My interview with Stephanie Barr

1. How do you dream up your characters and situations? 

It’s a good question. Often it’s inspired by something I see or read, frequently a character I identified with *especially* if the character didn’t get the treatment I wanted. Characters that touch me, I study them, immerse myself in them and think about them and pick them apart so I know what I loved about them (and what I didn’t) and what aspects of them I would like to duplicate. What usually happens is I think about the aspects of the character that intrigued me, and who I’d pair him or her with, and how I’d showcase the aspects that I liked best. I have a complex personality and I often find different aspects of my own personality responding to these characters so I’ll often take those aspects and take them to a limit. 

The weird thing, of course, is I do almost none of this consciously. I’ll know I like something, but my backbrain will take it and chew it and then, deliver the idea to me already built. Same with the actual writing. My backbrain writes the story and, when it’s ready, I put it down. From a conscious brain standpoint, I’m totally seat of the pants. My subconscious, however, appears to have a method.

 

2. What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel.

 
Not sure if you’re talking to me as a Stephanie Barr person: juggling rocket science for my day job, my two autistic kids that live at home (single mom), as well as the eight cats who are constantly trying to get in the way of my two computers and trying to kill me on the stairs. However, that’s pretty dull. 

As a writer, I can write non-fiction on command. I have literally over a thousand blog posts on my three blogs, and technical papers and many posts talking about my children (that I’ve been encouraged to make into a book). It takes next to nothing to get me started. 

With fiction, I have to have something ready. Now, the good news is my subconscious is pretty damn effective. I was in a couple of timed contests and I wasn’t sure how I’d do working with prompts, but I found it really wasn’t an issue. I love a challenge. But the novels and the stories that have depth and power, I can’t push those. 
That advice you hear all the time: “Write every day” – that’s not me. If I write before I’m ready, it truly is garbage, unsalvageable and useless. Worse, my subconscious takes it as an insult (my backbrain is a total diva) and will often punish me by not writing for weeks. That’s the down side of my writing. 

BUT, when I’ve got a story ready (or I’m inspired), if I get woken up at 3 am to write (and, yes, that happens), it will flow out of me almost as fast as I can type it. My conscious brain might struggle for the right word, or tweak some dialog, change the pacing or order of the items, but it comes out in near final form. It happens with a story (usually, one or two days). If it’s a novel, I might write 2-3K words a day on days where I’m working and 10-12K in a weekend if I’m in the zone. Four of my five novels had drafts written inside of two months.

 

I don’t do the rewrite-rewrite-polish thing either. Nothing wrong with that method, but it’s not what I do. I write it. Look at it the next day or two for sanity. Have a friend I trust read it. That’s likely all I’ll do for stories. For novels, I’ll set it aside for a month or so, then pick it up and see if I still like it. Have someone beta read it, looking for stuff that I glossed over (my most common mistake) and words I totally skipped over. But, yeah, I rarely have to do more than polish. And, when I DO rewrite (like when I made Saving Tessa a SF), it rarely takes me more than a few days. So, that’s the plus side of how my writing style. 
Quirky enough?
 

3. How do you develop your characters?

 

This plays in with my answer to one. Once I have a character I want to use (or have figured out the aspects of other characters to go with my inspired character, I usually know everything I need to know about them (even if I don’t realize it consciously). And then it’s all about showing them off, letting them prove themselves, how they address their own shortcomings and flaws to grow, to learn, to become even more, to learn their limitations or leave self-imposed limitations behind.

 
Flaws are essential in a character. They have to grow. They have to have limitations and I encourage teamwork. I don’t have a lot of lone-wolf characters (even if that’s how they start out). Characters are the key. I set up a premise, I throw them into it, and then I mostly take notes at what they want to do. But I’ve always got back stories and histories that are part of their makeup.  
For me, stories are all about people. I love people. Now, I won’t lie, I love smart people and you’ll find my characters not only are described as smart but are expected to live up to that in their actions. I like to outsmart, not outbrawn, my bad guys. And I LOVE interactions between people, showcasing them, having people goad each other into reaching their potentials. Making them see things from different perspectives (and, by extension) letting the reader do so.
 

4. What are you reading now?

 

I’m following a few dozen manga. I’m reading a book by a friend of mine (Rena’s Silver Lining by Sandy Knauer Morgen) and the Saga of Menyoral by M.A. Ray)

 

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

 

Once I have characters that compel me and a situation and I’m ready to write, I can’t not write. I find it eats up every free moment, urging me to find time to write it on the computer. I love to tell stories. I love to learn more about my own characters, listen to the tease each other, grow, play, find themselves.

 

6. Who inspires you?

 

I don’t know that I’m inspired by any particular person. I’ve always been pretty self-driven; however, I find myself far more encouraged and propelled when I have people around me who like what I write and who are clearly happy to be exposed to it. I love sharing my creations with people who can appreciate them. In that category, I have several dear friends and even my second ex-husband who are total fanboys and –girls. I love writing something I know they’ll get a kick out of. 
My kids often inspire me. They’re always challenging my idea of how people should reaction.

 

7. What inspires you?

 

Different perspectives, ones I didn’t have before. I love seeing something, hearing something, talking with someone that forces me to see something in a way I never thought of before, a revelation. I love those. When a scenario immediately starts playing in my head, I know I’m on to something and it can come from a stray comment or a single act I saw in a movie or book where they did something different than I would have. Sometimes, my children inspire me

 

8. Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears everything you write?

 

You’ll find a lot of feminism in my books. Not feminism as it’s often portrayed, but women as equals to men in worlds where they aren’t treated as so or in worlds where they are (both can show new perspectives). I am very much unwilling to feed into rape culture so rapists are never protagonists and don’t fare well in my books. Ever. 
There’s also a very common theme in that I think who people are is much more important than what. I go into the differences between what people think one very strong character is and what they really are. How important it is to judge each person as an individual rather than a member of some particular group.
Also, there are cat in every novel, often in pivotal roles. Because, cats. And dragons. Even in the science fiction (though once it was limited to a tattoo).

 

9. What book/ story/ movie do you wish you’d written?

 

I don’t think I’ve ever coveted anyone else’s work. I can love it, enjoy it, be inspired by it, but I never wanted it for myself. I always want to do something different even if it was great as it was.

 

10. How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do?

 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an idea I had done the way I was going to do it. If I did, I guess I’d either let it go (I’m not short of ideas) or do something different. Not saying other people aren’t doing a lot of ideas in the same general tenor as what I’m doing, but I just don’t see them doing the same thing. Of course, I’ve been out of the loop a bit. Maybe it will come up.

