Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Lynne Stringer

I know Author Lynne Stringer as a fellow Knight of the  SciFi Roundtable, an active writer’s group on Facebook.  She writes YA sci-fi and contemporary drama.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Hi, my name is Lynne Stringer, and I love writing! I especially love writing science fiction with a young adult focus. I enjoy creating new worlds and exploring new characters.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote my first book when I was about eight. It was called Goldie the Pony and was written in felt tip. It wasn’t very good, but I kept at it. I loved it when they asked us to write a story in English at school. It was my favourite thing to do. That hasn’t changed.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Not until I wrote my first full-length manuscript when I was in my twenties. It helped that I started to work as a journalist for a small magazine around this time. It made me feel legitimate.

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

The Verindon Alliance takes place in the same world as the trilogy I released in 2013/14. Verindon is a planet where, during the time the trilogy takes place, they have more advanced technology than we have. There are two distinct humanoid species on this planet—the Vendel and the Verindal.

During the time of the trilogy, they live in peace, although there are some tensions and problems beneath the surface. However, The Verindon Alliance is set about a thousand years earlier, at a time when Verindon didn’t have much greater technology than we have today. It was also a time when the Vendel and the Verindal were still at war, so that’s part of the conflict in this novel.

What inspired you to write this book?

The events featured in The Verindon Alliance are referred to in my trilogy. I had loosely sketched out what happened but wanted to see if I could write it out completely.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t like writing outlines, although I have an outline in my head. I usually sit at the keyboard and see where my characters take me.

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

With help from my publisher. I suck at titles. We work together to try and come up with the best ones we can.

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

Racism is something that features in every novel I’ve set on Verindon, as it’s a huge issue there. One thing I featured this time more than I did in the trilogy was implicit bias—how the bias that a person’s been raised with, that has become a major part of their development, is so hard to overcome. It’s a major theme in the novel. The Vendel and the Verindal have to work together. If they don’t …

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

No, it’s all from my imagination.

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

I’ve loved a lot of the classics. The Brontës are authors I’ve long adored. They wrote a lot of vivid, emotive books. There were no aliens in their stories, but they still spoke to me. In the science fiction world, I like Timothy Zahn and Vonda McIntyre.

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

Probably Charlotte Brontë. I would love to talk to her for hours about Jane Eyre.

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

My publisher has some talented people they use to design their covers. Shame on me—I don’t know their names!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t be in a hurry to get published. You need to take your time and get it as right as you can the first time. Read a lot, write a lot, listen to advice. Find a good professional editor (this is not an optional extra; it’s essential). Always take stock every step of the way before you make a decision.

The Verindon Alliance Book CoverLynne Stringer
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Author Interview: Theresa Halvorsen

Author Theresa Halvorsen describes herself as an overly-caffeinated author of nonfiction and speculative fiction works. She lives in San Diego and is a podcaster for Semi-Sages of the Pages. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Theresa HalversenHi everyone! My name is Theresa Halvorsen and I’m the author of Warehouse Dreams and the Dad’s Playbook to Labor and Birth. In addition to my day job in healthcare, I’m also a podcaster for Semi-Sages of the Pages. Semi-Sages of the Pages is a podcast for writers, from four female speculative fiction writers who are just starting out in our writing journeys. I’m usually over caffeinated, and enjoy big glasses of wine in the evenings. A mother, a wife and a pet-parent, I live in Southern California, in Temecula wine country. I enjoy all things geeky and have attended comic-con for many years, 2020 would’ve been my tenth year. I can quote Princess Bride, Star Wars and Firefly like there’s no tomorrow (and heck, it’s 2020, there might not be a tomorrow). Finally, I enjoy reading spec fiction, helping other writers, and playing complex board games with my friends and family.

When and why did you begin writing?

