Tag Archives: writing

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

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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

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

Guest Post: Researching the Paranormal by Carole Ann Moleti

fantasy herb kitchenI write a lot for my day job, as a nurse-midwife in New York City. Ten years ago, bored by academic and professional writing, I began a string of creative nonfiction projects, including two memoirs. One chronicles my career in The Bronx, Harlem, and Washington Heights. The other explores the trials and tribulations of motherhood.

But there is only so far you can go with nonfiction. Sometimes you don’t know where the story ends, or it doesn’t end in a way that lends itself to good storytelling. Fiction, paradoxically, requires a greater amount of universal truth to allow a reader to enter into what Gardner called the “fictional dream.” Then, there remains a challenge of creating characters with the goals, motivation, conflict–and context– to carry a story forward.

In the speculative genres, the writer must develop an entire world–be it science fiction, fantasy, or supernatural horror–to support extrapolation of current scientific realities, provide a plausible magical system, or justify the macabre and murderous whims of magical and mythic beings.

Midwives have long been associated with the use of herbs and potions, as well as with witchcraft. Most of my colleagues are not witches, but before the advent of modern medicine, women were called upon not only to assist with childbirth, but also to use their knowledge to heal any number of ills, both physical and psychological, in men, women, and children. When the outcome was not good, or the one expected, the midwife was often accused of witchcraft or sorcery.

Modern midwifery practice embraces all belief systems and incorporates the use of herbs and alternative medical practices and, as such, Wiccans and those with less mainstream religious and spiritual practices often seek our services. Though divination and connection with ghosts and spiritual beings lies outside the grasp of my mind and abilities, watching those who have the gift do their work has convinced me that all humans have the capacity to use parts of their brain in the same way, but few have developed it.

The first step is opening one’s mind to the possibility, then embracing it with a peaceful, accepting attitude. But in order to transfer that into credible fantasy and paranormal fiction, writers must, at the very least suspend disbelief and, at best, understand and accept it themselves.

In addition to mining my experience and harvesting story ideas from dreams, I’ve applied my research and journalistic skills to writing paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I begin with the facts. Huh? We’re talking paranormal, right?

Herbology, alchemy, astrology, tarot, and divination are as old as history. Prayers and offerings to deities in exchange for favors, intercessions, and miracles are part of most religions, as well as the belief in an all-powerful being or beings that manipulate events. My grandmother was a devout Catholic but lit candles in her home and in church invoking the saints and asking for special favors. Her favorite was Saint Anthony.

I value among my friends and clients many witches, energy healers, and spiritualists who have taught me much about their beliefs, and allowed me to experience how rituals (including births conducted in settings where the space is conducive to spiritual and metaphysical connections) generate energy, and how it is channeled to produce the desired effect or outcome. To research the paranormal elements in my fiction, I perform a type of research known as ethnography, where one enters the culture and environment as a participant, not simply an observer.

I’ve carefully followed the instructions of a santera on the use of teas, banishing and cleansing, potions, offerings of fruit and burning scented candles to heal both physical and emotional distress (much the same way people use aromatherapy and many Catholics light votives and pray to saints). I found my way to a gifted Chinese acupuncturist and energy healer who blew the “black smoke” of bad energy off me before, after and during my treatments, during which I feel the Qi hissing out of the needled sites like champagne bubbles. She meditated at my side during the sessions and saw things in my past that haunt me—and that only I could know—before she dispersed them.

Natural phenomena, like observing a woodland full of blinking fireflies, gave me pause to consider the possibility that fairies really do exist. I’ve talked with ghost hunters about their research and practice and learned how to monitor for electromagnetic activity. I attended Faerie Fest in upstate New York, which was a truly magickal experience. Even before I had a statue of St. Francis of Assisi in my yard, strays of every ilk regularly showed up on my doorstep looking for help.

Ethnographic research allows me to create more truthful and meaningful memoir and personal essays, which bridges the gap between academic and creative non-fiction. It gives me an endless supply of story ideas—and I can decide whether to embellish them with fantastical elements or to post them on my Twitter meme #petitemeetstreet to show off the best and the worst, the craziest and the saddest New York City moments that get my op ed juices flowing.

Ethnographic research and writing also make me a more empathic nurse midwife—since I can better understand the influences affecting my patients– and convey that to students and the many new nurses and doctors I teach and precept. While making my rounds, dashing between jobs and assignments, all my senses are in high gear, taking it all in, dictating notes into my phone, scribbling phrases onto scraps of paper and the back of the collection of parking meter payment receipts on my dashboard.

I approach research for my paranormal fiction as a traveler who wants to enter the culture to best experience it. Showing up with a camera, pad, and pencil will not allow you to obtain the information you need, nor the context required to translate it into a compelling plot with believable characters. If you’re going to ask readers for leaps of faith, you’ll need to take a few yourself.

Carole Ann MoletiCarole Ann Moleti lives and works as a nurse-midwife in New York City, thus explaining her fascination with all things paranormal, urban fantasy, and space opera. Her nonfiction focuses on health care, politics, and women’s issues. But her first love is writing science fiction and fantasy because walking through walls is less painful than running into them.

The first book in Carole’s Cape Cod paranormal romance novel series, The Widow’s Walk, was published by Soulmate. Her urban fantasy short stories have appeared in the Toil, Trouble and Temptation Anthology and Haunted, Bites, Beltane, and Seers, all part of the Ten Tales series. Carole’s review and commentary pieces have appeared in Lightspeed, The Internet Review of Science Fiction, Tangent Online, The Portal, and The Fix. Her creative nonfiction has been published in a variety of literary venues.

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