Interview with Author Ava Harper Kent

Dragon Soul Press had the opportunity to interview Author Ava Harper Kent! Enjoy her introduction below and continue reading for the difficult questions we collected for her.

Hello, my name is Ava and I am a book junkie. I love to immerse myself in worlds created by words, whether I am reading or writing them.

I love books that make me think and feel deeply, stories that crackle to life, and characters that stay with me when I close the book. I enjoy most genres—history, memoirs, mysteries, philosophy, poetry, cookbooks, plays . . . and toe-curling, steamy romance novels. It’s the whole human experience! No one fits into one neat category in real life or in successful fiction. My hope is that my varied interests will lead to characters and plots as well-rounded as my reading list.

I am currently being entertained by the voices of the Whiskey and Wildfire series, and they are pushing and shoving inside my head to make their way onto paper . . . or the monitor, as the case may be!

Each of my stories starts with a woman finding her inner strength to blaze her own path. I’m a proponent of real love as a partnership of equals; a supportive relationship that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is the kind of love I’ve shared with my husband for over 20 years, and I know that it is a rare and precious gift. You’ll find life lessons we’ve learned in each story I write, and a little bit of my sexy beast in all of my men.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?

My dad used to make up the best bedtime stories for us off the cuff, weaving in plenty of personal details. I remember copying him, making up my own stories and songs before I could write, and I took every opportunity to write in school—newspaper, creative writing, you name it! I even loved writing papers. For some reason, I lost touch with my creative side in all the day-to-day busyness of being an adult, but I eventually found my way back!

How do you handle writer’s block?

I try to work on another project or see if another scene in the current project is speaking to me. If not, I step away and look for something to inspire creativity—reading, music, tinkering with spices and seasonings in the kitchen, or discussing deep subjects with my husband. I keep engaged in the book by looking at some of my stream-of-consciousness notes sketching out the book, listening to the playlists I have for each book, or researching a topic I’ll address later in the book.

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

The first one in this series? It just came to me. I knew I would have a reason to explain Whiskey and Wildfire at some point, but I didn’t know what it was at first. About half of the way through writing, I was sorting out some character motivation one day at work. Out of nowhere, the main male character’s father piped up in my head and had a heart to heart about his background and he showed me what the title meant.

As for the rest of the series titles (I have five sketched out, with a few potential short stories or novellas), I planned to name them all Whiskey and “something that starts with a W.” However, contrary to popular belief, there aren’t a lot of meaningful W options! I like the alliteration, so I decided to use a different liquor for each title. I’m currently working on book two in the series, Vodka and Vertigo. Book one has a self-contained HEA for Grant and Kat, and book two continues with Nate and Grace (whom we met in book one).

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

Having a sense of purpose, loving deeply, and finding ways (great and small) to help others.

Where do you get your inspiration?

First, I have been happily married for over twenty years to the love of my life. I’m surrounded by long and happy marriages in both of our families, and they are all different. I also have many strong women to draw characteristics from. Although I am much more of an introvert than the rest of my family, their legions of friends have provided me with many hours of people watching, entertaining stories, and lively discussions where I learned to appreciate other points of view.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I have two. I had a loss, and after the brief time I felt it was socially acceptable to express my grief, I bottled it up. I let myself escape by reading during long baths with candles and lots of wine. I circled back to Jordan’s Savage Brothers MC series for a reread, and I fixated on Saving Dancer. This tragic man was falling apart over something that happened to him through no fault of his own, and he was lashing out at everyone around him like a wounded animal. He couldn’t admit what was wrong or express his emotions about it, and I couldn’t help but cry for him. I have no idea how many times I reread that book before it finally occurred to me that I was crying for my own loss I hadn’t fully grieved. Our situations were totally different, but it’s like Jordan wrote that specifically to give me permission to express my emotions and begin to heal. Not long afterward, I began writing as an additional avenue for this, and it has been therapeutic as well.

