Author Interview with Emily S. Hurricane

We had a chance to interview an author in the Love At First Sip anthology. The collection provides a drink recipe in front of the short story associated with it.


  1. What inspired you to start writing?

You know, I don’t even remember! I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote a lot of fan fiction when I was a kid for various JRPGs, so a lot of my early original stories were warriors in fantasy or science fiction worlds. I also did a lot of online roleplaying back then. I’m totally aging myself, but back on proboards, I’d spend hours with other users creating characters and worlds and then RPing our characters. So as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been writing.

  1. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Two things: proper grammar, and engaging characters. There can be literally nothing happening in a story, but if the characters are interesting and engaging, then I am sold! I am a reader of many genres and styles, but what is most memorable to me is always certain characters and their inner workings and struggles. World building and act structure and everything else that goes into a story are important, but if I don’t care about the characters, the book falls flat for me. And of course, you know, it’s got to be readable.

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

I’m a bit of a pantser, so I do most of my non-writing part of writing a story as I go. When I have a fresh plot bunny hop its way into my head, I tend to let it percolate for a while in there to take shape. It’s almost always a character, desperate to tell their story, so I let them talk to me for a bit. Sometimes I’ll make a few notes before I jump in, but often I like to get to know my character(s) before I try to plan where the story is going to take them, so I tend to just start writing.

I use Notion for all of my outlining and character sheets and planning and word count tracking, so I do set up a blank page for a fresh project. Any notes go in there, and then as I start writing, I create tables as I need them to track characters, potential plot points, outlining, etc.

  1. Who is your favorite author and why?

I know this is totally cliché, but Stephen King is my very favorite. Aside from the fact that he’s incredibly versatile, he’s got this subtle style that I adore. Even some of his novels that aren’t outwardly HEY I’M SCARY just have this underlying sense of dread (for example, Duma Key) throughout and I don’t even realize I’m creeped out until I finish reading. He also has such talent for so many different facets of genre, with more boundary-pushing work like the Dark Tower series. He just does whatever TF he wants, and I admire that so much.

(Close runner-ups for favorite, though: Chuck Palahniuk and Margaret Atwood. Gotta shout them out too!)

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

Time! There is just never enough time. I work from home as a freelance writer and editor, while also taking care of two small children and my husband who works outside of the home full time. Juggling all of this and also trying to do basic things like sleep is very challenging. I love a challenge, but some days it’s harder than others to fit everything in, so it can be stressful. But I love writing too much to ever do anything else with my life. It’s 100% worth the blood, sweat, and tears I put into it!

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

I don’t think I have any interesting writing quirks! I’m kinda basic when it comes to writing. I like to have coffee and munchies and relish the silence—when I can work without Peppa Pig or My Little Pony in the background, it’s so nice!

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

Too many! My muse has no focus for genre, and because I enjoy reading in so many, I enjoy writing in them all too. I’ve got a ton of erotica shorts in various niches, a historical western romance trilogy, a dystopian werewolf series, horror anthologies, a fantasy/sci-fi series, some contemporary serials, dark romance serials, and most recently, I curated and participated in two anthologies, one erotica and one clean romance.

It’s so hard to say which is my favorite…I loved writing them all for different reasons. I think I’m most proud of Joy, which is a literary novella that currently lives on Wattpad. I originally wrote it for the Open Novella Contest, where it won a few accolades. Eventually I plan to let it breathe and flesh it out some, outside of the constraints of the contest. But I don’t think I can properly choose a favorite out of my books.

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

I’m currently serializing a dark paranormal romance on Radish Fiction called Her Tyrant Alpha, and I’m having a blast with it! It’s a spin-off companion book to my Bloodlines series (which is dystopian werewolf with a bit of steam, but not romance), and the main character, Ashelin, has pretty much zero boundaries. It’s been a super fun ride exploring all of her inner workings, and also building more werewolf lore into the Bloodlines universe.

  1. What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

I get asked this a lot, and my answer is always to just write! Write as much as you can. Even if you think it sucks. Hell, even if other people think it sucks. Don’t stop! Write every day. Even if you can only manage a sentence because you have no time, don’t go a single day without writing. Tapping that creative keg takes working the writing muscle, and you have to work it out every single day. It might be hard for a bit, but all good things are, and if you stick with it, it will get easier, and you will get better at it!

