Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Stacy Cox

Stacy Cox – StaceMeister0 is an Independent Author and Poet.  She publishes frequently.  Ms. Cox  is a big advocate for Adventure, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Mystery, Crime, and Thriller, and all things extreme, strange and bizarre.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Stacy CoxMy name is Stacy Cox. I live in Cleveland, OH. I have two daughters. I work part-time as a home health aide. My other job is writing. I love watching movies. Horror is my main go-to genre, but I also enjoy psychological, mysteries, comedies, fantasy, science-fiction, and action.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing in my freshman year of high school. At that time, it was a way to channel an awkward anger phase that I was experiencing. The principal of the school suggested I write whenever I was feeling angry and needed to vent out my frustrations. As time progressed, I realized I enjoyed writing, and it turned into a passion.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer when I wrote my very first novel in high school (in my senior year, I believe). It was a romance, drama, suspense novel, and more of an experimental novel to see if I had it in me to write full length novels.

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

The Monster Pack: The Wasteland is the first in a Horror, Fantasy, Adventure series that follows a group of young misfits, who band together and battle criminals and monsters.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Monster Pack was inspired by two different things. First, the concept of it was inspired by my own personal struggles in love, romance and relationships. Battling different obstacles while constantly dreaming of utopia. Second, the story of it was inspired by the movie Hobo With A Shotgun, directed by Jason Eisener. The whole concept of a law-abiding citizen who’s tired of all the crime and nonsense that goes on in his community, and he decides to make a stand.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I have not adapted any specific writing style that I commit to. I tend to freestyle my books, especially my standalone books. If they are part of a series, such as The Monster Pack, I brainstorm and map out the series. But it depends on the concept of the story at hand, as it changes with me. My two main writing styles interchange between Descriptive and Narrative.

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

The title for The Monster Pack as the title for the overall series just rolled off my tongue, really, and came instantly as I thought about the concept and story. I knew the story was going to be about a group of young kids, who were going to become little vigilantes, and they were going to fight criminals in the real world, and escape to a dream world and fight monsters there. The sub-title of The Wasteland for the first installment came about as I started writing the story and drafted up ‘Grotesque’ as my first monster in the fictional town, where he reigns in an abandoned, toxic domain called ‘The Wasteland’.

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

This message is no secret or surprise, really, but The Monster Pack revolves around the crime and bad things that go on in the world and in society. A lot of people are aware of crimes, such as bullying, abuse, prostitution and human trafficking, and towards minors. The underlying message is that “one doesn’t have to be a victim of their circumstances forever, and there is hope”. Hence, the group of kids that are targeted and victimized by their loved ones, their peers, and by society, and they become fed up and decide ‘enough is enough’, and they take a stand and fight back.

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

The experiences in this book are not based on anyone or anything I know personally. Rather, it is a voice and a cry out for anyone that is battling these nightmares. We hear about these events every day, whether it be on the News or in social media. There are always news or blog articles posted and conversations about these things.

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

In my early years, I enjoyed reading a lot of Disney books, and Disney is a huge inspiration to me as far as imagination and creativity. I think Disney is a big motivator for me and makes me reach deep into my imagination. I am still a child at heart when it comes to Disney. I love my horror and mysteries, but I still like to watch Disney cartoons, especially the old classics that I grew up watching.

In my early teen years, I enjoyed reading a lot of love and romance books and found them inspiring when dealing with my own personal struggles in romantic relationships. They provided hope that, one day, that dream would come true for myself. The authors that have influenced me then are Omar Tyree (author of Flyy Girl, which still remains my favorite book), Sharon M. Draper (author of Romiette and Julio), and Sister Souljah (author of The Coldest Winter Ever).

Around mid-to-late teens is when I shifted over to reading horror and mystery books. Stephen King is a huge inspiration to me. He has outstanding penmanship and storytelling skills that I aspire to reach, myself.

