real people that you have get to know through the course of time. The more I write about them, the more I understand the kinds of people they truly are.

 

Q:  Which of your stories would make a great movie?  Who’d play the lead roles?

A:  I’d like to think that all my books would make fairly entertaining movies. *Laughs* I’ve actually been told by readers that they could see a couple of my novels made into motion pictures. But if I were to choose only one, I’d choose Legacy. There’s simply so much happening in every book, and I can envision each one being put into film. Cast wise, I’d like to have Reeve Carney from Penny Dreadful, play Pierce Landcross, Tom Mison from Sleepy Hollow as Joaquin Landcross, Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things, playing the young girl, Clover Norwich, Taron Egerton, soon to be playing Robin Hood, as Archie Norwich, and playing the villain, Lord Tarquin Norwich, none other than House actor, Hugh Laurie.

 

Q:  How do you approach world building? It’s a daunting task for some writers.

A:  It can be daunting. When I wrote Atlantic Pyramid, a story about people becoming lost inside the Bermuda Triangle, I needed to create a world within our own, and yet keep the two different in ways that would make sense to the reader. Make it plausible, as it were. World building takes a lot of fine detail to achieve a so-called ‘realistic’ world, and not only in how it looks, but how things function and why, how things feel, tastes, smell, the types of religious practices, cultures, etc . . . I also find that diversity is one of the strongest backbones to any good world building. Being able to bring ethnics groups to the table enhances the story, and makes it all that much more authentic no matter where this other world is. With Legacy, I used the Seven Years’ War to help create the Sea Warriors. The Sea Warriors are Native American tribes that the French had trained to be naval fleets to fight against the enemy, and had carried on ever since. There are also tinkerers who call themselves Contributors. They invent new machines and gadgets from all over this world, which opens up more diversity to the Legacy stories. The best way to approach world building is to remember that where there’s an action there’s a reaction, and that when something happens it will affect something else along the way, sometimes throughout the history of that particular world.

 

Q:  Where do you get your daily dose of news?

A:  To keep myself from falling deep into depression or going into a killing fit, I don’t keep up with the news every day. It’s not healthy in this day and age. I do rely on people like Bill Maher, John Oliver, and even The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to keep me updated. Sometimes I’ll read articles from CNN or the New York Times. Other times I’ll watch the local news, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and Vice News.

 

Q:  Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A:  I once read that you can make anything by writing.

And it’s true! Writing opens minds, introduces new perspectives, and brings people into worlds they never knew existed. Writing is an art form that is beautiful, tragic, complex, stunning and horrifying. My best advice for aspiring writers is to develop a thick skin. Take constructive criticism with a grain of salt, and learn from what others tell you. Trust me, you’ll grow as a writer that way. And read! Read! Read! Read! When a writer is reading, it’s different than non-writers. We’re not just reading, we’re studying! We’re finding out new ways to describe things, broadening our vocabulary, and learning how these other authors thread their stories together. Whatever genre you write, reading will help significantly when you put your own pen to paper. Don’t concern yourself about getting that first rough draft just right, either. First drafts are meant to free spirits and very ugly ones too. You only need to get your story out of your head and onto paper or in a Word document. Worry about making it pretty later on during editing. And don’t rush. It’s so easy nowadays to toss out stories in front of the whole world. Yet the ease to publish shouldn’t mean that the art of writing needs to be forgotten or ignored. Writing a book or novella takes time, and ought to take just as long if not longer to make better through proper editing and revision. It’s best to sit on a manuscript for a while before going back to work on it, rather than rush in getting it done in order to publish it. It doesn’t matter how good the story is, if readers are distracted by poor writing and grammar flaws, you’ll lose them quick!

All in all, read more, write with passion, but edit with care and devotion toward the craft, and learn from others. Most of all, write what you love!

 

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Interviews, steampunk

#Author #Interview: Robert Eggleton on “Rarity from the Hollow” #Scifi #Books

indexWinner of two awards as a readers’ & Awesome Indies favorite: “A children’s story for adults”.
Genre: Sci-fi, Literary
Available: Amazon & Doghorn Publishing

Synopsis: “Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. Some of these courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?”

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.

 

Interview

 

  • What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction, but I’m not stuck in that genre. I read and dabble in most genres. I do intend to continue to write stories that prompt reflection about life and its issues, rather than pure escapist entertainment. Personally, I most enjoy reading material that I digest, sometimes for years afterward, and I hope to produce the same.