The other author is MariaLisa deMora. I love her characters, her stories, her worlds, but also her skill. She doesn’t just put words on the page. She has natural talent, but she also works at her craft without allowing her day job, injuries, or the things that inspire her (cross-country solo bike trip, anyone?) to be an excuse. She isn’t afraid to tackle important issues like substance abuse, sexual assault, and a wide range of sexuality. If I had my way, her standalone novel Hard Focus would be required reading for everyone, but particularly every woman. She interacts with her fans with kindness and compassion, and she has been gracious with advice to a newbie author on several occasions. (And if you’re reading this, MariaLisa, I’m still not over Hoss or Watcher.)

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

My husband and I are foodies, and we enjoy finding new local spots in Nashville for good food and cocktails. We love music, so we are always sharing new artists or songs we’ve discovered. We travel when we can, and I’ve incorporated book research into some of our travels—poking around Glasgow and Bowling Green, bourbon tastings, and planning a trip that will include research for book three! I’m starting to do signings, but for now, I don’t travel far from my adopted hometown (Nashville, Tennessee) to keep expenses and travel time reasonable. I enjoy reading, but I prefer to read new titles on breaks between my writing. If I’m working on a scene with a specific requirement, such as confrontation that doesn’t sound like a preteen argument, I reread a book that does that well. Our families are within driving distance, but far enough away that we have to plan visits. I suppose it’s a family version of that saying “good fences make good neighbors,” because we are able to enjoy the time we have with them…then return to our own lives. I have a day job with some great people (and a few annoying ones, but don’t we all?), and a couple of kitties with strong personalities who demand chin scratches, tuna juice, and open windows.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Justice Earl Warren, because his time as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court produced so many landmark decisions and put the spotlight on civil liberties. I’d like to talk about the climate of the time, and how they addressed concerns that they were overstepping their mandate.

Jim Thorpe, because he was arguably the greatest athlete of his time, despite having his Olympic medals stripped from him for a technicality that applied to many other Olympians. His first marriage failed before the Great Depression, and his early professional successes faltered shortly thereafter. He tasted such extremes of success and failure.

Hedy Lamarr, who was known both for portraying the first female orgasm onscreen and for inventing and patenting technology that allowed missiles to go undetected. This later laid the groundwork for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular technology. Most of her life was spent in notoriety while her intelligence was overlooked, but she pursued this research and invention while her life was signed over to Hollywood studios. This was her side gig!

Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book? (If not, what music inspires you to write?)

I listen to New Age type instrumental music to write. I get too distracted by lyrics and distinct melodies, so even some classical is out. But I do make playlists of music that I hear that fits specific scenes or the relationships and listen to them when I’m not writing. For some reason, I never did one for Whiskey and Wildfire, but Kat’s ex first demanded his time in the spotlight by collecting songs for his playlists. He has three or four going now, I think! He was supposed to be a throwaway character in a couple of scenes at most, and now he has his own book in the works.

Back to the music, though! It started with heartbreak songs like Drink You Away (Justin Timberlake), Tequila (Dan + Shea), Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers), I Can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt), Stay With Me (Sam Smith), Not Over You (Gavin DeGraw), and Breakeven (The Script). Then it moved on to love songs that spoke to me about the relationships these characters have. Shape of You (Ed Sheeran), At Last and Sunday Kind of Love (Etta James), Say You Won’t Let Go (James Arthur), I Like Me Better (Lauv), First Try (JOHNNYSWIM), Rather Be (Clean Bandit Ft. Jess Glynn), Life IS Better with You (Michael Franti & Spearhead), Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol), Speakers (Sam Hunt), Mind Candy (Walker Hayes), Take Me to Church (Hozier), Gorgeous and Naked by X Ambassadors, Glory Box (Portishead), Wonderful Tonight (Eric Clapton), Moondance (Van Morrison), All of Me (John Legend), and the Amazon Acoustics version of lights down low (Max).

