My interview with Erin Yoshikawa and Mirren Hogan

To celebrate the release of NIghtmares Rise, I sat down with the authors for an interview,.

Do you like cheese?
Erin: As long as it’s not head cheese, yes!

Mirren: Too much, usually with wine or pizza.

What was the last book you read?
Erin:My Education by William S. Burroughs. That, and The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon. The latter was a gift from a friend.

Mirren: Welcome to the Apocalypse by DL Richardson

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?
Erin: Any flavor. Seriously. Try me.

Mirren: Chocolate. Are there others?

What is your favourite movie?
Erin: In public, I say The English Patient or Schindler’s List. Privately, it’s Weekend at Bernie’s 2.

Mirren: Back to the Future.

Tea or coffee?
Erin: Both. Mixed together. It’s called a Vader 50/50. Try it!

Mirren: Really Erin? I’ll stick to tea.

Where’s your favourite place to write?
Erin: The dining room table, but only after midnight.

Mirren: The couch, in my lounge room.

What are your hobbies?
Erin: Writing and Willem Dafoe. A person can be a hobby.

Mirren: Walking my dog and my dog. An animal can be a hobby too. 

Which book/s have influenced you the most?
Erin: It’s a toss up between The Prophet by Khalil Gibran and Night by Elie Weisel. There was so much human honesty in both stories but for very different reasons.

Mirren: Every book influences me in some way. 

What is your pet’s name?
Erin: LJ. I don’t keep animals with more than 2 legs or who lack opposable thumbs.

Mirren: Bear, the jack Russell.

Name 4 foods you eat regularly?
Erin: Sandwiches, pho, sandwiches, ice cream. Yes, I know I said sandwiches twice.

Mirren: Cheese, pizza, chocolate, bananas.

Favourite place to be?
Erin: Anywhere I can think comfortably.

Mirren: My house.

Where would you like to go?
Erin: Australia!

Mirren: Hawaii!

Favourite TV show?
Erin: Currently, Westworld or The Man in the High Castle.

Mirren: Anything DC.

Do you own slippers?
Erin: No. Which is strange, because we call flip flops slippers here and everybody wears them but me.

Mirren: Yes, but they live in the cupboard so the dog can’t chew them.

Can you whistle?
Erin: Yes but don’t ask me to whistle at night.

Mirren: Yes, but I don’t.

What is your favourite colour?
Erin: Black

Mirren: Blue

Who is your favourite author?
Erin: Mirren Hogan or Khalil Gibran. I’m leaning towards the former.

Mirren: Erin Yoshikawa!

Would you be a pirate?
Erin: Can I be a space pirate like Captain Harlock or Emeraldas from Galaxy Express 999? If so, then yes.

Mirren: No, I’m a dragon.

Last thing/person that made you laugh?
Erin: My kid. That’s why I keep him around.

Mirren: Either a kid or the dog. He’s a big derp. 

Where would you love to live?
Erin: Ireland. In a quiet cottage with good wifi.

Mirren: My house.

What book are you reading at the moment?
Erin: Histories by Herodotus

Mirren: Beast Within by SL Perrine

Favourite month?
Erin: Any month.

Mirren: I don’t have one either.

Buy NIghtmares Rise from Amazon 

Author bios

Erin Yoshikawa

Erin is a Scorpio born in the year of the rat. She currently resides on a small rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with one child and a plethora of native fauna to aid in the writing process. One time rock and roll queen, soup seller, grave digger, and world traveler, Erin enjoys a quiet existence working for The Man while not giving him the satisfaction of killing imagination and dreams. She has contributed to a few anthologies. Nightmares Rise will be her first full-length novel with more to come. Eventually. She hopes. 
Erin Yoshikawa”s author page- https://www.facebook.com/erin.yoshikawa.author/?ref=ts&fref=ts
Mirren Hogan

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. That was followed by historical fiction Night Witches, and paranormal/ urban fantasy Nightmares Rise (co-authored by Erin Yoshikawa). 
Mirren also had several short stories published and has co-edited two charity anthologies; for breast cancer research and Plan Australia.
Website: Mirrenhogan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MirrenHoganAuthor/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter: @MirrenHogan

Blog: https://mirrenhoganblog.wordpress.com

Mailing list: http://eepurl.com/cA1PCb

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My interview with Erin Yoshikawa 

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

It depends on the work. In some instances, they were facets of my own personality that desperately needed a voice. At other times, I saw a character in a movie or play and found them intriguing. There have been strangers seen or heard from a distance who contributed to characters. The way someone moves or looks at you, the way they react to other emotions, these things all contribute to creating a new mode of thought.