I can’t remember not writing, or at least not making up stories in my head. My first story, when I was about six, was about a princess whose plane crashed. Luckily, she could talk to animals and after a few scary moments, she made it out of a forest alive. As you can tell, I watched a lot of Disney. About two years ago, I made a commitment to myself that if I wanted to be a writer, wanted to make a living at it, then I had to truly try. I couldn’t wait for “some day”. And so I now plan out my writing time and projects. I’ve had to give up a lot of my free-time but I’m much happier than I’ve been in a very long time.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I believe if you write, you can call yourself a writer. But if people ask me what I do, I rarely say writer. This is an interesting conundrum I probably should reflect on.

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

Warehouse Dreams, which came out in July 2020, is a unique story about the faculty at a school for telepaths and psychokinetics. It follows Kendle, an admin assistant, holding the underfunded school together with her blood, sweat and tears. A flawed character, she will do anything, including risk getting fired from the job she adores, to protect her students from a world that doesn’t want them. The addition of a new telepathy teacher doesn’t make this year any easier for Kendle either. A soft sci-fi romance, the reviews have been phenomenal.

What inspired you to write this book?

Warehouse Dreams definitely has echoes of real societal problems within. When I was writing it, I looked around at many of the things we’re dealing with, put a sci-fi spin on it, and tucked it into the story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a very direct and dialogue heavy writer. I always start with the dialogue and my beta readers always comment on how strong and unique my dialogue is. I have to go back and build in the little details that so many other writers start with. I write in the first person because I enjoy digging deeply into a character’s thoughts and emotions. I also love the challenge behind first person; I, as the author, know what my other characters are thinking and feeling, but my main character doesn’t, so I have to figure out how to share that. If you get a chance to read Warehouse Dreams, the fundraising scene is a perfect example of this. There’s a lot of subtexts going on in that scene, that Kendle really doesn’t pick up on because she’s too caught up in her own drama. To me, first person point of view is very real, because our lives are all in first person.

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

Oh goodness, I’m terrible with titles. Warehouse Dreams is set at a school built into a series of abandoned Warehouses, hence the Warehouse part. And without giving away a spoiler, I’ll say that dreams play an important part of the story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Oh wow, Warehouse Dreams has a lot of messages. Primarily it’s asking the question of what happens when society determines it doesn’t want to deal with and are ultimately afraid of certain members of that society. In addition, there’s themes around the ethics of genetic manipulation of our children, but only for the rich. The sequel explores the second theme more.

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

That’s a good question–Kendle does have some challenges with anxiety and I drew on some of my own experiences with anxiety when writing. And while I hate to admit it, I’m not actually a telepath or psychokinetic, though sometimes it would be nice to be one.

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

I have a great deal of affection for Stephen King; I loved his book On Writing and often quote it to other writers. For me personally, I agree with Stephen King’s thoughts on the necessity of writing every day and reading a lot. I also find my style of writing is similar to Jodi Taylor’s and try to inject the humor, sarcasm and character building that she does so well into my stories.

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

I’m lucky to be published with a small press publisher, S&H Publishing, who used their own graphic designer. However, this cover went through a few drafts. I wanted the background to be dark, because Warehouse Dreams is a dark story. I wanted the Warehouse to be a part of the cover, but I also wanted the hummingbird on the cover. Throughout Warehouse Dreams, the hummingbird is a theme and a moment of hope when the future is often very bleak and heavy for my characters.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you write, you are a writer. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Read a lot. Read things you wouldn’t normally read and then pull the stories apart to find out what you like and don’t like about them.
It’s ok if your first, tenth or fiftieth drafts suck. Just keep switching out words until you’re happy. And it will take a lot of switching until you are, most of the time. That’s normal.

Learn what to take and what to leave behind when receiving constructive feedback. And yes, you do need constructive feedback on your writing for it to get better.

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

Ummmm…buy Warehouse Dreams? Listen to my podcast, Semi-Sages of the Pages? Connect with me on social media–I love talking books and writing to anyone who will listen to me and I LOVE meeting other people.

