Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Bud Rudesill

It is not often that I meet an author who is also a geologist and a photographer. The combination makes for great life experience to spin into this historical yarn about a fashion photographer. Bud’s story also highlights how a novel can start by humble means and turn into something special. I hope you’ll welcome Bud Rudesill here on No Wasted Ink. Oh…and by the way, there is a little extra something on the lens of the camera in Bud’s headshot. Click to the larger version of the photo to see the surprise.

Bud Rudesill PortraitMy name is Bud Rudesill. Condensing the story of sixty-eight years of life—my life—is far more daunting than writing a novel, for the story of my life is a saga. I have pursued so many options, been so many places, and earned my living doing so many things. Life for me has not been the pursuit of a dream. It has been more like a dream composed of choices, opportunities, luck—good and bad—romance, and adventure. For me, those are the components of good stories. I never have to look far to find the material to spin a yarn.

I have heard stories, first and second hand, of people who settled the West. I sat in a room with a woman who had come West in a covered wagon as we watched the live television feed of Neil Armstrong taking the first giant step for mankind on the moon. I worked on a ranch as a young man where I heard three generations of verbal history of that ranch. I have a master’s degree in geology and have worked in Saudi Arabia where I was befriended by a Saudi who believed he was the first Saudi delivered by an American Aramco doctor. I learned computer programming on an IBM 1620 and am still reasonably computer literate. My great, grand uncle, Jack Wilkinson Smith, was arguably the father of California Impressionism. I’m not bad with brush and paint myself. And that is a sample of vanilla in a Ben and Jerry’s.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing fiction early in 2002 because back problems and consequential surgery was seriously limiting my physical activity. It was time for me to use my mind more instead of my body. Painting more was part of the solution. Writing was the other part. In essence I began living a large part of my life vicariously through my characters. The sum total of events and accomplishments of my life, plus the stories I’ve heard over the years told by others are the food for the creation of the characters and events that fill my literary works.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I guess when I finished a 135,000 word novel in three weeks. The novel wasn’t good enough to be publishable, but it had a lot of good story and writing in it. I knew I would be able to write good stories well at that point. It took me a lot longer to get very good at the craft.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Cutter’s Bizaar started as paintings in mid 2002. I got the idea of painting images of fashion models and I distorted them because the fashion industry is a distorted fantasy world. After finishing several paintings that I felt were a major breakthrough in my art, I started making up vignettes about the women in the paintings. I tied them together through a Wyoming born cowboy-turned fashion photographer. The vignettes became a modest little self-published/computer printed magazine and then that became a novel.

The story is about four decades at the end of the twentieth century of the fashion photography business and an unlikely fashion photographer.

What inspired you to write this book?

Well, I knew I had a good idea at the first showing of my paintings where I hung the vignettes with them. I had copies of the magazine at the second show of my paintings. Women were interested in the images and the stories. It took me almost a decade to realize how pertinent the stories were to the contemporary interest in fashion. It was another writer who is also a fashionista that got me watching the reality fashion shows and I quickly realized I needed to turn the vignettes into a novel.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I have a master’s degree in Geology, so I learned technical writing starting as an undergraduate. I would say that my style is to just tell my stories as well as I can—to communicate the plot, character development, emotion, etc. to the reader while maintaining tension and interest in the plot and characters. I would say this style contrasts mostly with writing that is more about the impact on the reader of the sounds and impressions of the words than the story they tell.

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

When I was designing the cover for my little magazine I realized I could imitate the style of the title of Harper’s Bazaar and work a play on words, sort of, by misspelling bazaar and bizarre, placing the first name of my protagonist between the two As. The misspelled word added to the concept of an industry that is a bizarre fantasy world.

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

My stories almost always have strong female characters and strong men that love them. Fashion models that succeed have to be strong, resilient, and smart. There’s a reason why the top models get paid a hundred times what top photographers get paid. So a lot of the novel is about the difficult situations models are subjected to, and how they cope and sometimes become extremely successful.

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

I know a lot about the cattle ranching life, my protagonist, Frank Cutter grows up with. I’ve been to the locations described in the book. I know a lot about modeling for artists and a little bit about shooting fashion photography. No, there isn’t an individual or series of events that the story is based on. Much of it is based on research and fantasy, but sometimes the view from outside looking in is more accurate than the view from the inside. In this case the target market is people on the outside, so a fantasy about a fantasy world is, hopefully, good art.