Blog links
Rockets and Dragons (writing) [http://stephanie-barr.blogspot.com/]

 

Rocket Scientist (non-writing) [http://rockets-r-us.blogspot.com/]

 

The Unlikely Otaku (manga/anime obsession) [http://askthers.blogspot.com/]
FB Link author page
Dragon Faerie Creative Enterprises [https://www.facebook.com/stephanieebarr/]
Amazon author page
https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Barr/e/B00N9W84YK

My interview with DL Richardson

1. How do you dream up your characters and situations? 

Like most creative people, I tend to day dream, and I day dream so much that often at parties or work functions or social gatherings, when the conversation becomes boring, I find myself daydreaming just to get me through the event. I don’t mind socialising, I just dislike intensely conversation that is dull and I start of think of anything else I could be doing other than this. From there the ideas enter my head and I can’t stop the process until it has to run to the end, and then I determine if I like the idea or not.

 

 

2. What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel.

 

Some quirks, let me see. I often cut my own hair because I don’t like it to neat, and hairdressers always make it neat. I can’t abide pictures on walls that are crooked; if you wanted to distract me for a while you could tilt all the pictures in my house because I am obsessed with symmetry, which seems in total contradiction to the neat hair but it’s not. I don’t like wonky hair, just messy hair. I also can’t stand ticking clocks so I will always pull the batteries out of a ticking clock when staying over someone’s house, but I put the batteries back in the clock and set it the right time in the morning. Usually.

 

I also can’t stand waiting in line for anything. I have been known to walk out of many places simply because I can’t stand waiting in line. How it is that I managed to wait in line for 2 hours for a signed photo of Richard Dean Anderson at last year’s Comic Con is a huge mystery to me.

 

3. How do you develop your characters?

 

I start off with characters who have a passion in something that I don’t. For example, I’ve written about ice hockey players and I’ve never met an ice hockey player but learning about what drives sports peoples has helped me to develop traits and behaviours. I’ve created characters who are dancers, website designers, legal secretaries, guardian angels, soldiers, characters who are nothing like me. And then I do a lot of people watching and eavesdropping on conversations to pick up on other traits and behaviours that I can blend in with my characters. And then I put them in a situation and wonder how they’ll get out of it.

 

 

4. What are you reading now?

 

Since I’m in the middle of edits for “Welcome to the Apocalypse Book 2” , I am not reading anything other than snippets of books to get my brain juices flowing. I find it handy while editing. So on my pile at the moment is: “The Twelve” by Justin Cronin, “Break No Bones” by Kathy Reichs, “Cell” by Stephen King, and “Stiletto” by Daniel O’Malley.

 

 

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

 

I write because I must. It drives me crazy. There have been moments when I’ve wonder why I can’t just accept the job I have and be happy going to work and planning the next overseas holiday and renovating the home and going out with friends. I had spent a few years living a somewhat normal life when I’d stopped writing during a big transition in my life. But it felt superficial. I wish I could be happy not writing, because writing is not without its frustrating and doubt filled moments.

 

What drives me is my determination to succeed. I chose this life and I must either succeed or give up, there is no middle ground. And I want to become a full time writer.

 

 

6. Who inspires you?

 

This might sounds crazy, but I’m inspired by people who do brave things for no reward, such as rescue teams who spend days saving a horse trapped in a flood or a dog who’s fallen down a well. Health staff in war-torn countries are pretty inspirational as are people who work in soup kitchens or volunteers who assist the elderly. I’m so in awe of people who want to do good and do it without falling into the horrible pit of corruption and greed.

 

Superman was always my favourite superhero because while he questioned if mankind was worth saving, which is definitely questionable, he chose to do good anyway, because doing good defined him. I’m not religious, but I do believe in goodness and anyone who can live their life without hate and greed and cruelty is an inspiration to me.

 

 

7. What inspires you?

 

Courtesy and honesty. You can almost inspire me to do anything provided you are courteous and honest about it. Unless I don’t really want to do it and then I aim to be courteous and honest about my reasons why. And world peace, that inspires me too. if I honestly didn’t think we could one day achieve it, I don’t know if I’d bother doing anything.

 

 

8. Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears everything you write?

 

Second chances tend to show up in most of my writing. Redemption, the option to redo your life over and considering what you’d change if anything, regret and the chance to apologise. I don’t know that I mean to write this theme but it’s there in my novels, especially the YA novels. “The Bird With The Broken Wing” features a teenage girl who thought the answer to her problem was to commit suicide, and I really wanted to be able to instill the sense of second chance in this novel. So many teenagers feel this way that if they could just wait a few more years they’d realise that nothing is worth killing yourself for.

 

 

 

9. What book/ story/ movie do you wish you’d written?

 

The Hunger Games. I know why it was a huge seller, it has everything I aim to put into a book. I’m writing science-fiction at the moment and for me, a great sci-fi / dystopian / apocalyptic story must have three elements. One, it must take a current policy or practice and predict a future world if said policy went unchecked. Two, it must have the science behind this predicted world so the reader can see how it could be done. Three, it must have a philosophical angle so the reader can ask whether it should it be done.

 

 

10. How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do?

 

The weird way my mind works makes it less of an issue, because while it is said that there is no such thing as a new idea, I always aim to put my mark on a story. And it must be true. Many of the reviews for my books state things such as “this is unlike anything I’ve read”, or “not your usual dystopian book”, “this isn’t the usual trope”. In a way I wonder if making it unlike anything they’ve read is to my detriment. It can make it hard to gain new readers if all they want to read is something familiar.

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/D-L-Richardson/e/B00717D7KU

Author website http://www.dlrichardson.com
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My interview with SL Kerns

How do you dream up your characters and situations? 

I seldom dream them up. Honestly, they hit me like a brick to the face. My most recent character came from the local news gossip my next-door neighbor warned me of. Supposedly, there’s some loon walking around hacking people up with scissors. 

The characters in my novel, The Rut, manifested from a conversation my wife and I had about how hard the death of a loved one hits certain people. Sometimes it makes those still living love each other more. What if you could manipulate other with that power? How far would you take it? Look for this novel later on through Burning Willow Press. (www.burningwillowpressllc.com)

What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel. 

Tough to tackle, but at the moment I think I’m dealing with a desire to be rebellious in contrast with a fear of not being loved for who I am. I’ve always been Mr. Nice Guy, even named so in my high school yearbook, but current political changes have set me apart from people I’ve respected my whole life. And I still do respect them. Being…well…not a fan of today’s POTUS, and from the red south, I’m sorely outnumbered in my beliefs. It strikes an uneasiness in me that our differences may someday create a barrier between us too great to cross. I hope not.