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

It goes without saying that Stephen King is definitely high on that list. As I’ve mentioned, his penmanship and storytelling skills are amazing. His ability to reach deep into his imagination and create otherworldly stories, creatures, and characters. Reading his work, and even watching cinematic adaptations of his works, makes me want to dig deeper and go above and beyond to create. It makes me want to think outside the box and take down the borders of any restriction or taboo.

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

The cover of The Wasteland was designed by Onur Burc. I found him on Fiverr. I selected him because he was very responsive and nice. He was also good at working with you as a client and working harder than the average person to give you what you were looking for and meet your expectations. I liked that he generated several options to choose from based on your thought process, and he generated professional quality covers. I had decided to give someone else a try with one of my books, and his service was not as good. The cover was a mess and not professional-looking or of decent quality.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice for other writers would be to “Just do it”. That’s first and foremost. There are some writers out there that imprison themselves with their own personal restrictions and repressions, thinking that they can’t get their work out there because they have this preconceived notion that they’re not any good, or that they’re afraid of releasing their work because they’re afraid of people reading it and judging it and failing. One, there is no such thing as perfection. There will always be improvements to be made. Two, you will never reach everyone, and everyone will not like your work. That’s why you need to figure out the demographics of your audience, and you focus on that audience alone. Three, just write. Don’t beat yourself down with dreams of perfection that you struggle to write and get your work out there. “Perfection” comes with practice and consistency. You get better as you progress. You don’t progress by sitting in a corner or by staring at a blank screen and not writing anything. You don’t progress with procrastination. You don’t get noticed by hiding behind a computer screen and not putting yourself out there.

Another trend I see a lot of, is aspiring writers constantly comparing themselves to other writers, or giving in to negative advice. They ask experienced writers for advice, and the experienced writers, instead of providing inspiring advice that would motivate inexperienced writers, they’d be “negative Nancies”. Do not give in to any negative “advice” that doesn’t motivate or inspire you to reach your goals and dreams and make them a reality. Do not give in to anything that can hold you back instead of motivating you to get out there. Take any positive constructive criticism that’s going to aid in you honing your craft and becoming better at it.

When it comes to your work and you want to reap success, you have to engage and promote almost 24/7. It is a full-time job, regardless of how you get published, whether it be traditionally with a publishing agent, or self-publishing. Just because you publish with an agent does not mean your work is done. I’ve learned this through research from someone who published with an agent first and decided to do self-publishing with a new book for this very reason. He still had to do all of the engagement and promotion, otherwise he wasn’t getting an audience, and he wasn’t getting any sales. Meanwhile, any sale his book made; his agent still collected his percentage. Not to mention, he sold some of the rights to his book when signing with the agent.

I personally choose the self-publishing route, and I always will because, for one, the cost of traditional publishing. Even if I did have hundreds to thousands of dollars to invest in an agent, I wouldn’t because, for one, I want all of my time and hard work and efforts I invested into creating my book to be 100% my own. I want to keep 100% rights to my own work all the time. I want to have independence and be able to do what I want when I want with my work, and not be bound by contract to an agent, restricting me on what I can or can’t do. Two, I want any money I make for my work to be 100% mine, aside from global distribution fees. I don’t want my hard-earned money to be basically taken from me after service charges and agent fees, leaving me with pocket change.

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

Some of my books have been revised and redesigned (The Monster Pack: The Wasteland included), and some are still going through the global distribution check and have not yet been made available on some platforms. To ensure you get the most up-to-date version right now, please check out my Author’s Spotlight at Lulu.


The Monster Pack Book CoverStacy Cox
Cleveland, OH

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The Monster Pack: The Wasteland

Cover artist: Onur Burc
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Author Interview: S. Faxon

Author S. Faxon is a fantasy author who writes stories full of political intrigue.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author S. FaxonI’ve been writing since I was eight years old. My first story came out of my third-grade writing assignment and it was called, “Three Cool Cats.” It was about three cats who poisoned their oppressive dog dictator to secure their freedom. I’ve been writing ever since.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

As long as I can remember. I finished writing my first novel when I was eleven and I think I was calling myself a writer well before that. Writing is a part of my soul. It’s a compulsion that I almost can’t control. I never stop thinking about my stories and I feel like I have to get them out and onto the page.