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

You can find me on Amazon, Goodreads, my website, on my Facebook page and group, or on Instagram.

Thank you for investing your time in the world I’ve created. I hope to see you again!

A Different Perspective: Understanding Point-of-View (POV)

As you’re starting in your writing journey and learning the different techniques and styles, you may ask yourself what point-of-view (POV) to use for your story. Should you go with First Person? Third Person? If Third Person, should it be a narrative style or omniscient? This post discusses the most common types used in crafting today and some ideas on which genres you should use. Bear in mind, these are guidelines, there is no hard or fast rule you should follow other than this:

Don’t break POV. I’ll get into why at the end of the post.

First Person Narrativefrom the mind of the main character(s). With First Person, the main character is telling the story. Everything the reader knows is from the MC’s perception and understanding. You will know the MC’s thoughts and every chapter will always feature the MC as the one driving the story along. This is good for a writer who loves to reveal their world through the MC’s eyes and through dialogue. Here is an example of First Person from my novel, The Ties That Bind.

I sat on my trusty couch in a silk charmeuse with matching pants and a white t-shirt, eating my dinner consisting of three bags of microwave popcorn, all different flavors, some cheese spread, a half can of whip cream, and a couple bottles of strawberry soda. For dessert, a bag of chocolate cookies with white cream filling laid next to me.

I ate the cookies first—the whole damn bag.

The TV blared an old black and white film noir movie called The Mark of the Spider, the rain outside making the movie more eerie than necessary. Occasionally, my windows lit up with a flash, no doubt the storm picking up the tempo.

My cell phone rang, but the number read, “Blocked.” I ignored it, tossed it back on the coffee table. More than likely some scam artist with a thick Nigerian accent pretending to be from the FBI ready to come and arrest me unless I paid a fine of five hundred dollars. That would be the third jerk this week. The phone turned silent then rang again. And again. Persistent bastard. After the third call, it fell dormant.

As you can read, our hero discusses everything as if we’re in his head. What he sees is what we see. You want to use this POV if you really desire the reader to become attached to your main character. The disadvantage of this perspective is that if you only have one MC, you’re “chained” to that character throughout the entire story, and it makes writing epic scenes more challenging.

Third Person Narrative – the invisible storyteller. Third Person is a narrator who is an invisible person standing alongside a particular character and telling the story from their perspective. However, if there is a scene change or new chapter, the POV can change to a different character. This is great if you have more than one main character or you wish to write the story from different perspectives such as writing an epic fantasy where you provide the perspectives of your heroes and your villains. With the narrative style though, you are telling the story through one character in any particular scene or chapter. Here is an example pulled from my novel, The Rise of Evil: The Lantern Bearer’s Quest:

As the companions descended the hill, Irshad’iz asked softly, “Sai Masadi, you could have let me go. What was that about?”

She nearly rolled her eyes, but instead met the young man’s curious stare. “A battle between me and that simpleton. I won.”

“Braelann? How—”

“You cannot be this sheep-headed. Why your god continues to spare your life perplexes me.” Masadi’s eyes emanated a glint of yellow marking her irritation. “No, I’m referring to that one, Jaktu.” She sighed as she observed no change in the lad’s blank stare. “Braelann has plans for you—intimate plans as she’s clearly in season. I can smell her passion aura. The other females are in season too, but not nearly as dire as Braelann.”

“What? In season? Gnolls fall in season? But…but I’m human.” Irshad’iz emphasized his statement by pointing at himself. He didn’t conceal his shock.

In this scene, the invisible storyteller is alongside Masadi, telling the story as she sees things from her perspective. We could be treated to what she is thinking, but we will not get in Irshad’iz’s head, or Braelann’s head, or Jaktu’s head (that would be Third Person Omniscient, but these days, not considered a good form of storytelling).