How do you develop your characters?

So far, I’m a pantser. I start with a theme and introduction. The story tells itself. I wish I could plot; it’d save me a lot of edits and rewrites.
What are you reading now?

Two books at a time, that’s how I do it. One paperback at home and one e-book on the train to work. I just wrapped up Flowers in the Attic in tangible form and a non-fiction InstaFreebie called Balancing on Blue about a hike through the Appalachian Trail. It is the second book I’ve read on the massive trail. The pull of being away from modern society and one on one with nature is tempting. It is a dream of mine to one day complete it on thru-hike.

Currently I am reading Phantoms by Dean Koontz in paperback and the e-book of Night Witches by Mirren Hogan. Ever heard of her? Insert hearty chuckle here.

My main objective is to sample all the big names while searching for gold in the multitude of fresh talent, such as the many authors at Burning Willow Press who I’ve befriended. A taste of both sides should help my craft. At least that is the plan.

 

Look for these titles on Amazon and read my short stories. All links can be found via my author’s page.

Why do you write and what drives you?

Pouring my soul into reading struck me late. So writing is fairly new to me. However, I write because I must. The switch is broken and if I’m not punching the keys, I’m thinking up ideas. I often think of things at random. Some of my best ideas come while I ride the bicycle to and from the gym. And that is often. I’m a competitive bodybuilder here in Japan.

Who inspires you? 

Several people. My parents and siblings, wife and friends. I’m lucky to have many talented, driven friends. Something I read or heard from Arnold Schwarzenegger repeats in the back of my mind. He mentioned you have to train your body and your mind. Lifting keeps my body strong. Reading and writing, hopefully, develops my mind.

What inspires you? 

Raw emotions. Love, rage. Honesty. I’m inspired by folks I admire. I’m fueled by ones I detest.

 

Now a published poet! Please check out these crucial poems at http://www.vagabondbooks.net. Photo taken from their Facebook page.

Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears everything you write? 

Yeah. My stories most usually deal with Southerners. It’s what I know. I often have some Asian characters inspired by the life I’m living overseas. And some spirituality makes its way in. Hmmm, things I love also creep in: punk rock, bodybuilding, classic films, and Marlon Brando to name a few. I often sneak in jabs, exhibiting my desire for equality for everyone, and my distaste for blindly following religion because you were born into it. It’s a form of dishonesty and causes chaos and confusion. Religion is too powerful to be taken with a half-hearted, half-informed approach.

What book/ story/ movie do you wish you’d written? 

Easy. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. It is experimental in its POVs, and just a fantastic story. An important tale about there being two sides to every story. That’s what I took from it.

How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do? 

As of now, never. If it happened to me, I’d write it anyway. As a pantser things would become fresh and different through a natural course. Besides, the story may have been told, but not by moi. 


Photo courtesy of Kevin Cozma. August, 2016.
You may also read my fitness articles on via http://www.spiffycats.com 

Be warned, it’s is a men’s magazine. There are revealing pics of the models in some of the links.

Please visit my page (where I have a long list of publications for you to choose from) and join my mailing list here:

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My interview with Lily Luchesi

 
1. How do you dream up your characters and situations?

It’s a good question, and the answer varies depending on which character and story I want to talk about. I’ve had stories/plots come to me in a fever haze (the short story “The Devil’s Dozen” is one such time), characters slowly introduce themselves to me, they can be people I’ve met (those are usually victims of some sort of paranormal attack), or they can just appear in my head like I’m mental and start talking to me about their life, which is what happened with Danny Mancini from my Paranormal Detectives Series. I had the plot, but not the character. All I knew was he’d be Italian and a detective. And then Danny came to me and told me about his career and disgrace, succeeded by joining Angelica Cross on her paranormal law enforcement crusade.

2. What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel.

I can’t write without music. I have to have something in my ears to drown out the real world and center me in mine. I try to hit between 1,000 and 2,000 words a day, but sometimes that doesn’t happen depending on various factors not including my depression and that there are days where my imaginary friends won’t talk to me. I am a pantser, not a plotter. I tried plotting my current WIP and it went horribly haywire. I am a que sera sera type: I just see what kind of mess my characters get into and report on it. I don’t have many other quirks, really. I write when and where I can, for as long as I can.


3. How do you develop your characters?

Some I have to consciously develop, but most seem to reveal themselves to me in time. Danny was a fun character, because I had to force him out of his stubborn, xenophobic ways and he didn’t want to. I think I was his shrink for a while, there! With characters like my MC Angelica Cross, I don’t develop her. She is who she is and I can’t make a dent in that. There are scenes where I feel I made progress with her only to have her regress and make me want to slap my laptop in frustration. Other, more minor, characters I do try to mold to fit into the fictional world. They all have a place, even if they only say one line.

4. What are you reading now?

I am re-reading The Saga of Larten Crepsley by Darren Shan and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. Despite not writing it, I love upper YA paranormal. Shan in particular was a huge inspiration when I was a child and teen. He was one of the three authors who shaped my style and subject matter.

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

I write because I have to. It’s kind of like how Superman has this compulsion to save the world, I have a compulsion to create worlds. When I don’t write my depression gets worse, and I feel like general shit. I have always loved books and reading and this has been my dream since I was eight years old. I write because I love it, because I want to, and because it’s my calling in life.


6. Who inspires you?

Author wise: Stephen King, JK Rowling, Darren Shan, Zac Brewer, Ellen Schreiber, and Terri Garey. In everyday life that would be my mom. She raised me on her own by choice, struggled, slipped, and got back up again. She never let me fail.

7. What inspires you?

Everything. Despite my characters being vampires and witches, they are very realistic, as are there worlds. I am inspired by a lot I see on the news (as my upcoming book Never Again will attest to when it is released on December 5th), by history, and by really the most random things, even music.

8. Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears everything you write?

Yes. Hate, bigotry, and stereotypes. Danny is the paranormal world’s version of a racist in a way, except he’s fine with all skin tones in a human, but it’s vampires he has a prejudice against. Much of his character in my first PDS book, Stake-Out, mimics what you’d see from a racist who claims they aren’t racist. And the series shows how he grows out of that and starts to be a decent human being. Being a working-class Goth, bisexual, tattooed, pierced Catholic, I have been the recipient of a lot of hate all my life. And I see so much of it now in our current political climate. So breaking stereotypes and squashing all forms of hate will always be a constant theme in my books, be they horror or erotica or somewhere in between.


9. What book/ story/ movie do you wish you’d written?

None. I don’t wish to write someone else’s story, I want to write my own.

