Archive for the ‘science fiction’ Tag

Interview with George Wier   1 comment

Today I welcome George Wier, Texas crime fiction author, to the blog. Tell us something about yourself, George. (Basic bio, where’d you grow up, what do you do for a living, significant relationships — as much or as little as you want).

george wierThere’s not a lot to tell. The first eight years of my life I grew up in Madisonville, Texas. My father was an oil well firefighter in the Gulf of Mexico, working for Red Adair—he was one of the original Hellfighters. In fact, on some of the shots in that movie, my dad was fighting real fires in an asbestos suit. Later he was a truck driver, an insurance salesman, and toward the end of his life he was a jailer. He was utterly fearless. My mother had wanted to be a Christian missionary in Africa or Asia, but that was apparently not to be. She had three kids to raise, and a life here to live. From these two extremes (one tough as nails, the other, gentle as a shepherd with a flock of lambs) you get me. I have worked more odd jobs (and done odd things) than I can count. I’ve got my father’s fearlessness and my mother’s passivity, or at least until I’ve reached my limit; then, you’d better watch out. What I do for a living now is write. I write every day. It’s a full time job, but really it’s the one thing I’d rather do than anything else. I could have been a musician, and in fact started out down that path at one time, only to find out I didn’t have the pain threshold for practicing the violin six to ten hours a day to become as good as I wanted to be. I suppose I’m an all-or-nothing kind of guy. If I can’t have the whole thing, then I want no part of it. Later, I tried my hand at actual police work, but found that I didn’t like putting the handcuffs on a person and putting them in a cage like an animal. Somehow I knew that was also not the answer—the flip side, of course, being to do nothing. No, there has to be another way, but criminal justice misses. I have a problem with justice anytime it’s in the hands of human beings. In every instance, human justice misses the mark. So, my compromise with life was to become a writer, to report what I see—and let me tell you, I see everything, and I don’t miss a lick!—and to publish it. I’m 50 years old now. I’ve seen quite a bit. I hope to see a great deal more.

george wier signingWhat was your first writing and how old were you?

When I was very young I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I loved it. I think I’ve got the whole movie memorized now, you know. A lot of people do. Anyway, back then I penned a little thing that has since been lost in the mists of time that was all bad humor and kids’ jokes based on the American Revolution. Thank God it’s long gone. Gosh, I had to have been around ten or eleven. Something like that. Godawful stuff, you know. Quick, please change the subject and ask me something better…I mean, something else.

You write crime fiction, set in Texas. Being from Texas, that makes sense. What drew you to crime fiction?

george wier last callCrime fiction speaks to the human condition as it currently is. We have laws, and laws are there because people run roughshod over their neighbors. If everyone was thoughtful and considerate and mindful of the negative effects of their actions on others around them, then they wouldn’t do the things they do and ultimately there would be no need for laws. And also, if that were the case, you would see the birth of a Golden Age for mankind. But that’s not the way it is. I got interested in crime when I was very young. One of the earliest—and to me, gritty and realistic—crime shows on television was Baretta. I loved that show. Before that I really liked watching the old Mannix TV serials. Mannix was a private investigator in LA, just like James Garner’s Jim Rockford, years later. Mannix was always getting shot at, beat up, bonked on the head and knocked out. But he always managed to turn the tables and get the bad guys. I ate that stuff up. Also, there were a number of real life high-profile crimes in my own county when I was growing up, and these crimes made national headlines, including the Good Samaritan murder of Tim Merka and the Soldier of Fortune case. Grisly stuff. Also, later when I was about nineteen years old, I worked flipping hamburgers in the kitchen of a Kettle restaurant between college semesters and the guy who trained me on that temporary job went on to become a killer in another high-profile case, the Foch Street double murder. The fellow’s name was Gary Penuel. His sister was also involved in the case, along with a guy named David Clark. Clark majorly took the fall in that case and has since been executed. No, crime is all too real in the world we live in. It wasn’t just the stuff of television, as I would come to find. That’s what drew me to crime fiction—the dark, malevolent, almost reptilian malice of that side of existence. We try to understand it, but ultimately we cannot. You can’t put an understanding into the incomprehensible, by definition. Square peg, round hole. It doesn’t fit. There’s nothing more incomprehensible than the violent murder of another human being. But boy, do we try to understand it. The imagination runs wild. So that’s the “why” behind my fascination with crime fiction, in a nutshell.

When I peeked at your book, I have to say, I love the “voice”. How do you develop your characters?

george wier captainsA writer observes the world around him. He or she can’t help it. We act as sponges for the physical universe, soaking up everything we see, hear, and feel. We later use that in our writing. You may want to just call it a virus. A bug. It’s the writer’s bug. Characters are no different. All of my characters are composites of real people I have met in my travels. Everyone I meet, I pay close attention. Who is this person? What are they about? Can I peg where they’re from by their accent? How old is this person? What have they seen and experienced that is subconsciously communicated through how they hold themselves erect, how their eyes move, how they talk? It’s almost Sherlockian. So when I create a character, I have a set of standards that must be met. The character has to talk to me. They have to be their own person—that is, they have to be real. They have to react and interact with other people the way this character should given their background and how they see themselves and the world around them. It’s actually pretty simple. My characters are people. I treat them as such, and I expect them to act that way too. Sometimes they really surprise me.

What are you passionate about?

I get passionate when I’m talking in company with others about writing. I meet so many people seeking advice, seeking to know. “What would you do in this situation?” That sort of thing. When it comes to writing, I have something to say. I have so much to say on the subject that I wouldn’t dare attempt it here, because hours later you would be telling me to “Shut up, already!”

Also, I get passionate about human rights. I volunteer some of my time with a watchdog group that birddogs the Texas legislature here in Austin, specifically on the subject of human rights. So many bills are passed into law, amending the Texas Constitution, that the public is largely apathetic about it. Fortunately our legislature meets only every other year. That’s a good thing.

