Tag Archives: author interview

Author Interview: Vanessa Knipe

When I asked Vanessa to describe herself as a writer, she answered: I can never settle to one genre – I’ve written stories from Space Opera to Epic Fantasy – so I hope that everyone who loves Science Fiction or Fantasy will find something I’ve written that they can enjoy. Please welcome author Vanessa Knipe to No Wasted Ink.

Author Vanessa KnipeMy name is Vanessa Knipe. I’m a widow bringing up an autistic son. I hold a BSc Hons Biochemistry, and trained as a biochemist to work in the NHS as a Scientific Officer working with blood. I’m a real vampire – all right for you purists I’m a phlebotomist. After my husband was killed in 2001, I couldn’t work the shifts with a disabled child so I had to leave work. As there was nothing which would allow me to work, I filled my time with writing stories. I took writing courses with the Open University – a Online University primarily for more mature students who cannot attend a brick building – in order to learn how to turn my scribbles into books people wanted to read. I gained a Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing and one day, when the house repairs don’t take all my spare cash, I will take a Masters degree. It is a joy to me to help other people who want to write.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I learned to write. After my mother’s death I found a package of stories and cartoons I’d written and never knew she kept. There was a lovely series of cartoons that I drew where a monster growled outside rich houses threatening them into giving gifts which the monster then gave to the poor people. I had no idea she was interested – she said nothing to me. I was eleven when my English teacher gave me a grade of 60/60 for an assignment – not because it had perfect spelling and grammar but because she had laughed herself silly over a story I had written. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer, but as I grew up I took onboard my parents’ views that writing wasn’t real work and instead I took Biochemistry.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In 2006, when my first book, Witch-Finder, was published. Before that, I never allowed myself to hope that anyone would want to read my stories.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I had two books out this year, Shadow and Salvation and Pill Wars, but I’ll concentrate on the Urban Fantasy, Shadow and Salvation. It’s a short story collection and the latest in my Theological College of St Van Helsing series: think Van Helsing goes on holiday in St Mary Mead and you have the tone of the books. A Secret Branch of the Church of England – nicknamed the Witch Finders – hunts demons which have been driven into the United Kingdom over the years because it’s surrounded by water and that makes it a good prison for spiritual creatures. The older Witch Finders are burning out and the pool of potential recruits is too small. This book starts by showing two regulars in the College when they were in training and ends with a hope of change for new recruits.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book needed to address the fact that in the previous books only rich, upper class men ever get to be Witch Finders and what happens when the Leader of the College, Laird Alasdair Dunkley, tries to expand the pool of recruits. The first words I had for this book were “Do you have an Archbishop’s license to experiment with basilisks?” To me there is a whole world of inspiration in those words. I often find hints of my stories in the news or in the activities of people around me. If I am stuck I will ask my friends on Twitter or Facebook to challenge me to write a story saving the world with some everyday item. This time it was frozen peas and a tin of paint.

Do you have a specific writing style?

For the St Van Helsing Books I like to have an ordinary object help defeat the demon, something like talcum powder or a butter dish – I like to keep a little humour to lighten the demon-fighting.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It reflects the soul of the chief Witch Finder – he is one of the foremost Dark Mages in the country, yet he refuses to use his powers for evil.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I not sure I do messages. The closest one would be always do what you think is right, even if you have to stand alone.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The first ever Witch Finder story has a man selling his soul to the devil to win the annual village vegetable competition. I grew up in a village in Yorkshire and know the intense competition there is to win these prizes. In Shadow and Salvation I have looked to the mythology of the UK. There are four stories about ‘Black Dogs’ – including the Barghast in York – these come from my son’s acting. He starred in a play where he had to recite the whole of The Black Dog of Newgate jail (mentioned in the first story of S&S) while around him the rest of the acting club enacted the scenes. In my head all my characters are played by well-known celebrities – it makes it easier to describe them.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Andre Norton, she had me asking at NASA how one became an astronaut. She has such a breadth of work that it encourages me when when I don’t stick to one facet of SF&F and the current really successful writers write on one theme. Alan Garner who wrote about the mythology of the British Isles, which first made me realise how deep the folk stories are in this country. John Wyndham who wrote in the 1970s with the overhang of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war, his Trouble with Lichen is the reason I chose to be a Biochemist. More recently I admire Jim Butcher, who made me realise that magic and the modern world could co-exist.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I learn from every book I read, what works and what chimes false, that makes every writer I ever read my mentor. At the moment I am listening to Rayne Hall and Chuck Wendig – I find their advice fits with the way I think.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My publisher designed the cover, though I have a say in whether I like it or not and can change elements. That’s why I like working with the indie publishing houses; they allow more input from the author.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Find the best way of editing for you, so that it never becomes a chore. I learned that hating editing meant I was doing it wrong for me.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you, I appreciate that you chose my books when there are so many choices out there.