Sub-advice: don’t be afraid of criticism! Don’t let it get you down, and don’t let it stop you. If the criticism is useful, take what you need out of it to learn, and discard the rest, and keep writing. Always be writing!

Sub-sub-advice: track your word count. Even if you only write three words in one day. Use a notebook or a spreadsheet or a calendar, but record your daily word counts somewhere. This gives you accountability to make sure that word count isn’t at zero, but also you can watch yourself improve over time. And I promise you will improve!

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

When I’m not writing or playing with my kiddos, I am either reading, baking, or crocheting. And usually two out of three at the same time, haha! If I’m going to be busy with my hands then I’ll queue up an audiobook so I can still read even if I’m puttering in the kitchen or playing with yarn.

I’ve been known to enjoy video games too, but with work and small children it’s harder to carve out time to really get lost in a game. I do enjoy building stuff in Minecraft with my daughter, though. Anything creative!

  1. Where can readers learn more about you?

The easiest way to find me is at www.emilyshurricane.com! I keep it up to date with all of my book listings, and if you click the Social Media tab you can find all of my socials everywhere across the internet (including my Discord server!).

The Good Short Story Tips and Tricks: Hook and Pacing

DSP typically plans and produces six to twelve anthologies a year with a short story word count ranging from 5k to 15k words. Technically, there is no sole right way to write a short story, but there are a lot of wrong ways. However, we’ll focus on a couple of methods used to entice your reader and get them hooked on your story for the next twenty to forty pages.

Let’s assume you know the components for proper characterization, tension, theme, POV, etc. For a good short story, you only need to place heavy emphasis on two aspects of your story; a good hook and your scenes moving at a face pace toward the climax.

The Hook

The hook is the opening line or scene to ensnare your reader. It’s a statement that makes them develop an interest in your story right off the bat. For a short story, you want them vested in your tale from the very beginning because you don’t have a lot of words to develop your character or theme. There are several easy ways to write a hook that will have your reader jump into your story; in media res, mystery, and disturbing.

In medias res means, “in the middle of the action”. Instead of starting out those teenagers having sex by the lake and then getting killed one-by-one by the psychopath in a hockey mask, you start the story with one of them running for his life while being chased by the psychopath. In my story, Malicyne’s Puzzle, the hook took place with a battle between a pirate ship and a naval frigate. Thela’s Angel started with poor Thela getting beaten to a pulp by her husband in the inn. Daughter of Darkness starts the story with the holy knight, Rhain, landing a killing blow through a demon lord’s heart in the temple of night elves dedicated to the worship of the Tri-Headed Queen.

Mystery is a very common mechanism. You start out with a profound statement or an enigma for your story. In my book, Fallen From the Stars, it opens with the following:

“Come with me.”

A gunshot rang out, followed by a woman’s scream and the world turned to utter darkness. That’s all I can remember.

Was the main character shot? What happened? Who said, “Come with me?” Readers don’t find out until Chapter 12 Bad Memories, but in a short story, you reveal the mystery of the hook usually at the climax or at the end.

Disturbing is a less common one but is great for grimdark fantasy, horror, or something in which you’re going for shock value. It makes your reader shout, “WTF did I just read?!?” and then they are compelled to read on just to figure out why you wrote that. The Disturbing method will typically contain triggers (again, for shock value).

A word of warning about using the Disturbing method – know your audience. If you’re a fantasy writer who typically writes YA epic fantasy and you want to try your hand at grimdark fantasy, your loyal fans are in for a rude awakening. Secondly, a lot of publishers have a “no graphic [anything]” rule (or rules on certain triggers in general), so don’t violate submission guidelines by writing something that will make people wonder if you’re sane or turn your editor off to you.

