Thursday, March 31, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Darren W. Pearce

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Darren W. Pearce

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That's a good question. I've got quite a few, but the character that's really my favourite is in a yet unpublished novel that's sort of on hiatus. He turns up in the webcomic that I do with my wife, Kalon Rhadon, an Inquisitor for the Church of Progession in a fantasy/steampunk setting that's based around a Renaissance kind of theme. Kalon starts out as a very no-nonsense, trained all his life by the church kind of character but develops further along the way and becomes much more than the sum of his parts. He plays a major role in events as a bad guy but when the church turns on him, he decides enough is enough and steps away.

You can find the comic here: http://hellionsart.com/Wyrden/. It can get NOT SAFE FOR WORK, so there's a warning.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I'm not as widely traveled as I would like to be: I have been to France, Germany, Austria, Vienna, Scotland and Bulgaria. Bulgaria was extremely interesting since we ended up in Sofia working on a game called Knights of Honor (for the PC) on behalf of Sunflowers and Black Sea Studios. Both myself and Gill (my wife) were over there helping them with their English text for the game and some design elements. It was a very fun couple of weeks where we learned a lot about that culture and made a bunch of interesting new friends. I'd very much like to go to the US and attend one of the big gaming cons though, like GenCon or even E3...perhaps one day!


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
My inspirations for writing can come from numerous sources. I might hear someone in conversation and think, you know what? There's a story in here somewhere. I can sometimes listen to a piece of music and I'm away in that writer's zone that basically helps me construct a tale. Sometimes it can just be a small tag line on something and I think, hmmm, now there's a basis for a cool short story. In the case of "Snow and Iron" for Bad Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory it was a line from the film Legend that talks about mortal hearts compared to those of the fae.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I am very big on soundtracks, but I like a lot of music. My tastes range from heavy metal, light rock, through to classical, jazz and so on. I suppose you could say that my music list is very ecclectic. Recently I've discovered bands like Ghoultown and Clutch (Clutch being what they call: Stoner Rock). Ghoultown is an odd mix of rock and the wild west.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Do I outline my stories? I do sometimes, it depends on the mood I'm in and what I'm currently writing for. There are times that I'll have this crazy idea like I did with "Snow and Iron," and I need to get it down without waiting to write an outline. Then there are times that I'll dip into my rpg designer roots and construct a story or world bible with everything that I need to create numerous tales in a particular setting. I love world building.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
I do indeed still watch cartoons. I love some of the new animated shows and I am a huge fan of Kevin Conroy et-al in the original Batman Animated series and Justice League. I also have a soft spot for Samurai Jack and the first couple of animated Clone Wars series by the same people.


Darren W. Pearce was born in 1969, in the West Midlands and since a very early age has always been interested in writing. He was immersed in fantasy and science fiction by his parents. He read virtually everything he could find, from Storm Constantine to Michael Moorcock, Tolkien, Adams and beyond. At 10 he was given the old red box D&D set by his parents and that started his downward spiral into roleplaying games. Little did Darren know that in 2000 he would get several opportunities that would see him work on computer games like Savage, Knights of Honor and Breed.

Let alone working in the roleplaying game industry and writing short stories and articles for magazines. He now lives somewhere in the West Midlands with his wife Gill, 4 cats and writes regularly for the likes of Dark Quest Games, Mongoose Publishing, Cubicle 7 Entertainment and has many other irons in that fire.

He really wants to write a Doctor Who novel someday, but contents himself working on the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space RPG for Cubicle 7 for now. He has also written 2 books and a bonus adventure with Lone Wolf author: Joe Dever. Darren also works as the co-editor of a popular UK based online game magazine, Games Xtreme, where he writes articles and news/reviews.

He also has a couple of novels in the pipleline and at least one RPG setting (or two) for 2011. He has a number of short stories in various anthologies and 2011 will see even more!

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Currently Darren works with Neal Levin and together you can find them in such anthologies as:

Vampire Dreamspell
Cat In a Dreamspell
New Blood
Barbarians At The Jumpgate
By Mind or Metal Fantasy Anthology
Zombonauts
Dreams & Screams
Bloody Carnival
BA Faeries 3
Wolfology: Tales of the Full Moon

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Robert E. Waters

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Robert E. Waters

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
My favorite character is my assassin Nalo Thoran. He appeared for the first time in "The Assassin's Retirement Party" (Weird Tales #332). Since then, I've written several more stories of him, one of which has appeared in the online magazine, Nth Zine ("Heart of the Matter"), and another two which will appear later this year ("Thorns and Roses" in Hellfire Lounge 2, and "The People's Avenger" in Assassins). I'm also in discussions with a publisher about a full-length novel treatment of the character, which may appear as early as 2012.

I like Nalo because I consider him my "homage" to Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser and Michael Moorcock's Elric. The setting is pure Sword and Sorcery, and Nalo comes to his life's work as a killer under duress, but he does his job with as much aplomb and courage as he can muster. He was unwittingly corrupted by a Dark Lord who now forces him to serve up souls to fill his dark armies that fight endless wars on the ethereal planes, and Nalo does as much as he can to retain his humanity, while trying to thwart his master's evil schemes whenever possible. That constant inner conflict between doing what he must, and doing what is right, is fascinating to write about.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
As my bio suggests, since 1994, I've been in the computer and boardgaming industry, and I've been involved in the development of a number of board and computer games. I've had my fingers in many pies, namely wargames such as Sid Meier's Antietam/South Mountain expansion, Waterloo and Austerlitz (both based in Sid's Antietam engine), Sid Meier's Civilization 3: Conquests, and even Electronic Art's Battle for Middle Earth: Rise of the Witch King, where I was assigned the arduous task of scripting the first draft of the campaign. I've also helped to develop a number of boardgames during my time with The Avalon Hill Game Company. And, I dare say, I'm not too bad a miniatures painter, although it's been a while since I've gotten down and painted anything. As I grow older, my eyesight gets worse. It's hard to see all that tiny detail up so close.


5. Who are you reading right now?
There's a lot of authors that I read on a regular basis. I'm reading George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire Series (who isn’t?), Glen Cook's Garrett PI series, Eric Flint's Ring of Fire series, and Games Workshop's Horus Heresy Series. I find the Warhammer and Warhammer 40k universes to be rather excellent settings, and The Black Library to be an excellent media tie-in imprint for said novels and short story collections. I also read outside the genre as well. I'm quite fond of TC Boyle, Bernard Cornwell, and Steven Saylor whose take on the Roman Empire is quite compelling.