I agree totally and wish the Alaska Legislature would do the same.

george wier journeyIt would be far better if they met once a decade. The U.S. Constitution you could fit in your shirt pocket. The Texas Constitution cannot be contained within the confines of a single floor-to-ceiling, five-foot wide bookcase. It’s that huge. No one—not even attorneys—know all the laws. The legislators sure as hell don’t. But they just love to write bills and pass them into law on an unsuspecting and largely clueless public. A number of those laws touch upon basic human rights—that is, depriving the citizens of Texas of them. Did you know right this minute that the Texas legislature is trying to sneak into law an initiative that would make it perfectly legitimate for someone walking into an emergency room or clinic to be held against their will if they refused medical treatment? I’m aghast!

It is ghastly! It’s not just Texas, it’s the whole country. My father-in-law lives in Austin. My husband lives in Alaska for the relative freedom, but we chafe at the increasing loss of liberty even here. Where does that sort of thinking come from, do you think?

Essentially the “think” on the measure goes like this:

  1. you need medical treatment,
  2. you’re refusing it, therefore
  3. you’re crazy and are therefore a danger to yourself, ergo,
  4. we’re going to hold you for psychiatric observation, leading to
  5. court mandated injections or pills.

I mean, yuck! If that happens, you won’t see people who need actual medical help going to emergency rooms to get it out of sheer terror, and consequently, you will see people dying because of it. That’s just ONE bill out of all the idiotic measures that have been put forth just this session! Okay, so yes, I’m passionate on this subject. Like Mark Twain famously said, “Suppose you are an idiot. Now, suppose you are a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” Hey, you asked.

Sunrise in a thick deep dark forest with fog in autumn

Sunrise in a thick deep dark forest with fog in autumn

What is something you cannot live without?

I don’t know. I never really thought about that. I do have a weakness for good tobacco, mainly pipe tobacco. Oh, I know I could live without it. I would have to say the one thing that I would not be able to live without, absolutely, would be freedom. The freedom to come and go as I please, the freedom to say what’s on my mind; the freedom to write what I want to write and send it to whomever I want to. But I also can’t live without a future. I live almost exclusively in the future, but largely not at the expense of today. My entire life is geared toward the future. Oh, I enjoy taking walks in nature settings. I like going outside at night and looking up at the stars. All of that present time stuff. But then my thoughts turn inevitably to the horizon; what’s on the plate for tomorrow? What am I going to write later tonight? Will I get this current batch of projects finished? When will I learn to really write? Next year or the year after, where do I plan to spend my summer? My winter? Will Sallie and I travel to New York again, because I would like to spend another week there? Are we going to buy that house in Fort Davis? Future. Future future future. So I suppose that it’s the freedom to create the future that I can’t live without. I tell you, you don’t kill a man with bullets. You kill him by taking away his dreams, and dreams have everything to do with the future. There it is.

Alaska’s motto is “North to the Future” so we’re all about dreaming big. Speaking of which, I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaskan cabin for a month. It’s summer, so you don’t have to worry about freezing to death. I’m supplying the food and bug spray (northern necessity). What do you spend your time doing? What do you bring with you? If it includes books, what books?

george wier coddoI would spend my time looking at the land and the sky, smoking my pipe, then ducking back inside to continue writing. At night I would watch the Aurora Borealis (I’ve never seen it with my own eyes). So, I would need a box of blank paper (at least 5 to 10 reams), a lot of pens and pencils and a sharpener, and that’s about it. As far as books by other writers, I wouldn’t bring any. You start down that road, then there are about 500 books I would find “indispensable,” so it would be better to leave it all behind.

Talk about your books.

I’ve written several books that will never see the light of day. They’re buried in a trunk in my closet. I can’t bear to toss them, but I promise you, they’re terrible. I was learning to write, you see. Most people try to skip that step when they decide they’re going to be “a writer.” You have to learn to write, first. That is only done, forever and always, by actually writing. How do you write? There is only one way: One. Word. At. A. Time. So, I’ve written the words to several books while I was learning. Now that I sort of know how, I’ve penned some fairly popular works. First, there’s the Bill Travis mystery series: The Last Call, Capitol Offense, Longnecks and Twisted Hearts, The Devil to Pay, Death on the Pedernales, Slow Falling, Caddo Cold, Arrowmoon, After the Fire, and Ghost of the Karankawa. After that there’s Long Fall From Heaven (a collaboration with Milton T. Burton), two, so far in the Far Journey Chronicles (with Billy Kring) entitled 1889: Journey to the Moon and 1899: Journey to Mars. Both of those books are steampunk. Don’t ask me what steampunk is, because that takes more than five minutes to explain. Also I collaborated with Robert A. “Robbie” Taylor on The Vindicators: Book One—Last Defense, my first pure science fiction. I also recently collaborated with bestselling science fiction author T.R. Harris on Captains Malicious, the first book in the Liberation series. I’ve  recently released an anthology of short stories entitled ’14: A Texanthology. Most recently I released Murder In Elysium, yet another mystery. Words. A lot of them. And all written one word a time, I promise. Some people like my books. These are my friends, because they help me pay the bills that a bunch of demanding people I’ve never met keep sending me. I mean, how rude!