Book Cover Shadows of SalvationVanessa Knipe
York, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

FACEBOOK
TWITTER

Publisher: Rob Preece at BooksforaBuck.com

Shadow and Salvation

AMAZON
BOOKS FOR A BUCK
SMASHWORDS

Author Interview: Alina Sayre

One of the wonderful aspects of YA novels is not only it introduces young people to reading itself, fantasy YA introduces them into fantastic worlds of the imagination. Author Alina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and is now the award-winning author of The Voyages of the Legend, a fantasy series for readers ages 9-14. I’d like to welcome Alina here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Alina SayreHi! My name is Alina Sayre, and I like books. A lot. When I take a break from writing, I usually go read a book. If you made a pie chart of everything I owned, at least half would probably be books. I’m also the author of the middle-grade fantasy series The Voyages of the Legend. My first book, The Illuminator’s Test, was published December 2013 and was a silver medalist in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards this year. Book 2, The Illuminator’s Test, was just released on December 2, 2014! On the rare occasion I’m not to be found reading or writing, I also like to hike in the California hills, experiment with cooking international food, and discover independent coffee shops.

When and why did you begin writing?

I actually hated writing as a kid—probably not least because it made my hand cramp and my penmanship was horrible. (I always loved reading, though.) But when I was in fifth grade, I wrote a story that made my mom cry. That was my light bulb moment—that words carried the power to influence people and create real emotions, even about fictional characters. I felt like I’d discovered a magic wand. After that I really dove into writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I knew I wanted to be a writer starting at age fourteen. I was writing stories with a friend who was a few years older than me, and she matter-of-factly said she planned to be a writer when she grew up. I guess it had never crossed my mind that that could be a real job. After that, of course, it was settled. I didn’t really consider myself a bona fide writer, though, probably until my first book was published. (Sometimes self-acceptance takes a while.)

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Illuminator’s Test is the second in the fantasy series The Voyages of the Legend. The series follows Ellie, an orphan girl who discovers she has a powerful, supernatural gift of second sight. In the first book, The Illuminator’s Gift, Ellie joins the crew of a flying rescue ship and finds herself and her friends caught up in a war for their island world of Aletheia. The second book continues Ellie’s adventures as she trains at the Academy of the Vestigia Roi and is tested against enemies who come from both without and within herself. The second book is fun because Ellie gets to travel through new and different parts of the water-based fantasy world. There are also some surprising plot twists along the way 

What inspired you to write this book?

My writing style is more like pantsing (flying by the seat of your pants) than plotting. Rather than a plot coming from my imagination fully formed, like Athena, I usually collect ideas like stars that gradually form a constellation. Then I start to connect the dots between them and a story spins together. Some of the inspiring experiences for this book, though, included a college study-abroad tour to the British Isles, a silent retreat to a monastery, and an afternoon on an old-fashioned sailing ship.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m inspired by a lot of different writers and types of writing—classics, fantasy, children’s lit, poetry—so probably my writing style includes little bits of all of them. I’m told I use a lot of big words, a comment which pleases me greatly 

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The title is usually the hardest part of the book for me. So much weight rests on so few words. I’d actually written two whole drafts of the manuscript and was still undecided, so I polled my team of test readers on three potential titles. The Illuminator’s Test was not only the popular vote, but also sums up the themes of the book really well.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

On one level, this book can be read as a simple, fun fantasy adventure. On a deeper level, it’s informed by my own faith and experiences of life. But readers tend to pull out the themes most relevant to their own lives, and I marvel that that’s one of the powers of fiction.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I think all books have a certain degree of autobiography in them, and mine is no exception. All the characters have a certain amount of me in them. I particularly identify with Ellie, as she learns to work past a history of loss and rediscover herself as strong, lovable, and courageous. I experienced loss early in my life and have found a lot of healing and hope through writing this series.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