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
The toughest scene for me came in my story "Spirit of the Maya." This is a story that hasn't been published yet, but will appear later this year or early 2012 in Rogue Blade Entertainment's anthology Roar of the Crowd. The scene was a recreation of the Mayan ballgame, Pok-a-Tok, and it took days to write. Trying to get the feel of the game right was difficult because there is very little written about it. In some cases, I had to extrapolate quite a bit and create an image that seemed right for me based on references. The game itself was brutal, and could go on for a long time. But of course, in fiction, you have to pick up the pace, keep it going as strongly as possible and come to a reasonable conclusion eventually, or you lose your audience. I'm pretty satisfied with the result, and I hope others agree.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
It depends on the kind of story I'm writing. If I'm writing a story steeped in history, such as "At the Grasshopper’s Hill" (Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In all Their Glory), based on the Mexican War of the late 1840s, I research as much as I can, and then write a detailed synopsis. Then I write the story and try to adhere to the synopsis as closely as possible. I find this to be a good approach when historical details are involved. If it's a science fiction or fantasy story with little or no historical details, then I usually just spec it out in my mind and then begin writing.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
My biggest influences have been Robert Silverberg, Clifford Simak, Robert Sheckley, and TC Boyle. After reading Boyle's Water Music, for example, I could not read anything for months afterwards. The sheer power and wonder of his prose in that novel was overwhelming; nothing I read for a long time compared and thus was diminished. But I came out of that experience with a determination to write, and so he’s been a tremendous influence. Sheckley's short fiction is some of the best science fiction ever written, along with Alfred Bester and Harlan Ellison. All of these authors have given me inspiration in one form or another, and continue to do so to this day.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

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Since 1994, Robert E Waters has worked in the computer and board gaming industry as technical writer, editor, designer, and producer. A member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, his first professional fiction sale came in 2003 with "The Assassin’s Retirement Party," Weird Tales, Issue #332. Since then he has sold stories to Nth Degree, Nth Zine, Black Library Publishing (Games Workshop), Dark Quest Books, Padwolf Publishing, Mundania Press, Rogue Blades Entertainment, and Dragon Moon Press. Between the years of 1998 – 2006, he served as an assistant editor to Weird Tales. Robert currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife Beth, their son Jason, and their cat Buzz.

Monday, March 28, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Misty Massey

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Misty Massey

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
I'm a terrible coffee snob, and prefer coffees from Africa or Asia best. My favorite is an Arabian Sanani--it's rich and sweet, and reminds me of good black rum. But I'm also a lifelong fan of milk. Whole, skim, I love it all, In the last few months, my family has been drinking raw milk purchased locally. Raw milk is exactly what it sounds like--milk that goes from cow to me without all that chemical treatment in between. It isn't for everyone. If you're immuno-compromised, for example, you'd want to talk to your doctor first. But we love it!


4. What else can you do besides write?
I dance! I've been studying Middle Eastern dance since 2003. At first, I was too shy to dance even a second in front of anyone, but in 2005 I screwed my courage to the sticking place and tried out for a local troupe, the Beledi Beat Dancers. I've been dancing with them ever since. We've performed at cultural events all over the Charlotte, NC area and the upstate of SC. I also dance as a member of the Jewels of the Caravan, an award-winning troupe from the Carolina Renaissance Festival every autumn. Dancing frees my mind from day-to-day worries, and lets my creativity flow without hindrance. Some days, when I realize I've been staring at the computer screen forever without producing actual words, I pop the iPod onto the speakers and dance until the words start flowing again. I don't claim to be any sort of master at it, but dancing makes me feel awfully good about myself, even when there's no one watching.


5. Who are you reading right now?
At the moment, I'm enjoying Richard Kadrey's second Sandman Slim novel, Kill the Dead. It's a noir fantasy thriller featuring James Stark, a magician who spent eleven years fighting horrible creatures in Hell's arenas, but who has clawed his way back to Los Angeles to hunt down the people who sent him to Hell in the first place. It's dark, gritty and profane, and I love it. But of course, there are other books in the pile waiting their turn at my attention - Kalayna Price's Grave Witch, Tim Akers' Horns of Ruin and Matthew Sturges' Midwinter, to name a few.


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Recently I had to write a scene for the sequel to Mad Kestrel, in which a character I was extremely fond of died. It was grueling, because not only did I like the character, but he was important to Kestrel, and his death shook her world to its foundations. I honestly sat at my desk crying while I wrote it, and it felt as if part of me was trying to avoid writing the final sentence, as if I was killing off a real, living person. Of course, our characters become so real to us, I suppose that's exactly what I was doing.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?

13. Celebrity crush.
Right now, I'm working on a steampunk/Weird Western fantasy, and the character in my head looks like actor and singer Christian Kane. Since that character's story is always on my mind, I'd say Christian's my celebrity crush at the moment. A delightful friend of mine went to LeverageCon last year and had Christian pose for a picture with a sign that said "Hi Misty!" That picture sits on my desk where I can glance at it if I need to. I wish I could have met him myself, but having the picture is pretty nice, too.


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
I'm a huge fan of Tim Powers, and I've always harbored a secret desire to write densely layered, historically based fantasy like the stories he creates. His work is stunning, and I hope some day to produce art as marvelous as his. But my strongest influence has to be Faith Hunter, author of the NYT bestselling Jane Yellowrock series. We met in 1995, when I attended a meeting of the South Carolina Writers' Workshop. Faith was already a published thriller writer then, and she took me under her wing, encouraging me to write and rewrite my work until it was good enough to get a publisher's attention. She's still one of my closest friends, who keeps me moving and focused. I often tell people I never would have even started a novel without Faith pushing me along.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Misty Massey has always been a voracious reader. It was no surprise to anyone when she began writing. Her first attempt was a story based in the world of her favorite television show, The Wild Wild West (they call that sort of thing "fanfic" nowadays. She had no idea she was starting a trend.) She dabbled with short stories for years, even publishing a few in small press magazines, until she found and joined a writing critique group, and tried her hand at writing novels. The rest is history. Misty is the author of Mad Kestrel (Tor Books), a rollicking adventure of magic on the high seas which was nominated for the 2010 SCASL Book Award, and is one of the featured writers on the Magical Words blog (www.magicalwords.net).
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A number of Misty's blog posts from the first two years of Magical Words appear in the recently released How To Write Magical Words (BellaRosa Books). Her short fiction has appeared in Rum and Runestones (Dragon Moon Press) and Dragon's Lure (Dark Quest Books). A sequel to Mad Kestrel, Kestrel's Dance, is in the works.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Interview: Heidi Ruby Miller and Jason Jack Miller Take Five

Jason and I were interviewed by Rosie Ugliuzza for her Take Five series on the Pennwriters Website. The interviews focus on teaching creative writing, our current projects, and the upcoming online writing course Writing with Authority.

