Author Interview with Katie Jordan

Dragon Soul Press presents an interview with Katie Jordan, featured in Mistletoes and Mayhem.


1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I first wanted to become an author in kindergarten. Creating characters, dilemmas, and unique worlds, brings an excitement and joy that makes me feel powerful.

2. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

The 3-Day Novel Contest is my kryptonite. I also have a dystopian novelette published in AND MAN GREW PROUD that was written in just 7 days. Writing under time constraints brings out the best and the worst in me. I love it!

3. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Dreams, thoughts, and random recollections are the driving force behind my ideas. People typically focus on the ‘where’, but I think the intensity behind thoughts, and the motivation to get them on paper, is more important. When you can write with fire, you will produce something that lights up readers imaginations.

4. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I am a full-time mombie. Favs include wearing pajamas on every day of the week that ends with ‘day’, hoarding chocolate, and snuggling my mini mes. 

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

I am published in three anthologies and hope to be in a few more in the next couple years, before switching my focus to full length novels.

Charity anthologies are a current favorite.

All proceeds from MAGIC WE’VE FORGOTTEN go to Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana. All proceeds from MISTLETOES AND MAYHEM go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. These are both intriguing books supporting great causes.

6. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Definitely. Finding a writing name was no easy feat. I wanted to use a unique alias or initials, but the ones that appealed to me were taken. I kept it old school and stuck to using my first and last name.

7. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I used to aim for originality but am starting to understand the importance of delivering content for the readers. Writing character flaws is something I enjoy, but it’s not always what readers want. I am working on a women’s fiction novel where the MC is vilified for all the wrong reasons and continually responds with unrelenting determination and strength. It’s my own personal challenge to give readers everything they want, including a strong female MC and ample opportunities for conflict.

8. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Who wasn’t giddy when they heard the stories of Stone Soup, The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, or Strega Nona? Listening to stories as a child was my favorite. Those stories belonged to a world I wanted to be part of.

9. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Many! My works in progress include fantasy, science fiction, women’s fiction, and NA novels. I would like larger blocks of time to give these the final editing they deserve, so it will be at least two years before I’m able to complete and query these. (Maybe earlier for the fantasy book).

10. Where can readers learn more about you? 

On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, and my website.

5 Tips for NaNoWriMo Preptober

If you reach out to the NaNoWriMo community, you will receive plenty of support to get you through the writing craze. Let the creativity flow and have fun!

1. Schedule

To make sure you meet the 50,000 word count requirement at the end of the thirty days, there are different approaches. You may plan to write 1,667 words daily, but the most important thing to remember is that life happens. Try to plan your schedule as neatly and accurately as possible while designating some additional time for the unexpected.

2. Outline

Having an outline (no matter how rough) will help prevent the need for brainstorming timeline events and alleviates rewrites. For our pantsers, a handful of sentences ordered chronologically is a great start.

3. Organize

If you have scribbled notes or multiple documents everywhere, condense and organize them. This way looking up information you need to refer back to (character/location descriptions, etc.) is quick and easy. This refers to your workspace as well. Clear the area of anything you will not need during the process.

4. Tasks

To avoid overworking or guilting yourself about other projects, aim to complete any immediate unrelated tasks that will interfere with NaNoWriMo.

5. Mindset

You can prepare your schedule and workspace, but your mindset will be the most important tool to achieve your goal. Remember to turn off your inner editor. It’s easy to edit a full page versus a blank one. Most importantly, remember to breathe. There will be plenty of time after to edit and mold the story into perfection. NaNoWriMo is solely to meet the 50,000 word count mark within thirty days.

Author Interview with Barend Nieuwstraten III

Dragon Soul Press presents an interview with Barend Nieuwstraten III. He is featured in the following DSP anthologies: All Dark Places 2, All Dark Places 3, Lethal Impact, Wolf Night, Imperial Devices, Spirit, Valiance, Space Bound, Extinct Worlds, Timeless 2.


1. What inspired you to start writing?

I always wanted to write, flirting with it over the years between other creative pursuits. I suppose it came in waves. But the first big push came from reading the Silmarillion by Tolkien. I didn’t realise that stories could be so colossal in scope until I took that epic tale in. That was when I really knew I wanted to build my own word.

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

Hard to break down to a process but I like to keep them short, simple, and inviting. Matter of fact but seasoned with intrigue. Usually dangling more information than they might appear to. It’s not a rule as such, but I seem to have an aversion to using in-world pronouns in them for mostly intangible reasons. I suppose I just feel they belong strictly inside the book. They have no context until you start reading. But then neither do the titles I choose, so a proper explanation is probably buried somewhere in my subconscious.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

Characters. Typically, I have no idea where I’m going or what’s going to happen when I start writing. I’m as much on the adventure as anyone who reads it, so I at least need to know who I’m travelling with before I take a step into the unknown.

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

The sitting: I’m a terrible slouch. I seem to subtly slip into it without noticing as I work and don’t realise until I’m in terrible pain.