What are your publishing plans for the future?

george wier vindicatorsbookcoverI’m nearly done with Sentinel In Elysium, the prequel to Murder In Elysium. Look for that to come out shortly. Immediately on the heels of that I have another standalone mystery almost ready for publication entitled Errant Knight. It sounds like something from the Middle Ages, I know, but it’s not. All the action takes place in the present—right here in Austin, Texas, in fact. So don’t let either the title or the cover fool you. This May I’ll be cranking out a tribute work entitled Jet: Hunter, a Kindle Worlds homage to the inimitable Jet series by fellow author and friend, Russell Blake. In addition, Billy Kring and I have begun the third book in the Far Journeys Chronicles, 1904: Journey Into Time. It should be out in the early fall. To top all of that off, T.R. “Tom” Harris and I have already begun the next book in the sci-fi Liberation series, Captains Malevolent. Look for that one sometime this summer. Robert A. “Robbie” Taylor, yet another collaborator, and my best and oldest friend (we’re practically brothers) will be penning the sequel to The Vindicators—Last Defense, which is tentatively entitled Vindicators 2—Parsec. After all of that—and this has been a long time coming—I’ll finish up Boland’s War, the sequel to Long Fall From Heaven, which was released in 2013. The reason I have delayed writing that one is that I did not know whether I could. Long Fall was a collaboration with friend and fellow Texas author, the late Milton T. Burton. I miss him sore, so Boland’s War will be a final tribute to him. Bill Travis’s fans have also been giving me fits about the latest book in the series, therefore look for Bill Travis #11, Desperate Crimes, to be out in the late fall or winter. Hmm. After that I have three or four others in various stages of completion, including Cottonwood (a horror novel), The Footprinters (sci-fi), The Banishlands (sci-fi) and Pantheon (also sci-fi). It appears I am jumping genres with abandon here, but the truth is that I write only one genre, and that’s Wier. The big project on the horizon will be my magnum opus, planned for the future (I work on it when I’m not working on everything else) and it’s so huge in scope that I fear it will take over my life. The project is tentatively entitled Company C—Rebirth of the Rangers. It’s high science fiction and action adventure a la Star Wars, and it’s set a thousand years in the future after mankind has spread so far into the stars that the fabric of civilization rips at the seams and implodes into civil war. Long after the fall of man, a hero emerges from one of the last planets on the fringes of space to defend mankind from an invading alien species. This hero has to unite the bickering, misanthropic defenders into a fighter force on the order of the Texas Rangers. Their motto: “One planet, one Ranger.” So, as you can see, at least the next twelve months is pretty well mapped out for me and the stove appears to be pretty full. Truthfully, I don’t have enough burners. What was the question?

You are an extremely busy writer. That’s truly impressive! Anything else you would like to say.

Not really, except that I would like to communicate to my friends. You see, I don’t so much have “fans” as I have friends who read my books. So here goes: I love you folks, each and every one of you. Please keep corresponding with me. Your letters and notes are an inspiration to me, and it keeps me on my toes. I take it all to heart and I think with it more than you might realize. Don’t let up! Other than that, thank you, Lela. These were some good, tough questions. Good interview! Okay, that’s about it.

george wier sentinelWell, you give a good and entertaining interview, which makes it easier for me. Links, websites, cover art, author pic, etc.

Website: http://georgewier.com

WordPress Blog: https://georgewier.wordpress.com/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/George-Wier/e/B004USCNYO/

My newest book, Sentinel In Elysium, should be out this coming Friday, or perhaps early the following week. Watch the News section of my website for details: www.georgewier.com.

Thanks for visiting, Lela Markham

Interview with KA Angliss   1 comment

Today’s interview is with K. A. Angliss, author of Project Butterfly, a sci-fi thriller.

 

Tell us something about yourself. (as much or as little you want — where’d you grow up, where do you live, what do you do for a living, significant relationships, etc.)

 

I grew up in Canvey Island in Essex, UK. I still live in Essex with my partner and daughter but moved away from “The Rock” as we all lovingly call it. I have been a vegetarian since I was 19 and I love knitting and crocheting!

 

Was this the first story you’ve written?

 

This isn’t the first story I’ve written but is the first one I have turned into a novel. I used to write short stories as a child but I don’t really count those.

 

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

 

I always toyed with the idea but never had the confidence to really go for it. When I got the idea in my head for Project Butterfly and the passion I had for the topic I knew I wanted to be a writer and get this information out there.

 

What is your writing process? (Are you a discovery writer or do you outline and plot out the book before you start writing? Or somewhere in between?)

 

I usually write an outline for a plot which will be the twists or important events that will happen in the storyline. Once I feel like it’s a good solid structure to work with and I know the direction and tone of the book I begin writing. Some ideas come to me while I am in the moment of writing and I have diverted from the outline before if I think the new idea is better and will work with the rest of the story.

 

During a writing session I edit my work from the previous day and then continue writing. Once I have finished writing the story from start to finish I carry out a few editing techniques. I first read it from start to finish on my tablet instead of computer as it’s a change of format, then print it off and revise it and finally I read the whole thing out loud to make sure it flows. Then I send it to my proof readers and after I read it over again before launching it.

 

Describe Project Butterfly.

 

It does start off dark but to be fair it’s about a dark subject. The hidden message is to believe in humanity despite these atrocities.  If humanity remains strong and if we can help each other, then we can pull each other out of the depths of despair and save one another. Along the way there are a few hurdles but overall it’s about overcoming the seemingly impossible, as long as you believe in yourself.

 

Where did you get the idea for the book?

 

A few years ago I stumbled across information about Unit 731 which was funded during World War 2. The human experiments they did were awful. It deeply upset me keeping me up for nights but yet I had to do know more. I found an astonishing amount of information on past human experimentation; some weren’t even carried out that long ago!

 

So many human experiments have come to light only to be swept under the carpet again and no real justice has been given to most of these poor victims. We must never forget to prevent it happening again.

 

What if these victims for once got out and took revenge on the governments that were using them as human guinea pigs? When they got out what if they overthrew these governments to rebuild their own utopia? Can corruption ever really be overcome? I wanted to write about these experiments but I added a supernatural twist.  I find the whole topic so disheartening and wanted to lighten the story slightly.

 

I noticed in the book’s forward that it is based on factual information. What sort of research did you do for the book?

 

I did a lot of research online but also looked at documents that have come to light, particularly published reports from the C.I.A and Nazis. I also read autobiographies of Monarch Programming (which inspired the series’ title) such as Brice Taylor’s, “Thanks for Memories”. I have also watched countless world-wide documentaries.. Even now I do on-going research and try to uncover more and am always open for discussions to understand this sensitive topic further.

 

 

Your tag line is “How much do you trust your government?” I’m kind of a semi-anarchist. I don’t trust the government much at all. Do you think people should be less complacent about these semi-secret programs and, if so, what ought we be doing about it?