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

My current books, The Animal Court, and her sequel, Foreign & Domestic Affairs, are fantasy novels full of political intrigue. The Animal Court is about a country on the verge of collapse and one woman’s fight to save the kingdom she loves. The sequel takes place twenty years later and demonstrates what happens when having ultimate power begins to consume everything you do.

What inspired you to write this book?

I initially started writing the first draft of The Animal Court when I was a senior in high school. I had been addicted to reading the classics, but one story that really influenced The Animal Court was Hamlet. I started writing The Animal Court when I was sitting on the bleachers of my high school not engaging in my P.E. class. I came up with the sequel, Foreign & Domestic while bored out of my mind on a car ride driving down the 5 from northern California to San Diego. Plotted the entire story in my mind on that trip, but it evolved dramatically as I actually wrote it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve been told that I have a “classic” writing style. The biggest influencers on my writing are Mary Shelly, Kate Chopin, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, so I tend to emulate their descriptive styles, much to the chagrin of my editors.

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

Many characters within The Animal Court are likened to members within the animal kingdom, in terms of their mannerisms and they’re all in this political game, a court, so it just made sense. The original title was, Feasts and Follies of the Animal Court, which I realized was way too long and sounded like a children’s book. For Foreign & Domestic Affairs, I was in the middle of attaining my Masters in Government and Politics, with a certificate in International Law, so the phrase “foreign and domestic affairs” was used almost daily in my world. The issues that are facing the king and queen in the sequel, are coming from both the foreign and domestic angles and indeed, with temptations abounding affairs is the name of the game.

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

In The Animal Court, the message would be if you see something that’s bothering you, to take a stand for what you believe in no matter the odds that are stacked against you. For Foreign & Domestic Affairs, it’s to never lose sight of what’s truly important in your life. Though in a fantasy setting, Foreign & Domestic Affairs features a couple who are so consumed with their work that they lose sight of their family and their relationship, which leads to all sorts of issues.

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

Not these pieces. I do have other novels that are based on real-life occurrences, but this one was primarily out of the whims of my imagination. There are matters that happened in global history that inspired this book, but not in my personal life.

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

J.K. Rowling and Barbara Kingsolver are some of the most influential writers in my life. J.K. Rowling gave us a story that many people didn’t believe in when she was initially querying, but she didn’t give up and now her books gave us characters that we remember when we are confronted with darkness. If she’d given up, where would we be without Harry Potter? I love Barbara Kingsolver’s books because they confront social justice issues and that’s something I hope to convey in my books, though many of them are in a fantasy setting.

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

Tamara Merrill has become a major mentor in my writing career. She’s helped to open my eyes to many avenues of marketing, which is an enormous component of a writing career that many of us authors struggle with. She’s inspired me in so many ways, including my decision to make book trailers for other authors and to become a social media strategist, so I’m eternally grateful to call her my mentor and friend.

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

I actually designed the covers of my books. I have several years of experience in graphic design and I studied hundreds of covers in my genre, as well as other genres, before designing the covers for The Animal Court and Foreign & Domestic Affairs. With all of the research that I did, designing covers is a service that I am now providing to other authors.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Never give up, never stop writing. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you’re not a writer or that you’re not an author. If you have a story in your heart that you want to share, you’re an author. If you don’t think your writing is strong enough, find a writing group that’ll help you to develop your craft. Being a writer is a gift, do whatever it takes to nourish it and to help it grow. Don’t wait until you’re retired to write your book. Make the time and do it.

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

I hope that my stories provide you with similar escapes that they provided me.

