Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview – Shelia Bolt Rudesill

After exchanging many tweets on Twitter, I became acquainted with Shelia and her artisan husband Bud. Shelia is a great example of a woman shifting into writing as a new career instead of retiring and lends to her novels a great deal of real life experience. I’m pleased to feature literary fiction author Shelia Bolt Rudesill here on No Wasted Ink.

Shelia Rudesill - AuthorMy name is Shelia Bolt Rudesill. For forty-five years as a pediatric and NICU nurse I dedicated my professional life to the well being of children and acquired a tremendous empathy for those burdened with unreasonable hardships. It’s from those experiences that I piece together my stories. As a nurse I was able to touch a life every day. I’d like to think that I can still do that through my writing.

Both my artist husband, Bud Rudesill, and I became accidental writers well into our fifties. It’s amazing how much we enjoy the craft and more amazing to realize how many writer friends we have.

When and why did you begin writing?

Writing came as a surprise. After many years of nursing, I burned out and Bud and I moved from North Carolina to Wyoming for a fresh start. The Oregon Trail interested me and I got to wondering about the kids who’d trekked across the entire country until the soles of their shoes wore away. My imagination went wild and I created three frontier dolls, each with a story of their own—the first as a journal, the second as a collection of letters, and the last as a novella. With the local success of that project I came up with a second idea to weave stories of my nursing career into a full-fledged novel. When I told Bud about my idea he told me that I’d never pull it off. Months later on a seven hour road trip, I drove while Bud read my manuscript, Child of My Heart. He cried all the way. The emotional aspect of the story had caught him off guard. That night the wife of the friends we were visiting stayed up all night reading. “It was so good,” she’d said, “I couldn’t put it down.” Believe me those are the words a writer wants to hear!

Once Child was published Bud told me that my Oregon Trail children needed to grow up and that my three children’s books needed to be an historical fiction saga. So, my second novel was born: Auspicious Dreams.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

While writing my first novel, “Child of My Heart,” I attended a writer’s conference. Part of the fee included a manuscript consultation and entry into a writing contest. My heart sank when I looked at the hundreds of red ink marks on my manuscript. I quickly put it away feeling like a failure. To my great surprise I was awarded the last of the five honorable mentions. On the plane home I pulled out my manuscript. The first thing I read was the last red mark on the last page, “My biggest disdain is having to put down this manuscript. The story is powerful. Nothing short of superb.” It was at that moment I considered myself a writer.

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

Transmutare is a story of three carefree young women who get caught up in some pretty terrible experiences. The protagonist is a former Orthodox Jew, the second is a Jewish agnostic, and the third is Roman Catholic. Together they attempt to define a god who has allowed their world to spin out of control. What I like about this story is that a lot of people will identify with their struggles.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m always inspired by people who overcome unbearable hardships.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Literary fiction

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

My protagonist, Shelli, changes from an almost perfect girl to one who no one knows. She “transforms” or undergoes a “transformation” or “mutation.” Transmutare is French for transformation. I liked the sound of it.

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

Definitely. Transmutare is ultimately a quest for the meaning of life, as well as a gritty struggle for physical and spiritual survival. How the characters deal with their conflicts allows each reader to interpret the spiritual directions the girls take within their own set of beliefs. In other words, the story doesn’t teach or preach.

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

I once had an acquaintance who went away for a weekend. When she returned she was a completely different person. I never found out what happened to her so I made up something I thought could have happened.

What authors have most influenced your life?

C.S. Lewis, Maya Angelou, Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Patchett, Toni Morrison, Cynthia Rylant, David Guterson, Arundhati Roy, David Wroblewski. When I read any of these authors I’m completely pulled into the worlds they create and most times transformed by them.

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

Maya Angelou because she’s so real and timeless. Her stories and poems come straight from the heart and she tells them with honesty. I think she could teach me to become more lyrical as well as a better person.