What authors have most influenced your life?

My life has been most influenced by people who have written scientific and historical works. My writing has been most influenced by the printed words of Hemingway’s stories of Africa, Joseph Conrad, and Erwin Shaw. The writer, in the common sense of the word, who most influenced my life, was Edward Dorn. He was an instructor at Idaho State my freshman year and I took my first literature class from him. It wasn’t his writing that influenced me, rather his teaching style and some of his lessons.

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

Yes. The first few sentences Ed Dorn spoke to the class I was in eventually had more impact on my writing than any of the many lessons since. It’s a long story, but the crux of his lesson was that it is not the grammar or spelling that is the most important aspect of the writing. The most important aspect of writing is to communicate something—an idea or feeling, knowledge, whatever—that is in your mind to another person. This applies to technical writing as well as fiction.

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

I did. The painting is one of the first I did in the series that inspired the novel. I selected this illustrator because he works real cheap.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Writing fiction for me is one of many art mediums. I am an artist. I don’t make art because I’m good at it, because I like making it, or because I can profit financially from it. I make art because I’m compelled to make it. My life is nothing without satisfying my basic needs—food, water, sleep, shelter, sex, and making art. In my opinion, if a writer is motivated to write fiction because they want to make money by selling their product, they are involved in a nearly futile struggle. If a writer is compelled to write, they should write for that reason, and they should perfect their craft to the fullest extent of their talent and ambition. It is the process and end product, not monetary profit, which will sustain the needs of true artists.

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

To my readers—thank you for having the courage to read something that isn’t recommended by people who make a living off promoting writers and/or their works. Thank you again if you critique me so that I can continue to improve my craft.

To my potential readers—I don’t employ the latest artificial devices to hook you in the first three lines of my stories. I’m old school and set my stories up with care so that there will be no confusion later on as to who did what, when, where, how, and why.

Cutter's Bizaar Book CoverBud Rudesill
Pittsboro, North Carolina.

I am an artist and photographer, and a geologist. I have done a fair bit of ranch work including some in the Valley of the Warm Winds, also known as the Wind River Valley, Wyoming.

Cutter’s Bizaar is available in paperback at Amazon.com by Create Space and as an eBook at Amazon.com by Kindle

Author Interview: Tami Parrington

I often fall into chatting with fellow writers on twitter and this is how I was introduced to Tami Parrington. Tami is an author that started with more traditional publishing of her work, but moved into self-publishing after a series of events changed her outlook. Please welcome Tami Parrington to No Wasted Ink.

Author Tami ParringtonHello, my name is Tami, and I’m addicted to words. I started actually writing down the stories I came up with in high school, although my active imagination began long before that. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I truly began a quest for publication of anything I’d written though.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

My plans for this year were to re-release Dark Side of the Moon, and complete a new book for the Demon series started with Hell’s Own. Dark Side of the Moon is such an important project for me. It was the second book I completed in my professional career. This was back when self-publishing was still considered only vanity work, and the wonderful world of indy authors did not exist. It had been accepted by a mid-sized publisher and made it to press (physical book only, ebooks weren’t widely considered much by publishers then even though some very good ebook houses were springing up back then). Unfortunately, less than a month after publication, the house it was published through went bankrupt due to some sort of crazy dealings in the financial world of the owner’s husband. Dark Side of the Moon was suddenly an orphan.

In those days, traditional publishers didn’t want a book already put out by another house, even if it had only been out a short while, and there weren’t a lot of viable options for a book with such a fate. Over the years I wrote more books and either had them published by other companies, or as the Indy world began to grow, published them myself. However, another unfortunate turn of events made self-publishing Dark Side Of The Moon difficult. The novel had been created on an old computer that died a rather horrible death, and the files were lost. At the time, since the original publisher had everything it didn’t concern me, but after the original digital copy was gone, I couldn’t do anything with it because all I had were paperback copies of the book, no manuscript on a hard drive.