It's interesting to note that we answered the same questions separately. I didn't read Jason's responses until she posted them!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Phoebe Wray

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Phoebe Wray

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That would be Jemma, the heroine of JEMMA7729, my sci fi novel from EDGE. I like her because she’s smart, careful, and fearless—all the while standing up to a deadly and overwhelming foe: her own government. Jemma is a loving person, but she’s willing to put herself at risk for the “greater good,” which in her case is to fight the despots who have taken over North America a couple of centuries hence. It’s not a romance, but Jemma is in love with a great guy and that’s part of her character. She has a cat named Fred. She refuses to give up her dreams, no matter what happens. I’d like to BE her.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I’ve been all over the USA, and appreciate the wonder and beauty of this country. I love Eastern woodlands with water—the diversity and the birdsong and the loveliness of a slow-moving stream. I like to fish.

Favorite other places: India! I was there for five weeks and spent the whole time in a glorious state of appreciation and euphoria—of the colors, the culture, the people, the smells (not all good), the resilience and the beauty of this vast place. Special wonders: the Taj Mahal, which must be the most subtle building in the world; the Delhi Zoo and a private (unauthorized) visit to a remote building housing the mating tigers. The male started a low but fierce growling the minute my friend and I entered and every hair on our bodies stood up. An experience of utter and uncontrollable terror. And a moment of great beauty.

I also have enjoyed the UK on five different occasions. It’s always fun to rub elbows with the Brits—they are such amusing and spiky companions. But all the places I’ve been were exciting: Scotland (especially crazy Glasgow), Norway, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, Monaco, and not least—Rome, which is so deeply moving. I spent hours in the Forum dreaming of another time.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
I drink all three, but most heavily: COFFEE!! I’ve just finished a new novel, a thriller, and when I did my last read-through I couldn’t count how many cups of coffee my characters were drinking. I guess I feel that Americans meet and talk over coffee, for certainly I have most of my life.

I like Irish breakfast tea and green tea. I’m a life-long milk drinker.


4. What else can you do besides write?
I teach History of the Theatre and Cultural History at The Boston Conservatory. I was a professional actress in NYC a long time ago, and I still work in theatre. It’s a passion one never gives up. Besides that, I’m an avid bird watcher, an enthusiastic but not particularly successful gardener, and I’m the President of Broad Universe, the non-profit organization supporting and encouraging women writers of genre fiction.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
The opening paragraph of JEMMA7729! I had the idea for the story and over months tried to write it. I would get two sentences and give it up. Weeks later, maybe a paragraph or two would come. They sucked. This went on for a long time until one morning Jemma walked into the room and started talking. What she said is still the first sentence in the novel. That was when I learned I need the characters first, and I’ve used that technique ever since.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
No outline, but always a story line of some sort. It IS a ride, however. I don’t always know when I start where I’m going to end. The characters come first. I feel them, see them, hear them. They start talking and I start writing.

The story I just wrote for the anthology NO MAN’S LAND has a heroine who’s essentially a garbage collector—a specialist in gathering up space junk for the Targus Navy. That one came out of my intense interest in all those bits and pieces of stuff orbiting us, including the glove that floated away from the Gemini 4 crew. What if—good grief—at the speed they’re going, a paint speck could bring down a satellite.

And thanks for listening!


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Phoebe Wray has been writing since she could write, and was telling stories before then, much encouraged by her family. Her early dream was to be a newspaper reporter, especially a foreign correspondent. She started to pursue that but instead ran away with the circus, so to speak, and became a stand-up comic. From there she went into the theatre, studying and working, eventually also writing plays and songs and directing. But she didn’t stop writing. She had poems published, did theatre reviews, and still keeps a journal.

Phoebe currently lives in Ayer, Massachusetts. Her novel JEMMA7729 is available from EDGE.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: S. A. Bolich

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

S. A. Bolich_Heidi's Pick Six
S. A. Bolich

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Sometimes the secondary characters are as much or more fun than the protaganist, and sometimes they teach you more about writing. I have a novel upcoming, "The Mask of God," with a bodyguard named Grays who taught me a great deal about characterization. He is dangerous, utterly loyal, suspicious, funny, with a devil's grin and an in-your-face attitude toward death. Nobody budges him off his chosen mark, and when he loses the one person he has sworn to protect, he goes nearly mad, and what he does then is even more interesting. His interaction with one of the other main characters is complex, and between the two of them they add many layers of depth to the relationships swirling around the central figure.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I won a first-class cruise from Los Angeles through the Panama Canal to Puerto Rico once, stopping at a dozen points along the way. That was fun. I've been all over the US and western Canada. I lived in Germany for six years in the military and we spent every weekend exploring castles and driving out every back road we could find. Spent two weeks driving around Spain once, and a lot of time in France. Mostly we would point at someplace on the map, point the truck down the road, and enjoy whatever we found on the way.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
Well, lessee, I did calligraphy professionally way back when. Had my own shop and everything. I have had horses literally for as long as I can remember, and I've done everything from riding some truly execrable trails in the high-up wilderness of my native state (Washington) to 3-day eventing. I even taught one to joust, and I've been a riding instructor and involved with the United States Pony Clubs. Mostly I ride dressage these days. I used to draw and paint and do a lot of handwork like cross-stitch and embroidery but I don't have time for that now. Between the horses and the writing I'm pretty busy.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Classical, Celtic, soundtracks, very old folk songs. . . I like music you can sing to and music you can listen to. I wrote a lot of stuff accompanied by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and just as much with Babylon 5 or Absaroka Farewell (from Ken Burns' Civil War series) or Gettysburg playing in my office. I have a pretty extensive soundtrack collection, and a CD of toe-tapping colonial music I just love. I also adore the soundtrack to Wicked, which I saw in London and would love to see again.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
My muse would scream and throw things if I chained her to an outline. I am a seat-of-the-pants writer. I love going along for the ride with my characters. I think it is the challenge of the intellectual exercise as much as it is the creativity, for my fingers type something completely weird that my subconscious then has to spin into the plot. It works, just don't ask me how.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
I read a LOT when I was a kid, mostly historical fiction, military fiction, and fantasy/SF. I loved Rosemary Sutcliff's young adult novels, because they were beautiful and never, ever juvenile. I really like Patricia McKillip's lyrical writing style, and CJ Cherryh's ability to carry you breathlessly through a tale while building a complex and completely believable world. If I could write like them, I would be happy. I like good writing and good stories. With too many books you get one or the other but not both. I try...