Why should you use Third Person Narrative? For one, it’s easy to look at the story from the perspective of other characters who may not be the main character. In the example above, Masadi is a supporting character in the Lantern Bearer’s Quest as the main character, Samdel Thatch, was indisposed during that part of the chapter. It was an important scene for me to introduce the reader to the gnolls and provide background on their people and society. Another advantage is you can do scene changes within the chapter, particularly if you’re running big climactic battles where you want to hop around to different characters.

So I will end this as to why it’s bad to break POV. It confuses your reader and is one of the most grievous sins in writing. Nothing will turn your reader off to your story for repeated instances of breaking POV. It also screams, “AMATEUR!!” to your reader as well.

Happy writing!



 

Introducing Author P.D. Dennison

Dragon Soul Press proudly announces Author P.D. Dennison and his upcoming dark fantasy series, Legends from the Land of Shaarn.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I would tell myself to be more diligent, to write more often and not to let outside interferences get in the way of my dream of getting published. I was always told I’d probably never get published and wouldn’t make any money as a writer so I kept it as a “once in a while,” hobby throughout my life instead of really focusing on it. My writing was only ever for my eyes. It wasn’t until I was forty-three that I learned this idea where you ask yourself what you would do without all the fears and anxiety standing in your way and the answer is of course that I would write stories until my fingers bled and become a published author, so I will tell myself to never give up!PD Dennison Facebook Profile

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Elric of Milnibone. This book was given to me by my much older brother back in the 80s. I absolutely loved it. I’d like to see Elric movies made. I think they’d blow people away.

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

I had a very detailed outline for a series of novels that I worked on for years but completely scrapped. Deleted all the files, threw out my notes. It was too close to the Prophesy movie series. I have a novella that I wrote in a weekend for a contest that never got judged because the hosting magazine went out of business. I’m very proud of it. It’s set in the future of my fantasy world the Land of Shaarn and is entitled Technomancer. (No it doesn’t have anything to do with the Technomancer novels.) I have a series of six short stories about a super hero I created called Skorpion X set in the 1980s that I’d love to develop into a TV series or a graphic novel some day. It crosses over with my fantasy world the Land of Shaarn as well in that the villain Graxxen makes an appearance. I have a ton of ideas for future novels in the Legends from the Land of Shaarn series after the first five books are written. I plan to take the history of the land through its “wild west,” days and then through industrialization, on into a modern era, an age of information and a future age. I’d really like to develop the history of the Land of Shaarn and I have a notebook full of ideas for it.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I would definitely say I view writing as a spiritual practice. I’m revealing the most personal part of myself in my writing. I learn a lot about myself and my soul just as someone would during meditation. It’s a meditative practice for me and is very calming and relaxing. The rest of the world just fades into the background and it’s just me and the world I’m creating. My office which I call my den, is my temple and its filled with all sorts of geeky crap that I cherish. I have a collection of Batman stuff as I’m a huge Batman fan. I have a collection of Star Wars stuff, a small collection of Star Trek Stuff. Some LOTR collectables and best of all three book cases filled with all my favorite books board games and role playing games. So the place I write is even spiritual to me. It’s a very personal space filled with all sorts of things I’ve been interested in since I was a child and now I create things based off all those childhood interests that others will hopefully enjoy and cherish.

How many hours a day do you write?

It varies. I am off work at the moment for illness and have been trying to be at my desk by 7am. I write for 2 hours, take a break to give myself and the dogs some exercise, I write for 2 more hours, have lunch, write for 2 more hours and then I’m usually tapped out so about 6 hours. Some days more, some days less. I try to take off weekends to recharge my batteries. I’d like to get up to 8 hours per day and hope the Legends from the Land of Shaarn series gives me the financial freedom to make writing my full time job.

How do you select the names of your characters?

In different ways depending on what I’m writing.

