Tag Archives: books

Author Interview: Robert Mullin

Robert Mullin is a cryptozoologist who has traveled to Africa three times in search of a living dinosaur. He was featured on an episode of the History Channel’s television show, Monster Quest. I am pleased to welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Robert MullinMy name is Robert Mullin, and I am a couch potato who has traveled to Africa three times in search of an animal whose physical description matches that of a living dinosaur. I am interested in a number of eclectic subjects, most of which reside just off the borders of the known realm.

When and why did you begin writing?

Though I had done a number of smaller projects in my early years, I didn’t begin writing in earnest until I was in college, when an English teacher told me, upon reading one of my papers, that I was going to be a writer. Coincidentally, my cousin and I were playing with the beginnings of a story at the time, and I decided to see if my instructor’s words were prophetic.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably not until I finished my first “real” novel in 1998 and realized that, clunky as it was, it was a complete, coherent story with the potential for broader audience appeal.

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

Bid the Gods Arise tells the story of two cousins sold into slavery on another world and getting caught up in the machinations of an ancient evil that hunts their souls. The series is a mythic hybrid drawing from a number of genres, from epic fantasy to supernatural to science fiction. These are not set at odds with each other, but part of the whole cloth of the narrative.

What inspired you to write this book?

My late cousin and I used to take walks and talk about movies and novels we enjoyed. One of our laments was that there were a great number of stories whose premises were sabotaged by poor execution. While we’ve all seen a number of well done but unoriginal films, we felt that most of the really interesting stories that could have been truly great were lackluster because the treatment did not meet the high bar set by the concept. Perhaps somewhat arrogantly (or at least naïvely), we set out to rectify that with our own story, borrowing liberally from various things we found interesting, but in a setting entirely our own. All good authors steal, but the smart ones file off the serial numbers, so I don’t tend to reveal most of my inspirational sources.

I can say that my Star Wars fandom has probably played the most significant role in terms of how I approach the fiction itself. While that series, like most masterpieces, is inherently flawed, I very much identified with the notion of trying to make the unfamiliar familiar, and utilizing grand mythic themes to tell otherwise simple human tales. I tend to prefer mystical/spiritual fantasy to magical fantasy, so in that respect as well the story borrows heavily from the Star Wars model. I deliberately tried to stay away from the fantasy/sci-fi clichés of unpronounceable names and implausible magic systems, and instead focused on real, memorable people who are the true heart of this cosmic drama.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t think so. I grew up reading the classics, so I had to unlearn what are now considered bad habits for writers. I have not read the works of most of the authors I have been compared to, so I can’t really say how accurate those comparisons are.

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

The title literally woke me up one night as I was still working on one of the early drafts. It seemed to sum up the primary theme of the novel and have a unique cadence. It might be a bit like catching lightning in a bottle; the tentative titles for the subsequent novels in the series don’t have that structure though they will feel consistent.

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

I prefer readers to draw their own conclusions. Like Tolkien, I “cordially dislike allegory,” and “prefer history—true or feigned—with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers.” I don’t think it’s possible to read Bid the Gods Arise without knowing where I stand on certain things, but I would hope that I do not bludgeon readers with my worldview, but rather allow it to shape the tale just as most authors do, consciously or unconsciously. I suppose that if there were one thing I would hope people take away, it would be the notion of hope and choice in the face of what appears to be fate.

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

The relationship between the two primary characters is an oblique homage to the relationship I enjoyed with my own cousin, and one of the recurring dreams the visionary character has is a dream that used to wake me up at night when I was a boy. The other characters and events generally draw more from history, the classics, or people I know secondhand. My travels to Africa did help shape a few elements, but they came after the first drafts of the novel were done, so they aren’t overt.

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

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, Herman Melville, Timothy Zahn, to name just a few. Each one of them has taken me to other worlds (or at least far away and exotic places), and the latter, more contemporary, has the gift of getting me to turn the pages without being aware of the fact that I am reading. The authors I most admire have created worlds to which I long to return, either because of the magic of their storytelling or the power of their convictions.