 

  • When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Before winning the eighth grade short story competition in 1964, I didn’t dare admit to myself that I wanted to become a published author. Afterward, I became so consumed with school and working for a living that writing took a back seat. While I’ve always wanted to be a writer, it wasn’t until 2006 that I acted upon my ambition.

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Filed under Interviews, Science Fiction, Writers and Writing

#Interview: Deborah Valentine, #Author of “The Knightmare”, Time-Traveling Fiction

Knightmare_ThumbnailAuthor Bio: Deborah Valentine is a British author, editor and screenwriter who once lived in California but far preferred the British weather and fled to London, where she has resided for many years.

She is the author of three books published by Victor Gollancz Ltd in the UK, and Bantam and Avon in the US. Unorthodox Methods was the first in the series, followed by A Collector of Photographs and the Ireland-based Fine Distinctions. A Collector of Photographs was short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe, a Shamus, a Macavity and an Anthony Boucher award. Fine Distinctions was also short-listed for an Edgar. They featured the characters of former California sheriff Kevin Bryce and artist Katharine Craig, charting their turbulent romance amid murder and mayhem. They are soon to be available as eBooks on the Orion imprint The Murder Room.

With the publication of The Knightmare she has embarked on a new series of books with a supernatural edge. For more visit her website http://www.deborahvalentine.co.uk/ or The Knightmare Facebook page. She is a Goodreads author.

Description: “France, 1209: A Knight Templar riding through an eerie forest is suddenly attacked by an assassin as a man and woman watch from a distant hillside. When his death seems certain, the woman takes up a sword…

Present, Formula 1 race, Magny Cours: Observed by the very same couple, Conor Westfield, a career-obsessed Scottish driver, is in a horrible racing accident. Miraculously, he survives what seemed to be certain death.

As he is recovering from his injuries Conor’s childhood nightmare recurs, a strange jumble of terrifying images that feel more like memories than dreams. Can it be mere coincidence that the very next morning he is informed a mysterious woman with whom he had very brief affair has died and left him as her heir? But this was no ordinary woman and no ordinary affair.

Dogged by a niggling feeling of déjà vu, Conor travels to Amsterdam to identify the body. At her home he finds an illuminated book that transports him back in time, to a woman he left behind and a life lived in the shadow of a tragedy that cries out across 800 years for resolution.

Weaving history with the present, fact with fantasy, The Knightmare is a story of angels and alchemy, betrayal and sacrifice, and truly extraordinary love.”

Available for purchase at Amazon.

INTERVIEW

About the Author

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
The first three books were crime fiction but each story was slightly different. Unorthodox Methods was more straight-forward, A Collector of Photographs very noir and Fine Distinctions a thriller. The Knightmare is historical time travel with a supernatural twist. Though I sometimes call it a fantasy that risks being misleading as the term comes with a set of expectations the book doesn’t fit. Most of what I write from now on is going to have a supernatural twist because it’s great fun and also because the supernatural gives good dramatic insight into the human psyche. But I’m a great believer in cross-genre because life is rather cross-genre.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I must have been about 12. I had a fantastic English teacher, Miss Coulter, who, I kid you not, had to have been about 80. A teacher of such great age wouldn’t be allowed these days, but I was in private school then and anything went. She was the best. She looked like Miss Marple! I was in the library one day and she said, “Deborah, you should be a librarian, you spend so much time here.” And my immediate thought was: let someone else take care of MY books. It was the first inkling of what was to come. I suppose after that writing was just the natural course (with a bit of a push by fate here and there).

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read (naturally). Study history. Go to outdoor markets — antiques, food, books, bric a brac and plain old every day junk. Give me an outdoor market and I’m in seventh heaven. I like objects (and people) with a bit of history behind them! A bit soiled by life. I also like spending time with animals.

Where do you hang out online? Website URL, author groups, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc?
Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, The London Book Fair Group and I have a website (www.deborahvalentine.co.uk), which I’m ashamed to say, is in desperate need of updating! I’m still wary of tweeting — God only knows what I’d tweet off the cuff and regret later.