For the Legends from the Land of Shaarn series, the mythology of Shaarn is closely based on Norse mythology with the names changed to protect the gods privacy of course. I’m one sixth Swedish so I try to pick Swedish names that would fit in with Norse mythology and then I might add a double consonant to give the name some Shaarnite flair.

For any modern short story fiction I’ve written I always try to choose names that would fit in with the region in which the story takes place.

In my Skorpion X series of short fiction I used the names of my close friends with fictional sir names and the characters are loosely based on us in our youth.

What was your hardest scene to write?

The hardest scene I’ve had to write to date was when I killed my favorite character, a dwarf named Postgaar Fireaxe. I rewrote it so many times. I kept rewriting it with him being raised from the dead by magic and then I didn’t like how it turned out so I’d rewrite it again. Finally I decided that it made for a better read if one of the main characters got the axe after that battle. It was a major battle and it didn’t make sense for all of the heroes to come out alive so Postgaar got crushed by flying debris from an earth wave spell, poor little bugger.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

My soul I guess? LOL Jimmy Page is rumored to have made a deal with the devil for his gifted guitar playing and I’m not above that. I want to write, I want to live off the proceeds of my royalties. I’d love it if movies and graphic novels were made based on my books, I’d like to see Funko Pop dolls of my characters, maybe even produce a line of toys or collectables. With a dream that big you’ve got to be willing to trade your soul I think. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Probably the first half hour each day when I sit down to write. I type so slowly the ideas feel like they’re mired in the muck of my brains and I have to shovel them out. Once I’m roughly thirty minutes into the process the ideas start to flow more freely and I really get rolling.

Aside from that, the toughest part of writing a novel for me is outlining it and sticking to the outline. I have so many ideas that when I start writing they just spill out onto the page and I often stray from my outline and have to make major changes to the story that I hadn’t intended. It’s usually better writing than what I’d outlined so I don’t mind making changes. But the other day I killed my favorite dragon in the Land of Shaarn, Arken and I’m a little pissed at myself for that. But I had no choice it was either kill Arken or kill the main villain in the novel in chapter four. It would have made for a very short book!

Where can readers learn more about you?

Readers can find me on my website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and at Dragon Soul Press.

 

Interview with Author Stephen Herczeg

Dragon Soul Press sat down with one of the eighteen Sea of Secrets authors. Known for his horror story, Angels of the Deep, we were intrigued to know where his inspiration stemmed.


If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

Those that know me know my love for Stephen King, I have a collection of over thirty-five hard cover first editions in pride of place on my bookshelves.

But, my all time favourite author is James Herbert, and my favourite of his books is “The Fog.”

I think it’s the book that inspired me to take writing seriously. It’s a fun ride through a nightmarish hellscape and back, but what I loved about it and what I would love to emulate, if the right idea arrives, is the fact that the first quarter of the book is more or less a short story collection. Herbert devotes each tiny section in the first few chapters to one character whose entire journey is played out before your eyes. Few get out in one piece, and on the first reading you can’t even figure out who the protagonist is until you’re well into the book.

The other aspect is the level of unbridled freedom in the book. This was written in 1975 well before splatter-punk was a thing, but it’s just so intense and graphic. I read it when I was a teenager and it was like reading a Playboy, it felt like I was doing something rebellious.

I try to keep that style of writing myself. I don’t want to be held down by what is considered “correct” for the day. Writing should be a pleasure and not constrained by the tenants any other person’s subjective opinion.

What genre do you consider your stories? Have you considered writing in another genre?

I mostly write in the horror genre. It’s what I’ve always enjoyed reading and especially writing. I mostly blame my grandmother for introducing me to the horror genre. I lived with her from a young age, and on Friday nights when my mother was out, we’d sit down and watch the Friday night horror movie of the week. Between the ensuing nightmares about werewolves and Frankenstein’s monster, I developed a taste for it.

I also let the story decide where in the horror genre it lives. Some tales lend themselves to abject depictions of gore, while others move themselves into the more gothic and atmospheric side of the genre.