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

C. S. Lewis, because of the approach he took with his novels. He and Tolkien decided that when no one was writing the books they wanted to write, they would just have to write them themselves. That’s something I can definitely identify with. But I also very much admire the way he integrated his personal apologetics, philosophy, and worldview into his novels. Lewis was a brilliant man, and I would have loved to sit at the feet of the master and learn all I could from him.

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

James Cline of Kanion Rhodes Studio. He had done the covers for a series done by a friend of mine (K.G. Powderly’s Windows of Heaven series), and I actually suggested him as a possibility for my fellow Crimson Moon Press author, J.C. Lamont. After he proved that he was able to visualize some of the unique concepts for her books, I talked with him about my own.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to publish the first book before the second is complete. Get off Facebook. Don’t let life stress you out to the point that you forget to write.

Oh, wait, this is supposed to be advice for other people.

Read everything you can, and learn as much as possible about the craft. Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist. If you think you’re ready to publish, sit on it, finish the second book, and then go back and revisit the first.

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

Thanks for taking the time to let me talk to you, and I look forward to feedback from new readers! For the longsuffering fans waiting patiently for the sequel, please do not give up on me.

Bid the Gods AriseRobert Mullin

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Bid the Gods Arise

Cover artist: James Cline
Crimson Moon Press

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another Monday of writing links for you to enjoy. This week there is a good assortment of articles about creativity, book launching and note taking. Go pull up your favorite chair and settle back with a good cup of coffee. Time to read.

Why Introverts Make Good Writers

How to Give Constructive Criticism to other Writers

5 Writing Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of Launching a Best-selling Book

7 reasons I read Kipling while brushing my teeth

3 GOOD REASONS TO KEEP YOUR BOOK SHORTER THAN 80,000 WORDS

Want to support an author’s or illustrator’s new book but can’t afford to buy it? Here’s what you can do.

Business Notes – Loose Pages or Notebook?

Library of Congress Ebooks Allow for Historical Documents on Tablets

How Shakespeare Used Prepositions

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another Monday of No Wasted Ink writer’s links. This week I have many great articles on general writing tips for you, along with a couple of paper notebook and fountain pen articles. Go and pour yourself a cup of coffee and tea and sit back to relax. There is plenty of good reading to find here.

On Changing Book Titles And Covers: My Own Experience And How You Can Do It Too

Four Ways to Prepare for a Book Launch—Even if You Aren’t Published Yet

WHY AUTHORS SHOULD CONNECT WITH READERS

WRITERS, AUTHORS, BLOGGERS – BEWARE THESE HEALTH RISKS

A Primer on Fountain Pens

The Importance of Keeping A Notebook

10 rules for making it as a writer, by Dennis Lehane

Word Count Woe: What Should You Do With Your Very Long Manuscript?

Seven Secret Weapons That Will Make You a Better Novelist

Sense vs. Sensibility

Book Review: The Tar-Aiym Krang

Book Name: The Tar-Aiym Krang
Author: Alan Dean Foster
First Published: 1972

Alan Dean Foster was born in New York City in the year 1946, but he was raised in California. He received a B.A. in Political Science in 1968, and a M.F.A. in Cinema from UCLA 1969. He worked as a copywriter for two years after graduation for a small advertising and public relations firm in Studio City, California. It was during this time that he wrote a lovecraftian letter and sent it into a bi-annual magazine called The Arkham Collector. Much to his surprise, the editor published it as a short story. Sales of short stories to other magazines soon followed. His first attempt at a novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, was bought by Ballantine in 1972 and it incorporated several suggestions from science fiction editor John W. Campbell.

Imagine for a moment that George Lucas approached you to write the novel version of Star Wars: A New Hope in the early 70s. At the time, the movie was unknown. Your name would not be on the cover and the payment would be a mere $5000. Do you take the job as a ghostwriter for this unknown filmmaker? Two authors had said no. Alan Dean Foster said yes. And the rest, as they say, is history. When Star Wars became a hit and more novels were needed, Foster was the first to be called in to write them. His first spin-off novel of Star Wars with his own name on the cover was Splinter of the Minds Eye (1978). He has gone on to write countless Star Wars movie novels, including the pending Star Wars: The Force Awakens that will be released in late 2015. He has a story credit for the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture, many novels based on episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and he has also written ten novels for Star Trek the Animated series. Other movie tie-in books include the Alien movies, the Black Hole, and Starman. It is little wonder that Alan Dean Foster has won the 2008 Grand Master award from the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. He continues to write and has well over 100 novels to his credit, both movie tie-ins and his own original series.

