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Interview: Shen Hart

Shen Hart

Shen Hart

I met Shen through our common relation Garrett Robinson. You see, though I wasn’t too keen on creating and furthermore maintaining an online persona, it’s times like these – when I realize just how many interesting people I met because of it, that I must give a nod to my Publisher for coercing me into it.

I met Shen as a book reviewer, and an honest one at that. In time, I have discovered her to be a warm person, with an impressive background. That was already pretty awesome in my books. And then, a few weeks ago, I learned that Shen was also an author. How cool is that!

Her debut novel, “Wyrd Calling” is now available on Amazon, and if you want to know more about the mind behind the book, then keep reading.

 

Wyrd Calling

Wyrd Calling

Sorin: Let’s say I have a little hobby of collecting personal histories about words. Tell me how you first came upon the word “wyrd” and how did the two of you become friends.

Shen: I came across the word wyrd quite a few years ago when I was studying the runes and looking more deeply into Norse mythology. It’s a word and a concept that I feel tied to, the idea of the universe as some tapestry, some interlinking web, and something in constant flux and shifting evolution.

 

Sorin: How is writing a strong female character different to writing a strong male character? Would you care sharing some tips?

Shen: Hm that isn’t really a conscious thought for me. I think when writing the female characters I’m more aware of the potential threats of violence and the size difference. No matter how strong and well-trained a woman is, she’s still smaller and generally speaking weaker. That means she’s going to be that little more aware of a situation building and how to deal with it.

 

Sorin: Do your characters ever get out of hand? Does it ever feel like their emerging personalities simply won’t fit in the plot? And if so, would you rather sacrifice the plot or the character trait?

Shen: Yes, they absolutely do lol. They pop up reasonably well formed but sometimes something will emerge that throws a nice big spanner in the works. Characters come first for me, the plot is their story so if their new trait changes the plot, then I’ll follow along and see what new plot forms instead.

 

Sorin: How does living in Prague affect your writing? Would “Wyrd Calling” be any different if you were writing it somewhere completely different – your home town, for instance?

Shen: Prague inspires me and makes me feel at peace, contented and finally at home. Yes, I think it’d be completely different if I had have written it back in England. I felt caged there, much more uptight, and my head went to darker places. I think the book would be more dense, darker, less of the more positive emotions and more aggression.

 

Sorin: If “Wyrd Calling” were made into a movie, who would you handpick to star in it?

Shen: I’ve thought about this quite a lot and well, I’ve failed! The only one I’ve managed to pin down is Jackson Rathbone for Dan. I think Jensen Ackles could potentially be a good Ryan, and Tom Hiddleston would be great as Lee, but they’re not 100% right. I have no clue who would play Thalia!

 

Sorin: As a genre, fantasy has led a rather private life before Hollywood brought it kicking and screaming into the mainstream. What do you think is the next unsung genre to capture our attention?

Shen: Hmmm that’s a hard one. Hollywood is becoming saturated with big heroes, lots of special effects, but there are hints of much more personal and emotional journeys. I think we’ll see a return to literature, things like Cloud Atlas which make us think and give us a fresh perspective and reminder of our place in the big scheme of things. This is a time where a lot’s changing and we’re seeing touches of that with The Fault of Our Stars, I haven’t seen it but my understanding is that it helps people confront the bigger questions and reality of life. We needed to escape from the economic crash, from the terrorism, but now we need to face what’s happening around us again.

 

That’s it for now. Make sure to check Wyrd Calling on Amazon. I’m leaving you with a quote:

“I cursed the Sisters again. I couldn’t help wondering if perhaps there was some grand prize or something for that. Maybe I’d be given another irritating little mark like the choker once I hit 1,000 curses. Or maybe, just maybe, they’d give in and let me be. I cursed them again, just in case it was the latter.”


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Interview: Ryan Attard

Ryan Attard

Ryan Attard

When I think of Ryan, my guest today, the words “dark and mysterious” jump to mind with such vigour that they actually end up sticking to the ceiling. Then, having patiently waited their turn, the words “funny as hell” tap me on the shoulder and go BOO as I turn around. Yeah, that’s Ryan, alright.

If you love Jim Butcher, but you feel his writing could use even more humour, then Ryan’s Legacy Series is definitely for you. Come to think of it, the Legacy Series is good for you whether you know what a Jim Butcher is or not. Do you think you can wait until December 13th to get your hands on Firstborn, the first book in the series?