I have dabbled in some dark Sci-Fi and even a little bit of fantasy.

Lately, I have found that I’m a dab hand at writing Sherlock Holmes style pastiches. I was lucky enough to be involved in a Sherlock Holmes / H.G. Wells crossover anthology and that has opened a new world of crime fiction where dwells an insatiable lust for new Sherlock Holmes (or similar) stories. I’ve so far managed to have around eight stories accepted, both within the Holmes canon as it’s called and as part of various cross-over anthologies. My latest work-in-progress, in fact, is a Sherlock Holmes / Edgar Allan Poe cross-over involving one of Poe’s earliest stories.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

This may seem crazy, but it’s not a book but a series of comics. I love Batman. I grew up reading comics, mostly DC (Batman, Superman) and 2000AD (Judge Dredd, etc).

As I grew into adulthood, those things that I loved most about Batman, (i.e. he’s human, he’s trained himself to be the best, he never kills, he’s the world’s greatest detective, etc), are probably what influenced me the most.

I’m an unashamed IT geek, not nerd – let’s be clear on that and I’ll explain in a minute.

I work in a world where detective skills are paramount to being on top of your game. I started out as a programmer, investigating bugs in programs and using detection to get to the bottom of problems. As I’ve journeyed through my career that set of detective skills has stayed with me.

I now sport a Batman tie clip and cufflinks, drive a black car (it’s a Ford Focus ST, not quite the Batmobile but it goes fast), and I’m a Third-Degree black belt in Taekwondo (hence why I’m a geek, because nerds don’t have black-belts in martial arts).

So apart from the extreme wealth, I’m almost there.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?

Possibly, the most amusing and most amazing thing (apart from being married and having kids, that is) that has ever happened to me was “I won a car.”

Not just any car, an $80,000AUD Mitsubishi Evolution VII.

And not just in a raffle either.

Back in 2002, I was living in England and watching a rally on the TV. An advert popped up for a competition. I logged onto the super-fast internet of the day, watched a video of a car driving a rally course, chose the track map that I thought it was following and thought nothing more about it.

Two weeks later I received a big silver envelope inviting me to Cardiff to vie for the chance to win a car.

24,000 entered, 24 were chosen.

We spent a day at the Rally of Great Britain, meeting the Mitsubishi team, dining out at a nice restaurant, and generally having a good time.

The next day, complete with hangovers, we fronted up at the permanent track in Cardiff. There, all 24 of us were given a “how to drive” lecture and undertook four events:

  • Simulate changing a wheel during a stage of a rally;
  • Co-drive for a proper rally driver around the Cardiff track;
  • Do some actual driving in a modified rally car; and
  • Drive the Cardiff track on the simulator.

Each event was given points depending on how well you did.

At the end, my name was announced.

I won the car, I was on the Telly and I appeared in Rally XS magazine.

I drove the car around Europe, visiting sixteen countries and heaps of racing circuits. I brought it back to Australia with me and kept it for fourteen years.

I’ve dined out on that story for seventeen years and never get tired telling it.

Sadly, I sold the car three years ago. It was getting old, much like its owner.

What gives you inspiration for your stories?

To be honest, anything.

I try to look at the world with one question in mind “What If?”

My very first published short story “Death Spores” was based on the opening scene of my screenplay of the same name, and had its origins in me walking around at lunch time and asking myself “What would happen if someone was walking along and their head exploded?”

From that simple question came a rollicking tale of a galactic fungus that crashes to Earth and turns all and sundry into flesh eating zombies.

The screenplay came top ten in the 2012 Horror Screenplay competition, and the short story was published in “Sproutlings: A compendium of little fictions.”

The way I approach it now is to map out the closing dates for submissions to anthologies that I’m interested in and use the themes to inspire my mind.

“Angels of the Deep” was no different. The “Sea of Secrets” anthology had hints of the sea, creatures from the depths and fantasy about it.