 

Oooooh I like this question! We do need a system in order to prevent a dog eat dog world but we also need to feel safe and protected from these sorts of programs. I would say avoid any kind of microchip in your skin (I have heard about parents micro chipping their children in the US) Try to be as independent as you can. Grow your own vegetables, if you can be self-employed or have your own trade. I believe finding ways to protect your own privacy is the most peaceful way to stand up against these shadow governments as I don’t condone violence.

 

Cross research anything you are unsure of or feel uneasy about and make evaluated opinions for yourselves. Don’t be influenced by everything you see and hear by mainstream media,

 

Contacting local politicians about the high level of surveillance has no guarantee things will change but the more pressure we put on these government representatives, the more likely lasting changes could happen.

 

I think it’s not only these shadow governments that we should be looking at but also within ourselves. The mind is truly an amazing thing, something we hardly know anything about but yet we can achieve so much through self-belief and focus. The sense of community is dwindling and we need to look out for each other. We are stronger together than alone.

 

 

This is a series. When is the next book coming out? (I see it’s this year, but this gives you opportunity to talk about the second book).

 

It is due out end of May this year, though I haven’t set a specific date just yet. I will be doing my first online launch party for this book which I am very excited about!

 

Whatever you would like to add. I’m open.

 

 

Links — book pages, author website, Facebook —  author pic and cover art.

Official Author website: http://www.kaangliss.co.uk

Project Butterfly Series Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/project.butterfly.novel

Amazon UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Project-Butterfly-Book-ebook/dp/B00MWSWK6U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422220160&sr=8-1&keywords=project+butterfly

Amazon US:  http://www.amazon.com/Project-Butterfly-Book-ebook/dp/B00MWSWK6U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422220160&sr=8-1&keywords=project+butterfly

 

 

Ok thank you. I have just realised I have forgotten my Amazon links.
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Project-Butterfly-Book-ebook/dp/B00MWSWK6U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422387254&sr=8-1&keywords=project+butterfly
US: http://www.amazon.com/Project-Butterfly-Book-ebook/dp/B00MWSWK6U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422387254&sr=8-1&keywords=project+butterfly
And also forgot my pic so have attached it. I have a new  cover that I’m working on tonight so will send it over in the next few days. Just reviewing the book again as both Jess and Paula have given me some excellent advice and just want to fine tune the writing a bit if that’s ok?

 

Interview with Patrick Burdine   3 comments

Patrick BurdineThis week’s interview is with Patrick Burdine, author of The Monitor and co-author of The Vampire’s Last Lover. He’s also featured in The Actuator 1.5: Borderland’s Anthology.
 
Tell us something about yourself, Patrick.
I’m originally from New Mexico – born in a small town named Portales that nobody has heard of, but I graduated high school in a small town pretty much everyone has heard of – Roswell. These days I live in Burbank, CA with my lovely and incredibly patient wife, 3 daughters and a newborn son. My favorite place that I have lived though, has been up in your neck of the woods at Ft. Richardson Alaska a lifetime ago back when I was in the Army.
Richardson (now part of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or JBER) is sort of my neck of the woods. It’s in Anchorage, which is almost 400 miles away from Fairbanks, but by Alaskan standards that’s not that far.  About seven hours one-way. It’s all in the perspective. Alaskans have a long road-trip perspective. And Richardson is set in some lovely country. Do  you remember the first story you wrote? What was it about and how old were you?
I had a single mom and a sister and a couple of step dads along the way, but mostly it was my mom and sister with a ton of help from my grandparents and aunts and uncles. We moved around a lot when I was kid – I used to joke we were nomadic. I honestly can’t remember living in the same place for a year from the 3rd grade basically until I graduated. It wasn’t ever really particularly difficult for me to make new friends, but moving around that often, saying goodbye so much, you kind of hit a point where you don’t want to make friends. I’d always enjoyed reading, and I think I just dug into reading more. Comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, horror. Pretty much everything.
I’ve found that as it goes with reading, I started writing about that time. I think my mom still has some of that dreadful early stuff which was mostly poetry. I wrote a lot of short stories too. I wrote horror stories and science fiction and fantasy and it was all derivative but even at the time I knew I was ripping off the greats and that really frustrated me. It still does, to be honest. I’ll read something I wrote, and really like it, and then get super critical and think, “that sounds like something that Stephen King wrote, or might have written” and then delete it or tear it up. The idea of unique voice is such an insidious form of self sabotage for me sometimes. I’ll see something or hear something in the voice that no one else does and feel like a fraud. But at the same time, when someone reads something of mine and draws a comparison to one of those guys, like a King, or Michael Slade, or Anne Rice or whoever, these people are my idols and it is amazing. Wow, sorry about that I totally went off the rails there.

