Author Interview: Glen Robinson

Being a writer of steampunk or alternate history novels myself, I was very delighted to discovered Glen Robinson with his interesting mix of fictional and historical characters. Glen writes his steampunk novels under the pen name of Jackson Paul. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming him here at No Wasted Ink.

Author Glen RobinsonMy name is Glen Robinson. I am a professor of Communication at a small university outside Fort Worth, Texas. I have been happily married for 37 years and have three grown kids and one grandson. I have been teaching for 14 years and before that I was a book and magazine editor.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have had a passion for writing ever since high school. Every job that I have taken since college has been one that either called for me to write or allowed me time to write on the side. I write because, as a Christian, I feel I have something to say. And I write because I enjoy it—some projects more than others.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have wanted to be a writer since I was in high school in the 70s, but my first book was published in 1983, so I guess that’s when I first officially considered myself a writer. Although even today, during the writing process, there are times when I feel I haven’t learned enough to consider myself a writer. But everyone goes through that.

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

I am working on several projects at present, but the book we are talking about here is “Tom Horn vs. the Warlords of Krupp.” I probably had more fun writing this book than any of my other book projects. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at a steampunk America and Europe, the last years of the Old West, and alternate history. The story is littered with real historical characters, who as far as I know never met each other, but could have. The premise is that Tom Horn, a western gunslinger, is recruited by old friend Teddy Roosevelt to escort his 16-year-old niece Eleanor Roosevelt to Vienna. The Krupp Weapons Corporation is intent on making World War I happen (early actually), and a summit peace meeting in Vienna is intended to stop the war. Eleanor has a special talent of persuasion, and Roosevelt thinks she can help prevent war. But the Krupp people send assassins and other bad guys to stop them on their trip.

What inspired you to write this book?

Since moving to Texas in 1998, I have been inspired by the heritage that is around me here. I am also a big fan of alternate history.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My background is news writing, so I tend not to be too flowery with my writing. I especially love to allow my main character to develop a distinctive voice, and follow that whenever it happens. That’s a lot of the fun of this genre and this particular story. Also the contrast between Eastern and European “sophistication,” versus Western directness and simpleness.

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

I look at it as along the lines of old serials of the 50s, so I tried to find something that would fit that mold.

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

If there’s any message, it’s that simpleness is not always stupidness. Sophistication has its own issues.

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

You mean like falling from a dirigible, being chased across snow by Germans in a steam-powered tank, or launching a glider from the top of the Eiffel Tower? No, most of the experiences are pretty well made up.

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

I like Orson Scott Card, Tom Clancy and Jerry Pournelle. I like how Card can weave spirituality into an otherwise straight science fiction story. I like Clancy because of his dedication to giving technical details that suggest credibility. And Pournelle was an early writer that got me inspired about the possibilities in my own writing.

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

Right out of college, my mentor was a fellow named Arthur Milward. He mostly wrote short stories for Reader’s Digest, Redbook and Saturday Evening Post. But he was very good, and had a lot of good advice for me. I miss him a lot.

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

I teach a class called Applied PR and Advertising, and one of my students suggested I look on for an illustrator. The cover art is by Mateusz Ozminski, also known on Deviant Art as artozi, who lives in Poland. He gave us a good price. The typography was done by my son, Matthew Robinson.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yeah lots. That’s why I teach writing classes. But in a nutshell, you have to keep trying, no matter what anyone else says. And keep your priorities straight.

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

I hope to do a sequel to Tom Horn one of these days. In the meantime, check out my many other books under my name or my pen name Jackson Paul on Amazon or on Smashwords.

Tom Horn Book CoverGlen Robinson
Cleburne, TX
Author of 11 published books in Christian suspense, steampunk/alternate history and science fiction.

Tom Horn vs. The Warlords of Krupp
Prevail Publications
Cover art by Mateusz Ozminski


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThis week at No Wasted Ink, I thought we’d take a closer look at the art of writing. As writer’s it is sometimes difficult to push yourself on to seek out the next client, work on the next chapter of that novel, or submit yet another short story. These links tap into that thinking and help find ways of keeping a positive outlook with your inner muse.

Making a Website an extension of Story

Editors Read Your Pitches—Really

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Dialogue

Interview with Jo Knowles on Writing Process, Writer Advice & See You At Harry’s

7 Ways to Put your Love of Writing to Work

Why I Love Writing About Education

A brief glimpse into publishing’s dark side

5 Tools You Need (and 5 to Avoid) as a New Freelancer

How To Make A Professional Standard Print Book Interior With Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer

Scrivener for plotters with Hope Ramsay

Writing Space: Romantic Home Office

Romantic Home Office

At times I have dreams of creating a new writing space that would inspire the romance in my stories. The feminine touch of this office inspiration touches on that idea. I can feel my bare feet snuggled into the white fur rug as my alphasmart Neo sits on the mirrored surface of this desk. The leather seat of the clear acrylic chair would be comfortable as glittering light shone down from the crystal chandelier. Perhaps this would be a good location for a character to be placed. That is what I love about finding images on the internet. One look and I am transported into a new world.