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

S. A Bolich is a fulltime freelancer with a number of published fantasy stories as well as many nonfiction articles in print and on the web, covering a wide variety of subjects from horsemanship to travel (usually with an historical slant) to the state of Flash web design. A native of Washington state, she resides there again after serving six years in Germany as a regular army military intelligence officer. She graduated summa cum laude from college with a degree in history, which she confesses was greatly aided by devouring historical fiction of every era and kind through her formative years. Since then she has taught web design, trained horses, spent a few hectic and thoroughly enjoyable years volunteering with the United States Pony Clubs (kids and horses, oh, my!), worked in global marketing and project management, and finally managed a long-overdue escape from the corporate world to write.

Her first published short story earned an honorable mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror; other stories have earned honorable mentions from Writers of the Future and 5th place in the Preditors and Editors online poll for best fantasy short (2009). She is currently eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer in science fiction or fantasy.

She is working on an alternate series using an unexplored explanation of what really happened in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, while readying a high-fantasy trilogy for publication with Auriga Press. She has stories upcoming in Defending the Future IV: No Man’s Land (May 2011), the Wolfsongs II anthology (Spring 2011), Tales of Moreauvia (2011), and Witches and Pagans (2012). You can find some of her previous work in:

Beneath Ceaseless Skies (December 2009)
On Spec (Summer 2002)
Science Fiction Trails (March 2009)
Damnation Books (September 2009, a short published as an e-book)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Kelly A. Harmon

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Kelly A. Harmon

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee in the morning while it’s still dark outside – perhaps until the sun creeps over the horizon – maybe a little longer in the winter when it’s cold.

Anytime after that: a tall, sweating glass of iced tea, light on the sugar, double lemon.


4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
I always read more than one book at a time. The current fiction lineup
is:

Jeri Smith-Ready’s Bad to the Bone, the 2nd in a series about vampire
Djs. I couldn’t put down Wicked Game, the first in the series. Bad
to the Bone is just as good.

Jane Langton’s The Deserter, a murder mystery that takes place in Gettysburg. I enjoy reading anything about the Civil War: fiction and non-fiction.

Ayn Rand’s classic Atlas Shrugged. I’m reading this hefty tome for my "Fill in the Blanks - Project 100" challenge.

(The challenge started as a 100-classics read-off, for those that feltwe missed a lot of the classics, but also includes great literature, or genre classics, too. Anyone can join. The Web site is here: http://fillinthegaps100.blogspot.com


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
I’m editing it now: a scene where the leader of a magical, religious order is teaching an unwilling pupil that she has the divine power to wield magic.

I’ve re-written it several times already, switching the point of view from teacher to pupil and back again.

The pupil is the main character of the book, but the leader of the order is most affected by what’s happening in the scene. (She learns that the pupil’s divine-given power is much stronger than her own, and feels threatened by this information.)

I’m torn because I want the main character to stay in the limelight, but keep falling back on Sol Stein’s advice about writing the scene in the most-affected character’s POV.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Everywhere: driving down the road, seemingly mundane conversations with folks, headlines in the newspaper. It’s amazing how much there is to write about in the here-and-now that can fit into any time period and genre. It’s all a matter of thinking about it in the right way.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I like to outline, but I don’t do so much that it sucks the joy out of writing. I like to know the broad strokes of the story and a few key scenes before I sit down to write. This ensures that I can stay on track and don’t go wandering off on an unusable tangent. It also saves me the trouble of facing a blank page every day: if I know what I want to say, the page doesn’t stay blank for long.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Yes! I like classic Looney Tunes, Steven Spielburg’s Animaniacs and ReBoot, a Canadian CGI-animated series that aired probably a decade ago. ReBoot tickles my GeekGirl side, and like any good story, there’s a lot more going on in each episode than what’s on the surface.


Kelly A. Harmon used to write truthful, honest stories about authors and thespians, senators and statesmen, movie stars and murderers. Now she writes lies, which is infinitely more satisfying, but lacks the convenience of doorstep delivery, especially on rainy days.

She has published short fiction in several anthologies including Black Dragon, White Dragon; Triangulation: Dark Glass; Bad Ass Fairies 3: In All Their Glory; Hellbore and Rue; and the forthcoming, Magicking in Traffic. Her story “Lies” was short-listed for 2008 Aeon Award.
Harmon Collage
Her award-winning novella, Blood Soup, is available from Eternal Press and Amazon.

Ms. Harmon is a former magazine and newspaper reporter and editor. She has published articles at SciFi Weekly, eArticles, and magazines and newspapers up and down the East Coast and abroad.

Read more about Ms. Harmon at her Web site: http://kellyaharmon.com.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Hildy Silverman

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Hildy Silverman

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I'm pretty fond of Anthony DeLuca, the put-upon mall cop in my story "The Vampire Escalator of the Passaic Promenade" (New Blood, Padwolf Press, 2011). He's just a regular guy who isn't thrown when the supernatural rears its head in a mundane setting; just steps up and does what's necessary. I like characters who take charge, even if they don't have any formal power or prestige.


2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Tea. Specifically tall, soy, no-water Chai tea lattes from Starbucks. I call them my crack, I'm so hooked on them!


4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
An advanced copy of C.J. Henderson's Central Park Knight. It's good to be a magazine publisher; you get to see the "goodies" early!


6. Pop culture or academia?
Mostly pop culture, but a little academia thrown in. I like to say I'm a master of useless information -- I've won more than a few trivia contests!


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
They pretty much take me along for the ride, at least during the first draft. I usually try to jot down some sort of outline after that, so I can keep track of characters and their traits, key plot occurrences, timelines, etc. But there's nothing like typing scene after scene as fast as I can, because I want to find out what happens next and how my characters will "decide" to handle things.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
I'm a huge South Park fan. I also watch Family Guy and The Simpsons. When my daughter was younger, I had an excuse to enjoy things like Spongebob Squarepants, but now I'm a little too embarrassed to watch it on my own!