Animal CourtS. Faxon

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Author interview: jared k chapman

When I asked Author Jared Chapman about his writing, he replied: I love taking established tropes in the genres I write in and then flipping them on their heads, turning them inside out, and finding new ways to blow readers minds. I love filling my stories with Easter eggs that readers only pick up on second and third readings, because that’s when they get super excited and I know I’ve done my job. Please give him a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.

Greetings. I’m Jared K Chapman, not to be confused with Jared Chapman children’s author/illustrator, although we both lived in Austin in 2002. I was born in south central California to a farmer’s daughter and an engineer in petroleum. I didn’t crawl. I went right to walking around. I guess I had places to go, people to see. My dad’s job took us to Calgary, Alberta, but by 5 years old my mother moved my kid sister and I back to her father’s farm in California. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian area and got kicked out of Sunday School for asking too many questions. From age 10 to 14, I spent my school years with my father in Canada and summers with my mom. The experience gave me a diverse perspective.

I have degrees in religious studies and psychology, and I’m currently working on my PhD with a focus on extremism through the lens of social psychology. I also have a fondness for science fiction, fantasy, and horror, having grown up reading books by Ray Bradbury, Anne MacCaffrey, and Stephen King, and an array of comic books. I share these interests, whether they like it or not, with my wife and three sons.

When and why did you begin writing?

My mother would probably tell you I’m a born storyteller. I’ve been writing as long as I remember being able to write. One of my first memories is having a short illustrated story published in a book with other kids in my 3rd or 4th grade class. Seeing it in print blew my mind and made me want to do that again. I remember writing a novel in 6th grade that was a kind of mish-mash of Star Wars and Star Trek. I think I wrote it to see what others thought about my story, because I passed it around to fellow students and never got it back.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I began writing a novel in 1996… something I’m still working on. I think the moment I allowed someone to read that was the moment I thought of myself as a writer. That’s when I believed I was going to become a writer. Unfortunately, life got in the way, but I’m finding my way back now.

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

My debut novel, 2HVØRHVNØT: To Have or Have Not, is essentially a murder mystery thriller set in a futuristic dystopia where the superpowered Haves known as the Mighty are the majority, and they oppress the powerless Have Nots. Mario wakes up late for work and misses his bus into the city. While waiting in the long line of other workers, an adjudicator arrests him for the murder of his employer, a Mighty restaurateur. He must race against time to prove his innocence and help those who oppress him to survive the onslaught of the real killer. However, Mario is not the only primary protagonist. When his kid sister, Zelda, suspects he is in danger, she finds her way into the city in search of her brother, the only person she has left in the world. While on the hunt, she discovers a dark secret the Mighty would never want her or anyone else to know.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had a thought in my head about “to be or not to be” but applying it to the situation of haves and have-nots, which resulted in the title “to have or not to have.” I thought that was too presumptuous and cumbersome, so I kept thinking and though To Have or Have Not sounded much better, and I am a Hemingway fan, so there’s a little homage there. I kept thinking and thinking about this title and one day while driving home the numeronym popped into my head 2HVORHVNOT. I thought that would be a cool title for a book, so I began to think what a book with that title would be about.

I immediately thought about a tattooed identity code on someone’s arm. I thought about how it could be scanned and used in the future like credit cards, but I thought that was too obvious and really wasn’t sure what the story would be. Poor people are Have Nots and can’t even use their codes while the rich people can… it seemed like something I’ve seen many times before. So, my mind went somewhere darker. What if only the Have Nots have these identity codes and they’re forced on them? I began to think about the Holocaust and poor lives lost in the camps. I began to think about Nietzche’s idea of the Ubermensch inspiring the Nazis. I began to think about Japanese internment camps and signs that said No Jews Allowed or Colored Only Section. I began thinking about the X-Men stories where normal people wanted to round up the mutants and put them into camps. Then, I thought what if that was flipped. What if the people in power, the majority, were the ones with superpowers.