I wanted to stay away from the standard creatures, i.e. Sirens, Mermaids, Kraken, etc, and researched strange and unusual myths associated with water. From that I discovered the Rusalka from Russia.

They were said to be the spirits of drowned women who were scorned by lovers and had turned malevolent towards humans. I already had my “mermen” creatures from another story and came up with the concept of a group of men in the worst possible situation (stranded at the bottom of the sea) being attacked by beings that resembled their loved ones. It is virtually a Greek tragedy played out during World War II at the bottom of the ocean.

What tactics do you have when writing?

I’m a planner. In fact, I’m an over-planner.

I start any new story with the germ of an idea, then I create a mind-map in a software tool, to which I keep adding more and more ideas. Fleshing out characters, their arcs, their interrelationships with other parts of the story.

When I’m planning a story, the mindmap is generally open on my computer desktop (at work), and any flash of inspiration goes into the map.

I also have a small database, that I wrote, which keeps a log of the characters and their place in the story. It can map the overarching character arc of the protagonist. It has a name generator, which can then link characters to the story.

I spent several years writing feature length screenplays, and through that I came across the Syd Field method for screenplay writing. A lot of the same concepts can be applied to prose, and I have used them from time to time.

The main thing I always keep in mind, is using the concept of “Setup” and “Payoff”, especially in Holmes story. Any little nugget of information that is needed at the end of the story must be planted somewhere along the journey.

Though I must admit that the level of planning is dependent on the length of the story. I do hate it when I start to plot out the bones of a story and end up having more words in the crib notes and internal dialogue than ends up in the finished story.

Have you written any other stories that are not published?

Tons.

I started writing in earnest back in the early 1990’s (yes, I’m that old). I still have some of those early stories, and the two shortish length novels that I hammered out as well. I cringe when I read them now.

I figured my problem was I couldn’t get the stories down quick enough by writing prose, so I then spent the next twenty years writing feature length (and a few shorter) screenplays. I’ve finished sixteen in total (with a couple unfinished). Four of them have won awards in various International Screenplay writing competitions. I managed to win the 2017 International Horror Hotel competition in the Sci-Fi category with “Titan” and came second in the horror category that same year with “Dark are the Woods”.

I also spent about seven years and several thousand dollars trying to get my ghost-serial killer film “Control” made, but at the end have nothing to really show for it other than a lot more experience. That whole raising money to make a movie thing is a lot harder than you think.

In terms of my recent prose writing, yeah, still have heaps of stories that haven’t found a home. Some I revisit when I see a submission opportunity that might suit, some I rework into shorter or longer versions, some I just forget about.

I think I’m up to about eighteen rejections for this year with various stories, so there are a heap in my “bottom” drawer, so to speak.

In fact, “Angels of the Deep” grew out of a different story that I wrote that never found a home, where the creatures are awoken from their icy slumber by a meteor strike. I’m seriously considering turning that one into a full-length novel.

What do you love most about the writing process?

Just the getting down and doing it.

I don’t mind the planning, I don’t mind the research, but I just love getting lost in the creative process when the juices are running hot. I’ve had days where I’ll sit down, with the intention of writing for half an hour or so, and by the time I reach a natural lull in the process I find that two hours have flown past and I’ve put several thousand words down on the screen before me.

It’s like a drug when that happens. It’s similar to the narcotic effect that long-distance runners feel.

Even at that stage, when you know you should be getting on with the dull day to day activities that make up life, all you can think about is going back to the computer and pushing ahead with the story.

I find that with some of the Holmes stories, I’ve done so much research and planning that the story just screams out of my brain, through my fingers and up onto the screen.

In fact, I find that when I type “The End” it’s almost like coming off a drugged out high. There’s a moment of denial, a feeling of being let down, and you almost have to drag yourself away in case you go back into the work and try to add something just to regain that feeling. Those moments are when you need to let the work sit in its first draft state until you’ve regained enough composure to revisit it with a clear mind.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

My wife and kids are a little non-plussed. They see the anthologies arrive in their cardboard boxes. They help me take a photo with them, but they’ve never read anything I’ve written.