Hildy Silverman is the publisher of Space and Time, a 4-decade-old magazine featuring fantasy, horror, and science fiction. She is also the author of several works of short fiction, including "Damned Inspiration" (2009, Bad-Ass Fairies, Mundania Press), "Uddereek" (2010, In All Their Glory, Mundania Press), "Off-the-Wagon Dragon" (2010, Dragon's Lure, DarkQuest Books). "The Vampire Escalator of the Passaic Promenade" (2010, New Blood, Padwolf Press),"The Darren" (2009, Witch Way to the Mall?, Baen Books), and "Sappy Meals" (2010, Fangs for the Mammaries, Baen Books). She is the Vice President of the Garden State Horror Writers and member of the literary programming committee for Philcon. In the "real" world, she is a freelance consultant who develops corporate training and marketing communications materials.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: CJ Henderson

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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CJ Henderson

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Insanely difficult question. My problem is, I love them all when I'm working on them. I have to get caught up within their minds and souls, or I can't write them very well. Jack Hagee (hardboiled P.I., my first series character) is the character nearest to my soul. He is my voice. We believe all things equally. But, Teddy London, Piers Knight, Rocky and Noodles, the Monkey King, Lai Wan, the Domino Lady, Kolchak the Nightstalker, Batman ... there are so many I love to write. I had to tally all the characters, mine or those owned by others, that I have worked with, and the figure topped 100. Many, like the Spider, Wezleski, Inspector Legrasse, the Punisher, et cetera, that I dearly loved working with, I can still shove out of the top slot. But, those named above ... they all hold a special place in my heart because, I suppose, they all represent a different facet of my soul, mind, personality, whatever, which I wish to capture on paper. I 'm honestly not copping out here. It's just the best I can do.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I have seen every state in the continental union. I have viewed the Grand Canyon and the Corn Palace, the arch in LA and Fallingwater in PA. I have gone to Yellowstone and Yosemite. I have walked across hardened lava flows and ancient fossil beds. I have been to Crater Lake, and the 1000 Lakes, to the Statue of the Jolly Green Giant and the Statue of Liberty. Disneyworld and Disneyland and Silver Springs and the Bok Tower. The Painted Desert and the Bad Lands. Mt. Rushmore and plenty more.

Outside of the states I have climbed on the top of the Eiffel Tower and on the pyramids of Mexico. I have played the slots in Macho and with children in the gardens of Versailles. I have eaten dumplings at the World's Greatest Dumpling House in Xian and Peiking Duck in Peiking. I have driven in the desert at night so I could admire the stars and have visited James T. Kirk's hometown. And, since that one brought me back to the states, I guess that's as much blather as I should throw your way on this one.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee and tea, but coffee with milk and tea with lemon.


4. What else can you do besides write?
I'm a great cook. I'm not a chef, there's a difference. Let 10 people drop in, and I can whip something up. I'm terrific with basic, solid foods--garlic bread and pasta, beef stew, fried rice, pork chops and mashed potatoes, scallops wrapped in bacon ... that kind of stuff.

I'm one of the world's great packers. I have something strange in my head that sees everything geometrically. I can find space where no one else can. I can rearrange items in an area and make more space without throwing anything away. It's just a weird gift.

I'm also a pretty good gardener. I hate grass, but love gardens. I miss having one with which to play.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Outlines are for those who like to do double the work. I have always hated them, and when forced to use one, I know the work suffers. Just not for me.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Good God, yes. Anime of all kinds, King of the Hill, Justice League and Batman ... yikes ... this list could get really long. Yes ... I "still" love cartoons.



CJ Henderson is the creator of the Piers Knight supernatural investigator series, the Teddy London occult detective series, and more than a dozen others. He has written some 70 books and/or novels, hundreds of short stories and comics, and thousands of non-fiction pieces.

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His work has been published in some 13 languages. If you actually want more information on this complex, and rather odd fellow, a trip to www.cjhenderson.com will give you facts and news about him, a sampling of short stories to read, and a store in which you can waste what little money the government has allowed you to keep.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Jason Franks

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Jason Franks

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
I have lived in Africa, Australia and North America, I 'commuted' to Europe for about 15 months for work, and I've visited Asia several times. I have nightmares about airports now.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee. Black. No sugar if it's good.


4. What else can you do besides write?
Ju jutsu. Also, computer programming and map folding. I'm a semi-competent illustrator and a terribly bad guitarist.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Everywhere. At work, on the road, in the newspaper, in scientific journals, guitar magazines and other people's books. Sometimes my stories come directly out of dreams. I wake up with a story in my head--not quite fully formed but probably 80%. Inspiration has never been a problem for me.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Guitar rock, baby. Not every little subgenre of it, but a fairly wide variety of them. Having said that, the older I get the more of a metalhead I have become--I think because metal is one of the few areas of popular music where musicianship is valued over marketing dollars. Those bands can play, and they play hard. I'm also becoming more and more interested in the Blues, for similar reasons.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Depends on the story. If it's a comic pitch you more or less have to outline the story if you're going to sell it, but I try not to nail down every beat before I start writing--that ruins the fun of it. Usually I know where a story is going without a formal outline, although sometimes I just start on page one and see where it takes me. Sometimes I write out of sequence and then go back over it, filling in
the gaps. Every story is different.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Jason Franks grew up in South Africa and Australia. He writes source code, prose and comics for a living. He is the author of the graphic novels The Sixsmiths and McBlack, as well as numerous shorter pieces in prose and comics.
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Franks' work has appeared in Deathlings, Assassin's Canon, Bad-Ass Faeries, Tango, and other places. He is once again based in Melbourne, Australia.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Allen Schatz

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

Allen Schatz_HEIDI'S PICK SIX
Allen Schatz

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
'Marshall Connors' is my favorite. He is the "other" me I never was. That's probably why I decided to portray his scenes from a first person perspective (as opposed to the rest of the story which is in the eyes of the omniscient narrator). Marshall became a professional umpire, making it to the majors. That was something I once had on a list of possible career choices. Through him I get to be "in" the story. I find that fun.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I've been an accountant/financial professional for 25 years or so. What that means is I'm good at numbers and details. A few have noticed that latter item in my writing, as I try to put little bits and pieces into scenes. I can also umpire. I've been doing that on and off, more on, for 30 years or so. I love baseball, but like Marshall, couldn't hit a lick so did the next best thing. Some would say I'm a fairly decent coach/teacher type. I wouldn't argue.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I love baseball (as one might deduce from the book). It is the greatest game ever invented in my opinion. I've played, coached, and officiated. And I watch. A lot. I'm an avid follower of all teams Philadelphia. That's always going to be my 'home' no matter what address I might have. Modern technology lets me remain a close fan of the teams of my youth. As for other physical activity, I try to exercise regularly, "try" being the key some days. The baseball season keeps me busy physically as well.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I do some of each. I did Game 7: Dead Ball more from a sketch than a formal outline. That is probably why I had close to 200k words at one point. I often allow the story to simply take me along. There were more than a few times I had no idea where it was going and found myself surprised when it got there. The follow up story was done from an outline. The third was a bit of both.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
I read most of Grisham's books when he first came on the scene. That might be why a couple people have said my style is "Grisham-like" - I take that as a big compliment. I have a long way to go to be remotely like him. Harlan Coben's stories were an influence. Carl Hiaasen is another. Witty suspense has always been a favorite.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Absolutely, although of a more "adult" nature. South Park, Archer, Simpsons are current favorites.