Currently, Foster lives in Arizona with his wife, but he enjoys traveling because it gives him opportunities to meet new people and explore new places and cultures.

“…Who would have suspected it? The Krang is both a weapon and a musical instrument.” – Alan Dean Foster, from The Tar-Aiym Krang

The Tar-Aiym Krang begins on the world of Moth, a planet with “wings”, two golden clouds of dust suspended in space around it. On this world many travelers come. Hardened space-sailors, merchant buccaneers and the insect race known as the Thranx are the targets of the young orphan boy Philip Lynx “Flinx” and his mini-dragon pet Pip, an empathic flying snake that shoots a corrosive and violent neurotoxic venom. Flinx has odd empathic talents that help him live as a thief on the streets of Moth. One day, he steals a starmap off a dead body that really didn’t need it any longer. Flinx thus starts an adventure that takes he through the reaches of space to a strange alien artifact on an abandoned world.

The Tar-Aiym Krang Book CoverThe first book I read by Alan Dean Foster was Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. I was a huge Star Wars fan (still am) and anything I could read to further those adventures was like gold to me. Splinter came out two years before The Empire Strikes Back and doesn’t read as canon any longer, but at the time I loved it and it brought this author to my attention. When I spotted Foster’s first original novel The Tar-Aiym Krang, I found it to be a light-hearted space opera filled with dead ancient alien civilizations, uncharted worlds and majestic ruins and the search for an artifact that could threaten the galaxy. It is easy to see why the Flinx and Pip novels were very popular. I began reading more of the Humanx Commonwealth Series and they put a smile on my face.

The only problem I can see about the novel is that the female characters are not as well-developed as the male characters. They are little more than window dressing in the story. This was somewhat typical of the times when science fiction was geared toward adolescent boys instead of a wider adult audience. The book tends toward a YA level, but there are a few sexual situations that might make it considered to be more adult. Still, it is a well-paced book that is a fun read. If you are looking for a book to experience Alan Dean Foster as an original author, The Tar-Aiym Krang is a good place to start and then continue in your exploration. Don’t stop with the Humanx Commonwealth. Foster has several good original series including The Spellsinger Series and The Damned trilogy.

Humanx Commonwealth Series (Pip & Flinx)

The Tar-Aiym Krang (1972)
Bloodhype (1973)
Orphan Star (1977)
The End of the Matter (1977)
Snake Eyes (Short Story) (1978)
For Love of Mother-Not (1983)
Mid-Flinx (1995)
Flinx in Flux (1988)
Reunion (2001)
Side Show (Short Story) (2002)
Flinx’s Folly (2003)
Sliding Scales (2004)
Running from the Deity (2005)
Trouble Magnet (2006)
Growth (Short Story) (2008)
Patrimony (2007)
Flinx Transcendent (2008)

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThe controversy of Artifical Intelligence taking over the jobs of writers is a real one. It is a subject that I think about as I use more comprehensive tools to edit and hone my own writing with tools and software that was not available even a few years ago. I found an article that addresses the idea that you may wish to look at. The rest of the list are general writing articles that should be of interest. Have a great week!

A LOOK AT POINTS OF VIEW

5 WAYS WRITERS CAN STEEL THEMSELVES AGAINST ONLINE HATERS

How the Perfect Midpoint Moves Your Protagonist From Reaction to Action

Writing Horror And Making A Living With Your Writing With Michaelbrent Collings

Creating an Author Business Plan: Our Product Plan

Could a Robot Do Your Job? Here’s Why You Should Write Like You Freaking Mean It

Should Indie Publishing Be For You?

Alone and Not Alone: How to Create Your Own Group Writing Retreat

How I Published My First Book of Short Stories in 12 Easy Steps

10 Essential Lessons You’ll Learn in a Creative Writing Workshop