 

Situations are different. At the best times, the situation writes itself. Sometimes it’s easy to move from one point to the next without a lot of planning or direction. At other times, you need to plot the course carefully to make the story flow just the way you want it. Again, characters and situations are not objective concepts. They’re both very subjective.

 

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

 

There are so many. When I write, I do it best alone and listening to 90s music. There’s probably a cigarette involved. I don’t drink because it interferes with my creative process. I also tend to go for vegan food when I’m writing.

 

3. How do you develop your characters?

 

It’s a slow process. I start with a gesture or phrase. People have habits, so a character will have repetitive gestures like a real person. A stray thought that doesn’t fit in with my own becomes a sentence from someone else’s mouth. A face usually comes after, although a lot of times it happens concurrently with the gestures. Most people envision a person with a certain mood. Willem Dafoe always comes to mind when I’m trying to express emotional intensity just behind the eyes. But mostly, the character creates itself.

 

4. What are you reading now?

 

Fables by Bill Willingham. It’s a comic series about storybook characters who ended up settling in our world.

 

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

 

I write feelings. And that’s what drives me. If I don’t feel an emotional attachment to a character or feel their emotions, I don’t write them. Emotion is a heady thing like a drug. If I can’t connect to a feeling, the project dies quickly.

 

6. Who inspires you?

 

People. All people at all times.

 

7. What inspires you?

 

Emotion and feeling. Without them, nothing happens. They’re the driving force behind everything.

 

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

 

“Soon, and soon, and soon.” The phrase always pops up in my head. I hear it when a character covets something from a dark place in themselves. And the word ‘castrophony’. It appears on the Demon Days album from the Gorillaz. It means cacophony and catastrophe rolled together, loud hell falling upon everybody’s head. I like that word. It should be used more often.

 

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

 

None, really. Sometimes I think I could have done a story better, improved on the dialogue, amped up the emotional impact of a scene. But for the most part no. People have their ideas and I have mine.

 

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

 

All the time. For the most part, I’m content to let the idea go. But occasionally I’ll be open to letting my own ideas about the subject happen and bring something new to the world. Every idea you or I have had has already been had by someone else. It just hasn’t been told with your own voice. I suppose that’s the lesson here: use your own voice. Tell your stories. Don’t be afraid of your feelings.


Erin is a Scorpio born in the year of the rat. She currently resides on a small rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with one child and a plethora of native fauna to aid in the writing process. One time rock and roll queen, soup seller, grave digger, and world traveler, Erin enjoys a quiet existence working for The Man while not giving him the satisfaction of killing imagination and dreams. She has contributed to a few anthologies. Nightmares Rise will be her first full-length novel with more to come. Eventually. She hopes. 
Erin Yoshikawa”s author page- https://www.facebook.com/erin.yoshikawa.author/?ref=ts&fref=ts

My interview with Andy Peloquin 

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

I often get inspired by random ideas—usually something that comes from reading psychological articles or studies, but sometimes random links or web pages can give me an idea. Once I have the concept of a story down (i.e., a priestess who can take away people’s pain), I start to flesh it out and explore it in my mind. Eventually, the story takes shape, but it’s always built around a single idea or concept.  

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

I’m a third-culture kid (born in Japan to French and Canadian parents), so I don’t really have anywhere I can call “home”. I’ve spend most of my life traveling, engaged in missionary work. I’ve only just begun writing but have found it to be my calling, my purpose in life.

3. How do you develop your characters?

I start by understanding what makes them tick. I never have an “ordinary” protagonist or antagonist—there always has to be something odd or unique about them. By delving into the psychology of the character (half-demon assassin with schizoaffective disorder, thief girl brainwashed into slavery), I can craft both the characters’ personalities and their stories.


4. What are you reading now?

I’m listening to David Dalglish’s Dance of Cloaks series, and enjoying it. It’s a very different sort of thief/assassin novel than I’m writing, but a fun one to read.

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

I write to express my innate creativity. I’ve always had a desire to create, to put something unique into the world, and writing allows me to do that. The driving force behind my writing is always helping others to understand me and the world around them better.

6. Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by a lot of writers who draw me in with their stories and help me forget my problems. Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, David Weber—these are just a few who I’ve found to be highly addicting. I want to make people as addicted to my stories!