After 20-some years of day-to-day grind in the business world as a CPA, Accounting, Finance guru, Allen Schatz stepped off the edge and finally did something about all the "Hey, you should be a writer" comments he'd heard over the years.

He grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and will always consider himself a "Philly Guy". Say what you will about the city, but those were his formative years and he'd never change a thing about it. After college -- Widener University -- he got married and settled first in Springfield (Delaware County). Two kids were added and a new job eventually took the family west to the Pittsburgh suburb of Washington, PA where they've been since '95.

The kids are grown now (one in Hollywood, California, the other at college -- Temple University), but their absence from the house is more than compensated for by Rocky and Penny. If Allen had more room, he'd have a few more dogs no doubt.

When he's not writing, Allen's other day job is self-employed financial consultant, specializing in TM1 and Essbase system administration.

You can also find him on the ballfield. He's been an amateur umpire for the better part of 30 years. Currently, he's registerd and working games for PONY (international youth program) and PIAA (high school).



Game 7: Dead Ball, his first of hopefully many novels is available to everyone as an eBook. You can read an interview with Allen at Fire Eric Bruntlett and hear one at Tandem with the Random. Visit Allen's site at http://www.allenschatz.com.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chat: Heidi Ruby Miller at Pennwriters Presents

Chats
I'm the guest writer at Pennwriters Presents today, so I'll be answering questions and participating in discussions at the Pennwriters Yahoo! Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Pennwriters) - anyone is welcome, not just members of Pennwriters. Stop by and say Hi!

Here's the press release:

Our Guest Star will be Heidi Ruby Miller. She likes to read all types of stories, so it makes sense that she would be a mulit-genre author and co-edit a writing guide titled MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT: LESSONS IN WRITING POPULAR FICTION (http://manygenres.blogspot.com). Her novels AMBASADORA and ATOMIC ZION are due out in 2011.

She is a Published Pennwriter and member of The Authors Guild and Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA). Some of her short stories can be found in Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy, Best of Every Day Fiction, and Eye Contact. She also co-authored a travel guide with her husband Jason Jack Miller.

Heidi will appear at the Pennwriters Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on May 12 -
15, 2011. She will be a contributor along with Michael A. Arnzen, Natalie Duvall, Matt Duvall, Timons Esaias, Jason Jack Miller, and Victoria Thompson will provide an
all-day, intensive workshop. Heidi Ruby Miller and Jason Jack Miller will teach
a workshop which shows how fixing your first page can improve your entire
manuscript. Her other future appearances include:

* Book Expo America, New York City, May 26, 2011 (book signing)
* WPF In Your Write Mind Conference and Retreat, Greensburg, PA, June 23 - 26,
2011 (official launch of MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT, workshops)
* Context 24, Columbus, OH, August 26 - 28, 2011 (day-long workshop)
* West Virginia Book Festival, Charleston, WV, October 22 - 23, 2011

Heidi Ruby Miller's month-long online course, WRITING WITH AUTHORITY, starts
April 1, 2011. Along with Jason Jack Miller, she will present the writing course
like those they've taught at Seton Hill University. To learn how to analyze your
writing and use easy techniques that will increase the authority of your voice,
enroll now at http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201104.

You can reach Heidi by email heidirubymiller@gmail.com and on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/heidirubymiller. Her websites are
http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com and http://manygenres.blogspot.com.

Topics to discuss with Heidi Ruby Miller are:
* WRITING WITH AUTHORITY Online Course
* Pennwriters Conference 2011 One-Day Intensive Workshop
* MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT: LESSONS IN WRITING POPULAR FICTION book
* Working in multiple genres
* Working with contributors on a project

Friday, March 11, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: L. Jagi Lamplighter

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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L. Jagi Lamplighter

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
My favorite character is Ladyhawk Demiurgae, a.k.a. Victoria Woods, who is the heroine of my current work.

For years I refused to write a story with her as the main character because I was embarrassed. She is not only a character I made up, she is a character I played in a roleplaying game—who was based on me. This seemed extraordinarily vain to me.

Then, about a year ago, I realized that I had played many roleplaying characters. I had even played four or five based on myself (i.e. in a game where you start out playing yourself in the modern world and then strange adventures happen to you.) Most of them did not stand out to me as preferable to any other character…just this one. So, I realized that it wasn’t just because this was my character that I liked her so much…she really was interesting and delightful.

So, I caved and started writing about her, and the project, which I had been having trouble with for over ten years, suddenly came to life.

I like her because she is relentlessly cheerful, even when facing enormous odds. She is convinced that good will triumph, despite all evidence to the contrary. And she insists on putting her moral standards as high as possible…and still saving the world. This was what made the character so much fun to play…the great amount of thought necessary to figure out not only how to solve the problems but also how to do it without violating an enormous slew of moral convictions.

She is not a perfect character by a long shot. She often slips up…but that just makes her more interesting.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
Mainly, I return to my secret identity as a mom. I have four children: a fifteen year-old princess who grew up as an orphan in China and three boys. My daughter has been with us about a year and a half now. She is finally speaking enough English to make friends. She is great fun and a joy. My sons are ages 8 to 12. One does not talk. The other two talk a great deal and are very interested in games, books, roleplaying games and movies.

At the moment, the great sorrow in my life is that out of these four children, not a single one can read English well enough to read a novel. However, we’ve seen some really wonderful progress this year. I’m very hopeful. Maybe someday they will all read.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Roleplaying, prayer, and skating. A great deal of the ideas I use come from our long-running roleplaying game, or are derived from it. But I also try to remember to pray before I sit down and write. I feel this brings a kind of clarity…or I’d like to hope so.

I also try to go skating (rollerblading) once or twice a week. This is a great time to explore ideas, work out scenes, pray quietly, or do whatever I mentally need to do. (I should add: skating outside is great for praying quietly. Recently, I’ve been skating at a rink with music. Not so good for quiet but great for thinking up dramatic scenes.)


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I like a great deal of music--almost all kinds. When I am entirely alone, I sometimes secretly listen to Classical. Recently, I hear a lot of Christian Rock because that is what the boys like. I also like theme songs from anime, which I find to be cheerfuller than a lot of other modern music.

Before You Tube, I never listened to music while I wrote. Now, I can find the perfect song I’m in the mood for and play it over and over. So, my writing projects now have theme songs.

This has the interesting effect that A) playing the related song sometimes helps put me in the mood to write, and B) some songs are now so strongly associated with certain projects that I can no longer play them if I am working on something else. (This does not happen all the time, but it has happened.)