 

In the meanwhile, let’s see what Ryan has to say for himself:

 

Sorin: You live in Malta. Please explain.

Ryan: I was born and raised here. As for why I’m still here, it’s clearly because something is very wrong with me. No sane person lives here of their own free will and volition whilst aware of the land of milk and honey that is everywhere but this freakin’ rock. But I have a place to stay here, and I wanna make sure I have some stability before moving. Which I will do.

 

Sorin: If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

Ryan: To turn my life energy into magic. I’m into the whole Asian, martial arts, internal energy stuff and I also watch a lot of urban fantasy on TV. I like the magic because of the versatility – picking the right tool for the job.

 

Sorin: Here it comes, the question you can never escape – what made you become a writer? Alright, let me rephrase this. What was the tipping point – the moment you decided that literature will no longer be a read only thing for you?

Ryan: I read Changes by Jim Butcher and Mortal Coil by Derek Landy and though ‘I don’t wanna wait for these authors to get off their asses and write the next book. I’m gonna provide me own entertainment. I mean, how hard can it be to write a book?’

I spent the following 2 years figuring out how dumb I was for asking that and after some hardships, here I am.

 

Firstborn, by Ryan Attard

Firstborn, by Ryan Attard

Sorin: Writing is a lot of fun. Selling your work is…

Ryan: Less fun.

I have the same business prowess as a squirrel in a jam jar. The writing and creative side of it is amazing and it’s why I signed on for this business in the first place. The marketing and publishing is like that annoying fish that sticks to the shark. Except its worse because in our economic present the idea of selling something often requires you to become some twisted version of that you intended to start out as.

I suppose the writing business has it easy in this regard because we tend to operate behind the scenes and certainly have more freedom of movement. Very rarely do you find tabloid articles about writers caught in a hotel room with hookers and cocaine.

 

Sorin: If you were forced not to use humour, would you still write?

Ryan: Yes. Illegally. (Why so serious?)

 

Sorin: For the next two hundred words you are allowed to mash two favorite books/cartoons/games together and be the main character. Go crazy!

Ryan: Oh you bastard.

As a stand-alone, I’d love to be a part of Bleach. Specifically, and now we go into my fantasy here, a Kido Corps captain, because the magic system is utterly shrouded and the author did classify the four shinigami systems as separate but he also gave enough hints that they can be used together.

For the mash up – Star Wars with Hunter x Hunter. Think about it: a Force user AND Nen powers. It’s like Sidious, the Witches of Dathomir and Maul all rolled up in one in terms of badassery. I’m obsessed with the Nen system in Hunter x Hunter but to this day, no matter how many online quizzes I take, I still can’t figure out my Hatsu category.

If anything I’ll just settle for being one of those magic-user hybrids on Dungeons and Dragons – the ones who mess the game up with sheer bullshit and vivid complications and imagination to their spell casting? One of those would be cool.

P.S. Yes, I do actually work on something productive and no, I don’t have a social life.

 

Sorin: Cats or Dragons? Board games or computer games? Sword or hammer? Please use the answers in one sentence.

Ryan: Cat. (Cos I’m a big fan of pussy – I had to go there). No seriously, it’s no contest. A dragon can breathe fire and look all majestic and stuff but a cat can look at a dragon in the eye and go ‘yeah, I don’t care. Fuck off’; in a French accent to boot! Cats know they rule the world – they just haven’t figured out how to open the food packets.

Computer games. Because I really have no one else to play with but myself. (Well not really play with myself – that came later. Double pun there.)

Sword – technique over strength. I look like a twelve year old girl, it’s not like I have that much strength to leverage in the first place.

 

I don’t have a sentence but I have a limerick/ poem (Whatever). Check this shit out –

 

There once was a guy named Dragon

A lover of games was he,

Board or computer, it didn’t matter

So long as it was fantasy

 

He also had a stammer

So his cat used a hammer

To cure him of his unease

He accepted the bash

With a whelp and a crash

And his cat said “Pussy be here to please”

 

He took up his sword

To face up the horde

 

But he played on windows

And predictably it crashed

So now Dragon’s lonely;

Just him and his stash

 

Find out more about Ryan on his website, and make sure to stay in touch with him.

He is one crazy fellow, if I ever met one – that elusive mix of eccentric and introvert that makes such awesome characters.