I started to think about what kind of world that would be. I drew upon a lot of the social psychological theories I had learned through the course of my collegiate life. I found myself really drawn to Sherif, Asch, Milgram, and Zimbardo’s famous experiments. Ultimately, I wanted to delve into conflict resolution between two completely different groups. I also drew upon my religious studies and my interest in science-fiction/fantasy, post-apocalyptic/dystopia speculative fiction, particularly 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, The Dark Tower Series, Running Man, Demolition Man, Minority Report, and Ready Player One. All of these inspired me to create the world of Fellowship City.

In Fellowship City, there is a caste system with the highest, most powerful Mighty being the telepathic seers, monks of Sol & Luna, who police the other Mighty. This creates a world without heroes or villains, because the monks stop any crime or wrongdoing, even wrong-thinking before it happens. They eliminate the bad elements to create a utopian world for them, but in doing so, life is mundane. Their superpowers are meaningless. In this world, a pyrokinetic has a job as a barista reheating coffee in the ceramic mugs of old customers. But in nearly every utopia we find some dystopian element, and for those without powers, this world is a nightmare. They are forced to serve the Mighty, live in camps or slums, and must be tattooed with their scannable identity codes.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Varied. Sometimes I outline. Sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes it’s a little of both. Sometimes I write in first person and other times in third. Sometimes I write in present tense and other times in past tense. Whatever I do, however, I try to be as consistent as possible. But it all depends on the story I’m trying to tell.

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

At the core of it, my book is about how embracing diversity in skills and thoughts, not judging a book by its cover, nor dehumanizing others, are the only ways we can overcome that which might kill us all.

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

I think we, as writers, always draw inspiration from our own experiences or from those we know. There are definitely some small moments that were inspired by real experiences, but if I did my job well, the reader will not uncover which ones are real and which are pure fantasy.

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

I believe my three biggest influences are Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Anne MacCaffrey because their books were my gateway into real novels. Before reading their books, I read books made for kids. When I was 10, I read Misery and it blew my mind. After that, I remember finding Dragonriders of Pern books in the school library and devouring them. However, Fahrenheit 451 was the book that made me question reality and made me believe I could do that too. They all created wonderfully vivid worlds, sometimes vibrant and colorful, but other times dark and dreary. I think their ability to create such worlds is what I found most inspiring.

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

Stephen King. He is a legend. He’s published over 60 books and he’s only 73. Imagine how many others he wrote that weren’t published. The guy is a machine. I just wish I could be 1/10th of what he is. He’s like the end goal that I aspire to be like. I know I’ll never achieve what he has, but that’s okay. I just want to be 1/10th of what he is… and direct a feature film. He did that. I want to do that too.

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

Derek Smith is the artist who designed the cover. I met him in 2011 when he began dating a good friend of the woman I was dating. We married those women within six months of one another and our babies are eight months apart. He is an amazing artist, and I approached him in 2012 about doing the art for a graphic novel I was writing. I wrote it, but he got busy with his day job touring the world, drumming for a band, so we never completed the graphic novel. I decided to write it as a novel instead, so I could proceed without his art. When I completed the novel, I asked if he would do the cover because it was always meant to be a project we were doing together. Someday, we will go back to the graphic novel. You can find him at https://www.facebook.com/kickitlikebonham and https://www.instagram.com/dereksmithart/.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I waited too long to publish because I didn’t have confidence in my work. Don’t do that. You are the only person who can tell your story the way you want it to be told. So, write it and don’t be afraid to show it to people. Also, don’t have a big head about it. Be open to others’ critiques, challenges, and changes they may introduce. Those ideas may help you more than you know. It’s never too late to start. I’m 43 and this is my debut novel. I wish I had begun 20 years ago, but here I am now, and wishing only gets you so far. If you need help, there are people and companies out there who can help. I needed my confidence boosted and help on how to get published, so I found a program. Message me if you want to know about it. Otherwise, keep writing. Write every day. Only stop to send pages to the editor. Publish!