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

I did. The cover photo is my great-niece and was taken several years ago with her cell phone. I was attracted to the defiant expression. This is my protagonist in the depth of her transformation. The grainy resolution of the photo and the fading gray background added to the despair in the middle parts of the story.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just write what’s in your heart. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself. Your writing is your legacy. Be true to yourself. Some of the first advice I received as an author was: Write what you know. That advice hasn’t failed me yet.

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

Just thanks for the applause and the criticism. I need to hear both. I appreciate every single person who has purchased one of my novels and it warms my heart when they write a review on Amazon or their own webpage.

Transmutare Book CoverShelia Bolt Rudesill
Pittsboro, North Carolina

“I’m not retired. I’m a writer.” After a long day of writing and editing or assisting Bud with photo shoots, I admit to a weakness for dry martinis and dancing with my cats The Artful Dodger and Q.

Novels:
Transmutare
Baggage
Auspicious Dreams
Child of My Heart

WebsiteBook Trailer

Transmutare, available in paperback at Amazon.com by Create Space and as an eBook at Amazon.com by Kindle

Author Interview: D. H. Brooks

I’m pleased to welcome fellow GLAWS (Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society) member, D.H. Brooks to No Wasted Ink. A fellow fan of fantasy, comic books and vintage science fiction, Daria is a woman of many talents and I’m sure you will find her story as interesting as I did.

Daria Brooks - AuthorMy name is Daria Brooks; I write under the name ‘D. H. Brooks.’ A Legacy Of The Pacific is my debut fantasy novel.

When and why did you begin writing?

I took a few creative writing courses at university but did not begin to write fantasy tales until the late 1990s when I built a fan-fiction following online. Being a big fan of the comic book heroes ‘Gambit’ (Marvel Comics) and ‘Tempest’ (DC Comics) gave me rich background material to work with, plus I wrote Thunderbirds adventures as well.

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

A Legacy Of The Pacific is the tale of three teens, raised separately, who come together upon the revelation that they are heirs to a kingdom in the Pacific Ocean near Southern California. As the story unfolds, distrust and sibling rivalry turn to mutual respect and understanding. They learn to work together to save their home-waters and our coastline.

What inspired you to write this book?

Our family spent many idyllic Sundays at Point Fermin in San Pedro, which taught me to love the beauty of the ocean. However, I also recall the cola colored water at Cabrillo Beach and terrible pollution and litter in Santa Monica Bay. My novel was inspired by a desire to end public apathy to these dangers.

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

It was the title of a one-off comic book I created in 1993. The title indicates one particular tale of the Cote D’Or family, but there could be other ‘legacies’ to explore later on.

What is the significance of the dolls that you hold in your headshot? Did you make them yourself?

I created the dolls using the Madame Alexander Workshop through the FAO Schwarz toy store; they allow for various shades of skin, eyes and wigs of numerous styles. The dolls were inspired by the trio of siblings in the tale. I’ve been an avid doll-maker for many years, so it was an enjoyable task to create the clothing and to style their hair. Of course, in the novel the kids are teens, not little children, but doll fans love the little guys. What was truly important about this exercise was that all the while I was writing my novel, I was also thinking ahead to the promotion and marketing of this tale. Part of such a project includes coming up with items that readers (and a future movie audience) would connect with and wish to collect, so I explored various elements within the novel which would fit. The Sagara dragons, the glowing swords, the Victorian bubble wand and Pincin’s sea animal friends, Bubble and Squeak, were the obvious choices for tie-in toys and a video game, plus the inevitable princess dolls for Lile and Ciona and action figures all around. I’m looking forward to working with designers on all of the above. Novelists have to envision the “whole package” these days, not just print media.

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

I am hoping that readers are inspired to follow safe litter discarding practices in their daily lives and to donate toward protecting our coastline and the marine animals that call our shores home, particularly cetaceans and sea otters. We are killing them by the thousands with discarded fishing nets and cat litter being flushed out to sea. On the human side, I also want readers to understand the value of working together to achieve our common goals. People bicker too often about petty things, ignoring what we have in common.

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

Not a mentor but more of an inspiration: Clarence Day, Jr. I’ve long enjoyed the way he managed to convey life within his delightful, prestigious family so that it is still hilariously clever nearly 150 years later.