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Interview: Amber Skye Forbes

Amber Skye Forbes

Amber Skye Forbes

I had a chance to interview Amber Skye Forbes, author of When Stars Die. Now, I don’t usually read Romance, but this one was definitely worth my time. Here is what I have to say about it:

Amber’s writing is dark, marked by suffering and a deep understanding of what makes us tick, not to mention tock. Her devastating first-person narrative and present tense combo makes it hard not to be drawn into the story.

While “When Stars Die” is categorized under Romance, there is so much more to it than that. Indeed, I would even argue that romance is not even the main dish, but rather the subtle spice that takes the whole plate up a notch.

The story is set in a late 19th century Europe, somewhere close to Denmark but not anywhere you would find on a real map. Without giving away too many spoilers, I would like to concentrate on Deus, the sadistic god and true villain in this universe. He keeps the society into an eternal check, giving them very few reasons to love him. It should come as no surprise then to the amateur theologian, that the more he hurts them, the more people love him. Amelia, the main character, and one of Deus’ unfortunate victims, is the best example of this masochistic devotion taken to the extreme.

In tackling sensitive topics such as religion, abuse, rape and the inquisition, Amber dances on hot coals to a dangerous tune, but she does it with incredible style and pinpoint precision.

An now, for the interview 🙂

 

Sorin: Who is your book for?

Amber: My book is intended for a young adult audience, but I have noticed that more adults have been reading it, probably because they have slightly more time to do it than high school students do. I did read an article recently that says that more adults are buying YA books than young adults themselves, mostly because they have the money for it that young adults don’t necessarily have.

 

Sorin: You started writing this book when you were a teenager. Where does all the darkness come from?

Amber: I suppose the darkness comes from myself. I’ve battled with mental illness since I was fourteen, so mental illness can really warp your perspective on the world. However, I decided to use my mental illness as a positive thing instead of a negative thing, so I added that to my writing.

 

Sorin: As a writer, being true to yourself is the most important thing, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Were you ever tempted to trade that in exchange for pleasing a larger audience?

Amber: Well, I write for myself, but I also revise for my audience. However, I would say When Stars Die was written with what I wanted entirely. AEC Stellar didn’t have to change the book much, so everything written in it is original from me. I did delete scenes and what not, but I’ve worked on the book for years and have had little feedback for it. However, with its sequel, I am keeping readers in mind. I am using some of the constructive criticism from reviews from WDS to help shape the sequel, Stars Will Rise. 

 

Sorin: What was your favorite scene to write?

Amber: My favorite scene to write is the one where Amelia is mulling over when stars die. She thinks that when they die, they leave an impact because they go out in some explosive way–most stars, anyway. Some of them go out with a whimper. But she uses these musings and compares them to people. People die leaving footprints on the earth, and she hopes that as a witch she can do the same thing. The title When Stars Die emerged from this crucial scene. Stars are going to be a common motif through The Stars Trilogy.

 

Sorin: Tell me more about Deus. As you know by now, I find him very intriguing.

Amber: Deus is the god of their world. People worship him to the point where they are fanatics. They listen to every word he says, which exists in The Vulgate, and they do not question The Vulgate. Then there is Theosodore, an assistant to Mother Aurelia at Cathedral Reims. There are hints in the book that he is the only one truly connected to Deus. So is Deus the true enemy of the book? Readers will have to read the trilogy to find out.

 

Sorin: The series is off to an amazing start. Do you know how it ends? Will the characters find some kind of redemption?

Amber: I do know how it ends, and I hope to create some sort of redemptions for everywhere. But I can tell you it won’t be a neat happily-ever-after ending. Amelia’s world is in disarray, and a world in disarray never has a positive ending. It only has an ending that can benefit the greater good, but there will be so much loss along the way. This book, the third book, will be called The Stars Are Infinite. 

 

Sorin: Oliver Cromwell. Coincidence?

Amber: I suppose there is a slight coincidence, but readers will have to read to find out!

 

Sorin: Tell us about the book cover. What secrets does it hide?

Amber: Well, for one thing, when the cover was being created, I wanted Amelia to have an innocent appearance because she is an innocent character. She is very much into justice, and she does look at the world through an innocent perspective. But eventually the world starts to crush this innocence. The orange coloring on the cover too symbolizes the flames witches are burned with. And the plum tree symbolizes where Amelia and Oliver often meet.

 

Make sure to connect with Amber on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmberSkyeForbes

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmberSkyeF

Blog: http://amberskyeforbes.wordpress.com

Webpage: http://amberskyeforbes.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18387010-when-stars-die


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Interview: Garret Robinson (part 2)

Garret Robinson

Garret Robinson

Welcome to the second part my interview with Garret The Awesome Robinson.