10. How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do?

That has happened to me in the past, actually. Twice. The first time I had no idea someone else had a similar book to Stake-Out and I freaked out, worried that people would think I was a copycat. Thankfully, no one has. (I hadn’t even heard of these books until I had signed my publishing contract.) Recently it was when I started writing Never Again, which is a spin-off of my Paranormal Detectives Series and will take place from the Ottoman Empire, through WWII, and till modern day, and realized my publisher (Vamptasy) was releasing two paranormal books taking place during WWII. I immediately wrote my publisher who assured me I was fine and different from the other two books, along with offering me another contract for the book. I firmly believe that everything has been done before, but every author has the power to take an old theme done over dozens of times and make them their own.

 

Links:

http://lilyluchesibooks.wix.com/lilyluchesi

http://amazon.com/author/lilyluchesi

http://facebook.com/lilyluchesi

http://instagram.com/lilyluchesi

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7369101.Lily_Luchesi

 

 

My interview with Josh Matthews

1. How do you dream up your characters and situations? 

Coming up with characters is the easy part. Each one has to hold the reader’s interest so that the reader cares what happens to him/her, and at the same time they must stand out and be unique. The main character in my young adult post-apocalypse series, Jason McCreary, is a teenager who has watched civilization collapse as a result of his mother’s failed scientific experiment and, in order to set things right, takes upon himself the quest to travel the world and close down the Hell Gates that his mother opened. There is nothing unique about Jason; he’s a typical young adult struggling with the same problems all adolescents do, except he’s doing so in an apocalyptic environment. Jason is trying to come of age in a violent realm overrun by demons from the underworld, and every day must make life-or-death decisions that most people never face. It’s not his personality that makes Jason stand out from the rest of us, but how he handles the situations into which he is thrust.

 

As for coming up with the situations my characters face, that’s the fun part. In the past I’ve written about vampires and zombies; although I enjoyed it, the reader expects you to follow certain conventions. In Hell Gate, I’m writing an end of the world scenario in which Hell spawn have invaded Earth. When plotting out the series, or coming up with monsters to terrorize my characters, I just sit back, let my imagination run wild, and incorporate the best or weirdest ideas into the plot.

 

 

2. What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel.

 

Wow, this is a tough one because I have so many quirks. When I’m writing, my goal is 2000 words a day/10,000 words a week, and I strictly hold myself to that goal. I do most of my writing in the morning after I drop my daughter off at school and late at night when everyone has gone to bed. When I’m not writing, I usually read, watch TV, or play video games. Even then my mind is constantly in writer mode; I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been doing something non-writing related and have come up with an idea for one of my books. Even playing with my dogs, Walther and Bella, is inspirational since Lucifer and Lilith are based on them.

 

 

3. How do you develop your characters?

 

I want my characters to be realistic, not larger than life. This means they have to be nuanced because no one is purely good or evil. Everyone has their own motivations, vulnerabilities, flaws, and fears. I’ve studied people most of my adult life; it is part of what I did for the CIA. While I base the physical appearance of my characters on actors or people I know personally because it’s easier for me to picture them in my mind, their personalities are composites of numerous people I have met throughout my life.

 

 

4. What are you reading now?

 

I’m a history buff, especially with regards to World War II and the Cold War, and enjoy horror/post-apocalypse novels, so I often read two books simultaneously. Right now I’m reading Cairo in the War: 1939-1945 by Artemis Cooper and The Front: Screaming Eagles, a WWII supernatural novel by Timothy Long, David Moody, and Craig DiLouie.

 

 

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

 

I write because it’s my passion, and because I love to tell stories. There is no underlying political or social message to my books. I write to entertain. If my readers can get lost in my novels for a few hours and enjoy the characters and the adventure, then I feel like I’ve done my job.

 

 

6. Who inspires you?

 

I love the writing styles of Graham Masterton, Brian Lumley, and Ed Lee. Brian Keene, J.F. Gonzalez, and Mitch Hyman have mentored me at various times throughout my career, for which I am eternally grateful. And of course there is my wife and fellow writer, Alison, who is always there for me, providing moral support when things are rough and inspiring me when they are going well.

 

 

7. What inspires you?

 

Everything from news reports, articles on the Internet, to conversations with family and friends. I have a very active imagination, so I can generate a novel or short story idea out of almost anything. At the moment I have a dozen plot ideas bouncing around in my head, from rats infesting an abandoned luxury cruise ship to a script titled Jurassic Ark. I just don’t have enough time to put them all down on paper.

 

 

8. Is there a single thread/idea/belief which appears in everything you write?

 

The concept of good vs evil plays a major role in all my novels. In Hell Gate the concept is clear cut—humans against demons. In the sequels, however, I blur the lines and introduce groups of survivors whose motives are good but whose methods of survival are questionable, or rogue groups who have taken advantage of the apocalypse for their own purposes, although their motivations may not necessarily be purely evil or selfish.

 

 

9. What book/story/movie do you wish you’d written?

 

Doctor Who — at least for the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Doctors. The writing on that show is magnificent, the plot intricacies are brilliant, and the emotional impact is stunning. My favorite episode is “Journey’s End,” when Donna Noble saves the universe from a Dalek doomsday device and is about to die; to save her life, the Doctor erases her mind and she reverts to being foppish and self-absorbed. The Doctor tells Donna’s mother: “I just want you to know, there are worlds out there, safe in the sky because of her. That there are people living in the light, and singing songs of Donna Noble, a thousand, million light years away. They will never forget her, while she can never remember. And for one moment… one shining moment… she was the most important woman in the whole wide universe.” I cried at that scene because it was so powerful.

 

 

10. How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do?

 

It happens all the time. There are so many writers drafting novels and screenplays that it’s inevitable some of us will inadvertently duplicate each other’s efforts. When I get an idea for a novel, I search Amazon and Google to see if it has been done before; if not, then I go for it. I also read books and watch shows/movies in my genre so I don’t copy someone else’s idea. What frustrates me is when I’ve written a great scene, see it a few weeks later on a TV show, and then have to go back to my novel and change it so it looks like I’m not copying them.

 

Buy Hell Gate here

My interview with MA Ray

1. How do you dream up your characters and situations?Every character comes from a different place! For example, Dingus Xavier was my husband’s first Dungeons & Dragons character. In a way, all of the characters in Menyoral, and some of the ones in Steel for the Prince, grew up around him. I’d say to myself, “I need a character in this role,” or “I need a character who’s like this,” and I’d be off. The situations, it’s tough for me to say, other than that they seem to be “these characters, at this time.” I always save the stuff I cut/replace, but so far I haven’t been able to use a scene intended for one book in another.

