Author Interview with Chad A. B. Wilson

Dragon Soul Press sat down for an interview with Author Chad A. B. Wilson, featured in the Dragons and Heroines anthology.

1. What inspired you to start writing?

When I was in second grade, I would write narratives out of the movies I watched. The first thing I ever wrote was a retelling of Charlotte’s Web, complete with dialogue and everything. I even got the punctuation right. In sixth grade, I wrote a zany time travel novel inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Later in middle school, I began writing horror stories inspired by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley. So I’ve always been inspired by what I’m reading. When I read a good horror story, I want to write a good horror story. I’m not in competition with the greats, but I want to try to do what I enjoy and make something that other people will enjoy. That’s really the motivation: inspire enjoyment in others. Some people, they just feel compelled to write, and their art comes first, but for me, it’s always outward focused. When I was in a punk band in college, I wrote a song called “I wanna be a sellout.” I’ve always wanted people to enjoy what I do. It’s not about art or the idea that people don’t understand my work because it’s great art. I want to write what people enjoy. I spent 10 years working on a PhD in Victorian literature. Once I finished that, I went back to reading the fun stuff I always loved—fantasy and science fiction. So then I was inspired again! I started writing again about two years ago.

2. What comes first, the plot or characters?

Definitely the plot. I know that may sound weird, and maybe it’s because I’m a novice and not that great at it, but the real world is full of boring people. What makes things exciting are external events. I’m not writing stories about the internal struggles of real people, after all. No, what I need are exciting events; then I figure out how a person will deal with those events, and the character is fleshed out along the way.

3. How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

I’ve read enough about writing science fiction and fantasy that I’m aware of the trap of world building. Basically, I don’t do much. I let the plots drive the world building, and then I go back and revise. I’ve written two novels (unpublished) and a dozen short stories that take place in Grenmir’s world of Searithia and the city Falsea, so the world has become fleshed out over time.

4. Describe your writing space.

We built a shed behind our house and decked it out as a “studio” after the pandemic hit and the entire family was working and studying from home. My wife works in there during the day, and then I go write in there after most of the house is down for the night. It’s just a simple desk but it’s cozy with few distractions.

5. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

I find satisfying conclusions to be the hardest. Ideas come easily, but shaping them into problems that can be solved is difficult. I used to love the heist genre, for example, because of the way the protagonists would solve the problems (that they always anticipated beforehand). I’ve tried to write my own heist stories, and they always come up flat. It’s the interesting solution that eludes me. I imagine audiences can see my conclusions from a mile away.

6. What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?

Like I said, I want people to read and like my work. That’s really it.

7. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have three unpublished novels. My favorite is my latest: a bizarro, supernatural tour of Texas led by a middle-aged alcoholic gunslinger who must save the world. It’s called “Grit Versus the Necromantic Society.” Its absolutely bonkers. One chapter is told by an armadillo. In another, Grit is saved by an army of squirrels. He meets a bunch of famous ghosts, too. It was so fun to write.

8. Where do you get your inspiration?

I am often inspired by travel. Atlas Obscura (a travel website of the odd and bizarre) has inspired some of my current work. I know I have a story when I pull off the interstate and find something so weird or creepy that it sticks with me. Or sometimes I just get images in my head that I must write a story around it.

9. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I just finished another story about the rogue Grenmir, and I’m working on revising my Grit novel. I may seek out a publisher or may self-publish. I haven’t decided.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

I can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Author Interview with Jo Niederhoff

Dragon Soul Press interviewed Jo Niederhoff, an author in the Rogue Tales, Dragons & Heroines, History, Space Bound, and Spirit anthologies.

1. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since about as long as I knew stories existed. I told my parents about the fairies that lived in my walls, and about my imaginary babies. I’ve been writing well since high school, when I joined a writing club and started getting feedback on my stories.

2. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Editing, definitely. I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but it’s so much easier to put words down on paper than to go through and reshape them.

3. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I can write just about anywhere. I often have stories running in the back of my mind, which does sometimes mean I miss out on other things happening around me, especially the radio going while I’m driving.

4. What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?

To me, success means feeling good about my life as a whole. I would much rather be a small-time writer who is happy every time I sit down at the computer to get some words down than a best-seller who feels like writing has become a chore.

5. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Daydreamer, sarcastic, fidgety.

6. Who is your favorite character?

Of my own, it would have to be a so-far unnamed girl from a novel I keep toying with, about the people left behind in fantasy novels. Her brother vanishes into a traditional fantasy adventure, but the novel would focus more on how she and her family deal with his disappearance. From others’ works, it would have to be Lois Lane or Cordelia LeHane from Amberlough.

7. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I’m actually working on a non-writing project which is really exciting; I’m studying to become a speech pathologist. It’s very interesting, but also a little stressful.

8. Who is your favorite author and why?

R. F. Kuang. The Poppy War tore me apart in the best way and showed me what historical inspired fantasy can be at its finest.

9. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I do lots of community theater acting, but I also enjoy learning more about all sorts of things (mostly history and biology, but I’m trying to be rounded out with some hard sciences), and I have a quilting project I work on every now and then.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

I have Facebook, but I’m on Twitter much more frequently, even if half of what I write there is utter nonsense.

Author Interview with J.C. Murray

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview J.C. Murray, an author of the Dragons & Heroines anthology.

1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

If you had asked me when I was 12, I would have said yes. Back then I wrote what amounted to Black Beauty and Animorphs fan fiction and scribbled comics starring my siblings and me.

Something painfully practical took over down the road, and I majored in biology and worked in other fields. I returned to writing by accident. I got into table-top role-playing games, and found myself writing more character backstory and setting lore than I could use in a lifetime. Around 2018, I realized they were stories, and started quietly writing just for fun. In 2020, 3 months before the world turned upside down, I started taking it more seriously.

2. How do you come up with the titles to your books?

I loathe picking titles. I never feel confident they capture the idea in my head, or aren’t cliche. I write most stories with placeholder titles like “sad robot story” and invent a label only after the piece is finished by playing with ideas until something sticks.

3. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?

Very much so, I outline. I can’t write until I know which dots to connect. I find the degree to which the writing community pushes the plotter-vs-pantser debate interesting. From listening to or reading author interviews, it seems that each writer’s process is unique, and the amount of pre-planning truly is a spectrum.

I pre-plan major plot points, but all the juicy details in between flow once I get started. So, I think the writer I am today is 70% plotter.

4. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I am very much at the beginning of my writing journey. I have one complete unpublished manuscript written in 2020, queried in 2021. I am revising my second fantasy manuscript inspired by the Bronze Age collapse about misfits on an adventure surviving the fallout of a crumbling empire. I will start querying that one in early 2022. I’ve written about a dozen short stories, of which Yasmine Learns to Fly is the second published.

Picking a favorite is so hard! They are all so different. If I had to choose, my favorite is the unpublished short story I affectionately think of as “Casablanca with Mer-folk.”

5. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I am 90% sure I plan to take 2022 off from novels to focus on craft through short stories. Hopefully genre lit mag fans see my name pop up here and there before too long.

I’m leaving the door cracked open for a novel idea to sink its claws in and refuse to let go.

6. Who is your favorite author and why?

The last author I read, usually.

But, seriously, right now I am obsessed with Evan Winter (The Burning series).

Winter’s books are so intense. He writes clean, invisible prose about flawed people stuck in impossible situations. The Rage of Dragons is a masterclass of both crafting and conveying a magic system so the reader deeply feels the cost of accessing that power. Plus, dragons and demons!

7. Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I’ve hiked the first 100 miles or so of the Appalachian trail. I would love to go back and through-hike it one day.

8. What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

Wesley Chu. I recently enjoyed his Lives of Tao series. I find his brand of action-humor refreshing, unique, and yet somehow attainable. As a person with a career jumping back into writing in my late 20’s, I find his career arc (from I.S. technician to stuntman to author) relatable. Ok, not the Hollywood stuntman part, but for everything else, I’d love to pick his brain over a cup of coffee. How to balance writing and a day job, how to keep improving, etc.

9. How many bookshelves are in your house?

Six, all bursting. My wife is a painter, so she organizes the books on the main three in the living room by color.

10. Who is the author you most admire in your genre?

I deeply respect  N.K. Jemisin (The Broken Earth trilogy, The City We Became).

Jemisin’s writing is just so powerful. It’s beautiful at the line-level. She’s mastered hidden worldbuilding. She plays with stakes so well – her books are both deeply personal and capture that epic feeling we expect from fantasy adventures. On top of all that, she’s going to leave your mind a pile of mush as you chew on what you read for days after closing the last page.

She’s pushing boundaries in more ways than one.

11. Where can readers learn more about you?

The best place to chit-chat with me is on Twitter.

I blog about books I’ve read and general writerly thoughts on my website every Tuesday.

If you’re into that, you can see my blog posts interspersed with memes over on the Murray’s Bookshelf Facebook page or on Tumblr.

Author Interview with L. Jade

Dragon Soul Press interviewed Dragons & Heroines author L. Jade. Happy release day!