If you missed the fist part, click here.

If you haven’t done so already, do check out his first book, Midrealm, which is on sale right now on Amazon. You can also pre-order the second book in the series at therealmkeepers.com

 

Sorin: Paperback, eBook, audiobook. What do you think is next in this industry?

Garrett: I tell you, if I knew the answer to that, I’d be trying to secure a patent on it. I have always considered myself an artist, not a techie, even though I’m pretty savvy with computers and stuff. In my opinion, there are artists and then there are the people who develop tools for the artist. Rarely do the twin meet (when they do, hellooo trillionaire).

Ebooks, audiobooks, all that—they’re just tools. They’re just ways and mediums for art. I am perfectly content to let other people develop new and better tools for distributing art to people, and then adapting what I do to work within those tools, those mediums. My viewpoint is this: it doesn’t take me very long to learn a new method of distribution or art, and it’s one more avenue. So why not do it? Why not experiment with new ways to get my stories out there, whether it’s the books I’m writing or the films I’m directing?

I really see a future in cross-platform storytelling. People have tried it over the years, but I think it’s gaining new ground now that Whedon is on board with the Avengers franchise, now in film and on TV. Where else could that story be told? Why couldn’t there be an online game set in the same universe, where the storyline would actually be swayed by what occurs in the films and TV show, and vice versa? Why not make the storytelling every bit in legit in every medium it’s told in?

It’s an exciting time. As I’ve often said, if you’re an artist, there’s never been a better time in human history for you to be alive.

 

Sorin: If you had a … for every time you … you would …?

Garrett: If I had a fan for every time I had someone download one of my free books, I’d be J.K. Rowling. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But while I recognize the value of free book deals, it does annoy me how many people download free books and never read them…)

 

Sorin: Kobolds or goblins?

Garrett: Goblins. Kobolds annoy me. I was brought up on Tolkien and Warhammer.

 

Sorin: What’s your favorite euphemism?

Garrett: I’ve always liked “mashing uglies,” for some reason.

 

Sorin: Would you care to share an excerpt from any of your books?

Garrett: One of my favorite scenes ever is the scene in Chapter Two of Midrealm when Greystone shows up. Here’s one of my favorite parts from that chapter:

 

I groaned and started to push myself up, but a funny thing happened. I felt the stone courtyard under my fingers, and it sort of…tickled. I ran my hands across the ground and felt the rough surface of the stone. It felt comforting. Warm somehow. Like…the thought seemed ridiculous, but like hugging a cousin that I hadn’t seen in years but had always been really good friends with. For some reason, the stone felt alive. I didn’t want to break contact. To my right I heard Calvin breathing deeply in and out, chuckling every time he did.

Then there was a POOF, and an old, gruff voice said, “Well, now that that’s over with.”

I leapt to my feet and whirled around. Just outside the circle of stone pillars, in the direction of the doors I’d been planning on making a run for, stood an old man. Not just old—this guy was ancient. His face had more wrinkles than a shirt after it had been slept in overnight, and his bushy white eyebrows jutted out like the wings of a bird. His crazy white hair stuck out in all directions, immediately making me think of Albert Einstein. He was wearing an old, faded grey robe and clutching a gnarled wooden walking stick that was a little taller than he was.

I jumped in front of Tess and Calvin, who were both climbing slowly to their feet. I felt Miles step in on my left and Blade on my right, the three of us forming a wall in front of the smaller kids. Raven stayed off to the side a bit, staring at the old man, unsure.

“Who are you?” I asked.

The old man scoffed. “Who am I? Listen, girl, I’m not the one with anything to prove. You’ve got big shoes to fill, child, and you look barely old enough to ride a horse, much less save the world.”

“Ride a…save the what?” I asked, utterly confused. I could understand what he was saying, but a part of me was aware that he wasn’t speaking English. Even understanding his words, though, he wasn’t making sense.

The old man sighed heavily. “Always with the new ones,” he grumbled. “It’s always ‘what are you talking about?’ and ‘who are you?’ and ‘why are these people trying to kill us?’”

“What?!” I shrieked.

“Hey man, where are we?” Miles asked. “What’s with those rocks?”

The old man sighed and peered at all of us instead of answering. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw Miles and Blade look at me. Like I was supposed to know what to do. It looked like the old man saw them, because his eyes narrowed and focused on me.

“You,” he said. “What is your name?”

I glared at him. “Why?”