I’m hoping that Stephen King had the same problem when his kids were younger, not so much now I assume. To be honest, I wouldn’t let my kids read half the stuff I’ve written anyway.

I did manage to convince my daughter to participate in a Sherlock Holmes for younger readers anthology. I helped her come up with the idea and plot it out, but she did most of the writing. It gets published later in the year, though I think I’m more excited than she is.

My Mum loves my writing. She waits on each Facebook post and shares them with her friends. She’s also bought a few of the magazines and anthologies herself. She recently visited for a week and spent most of the time going through my vanity shelf and reading my stories.

Friends and work mates are simply amazed when I tell them I’m a published author.

It’s sort of the same reaction you get when you tell them you’re in a band (which I’ve done) or you’re a Black-belt in a Martial Art. To the average person those things are pipe dreams and supposedly unachievable, so it’s always nice to prove to them it can be done. I’ve been lined up to present a talk on story telling in the workplace later in the year. Have no idea what to talk about, but it’s an opportunity to promote my writing to my colleagues.

Where can we find you online? 

I must admit I’ve been really slack in setting up a Facebook page or a website to promote my writing.

It’s on my list of things to do but is stuck behind the ever-increasing list of submission opportunities that keep presenting themselves.

I have set up an Amazon author’s page and a Goodreads Author’s page.

Creating Worlds of Wonder (3 of 3)

In the previous two posts (One and Two) regarding world-building, we discussed the rules on maintaining consistency and the tools you’ll use to craft your world in order to keep it all straight. But what if you’re in the middle of your series, and then suddenly you’re hit with an awesome inspiration, but it requires a fundamental change?

Here, we discuss what to do when you need to make a change that essentially violates the rule of consistency in your world-building.

Evaluate the damage if you just make a change and not expect the reader to notice. For example, if you have some far-off country named Ko-Astera, you’ve never used it in your series other than make a couple of references to it, will your readers notice if you introduce a character who is from Astera, not Ko-Astera? It depends, if you’ve been providing the reader a glossary and it specifically names the nation and inhabitants as Ko-Astera, you’ll need to come up with a justification. You can write the minor change as part of a dialogue:

“Hey, I thought you were called Ko-Asterans?”

“You thought wrong, fool. We changed and dropped the name of Ko the Usurper back to its proper name. We are Asterans. Get it right before I take my blade and butcher you like I’ve done my cows at home.”

“Excuse me, wolf-biter. It was just a dancing question. No need to get bloody Six Flames bent over it.”

Then, in this book, you’ll have a revision and a note about Ko-Astera now changed to Astera.

You’re literally changing the look/feel of a particular species. This one is a bit harder to do. Say for example you have a race of demon-touched humans who you never really took the time to describe other than they are humans with demonic tendencies, but you saw a super-awesome picture of a succubus with demon horns, furry goat legs, the whole nine yards. You want your demon-touched people to have this look and feel. Congratulations, make it part of the plot. Bad Stuff is happening and guess what—it’s changing the demon-touched more like into actual demons. When the book is concluded, the process is not reversible.

You need to add a new magical ability/spell/power. Just add it, and make it seem like it was part of the plot/story arc all along.

You need to “break” a rule in your world because you realize it will be totally awesome. You’ll need to work this into your story as part of the dialogue or an event. For example, you have a water mage and you want them to cast fire spells. You need to work out a method or something in the plot so it makes sense you have broken this rule. In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, it was long established men could not channel (use magic) without going insane, so the theme of one of the books was to overcome just this problem.

In conclusion, when you discover you can writing something really cool and awesome, but it will violate the rules regarding consistency, a bit of creativity and stepping back to alter the direction of the story can be yours.

Happy writing!