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

I grew up in the 80s, watching Saturday morning cartoons followed by wrestling, reading comic books with superheroes and books by Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, and sneaking into B-Movie slasher flicks to watch the ridiculous blood and guts spray across the screen. I loved Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, The Last Starfighter, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Goonies, and Monster Squad. I write stories that I want to read, and they are influenced by those early interests. I also studied religion, psychology, anthropology, film, and creative writing in college, and those academic experiences influenced how I see the world and how I write about it. I’ve also dealt with abuse, neglect, and instability when I should’ve been a kid enjoying all those things. The worlds I create and write in reflect all of that. My goal is to make my readers feel something viscerally in a world of my creation. I hope I do that, because it’s the best part of being a writer.


Jared K Chapman
Los Angeles, CA

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2HVØRHVNØT: To Have or Have Not

Cover Artist: Derek Smith
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Author Interview: John Meszaros

Author John Meszaros loves mixing together his interests in natural history, world cultures and mythology to create worlds that feel like they live and thrive on their own, apart from the narrow story of the protagonists. I’m pleased to introduce him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author John MeszarosI’m John Meszaros. I’ve worked in science education all my life, at zoos, aquariums, natural history museums, and currently a planetarium. I love natural sciences, particularly paleontology, astronomy, and marine biology. I collect books, plants, and fossils and am well on my way to transforming my house into a combination library/green house/wizard’s laboratory. I’m a big fan of cryptids and folklore and I currently run a blog about “official” state cryptids. I’m also an illustrator, and I love to weave my art together with my writing.

When and why did you begin writing?

Like many authors, I’ve been writing since I was a kid. But I first really started taking my writing seriously in college when I began submitting sword and sorcery stories to magazines.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Definitely when I started submitting stories. I mean, packaging and mailing all those manuscripts (this was just before email submissions became widespread) and collecting rejection letters really got me into the mindset of being a serious writer. That’s also when I started really analyzing the works I read from other authors to figure out how to improve my own craft.

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

My first novel is a dark fantasy set in a world based on medieval Japan. It’s about a young woman who becomes a fire-controlling demigod against her will, and her efforts to learnt to control her powers. I’ve always loved Japanese mythology and monsters, and incorporated an abundance of ghosts, yokai, magic and other supernatural happenings into my book.

What inspired you to write this book?

For the first part of my writing career I wrote short stories. I really wanted to try my hand at writing a full novel with lots of world-building. I grew up watching a lot of anime, and that sparked an interest in Japanese culture and history. I couldn’t find much fantasy fiction with a Japanese setting (though that’s thankfully changed in recent years), so I decided to write my own.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I actually didn’t discover my writing style until after I wrote this book. I have a very episodic style that comes from my experience writing short stories. My books usually have a single overarching plot driving the character’s long-term goals, but they run through many semi self-contained adventures in the process of getting there. I struggled with this style for a long time, trying to smooth it out and write in the more conventional way that you’re “supposed” to write a novel. But I realized eventually that this was the method that was true to me, regardless of what other authors and editors thought I should do.

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

I didn’t have a name for my book until the last draft. By the end I found that the underworld of Yomi played a huge role in the book. All of the conflict in the story sprang from the machinations of beings hailing from this realm, so “At Yomi’s Gate” was a very fitting reflection of that.

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

At Yomi’s Gate isn’t really a hard moral story, but a major theme of the plot is about the main character, Sakura, dealing with her own fear and anger and learning to turn that rage away from hurting other people and focus it on protecting those she cares about.

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

There are kernels of my personality and life experiences in each of the five main characters. They each have different aspects of my own emotions, creativity and curiosity, around which I’ve hung other personality traits to make them their own individuals. In particular, one of the main characters, Fumito, is a scroll painter and artist, and I share his love for collecting and telling stories.

On a more concrete level, several scenes in the underworld that are visually inspired by the time I visited the Dazu Buddhist rock carving grotto in China.