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

A little lady named Daria Brooks translates what I see in my head to the sketch pad. I illustrated the book because I knew exactly how best to express the look and feel of the characters.

Is your novel illustrated or did you only design the book cover? How many illustrations would you recommend to other authors that are considering illustrating their novels?

A Legacy Of The Pacific was created with four full-color illustrations, and the Kindle e-book version includes them. (The book will soon be available for iBook and Nook within a few weeks). The artwork depicts each of the siblings, with the fourth one being a portrait of Princess Ciona and her beau, the romantic Asterus The Messenger. My publisher, being decidedly small press, was concerned about the ratio of the cover cost for a debut novel vs. the price of printing with full-color illustrations. As a test, we created a short run of full-color prints at a low cover price, which happily sold out almost immediately. (Even I don’t have one)! All print copies available via Barnes And Noble and Amazon.com right now are without the illustrations, sorry to say, as I did not want to raise the cover price. There are plans for later this year to release a second edition of the illustrated version, as I’ve had numerous requests for a copy.

As for my process as an illustrator, I always pencil sketch my ideas first, then transfer the line art to Photoshop where I work with various color palettes and tools to achieve whatever vision I’ve dreamed up. Since I am constantly learning to use various options and filters within the program, each piece of artwork features a unique style. When I read novels as a kid, I enjoyed the inclusion of illustrations, particularly in classic novels which often included beautifully etched, dramatic frontispieces. I’m a very visual reader, so I always used my own imagination to decide what this or that character looked like, judging by the descriptions given, but illustrations were always welcome. My suggestion to authors who write in the fantasy or science fiction genre would be to include between two to four pieces of art, if they deem it worthwhile to their project. Grayscale or line art is a great alternative to costly color art. Often, the difficult part is trying to describe your vision to an illustrator, if you are not an artist, since only the writer really knows what the characters should look like. Luckily, I started out as an artist who worked my way into writing; now I enjoy creating both print art and the printed word.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Be very careful and patient when seeking a publisher. I picked what I thought was a reputable small press publisher and lived to regret it. Join a writers’ association which matches your chosen genre and get as much legal information as you can. It pays off down the line.

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

Thanks to all who have taken an interest in my young heroes and have sent e-mails or otherwise contacted me to say how much they have enjoyed my novel. I appreciate all of the feedback I have received and look forward to working on the sequel for their further enjoyment.


Legacy of the Pacific Book CoverD H Brooks
Rancho Dominguez, CA

Nothing pleases me more as a writer than to find the exact word that fits the mood or tempo of a sentence. I enjoy playing characters against each other in verbal sparring matches; if their banter makes me laugh, I know it will do the same for my audience.

Novel: A Legacy Of The Pacific
Published by Cedar Grove Books
Written and Illustrated by D H Brooks.

You may purchase A Legacy Of The Pacific at Amazon.com  or at Barnes & Noble.

 

Author Interview: Brad Blake

Brad Blake and I met at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles during a science fiction get together for fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He is an author with several books under his belt and is a fellow “late starter” like myself when it comes to writing novels. I’m grateful that he consented to be interviewed here at No Wasted Ink.

Please introduce yourself to our readers, Brad.

I’m a native Northern Californian, married with two grown children and a career spent in technology sales. My mom was a teacher and librarian and my dad was a lover of history. I enjoy sports, travel, food, movies, music, the arts, and of course have a lifelong love affair with books. I’ll give in eventually, but do not yet own an eBook reader of any kind.

When and why did you begin writing?

My first memory is writing a nonsensical story about transforming into a bug which I tried to read in front of my 6th grade class, but started laughing so hard I couldn’t stop. I recall reading Mysterious Island by Jules Verne about this time, which forever hooked me into grand adventure and science fiction. My first serious attempt at fiction writing was after college, and mostly short stories submitted to science fiction magazines. Looking at these stories now offers a lesson in how not to write. I put writing aside for the next 20 years while raising a family and working.