J.R.R. Tolkien is my literary idol and has been since I was eight years old. While I enjoy the adventure of The Lord of the Rings, I also love the realism of Middle Earth and the themes the story celebrates: courage, faith, friendship, and hope. I also love an endless list of classic authors, from Victor Hugo to L.M. Montgomery, and almost every kidlit book I can get my hands on. Kate DiCamillo is an absolutely amazing writer. I admire her ability to package powerful and difficult themes in stories that children can understand and relate to.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I want to be the female C.S. Lewis when I grow up. I deeply admire Lewis’s wisdom, humor, and storytelling, as well as his ability to write any genre he wanted and do it well.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My amazing illustrator, Amalia Hillmann, did not only both of my book covers, but also the interior illustrations for The Illuminator’s Test. We’d actually met some years ago, but it wasn’t until I was ready to publish my first book and started looking at her portfolio that I knew I’d found someone of talent and versatility who shared my artistic vision.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It’s important to define your goals. People write books for all sorts of reasons. If what you want is to be rich and famous, best of luck to you. But if what you want is to share the story in your heart, you can find success through a number of different channels, and it doesn’t necessarily have to look conventional. Publishing is a world full of options right now, and there are lots of ways to be heard.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you to everyone who reads my books, especially those under the age of eighteen! You inspire me and keep me motivated. Always keep reading!

Book Cover The Illuminator's TestAlina Sayre
San Francisco Bay Area, California

FACEBOOK
TWITTER

Cover artist: Amalia Hillmann

The Voyages of the Legend on AMAZON:
The Illuminator’s Gift
The Illuminator’s Test

Interview with Wendy Van Camp: The Write Stuff

The Curate's Brother on Amazon

I am always delighted when someone asks to interview me and it is particularly pleasant when an author of Raymond Bolton’s caliber does so. I hope you’ll stop by his website, The Write Stuff, and not only take a look at my latest interview featuring The Curate’s Brother, but read the other fine interviews and information he has there.

Interview With Wendy Van Camp

Author Interview: Will Hahn

When I asked Will to describe himself as a writer, he replied: I write epic fantasy in about the same way as someone repairs a broken pot; with occasional layers of glue so thin you can hardly see the progress until I’m done. It is with pleasure that I introduce you to author Will Hahn, here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Will HahnBorn in Vermont among five sisters, Will Hahn was thus plunged into epic struggles at an early age. Surviving them, he studied Ancient History, later teaching it until he began to resemble an eyewitness. Along the way to a new and very different career, he unaccountably found himself both a husband and father, an adventure that quite simply drowns all others in its joyous din. So his newfound vocation to write epic fantasy, which would normally have confused the life out of him, now seems quite natural. Will wears as much grey as possible, as often as he can.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was blessed with a very literate and passionate family life, and was always writing something. Comedy sketches, class skits, radio plays and some of the longest and most torturous love-letters ever to meet the alphabet; but I never composed tales of any kind until June of 2008. For any being as old as I am, that’s very recently!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

OK, now we arrive at the tricky part. I still don’t. Fantasy writers are incredible people who make things up. With all the encouragement in the world I never “wrote” one word about the Lands of Hope. Only when I gave up trying to DIS-believe that world, and accepted that it was completely real to me, could I recognize that I am in fact a chronicler. And I have been chronicling like a madman since that day almost seven years ago.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’ll try! {for epic fantasy, “a little” is hard} Judgement’s Tale is a novel unfolding in four books. Part Four, entitled Clash of Wills is due at the end of March 2015. It’s the tale of how the Lands of Hope descended from centuries of peace and stability into grim challenges. The year 1995 ADR marks the beginning of the Age of Adventure; among educated folk, the word “adventure” is not used in a complimentary fashion! And it’s often not the nobility, or the leadership of the settled kingdoms that provides the spark to meet these tests, laid down by an ancient liche and an Earth Demon who are trying to return the Lands to their former thralldom under Despair. Instead there are a scattered few—too young, too ignorant and too far apart—who must play the heroes if the Lands are to survive.

What inspired you to write this book?

He did. Solemn Judgement, for whom the tale is named, was the first person I ever saw from the Lands of Hope; but it was some time before I realized he was a part of that world (which I’ve been studying for over thirty years). That’s how far apart from everyone he usually is. If you start to read of him you’ll see, he’s relentlessly driven and serious, and he aimed that same determination my way, hounding me to try even though I thought the job was impossible. Maybe a little of Solemn rubbed off on me; here the tale is nearing completion and I would never have thought that was going to happen.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I call myself a chronicler and a day-job dilettante. I am very fortunate to have a great full-time job and of course there’s always plenty going on with family. When I get a half-hour in the morning (between feeding the cats and the ladies rising for the day), or perhaps an hour of an evening (when the email queue is cleared and the ladies are watching a cooking show), I can squeeze in a few more paragraphs. What emerges from the keyboard tends to be fairly polished material: I have the advantage of extensive notes taken from my decades of study and a lot of familiarity with the events themselves. And since there are such long pauses between writing, it’s always on my mind and tends to “set”, like a casserole before you put it in the oven.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