Warehouse Dreams Book CoverTheresa Halvorsen
Temecula, CA

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Author Interview: Jeannie Wycherley

Losing herself in an imaginary world is quite possibly the best thing that has ever happened to Author Jeannie Wycherley. She  can travel far and wide with an array of wonderful people and creatures and when it gets interesting, she can share it with everyone else. Bliss!  Please welcome Jeannie to No Wasted Ink.

I’m Jeannie Wycherley. I live by the sea in East Devon in the south-west of the UK. Over the years I’ve worked as an academic, a waitress, a library assistant and as a stage manager. I have a doctorate in modern and contemporary British social history. I run a seaside gift shop with my husband (or try to at the moment, things are not great). I have two dogs that I love above all creatures and I’m fanatical about forests and wildlife.

When and why did you begin writing?

I always loved to write but I lost the urge when I started working. I was busy, I was young, I had a life. Then in 2010, during counselling for a bout of depression, I uncovered my desperate need for creativity. I started to fiddle with words again and wrote a play that was performed by a local theatre company. I then found an online virtual writing bootcamp in June 2012 with a group called Urban Writers. I loved it! There were lots of exercises to do, something everyday, and by the end of the month I had a long short story that I was quite proud of. After that I began to write every day. It became a habit. I submitted short stories everywhere and gathered quite a collection.

I took part in the Six-Month Novel challenge, again with Urban Writers, and produced my first novel. It has never seen the light of day, but I proved I could do it.

I was made redundant in September 2012 and over the next few years, I balanced freelance copywriting work and working in our gift shop with my creative writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Relatively recently! I published two novels, Crone (2017) and Beyond the Veil (2018) but felt like an impostor. It wasn’t until I started to work on my Wonky Inn series (first published September 2018), when the writing and the characters totally consumed me, that I realised I was a proper writer. Now I drive my husband mad because I don’t talk about anything else. He’s currently in the process of getting a proofreading qualification so he can help me out!

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

It’s called The Municipality of Lost Souls and, put simply, it’s a ghost story where some dead sailors want vengeance for their wrongful deaths. But it’s far more complex. It’s about greed, power and manipulation, love, lust and loss. It’s about the way we treat others. It has shades of Jamaica Inn and The Old Curiosity Shop and The Woman in White about it.

What inspired you to write this book?

It started life as a short story, published by the Society for Misfit Stories. It was a story that would not let me go. I knew there was far more to it, but the complexity of it put me off. It requires quite an ensemble of characters and that proved difficult to balance at times. I take much inspiration from the landscape around me. The town of Durscombe—a fictional name—is based on Sidmouth, where I live. I wanted to write about the power of the sea and have this kaleidoscope of people’s lives unfold in front of a tempestuous, glowering backdrop.

Do you have a specific writing style?

People have often remarked how immersive my descriptions are, that reading my work, whether it’s dark fantasy or cozy mystery, is a little like going to the cinema. They can see the world through my eyes.

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

I have absolutely no idea! It just popped into my head. I have had some criticism for it, because of its length, but to me, The Municipality of Lost Souls, has a whole different meaning to Lost Souls. It adds place, context, era and specificity. There are so many lost souls in this book, but the most important ones, are in the town.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, but it’s not spelled out. Part of me wants readers to understand what drove me to produce this story, but not everyone will. I’m perfectly happy if they read it and enjoy it without getting ‘it’, though.

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

I’m getting on. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve observed a lot. I’m ravenous for people-watching. Obviously, this is a historical fantasy novel, so it’s not true to life, but I’ve used my experience as a historian to add flesh to the bones. I like my characters to be flawed. This bunch certainly are!

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

So many. I drew on my love of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins for The Municipality of Lost Souls. I love their use of language. Both of these writers have wonderful villains too. Dastardly! I have several Dickensian type villains in this novel. I would add Elizabeth Gaskell and Edith Wharton to that list too. Gaskell is my favourite author of all time. She has a gentle touch, but she really packed a punch when it came to unpicking the social issues of the day.