That event and several more over the following years made me very anal about backups. I now have two external hard drives where I back up my novels, as well as saving all work to a cloud drive file. I never could bear the thought of having to retype the entire thing again. I do have a few problems with carpal tunnel thanks to decades of typing, so that much is not something I like to think about. Finally, I just decided it had to be done. I really like the story, and there’s so much of it that actually happens in the entertainment industry. I brushed it up, and updated it a little, but am just very happy to say that it is all nicely redone on my hard drive now.

How did you come up with the title?

Any Pink Floyd fan knows that Dark Side of the Moon isn’t original as titles go. However, it is just perfect for this book that deals with the music industry’s crazy fanatical side and its dark and sinister side.

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

All of my work tends to have some message in it that I hope the readers can take away with them. What good book doesn’t? While the theme and message in Hell’s Own is wildly different from that in Dark Side of the Moon, or even Married to a Rock Star (book one of the Rock Star series), one thing I do want readers to know before they embark on a journey with me is that I don’t follow formulas and my heroes and heroines do not always make the right choices. In fact, they often do not. They are not “heroes or heroines” in the commonly thought of publishing view. People in real life don’t make the right choices all of the time. That doesn’t make them bad. It makes them human. I don’t even bother to try and make ‘excuses’ for my character’s shortcomings, as if to say, oh this person is doing this, but it’s not their fault. What I really want readers to come away with in Dark Side of the Moon, and perhaps any of the stories I write, regardless of genre or theme, is that good people make the wrong decisions sometimes, the struggle is to deal with them, try to overcome them, and to find the way “home” again to where you can make things right.

Are experiences in the novel based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

In Dark Side of the Moon, definitely. For a long time in the early to late 90s, I was very involved in a large, vibrant and powerful fan community–I saw that side of it firsthand. I also got to see a lot of the “business” side because I knew people who were musicians and caught up in the whole power and image struggle. The same is true for Married to a Rock Star, except that the story is not based on any actual events. Of course, Hell’s Own is not based on ANY actual events either. If you do ever hear about a demon flying about, trying to escape from the devil with the help of two humans please let me know so I can hide.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Wow, so many. I guess I’d have to go all the way back to when I was very young. Not the earliest, perhaps, but in my late childhood, early teens, the Walter Farley books (The Black Stallion series and others) had a profound impact on me. Those were, I think, the first books that showed me you could lose yourself inside a story, and that even fiction could teach you things about the world it existed in. Plus I just loved horses. Later, Anne Rice showed me that you could create something wildly new from an old character type. I think the entire “vampire movement” from Buffy to True Blood, and Twilight to Personal Demon have her to thank for that.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not anymore. In the early 90s, I did signings, I did conferences, I did all that. Now, it’s not all that necessary, and I prefer it this way As a self-published author, most of my sales are in the form of ebooks, although some physical books do sell. Being self-published is still a big road block for authors who want to try and get into brick and mortar stores, although I am hoping that will change even more as the publishing world evolves. I’ve watched as the Internet has become such a powerful force in marketing, that for self-published authors especially, it is the best form of marketing. Connecting with readers through social media, blogs and reader dedicated websites such as Goodreads, provides a wonderful resource for both sides. If anything, I think the internet has made authors more accessible to readers, and the connection much more personal. You only get a few minutes at a book signing. Online you can have a long-term relationship if you want it, and even if you aren’t that committed, you can follow everything your favorite authors do much easier.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Follow your heart. Do what you love, and create what you believe in. You can hope, and you can want readers to love it too, but you’re not going to please everyone. You do, however, have to please yourself.

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

What I would like to say most to readers is: Thank you! Thank you for finding the joy, for finding the excitement and for being such a big part of my life and the life of every other author out there. Without readers we’d be talking to ourselves, and we do that enough anyway.

Dark Side Of The Moon Book CoverTami Parrington, also known as T.L. Parrington, lives in Burbank, Illinois, a little suburb just south of Chicago. Along with her fiction, she is a full-time freelancer and spends her days happily writing and playing with her crazy dog and having conversations with her parrot so that no one thinks she’s talking to herself.

Dark Side of the Moon is available at the following sites: Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Please follow Tami on Twitter at @TParrington or visit her at her website.
The book cover is self-illustrated by Tami Parrington.

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.