What books are currently on your nightstand?
Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies, all set for its second reading. Speculum Duorum (or A Mirror of Two Men) by Giraldus Cambrensis. The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England by Joseph Strutt — a very interesting study of the codes of chivalry. And Terry Pratchett’s Thief of Time. A rather mixed bag…

Do you remember the first novel you read?
I don’t remember the very first novel; I started reading very, very young. But I remember the first book I fell madly in love with. Like a lot of young girls, it was Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

What would you like readers to know about you the individual?
I was once asked to describe myself in 140 characters and this was my answer: “Battered by life, but reasonably cheerful about it. A typical Gemini, running two courses at the same time. Obsessive about writing.” I think that pretty much sums me up.

Who are your favorite authors and why?
Neil Gaiman, I love the fantastical turn of his imagination. Andrew Miller, so elegant in his prose! Hilary Mantel, I love the way she makes history come alive. Carlos Ruis Zafon, fantastical and elegant. The Brontës because, well, because they are the Brontës. Dark, mysterious and in an enclosed world that seduces you in. David Mitchell for the scope of his imagination.

Where are you from originally?
I was born in California but I hated the weather (no, not joking) and fled to Britain as soon as I could. I am a British citizen.

Your Writing Process

Why do you write?
Because I’m not fit for anything else. I was definitely created ‘fit for purpose’.

What excites you about writing?
Everything. Sentence construction, finding just the right word. The characters, seeing them go off and do their own thing, being surprised by someone that is (supposedly) your own creation. I don’t outline — I know the first line, I know the last — so each approach to the computer holds a sense of anticipation, of discovery. I love the editing process, finding things in the story you hadn’t realised were there but were lurking in your subconscious. Every day is an adventure. Every day is a risk.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
It’s 9 to 5 (or so). Like an office job, but a lot more fun. And really, with writing you never stop. Every holiday, everything you see and do, everything you read feeds into being a writer so you’re never off-duty.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read voraciously. Write obsessively. Learn all you can about the business of writing and what it means to be a professional. Leave your ego behind and develop a thick skin and a very strong sense of humour. And if you don’t love it, if you don’t feel that unless you write you can’t breathe, don’t bother.

What would you consider is your favorite part of a book to write? The beginning, the middle or the ending?
Pressed for an answer, I think my very favourite part is editing the full draft. I love going over and over it again, the whole process of revision and refinement.

Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing?
Music is essential! I feed off it, it keeps me focused. Usually it’s some kind of medieval chant. Each book has its own playlist, so I do vary it to a degree. I listen to Ludovico Einaudi sometimes or Nitin Sawhney. But I listen to the same CD all day, day after day. It would drive a sane person mad. I’m sure the cat must get annoyed. That’s another thing I need — an animal to hand, a connection with a creature that is instinctual and doesn’t require words.

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?
Laid on the sofa with a packet of frozen peas on my knee. I’ve had surgery on it recently with more coming in the future. I’m supposed to do this three times a day. You feel like an idiot. I try to use the time productively by reading, but there’s no getting round the fact you’ve got your leg hoisted up compromising your modesty and a melting lump of veg on your swollen discoloured flesh. Not attractive.

Do you prefer writing series books over non series or does it matter?
Series. The first three used the same main characters. The series that is starting with The Knightmare is more a group of interconnected stories with characters dipping in and out. For example, ‘Who Is Huggermugger Jones?’ is the next book and we will follow the next segment of Conor and Mercedes’ complex entanglement but we will also be introducing the character of Whit Rhys Barry and seeing things from his point of view. In a lot of ways, it’s his book. He will also be a part of the book following it, The Cruel Humour of Women, where it’s unlikely we see Conor and Mercedes much, if at all. They will come back in another book elsewhere. I aim to create a whole world where each character has its day within a broader social environment.

What would you like readers to know about you the writer?
That I truly want to entertain them and also give them something to think about, something they can relate to, no matter how fantastical the story may be. An alternate world to live in from time to time.

What is the best and worst writing advice you have ever received?
The best: just keep writing. The worst: just write anything to get it on the page. No. Think about what you put down.

Do you track work count or write a certain number of hours per day?
I do write a certain number of hours per day, but I find there are some days I get a lot down on the page and others I don’t. That’s not a worry. The time you spend thinking, letting the well fill up so to speak, is time well spent. Without it you wouldn’t have the big bonanza days.

Have you ever had one of those profound “AH-HA!” moments while you were writing?  Would you be willing to share it?
Halfway through the first draft of Unorthodox Methods I thought “AH-HA!”, yes indeed, this is what I do. I am home.