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

The beautiful cover was designed by Anika Willmanns of Ravenborn Covers. She does the most magnificent work. I wanted something ghostly and tempestuous and I wanted to show vulnerability. I think Anika did an amazing job.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Commit! And believe in yourself.

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

Thanks so much for reading! I can never quite get over the fact that people actually read my words! I’ve never been happier and it’s entirely down to people like you!

Lost Souls Book CoverJeannie Wycherley
Sidmouth, East Devon, UK

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Cover Artist:  Anika Willmanns

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Author Interview: Bonita Gutierrez and Camilla Ochlan

When I invited the writing team and  co-founders of Empyream Press how they would describe themselves.  Bonita and Camila  replied: We write urban fantasy on the brink.  Please welcome this dynamic duo to No Wasted Ink.

Hi, Wendy. Thank you for allowing us to share our work with your readers. We’re Bonita Gutierrez and Camilla Ochlan, co-founders of Empyrean Press.

We first met each other in college in a production of Three Penny Opera. And after college (ahem…many years later), we reconnected in Los Angeles. It was during this time that we really got to know each other. We discovered that we were kindred fangirls, sharing a love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural. Deeply layered characters, biting humor, and devastating consequences are our kind of storytelling. So naturally, we wanted to work together.

Flash forward eight years, and we’re knee-deep in our third book in The Werewolf Whisperer series (There are three novellas as well).

When and why did you begin writing?

Camilla: I’ve wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Bonita: Though I always had stories in my head, I never thought about writing as a career. I was always more interested in acting. On stage, in front of the camera, that’s where my heart resided. It wasn’t until my screenwriter husband encouraged me to write my own scripts and get my own work out into the world that I entertained the idea of becoming a writer. But I don’t think I actually considered myself a writer until midway through writing our second novel, The Alpha & Omega: Book 2 of The Werewolf Whisperer. I knew we had an exciting story, and the fact that I’d helped breathe life into it, made me realize that I was actually good at this writing thing. That’s when I started calling myself an author.

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

Under our Empyrean Press banner, we are finishing the third main novel in our Werewolf Whisperer series — BLOOD & BONES. We’re damn excited about this story.

Our girls Lucy and Xochi have been on quite a ride. BLOOD & BONES brings this part of their journey to a shocking conclusion. Lots of devastating consequences. But Lucy and Xochi’s story is far from over. They still have a lot of roads to travel. Be on the lookout for BLOOD & BONES in the late fall.

What inspired you to write this book?

Bonita: Camilla’s inspiration for THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER came on the set of her short film, Dog Breath. The story forming in her head involved a “werewolf apocalypse” and a cop whose special knack for training dogs turns into a bizarre knack for commanding werewolves. I thought it was an awesome idea.

Originally, THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER was conceived as a web series. We even wrote the first thirteen episodes of season one. We had every intention of shooting the series, but as the Werewolf Whisperer world grew, so did the budget. As is often the case in show biz, our imaginations had exceeded our means. But we didn’t let that get in our way. We had a story to tell, so we got to work translating the web series into a novel series.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Since our background is in theater, film and television, our writing leans toward the cinematic — visual and action-packed. We are both very interested in exploring the inner journeys of our main characters, unwinding psychology, letting them grow.

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

Camilla: THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER just popped into my head. It was as if it had always been.

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

Evolve or die.

But really, we just want to tell a good story. So, when we hear things like this from readers: “non-stop, action packed”, “a thrill ride”, “unexpected, not your typical werewolf story”, “destined to be a classic”, “really cinematic” — we feel like we’ve done our job.