Back in 2000 I took a screenwriting class. Over the next few years I wrote a handful of movie scripts, two of which are quite good and have done well in competitions. However, as I attended awards ceremonies at film events such as the Charleston International Film Festival, it became obvious that even the greatest screenplay has almost zero chance of being made into anything. However, the fact that I’d completed full movie scripts gave me the confidence that I needed to start writing. Plus the positive recognition gave me the confidence that I could write a good novel. Unlike screenplays, there was the potential to publish.

In early 2009 I was looking for a new job, and while searching, my wife suggested I start writing my first book. Now in 2012 I have three novels published, the fourth written and the fifth fully plotted and almost half done. These comprise one story arc spread over five books. On a side note I’m also an artist, mostly pen and ink, and have included my original drawings in each book.

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

Since this is a five book “Blue Third” series, I’ll start with the first:

Blue Third – Citlalli and the Destroyer – The title is meant to be a throwback to the grand adventure books I’ve always loved, from Verne to H.G. Wells to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series. I tried with Citlalli to create and write this kind of exciting tale, updated into our 21st century world, with young adults as its main heroes.

Citlalli and the Destroyer is a space adventure with a unique, fast-paced story. The novel takes seven teenagers from different cultures, one from 5,000 years ago, and throws them into unbelievable adventures on which the fate of Earth and the galaxy rests. The story begins by introducing Citlalli in her native Mexico of 5,000 years ago. After inadvertently becoming a stowaway on a cocoa trader’s interstellar vessel, she ends up being teamed with six teenagers of today. They come from different cultures and families, and along with Citlalli and a bunch of intelligent alien allies are thrust into journeys that will determine the fate of everyone’s civilizations in battling a monstrously evil entity known as The Destroyer. The adventurers include five girls, two boys, and a Basset hound named Lucy. Their journey forces them to learn about friendship, courage, strength, sacrifice and more. I believe the novel offers unique ideas, a very original story, and a genuinely exciting and fun reading experience. I remain very proud of it.

What inspired you to write this book?

All those wonderful authors and their fantastic stories I’ve read my entire life. I would add that I’d been kicking around the idea of Cocoa being the catalyst for Earth’s entry into the interstellar community for 25 years, and finally brought this idea to fruition as the foundation for the first book.

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

Blue Third is the series title, like Harry Potter, and each book has its own subtitle: Citlalli and the Destroyer, The Cocoa War, Chasing Time, Citlalli and the Dark, and lastly Seven of the Blue Third. Blue Third signifies Planet Earth. In the first book Earth becomes the long lost legendary home of Cocoa, with the whispered name Blue Third, and thus the series title. As for the subtitles, I am a big fan of classic science fiction books and movies from the ‘40s and ‘50s, and each title (including its font and slant on the cover) tries to reflect the spirit of those great titles of yesteryear.

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

I didn’t start with a message, but since they’re written for all ages there is a consistent focus on teamwork, respecting others who are different than you, never giving up and overcoming great odds to succeed. Honestly, my main goal is for readers to have fun and get sucked into the story of these brave kids.

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

There are too many to name with many influences in these books. Harlan Ellison inspired my screenwriting and is definitely one of my primary influences. Others off the top of my head include Vonnegut, Tolkien, Bradbury, Pohl, Lovecraft, Wodehouse, Joe R. Lansdale, and way too many others. Having been told my writing is like James Patterson, I’ve read his Maximum Ride novels, which I enjoyed.

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

All the covers and titles were my ideas, with mockups I’d create for both front and back, and interpreted by the in-house artists at CreateSpace (my publisher) and approved by me. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to redo these with original artwork by a wonderful illustrator, but I’m very happy with them as is.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I’m a classic late starter and wish I hadn’t taken twenty years off, so my advice is simple: Write. Get the bug and just do it as often as you can. And it’s never too late to start. I was 53 in 2009 as I started my first book, and three years later I’m completing book five. And the feeling is awesome.