Pacing

After you’ve written your hook, all your scenes following should be paced as if racing toward the climax. You’re not walking or building up to the climax, you’re running to it. A perfect example of how you should pace your story is by watching the promo trailer for Dragon Age: Origins. Here’s the link (Warning: Violence and Blood):

What did you see here if this was a story? An intrepid band of adventurers on a quest in monster-infested mountains filled with ice, snow, and death. There is the brief pause by the main character, a weapon is thrown from the ice and then boom, we are running through the action building up to the climax of the sorceress Morrigan casting a powerful lightning bolt that lays low the dragon. Did you note how fast the action moved and how it flowed from one character to the next? This is how your short story should flow from one scene to the next, and then building up to the climactic battle with the dragon at the end.

Master this and you’ll sweep your reader up for an intense ride with only a few thousand words.

Happy writing!

Author Interview with Ashley L. Hunt

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Fairytale Dragons Author Ashley L. Hunt.


  1. Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from a lot of places. Sometimes it’s a way I had wished another story ended. Some of it is adventures I would have loved going on, if they were possible. (Anyone know where I can team up with a dragon?) Sometimes characters just form and they need places to go.

  1. When did you start writing?

I was very young, I remember that. When I was 3 or 4, my brother and I would get all our toys and we would send them on these long epic odyssey to reach a goal. I didn’t think to set my stories to paper until I was 9 or so.

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

Success to me is completing a task and getting some acknowledgement for it. It’s probably on the smaller scale of what success means to others, but it’s good for me.

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

It’s a little bit before and some after. I leave space to build as I go, but I have enough foundation for a solid world.

  1. Describe your perfect book hero or heroine.

A perfect book hero is someone who is flawed, someone who gets scared or isn’t always sure, but does their best anyway. For me, they need to do what they can to make the world better, and they learn a lesson on the way.

  1. What was the inspiration for the Fairytale Dragons story?

I’ve been studying fairy tales since I was a child and I absolutely love dragons. Cinderella is easy to mock because in today’s day and age she looks weak. It’s not fair because she was a brave and courageous young woman who stands up and she bears her part well. She deserves better and I hope I gave her that.

  1. What were the key challenges you faced when writing this story?

In the original, Cinderella is passive and docile. She reacts to the plot rather than inspiring it. The plot happens around her. So I had to give her an active role in the story. Her godmother is also this strange shadow in the background who shows up randomly then vanishes from the story again. (According to the French telling, she’s absent in the German and Italian) so an added challenge was to show a relationship with Cinderella and her godmother while giving her a reason to not help Cinderella.

  1. Who is your favorite author and why?

Favorite author is harder to pin because there are so many for a million different reasons. Madame Du’alnoy stands out among fairytale writers because she has a particular style to her writing that is rich but doesn’t bog down the story. My favorite book is the Wizard of Oz, by Lymen Frank Baum so of course he has a special place on.

  1. What was your dream job when you were younger?

I wanted to be a singer, but I can’t hold a note. My dog runs up to check if I’m dying.

  1. Where can readers learn more about you?

You can find me on Facebook.

View at Medium.com

Author Interview with Andrea J. Hargrove

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Fairytale Dragons Author Andrea J. Hargrove.


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

The author I most admire in the fantasy genre is J.R.R. Tolkien because of the way he made his magical and fantastical stories feel real, especially in his Lord of the Rings trilogy and related works. He was able to draw on his own experiences fighting in a war when fleshing out the conflict in his stories, and more importantly, how that conflict affected both the soldiers and the civilians. Then he took that foundation and layered his own carefully-crafted world on top of that, including fully-realized histories, cultures, maps, and even his own invented languages. Finally, he put memorable, fully-formed characters into that world and gave them some incredible adventures. That level of craft and commitment is something I admire and aspire to.

  1. Do you listen to audiobooks?

I like to listen to audiobooks while I’m doing things like knitting, painting, or chores that take a long time, because I don’t want to keep stopping and re-starting the story. For the same reason, I don’t usually listen to them on my daily commute, but I usually play one or two on longer road trips.

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

Besides reading, I have a few different hobbies that help clear my head. I go on short walks almost daily and longer backpacking trips as time permits. I’ve recently started kayaking, too, in warm weather. Fortunately, I also like some things that can happen year-round. For instance, I like to dabble in various arts and crafts (without too much success so far, though that won’t stop me from experimenting). I also study kenjutsu and iaijutsu (samurai sword arts) at a nearby martial arts dojo.