1. How long have you been writing?

Let’s put it this way: In the second grade we were given a school assignment to write an autobiography. Most kids turned in a one page paper…mine was seven pages. You could say it snowballed from there.

2. On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

I would absolutely love to say I spend at least three hours a day writing…but the reality is life doesn’t cooperate like that. Normally I try to make sure I can write (or beta read) for at least a half hour a day, if not a full hour. However lately that number has been much lower thanks to being in my first trimester and needing to nap almost every day. Luckily my energy has (slowly) started to return so I’m hoping to get back into the normal swing of things soon!

3. What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

Kristin Britain’s Green Rider series along with a bit of inspiration from Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series for traditional novel books, though if we’re also counting manga you can throw in Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist series and of course Taiki Kawakami’s That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime series. If you haven’t read any of these series I highly suggest you pick up at least one, if not all of them, especially if you love dragons and magical elements.

4. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Are we counting fan fiction? If so, then I’ve written probably a dozen books in collaboration with other nerdy Pokemon and Okami fans, unfortunately all of which are gone now thanks to my lack of hard drives through middle and high school (and the crashing of a website, which resulted in the deletion of everything on it). If we’re not counting those, then I’ve written two, neither of which has been published (yet!).

5. How do you handle literary criticism?

I love it when people dig deeper into my stories to try and connect points that perhaps I myself haven’t thought of. Listening to the feedback from my beta readers has often led to a much more exciting and healthier story in the end (after the endless rounds of revisions, of course!). Even if someone is tearing it apart piece by piece, as long as it’s being done in a constructive way, I appreciate the feedback.

Now if someone is shredding my work apart just to be mean and not giving any useful feedback as well, I chalk it up to internet trolls and move on with my life.

6. What are you reading now?

I just got done reading Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo (I know, I’m behind the times) and look forward to moving on to Steel Crow Saga Paul Krueger as well as The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehashi. I have also been beta reading two amazing stories that hopefully will be on shelves in a few years’ time!

7. Who is your favorite author and why?

I’d have to go with Brian Jacques, even if he’s been gone for several years now. His Redwall series is what moved me from reading slice of life stories to true fantasy and I’ve never looked back. It was also the first time I read a book with multiple POVs and realized how much I loved bouncing from character to character, which is what I use in my own writing.

8. What do you like to do when you’re not writing/reading?

Play video games (currently working on Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond and Borderlands 3), play board games, make occasionally yummy messes in the kitchen and, when the weather cooperates, spend time outside walking or gardening.

9. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I am currently re-writing my original WIP from several years ago, Iced Soul. It is the beginning of what will accumulate into a quartet series. Four Mythics, God-like animal shapeshifters, roam the lands of Thyria to ensure the balance of nature stays in place. But when the roles of nature start changing due to human treachery, they try to recruit people towards their cause. There’s just one problem…their latest interest is an anxious woman with social skills as deep as a puddle. Even with the help of dragons, she probably won’t have a fun time going up against an immortal willing to do anything to end their life. For anyone that is an Avatar: The Last Airbender nerd or even a Queen of the Tearling, Harry Potter or Grishaverse fan, this series is right up your alley!

10. Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I have heterochromia, which means my eyes do not match in color. While this is normally seen as cool, you have to admit that most of the time this is seen in media, it’s the ‘crazy, evil’ character boasting this characteristic. Therefore I’m making it my mission to put a character in each of my books with this trait who is a protagonist (although they may still be slightly weird).

11. Where can readers learn more about you?

You can find me on Facebook.

Author Interview with Rose McClary

Dragon Soul Press presents an interview with Rose McClary, an author featured in our Dragons and Heroines and Glitch anthologies.

1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I was five and had just put together some short stories with crayons and construction paper.

2. How do you handle writer’s block?

I listen to music or play games until the block passes.

3. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Pantsing—planning and then winging it. If I plan something too far ahead, I tend to get stuck.

4. On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

It depends on my schedule. Sometimes I get very little done. Other times, I can manage about 2-3,000 words a day.

5. How do you handle literary criticism?

I keep in mind that everyone has their own tastes and opinions. What won’t work for one person is to someone else’s tastes, so never give up.

6. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?

This also depends on the story. Some require a lot of planning while others don’t.

7. What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

I enjoy composing the story itself; I don’t usually like lengthy editing and revising.

8. What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

No matter how much I plan, storylines and characters can and do change.

9. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Anywhere and everywhere. There’s no one thing I can point to as a definite source.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

I post most of what I write on my website.