“Come now. You’ve asked me for my name, despite my being your elder, but you do not offer your own? Give me yours, and I will give you mine, and then I will hear from the rest of you.”

My brow wrinkled as I thought about it. All of this was so bizarre, I didn’t know what to think. But there was something about the man. Something in his eyes. He sure seemed to be a crotchety old guy, but I didn’t feel like he actually meant us any harm.

“I’m Sarah,” I told him finally. There was no way I was going to give him my last name. “Now, for the last time, who are you?”

He snorted. “‘For the last time.’ Such bravado.” He thrust his staff out to his side and bowed low, holding his hand over his middle. “I am Greystone the wizard, and I am, most unfortunately for all of us, at your service.”

“A wizard. Right,” said Blade sarcastically beside me.

“Cool!” cried Calvin. He pressed forward between me and Miles and stared at Greystone with a wide grin. “What can you do?”

Greystone looked at him with disdain. “Oh, you’re one of those.”

 

Don’t you dare forget to follow Garrett on Twitter and on his website 🙂


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Interview: Garret Robinson (part 1)

Garret Robinson

Garret Robinson

I’m splitting this interview in two parts, not because Garret is a chatty fellow (which he is), but because I have come to learn what a bite size really means on the Internet.

I met Garrett while seeking reviewers for The Scriptlings. Having sent messages to a ton of people that day and having got no answer, I was understandingly excited when I got this message from Garret, barely two minutes after writing to him:

I tried to read this all the way through, but about two paragraphs in I was like, “gimme, gimme, GIMME!!!”

Garrett Robinson is one of those artists whose creativity spans more than just one form of art. Here is what I had to say about his hilarious novel The Ninjabread Man:

This book is so funny, that I was L-ingMAO while still reading the dedication and authors’ note. It only gets better from there.

If you’re a Terry Pratchett fan, then you will be thrilled to find a winged species of Feegles amongst the main protagonists – swearing, debauchery, recklessness and all. They are so well integrated that their presence smashes the borders of mere fan art. Indeed, I daresay Pratchett himself would approve of it.

On top of finely crafted (or baked, in some cases) characters, The Ninjabread Man stands out through its impressive cinematic quality. Since one of the authors is a movie director, that should hardly come as a surprise.

What should surprise you, though, is the fact that the authors somehow contrived to include a ton of witty references pointing back to the story and characters themselves. For a relatively short story, this is an amazing feat of wordsmithing – seeing as you would normally expect this kind of fine literary device in a sequel, rather than on the original work.

Before we delve into the interview, please be advised that his first book, Midrealm, is on sale right now on Amazon and you can pre-order the second book in the series at therealmkeepers.com

 

Sorin: How does being an author compare to being a co-author?

Garrett: There are good parts and bad parts to both. I’m a bit of an admitted egoist, and so not having the final say as a co-author grates on me occasionally. I’m able to put aside my personal feelings and come to a compromise for the good of the story, but it doesn’t get less annoying each time—which is totally illogical, because every single time we compromise, I look back on it in retrospect and go, “Oh, yeah, that was totally the right decision.” Having a good co-author is like having a fantastic content editor. You catch each other’s gross plot inconsistencies, out-continuity, and generally weak story ideas. You also get two different viewpoints on any story problem, so it’s easier to work through each one. And you only have to do half the work on thinking up the next twists and turns in the story. It’s a really, really great way to work.

That being said, there are things I like working as a solo author. They don’t outweigh being a co-author or vice versa; it’s just different. I like having full control. I like being able to go places that a co-author won’t necessarily go. There’s something freeing about being the only one responsible for where a story will take me.

After Realm Keepers is done, I’m embarking on my solo fantasy series, the one that’s been building in me for years now. It’s very adult, very epic, and very fun. It’s important to me that it’s the best thing I ever do, so I’m probably going to write it and then sit on it for a while—maybe years. I don’t know. It’s not coming out until it’s perfect. But I’m looking forward to taking everything I’ve learned about storytelling while working with Z. C. Bolger and applying it to a solo project.

 

Sorin: Some people think that fantasy and humor should not mix. What would you like to do to these people? I promise I’ll help.

Garrett: I want to pat these people on the head like the little simpletons they are. Anyone who says fantasy and humor are incompatible is woefully ignorant of the genus of all modern fantasy, which is of course Tolkien. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are absolutely saturated with humor (The Hobbit more so). The antics of the hobbits, and occasionally of Gimli and Legolas, are often hilarious, both in the books and in the movies. Humor isn’t the focus of the series, but it’s an integral part. Without an occasional moment of levity and humor, the series would be a much less rich, satisfying and real place for us to spend our time.