7. What inspires you?

I want to share parts of myself, my mindsets, and my beliefs with others. By doing so through the medium of a story, I can package thoughts in a way that people will find appealing. Even if there’s only one sentence in a book that shares the way I think or feel, if people identify with it, it’s worth all the effort.

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

It’s actually a quote I wrote and tattooed on my arm, “There is no evil; only desire and what you will do to obtain it.” I believe that the only thing separating the “heroes” from the “villains” is a single action, a single choice, or the way they go about getting what they want.

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

I wish I could have written The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. SO descriptive, rich, and intriguing. Such an amazing series—my favorite books of all time.

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

I try to find a new way to tell the story, or approach it from a different angle. Take The Last Bucelarii series, which follows an assassin. Instead of the assassin being a villain, he’s the protagonist (anti-hero). He is as much a victim in his own life because of the voice of the dagger in his mind that drives him to kill. His journey and character growth is totally different from any other assassin story out there. The fact that he is the protagonist and deals with very real mental problems (schizoaffective disorder) makes his story absolutely unique.


http://andypeloquin.com/
https://www.amazon.com/Andy-Peloquin/e/B00J9008MC/
https://www.facebook.com/andyqpeloquin
https://twitter.com/AndyPeloquin    
http://www.linkedin.com/in/andypeloquin/
https://plus.google.com/100885994638914122147/about

Asian Representation: The Lack Thereof

By Erin Yoshikawa


Bad-assery does not have a gender. It does not have a color. It does not have a race, body-type, age or a sexual orientation.

Logically, this is truth. As a society with access to a million different viewpoints, we are gifted with examples of heroism in many forms. From the daily good deeds enacted by the merest child to moments of bravery in battlefields thousands of miles away, it’s easy to see how non-discriminatory bad-assery can be throughout the world. You don’t need muscles or a college degree to be a hero. You don’t need anyone’s blessing or permission to be epic.

 If this is true, then why do we see a lack of diversity in entertainment? Hollywood is guilty of it, having a long history of white washing characters when it suited the budget or marketing campaign. The same year Flower Drum Song made its big screen debut, Breakfast at Tiffany’s also premiered. One film highlighted a cast made entirely of Asian actors portraying a sweet but slightly racist view of Asian life in America set to music by Hammerstein. The other features a fumbling, ineffective landlord played by Mickey Rooney with fake snaggle teeth and a cheap summer kimono.

 I’m willing to admit the social environment was different at the time: Asian-Americans were still clawing their way to equality alongside African-Americans. They were still a marginalized population piecing their identity back together after the internment camps of World War II. Americans of other races still viewed Asians as outsiders. Representation in the media reflected the collective sentiment effectively, revealing the consensus of Asians as the unwanted strangers in a strange land.        

Present day, present time: Asians are finally taking a stand and carving a place in America for themselves. They are no longer afraid to speak out or rock the boat. Gone are the days of loathsome acceptance condensed to a short phrase, Shikata ga nai.

It cannot be helped.

It can be helped. You need to rock the boat when there are rats eating your catch. The greater good outweighs potential embarrassment.

 They demand respect and an equal voice in politics and culture. But one thing continues to elude us: representation in media devoid of racist stereotypes.
It bothers me when I see an Asian man portrayed as meek and shy. It hurts to see an Asian woman portrayed as a geek that just needs to find a “real man” to unlock the hidden sexpot behind her glasses and textbooks. My heart hurts every time I see an Asian being rescued, when they could have rescued themselves. In fact, did that person need to be rescued at all?

All cultures around the world have stories of bravery and cunning. Asians are no different. China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Cambodia all have rich folklore depicting warrior men and women. They are brave citizens who became heroes through acts of undeniable bad-assery that transcended color and gender. Fa Mulan, Tomoe Gozen, and Khun Muk were revered in cultures that generally frowned upon women in combat leadership roles. While each retained traditional gender ideals, they exemplified bravery in the face of male oppression when called to protect the things that mattered most.

Regardless of motive, a badass is a badass. Within their own cultures, Asians can be and do anything they want. While we still see weak men and meek women on the silver screen, they are equally balanced by female villains in positions of power, or men who aren’t afraid of their emotions while attempting to stand strong in the face of adversity. Japanese and Korean animation bring fantastic women who don’t need men to take care of them. Children soldier on in the face of misfortune and war.