Not at all. I invite authors to say what they want here. What is your favorite genre? To read? To write? Are they the same?
I just love to read. I am constantly reading. For a while I got lazy about it and convinced myself I didn’t have time to read and then I read King’s book On Writing and it really resonated with me where he said if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. So I always make time to read. One of my writing rituals, in fact, is to read a couple of pages from whatever book I am reading before I write. It’s like priming the pump. Sometimes it backfires and I end up reading a chapter or an hour. But mostly it is good.
Definitely. I do it backwards, I read after I write to sort of give my brain a break … or sometimes I read if I’m bored with writing, to inspire me. Reading is the fuel to writing, I think. So what is your favorite genre?
As far as favorite genres, I like fantasy, science fiction, I love horror – though that is such a broad category, I’m not a fan of gore for its own sake, but I’m not super squeamish. I’ve just started really started reading thrillers – mostly because I want to understand how to to make some of  my own work in other genres more thrilling. Not so much actively studying, but more through osmosis. I like urban fantasy, Jim Butcher is a great example of someone I would say writes thrillers in another genre. His books are page turners. I’ve read some good romance. My family on my mom’s side is all a bunch of readers. My wife jokes that when we get together it is funny to watch everyone just sit around and pick up whatever books are handy and start reading when there is a lull in the conversation. I will really just pick up anything and read it. I can’t even bring myself to stop reading a “bad” book unless it is just extremely poorly written from a technical standpoint. I can deal with some grammar unless it is virtually unintelligible.
What is your writing process? Do you do a lot of research, start with the characters, plan the plot or …?
It usually starts with an idea for me. Kind of a situation and a character and a what if? sort of situation and then I like to explore it. I usually like to have an idea for an ending before I start writing. If I don’t have that kind of touchstone on where I am going, I find that it tends to ramble a lot with no real destination, as this interview may have clued you in to (winks). That might just be because of my screenwriting focus though. For that you almost always start at the end and then work back. That is a very tight form, with no real “fat”. I like writing prose much more, it lets you get into the characters so much more. So yeah, I start with the situation, an inciting incident if you will, and a character, and a question. Then I usually decide where I want to go, then I write a rough outline. I don’t usually end up sticking to the outline, I like to have room for the characters to decide their own fates, to end up meeting new people, and discovering things about themselves, and usually the ending changes. I just really like having somewhere to work toward in case I get stuck. It is nice on those “writer block” days to be able to say “fine, screw you, I don’t have to be creative today, I am just going do the manual labor on this road, laying bricks to get me from here to there.” It’s something that works well, and then in the editing I can take out that entire chapter or whatever but it keeps me going through the hard times, and eliminates the excuse of not knowing what to write. For me at least.
As for research, yes I do some research. It’s a form of procrastination for me sometimes, and I end up looking up a lot of things that don’t really matter, but I don’t want to include something that isn’t accurate. For instance, let’s say I am going to have a character use a gun in one of my stories, I am going to learn everything I can about that specific gun just because I don’t want a reader to call me out and tell me that a pivotal plot point of having the character using his left thumb to drop the clip for a reload and then come to find out I gave the character a revolver or something basic. I will obviously never have the same level of knowledge as a professional, but I want to be respectful of my readers and realize that something I write might stick in their heads, and then at some point come up in an unrelated conversation. I’d hate for them to have bad info because of me. Kind of ridiculous, I know, but anyway. I use Microsoft One Note, which is a pretty cool product that basically lets me create digital notebooks. I can just type up notes in there, drop pictures of places for reference. I get maps of places and put them there. I like having it all local on my hard drive when possible, because otherwise, as I mentioned above, I will end up using it as an excuse to procrastinate.

I definitely represent the notion of using research on the Internet as a means to procrastinate. I don’t think we’d be saving anytime with going to libraries, though. I write all over the place – wherever I can, whenever I can. How about you? Is there a special place that gets your creative juices flowing or are you a writing nomad like me?
Being in LA it is kind of cliche’ but I actually like writing at Starbucks. It’s nice and clean, I get to do a lot of people watching, for the most part it is fairly quiet. I do write anywhere though, we live right next door to a library (yay!) so I do a lot of writing there, I have a desk at home that I write at, just wherever. I like moving around if I get stuck, or if I feel like I am getting in a rut.
Clearly, you write horror, but with a human touch. Tell us about The Monitor.
I got the idea for The Monitor after my first daughter was born. I remember being exhausted and being up at 2 in the morning and hearing the static hiss of the monitor and seeing the green light and thinking about what I would do if I heard a voice come through it. That was kind of the original idea and it ended up changing a bit, but I am very happy with where it ended up. It started life as a very short flash fiction piece, under a thousand words and was actually a bit of an homage to Lovecraft – that was what started the first person narrative style and the idea of madness. It was kind of going to be an updated The Statement of Randolf Carter (I know, I know, I am totally shooting myself in the foot on that earlier statement) but then it really evolved. It ended up being a novella and the first thing that I was happy enough with to self publish, and I thought I would kind of see what people thought about it – the first thing I really put out there to the world at large that wasn’t in a writer’s group or an online forum with people I knew or whatever. I set a deadline for publishing for it, and I think it did suffer a bit from over-editing. At one point it was like 120 pages. I rewrote a draft once to be in a standard 3rd person draft since that is really where I am more comfortable. It didn’t work for this. This was actually the first, and I thought, the last time I was going to do first person. Going back and re-reading it now, I still love it, it still causes emotion in me, and I still want to rewrite it. That book taught me the importance of iron clad deadlines, even (especially?) self imposed ones. I am amazed at how well received it has been.You co-authored The Vampire’s Last Lover, which is Book 1 of the Dying of the Dark Vampires series. Vampire romance? Horror thriller? The blurb hints at both with a dash of Buffy in there. Tell us about it.This is a great setting. Sometimes you read something and think, man I wish I would have created this world. I have to credit my co-writer Aiden James with creating this one, and I was fortunate enough to be brought on by him. It’s a really cool take on the vampire mythos. We don’t get to dive into it as much in book 1 which is a lot of setting up of the things to come, but in short, there are some familiar vampire ideas there, the idea that it is a “germ” that infects people on death. There is the idea of the beautiful, powerful glamorous vampire who kind of rule the night. Our protagonist Txema (pronounced Chema) is just a regular human college freshman whose bloodline possesses a quality that keeps that germ from causing a de-evolution of the vampires from this ideal, down into a more primal, bestial version that is really just one step above animal who is ruled by a monstrous vampire king. This vampire king has been building an army of monsters for a while and is now making his move to overthrow the rulers by killing everyone in Txema’s bloodline, leaving her the last with the “special” blood. This makes her “The Vampires’ Last Lover” in a poetic sense, but in reality, she is their lifeline, and this poor girl is ripped out of her world and has what is effectively an entire nightmare nation chasing after her, and her protectors are really seeing her more as a resource than a person. And as it is all told from Txema’s point of view, we try very hard to keep it true from her point of view which is a challenge. We have this huge conflict and scope, but we kind of painted ourselves into a bit of a corner in how we decided to tell it from such a narrow viewpoint, especially with the history of the publication on it. I’ll talk a bit more about that in a bit. There are definitely some strengths in the style, connecting with her, feeling her being overwhelmed and everything, but there are times that we are writing something and have to stop and say “wait, this is a young woman, 19 years old, is that real?” And real is important to me, even in a fantasy. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t. The first book sets this up and introduces the characters, and we really get to explore the dynamics quite a bit more in The Vampire’s Birthright, which is coming out this Fall sometime.What is it like to co-write a piece of fiction?