Also, two words: Terry Pratchett.

 

Sorin: Then I guess I won’t be needing this crowbar… Is there any type of scene you will not apply humor to?

Garrett: Basically, I won’t apply humor to my own personal “cardinal sin” list. Most people have a list like this. It’s the things that are absolutely, totally unforgivable. Bad acts you can’t come back from.

Some authors won’t write scenes from their cardinal sin list at all. Famously, Johnny B. Truant of the Self Publishing Podcast won’t write scenes where children or animals are harmed. I don’t take it that far. Nothing is off the table in my fiction. But I won’t apply humor to certain scenes.

Rape is definitely one of them. At the end of Non Zombie, Cliff’s wife is nearly raped. Non Zombie is a humorous book, but I couldn’t have made that scene funny. It would have made me feel ill to try.

The death of parents is another big one. Many characters (in all fiction and in my own works) lose parents. It’s not a funny thing, and I’d feel terrible trying to make a joke about it. I lost my own mother a few years back, and nowadays I can’t even stomach “yo momma” jokes.

 

Sorin: Like I said before, The Ninjabread Man is, to a certain extent, Discworld inspired fan art, but I believe there is so much more to it – enough for Terry Pratchett himself to love it. Did you get any kind of reaction from him or from fans?

Garrett: My God, if I’d heard anything from Terry Pratchett I would have shouted that across the internets. We did get a lot of love from fans who recognized the inspiration from The Wee Free Men. It was important to me that we were very open about them in the dedication. If people enjoyed the Scotts, I hope we funneled some of them to buy Pratchett’s book.

Fortunately, we haven’t gotten any flak for the Scotts. I was afraid people would accuse us of “ripping off” Pratchett. It’s a dicey line to walk, but I see it as akin to the hobbits, or orcs. Hobbits and orcs basically didn’t exist before Tolkien, and yet now everyone uses them in their fiction. Are they ripping off Tolkien, or did he install a new creature in the collective consciousness of human art that we can all make free use of? I believe the latter.

 

Sorin: Did you ever meet your fans? Any juicy story you want to share?

Garrett: I’ve never met a fan in person—not in the way I think you mean. My roommate reads my books ravenously. She’s one of my biggest fans. But I knew her well before I started writing, so that doesn’t really count. And I did a live event recently at my old high school, and some of the kids there bought Midrealm. But they weren’t fans before that, so that’s different.

I came so, so close to having a beer with a reader in Florida, but his wife got ill right at the last minute. Other than that, it’s all been online interaction. Which is fantastic in its own right. I think people are freer and less inhibited on the internet, even if they’re NOT hiding behind anonymity. A person can reach out to me via email or on my website, and even if they’re a little shy or introverted in real life, they can gush about a book. It’s great. I wonder if, when Z. C. and I start doing conventions next year, we’ll have people as engaged in real life as they can be online.

 

This concludes the first part of the interview.

In the meanwhile, don’t forget to follow Garrett on Twitter and on his website.

 


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Interview: Lord David Prosser

Lord David Prosser

Lord David Prosser

Today I’m interviewing Lord David Prosser, author of My Barsetshire Diary: The Daily Events of the Gentry Recorded for Posterity, The Queen’s Envoy, and many other brilliantly funny stories.
Here is what I have to say about his first book:

David Prosser’s wit is like a good piece of cheddar: sharp and full of flavour. But what really makes “My Barsetshire Diary” stand out is the author’s penchant for infusing each and every sentence with humour.
I have not seen such incredibly well sustained humour since Wodehouse, and it is not for lack of trying.
If you ever have a chance to meet David Prosser in person, please do us all a favour and kidnap him, then force him to write some more.

Sorin: What has humour ever done for us? Besides the aqueduct, the sanitation and roads…
David: Humour is the best diet in the world. Just think how much exercise you get with belly laughs. If only we could harness all that energy.

Sorin: If only we could… Speaking of which, if you had three wishes, what would you do with them?
David: I’d arrange for a little mass hypnosis, so that at a given trigger word, everyone would buy one of my books, and at a second trigger word they’d want the set and beg for more. Then of course I’d have to opt for world peace since no-one at war has time to read. Lastly I’d appear on ‘Oprah’ and make sure people understood that Indies are good writers too, and make a few book suggestions. Stephen King, John Grisham, Terry Pratchett et al are probably rich enough already.