  1. Where did you get your inspiration for the Fairytale Dragons story?

The timing of this anthology worked out really well for me. This year, library where I work had the Summer Reading Program theme of “Imagine Your Story”, celebrating fairy tales, fantasy, and mythology. As a result, I’ve been immersed in these since we started preparing last winter. We had to cancel or modify most of our programs due to quarantine, but the theme stayed the same, which made me happy, since it’s one of my favorites so far.

During this whole process, I brushed up on lots of old stories, and one that was on my mind when I saw the call for submissions to Fairytale Dragons was The Frog Prince. It seemed like a natural transition, since humans being transformed into animals is a common staple in a lot of fairytales, and someone being transformed into a dragon would create a whole new spectrum of problems. This is what I wanted to explore in The Golden Arrow. Before I started writing, though, I re-read a few different versions of the tale. I was most familiar with the version told by the Brothers Grimm, but it’s been retold many different ways in many different places. Besides the Grimm tale, I also drew inspiration from another German version and a tale from Russia called The Frog Princess.

  1. Are you currently working on anything new?

I’m simultaneously working on my first novel and putting the finishing touches on two more short stories that I’ll be submitting for consideration to upcoming fantasy anthologies.

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

Though he isn’t primarily known for his speculative fiction, I would want James Patterson as a mentor. He has an incredible ability to connect with readers across genres and age groups. At my library, I’ve talked to kids, teens, and adults who’ve all gotten hooked on his page-turners, and I think I’d have a lot to learn from him.

  1. What’s your favorite food?

Breads of any kind are my weakness, especially blueberry muffins. I try not to bake these too frequently, since they disappear far sooner than they should.

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

Curious, quiet, & hopeful.

  1. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country?

Locally, there’s a park where I go to walk and to write a lot. I also like visiting relatives and spending time with them where they live, but besides these places, my favorite spot to visit is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It’s packed full of stories from different people in different places and different times, and those stories are told in a beautiful way.

  1. Where can readers learn more about you?

On my blog, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Author Interview with Robert Prescott

Dragon Soul Press took a moment to interview All Dark Places 2 Author Robert Prescott.


1. What inspired you to start writing?

I caught the bug in high school through reading. I read a lot of fantasy and horror, and I was enthralled with the world building and relationships between the characters I was reading about. That led to me writing my own stories, which I’d bring to my creative writing teacher for feedback.

2. What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Don’t do what I did. After high school I let writing fall by the wayside because of my career and other creative outlets like music. It was only in the last year or so that I rediscovered how much I love telling stories, and now that I’m refocused, I regret the time I lost. Aside from that, I’d say don’t be afraid to submit your work. Be confident in yourself and your story—all they can say is no, right? That doesn’t mean someone else won’t say yes. Lastly, make sure every part of your submission (the story, the body of your e-mail, your author bio) are all fully proofread and professionally presented.

3. How do you handle writer’s block?

How do you come up with the titles to your books? I’ve only written short stories so far, and I usually look for a common theme in the story to help me with the title. In The Cell Block, that theme was obvious since the entire story takes place in the town jail. I did the same thing for another story of mine titled Black Friday.

4. How do you do research for your books?

I’ve mostly used the internet to find what I need. It can be risky due to the loads of misinformation on the web, but if you take your time you can find a lot of good primary and secondary sources for your topic, and even peer reviewed articles if your story contains more technical or scientific aspects.

5. Who is your favorite author and why?

Stephen King. He’s probably the main author who inspired me to write. Any time I’m describing what a character is thinking or feeling during a scene, it’s because I read so much of that in his work.

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

When I’m not writing I’m either playing guitar (mostly rock and hard rock), gaming (PC, Xbox, or Switch), spending time with my girlfriend, or reading.

7. Favorite artist and favorite song?

Music is a huge part of my life—there are too many artists to pick a favorite! Right now I’ve got “Blood From Above” by Stryper on heavy rotation, and I’ve also been listening to a lot of Metallica, ZZ Top, and Rush.

8. What are you reading now?

I just started re-reading The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks.

9. What’s your favorite food?

Italian food, definitely. Manicotti, lasagna, and spaghetti are some of my favorites.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

My Amazon author page, Facebook author page, and lastly, my Instagram author account.