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

Ursula LeGuin has been my biggest influence. I love her stories about finding balance. Her use of Taoist philosophy has greatly influenced my own work.

I’ve also been heavily influenced by China Mieville’s weird fiction. My own settings, characters and creatures can get bizarre, and seeing how he handles odd settings helped me figure out how to ground my own stuff.

The early 20th century author Harold Lamb has also been a big influence. He wrote tons of pulp adventure fiction based in meticulously-researched historical settings, particularly Central Asia. I’ve tried to put the same level of care and research into my own world-building that he put into his.

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

Again, definitely Ursula LeGuin. Her works taught me a lot about incorporating theme and meaning into a story without turning it into a bland morality fable. Her books taught me about accepting both the bad and good sides of oneself, and that one must learn how to incorporate them together into a whole. That idea directly runs through At Yomi’s Gate, especially in Sakura’s character arc.

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

The cover was illustrated by Matthew Meyer. His style is based on old Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, particularly of monsters called yokai. I love that look and really wanted my cover to look like a print you might find at a vendor’s stall in old Tokyo. Meyer was really the only person I wanted to illustrate my cover, and I’m still glad I went with him.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The most important thing about writing is to find the style that works best for you. There are tons of classes and how-to books that tell you that their way is the “correct” way to write. And sure, if one of those methods resonates with you, then use it. But don’t get stuck thinking that you have to find the one perfect system for writing, because none of them work for everyone. Furthermore, it might take you a while to figure out what method is right for you. I wrote for ten years before I finally found the most productive system for me.

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

My current works-in-progress are combining my passions for art and writing, so hopefully fans of my illustrations will enjoy seeing them mingle with my written words, and vice versa.

At Yomi's Gate Book CoverJohn Meszaros
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At Yomi’s Gate

Cover Artist: Matthew Meyer

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Author Interview: R.M. Olson

R.M. Olson is the author of the Ungovernable series. She promises she hasn’t done all the things she writes about. Honest.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Ruth OlsenMy name is R.M. Olson. I’m a Canadian, a lawyer, an author, and the mother of four kiddos. I love to travel, and I admit, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie–I’ve jumped off the highest bungee jump in the world, trekked across mountains in pouring summer storms, gone cage diving with great white sharks, and maybe most frightening of all, taken all four of my kids on a three-day backcountry camping trip all by myself. I’m an unrepentant bookworm, and always have been. I love corny jokes, campfires, and hot tea, preferably all together. Autumn is my favorite time of year, and I’ll never get tired of the sight and smell of leaves the colour of sunshine against a grey autumn sky.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I think my first completed work was when I was about six. I’d heard my parents talking about Shakespeare’s tragedies and decided it couldn’t be that difficult. And it wasn’t. I killed off my MC and his entire family and all his friends in the course of about three pages. Not sure even the Bard beat that record.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Only about five years ago, honestly. Although I’ve been writing my whole life, that was when I first started taking it seriously–working intentionally on my craft, querying, and putting in a sustained daily effort to writing.

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

Well, I write fairly quickly, so my current WIP changes on a regular basis. But I can tell you a bit about my series. I’m currently finishing up a space opera science fiction series that follows the adventures of a motley group of ex-cons and their mysterious leader. It’s called The Ungovernable, and it’s a sort of Ocean’s Eleven meets Firefly, with all my favourite tropes–laser guns, smugglers, explosions, heists, jailbreaks, deep-space casinos, carnivorous plants, political intrigue, and most of all, a fumbling, ridiculous, and ultimately loveable found-family crew.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m a sucker for clever heists, and for sprawling space adventures, enemies-to-friends, groups of clever misfits who love each other in spite of their quirks or even because of them, and lots of action. I’d just finished watching Ocean’s Eight yet again and I thought, why not do something like that, but in space? And so The Ungovernable was born.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My style tends to be fairly fast-paced–lots of action, snappy dialogue, never too long between something exciting happening, but ultimately character-focused. There’s usually romance, but it’s usually slow-burn. One of my beta readers left a comment once that sums up my style pretty well, I think. She commented, “I was expecting sexytimes, and instead I got a near death experience!” And that basically says everything there is to say about how I write.