What was the most uplifting moment you’ve experienced during your writing career?
I think seeing the reviews for Unorthodox Methods. It was the first thing I’d ever written, so I was notably concerned. But the reviewers said such nice things I felt it justified everything I’d gone through to get into print. It WAS uplifting. The Edgar nominations for A Collector of Photographs and Fine Distinctions were also very nice.

Your Books

Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?
Good.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve had four published, another that was never intended for publication, and yet another that was commissioned but due to oddball circumstances beyond my control was never published, so six altogether. Fine Distinctions used to be my favourite until The Knightmare. Now The Knightmare is my definite favourite. There is a huge chunk of my soul in that book. I also have two books in the first draft stage.

When a new book comes out, are you nervous about how readers will react to it?
You do want people to like it, you do want them to be entertained. But you also have to realise not everyone is going to love you — and that’s okay. C’est la vie.

What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?
I’m hoping to finish the sequel to The Knightmare, Who Is Huggermugger Jones?, and after that a ghost story called The Cruel Humour of Women. We may be looking at more than a few months, though!

Of all the books you have written, which would you consider your easiest to write? The hardest to write? The most fun to write?
I don’t know that I would consider any of them easy… but perhaps A Matter of Luck, the one I never intended for publication was the least stressful. It was an experiment in comedy that just kind of flowed out. The hardest would be A Collector of Photographs, because I had to spend a lot of time in the head of one terribly unpleasant character. The Knightmare was the most fun because I really let my imagination rip and the whole story was so close to my heart — it was GREAT fun!

What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
When it comes to the history sections, I do a lot of factual research reading. I also visit museums, both history and art. I get a lot of inspiration by looking at art. I visit locations. And yes, I really enjoy the research process and playing with ideas.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I make a lot of notes while researching and write down snippets of dialogue, or thoughts and descriptions that come to me, but I don’t outline. If I knew everything ahead of time, I wouldn’t bother writing it. Writing should always carry with it a sense of discovery. Or perhaps I’m just too scatty to plan!

If your book is available in print, how does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover?  What is your favorite cover of all your paperbacks?
It’s lovely to hold a book you’ve written in your hand, but weirdly I find I feel like it doesn’t belong to me anymore, that somehow I’ve let it go. There’s a strange sense of distance that comes with it. My favourite cover for the paperbacks is the Bantam version of A Collector of Photographs, it’s very noir and captures the essence of the story. A very good representation, I feel.

Is there something special you do to celebrate when one of your books is released?
Crack open a bottle with friends. Not very imaginative perhaps, but great fun.

Your Characters

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
I don’t know that anyone comes up with characters totally from the imagination. Someone always inspires them, but by the time they have their life on the page they are totally unrecognisable. They’ve taken on a life of their own, separate from whoever inspired them. I also think the writer is like a petri dish, that if you isolate certain of your own character traits, someone else entirely grows out of it. Many, perhaps most, of my characters crawl out of a hidden corner of my psyche.

Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?
It can take a certain amount of research. I like the names to mean something, if only to me, to keep me on track of a character trait or simply an important association. Occasionally a character will name itself!

Have any of your characters ever haunted your dreams or woken you up during the night demanding attention?
Oh, yes. Many times. I think the most dramatic was the day I had to kill the Knight Templar in The Knightmare. It’s a book with idea of reincarnation at its centre, so of course he had to die in medieval times. But when the day I had to do it actually arrived, I woke up at 4am quite upset. It was going to be a horrible death. I didn’t want to do it, didn’t want to confront it. I had to ring a friend to get me settled down before I could get on with it to any sensible degree. Fortunately, I had the wit to wait until a more reasonable hour to ring him or perhaps our friendship would have died a death as well!

Which of your stories would make a great movie?  Who’d play the lead roles?
The Knightmare would make a great movie but very expensive. I’ve actually written a screenplay for it that has received very good feedback but, oh, the expense! There has been talk of A Collector Photographs being made into a film and that may yet come to something. I don’t like speculating on actors to play them though. I’ve noticed in films that sometimes an actor you’d think perfect for a role, doesn’t turn out to be; while someone you’d never consider stretches themselves to do a remarkable job. There was a read-through for the screenplay of A Collector of Photographs and someone who I’d never have thought of in a million years did such wonderful things with one of the roles it was difficult to imagine anyone else doing it.