Also, a wandering mind. As I’m always working on multiple things, cross-inspiration can spark at inconvenient moments.

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

So much and often during. The more stories I write, the more of my world exists. I once worked out that for one specific scene, I created and utilized support documents on various categories that together totalled enough words to create a 260-page paperback. There are so many other files and they keep growing in number and content. Before writing ‘Sackcloth and Silver’ for the Wolf Night anthology, I ended up creating an 800-word document on lycanthropy, just so I’d know what the rules were. I find it strange that the part of me that wanted to write the story refused to budge until the word building part of me quickly made up the rules, as if they already solidly existed in my subconscious and needed to be extracted so that I could read and religiously follow them.

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

Four. I’ve written the first two books of a seven-book series and two stand-alone novels. I’m still working on them, but the series is my first love. It’s a project I’ve put on hold to focus on shorter stories for now and I’m very anxious to get back to it. The scale of it is quite large and has multiple perspectives (where my other novels have one). In my mind the series is just one long story, so even though its only two sevenths complete, that’s the one my heart’s tied to.

7. Who is your favorite character?

There’s a monk in my series named Adbry, who always makes me laugh. I hadn’t intended him to be the comic relief, but he just seemed to naturally find his way there. Even though I’m writing it, I’m just surprised by what he says. I’ve even had to censor him a couple times, because he was in danger of undermining the tone of certain scenes.

8. How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?

For someone who makes it up as he goes along, a surprisingly large pile of ideas haunts my ‘to do’ list.

One I’m excited about is the humorous misadventures of a man who’s dragged out to the woods to be murdered by a gang for unpaid debts but reasons his way out of it, only to end up getting arrested elsewhere, then pressganged onto a pirate ship. I’m curious to see what happens to him.

9. Who is your favorite author and why?

I think I have to go with Douglas Adams. I admire the rare intelligence and insight that went into his work. Though used primarily for comedic purposes, he skilfully deconstructed societal norms to expose them for the absurdities they truly were. I think so much of the great philosophy of our age is hidden in humour.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

On Facebook, Twitter, or at my blog.


Bonus questions:

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

Terry Pratchett. Every beat a story should have is in every story he ever wrote. I think those who work primarily in comedy have the best understanding of what’s most important. Like seeing a little more of the spectrum. While the Discworld books are very satirical, the characters, their relationships, the balance of how everything in the world works, are rich and deep and somehow believable, no matter how absurd things get. How someone could be so wilfully ridiculous and well grounded at the same time is precisely the essence of what every fantasy author needs to possess. Even in the darkest corners of the genre.

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

Adding to my future workload by creating cover art for books I haven’t written yet. I sometimes storyboard films. I’m also a musician, working under fourteen different projects. I’m obsessed with Belgian and German beers, though I hardly drink now, and adore old and new British comedy as well old (especially Italian) horror films. I also squeeze in a bit of gaming when sufficient peer pressure is applied.

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

Humorous, Verbose, Distracted.

Author Interview with E.A. Robins

Dragon Soul Press interviews E.A. Robins, one of the authors featured in Spirit.


1. When did you start writing?

I’ve always written. Not always well, obviously, but it’s something I’ve always done. When I was a child, I’d write stories and illustrate them, staple them together and show my parents. When I was a teenager I wrote/created an excess of personal journals. And, when I went to university, I majored in a writing field.

2. How do you handle writer’s block?

Honestly, I just keep writing. Eventually, you find a way through the problem. The answer is there, you’ve just got to keep working until it becomes evident. I’ve often likened writing to painting, which is also something I enjoy. In painting, the first layer is never the final picture. The more you paint (write) the more detail is added, the more precise and lovely the work becomes and more often than not, there are things discovered in the process that were never part of the original concept.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

It’s always been characters. A story is a path, but the character is the one that walks it and if there isn’t something that draws you to that person/creature than it’s hard to be interested in where they are or where they are going.

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

Creating the everyday habit. Not giving up. My background is actually in poetry, which is lightning and flash floods compared to the farming process of prose. For me, short stories and novel length works have been a lesson in patience and perseverance.

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

If the stars had aligned, Ursula K. Le Guin.
There are so many authors I admire, but Le Guin really embodies everything I would like to be become as an author. Her work is genuinely entertaining and transportive while addressing real world political and social issues. It’s story telling with a message without distraction from narrative or style. It’s poetry, and it’s powerful and important.

6. How do you handle literary criticism?

I welcome criticism. The constructive and the deconstructive both allow me to access how others perceive what I create and I find that very useful for growth. It is a process of sifting through what they’ve offered and retaining what might be useful for current or future projects.

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

This varies, depending on the project and how long it’s been fermenting in my head. Though, in general, I think ‘world building’ is a trap because there is a never ending amount of detail to be created and endless paths down which one might get lost, often willingly. The exercise here is to build only as much as is needed to further narrative.