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

Ha ha, it wasn’t easy. I spent a lot of time consulting with friends about it. But ultimately, the series title, The Ungovernable, is the name of the crew’s ship, and the title of each book is based off a hacker/computer term, since hacking plays a big part in the plots. The titles of the released and upcoming books are Zero Day Threat, Jailbreak, Time Bomb, Insider Threat, Blacklist, Trojan Horse, Blue Team, Attack Path, and Threat Agent. You get a point for each of the terms you can identify without looking them up!

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

Honestly, as much as these books are all about the action, their real message is friendship–about learning to love people for who they are, and learning to be loved for who you are. About the kind of friendship that means they see you at your ugliest, and your weakest, and your stupidest and most awkward–and they love you anyways.

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

Well–there’s a lot of me in Jez. I’m also ADHD and bi, and I certainly had a lot of the same feelings of alienation and not fitting in as she has throughout the series because of those things. And I, too, have managed to stumble into a group of friends who I could count on at any time and for anything. And the world itself is based in large part on places I’ve traveled–a year or so before I started this series, I traveled across Siberia on the Trans-Siberian railway, and I fell in love with the mix of cultures and the complex history of that area of the world. A lot of that found its way into the world I created for these books.

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

I’ve always loved Terry Pratchett. I love his ability to make you think while making you laugh, and to portray the ugliness in the world while still believing that people are basically good. I love Neil Geiman and Harper Lee for much the same reason. And while I only wish I could compare my writing to any of theirs, I hope that at least I can manage, in my own awkward way, to convey a similar message.

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

Hmmm. That’s a tough one. If I had to pick, I think I’d go back to Sir Terry. There is so much about his writing that I’ve loved and studied, and he deeply inspires the way I write and the things I chose to write about to this day.

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

The first three covers were designed by Jesh Studios. He’s a fantastic artist, and was able to put down on paper what I had in my head for these characters. I loved every one of his covers, but because of unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to complete the covers after book three. I switched to KDS Cover Concepts, because I was looking for someone who could work in a similar style, and I’ve absolutely loved her work. I’d highly recommend her.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just keep writing–don’t let rejection discourage you. It’s part of the process, and it forces you to improve. I thought I’d be ready to publish when I wrote my first book. But looking back, I’m so glad that book wasn’t published. My writing has improved and deepened so much since then. I have several manuscripts and short stories that I submitted to agents and publications that were rejected over and over. But each time I re-wrote them, or wrote something new, I got a little bit better. And as much as it was frustrating at the time, that was when I really started to hone my craft–when people stopped praising me and were honest enough to tell me I needed to improve.

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

First, a heart-felt thank you for reading. I’d be a writer no matter what, but I couldn’t be an author without you. So thank you for letting me live my dream. And I hope that somehow, my crazy crew of misfits has brightened your day, made a rough week a little better, or maybe showed you that you don’t need to change who you are in order to be loved. You just need to find your people. And they’re out there, whoever you are–even if you’re an irritating ADHD ex-smuggler pilot with a penchant for getting into trouble. ❤

The UngovernableR.M. Olson
Calgary Alberta, Canada

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The Ungovernable

Cover Artist: Jesh Art Studio ( https://jeshartstudio.com/)

All my books are only available on Amazon. Here’s a link in the US store to the series page:

And here are universal links for the four books that are currently released (although I can update this again before the interview goes live, as there will likely be another one or two out by then.)
Zero Day Threat
https://www.bklnk.com/B088C4FYPN
Jailbreak
https://www.bklnk.com/B0883Z4L3W
Time Bomb
https://www.bklnk.com/B088F6756J
Insider Threat
https://www.bklnk.com/B08F76MC75