Well, it’s actually kind of interesting how I came into this. Aiden originally self published the first three a while back as a solo deal, he got picked up by Curiosity Quills and they wanted to push the series forward, but also wanted to republish the previous three. I ended up getting selected to cowrite book four (with an eye to five and six) with Aiden, and CQ wanted to take the opportunity to clean up some of the rough edges to the first three, work on some character development, as well as plant some seeds for the next sequence, so this is far from the normal path, since the series already had a fairly large following, I couldn’t just scrap major plot points outright. That being said, I have been given a pretty long leash, and with the success of book one, and the feedback we have received from fans who were rightly skeptical has been nothing but positive so I have even more freedom on book two and three.

This is the first time I have cowritten, and it is an unusual situation, but it’s been a dream. Aiden and I just kind of click. We have a shared vision as to where we want this to go, and our faith in the series and a genuine love for the characters, and I think that is really important in a collaboration. There is a strong level of trust. As to the actual mechanics, most of times, it’s just talking back and forth online, either through email or IMs, or through using the comment features on the .doc file. If we really need to hash something out we just talk on the phone. I’m on the West coast, he lives in middle of the country so we just kind of work it out.
Talk about the Borderlands Anthology.
Aiden co-wrote this really cool book with James Wymore called The Actuator: Fractured Earth which was this absolutely insane idea about this machine that transformed the world based on the whims of these people called Machine Monks because of their work with this “machine” that warped the world in a small area. Something happened and instead of it being in a limited area it happened to the world. Different areas became individual pockets of reality shaped by the imagination of the monks. Some were horror, some were fantasy, some were cyberpunk, some were western, etc. Before the second book, our publisher, Curiosity Quills, decided to do an anthology of short stories set in that world. They opened it up to entries and I had this idea about one of the monks having a lousy childhood and how he viewed his hometown as a orphaned child trapped up in a faceless bureaucracy  and when the machine malfunctioned it made that happen. The story follows a group of children trapped in a world (really just their town) where all the mothers disappeared and all the fathers became, literally, these giant faceless creatures in suits trying to suck the souls out of all the children in town. I like doing stories with multiple levels. On the face of it, no pun intended, it’s just a straight up monster movie inspired by things like Guillermo Del Toro and Phantasm, but then there is that deeper level of mistrust of adults and being swallowed up by any bureaucratic system. I’m not a message writer by any stretch of the imagination and given a choice between doing something awesome and fun to push the story forward or slowing it down to make a point I will always choose fun. I just know that I love rereading a book and finding new things, so when I rewrite a book, I work hard to craft things for my readers to discover. Not sure if I always succeed, but I do work hard at it.
So where can people find you?
My website is www.patrickburdine.com and is recently switched over to be a wordpress site and I am still in the process of making it pretty and adding content, I hear good things about how that is to update, so there isn’t much there yet, but look for more coming soon, as well as a regular blog. I am fairly active on twitter but am not terribly focused – I am a bit of a nerd, so while there is writing stuff there, there is also table top gaming stuff, computer stuff, some current events commentary – though not a lot because really it is mostly depressing and polarizing. I love talking with people 140 characters at a time about pretty much anything though, and that is @somnicidal – Thanks for your time and support Lela, I really appreciate it!
You’re most welcome, Patrick. Definitely drop back by as you come out with new books. Readers can find Patrick’s books at the following links:
 
The Monitor – http://www.amazon.com/Monitor – Patrick-Burdine-ebook/dp/B00E1YN2CO
The Vampires’ Last Loverhttp://www.amazon.com/Vampires-Last-Lover-Dying-Dark-ebook/dp/B00MGVB708/
The Actuator 1.5: Borderlands Anthologyhttp://www.amazon.com/Actuator-1-5-Borderlands-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00NH8V3SA/

Interview with Ted Cross   6 comments

Fellow Breadwater Harbor Books author Ted Cross is my guest today. Ted is the author of The Immortality Game, a science-fiction dystopian fantasy, and about to publish a second book The Shard.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

