Tag Archives: steampunk

#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

Shadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean

11822933Review: Please see the note below regarding edition, which is primarily the reason why it took me longer to read and review this book than my average: I had an earlier edition that had many editing errors.

That being said, there was an edge to Shadows of a Dead Star, incorporating mystery and darkness, an eeriness that attracts you but creates a sense of anxiety so that you’re reluctant to look full on: for fear of what you might learn. Mood and tension was great, and main character Walken, was both sympathetic and strong, with understandable vulnerabilities. Very well presented, I thought.

It might be considered strange but in conjunction with everything else, what I liked most about this book was its length, approximately 115 pages. There wasn’t pages and pages of superfluous information, slowing pace and progression. The writing was stylish but not trying to overly impress; instead the author used language that was gripping but not pretentious.  Shean used vivid descriptions and imagery that surprised and satisfied, just enough, never over the top. Very much reminding me of Christopher Hinz’s, Paratwa Trilogy, which had a strange beauty but was undeniably shocking and sometimes brutal, Shadows of a Dead Star was a book I was glad I gave another chance.

Note: This novel was listed as being self-published by Michael Shean, June 2011, then assumingly republished by Curiosity Quills Press, December 2011. After completing my review, as usual, I read through others, a number of which used editing and grammar issues as reason to rate the novel lower. Please take this fact into consideration regarding edition, making sure to get the updated, corrected version.

Description: “Seattle, 2078. The future hasn’t been kind to the spirit of humanity; commercial obsession and technological fetishism rules the day, religion and belief has died screaming in the fires of war, and what remains is moral decrepitude. Life in the future is hard on the soul.

As an agent of the Industrial Security Bureau, Thomas Walken knows that better than anyone. His job is to keep the worst kind of black-market technology out of the hands of citizens, technology born out of the shadowy nation nicknamed Wonderland. But the kind of fantasies that come out of that place aren’t for the good people of the world. Wonderland technology is like black magic made real.

Walken’s newest assignment starts out simply: intercept a smuggled shipment of Princess Dolls, little girls turned into sex toys, and bring them into custody. But when the girls are hijacked from federal custody and Walken gives chase, he finds a trail of bodies in their wake. Before he’s through, Walken will find himself confronted revelations that will answer every question that the troubled lawman has ever had about himself and the world he lives in – but his mind and soul may not survive it.

A dark, brooding piece of future noir, SHADOW OF A DEAD STAR will take you down the rabbit hole on a ride you won’t soon forget.”

  • Published December 1st 2011 by Curiosity Quills Press
  • First published June 21st 2011 by Michael Shean
  • ISBN13: 9781620070000
  • Source: Author

Author Profile

Michael Shean was born amongst the sleepy hills and coal mines of southern West Virginia in 1978. Taught to read by his parents at a very early age, he has had a great love of the written word since the very beginning of his life. Growing up, he was often plagued with feelings of isolation and loneliness; he began writing off and on to help deflect this, though these themes are often explored in his work as a consequence. At the age of 16, Michael began to experience a chain of vivid nightmares that has continued to this day; it is from these aberrant dreams that he draws inspiration.

In 2001 his grandfather, whom he idolized in many ways, died. The event moved him to leave West Virginia to pursue a career in the tech industry, and he settled in the Washington, DC area as a web designer and graphic artist. As a result his writing was put aside and not revisited until five years later. In 2006 he met his current fiancee, who urged him to pick up his writing once more. Though the process was very frustrating at first, in time the process of polishing and experimentation yielded the core of what would become his first novel, Shadow of a Dead Star. In 2009 the first draft of book was finished, though it would be 2011 until he would be satisfied enough with the book to release it.

His work is extensively character-driven, but also focuses on building engaging worlds in which those characters interact. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, William Gibson, Cormac McCarthy, Philip K. Dick, and Clark Ashton Smith.

Website: http://michael-shean.com/.

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