 

2. What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel.

Well, I’m utterly obsessive—does that count? I do a lot of drafts, and I mean a lot. Usually my finals don’t resemble the first drafts, or very little. I’m always thinking about Rothganar, I’m always there, and I’m always talking about it. I have a couple of close friends who like it, though…

I guess I write like a woman in love. I’m in love with the people in my stories. I’m in love with the settings. Most of all I’m in love with words. I hope it shows.

 

3. How do you develop your characters?

Easy (but also the Hard Way, because reasons, okay?). I write them. They don’t breathe for me until I get them onto the page and see what my brain does with them.

 

4. What are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading Heresy, by S.J. Parris. I’m not very far! It’s “An Historical Thriller.” An apostate monk is looking for a very rare book. I think he wants to astrally project to prove his cosmological theory. It’s weird, but what book doesn’t sound weird? I have a real weakness for historical murder mysteries and the like. If I could find similar in a fantasy, I would read the hell out of it.

 

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

I write because I love words, and for the sense of personal achievement I get from it. It’s really satisfying when I can learn to do something effectively: a good character people connect with and enjoy, a certain effect with a scene, you name it. I like to be good at things, and people say I’m pretty good at this. It’s hard for me to separate the Prime Mover from the general motivation.

 

6. Who inspires you?

Everybody I meet or talk to. My family, which I know sounds trite, but clichés are clichés for a reason. When I write little kids I think of my own two. When I write Dingus I think of my husband: what would he do? What would he like to do?

 

7. What inspires you?

Reading! Every book I read. I don’t watch a lot of TV, I don’t guess, but when I do it’ll inspire me to some degree. When I read a book, though, it pushes me forward, because either “I can do better!” or “I’ll learn to do it that well.”

 

8. Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears everything you write?

I don’t know. I’d like to think I’m asking a lot of questions. There’s this question of sex and consent that won’t let go of me, and that appears in most everything: Menyoral with Kessa, Steel with Fox, even in a couple of my short stories.

 

9. What book/ story/ movie do you wish you’d written?

I can’t really think of any. Maybe Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. So much beauty. I’m in awe of the skill she’s built since His Majesty’s Dragon (which I also loved), but I could never have written what she did. It’s hers.

 

10. How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do?

Write it down for later. Maybe it’s been done, but not by me, or by you either, for that matter. Even if you wrote a book like Dingus’s books, it would never be Dingus’s books. Even if I wrote a book like Tabia’s, it would never be Tabia’s. “Originality” is a construct. Everybody’s part of the Great Conversation, responding to what’s gone before: what they’ve read, what they notice. Fantasy has its own conversation, epic/heroic fantasy another yet. It’s a matter, I think, of reading enough to respond effectively and writing enough to develop a voice of your own, of adding your ideas to the Conversation. Nobody brings the same thing to the table, not if they’re being genuine. People say “write what you know.” I say, “Write honestly.”

 

About me:

I live in Wisconsin, which I love, with my two kids, my husband, and a crazy little cat. As you may be able to imagine, we share space with a lot of printed matter. I like comics, power metal, and pickled Brussels sprouts. You can find me at

https://menyoral.com.

Night Witches first chapter


Chapter 1 
 I brushed the hair out of my face with the back of my hand and listened to the distant explosions. The acrid smell of gunpowder laced the insides of my nostrils. It was all I could smell, all I’d been able to smell for days. That and smoke pluming from burning roofs, set on fire by the German bombs. No one slept. The noise and fear kept us awake; the crying of children and screams of the wounded, the tanks rumbling closer, our own jangled nerves.

 I bent to jam the shovel into the autumn mud. My shoulders and back ached, but when I wanted to give up, I worked faster, dug deeper. I had the blood of workers in my veins, and we worked while we still had strength to stand. Men were dying. A few aches, a blister or two and bleeding skin were all nothing. Stopping even for a little while might be all the enemy needed. 

 I had only seen a tank from a distance; the solid outer shell and massive gun like a giant eye. It was a thing to be feared, a harbinger of our death. I visualised, in my mind, an enemy tank trying to roll over the ditch we were digging. Instead of moving on, it would slide inside, its treads stuck irreversibly, churning fruitlessly, until Russian soldiers came along to kill the men inside. The thought filled me with such a savage delight that I surprised myself with the viciousness of the thought. For a moment, the poor mud became the head of the enemy, yielding under my cold steel. 

 “You’re going to hurt yourself,” the woman beside me remarked, smiling at me over a shovel that looked too long and heavy for her to handle. 

 I frowned at her at first, mistrusting her motive for speaking words like that to me. I hated the thought that anyone would think me weak. But then I smiled.  

 “It’s not myself I want to hurt, ” I said. “I’d like to use this to kill a few Nazis.” I raised my shovel and wielded it like a club. “Since they won’t give us guns.”

 “What would you do with a gun?” she asked, laughing at me and my fierce stance. “Don’t you know, war isn’t women’s business.” She said the words as though she were quoting and rolled her eyes skyward. Her mouth became a smirk of derision. I knew she’d either read them or been told them, but didn’t believe them herself, any more than I did.

 “My city is my business, as it is yours,” I replied firmly. I lowered my shovel quickly and went back to digging. “Our motherland is my business.” Since childhood, I had been aware of the importance of my home, like all Russian children, but war has a way of making us see and value what we have even more. It makes us want to stand up and defend every blade of glass; every last bit of dirt; every drop of water or blood. And more, we may not have a perfect way of life, but we would defend our right to live it to the death. 

 The young woman, she wasn’t much older than I was, nodded and smiled again. “I wanted to be a sniper, but they wouldn’t take me. Maybe now they will.” She nodded in the direction of the advancing German army.

 My eyes widened. A sniper? Would she even be as tall as the rifle? 

 She took in my expression and laughed again. “What? You don’t think I can shoot? My father taught me. He was a sniper in the Civil War. And this one too, until he was killed. A plane strafed his unit.” Her expression clouded and for a moment I thought she might cry. She didn’t though; she bit her lip and drew in a loud breath, then exhaled mist into the cold afternoon.

 I nodded. There wasn’t a person amongst us who hadn’t lost people they knew or loved.

  “I had two brothers. One was killed on the first day, the day the Germans invaded. My other brother is missing. I think he might be dead too.” I felt treacherous voicing that fear out loud. Until now, I hadn’t. My mother would have scolded me for saying it. She’d have shaken her wooden spoon at me. The woman would cling to the hope he’d return home until she knew for certain that he wouldn’t. My mother’s tenacity was matched for size only by her big heart and generous hips, slimmed down now from months on increasingly meagre rations. She didn’t want to think he was dead. Neither did I. 