So here’s the thing. Solemn Judgement, called by most The Man in Grey, has often been nearby when the great deeds of heroes happen in this age. But I tended to follow the groups, and Judgement was always, always alone. Even other adventurers can’t accept him! Then I realized something; by the time of the deeds I was chronicling (as late as 2001-2002 ADR), The Man in Grey was already known (and disliked) everywhere. But he kept acting like he hadn’t come from the Lands originally. I finally noticed, whatever his outward maturity, Judgement was not very old. So I became interested in his beginnings, and started to trace them in my research. The result was quite literally Judgement’s Tale.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Aside from “wow, everything this guy publishes is probably pure gold”? Honestly, I don’t think epic fantasy is where you would go for an extraordinary new philosophy or take on the Alleged Real World. We read of these incredible new places and situations in order to learn again the eternal truths. In the Lands of Hope I can promise you, Hope is the side you want to be on, crime does not pay, and those who sacrifice for the ones they love are heroes. In “Judgement’s Tale”, we see the difference between the word “noble” used as an adjective, as opposed to a noun. There are big changes afoot here.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Emphatically, no. I will admit that my experience studying and teaching Ancient History suited me to understand some of the limitations of a customary and hereditary society like that I observe in the Lands. And one thing my love of history showed me was that human life never changes. Once you understand what a person was dealing with—perhaps being a second class citizen, maybe a strong need to go into the same trade as the father—then you can clearly see the choices they made and empathize with them. I spend a lot of time following heroes around, and I believe their virtues are the same here in the Alleged Real World.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I would have to list Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ursula LeGuin and Stephen Donaldson as the acknowledged masters of this genre; I’m a big re-reader, and their tales all figure highly. The heroic fiction of pulp authors like Robert E. Howard and the golden age of Comics resonate with me as well, for the economy of prose (which I lack) and the commitment to action (which I think I carry). More recently, Tad Williams and G.R.R. Martin have of course shown me a lot about scene-setting, character-hopping and the way to build a world view through the lens of many individuals.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

Fellow indie author and my current micro-publisher Katharina Kolata is an absolute inspiration for her boundless energy, many projects, unflagging support and a constant can-do attitude whatever the changes brought into this market. Without her I’d still be a chronicler, but probably with half the output I have now.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I left this important job in the hands of my publisher and good friend Katharina, who has given all my titles a make-over that I think really establishes a consistent tone.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Please continue writing, the actual tales I mean, because that’s the most important thing. If you feel up to publishing yourself, that’s great—it was crucial for me to give myself deadlines for publication and then meet them and I hope that works for you too. If you want to test the waters and market yourself, that’s great too: lots of fabulous people and great advice out there. But write. Never stop thinking about what to write next. That more than anything has brought me a deep joy and great satisfaction.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Two things. First, that e-books make excellent gifts! And more seriously, I cannot adequately express my jubilation and gratitude to those who have shared such strong, positive feedback on my previous Tales of Hope. To see someone I have never met take the time to read the book, and write such a detailed and authentic review as those I have seen, is priceless and a great encouragement to continue. Please don’t hesitate to review an author’s book if you have the time, it’s the most important way you can support them after buying it in the first place. Thanks!

Book Cover Reunion of SoulsWill Hahn
Newark, Delaware

FACEBOOK

Clash of Wills, Part Four of Judgement’s Tale

Cover Artist: Katharina Kolata
Publisher: http://www.independentbookworm.de

AMAZON
SMASHWORDS
BARNES & NOBLE

Author Interview: R.A. Baker

R.A. Baker is a science fiction and fantasy author. His books include: The Beast at the Gate and Two Merchants and a Thief. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author RA BakerHello, I’m R.A. Baker and I’m a speculative fiction author for JK Publishing. I live in the great state of Virginia and I’ve written science fiction, fantasy, paranormal short stories, and several books. I’ve been writing stories since the age of seven and I’ve been writing professionally as a published author for about 15 years. During this time I’ve also juggled the responsibilities of being a dad to two great kids, and a computer analyst for a day job that pays the bills between royalty checks.

When and why did you begin writing?