Sorin: Deservedly so, I might add. As we are talking about famous writers, people have likened you to P.G. Wodehouse, more than once. How do you think he copes with the pressure?
David: You mean apart from being dead? I didn’t think we were getting a necromantic interview. Hmm, the pressure of having me compared to him, I’d hope he was glad I wasn’t around when he was, but be happy the tradition of tale telling carries on.

Sorin: Necromancy, you say… All right, since you brought that up, what would you like to have inscribed on your tombstone?
David: “He Was Funny and He Was Nice” would be ideal, though I suppose having my name there might help in case there are pilgrimages to my gravesite.

Sorin: Duly noted. Why would a perfectly sane person read your books? What about the not so perfectly sane?
David: The perfectly sane would read them because they can read situations they’re probably been in or at least seen many times during their lives, except for the second book of course where only super-secret James Bond types would have been in those particular situations. The im-perfectly sane would read them because they want to become perfect of course.

Sorin: Makes imperfect sense! Here’s a tough question for you: Elves or Orcs?
David: It has to be Elves, of course, since Orcs have no magic. An Elf could magically give me a shave after a rough night; the Orc is more likely to stop me from needing a shave on a permanent basis. And, be fair, they have faces only a mother could love, you’d never get to speak to a pretty woman again with an Orc at your side.

Sorin: If the Barsetshire Diaries were made into a movie, who would you like to play you?
David: I’m thinking the ideal person would be me, but lacking an equity card I guess that’s out. Hugh Laurie would be very good though maybe Ioan Gruffudd but he’d have to get rid of the stretch arms first and his outfit for the Royal Navy.

Sorin: My mind was set on Stephen Fry. It could be his next project, after the TV series Kingdom. One last question: what is your favourite word, in any language?
David: Hiraeth. Since you didn’t ask what it means I’ll assume everyone already knows and keep schtumm.

Sorin: Diolch i chi, Ewythr!

 

Here is an excerpt from My Barsetshire Diary: The Daily Events of the Gentry Recorded for Posterity, which I particularly enjoy, probably because it has a parrot in it:

I was greeted by pandemonium in the shape of Lady Julia in her riding gear descending upon me at speed.
“He’s gone”, she cried, “you must have left the door open!”.
At which point I had visions of someone nipping in and kidnapping her doddery old papa while I was out. Instead I just responded “Slow down, dearheart, who’s gone?”.
“The bird has”, she said, and I swear I heard her add “Silly old fool”. Now Joey is my territory. The little rogue has been with us for years and a more entertaining budgie you won’t find. Nor a richer one probably as he usually steals and hides my loose change and anything shiny he can hold in his beak. Even today no one has been able to find his hoard. Probably intends to retire to the sun one day. Anyway, I digress.
Panic stricken to lose my only ally, I dashed into the house so fast the rubber tips on my crutches started to smoke.
I went into the drawing room where Joey usually holds court and started calling him. At first there was no answer and I had visions of spending my afternoon shouting up at all the trees in the village. Then I heard a strange grating sound that seemed to echo round the room. Unable to recognise either the sound or the source, I started looking round the room until eventually I narrowed the sound down to an old copper swan-necked jug on the piano. There the little blighter was, right at the bottom, crooning to himself and enjoying the echo. Gently I laid the jug on its side so he could get out. Out he waddled drawing blood from my hand affectionately as he went by.
All was calm again.

You can and should connect with Lord David Prosser on Facebook, Twitter and his blog.


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It’s happening!

There is a definite sense of momentum being built as September 22nd, the release date for The Scriptlings, draws near. Luckily, the nice people at AEC Stellar are behind me, and they are expertly guiding me through every step of the way. Hey, you can tell they’ve done this before!

I just can’t believe how many things – big and small, nerve-racking and fun – go into publishing a book.

Anyway, the highlight of the week, at least so far, is that I got myself interviewed a bunch of times, and two of the interviews have already been posted. I’m including a a couple of snippets below, as a poorly disguised teaser:


Amber: Tell us about The Scriptlings. What inspired it?
Sorin: I believe the main idea behind the story – that of Syntax being the language of both computers and magic – was inspired by Richard Dawkins and his “The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” (River Out of Eden, 1995). Sure enough, the way genes trigger various actions is hard to distinguish from object-oriented programming. The very fact that we have discovered this similarity after actually inventing the first programming language is remarkable.

See full interview by Amber Skye Forbes here.