 “My mother is in the city,” I jerked my head back toward it. My father, I would not discuss. I still had nightmares occasionally about him being arrested and taken away. We had no word from or about him for weeks afterward, but I’ll never forget my mother’s anguished face when a government official had told her he’d been executed as an enemy of the state. That was three years ago. I loved him, but we lived with the same shame every day, even though none of us knew what he’d actually done.

 “She refuses to leave.” I muttered something about stubborn people, but I didn’t blame her. I had also refused to leave. How could I go when I could be of use? The Germans would learn; we Russians don’t give up so easily. 

 “And here we are, digging ditches when there are Nazis to be killed,” she leaned down to pick up a rock and tossed it aside. “I think, when I’m done here, I’ll go and ask again and not leave until I’m accepted.” She wiped mud from her hand onto her trousers and squinted at me. 

 “What about you?” she asked. “What would you do, if they let you?” 

 Hours and hours of digging had given me a lot of time to think about that. So much time that I’d gone over and over the question in my head, mulling the various options that made up the Soviet war machine, and coming up with a conclusion.

 “I want to fly,” I declared. I had asked when the Germans first violated us by invading our motherland. I had gone straight down to the recruitment office and I stood in line and waited. I was the only woman in the line and I waited for hours, while the line moved as slowly as a stream in winter. I hadn’t cared. I’d have waited for days, if it meant defending my homeland. 

 Eventually, it had been my turn to speak to the recruitment officers. They had looked me up and down, and one gave in to a thinly veiled attempt not to laugh. 

 “What are you doing here, little girl?” The other one asked, his brown eyes looking derisively at me. He had a cranky face, a bulbous nose, and I was not a little girl. I was twenty years old. I knew I would only get off on the wrong foot if I pointed that out to them, so I decided on politeness. 

 “I want to join the PVO or VVS.” Both were aerial defence forces and either were my first choice, but really, I’d have done anything that was asked of me, as long as I got to the front to fight. 

 The laughing man laughed even harder. I couldn’t stop myself from giving him a scowl. The fascists were not only on our doorstep but had crossed over the threshold and this man could only laugh as though I’d told some great joke.

 “Go home, we don’t need the help of girls.” The cranky-faced man glared at me, as if appalled that I dared to ask. Then he was the first to tell me those words, “War is not the business of women.” 

 “If it is not the business of people to fight for their motherland, then whose is it?” I argued, but they’d stopped listening. I’d found myself pushed aside and back out onto the street. The line was longer now, men, men and more men, and boys, all willing to die for Russia. I should have applauded them, but instead, I trudged off in humiliation. 

 That was June, now it was October and the war wasn’t going well for us. I’d left college, where I had been studying to be a teacher and waited, as everyone else had, for the victory that hadn’t come, or to help when needed. The Germans kept on winning and we kept on losing and now they were all but at our gates. 

 “I want to fly, I want to bomb the fascists and shoot down their planes before they can bomb our cities and towns.” I knew I sounded dogmatic, but I prefer to think of it as passionate. In spite of that, I half expected the woman to laugh, as the man at the recruitment centre had laughed. Instead, she nodded. 

 “Why don’t you then?” she asked, as if the answer was so obvious. She must have noticed my look of confusion, because a smile broke out on her face and I knew she was about to say something I’d like to hear. 

 “You haven’t heard? Marina Raskova herself has asked for volunteer recruits to join a women’s regiment.”

 My heart skipped a beat, maybe several. I hardly dared to breathe, in case she told me she was joking. Marina Mikhailovna Raskova was a hero of mine, of many women. She’d already been awarded a gold star, a Hero of the Soviet Union medal for her accomplishments before the war. Her flight with Ospienko and Grizodubova in the Rodina was the stuff of legends. The three aviators had set out to break a record in 1938. Their plane had crashed, but Raskova had bailed out first. She’d parachuted into a swamp and had walked for ten days, hungry, tired, with injured legs, and alone to find her plane.

 Every young woman, and many older ones, idolised her. If she were organising regiments of airwomen, then women would come. I would go; I’d apply right away.

 A distant explosion rudely reminded me of where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. The cold shovel in my hand, precious dirt under my feet. I would dig this ditch and then I’d go and sign up. I’d defend the soil beneath my feet and the people who walked upon it.

 I washed and changed into my best dress, one made of simple blue wool that fell past my knees, and my nicest leather shoes. Neither was anything grand, but I wouldn’t embarrass myself or my family. I might have wanted to fight and maybe kill, but I was still a young woman, with some small measure of vanity left. 

 I brushed my long dark hair and tied it back off my face. Glancing in the mirror I practiced my stern expression in the old, mottled glass. The man in the recruitment office had had a stern expression on his face when he’d told me ‘no’. I wanted to have one as well so they knew I wouldn’t listen to another refusal. I smiled at myself, seeing a young woman in the mirror, but one who wouldn’t be pushed aside quite so easily this time. 

 I marched out the door and onto the street. It was getting quieter in Moscow as the days went on. The feeling of fear and desperation rose with the scent of gunpowder. It was getting dark too, every night passed in blackout. We hoped to thwart enemy bombs by making fewer targets for them to see. 

 I scanned the sky, but only saw wafting smoke. Perhaps we’d be lucky tonight and they wouldn’t come. Of course, they probably would. I sighed heavily, making an old man turn and look at me as he walked by. Rather than thinking me odd, he nodded his understanding and shuffled on his way. Of course, war has a way of binding people together, giving us a single purpose, a common enemy. 

 The sky was golden and red by the time I reached the recruitment office. War was hell, but it made for pretty twilights and sunsets. I decided there must be some meaning to it, some sort of indication I’d succeed. I’m not usually superstitious, but I could use all the confidence I could get. 

 The line was much smaller now than it had been in the early days of the war. Anyone who had been allowed to fight had gone, apart from a few who had been too old or perhaps too young and hadn’t succeeded in lying about their age, and women, like me. The laughing man and Cranky-face were gone. In their place was a man with only one arm and a haunted expression in his grey-blue eyes. His face and posture spoke of a man who had been to the front, and had returned, but just barely, and who now spent his days sending others to the front in his place.

 “Good afternoon,” he greeted me with a weary tone. 

 I’d thought about what I wanted to say over and over on the walk here. How I’d be insistent and firm. But it when it came time to speak, the words I’d rehearsed just didn’t seem right. 

 “I would like to apply to join Marina Raskova’s regiment,” I replied, simple and to the point. I waited for him to laugh, but he didn’t. Instead, he grabbed a sheet of paper and slid it over the tabletop to me. His hand was scarred, the tips of two long fingers were missing. He was probably grateful he had a hand left at all, even damaged as it was. I had seen a few people return from the fighting, but not this close up. It should probably have scared me, but it made me more resolute. Why should anyone sit back and watch while the Germans were doing this to our people?