Do you make a conscious decision to write a certain type of character with a certain occupation, or do the characters decide for themselves what they want to be?
Well, sometimes story-wise you need someone to have a particular occupation, but I find the characters themselves decide exactly who they’re going to be and what flaws or plus points they’re going to have. It’s out of your hands.

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?
Sharp dialogue, conflict and humour.

Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?
Conor in The Knightmare. It took several drafts in before I realised how much we had in common! More the unattractive than the attractive qualities as well!

Random Questions

Name one website you visit every single day.
The BBC every day except Sunday. Sunday is a non-computer day.

Where do you get your daily dose of news?
The BBC online and ITV’s London Tonight.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Interviews, Writers and Writing

Interview: Kat Micari, Author of “Penumbra”

LARGE-penumbra-cover (2) Kat Micari is an author and artist living in the northeast of the United States with her husband, son, and two cats. She enjoys reading a clever turn of phrase, walking in nature, and dancing to the music of the universe. Above all, she loves creating and encouraging others to create.

Description: “Fed up with the dirty city and a disenchanting life as a fashion model, Beauty’s world is at least safe. But the illusion of safety shatters the night that she frees herself from her self-imposed fears only to be thrust into the magical underbelly of the city, where forces that want to save humanity and evil beings that want to feed off humanity’s despair fight for balance and power.

Forced from both the comforts and the trappings of her old life, now hunted by a cadre of sinister, rat-faced business men, Beauty’s only hope is to join with a strange magical ally. Together, with the help of fae creatures in unlikely guises, they must seek out an enchanted, improbable artifact that can heal the city before evil tips the balance, once and for all.

This powerful coming-of-age fairy tale follows the path of a young heroine who chooses to take fate into her own hands for the first time in her life, and of the consequences that her choice has on the magical beings of the city. ”

  • Available at Smashwords.
  • Published: April 10, 2013
  • Words: 12,522 (approximate)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 9781301418626

INTERVIEW

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I write science fiction and fantasy primarily, but one of the joys of being an indie author is not being trapped by specific labels.  The stories that I write tend to feature women who have strong convictions and inner strength, even if they don’t realize it at the beginning.  I also write poetry and music that can be cutting but allows me to tell my version of Truth.  And I write because I have to.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was very young when I started writing.  It was always on my list of things I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote my first play and novel by the time I was done with 8th grade, and I had a wonderful 9th grade English teacher who read and edited all my angsty, violent short stories.

Who or what was your inspiration for writing?
I have always had very eclectic tastes in authors.  I grew up on L.M. Montgomery and Laura Ingalls Wilder and Lynne Reid Banks.  My older brother worked in the public library so would bring me home all kinds of books that were going to be thrown away or put in the used book sale – so I read Orwell’s Animal Farm in 6th grade, tackled my first Shakespeare plays around the same time, and was obsessed with the Star Wars novels in high school.  I began reading more fantasy and sci fi in high school, alongside historical fiction, and while in graduate school, I became a fan of Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and Deena Metzger’s poems and stories.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Creating works of art and handicrafts, making music, spending time with my son and my husband, being out in nature, cooking and baking – I like to keep myself busy.

Where do you hang out online? Website URL, author groups, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc?
Author Blog: http://katmicari.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kat.micari?ref=ts&fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/katmicari
Tumblr: http://katmicari.tumblr.com/
I am also on Goodreads and Library Thing, but I haven’t done much with them yet.  You’re welcome to come and find me there, if you’d like.

What books are currently on your nightstand?
I recently finished the ARC for Madeliene Claire Franklin’s The Heirophant which is excellent!  And I’m not just saying that because she’s a friend.  And I’m currently working my way through Thomas Jefferson’s Memoirs on my Kindle.  I’m reading this VERY slowly as it’s a four part collection of his letters as well, and I break up the reading with other works.  Right now, it’s the letters that he’s writing from Paris leading up to the revolution, and he’s communicating with several of the framers of the constitution.  And it’s just fascinating to get a first-hand account about the development of the Bill of Rights and the foundation of the United States, especially with the political climate we’re currently in.  I got that book (and many books) off of Project Gutenberg, and I hope to someday be able to donate a lot of money to them.

Do you remember the first novel you read?
Offhand, no, but it was very likely an American Girl novel.  My grandfather’s best friends would get each of us children a bag of books for Christmas every year, so I had entire collections of the American Girl books, and it was through them that I was introduced to many great books, including gorgeous picture books, early classics, etc.