First of all, thanks so much for doing this, Lela! I was born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised mainly in Tucson. I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Russian Studies in 1992, and the next year moved to Moscow, Russia to work in the embassy. I met and married my wife there–we’ve been married nearly twenty years now, and we have two sons, ages 16 and 14. Besides reading and writing, my hobbies are chess, guitar, photography, soccer, basketball, and traveling. I’m allergic to most cats and dogs, so we just have a pet parakeet, named Sheldon after the character on Big Bang Theory.
What was the first story you ever wrote?
An epic fantasy novel called The Shard. I started it while living in Beijing in 2006 and completed it in Iceland in 2009. I’ve never quite been satisfied with it, so I keep tinkering, and I’m hopeful I can publish it next year.
What in life really motivates you?
Other than taking care of my family, I love creativity and I have a desire to do something that people will enjoy. The Immortality Game touches on the theme of immortality, and that has long been a motivation of mine. I’ve long been very aware of how short life is, and I admire those people, from Michelangelo to Mozart to the Beatles, who create something that lasts far beyond their own lifetimes. I dream of doing that.
Ted Cross Creek near Sedona
So, I’m going to strand you in a remote Alaskan cabin for a month (in the summer, so you don’t have to worry about stocking the woodstove, and you have sufficient food, ghiardia-free water and plenty of bug spray). Do you spend the time hiking around or do you bring a collection of books to read? If you’re bringing books, what are they?
I would love to visit Alaska! I got to live in Iceland for two years and it was fantastic, it had no real trees. I’d love to go hiking in those beautiful forests you have. But I’d have to have books with me, of course. There are shelves full of great books that I long to read but haven’t been able to get to yet, so I’d love to bring many of those. Then I also like to re-read old favorites, so I’d bring the Rome series from Colleen McCullough, the Earthsea series from Ursula Le Guin, Tolkien’s various books, the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and Patrick Rothfuss’s Kvothe series.
What are the major writing influences in your life?
Tolkien was the biggest early influence, as he is with so many fantasy writers, but the one who actually got me to sit down and start typing out my first story was George R.R. Martin. I loved his gritty realism as applied to fantasy, and I liked the method he used of rotating chapters between POV characters. I mimicked that in my fantasy novel, but I found that wouldn’t quite work in The Immortality Game. It’s a thriller, so it’s too fast paced for only a single POV per chapter. I had to switch between characters too often to be able to create a satisfying chapter arc.
TIG Cover
Tell us about the Immortality Game.
I got to know Moscow and the terror of the Russian mafia very well while living there for four years in the mid-90’s. I’ve long wanted to convey that in a story but couldn’t figure out how to make it work for a whole novel. Later I had some ideas for some twists on old sci-fi tropes, and I realized I could make the story work by combining these ideas with my old mafia tale. I really wanted to take a couple of normal, innocent people and throw them into absolute hell–sort of a Quentin Tarantino story done in Moscow–and make them either sink or swim. I wanted them to face their horror like we all would, and come very close to giving up, but though of course it doesn’t make for a good story if they don’t find some inner reserve and choose to fight for their lives.
What gave you the idea for this story?
Besides what I already mentioned above, I had a wizard character in my epic fantasy with a fascinating backstory. He had been a Russian scientist from Earth who arrived with the first mission to colonize a planet outside of our solar system. The new planet has a moon made of an element that isn’t present in our solar system, and this element works on the body in a way that can seem much like what we call magic, but it doesn’t work on the natives of the planet, so only those who arrived from Earth end up being ‘wizards’. As I fleshed out this character’s backstory, I used the previously mentioned elements, and his backstory became so intriguing to me that I ended up having to write it.
Given the subject, is there any sort of message in it?
I am not huge on deep messages, so there’s nothing in the book that purposely conveys anything deep. If it’s in there, it’s a byproduct of having a full story with characters that feel real to me. Of course the story touches on many themes, from what technology may be doing to us as humans to wondering if there limitations we should impose on ourselves, if we could. I happen to believe that if we CAN do something (as a race), we will, regardless of the consequences. Wishing we could stop certain things from developing won’t work, because even if we (the USA) decide not to do something, someone somewhere else in the world will still do it.
Oh, so true! How did you develop your stunning cover?
I have long loved two particular living artists, Alan Lee and Stephan Martiniere. I have Martiniere prints on my wall at home. I didn’t even check with him initially, because I assumed it would cost far too much for me to afford. So I checked with other artists, since I really wanted a cover that would follow my vision for it in a high-quality way. In the end I got bold enough to ask Stephan, and he was more reasonable than I expected. He was also a pleasure to work with, and he really nailed what I was after. I did worry that it might have too many elements in it, making the artwork too busy, but it actually turned out great. I don’t know if you’ve pulled it up to larger size, but there is so much to see in there. The Pyramid and twin hotel towers are the mafia base. The air cars in their various lanes are all over in my future. You can see Zoya crouching on the right side, with a nice cathedral behind her. And there are flurries of what look like snow but is actually poplar seeds, a symbol throughout the book and something I wanted in the story since poplar seeds are a big part of each Russian summer.
It’s a great cover, Ted! Well worth the effort. What are some of the pitfalls you’ve encountered as an indie author?
The biggest one is simply getting noticed. The development of indie writing has opened the floodgates, meaning that while there is good work out there, there is far more mediocre to bad work, and this tidal wave has made readers wary. They look to the already famous authors for the most part, and they are very nervous about paying their hard-earned money for someone they have never heard about. That’s part of why I insisted on paying for such a high-quality cover–I needed to demonstrate to readers that I have a commitment to quality, and I hope they will believe that this commitment extends to my writing and not just the cover.
What are your plans for the future?
I have a bunch of stories ready to work on, and while they are all set in the same ‘universe’, they are all meant to be able to stand alone while still contributing to the particular flavor of my universe. I plan on some characters appearing in each novel so there will be some continuity, but I don’t have plans for a traditional trilogy with a long single storyline.
Anything else you would like to add.
I’m truly grateful that Scott Toney and Cara Goldthorpe built Breakwater Harbor Books and allowed me to join! Indie writing is tough enough without doing every last thing on your own. Having a support group is tremendously helpful.
I feel the same way. I was very pleased when Scott invited me in. I think a cooperative imprint is the best of both possible worlds for an indie author.
Ted’s book The Immorality Game was released a few months ago.

Moscow, 2138. With the world only beginning to recover from the complete societal collapse of the late 21st Century, Zoya scrapes by prepping corpses for funerals and dreams of saving enough money to have a child. When her brother forces her to bring him a mysterious package, she witnesses his murder and finds herself on the run from ruthless mobsters. Frantically trying to stay alive and save her loved ones, Zoya opens the package and discovers two unusual data cards, one that allows her to fight back against the mafia and another which may hold the key to everlasting life.

Links:
Facebook page: Ted.Cross.Author
Twitter: tedacross

Interview with Ioana Visan   1 comment

ioana visanThis week’s author interview is with Ioana Visan, award-winning author of several novels, most recently Broken People. Tell us something about yourself, Ioana … which is a lovely name, by the way. 

Thank you, Ioana is a popular name here, in Romania. I live in Iasi, in the north-east of Romania, and I spend most of my time at the computer, writing, among other things.

 

 

How old were you when you first started writing and what sort of stories were they?

I started writing while in high school, but then college took all my time, and I returned to writing only after I got my Computer Science degree. Roleplaying was a lot of fun for a couple of years until I decided it was time to take writing seriously and become published. And I did, first traditionally, and then self-published later on. I started with science fiction and fantasy, and I’m sticking with it.