In a world where all stories are available to us always, why don’t we see more persons of color in fiction? More to the point, why don’t we see more diversity in fiction from English-speaking countries? When you see a person of color, they are often fetishized and pigeon-holed into small roles that accentuate the main (and white) character. In fantasy, one rarely sees black or Asian-inspired characters taking the lead in a journey to save the kingdom. Or, if there are persons of color, they are reduced to disposable villains or territories to be conquered. It can be argued that one writes what they know. But in fantasy, when the writer builds the entire world, persons of color could easily be given a place of equal power. The world is connected. Ignorance is no excuse for excluding persons of color.

In America and other English-speaking countries, subgenres have emerged. Written by persons of color for persons of color. They range from urban fantasy to romance, historical fiction to post-modern thrillers. Each features a protagonist accessible to the target audience. What’s more: the characters are resilient and often gender is more equally represented. They give equal respect to all represented cultures and ethnicities without shying away from the bitter realities each face in the presence of racism and intolerance.

Within the current political climate, we find people who claim to be tired of politically correct conversation. They refuse to acknowledge the need for diversity within the media. They claim it is a non-issue. To leave race unacknowledged, we silently enable racism. But therein lies the rub.

In writing, ethnic representation does not need to be overt. It can be as simple as leaving certain details to the imagination. The reader can decide for themselves what color their favorite character is, or leave them colorless. They can picture Emma Watson as Hermione forever, or allow the possibility of Noma Dumezweni to be the face of a brilliant girl who went on to be a brilliant woman, magic notwithstanding. Some may view the concept as a cop-out, but when writing fantasy one needs to allow room for interpretation. A writer’s world only comes to life when another can picture it for themselves. In a person’s head, a character can look completely different from the author’s idea, regardless of the description given within the text. Some ask for explicit descriptions of race. Personally, I concur with the latter idea. I want to know exactly what the character looked like in the writer’s mind. But in fantasy, when dealing with worlds unlike ours, that simply isn’t possible without removing the reader from the story.

Also, no one cares that Willem Dafoe is the face of inspiration for every older white male I write.

Now you know. Good luck trying to get his face out of your head.

As an Asian cisgender heterosexual(mostly) woman, I will never know what it’s like to be a sixty-something grizzled knight with a penchant for alcohol and whining. I don’t really know what goes through a man’s head when faced with a robotic cat and a world made of plastic. But that doesn’t stop me from including the character’s voice. I will never know what it’s like to be an orc, a dragon, or a man. I will never truly know the struggle of being a small boy trying to live in a world of unrealistic feminine expectations. But I can treat each character as an individual, with its own views and motivations. No character is perfect, and surely someone will take exception to the way each is written. But I can learn and assimilate new ideas, continue to push for representation within my own work, and remain proud of my own voice as it evolves. So long as one seeks to expand their understanding of things beyond their narrow scopes, we can continue to see growth in literature. 

Author bio
Erin Yoshikawa

Erin is a Scorpio born in the year of the rat. She currently resides on a small rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with one child and a plethora of native fauna to aid in the writing process. One time rock and roll queen, soup seller, grave digger, and world traveler, Erin enjoys a quiet existence working for The Man while not giving him the satisfaction of killing imagination and dreams. She has contributed to a few anthologies. Nightmares Rise will be her first full-length novel with more to come. Eventually. She hopes. 


Erin Yoshikawa”s author page- https://www.facebook.com/erin.yoshikawa.author/?ref=ts&fref=t

Nightmares Rise release party!

Yes, we’re giving away free stuff1 prizes will include the following. Don’t forget to invite your friends!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1823585524550256/

Beautiful Nightmares anthology

Catnip, by JS FRankel 

https://www.facebook.com/JS-Frankel-AUTHOR-1458667077729037/

The Longest Night Watch anthology

Night Witches by Mirren Hogan 

T-Rex Moon magazine – hardcopy

https://trexmoonzine.wordpress.com/

Child of the Night Guild – by Andy Peloquin 

My interview with Debbie Manber-Kupfer

Debbie Manber Kupfer – P.A.W.S. Saga


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

 

They’re a combination of my imagination mixed together with my experiences. Most of most situations start with a real event. P.A.W.S. for example begins with Miri’s omama dying when she is ten-years old. The same thing happened to me. My omama, who I was very closed to passed away when I was ten years old and it had a profound effect on my life. And so, it along with so many other of my experiences ended up in my story.