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I personally believe that there are three modes, not two. One is outlining. The second is just going with the flow. The third is listening to the muse…outlining when it comes to you to do it and not when it comes not to. I think this third is different than just winging. It takes hard work and a great deal of trust.

In general, though, I find that I cannot outline something until I’m at least halfway through. If I do it before that, I use too much human reason and not enough muse. The ideas become too rigid, and the project flounders. After a certain point, however, the whole thing seems to come together logically. After that, I find it useful to outline, to make sure that I don’t overlook a plot thread.

I love the process of writing and discovering what is going to happen. It always feels to me as if I’m remembering it or rediscovering it. As if it has been out there all along, and I’m just waiting to find it.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Indubitably! We love cartoons. My husband (sf/fantasy writer John C. Wright) and I watch them with our children, but that is just an excuse. We also watch them without the children. We love both Disney cartoons and anime. Avatar: the Last Air Bender is a favorite of the whole family. My husband and I also do an anime viewing night with a friend. Currently, we are watching One Piece.



L. Jagi Lamplighter is a fantasy author. She has published numerous articles on Japanese animation and appears in several short story anthologies, including Best of Dreams of Decadance, No Longer Dreams, Bad-Ass Faeries, and the Science Fiction Book Club’s Don't Open This Book.

She recently sold her first trilogy, PROSPERO’S DAUGHTER, to Tor.

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The first two volumes: Prospero Lost and Prospero in Hell are currently in stores. The last volume, Prospero Regained comes out in September of 2011.

When not writing, she switches to her secret identity as wife and stay-home mom in Centreville, VA, where she lives with her dashing husband, author John C. Wright, and their four darling children, Orville, Ping-Ping, Roland Wilbur, and Justinian Oberon.

Her website is: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com
Her blog is at: http://arhyalon.livejournal.com

Thursday, March 10, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: John C. Wright

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Works by John C. Wright

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Unfortunately, my favorite character is not really mine. I was authorized by the
estate of AE van Vogt to do a sequel to his seminal World of Null-A and Players of Null-A. The hero is an amnesiac superman with a double brain named Gilbert Gosseyn, who can bypass the illusionary restrictions of timespace, reincarnate from the dead (being an amnesiac, this comes as quite a surprise when this happens the first time) and he may well be the next step of human evolution.

But his true power is his superior moral and mental outlook, a flexible system of multivalued logic called Non-Aristotelian philosophy or Null-A. This enables him to become aware of the unspoken assumptions and biases inherent in the way we perceive the universe through the filter of language: and since nearly everything in his environment is not what it seems, and nearly every one is not who he seems (including Gilbert Gosseyn himself!) the mental discipline is not only useful, but desperately necessary.

The character appeals to me because he prevails, not because of physical greater strength as might a Robert E Howard hero, nor even greater know-how as might a Robert Heinlein hero; no, Gilbert Gosseyn prevails because of his greater integrity of mind and body, passions, emotions, and reason, his greater sobriety and maturity, and in short, because of his sanity.

Most youths as they mature have days when they feel like the amnesiac superman. When a growing boy discovers some talent or knack he did not know he possessed, of when he discovers he can beat his brothers at a sport or beat his Dad at chess, there is something of that sense of wild discovery combined with familiarity that a greater being who has forgotten his own powers must feel.

This theme of forgetfulness of one's own true glory is one that runs through all my work. As to who or what Gilbert Gosseyn truly is, I am pleased to announce that I had the last word, and so you would have to buy a copy of Null-A Continuum to find out.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I have been a lawyer, a newspaper editor, a newspaperman, political cartoonist, non-political cartoonist, tax preparer, store clerk, picture framer, paralegal, hand in a Delly, and even, since I got paid for it, a professional philosopher.

I have done my share of amateur game designing. My current day job is tech writer. I have had more odd jobs than even Edgar Rice Burroughs, and succeeded at them only as well as he.


5. Who are you reading right now?
Dante. This is on account of my highbrow tastes. I am not a philistine. See Question #15.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I do not write by inspiration. I regard the task as work, as a carpenter wrights
a chair, or a shoemaker cobbles a shoe. One merely sits down and faces the blank sheet of paper with the same fortitude a knight faces a gathered and clamoring horde of Norsemen or Paynims. Anyone can write when so inspired; a professional writes when he is not inspired.
See question #12.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I write entirely by inspiration. The scenes merely flow out of me effortlessly,
in a fashion requiring neither forethought nor agony. Then I go back and rewrite the scene, wishing to heaven that I could outline. Anyone can write without an outline as I do; a professional outlines his work and sticks to it; a genius outlines his work and abandons the outline when need be.
See question #8.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
From whom do I steal my ideas, do you mean? Only amateurs are influenced; professionals steal ideas; geniuses steal ideas from the greats.

A.E. van Vogt is the biggest victim of repeated thefts from my kelptomaniacal pen, as one might guess from the fact that I wrote a book of his Null-A Continuum. I have also set stories in the Dying Earth of Jack Vance (Songs of the Dying Earth - Gardner Dozois & Geo. R.R. Martin, eds.) and in the Long Dead Earth of William Hope Hodgson (Night Lands - Andy W. Robertson, ed).

My first trilogy, The Golden Age was a shameless rip off of ideas and themes from Olaf Stapledon and Ayn Rand, not to mention the myth of Phaethon; my second Last Guardian of Everness, was a shameless rip off from Arthurian legend, Russian folklore, Norse myth, Victorian fairytales, American pulp novels, the Book of the Apocalypse, not to mention HP Lovecraft's Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath and Crowley's Little, Big; my third trilogy, Orphans of Chaos was a shameless rip off of Hesiod and Roger Zelazny, with ideas nicked from Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay and the Book of the Goetia by the Great Beast.

My novella 'Twilight of the Gods' which appears in the anthology Federations (John Joseph Adams, ed) is a rip off of Heinlein's 'Universe' and Wager's Ring Cycle. (This story is also reprinted in The Year's Best Science Fiction—Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed).

My short story 'Guest Law' appears in The Space Opera Renaissance (Kathryn Cramer & David G. Hartwell, eds.) and is a shameless rip off of Greek myths about Zeus crossed with any number of submarine stories.

My novella 'Judgment Eve' appears in Engineering Infinity (Jonathan Strahan, ed) is a rip off of Byron's play HEAVEN AND EARTH which is in turn a rip off of the Deluge story appearing in the Book of Genesis. As I said, geniuses steal from the greats, and George Gordon, Lord Byron was a genius.