For me, writing was a bit of self-discovery—a long, meandering process that eventually made me the person I am today. In grade school (third or fourth grade, I believe), I loved writing stories. After one of my teachers had gone over Aesop’s Fables, there was something about those stories that connected with me on a deeply creative level. I proceeded to write my own fables, patterned in a similar Aesop style. My stories so impressed my teacher, she entered one of my fables in a local short story contest. I became a finalist and got my story published by the school. That was my first taste of what it was like to be a writer, and I liked it! At the time, I didn’t realize what I was writing was dancing on the edges of what would be considered speculative fiction or fantasy; to me, they were just expressions of my imagination. Soon after that, I would discover the Richmond Public Library with its rich assortment of science fiction and fantasy authors. Reading these authors’ books made me hungry to create my own characters and fantastic worlds…and rest is history. I was officially hooked.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

To be honest with you—at the risk of sounding cliché—in my heart, I was a writer for as long as I can remember. As soon as my small, clumsy fingers first learned how to put words together on paper to form sentences and eventually paragraphs, I somehow knew that writing would always be a critical part of my life. However, it was on a subconscious level at first. It took a while before I affirmed in my mind, ‘hey I am a writer—that’s my true calling’. I think that’s probably true of many professions, whether it be athletics, or art, or religion. It’s intuitive. It’s instinct. And yet, it draws you in slowly, assimilating you over time, from childhood to adulthood. For me, it wasn’t one defining moment, but rather a series of events that told me I always was and will always be a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’m currently working on the second book in an epic scif-fi/fantasy trilogy; the first book is titled, The Beast at the Gate. In a nutshell, it’s about a young, modern-day woman, Rayna Powell, who suddenly finds herself in a strange pre-industrial society called Taren. It’s a land divided by war, years of mistrust and social prejudice. Needless to say, Taren is a bit of a shock for Rayna. Part of the reason for this is that some Tareners possess magic-like mental powers they call “psi-magic”. To add to the problem, Taren is currently ruled by Nephredom—a bitter, cruel man with a questionable grip on sanity. Nephredom commands many forces, most notably the Red Robes. They are an elite unit of psi-mages who increase their powers greatly by combining their thoughts—allowing them to think and act as one. Using the Red Robes, Nephredom has systematically bent the people of Taren to his will—or at least most of them. This takes us to Princess Keris. She was the rightful heir to the Taren throne, but was framed for murder by Nephredom’s aide, and forced into hiding. Soon after Rayna arrives in Taren, she meets the princess and they agree to join forces in an attempt to overthrow Nephredom. In exchange for this help, the princess says she will take Rayna to see a group of “scientists”, who may know how to return Rayna back to her world. In the The Beast at the Gate, I address a variety of topics such as unrequited love, social prejudice, and the moral dilemma of human cloning.

What inspired you to write this book?

I always wanted to write an epic sci-fi/fantasy series, and after reading a few great examples I decided to take the plunge myself.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve been told I have a very descriptive, fast-paced style. I just try to write in a way that pulls my readers into my world and not let them go until the last page is read.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The original title for the book was Rayna of Nightwind, and that was the title it was published as, under my own imprint, when I self-published. Rayna Powell was the protagonist of the story, so it made sense to me to include her in the title. However, when I was picked up by a traditional publisher (JK Publishing), they decided to re-publish the first novel as The Beast at the Gate.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes: welcome to my world—have fun!

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not really. Granted, every author brings something unique to their writing based on their culture and how they grew up. But I think the whole appeal of writing science fiction and fantasy is the ability to escape reality for a while. So you will see very little of my personal life in my books, which—if you read my work—you will find extremely reassuring.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

So many authors have influenced me, it would take me forever going through the list. I will say most of my favorite authors are science fiction and fantasy authors.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I consider almost every speculative fiction author I’ve read a mentor, because I learn something new in my craft whenever I read a book by a new writer. However, Steven Barnes, Terry Brooks, and Stephen Donaldson stand out in my mind. Sorry, I can’t narrow it down further than that.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Jess Buffett is an illustrator who works for my publisher. She designs most of the book covers and does a great job.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It’s popular to say, ‘don’t write for yourself, write for your audience’ or ‘write for the market.’ I beg to differ. If you write for yourself, your passion and love for what you are writing will shine through. That’s the best way to gain and keep readers, in my opinion.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I would like to thank all my readers for their support. I have a modest but dedicated fan base that has consistently encouraged me over the years. And yes—book two in my Taren trilogy is nearly complete!

Book Cover The Beast at the GateR.A. Baker
Chester, Virginia

FACEBOOK
GOOGLE+
GOODREADS
TWITTER
YOUTUBE

COVER ARTIST: Jess Buffett
PUBLISHER: JK Publishing

The Beast at the Gate
AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE
SMASHWORDS
iTUNES
KOBO