 

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

 

I have to have a nice mug of tea at hand whenever I write (and drink about a gallon a day). I love kitties and rarely write a story that doesn’t include one. I reward myself with mint chocolate M&Ms. Even though I love music, I usually can’t work with it on. Oh and I randomly burst in song – mostly Gilbert and Sullivan at the drop of a hat – my family is used to it.

 

3. How do you develop your characters?

 

I talk to them. Find out what they’re thinking! Sometimes if they’re being particularly stubborn I might interview them. I have a lot of characters and I believe that really there’s no such thing as an unimportant character. They all have their stories to tell if you listen.

 

4. What are you reading now?

 

Just started Magic, the third part of Rebekah Dodson’s Curse of Lanval series, a light-hearted new adult time travel series. Having a lot of fun reading it.

 

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

 

The story. I’m writing a long series and I want to know what happens!

 

6. Who inspires you?

 

Lots of people – my kids, my cat, my critique partner, Larry plus authors I look up to – JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman – and indies like Ben Reeder and RR Virdi.

 

7. What inspires you?

 

Anything and everything. I’m an avid people watcher and often folks I see and snippets of conversation of overhear find their way into my stories.

 

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

 

Nothing is black and white. Every one of my characters is flawed in some way and none of my villains are completely evil (though some get pretty close). Often times you have to delve deeper to find the truth and that truth may be different for different people.

 

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

 

Harry Potter of course – but I think I’m doing the next best thing.

 

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

 

Write it anyway. There’s no such thing as a completely new idea. But you can take an old idea and make it uniquely yours.

 

 

 

Bio:

 

Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in the London. She has lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a writer and a freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. She lives with her husband, two children and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of the young adult fantasy series, P.A.W.S. which features a secret institute of shapeshifters hidden deep beneath the Jewel Box in Forest Park, St. Louis. In addition she has stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Stardust, Always, Winter Wishes, and Sins of The Past. She has also published a book of puzzles, Paws 4 Logic, with her son Joey. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

 

 

 

Connect with Debbie on her blogs:

Paws4Thought: http://debbiemanberkupfer.wordpress.com/

Paws4Puzzles: http://paws4puzzles.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor

Twitter: @CiciCat42

Amazon: http://author.to/DebbieManberKupfer

My interview with CC Adams

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

Good question. I guess the first element is, “what would I want to see?” In terms of characters, I want a good representation of the people you might find in a city like London. That means people who are young or old. Male or female. Those who are skinny or overweight. Factor in other things like their sexuality, interests and such – just to get realistic characters.

 

For the situations? I guess what I’m looking at is the fantastical set against a realistic setting. It could be two friends on a fishing trip on a lake. Or a jogger journeying home late on London Underground. A bunch of people catching live music in a sweaty venue, packed shoulder to shoulder. I like the narrative that nudges the everyday into something off-kilter. Sinister, even.

 

 

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

 

My quirks? Ahhhh, I’m sure I don’t have any… No, I’ll tell you the biggest one – at least as a writer. I love my quiet and solitude in equal measure. I wouldn’t say I’m the most gregarious person, but I can engage with people, no problem. When it’s time to write, the quiet alone isn’t enough – people need to disappear. When I have that level of quiet and solitude, then it’s easier for me to really relax and sink myself into the story I’m crafting. In general, I don’t like too many people around me in terms of crowds and tourists and such. My honey knows this from when we’re out and about, holding hands: when people veer to close, her grip tightens along with mine. Her way of saying, “babe, it’s okay,” or some such, I guess. And making sure I don’t break her hand…

 

So, yeah, I can do people, but not crowds, if that makes sense. I guess another quirk is that I’m often at the mercy of my stomach. Lifting weights, which includes heavy squats, keeps some degree of size, strength and appetite about me, kung fu keeps me in shape to handle the weight I carry. If you can talk food, it’s definitely a tick in the plus column! Same goes for talking about heavy lifting or martial arts.

 

 

3. How do you develop your characters?

 

What I want is realistic characters. One thing I do look at more and more is in terms of presenting characters that maybe aren’t so commonplace. I’d been thinking on using a tall woman as a character, for example. Sure, there are tall women out there, but from a writing point of view, if you’re taller than most men and women, how does it make that character feel? How do people react to that character?

 

And that’s just with the outer appearance. In creating a character, what are they like inside? Are they creative people? Are they shy people? Witty? Thoughtless? I don’t necessarily need to go into a whole bunch of detail in the story at a given point, but just a couple of brush strokes to give a taste of what the character’s like. Some I’ll craft from thin air, so to speak. Some may borrow a trait from someone I know or met. Some may be faces that I see when I’m out and about, on a commute, in a bar, whatever.