 

 

Broken PeopleWhat is something, besides writing, that you are passionate about?

Travelling and figure skating, though these two hobbies have never crossed path so far. I enjoy exploring foreign, old cities, preferably when it’s hot outside. I prefer skating during the cold season, when most of the competitions are taking place. I also happen to run a popular figure skating site, Absolute Skating, along with a group of friends.

 

 

What is your writing process? Do you discovery write or work from an outline, for example.

 

I guess it’s a combination of both because I usually plot a story while writing something else, so when I get to the actual writing part, I already have a big part of the plot clear inside my head. But nothing is set in stone. I love it when the characters surprise me and the plot takes an unexpected turn.

 

All of my stories are written at a two-meter-long desk, set in front of a glass wall, facing a terrace covered in plants.

 

 

Human InstinctsWhat is your favorite genre to write in? Is it the same as your favorite reading genre?

 

Yes, my primary genre is science fiction, followed closely by fantasy. However, I like to have a lot of adventures in my stories, and nothing is complete without a touch of romance.

 

 

Tell me about Broken People.

 

Broken People features a large cast because of The Nightingale Circus whose employees fix prosthetics on the black market in a Europe ravaged by war. Our hero, Dale Armstrong, needs their help to instrument a heist inside the Hrad, the big Bratislava Castle. Add to this a powerful lady with all four limbs replaced by golden prosthetics, and the fate of the war depending on Dale’s success. Now what could go wrong?

 

 

Blue MoonThat isn’t your first book, however. Tell me about your other books.

 

I also wrote an apocalyptic novella, Human Instincts, a paranormal short story collection, Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks, and a vampire series, The Impaler Legacy.

 

 

What are your writing plans for the future?

 

The second Broken People book is in the plotting stage along with an angels and demons story, a steampunk story, and an alien story, all with the potential to turn into series if time allows it. And maybe when all these are done, I’ll get to finish another fantasy series.

 

 

Impaler LegacyYou can find Ioana and her books at the following links

 

Website:    http://www.ioanavisan.tk

Blog:          http://weirdvision2001.blogspot.com

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

Twitter:       https://twitter.com/weirdvision

Amazon:     http://amazon.com/author/ioanavisan

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ioanavisan

 

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

dad3b-l114087125281280x9602529This week’s interview is with Iona Visan, author of science fiction and horror novels.

Interview with CJ Davis   1 comment

Today, I am interviewing CJ Davis, author of The Battle for the Afterlife saga, a sci-fi fantasy set in … well, the afterlife. Tell us a little bit about yourself, CJ.

CJ Davis Head ShotI live in Atlanta, GA with my wife and two little girls. By day I’m a marketing executive for a software company, and by night I write novels, and short stories. I’m an avid runner, and just ran my fifth marathon last November in Philadelphia. Running provides me with the alone time I need to develop my stories.

 

How did you become a writer?

I’ve always been drawn to creative endeavors.  Even when I was a little boy we took turns during long family car trips telling stories we would make up on the spot.  When I was in fourth grade, my elementary school had a fantastic creative writing program.  As one exercise we all had to develop our own children’s books for a contest where a published author would choose his favorites.  His name was Theodore Taylor, author of The Cay.  My book actually won the contest and he gave me a signed copy of his book, and encouraged me to continue writing.  I’ve been writing off and on ever since.

 

I loved The Cay when I was a kid. What gets you most jazzed in life?

Spending time with my wife and two little girls. We are all Disney fanatics, and are lucky enough to go to Disney World every year. I’m basically a giant kid at heart.

 

Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I’m a runner and typically run 16 miles per week. During my alone time on the greenways I run on I think through my stories and characters. It has been tremendously helpful in fleshing out what I’m working on.

I also listen to soundtrack music when I’m writing. Some of my favorite soundtracks I listened to when writing Battle for the Afterlife Saga, Blue Courage were Oblivion and Tron 2.

 

The Afterlife Saga is three stories centered around Navy Seal Reese Hawthorne who wakes up in a futuristic city in the Afterlife. How did you develop your concept of the afterlife?

As a huge fan of action adventure stories, fantasy and science fiction, I could not think of a story that has combined the elements I most appreciate in my favorite books and movies, in an Afterlife setting. I love the idea of characters with superhuman abilities, and really ap9reciate realistic worlds. The Afterlife is the perfect setting to have adventure, science fiction, superhuman abilities, and a believable premise that could all actually be possible.

Who is going to tell me my made-up world is not true? Unless you are dead, you do not know “for sure” what the Afterlife is actually like.  I wrote a book about the Afterlife to create a world that would be amazing to “live” in, but mostly to have a fascinating place to be transported to when I write and read my Battle for the Afterlife Saga books.

 

Battle for the Afterlife coverIs Reese based on anyone “real” or is he simply a character you developed (and if so, how did you develop him)?

I made him up, but my muse was George Clooney’s character in the movie Gravity.  I loved how cavalier he was in the face of danger.

 

What is the main takeaway you would like readers to get from The Afterlife Saga?

How each and everyone of us face decisions throughout our lives that can make us good or evil. Our actions define us, and to truly be 100% good or evil it takes an absolute commitment to the cause.  The Blues in this story struggle with pure altruism at times, especially when sacrificing soul mates when the greater good comes into play. This concept was fun to explore, and challenges some beliefs many people have in a simpler black and white world. I wanted to explore the grey areas.

 

What are your plans for the future? Do you have more books planned?

Yes, I’m working on another action-adventure story, that mostly takes place in the wild jungles of Papua New Guinea.  It has erupting volcanoes, cannibals and wild predators.  I’m also in the early development stages for the follow-up to Blue Courage in the Battle for the Afterlife Saga book series.

 

Where do readers find your books?

Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/CJ-Davis/e/B00HQOJPXG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

and

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blue-courage-cj-davis/1120341650?ean=2940150516021

 

My website is: http://cjdavisbooks.blogspot.com/

 

#amwriting, #lelamarkham

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