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

I’ve only written one novel so far, Scion of the Oracle, due to be published sometime this fall (2021). It was written for Of Metal and Magic Publishing’s CORE fantasy world of Soria and was an interesting first project. There were structural constraints, as well as a good bit of in-house research. Meaning, there were a lot of details and history of the established story-verse that I needed to locate and include in my manuscript. It was geeky and fun and I think great practice for my DSP short story, “The Berlin Assignment”, which has a real world historical setting. 

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

Well, I have a full time job, so that tends to keep me pretty busy. I love to travel, but haven’t had the opportunity in about a year due to Covid. I read voraciously. I paint from time to time and sketch when the mood strikes. I like jig-saw puzzles and playing poker. I enjoy adult beverages and Netflix binges. I’m almost always listening to music and I love to drive.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Facebook, Instagram, and my website.

Writing Likable Characters

We all want our readers to be invested in our stories. When a reader invests in your story, they are investing in a continued journey with you as a writer. Besides having someone thoroughly enjoy the work that you put so much effort into, having an invested reader can lead to great opportunities such as representation and publication if you’re seeking a more traditional means of publishing, or a loyal fan-base and more clout on social media if you’ve chosen to go with self-publication. Either way, only good things can come for you and your book if you have invested readers. 

But what is the key to success to capturing the hearts of readers? One of the easiest ways to get a reader completely on board with your book is to create likable and relatable characters. Think of all the books that you personally like – how many of them can you honestly say you like them for reasons other than the characters? Sure, the Harry Potter series is cool and JK Rowling outdid herself when she created the wizarding world, but if you stripped all the magic away, you’d be left with only the characters. And that was truly the heart of the books. It was Harry, Hermoine, and Ron that stole our hearts and made us want to keep reading. You can try to counter argue, but deep down you know it’s true. Take any story of any genre and strip away the fantastical settings, the plot twists, the romances, etc. and you’ll see that it’s the characters that are always at the heart of all our beloved books. 

But what is it about certain main characters that resonate with us and make us feel invested in their stories? All these beloved main characters and side characters that we love to discuss at length with friends, cosplay at events, or make fanart for; the one thing that they all have in common is their likability and relatability. So how do you go about creating characters that people like and want to follow?

Here are some tips:

Vulnerability– giving your character a vulnerability is one of the easiest ways to get your character to resonate with readers. This vulnerability can either be a physical one like a handicap or an emotional one. Either way, seeing a character struggle with their own weaknesses, hopes, limitations, or fears is always a way to get readers to see themselves in a character. 

Backstory– kind of lining up a bit with the vulnerability point is backstory. Introducing a why for the character’s actions or thoughts is always a way to make them seem relatable. And looking to their backstory is a good place to start. This is particularly helpful if you want to write an antagonist that is well-rounded and not just a straight up A-hole. Sometimes some of the best villains have some of the saddest or complicated backstories. Take the most recent Joker film. This is a perfect example of a well-rounded villain. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a bad guy, but getting to see his origins definitely helps us better understand his motivations. And in doing so we end up feeling bad for him – something that ends up making him more relatable in our eyes.  

Failure– letting your main character fail isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can definitely help the relatability of a character. We’ve all faced failure within our own lives. We all love an underdog story with the odds stacked against them. Let your character fail and make a courageous comeback. Their resilience will speak volumes with readers because we’ve all been there. 

Morals– most for the heroes of our stories making them be nice helps a bit. We want to think of characters as being generally nice. Characters that show kindness, generosity, or selflessness are generally seen as “good” and you want your characters to be good. No one likes a character that will kick a puppy and laugh. Of course, steer clear of making them a goodie-two-shoes. Some character flaws do make them more “human.” Also, don’t be afraid of giving your villains some morals too. Just because you have a supervillain who wants to destroy the world doesn’t mean that they can’t have a moment of selflessness. How many times do we end up liking villains after they end up redeeming themselves by showing a selfless side to them? Think Shadow Weaver’s sacrifice of herself to save Adora and Catra in Netflix’s She-ra. Personally, I shed a tear at that.

Humor– whether they’re self-deprecating, snarky, or just plain silly, giving your characters some sort of sense of humor makes them relatable to readers. We all love to laugh. It’s the next universal language besides love. So, it only stands to reason that readers would gravitate towards characters that have a funny side to them. And so long as their humor is true to the character’s personality, it will resonate with audiences.

Self-Awareness– let’s face it, flawed characters are the best characters. But the key to a good flawed character is that they’ve got enough self-awareness to be able to say sorry once in a while for their shortcomings. Giving your characters, particularly your heroes and heroines, a moment of “yeah I know I’m an A-hole sometimes but I’m trying” can definitely help readers cut them some slack for some of their more morally questionable actions. 

Fear and Pain– having a character be motivated by their fear or their pain can definitely make them relatable to readers. How many of us in our everyday lives are motivated to action by pain and fear? That 20-page college paper we’ve all written the night before it’s due was definitely written on pure motivation from fear of failure and a painful lack of sleep. Having characters move through plot points based off their fear and pain will definitely make them relatable. After all, nothing is more human in this life than feeling pain and fear, which is why our characters must feel these things too.