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

First of all, thank you to anyone who’s read my books. My daughter just started reading the first book to her class of second graders, admittedly a bit young, but apparently enthralled and enjoying the story very much, and are especially impressed that her Dad wrote it. For me that’s what I started writing for in the first place. Whether young or old, I hope anyone reading my books has a wonderful time and enjoys them just as I did when discovering reading so long ago.

Brad Blake
I’m a writer of young adult to adult adventure/science fiction as well as dark comedic screenplays.

The Blue Third series is published by CreateSpace and each is available on Amazon under “Blue Third”, both as hard copies and also on Kindle.

You can find the first three of the novels in this series via Smashwords where epub, mobi and other ebook reader formats are available.

Author Interview: Mary Firmin

I met Mary Firmin via Twitter and discovered that she is a local author from the Los Angeles area. Mary is a self taught author, much like myself and is enjoying success with her first novel. She is a good example of what you can achieve as a new author if you stick to your guns and use the resources that are available in the community. I hope you enjoy her interview here at No Wasted Ink.

Author Mary FirminMy name is Mary Firmin, I am the author of Deadly Pleasures. I have been many things in my life, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, teacher, salesman, and now, writer. Deadly Pleasures is my first book. My husband, Bill, gave me a publishing package from iUniverse for a Christmas present in 2010. We did not know that six months later he would pass away in his sleep. Soon afterwards the activity on the book began in earnest, editing, book cover, design etc. and this book saved me. While it did not eliminate my grief, his gift to me mitigated the terrible angst I felt after his passing. I believe that he knew I would need this book, and all that comes with it, to help me through the most difficult time of my life. Thank you, Bill.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have always been interested in writing but I never dreamed I could write a whole book. One day my friend, Kathleen and I were discussing, jokingly, how we would like to be a guest on the The Tonight Show. We decided the only way we could do that is if we wrote a book. So we checked the UCLA catalog of classes and found one called How to Write a Bestseller. Right up our alley! In this class we met a wonderful teacher, Marjorie Miller, who convinced us that, yes, we could write. We joined her class in Westwood and spent many years working with other authors and learning our craft. Of course, neither one of us has made it to The Tonight Show, but we both acquired such a love of writing . . . and that was the gift. This all began 25 years ago. So I guess I am an overnight success.

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

My current book is Deadly Pleasures, a mystery/thriller. It has received fabulous reviews from Kirkus, ForeWord Clarion, Readers Favorite, but it is best described by Blueink Review as, “Sex in City meets James Patterson.” Megan Riley and her three best friends are unhappy with the men in their lives and decide to hire, hunky stripper Michael Harrington, as a time-share Boytoy. They are unaware that he is a suspect in a series of gruesome bondage murders. The story takes you on their journey to find a Boytoy and has some very funny moments. But the mystery and the tragedy is the murder of several young women by the Bondage Murderer. Enter handsome Detective Matt Donovan, and Megan falls in love. The story takes place in the Southern California yachting community, Venice Beach, Malibu and Catalina Island. During Matt’s intense investigation into the grisly crimes the reader is taken on a wild ride through L.A.’s private sex clubs, bondage parlors, and the homes and yachts of the rich and famous.

What inspired you to write this book?

Years ago when I lived in Hollywood, I heard about four men who hired a woman to be on call to fill their sexual needs. I began to write a mystery that included that unusual situation. But then, I realized how much times have changed, and it would be so much more interesting if four women hired a lover, hence, the time-share Boytoy. The women had to have money, opportunity, and the desire to get back at their men. My ladies have all of that and then some.

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

I did not know the men who hired the woman in Hollywood. The characters are not based on anyone I know, specifically. Yes, some of my own experiences are in the book. I sold real estate in most of the areas mentioned. My husband and I belonged to a yacht club, and we went to Catalina frequently. I lived in Santa Monica and walked on Venice Boardwalk almost every day. The personalities in the book are a mixture of human traits that I think we all have to a more or lesser degree. I’m sure there is a little bit of me in all the ladies.