 “You’re the fifth one today,” he told me. I thought he was going to smile, but he didn’t do that either. He handed me a pen and a small bottle of ink. “Fill that out and I’ll send it off.” 

 Surprised into silence, I nodded and hurriedly wrote, dipping the nib into the ink every few seconds. My name, Nadia Valinsky; my address; my qualifications; the names of my mother and brothers (in case any were also considered enemies of the state). I picked up the sheet, held it pinched between my thumbs and forefingers and waved it to dry the ink. Even a tiny smudge might render it unreadable enough to disqualify me. 

 Satisfied, I handed the paper back to the man. He glanced at it and nodded, then placed it at the top of a neat pile and turned to the person next in line behind me. The dismissal this time was as sudden as the first, but a little more positive. It wasn’t a ‘no’ this time, just a ‘wait and see.’ 

Read more here 

My Interview with Michael Schutz


1. How do you dream up your characters and situations? 

Every once in a while, the situations come from dreams. My latest novel, EDGING, started as a dream about a bus crashing into a house. The initial spark of a character comes from a guy I see standing on the road, an old friend, quirky neighbors. I use them as springboards, take some quirk or deformity that I see as a hook, then extrapolate what I think their life might be like.

 

2. What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel.

 

First off, before I start my morning work, I need to have my writin’ juice—coffee with lots of cream, no sugar. That jumpstarts my brain. Then I need my cats around me. They storm on in and lay on my desk or my bed—my office is a corner of my bedroom! Another quirk is that I cannot listen to music while I write. So many authors talk about making playlists suitable to their work and pump those tunes to set the mood. I can’t concentrate with that going on. Although, I’m actually listen to a live performance of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir at this very moment. I’m training myself to tolerate a soundtrack to my writing!

 

3. How do you develop your characters?

 

I’ve been a rabid fan of Stephen King since I bought The Stand at a garage sale the summer after 6th grade. I love how he gives even his ancillary characters a backstory. A life. Taking a cue from the King, I develop my characters through vignettes or anecdotes about their past, mini-stories that reveal who they are, what motivates them.

 

 

4. What are you reading now?

I just started Ramsey Campbell’s short story collection, Waking Nightmares. I love Campbell’s work. Jason White and I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing him for our podcast, Darkness Dwells. http://www.wheredarknessdwells.com/darkness-dwells-podcast/ep59-ramseycampbell

 

 

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

 

Recently I suffered a bout of insomnia and stared up at the ceiling, asking this very question about myself. God knows my life would be so much easier if I didn’t put myself through the stress and turmoil of self-imposed schedules, submissions, reading rejections, and endless promotion. But if I didn’t write, I’d be miserable. When I go for a day or two—or a couple weeks if I’m in a bad place—my mental state collapses. As for the driving force, I crave that feeling of finishing a story—novel, novella, short story, no matter—and knowing that every aspect clicked. It’s that rush of hitting a fastball just right and knowing it’s a homerun as it comes off the bat, or feeling that strike as soon as the bowling bowl leaves your fingers.

 

 

6. Who inspires you?

 

In life, my mom and dad. I dedicated my new novel EDGING to them. As I write there, they gave me my first typewriter; basically a fully functioning toy. I pounded out so many stories on it, that it wore out. Next Christmas, they gave me a top-of-the-line electric typewriter. I’m dating myself with that story, huh? They guided me in many ways—my mom turned me onto The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Darkside. From my dad I discovered a passion for books—he introduced me to the local used book store, and I never turned back!

 

In my writing, the first novel I read, Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion lit the spark to write. I read my first Ray Bradbury in 5th or 6th grade—buying The October Country from that used book store. Shortly thereafter, I found that beat-up copy of The Stand. I devoured everything King wrote over three or four years. Those are my biggest influences to this day.

 

 

7. What inspires you?

 

Everything that scares me. Everything that worries me. Every incident that broke my heart or spun me into a rage.

 

 

8. Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears everything you write?

 

I’m from Wisconsin, as is Peter Straub. I’m a huge Straub fan. If You Could See Me Now and Julia changed me forever. One of his recurring themes—expressed brilliantly in the former novel—is that reality is like a piece of fabric, and over the Midwest that cloth is stretched to the point of thinning, coming apart. That the Midwest is the closest gate to the horrors and dread behind what we think of as everyday life. I love that. I agree with that and have adopted that theme in my own work. Just think about it, the Midwest bred some of the most infamous serial killers: Ed Gein, Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy. Do you think that’s a coincidence? I don’t.

 

 

9. What book/ story/ movie do you wish you’d written?

 

Short answer: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Long answer: Stephen King stole my ideas! I had a Carrie-ish girl in my high school, weird mother, outcast but really smart and sweet, but when I looked into her eyes I saw a darkness smoldering.Most high schools have one or two of those, though. But my dad’s favorite mechanic just outside of town had this huge dog—a German Shepherd. So there’s Cujo right there. That damn Stephen King!

 

 

10. How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do?

 

Three or four years ago, a thunderbolt idea struck me. A million-dollar idea: a series of bestsellers that would turn into a successful movie franchise. My own vampire chronicles! I thought about how the Twilight Saga has a decent gay following. What if I made my own version explicitly for gay readers? A main character, a young gay man who joins a vampire academy. His loves, his losses, his journey into the unlife of the undead. I wrote the first novel and outlined the next two. Then my husband said, “Hey, come look at this.” Author Michael Griffo wrote the Archangel Trilogy, about gay vampires at an academy. I read it, and one would think I’d read it before and rewrote it for my own purposes. So many similarities, including the use of A Separate Peace as a metaphor. No more million-dollar idea. But I am working on something big right now…

 

 

 

Author Bio:
Michael Schutz was born and raised in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, where the macabre tales of Ray Bradbury and Stephen King kept him warm at night. He’s seen way too many horror movies to be healthy and blogs and podcasts about them on Darkness Dwells. He is the author of the novels Edging and Blood Vengeance and the novella Uninoch. His short fiction has been featured most recently in Crossroads in the Dark II: Urban Legends, Dark Moon Digest, Sanitarium, and the anthologies Beasts: Revelations, Beyond the Nightlight, and Cranial Leakage: Tales from the Grinning Skull. He lives with his three naughty cat-children in northern California. You can keep tabs on him at:

 

http://www.michaelschutzfiction.com

https://www.facebook.com/michaelschutzfiction/

 

 

http://www.wheredarknessdwells.com/

 

My interview with Jesse Frankel

1. How do you dream up your characters and situations?—I always begin with the “What if” premise. That is to say, if situation A happens, what’s going to happen to the main character(s) and what will they do in response? Everything that results in every chapter of every book I write is a what-if scenario. 