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

Bonita: There’s something of both of us in all our books. That being said, Xochitl Magaña is mostly based on me. I’m a person of mixed race, and that informs a big part Xochi’s character. So, peppering the story with a bit of my life experience was a no-brainer.

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

Bonita: Writers of all mediums (film, television, comics, books) have influenced me at one point or another. I’m especially drawn to writers who create deeply flawed characters. I love anti-heroes. Humans are imperfect creatures. It’s what makes us interesting.

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

Camilla: Ray Bradbury. His poetry hits me right in the heart. His stories are unforgettable.

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

Our covers are designed by Christian Bentulan of Covers by Christian. For marketing purposes, we needed our covers to say “Urban Fantasy,” and an author friend of ours recommended Christian to us. But our title page’s art was designed by Bonita’s cousin, Richard “Rico” Rodriguez. The concept mashes the work of Frank Frazetta with DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man. We call it our “Vitruvian Wolf.”

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Bonita: Write and keep writing until you finish the story. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. Writing is re-writing and re-writing and re-writing.

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

We work to push our storytelling to a deeper level, more real, more psychological. We see greater possibilities in the urban fantasy genre – beyond the expected and comfortable.
We want our books to shred the usual tropes and leave them huddled in the corner crying for mommy.

Camilla Ochlan & Bonita GutierrezWerewolf Whisperer
Los Angeles, California

THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER

Cover Artist: Christian Bentulan
Publisher:  Empyrean Press

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Author Interview: T.S. Valmond

Please welcome Author Shelina Valmond to No Wasted Ink.

I’m T.S. Valmond aka Shelina. I grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and have lived in three countries over the last ten years. I currently live in Alberta, Canada with my husband and our dog Cookie. My fandoms are Star Wars, Star Trek, and Firefly. When I’m not traveling in search of a beach somewhere to read, you can usually find me at a coffee shop or home working on my next book.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was four with an active imagination and a cast of invisible characters I spoke to on a regular basis. My teachers often encouraged me to write in school in order to curb my need to talk.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

First in the fourth grade when my teacher Mrs. Ardnt told me I was a writer. Then again when I finished my first Nanowrimo in 2009.

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

Ensign: A Starship Hope Prequel

It’s the story of how a young ensign comes to terms with her doubts and her father’s legacy to become the woman who’ll guide a remnant of her people to hope.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had the story idea during a 2015 CampNano. Then Discovery came out and I felt it more necessary than ever to have a black female captain and her story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes. I’m not sure how to describe it but readers say things like: “Twisty, surprising, couldn’t put it down, etc.”

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

It took a long time, to think of the title. I wanted a prequel to a series I’d already written. It made sense to tell the story of the captain’s past as a lead into the series I want to promote later this year.

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

Yes, no one’s family is perfect, but they’re yours. Your family is either born or found out of life’s circumstances.

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

No, not directly, though it could be argued that each of my characters all have pieces of me. However, in this case, I believe Ensign Dana Pinet’s story is her own.

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

The authors who have shaped me are the ones that drew me in with their worlds and characters. I’ve always been someone who picks up Nora Roberts and follows it up with Stephen Donaldson. I’m all over the map when it comes to genres, but the authors that have stuck with me are the ones who create the worlds I most like living in.

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

There are so many but I think my current writing partner A.K. Duboff is someone I’ve learned a lot from lately and even before I knew her, I’ve tried to emulate her publishing career.

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

The cover of Ensign and the entire series was done by Goerz Designs. I chose him because he’s a newer cover design artist and I wanted to get in before he got too busy and too expensive.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes, WRITE. There are plenty of other things people will tell you to do, but if you haven’t finished your book yet and started publishing then make your writing a priority.

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

I’ll keep writing books as long as you keep reading them. If you love them let me know by sharing them with your friends and leaving reviews and you’ll always get more stories from me.

T.S. Valmond
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Ensign ~ A Starship Hope Prequel

Cover Artist:  Goerz Designs

This book is only available through her mailing list.

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