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

The working title of the book was Dangerous Games. But a movie came along with that same name, and then a similar book title. I wanted to change it and felt like Deadly Pleasures best fit the action in the book. The murder victims were fulfilling someone’s idea of pleasure. The four women were looking for pleasure from their Boytoy. And no one knew who would be the next person to die. The results were Deadly Pleasures.

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

I did not start out with a message as some writers do in Spiritual Books or Motivational Books. I wanted to write a book that people would enjoy and hopefully get a break from their everyday life while they were reading it. I have always loved mysteries, and spent countless hours reading them. If my husband and I went to Catalina for a few days, I would call it a great time if I had read six books. I am a self educated person who, later in life, took what I needed from writing classes, seminars, conventions and writer’s groups. I did not have a lot of formal education. So, if I have any message I would say it’s never too late to fulfill your dreams. If your desire is strong enough you will do it. If you want to write, the first thing you have to do is START.

Which authors have most influenced your life?

Since I am a recovering alcoholic, like Megan, the most influential book in my life has been the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. It changed me and my life profoundly. But I love Thomas Harris, the author of Hannibal and Red Dragon, which I use as a text book on building suspense.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would repeat what I said a couple of questions ago. If you have something to say, a memoir, biography, family history, or a mystery, you must sit down and START. Harold Robbins, author of The Carpetbaggers, told me, and a group of authors in Palm Springs, that ‘you have to put Ass Glue on your chair and do not get up until you have written five to ten pages.’ It doesn’t have to be perfect. But again, you have to START. You will feel such a sense of accomplishment every time you do this . . . and writing is really Fun.

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

Yes, I do. If you love a book, mine or anyone else’s, go into Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com, and give that person a good review. The author has worked for years to bring the book into fruition and it is like music to his or her ears if the reader gives them a good review. I hope you enjoy my book, Deadly Pleasures. At present I am working on number two of a Deadly Trilogy, called Deadly Secrets. It takes place in a Desert Golf and Tennis Club. So friends and fellow members, beware. And you too, Wendy!

Deadly Pleasures Book CoverEnglish born, Mary Firmin spent many years in Canada. She settled in Santa Monica, California, married and raised three children. Vice President of a large Real Estate firm, Mary and her husband Bill belonged to a yacht club and spent many hours in Catalina. She studied the craft of writing in her spare time. Eventually, she moved to the Desert where she wrote a Society Column for a local newspaper. Last year, Mary lost her loving husband, Bill, and presently lives in Rancho Mirage, California, where she is at work on her second novel, Deadly Secrets. Mary is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Palm Springs Women in Film, and the New Palm Springs Writers Guild.

Web: http://maryfirmin.com
Blog: http://maryfirmin.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/firminmary/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maryfirmin

Buy your copy today on either Kindle or Nook:
http://amazon.com
http://barnesandnoble.com

Mary Firmin has generously offered to gift a free copy of her novel Deadly Pleasures in a raffle. On May 2nd, I will randomly select one commentator from this post to receive the free copy. Don’t miss out. Post your comment today!

Update 5/3/12: The book contest is now closed. A winner will be selected at random from the people that left comments to this post. Thank you all for your participation!

Author Interview: Scott Dutton

Due to my love of the work of Edgar Rich Burroughs, I came across Scott’s novel, Return to Barsoom and fell in love with it. Thankfully, Scott has agreed to share more about his work and his insights as an author here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Scott DuttonMy name is Scott Dutton. I primarily practice as an art director/graphic designer. I have considerable experience in magazines, and currently work in marketing in a corporate environment. Outside of that, I am one of the many designers moving to ebooks as part of the future of publishing. I intend to create and design my own written/illustrated works, as well as providing packaging services to authors that understand the business advantage quality design brings to the marketplace.

When and why did you begin writing?

Storytelling has always been central to my life. I was fascinated with the science fiction and fantasy television shows of the 60s and 70s, Star Trek, Irwin Allen’s shows, and so on and that led directly into comic books. I started drawing and creating my own stories to entertain myself, and showed a talent for writing that was encouraged by teachers. It wasn’t until I got into my early teens that I began writing and drawing my own comics.