Mariah: What drew you to this particular genre?
Sorin: I regard humor and fantasy as two of the pinnacle achievements of the human mind, right next to the metric system and the automatic transmission. Humorous fantasy should, therefore, generate the kind of synergy rivaled only by that of the automatic metric transmission. It’s a fact.

See full interview by Mariah E. Wilson here.


Spread the word! 🙂


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Interview: A-Lex on Mars

Alex Marion

Alex Marion

How I met my first Martian.

Update from Lex (September 11, 2013):
“Mars One has begun screening applicants. The selection committee led by Dr. Norbert Kraft, chief medical officer at Mars One will review the applications over the next several months, and will let all candidates know who goes on to the second round by the end of this year, and interviews will begin next year.”

Let’s face it, most of us have a read-only approach to adventures. We love them to the point of obsession and we get quite a kick from watching them unfold before our eyes; but we seldom step out of this “voyeuristic” role. Adventures, we seem to believe, are best left to others.

As luck would have it, I’ve had the chance to interview one of these elusive “others”. Alex Marion, aka A-Lex on Mars is a fellow Vancouverite and proud Mars One applicant. Forget little green men with bulgy heads. Instead, take a good look at him (the one on the right): this is what Martians might prove to look like one day.

Sorin: Lex, if all goes well, how old will you be when you will be setting foot on Mars?

Lex: Assuming all goes well and I get to be one of the first four to go, I will be 36 when I leave and when I get there.

Sorin: What can you tell me about the screening process? I would imagine psychological profiling, fitness and vocational training as likely candidates.

Lex: Vocational training is actually not going to be a significant factor. Because the first four people will get seven years of training, and the next four another two years, and so on, everything the colonists will need to know will be taught by Mars One trainers. Doctors, engineers, geologists, etc. Candidates will of course have to be physically fit. Part of the second round of applications is providing a medical record showing that you are in excellent health. The psychological aspect I think is the most important thing, and Mars One has stressed that as well. The colonists will be spending the remainder of their lives in very close quarters with very few people, and will have no opportunity to go for a walk or to the mall to let off steam. It is imperative that everyone who goes understands what that means for them as individuals. The third round will be testing people’s resolve through various psychological and physical challenges, pushing them to their personal limits, and weeding out those who can’t cut it. It’s survival of the fittest! The final training phase will also be intensive, and it is assumed that even when Mars One has essentially selected you, people will be dropping out. So in addition to the 24 to 40 people training, Mars One plans on having several on a waiting list as back-ups to replace people who drop out or have to be removed. One thing that they haven’t mentioned as part of the screening process, and I think they should, is a criminal record check!

Sorin: Any plans of becoming a daddy on Mars? Speaking of which, do you think gene profiling (not necessarily Gattaca style) will also be part of the screening process?
Read more ›


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Interview: Raymond Vogel

Ray Vogel Author PhotoToday I’m interviewing Raymond Vogel, author of the instant SciFi classic Matter of Resistance. It is the first time I’m conducting an interview, so I’m counting on Ray’s answers, rather than on my silly questions, to make this interesting.

Sorin: Ray, in “Matter of Resistance” the bully role seems to come so naturally to the Earthican leaders, and you have captured this with cynical historical accuracy. On the other hand, Marsians appear to wisely adopt a kind of planetary Aikido strategy. What is it that makes them so level headed? Is it their superior intelligence, their low population, or some other secret ingredient?

Ray: I place credit for their level-headedness squarely on their extreme intelligence. It might be my own naivety showing through, but I tend to hope that increased intelligence inevitably leads to increased wisdom and objectivity. Of course, a relatively small population might favor a level of trust in peers that would be difficult to achieve in a population the size of Earth’s. I’d also contend there to be a cultural element to their decision-making process. Pride in one’s process can lead to successful results, and so the MAG1 members joined with a level of expectations already in place. These factors are further compounded by the extremely transparent process that links their decisions to community-level inputs.

Sorin: Evolution is a slow-paced beast, but it has been known to take relatively giant leaps when prompted by sudden environmental changes. Is this why Marsians appear to have become a race of elvish Mister Spocks within the space of only a few generations?

Ray: First, I’ll put to rest that the Magnematter is not any Arakkean “spice mélange” or other such ingredient. As you noted by inference, I primarily took the path of “sudden environmental changes” – with a twist. In the book I describe the Adaptability Theory. Below is a passage found in Chapter III, as spoken by Mrs. Baskin:
Read more ›


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In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett

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