Aside from this, I wish I were influenced by Gene Wolfe, E.E. 'Doc' Smith, Keith
Laumer, Cordwainer Smith, but I cannot impersonate their ideas or approaches


15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Of course. This is on account of my lowbrow tastes. So I am a philistine after
all. My viewing pleasure includes Naruto, One Piece, Kim Possible, not to mention reruns of Space Ghost and Fantastic Four (and I mean the 1968 version, not the later jokes and rip-offs.)
- See question #5.



John C. Wright is a retired attorney, newspaperman and newspaper editor, who was
only once on the lam and forced to hide from the police who did not admire his
newspaper.

In 1987, he graduated from the College and William and Mary's Law School (going from the third oldest to the second oldest school in continuous use in the United States), and was admitted to the practice of law in three jurisdictions (New York, May 1989; Maryland December 1990; DC January 1994). His law practice was unsuccessful enough to drive him into bankruptcy soon thereafter. His stint as a newspaperman for the St. Mary's Today was more rewarding spiritually, but, alas, also a failure financially. He presently works (successfully) as a writer in Virginia, where he lives in fairy-tale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter (Annapolis, class of 1985), and their four children: Evelyn, Orville, Wilbur, and Just Wright.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: John Grant

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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John Grant

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
My biggest adventure has been, after 50 years of living in my native UK (I'm originally a Scot), to come and live for the past 12 years or so in the US -- all the fault of my beloved American wife Pam. The most exciting bit of traveling we've done since then, aside from regular trips to see family and friends back in Blighty, was a few years ago, when the World SF Convention was held in San Jose. We decided it'd be fun, rather than fly there from home in NJ, to drive both ways -- live our own road movie, as it were, complete with the kind of motels that have malfunctioning neon signs outside them. The adventure was made even more special because, on hearing we were planning this, a very good friend of ours, the Slovakian artist Martina Pilcerova, asked if she could come along for the outward journey, since it had always been her dream to go by car across the US. By the time we got to San Jose we were all sort of achy from the amount of laughter that had been going on.

The pic I've supplied of me was taken by Pam when, on the way back home, we stopped for an afternoon at the Arizona Meteor Crater -- something I'd wanted to see ever since, as a seven-year-old stuck at home from school with the flu in Aberdeen, Scotland, I'd come across a photograph of it in a book. It had been a long journey.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
I'm reading a string of British crime novels -- Rendell, James, Robinson, Bingham, McDermid, Walters, Rankin. Until about a month ago I'd spent the best part of a year reading only for research -- for my upcoming (Fall 2011, Prometheus, plug plug plug) book Denying Science and for an essay on time-travel fiction for an academic book -- so I've really been enjoying the experience of reading just for pleasure. The fact that I'm reading all these Brit crime novels is that, all the while I was reading for research, I was promising myself that the very first book of my "freedom" would be the Ian Rankin novel I bought last Spring and hadn't been able to read at the time, Exit Music. And when finally I did get to it I enjoyed it so much that . . .

I've interspersed these with a few ebooks I've been reading for review purposes (and also to see if I'm as yet interested in getting myself an e-reader): Eric Brown's A Writer's Life, Keith Brooke's collection Memesis, Kaitlin Queen's One More Unfortunate.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Most kinds. I'm not much into opera, with a few exceptions. I quite enjoy jazz when I hear it, but I don't actively seek it out. Other than that, my taste is the usual mixture of rock/pop/folk/classical, although the rock and pop and folk aren't necessary anglophone; I especially like chanson francaise. For the past couple of years or so, though, most of the music I've been playing has been classical, not just the genuinely classical stuff but also "new music" -- a fresh development for me, because for a long time I didn't much like modern music.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I usually have a pretty clear idea of where the story's going to go, although most often I won't be certain at the start of how it's going to get there. I don't like to know in advance too many of the details, because the exercise might end up being sort of like painting by numbers; also, I think that if I'm excited and surprised when things happen in the story, maybe some of that freshness of emotion will get across to the reader.

And, yes, there are times when I just start writing with no clear idea of where the journey's going to take me. That can be fun. It can also be disastrous. I've built up quite a collection of unfinished stories that are waiting for me to work out how to write the rest of them!


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
I think the answer to that depends on whatever it is I happen to be writing at the time -- I've written everything from space opera and high fantasy to reference nonfiction. In some instances it's obvious: my 2008 fantasy novella The City in These Pages, for example, is not so much influenced by Ed McBain as a homage to him, and overall I'd say noir, in both written and screen form, has had a growing influence on my fiction. That's not to imply I write much that's actually in that genre (although I'm planning a major nonfiction book on film noir). Recently I wrote for the anthology Dragon's Lure a story that I'd say was influenced by Henry Kuttner. And so it goes. At the moment my default mode, as it were, in fiction is kind of slipstreamy, and there I'd say my influences are people like John Fowles, Christopher Priest, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

What I should really be saying, of course, is that I'm an entirely original voice -- no such thing as influences at all.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Yes, and I write about them too. I wrote three editions of Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters plus, some while later, another big book called Masters of Animation. I'm hoping soon to get the chance to do a new edition of the latter. Aside from updates and the like, in the ten years or so since I wrote it a number of good new animators have come onto the scene. Also, the original edition had a design that seemed to me to clash with the content, so I'd like any new edition to reflect better what the text is all about.



John Grant is author of some seventy books, of which about twenty-five are fiction, including novels like The World, The Hundredfold Problem, The Far-Enough Window and most recently (2008) The Dragons of Manhattan and Leaving Fortusa. His “book-length fiction” Dragonhenge, illustrated by Bob Eggleton, was shortlisted for a Hugo Award in 2003; its successor was The Stardragons. His first story collection, Take No Prisoners, appeared in 2004; its ebook reissue in 2011 was an Amazon.com bestseller. His anthology New Writings in the Fantastic was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award. His novella The City in These Pages appeared in early 2009 from PS Publishing; PS will publish another of his novellas, The Lonely Hunter, in 2011.

In nonfiction, he coedited with John Clute The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and wrote in their entirety all three editions of The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney’s Animated Characters; both encyclopedias are standard reference works in their fields. Among his latest nonfictions have been Discarded Science, Corrupted Science and Bogus Science. He is currently working on Denying Science (to be published by Prometheus in 2011), on a book about film noir, on the artist/illustrator entries for the massive online third edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and on “a cute illustrated rhyming book for kids about a velociraptor”.

As John Grant he has received two Hugo Awards, the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Award, and various other international literary awards. Under his real name, Paul Barnett, he has written a few books (like the space operas Strider’s Galaxy and Strider’s Universe) and for a number of years ran the world-famous fantasy-artbook imprint Paper Tiger, for this work earning a Chesley Award and a nomination for the World Fantasy Award. His website is at www.johngrantpaulbarnett.com.