What would you like readers to know about you the individual?
I think the most revolutionary thing you can do as an American is to question everything, eat real food and be as healthy of body and mind as can be, and avoid the consumer-mob mentality as much as possible.  Creation over consumption.  That being said, buy my book!  No, seriously, I wish that everyone would find their purpose in life and then find the courage to follow that purpose, even if it means living outside of societal norms.

Where are you from originally?  Family?
I am from upstate NY, which means that I feel very strongly the turn of each season.  My husband and I spent four years in southern CA, which we enjoyed, but we moved back to the northeast because we missed our family and a real fall and winter.

Is there anything unique about your upbringing that you’d like to share with readers?
I was fortunate to have parents that encouraged me to think for myself.  My father taught me the fine art of debate.  My mother taught us to stand up for ourselves.  This helped me eventually overcome issues from bullying in 5th to 8th grade.

Your Writing Process

Why do you write?
I write because I must.

What excites you about writing?
I love asking “what if” and “why”, and writing allows me to fully explore these questions.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
For the past couple of years, it’s been carving out bits of time here and there.  I only had the goal of writing 100 words per day (about 20 minutes) and often didn’t even make that goal.  But starting next week, after we settle in from our move, I should be able to dedicate at least an hour a day solely to writing.

As I have several creative pots on the stove, in addition to caring for a two year old, my work days will involve sneaking in social networking, advertising, responding to emails, and blogging during the day while my son plays.  As he gets older and activities hold his attention longer, I hope to be able to set up my drawing/painting/sketching alongside his art projects and we can create together.

I will write or edit during his nap time (1 to 1 ½ hours), and when my husband is home to split caregiving or in the evenings after my son is asleep, I will be writing or painting or making music or working on freelance creative work.  We are going to try to go on one family outing a week, preferably out in nature to restore our overworked selves.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write.  Just do it.  Don’t make excuses.  Don’t keep putting it off.  If you have the burning desire in you to create, shut out everything else.  I have to sometimes talk myself into beginning – I say I’m too tired, or I want to just sit and relax, but once I begin to create, the time melts away and there is such immense satisfaction.  If you have a story burning within you, let it out.  Life’s too short to keep putting off your dreams.

Is there any other genre you have considered writing in?
I love historical fiction, and while getting my BA in history, I took an independent study and began a novel on Mary, Queen of Scots.  I never went further with it because I realized there are two or three other novels out there on her and worried that I had nothing new to bring to it, but the research and notes are all saved.

Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing?
I do have a writing playlist.  It is an eclectic mix of classical, New Age, jazz, electronica/trance, and movie scores.  I don’t like anything with words.  I used to create a specific playlist for each new work I was writing, but I realized that I was using the creation of the playlist as a way to block myself from actually writing, so I stopped.

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?
Changing poopy diapers?  Packing to move?  Leaving my day job?  Okay, that last one was super satisfying, even if it wasn’t glamorous.

How long does it take you to finish a book from start to submission?
I haven’t been able to time myself, so I don’t know!

Do you prefer writing series books over non series or does it matter?
So far, I’ve only been working on one-offs, or books that might loosely be part of the same series.  But I love to read series, so if the opportunity comes for a storyline that takes place over many books, then I will explore it!

Do you track work count or write a certain number of hours per day?
I try not to as it would get way too depressing!  I do check my word count when I’ve finished a round of writing, just to satisfy my own curiosity.  I just snatch my moments when and where I can.

Your Books

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Penumbra is my first completed work of any length.  So I guess that makes it my favorite at the moment?

When a new book comes out, are you nervous about how readers will react to it?
Of course!  Any time someone puts something they created out in the world, whether a work of fiction or a painting or a meal they’ve spent hours making, there’s that fear about what the response will be.

What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?
I will be releasing a free short story entitled “The Cephalopod Maid” in the next few weeks, and an illustrated collection of political and social poetry by the end of July.

What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
It’s tailored depending on the story.  For example, “The Cephalopod Maid” draws on some Luvcraftian references, so my research involved reading some of his works and doing online research into that world, as well as finding visual images of various squid and octopi.  Penumbra had very little research as it was set in modern times and the creatures are my own imagining.

Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
Loose deadlines help, but I really just try to schedule each week. I find a daily to-do list INCREDIBLY helpful, but realize that I tend to assign too much for myself to accomplish in one day.  So I try to remain flexible.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Again, this depends on the story – the length of story, the depth that I am creating a new world or using reality, etc.  I keep a working outline with important details (the name of an artifact, character descriptions) but I keep it flexible, and I know I’m going to be making changes as the story goes.  Generally, I try to outline the major plot points and then let the characters decide how they’re going to get there.

What was your first published work and when was it published?
Penumbra is my first and only thus far, and it was published this past April.

Your Characters

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
My characters are from my imagination, but my imagination is fed by my experiences in life.  I adore people-watching, but I do it because I find it fascinating and interesting, not because I’m deliberately filing things away for later use.  But I’m sure some of the character traits I notice spill over.

Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?
Not generally, no.

Have any of your characters ever haunted your dreams or woken you up during the night demanding attention?
I’ve had insomnia due to characters and scenes playing out in my subconscious in a kind of lucid dreaming state, but I don’t know that I’ve ever woken up because of them.

Which of your stories would make a great movie?  Who’d play the lead roles?
The pacing of Penumbra lends itself well to a visual medium.  I’m talking with my husband about eventually turning it into a graphic novel or webcomic, and I think it could make a great film as well.  And I’d want relative unknowns to play the leads.

Do you make a conscious decision to write a certain type of character with a certain occupation, or do the characters decide for themselves what they want to be?
The characters decide for themselves, generally.  Usually a plot is born out of my characters, which includes their occupation.  I don’t ever start out with a generic person thrown into a situation.  To me, the story is about the characters, so they have to live for me before I know where the plot is going.

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?
Dialogue.  It always comes down to dialogue.  In the editing process, I do at least one line edit where I take each sentence and examine how it stands on its own.  With dialogue, I scrutinize it even more closely, looking at whether it’s something that particular character would actually say and how it plays against the other character.  The difficult thing in Penumbra is that one of my main characters hardly talks at all!

Random Questions

Name one website you visit every single day.
I read the Foglio’s Girl Genius every time it updates.  It is my addiction.  The story, the artwork, and the characters are all amazing. It has a great mix of comedy and drama.  I’ve been hooked 2005.  Other than that, I try to alternate where I spend my time online so I’m not spending too much time on the internet instead of being active with my family or creating.

Where do you get your daily dose of news?
If I’m looking for updates on my own, I go to NPR.  I will click on links via Facebook and Tumblr to other news sources, if an article interests or outrages me.  And I’ve learned to try to avoid the comments sections of any article because they always suck me in and leave me with a headache.  I’ve learned that in order to write and create, I sometimes need to shield myself from the media.  I stay aware but try not to get sucked into the sensationalism of the media.

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Interview: Andrew J. Peters, Author of “Werecat: The Rearing”

WerecatTheRearingCover2Description: For Jacks Dowd, a college senior who feels ungrounded from his family and life in general, an alcohol and sex-infused weekend in Montréal sounds like a pretty good escape. His Spring Break binge takes a detour when he meets Benoit, an admiring drifter with startling green eyes. A hook-up turns into a day, two days, and then a full week in Benoit’s hostel, making love and scarfing down take-out food. But at the end of the week, Benoit demands that Jacks make an impossible choice: stay with him forever or never see him again.

The night before Jacks is supposed to return to college, he meets Benoit in Mont Royal Park to try to work things out. Benoit springs on Jacks an unfathomable secret: he’s a werecat. He traps Jacks in an abandoned cabin and performs an occult rite so they will be mated forever.

With his dual nature, Jacks can shape-shift at will, and he has amazing new senses and physical abilities. But how will he live as an unfathomable hybrid creature? When Benoit shows Jacks the violence he’s capable of, Jacks may need to find a way to destroy the one person who can help him survive.

“Werecat: The Rearing” is the first book in a paranormal romance series published by Vagabondage Press.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

 

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

I write mainly fantasy and some young adult and contemporary fiction. First and foremost, I write to entertain. For me, fantasy is the best outlet for that. Fighting for social justice is also a big part of who I am, and it comes up in my writing. I worked for eighteen years as an advocate and social worker for LGBT youth. So I think I’m drawn to fantasy because it gives me the opportunity to show the world the way it “ought” to be. One aspect of that is reclaiming traditional stories, or myths and legends, for LGBT audiences.