     I like to take the average person who’s living a mundane kind of existence and drop them in at

at the deep end. They have to adapt, have to sink or swim, and I take them on a journey to discover that they can, indeed, survive and thrive.

 

2. What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel.—I’m pretty quirkless. That’s a word—is that a word?—I put in one of my novels, and it sort of describes me best. I don’t chug coffee by the gallon, don’t nibble on chocolate. I do confess to running downstairs in between writing jags and sneaking a cigarette or three. That’s really my only vice, as I don’t drink.

 

I do, however, watch a lot of YouTube music vids to get myself in a positive frame of mind. Various groups and singers do it for me, so I get my vid-fix on, and then get to writing. I sit my butt down, type away, take breaks for Facebook and other social sites every now and then, but I have to get my ‘X’ number of words in.

 

3. How do you develop your characters?—I write YA Fantasy for the most part, so my characters are your average teens who have their own problems. The one thing that drives them—and I’ll touch on this in point #8 at bit more—is that they’ve all suffered loss of a family member or members.

 

I give my characters tics, quirks, and habits, either hobbies that they do solo, such as stargazing or fixating on television shows or what have you, and take it from there. I don’t make them neurotic, just people who tend to go solo in life as opposed to being in a group.

 

I also try to imagine myself in their situations. A lot of writing coaches say not to put yourself in their shoes, but I know of no better way to do it. I do what works, and this works. For me, the most important thing is that my characters grow during the course of the novel. If they adapt and change for the better and continue to adapt, then that, to me, is a most positive thing.

 

 

4. What are you reading now?—I’m doing the final edits of The Titans of Ardana 3: Interstellar, my final novel in the Titans trilogy. I want to get it done. Before that, I did read Crimson Fire, a very solid novel.

 

5. Why do you write and what drives you?—Writing allows me to explore the mysteries of the universe, the human mind and the human heart. I can, to borrow a line from Star Trek, boldly go where no writer has gone before. I can write what I like, take my readers on an adventure, and hopefully leave them on that world I create.

 

What drives me? I want to write a good story—period. I don’t do message pieces. Writing polemics is a sure way to drive anyone off, so I never preach this or that. Instead, I attempt to show the whys and the hows instead of telling people this or that is wrong. I can only hope I do a good job.

 

 

6. Who inspires you?—No one, really, save me. I know that sounds arrogant, but it’s true. I admire certain writers—N.K. Jemisin, Neil Gaiman, and Robert McCammon—but I wouldn’t say they have inspired me, except to try and be as good as they are. Maybe one day I will be.

 

7. What inspires you?—Life in general, everything that I see. Music I listen to. People around me. Videos, news, a word or phrase I read or hear. All of those things make me think of an alternate reality, one that I shape, me, and me alone.  

 

 

8. Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears everything you write?—As previously mentioned, in pretty much every novel I’ve written, the main characters experience loss of a family member or members. It gives the MC a burden to work under, but it also forces them to push themselves to achieve.

 

Of course I throw in fantastic elements, such as transgenics or aliens or monsters. They’re pretty much de rigeur these days. But the main element, that of growth, is always present. My characters have to adapt to their new surroundings, whatever they may be or wherever they are. Life is really all about adaption, anyway. That’s how we’ve survived for so long.

 

 

9. What book/ story/ movie do you wish you’d written?—Hmm, good question. I really can’t say right now. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

 

10. How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do?—There are no new ideas under the sun. I’d like to say there are, but there aren’t. And if you look at my novels, you’ll see there is nothing new idea-wise. It’s what you do with the idea that counts.

 

As examples:

 

Twisted—gender-switch

Catnip—deals with transgenics (or chimeras, if you prefer).

The Nightmare Crew trilogy—teen falls in with a group of lab-created monsters, ends up being a hybrid himself.

Picture (Im)perfect—boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, loses girl, gets girl back. The only difference is, she wasn’t born a girl.

Star Maps—boy meets new girl in class, finds out she’s not from around here…or this world…

The Titans of Ardana trilogy—Aliens, there be aliens! Of course there are…

 

Not one of these has a new idea. It’s how you, as the writer, shape it to your own view of what reality is, or should be. It’s a singular vision. That’s what I hold onto and try to develop in everything I write. I can only hope I do a good job.
***
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/J.S.-Frankel/e/B004XUUTB8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JS-Frankel-AUTHOR-1458667077729037/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

 

Night Witches release!

I am celebrating the release of my historical fiction novel Night Witches. Here is some background into these incredible women and their story. 

Nadia Valinsky is a young female pilot and university education student from Moscow. When the Germans invade the Soviet Union in 1941, she wants to fight to defend her country. In October of 1941 Marina Raskova, a famous female aviator, asks for volunteers, Nadia signs up. She is accepted for an interview and offered a place in the training regiment as a navigator.
Following rigorous training at Engles Air Force base, Nadia is assigned to the Night Bomber regiment. She and her crew fly multiple missions on the front lines and are regularly under fire from anti-aircraft guns. The Germans give them the nickname Night Witches, because of the sound their aircraft make as they sweep overhead. 
The Night Witches flew in planes made from canvas and balsawood. For the majority of the war, they had no radios, or parachutes. The latter was considered to take up too much space needed to carry bombs. Of three women’s regiments, theirs was the only one who consisted entirely of women through the duration of the war. 
They lived together, fought together and died together. 
Buy Night Witches at:
 Amazon- https://www.amazon.com/Night-Witches-Mirren-Hogan/dp/1988281164/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484729011&sr=8-1&keywords=Night+Witches+mirren
Barnes and Noble- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/night-witches-mirren-hogan/1124869702?ean=9781988281162

Author bio
Mirren Hogan lives in NSW Australia with her husband, two daughters, dog, cat, rabbits and countless birds. She has a Bachelor of Arts (English/ history), a Graduate Diploma of Arts (writing) and a couple of degrees in education. She writes fantasy, urban fantasy and science fiction, as well as historical fiction.
Her debut novel —Crimson Fire— was released in October 2016.
Burning Willow Press will be releasing Nightmares Rise – co-authored by Erin Yoshikawa – on April 8.
Sands Press released historical fiction titled Night Witches On March 15.
Mirren also had several short stories published and has co-edited two charity anthologies; for breast cancer research and Plan Australia.

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Official website: mirrenhogan.com