I went to art school for my training in design and illustration, and throughout my 20s worked part-time in comics, but was not overly successful at it. It wasn’t until I self-published my own work as part of the small press that I found my voice. During this time, I also did straight prose work, but lacked the focus to finish anything substantial.

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

Return to Barsoom was one of those projects started in my early 20s. I worked on it off and on for about 20 years, finally finishing it in 2009. It served two purposes, bringing my ideas to Burroughs’ world and to demonstrate my design capabilities to the emerging ebook design market.

What inspired you to write this book?

I very much loved reading Burroughs’ books, beginning with Tarzan of the Apes when I was 12. Later, I read the John Carter of Mars series and the bulk of his other works. By far, I felt his best concepts and a continuing freshness were found in the Mars series.

As I talk about on the book’s page on my site I loved the books, and it’s natural if you immerse yourself in that world to think about what you might do with it if you made it your own. There are a lot of pastiches out there that play out very closely to how Burroughs’ thought of the world. They choose to be reverential to the original stories. That’s a valid approach. For myself, I thought that would be a bit constraining and unremarkable at that time.

We’re now a hundred years beyond the society that created John Carter of Mars, and much of how we view our place in the world has changed. I describe Burroughs’ approach as colonial fiction; the virtuous western man will invariably rise to the top over other cultures. In Tarzan, it was over the apes and black African culture. In John Carter, it is the decaying and warring factions of red and green men.

Having come of age in the latter part of the 20th century, I think we now know the myth of western superiority, or at least we should.

That fit in with what we know about the real Mars. If you start from the position that we’ve lost contact with Mars since the 1940s (the last Burroughs story), and we know our Mars is a cold, desolate place, it brings some mystery and a chance to discover what happened since then for new and old readers alike. It also allows me as a writer to reset that world’s culture and assumptions. That was what inspired me: how could I respect what Burroughs had created, while bringing a modern or post-modern reality to how we think of people. What does an adventure story look like when you apply that to it?

Did you need any special permissions in order to write a story based on the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs?

If I was intending to commercialize my Barsoom books, yes, but there are no restrictions in writing your own versions to be distributed freely. There’s a long tradition of fan fiction, and as long as you’re not taking a bite out of the rights holders’ pie, they’re likely to leave you alone. By comparison, Dynamite Comics is being sued for unfair competition with their Tarzan and Mars comics. And as far as I know, Simon & Schuster haven’t come under fire yet for their original Under the Moons of Mars collection.

I prefer to play things pretty straight, and see myself falling somewhere between fan fiction and a published book. While I own the rights to my story and the original characters created for it, I wouldn’t try to monetize my Barsoom work unless I worked out a licensing agreement with Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. first.

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

It comes from the lead character’s desire for the simpleness of youthful adventure before the weight of adulthood levels most of us.

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

I very much believe in Roland Barthe’s idea of the death of the author. Once I was done writing the book and said what I wanted to say, I no longer mattered. What the reader sees in it and takes away from it is entirely up to them and has its own validity.

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

I was inspired by a number of authors over the years. They’re listed in the dedication to the book.

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

I designed it myself, using a JPL/NASA image as a base. I chose this very specifically over the traditional science fiction/fantasy style painting to clearly show I was making a break from the romantic past and Burroughs’ style. I don’t think we need that illusion anymore, and the cover sets the stage for creating a new perception of what Barsoom can be.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write regularly. Observe everything. Be engaged in the world, not just a genre. Understand your times and the path history took to get us here. Write from your heart and guts. Find your own voice. People are motivated ultimately by their emotions and you must be true to how people act and react.

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

Comments and criticism are always welcome, especially so when I’m not directly making a living off writing adventure stories.

Return to Barsoom Book CoverScott Dutton
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Writing adventure fiction that respects the past while taking it into the future.
Published by Catspaw Dynamics (my design and publishing trade name)
Scott Dutton designed the cover, sourcing a JPL/NASA image of Mars.

You may download the book for free here: Return to Barsoom