Many thanks to the designer, Vanessa DeLeon for her lovely home office design inspiration.

Book Review: The Snow Queen

Book Name: The Snow Queen
Author: Joan D. Vinge
First Published: 1980
Hugo Award Winner for Best Novel (1981)

Joan D. Vinge seems to be a private person. Few personal details are available about her beyond that she has lived most of her life in Madison, Wisconson and suffered a terrible auto accident that prevented her from writing for around five years. She has been a writer for most of her life, starting her first stories as a small child. In college, she studied Anthropology which she has incorporated into her art. Ms. Vinge has been married twice and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Several of Ms. Vinge’s stories have won major acclaim. Eyes of Amber won the 1977 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. The Snow Queen won the Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1981. She has also been nominated for several other Hugo and Nebula Awards, as well as for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her novel Psion was named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association. Robert A. Heinlein also dedicated his novel Friday to her.

The Snow Queen is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name. The citizens of the planet Tiamat are split into two factions. The “Winters”, who believe in technological progress and trade with the star spanning Hegemony, and the “Summers” who live by folk traditions and eschew the outside worlds in favor of their own simpler ways. Every 150 years, the orbit of Tiamat around a black hole impacts the planetary ecology and closes the window of travel to the other worlds. Travel off of Tiamat is only available during the “Winter” rule and it is all controlled by a single matriarch known as the Snow Queen. At the end of her rein, tradition calls for the Snow Queen to be killed and a female leader from the Summers will take her place as ruler of Tiamat. The current Snow Queen, Arienrhod, has a plan to save her life at the end of her rein which is swiftly approaching. She creates several clones of herself and scatters them among the Summer people. She hopes to switch places with one and then to rule the planet as the “new” Summer Queen.

The story of The Snow Queen follows a young woman by the name of Moon. She is one of the clones that the Snow Queen had placed among the summer people. Moon is loved by a young man named Sparks, but when she takes her place as a shaman among her people, known as a Sibyl, he decides to depart and discover more about his off-world heritage. In the capital city of Carbuncle, Sparks is discovered by Arienrhod and enters into a relationship with her. He becomes her “Starbuck”, consort and the commander of the hunt for the intelligent sea creatures known as the Mer, upon which the wealth of Tiamat is based.

Moon receives a message that she believes is from Sparks and attempts to go to Carbuncle although it is barred to sibyls. Along the way she becomes entangled with smugglers and is kidnapped off-world. While on the Capital Planet of Kharemough, she discovers the answers to many mysteries about Sybils and their strange knowledge and why Tiamat has been cut off from the rest of the Hegemony. Moon returns to Tiamat and continues her search for Sparks. She confronts the Snow Queen and participates in a ritual that will decide who will rule the planet and how Tiamat will face the Hegemony after the 150 years of summer are over and travel can resume through the black hole once again.

I read The Snow Queen when it first hit the shelves in 1980. It was a lush, long novel based on a favorite fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. I didn’t care that it had won a major award and I had never heard of Ms. Vinge, but I immediately became enchanted by this story and all the meticulous details of their lives. Each character became a real person to me and the story itself was of a complexity that I do not encounter often. I liked that it had a strong female lead character, something that was not quite as common then as it is in writing today. Ms. Vinge became one of those authors that I look for on the library shelf.

The story has stuck with me down through the years, like an old favorite song, just under your awareness. I find that it crosses my mind now and then as I wonder about the nature of where ideas and creativity come from or when I want an example of a powerful woman protagonist in a story. All of that is part of what makes The Snow Queen special. Of all the books in the Snow Queen Cycle, The Snow Queen is my favorite. Although its sequel, The Summer Queen, is certainly just as powerful a read and memorable. I highly recommend this series of novels to add to your reading list.

The Snow Queen Book CoverThe Snow Queen Cycle

The Snow Queen (1980)
World’s End (1984)
The Summer Queen (1991)
Tangled Up In Blue (2000)

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksI’ve been poking around in new blogs lately. I’ve been finding many new findings to post in the Monday link roundup. The last one has a vague title, but trust me, the article has useful information and is a hoot to read. I hope you enjoy this week’s selection!

That would really be a breakthru

The New Hero Type?

The Best in Portable Tech for the Freelancer

Rediscovering notebooks

Autograph Cards for Ebooks

How to Write a Synopsis of Your Novel

100 Twitter Hashtags Every Writer Should Know

What NOT to do as a new author….

Free Filofax Templates for Indie Authors

The Writer’s Lifesaver