 

 

4. What are you reading now?

 

Currently on Thomas Tessier’s, “The Nightwalker.” I’d ask a bunch of people to recommend an eerie novel for me to get stuck into and that’s the one Eric Ian Steele came up with. So far, I wouldn’t say it’s eerie or creepy, but it does a good job of presenting a disturbing mystery and drawing you in.

 

 

5. Why do you write and what drives you?

 

You know, I could say a number of things here. I could say that I want to tell stories. Or that I want to surpass my previous work. I want to wow the audience. All of that, and they’re all true. I guess I just like to write, in spite of the fact that it can be a very tedious process at times. As for what drives me, again, that’s a whole bunch of answers. I want to surpass myself, I want to wow my audience, I want to create something fresh, something compelling.

 

 

6. Who inspires you?

 

From an author point of view, definitely Michael Crichton – may that good man rest in peace. What I like about his work is that for all the detail and scientific rationale that’s layered into his work, his stories move at a fluid pace. There’s action, there’s drama, maybe a little sex and violence – but there’s that mystery that keeps you turning the pages.

 

More recent inspiration comes from the likes of Rhys Hughes and Erik Hofstatter, off the top of my head. I had the honour of meeting him at a BFS gathering last year and he told me about his aim to have written 1000 stories. At the time, he’d already written over 800! And there I was thinking that me doing the One Story A Week challenge from This Is Horror was something. With Erik Hofstatter, it was from having read the Rare Breeds novella last year. Now I don’t read a whole lot, in terms of one book after the next. I’m certainly not a prolific reader like some are. But having read the Katerina novella, I had to pick up Rare Breeds. If you want writing with that macabre sensibility, something that is …gloriously uncomfortable, look no further. It’s some good shit.

 

I’d have to cite Lee Markham as well. And this is key. Because, as an HWA (Horror Writers Association) member, you get to opt in to read work that authors want considered for a Bram Stoker award. Even outside of HWA membership, I’ve read a fair amount of horror; hell, I grew up on stuff like that. But when I’d opted in to read Lee Markham’s “The Knife”? I’d never read anything like it – I went as far as calling it a game-changer: it straight-up blew me away. That’s the kind of reaction I’d want from a reader.

 

 

7. What inspires you?

 

In author terms, it could be anything. I could be reading the Evening Standard and read something about an unexplained disappearance, and that might inspire to write something. I love the theme tune to the Phantasm film from way back when, and that music brings to mind a sense of something off-kilter, something eerie. So that inspires me. Most of my work has at least one quote at the beginning (but a few stories may have a dictionary-type definition instead). The quotes inspire me. The same way that you’d shop for a pair of shoes or a shirt or a car or whatever, so it is with a quote: I want to find something that fits. And as such, I might spend an hour or so looking for one.

 

Generally, I’ll come up with the idea first and then it takes a little time to come up with the title. But the quote is the hors d’oeuvre – it’s the taster for what’s to come. It might even alter the flow or feel of the story I have in mind. But I’ll sift through a whole mountain of them to pick the right one, the one that gives the right flavour and mystery for what’s to come.

 

 

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

 

I like to think that my stories deal in fear – not something to shock, like a jump scare, but fear. So it’s not only about those instances where someone’s eyes roll back in their head and they grin at you while murmuring in ancient languages. I want those quiet moments too: where that person is sat in silence with the demon deep-rooted in their mind, glaring at them. The moments where someone sees a ghost and turns to run – only to see that they can’t run anywhere. And the ghost comes closer.

 

More and more in my stories, I like to explore fear. Different characters will fear different things. Different characters will react differently to the same thing. Not everything to be feared is malicious or sinister, even if it appears that way. But that’s the kind of stuff I want to explore and hopefully deliver in my work.

 

 

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

 

Honestly, there isn’t one. For those who create those stories, I’m happy to enjoy them as part of a captive audience without thinking, “damn, I wish I’d done that.”

 

 

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

 

I honestly don’t think that’s happened. There may have been similar ideas on a couple of occasions, but it’s not fazed me. I just think that even if you asked two writers to write about the exact same thing, they still wouldn’t write the same story. The flow will be different, the inflection will be different, the characters will be different. You just need a story compelling enough to hook your audience. Thanks for letting me ruminate a little.

 

 

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.

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