In “Werecat,” I wanted to tell a dark story in the vampire/werewolf vein that centered on a gay man’s journey through danger and romance. Homoeroticism is touched on a lot in that genre. But as a gay reader, I tend to find the mainstream portrayals unsatisfying to the extent that essentially they’re about non-gay people navigating a terrifying and erotic world, with some minor queer characters or dalliances thrown in. I like my stories with queer characters front-and-center. That doesn’t mean that I treat them with kit gloves, but they’re usually the heroes driving my stories.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was a shy, introverted kid so writing came pretty naturally to me as an escape. When I was in sixth grade, my elementary school principal let me read from a murder mystery I wrote, using the school’s P.A. system during lunchtime. I don’t even know if they use P.A. systems in American schools anymore; it stands for public address, and every classroom used to have speakers for listening to the principal read off the cafeteria’s lunch specials at the start of the day. Anyway, I didn’t actually take up writing professional until my 30s, since it didn’t seem to be a practical career, but it’s always been part of who I am.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Gregory Maguire is my all-time favorite author. I especially loved his Wicked series. There’s a lot that I admire about his work – the incredible settings he creates, the humor, the flawed, embattled characters that I find so endearing.

More broadly, I’m drawn to the idea of retelling stories from an unexpected point of view, whether that’s vindicating a character who has previously been portrayed as a villain or taking a familiar story from a minor character’s perspective. I think Maguire’s books are really appealing for those of us who have felt like outsiders and didn’t see our experience of living in the world reflected in traditional fairytales or legends.

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Amherst, New York, which is a suburb of Buffalo.

Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing?

I actually need complete silence when I’m deeply involved in writing a story. But when I take a break or I’m getting warmed up to write, I sometimes listen to an epically dramatic movie-musical soundtrack like Phantom of the Opera or Les Misérables.

 

What was the most uplifting moment you’ve experienced during your writing career?

In 2011, I was accepted as a Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow and participated in LLF’s annual LGBT writers retreat. Being immersed in a community of talented, outspoken queer writers and poets was hugely inspirational. I talk about it in the Acknowledgements of each of my books. The LLF retreat   bolstered my belief that queer stories, in their infinite varieties, are the beautiful, subversive stuff that dreams are made of.  

What can readers look forward to in the upcoming months?

My début novel “The Seventh Pleiade” comes out in November from Bold Strokes Books. It’s the story of a young gay prince who becomes a hero during the last days of Atlantis. The book is the launching point for a series of adventures based on that legend.

I also have Books 2 and 3 of “Werecat” coming out in 2014.

 

What was your first published work and when was it published?

My short story “The Vain Prince” was picked up in 2009 by a great, gay American journal called Ganymede that sadly went out of print when its editor John Stahle died. “The Vain Prince” is a retold fairytale that’s sort of a mash-up of “The Frog Prince” and “Beauty and the Beast.” I’m incredibly grateful to John Stahle for giving me the break that helped launch my career.

 

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I tend to believe that all characters are an extension of the author. So while I veer away from memoir, there’s a bit of me, and the people from my day-to-day life, in the stories I write, even if those characters transform into cats or live in ancient places or whatever.

In “Werecat,” I think my main character Jacks is a somewhat jagged reflection of me as a college student. Jacks is more impulsive and self-destructive than I was, but we both wanted the same things: to find a place to belong and to fall in love. What’s real for him was more a fantasy for me. I never ran away with an older man to escape from the world. But the fantasy of finding someone who would provide me with emotional safety when I was confronted by—what felt like—a frighteningly uncertain future, was definitely appealing.

 

Where do you get your daily dose of news?

For better or for worse, I find myself informed the most by Twitter. That’s skewed information for sure based on who I follow. But if there’s national or world news coverage from a leftist bent or breaking stories regarding LGBT entertainment or politics, I’m in the know pretty promptly.

Author Profile

andrewjpeters

Andrew J. Peters likes retold stories with a subversive twist. He is the author of the paranormal romance series “Werecat” (Vagabondage Books, May 28, 2013). His début novel “The Seventh Pleiade” (upcoming in November 2013 from Bold Strokes Books) is the story of a young gay prince who becomes a hero during the last days of Atlantis. A 2011 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow, Andrew has written short stories for many publications. He lives in New York City with his partner and their cat Chloë. For more information, visit: http://andrewjpeterswrites.com.

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