Tag Archives: adventure

Author Interview: Stephen Hall

If Matthew Reilly (who writes all those fast-paced adventure novels) and Douglas Adams (who wrote The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy) had a love-child… well, that’d be really weird. Not to mention impossible. But if they DID, that love-child might write a little bit like Stephen Hall. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Hello, I’m Stephen Hall. I’m a writer and actor, a father to one daughter, a husband to one woman, and a meal ticket to one Staffordshire Terrier. I have one sister and no parents. For the past four decades or so, I’ve mostly been trying to make people laugh.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always loved entertaining people, telling stories. I suppose the first professional writing I did was writing my own standup comedy material, which I started performing a week before my 18th birthday.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I was first officially employed as a writer in 1996 – with a contract and everything – when I got a gig writing gags and sketches for the Australian TV sketch comedy show Full Frontal.
FUN FACT: That’s where Eric Bana got his start!

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

I’d love to, Wendy! Symphony Under Siege is a rollicking sci-fi comedy adventure set 512 years in the future. On a Thursday morning. It tells the story of the 5-star luxury space cruise liner the Symphony of the Stars, as it’s raided by desperate space pirates in search of the secret fabulous treasure hidden somewhere on board. This playground for the ultra-rich now becomes a battleground for the two crews, as their two headstrong captains circle ever closer to their fateful showdown.

Did I mention one of the cruise ship’s crew is a serial killer? That’s just one more thing the cruise ship captain (highly-decorated ex-navy Captain Diana Singh) has to contend with.

The story’s fast pace is a product of its serialized beginnings, with chapter after chapter of cliffhangers, daring escapes, twists and turns and there’s-no-way-they-could-have-survived-that! moments…..
Oh, and I’ve tried to put in a lot of gags, too.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’d wanted to write a novel for ages. As my 50th birthday approached, I bit the bullet and vowed to finally DO IT before I turned 51. I told my wife and daughter, then I devised a framework to hold me accountable; releasing one chapter online every week, for 52 weeks. Those 52 mini-deadlines were exactly the motivation I needed to stick to it, and get that first draft done. I’m happy to report I met them all, and the original serialised version of the novel is still online, right here: http://www.thestephenhall.com/novel-chapters/

And I always knew that I’d be self-publishing it. I was confident I could do that part of the process, because I’d done it with my previous (non-fiction) book How To Win Game Shows.

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

When I started writing it, I didn’t have a title in mind; I just trusted that one would present itself to me… Then, as I neared the end of the writing process (and I knew what the story actually was) I came up with a shortlist of three potential titles, and ran a survey! I asked my Facebook friends and Twitter followers to vote for one of the three options, and Symphony Under Siege won hands down. So Symphony Under Siege it was.
And is.

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

I don’t know about a message, as such – this is just a rollicking, escapist adventure. It has virtually nothing to do with life on earth in 2021. There’s nothing in it to remind you
of our global pandemic,
of our seemingly endless lockdowns,
of the continuing harmful – and sadly, successful – spread of misinformation, ignorance, arrogance and fear,
of the continuing global climate emergency or
of all the petty things that divide humanity being exaggerated and incited by The Powers That Be to overwhelm all the beautiful things that unite us.

Not referencing any of that – or even hinting at any of it – in the book is all deliberate on my part… perhaps that’s as much of a message as anything.

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

I wish! No, this is all just invented adventure… probably born of being such a Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Star Trek fan, and all those old Saturday afternoon matinee serials I’ve watched as well.

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

Terry Pratchett, Ursula LeGuin, Kurt Vonnegut, Tim Winton, and Robert Louis Stevenson are some whose work I really enjoy. I tend to enjoy speculative, imaginative fiction with a sense of humour on the slightly dry side. And Dickens – how could I forget Charles Dickens?! When it comes to serialised novels, Charles Dickens wrote the book.
(In regular monthly instalments, you understand…)

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

Oh, I think Douglas Adams was pretty brilliant, wasn’t he? That mix of wacky, brilliant sci-fi concepts and laugh-out-loud (and very British) comedy gets me every time.

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

The cover was designed by a Venezuelan studio called The Kicke Studio. I found them on Fiverr, after commissioning concept sketches from 5 or 6 other artists. I knew I wanted the image to feature my luxury space cruise liner at the moment just before the pirate attack. Although I’d described the ships’ appearances in the novel, I’d only done a few rough sketches of what I thought they might look like. I hired a number of artists to design the two ships based on my descriptions and sketches, and I instantly fell in love with what The Kicke Studio submitted. I’m really happy with the cover they painted for me, and I look forward to teaming up with them again for the sequel!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

A writer writes. Don’t wait for the muse to strike – just write something, anything! The worst thing you did write is always better than the best thing you didn’t write. Remind yourself what fun writing can be – what fun writing should be!

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

Yes. Thank you for reading this far.


Stephen Hall
Melbourne, Victoria (Australia)

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Symphony Under Siege

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Author Interview: Stacy Cox

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

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

When and why did you begin writing?

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

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

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

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

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

What inspired you to write this book?

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

Do you have a specific writing style?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any advice for other writers?

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Monster Pack Book CoverStacy Cox
Cleveland, OH

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The Monster Pack: The Wasteland

Cover artist: Onur Burc
Publisher: Lulu

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Author Interview: Jenai M Merek

Writing novels inspired by the salty world she loves–the ocean is author Jenai M. Marek’s sanctuary. “You can be whoever and whatever you want on the waves … the sea doesn’t judge.”  Please welcome her on No Wasted Ink.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy name is Jenai M. Marek. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but am now settled in League City, TX, with my husband and four-year-old son. When I’m not writing or working with my indie publishing group, I enjoy surf, kayak, and offshore fishing. I’m also a member of a local pirate guild, the Railean Pirates, and annually volunteer at a local fishing tournament for breast cancer support, called the Sisters Helping Sisters. You could say I’m obsessed with the ocean. Not only for the sea’s real and scientific wonders but for the great unknown and mystical possibilities it may contain below the surface.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I learned how to arrange different parts of the alphabet into words. Though I have no memories of writing this, my mother could show you a handwritten book I wrote when I was two and a half called The Red Dress, which I illustrated myself and managed to write a cohesive beginning, middle, and end–a real rudimentary plot — about a red dress I wanted to wear.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer. I think since I realized that writing, was a communication tool that circumvented actually talking to people, writing became my favorite way of expressing myself, and therefore, I’ve always just been a writer.

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

My next book in line to be published is the sequel to my Gup the Sailor pirate adventure novel series, called Gup the Sailor and the Devil to Pay. (I’m also working on a collection of personal narratives on living in an autism family, the latter of which I’ve said very little to anyone about, as it’s a very personal work in progress that I’ll probably not be releasing for another year at least.)

What inspired you to write this book?

I would say books like Tom Sawyer; Anne of Green Gables; The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe; and other imaginative adventure-driven stories, where intelligence, kindness, and fearlessness are the central themes and the books that inspired me to continue that tradition of writing children’s literature which sparks the imagination… and to write in such a way that the young at heart will also be compelled to dive into that story as well… I write specifically for my son, but there’s an overarching drive in my writing that hopes to reach out to the adventurer in us all. When I read the books that took me on emotional journeys, as well as logistical ones, I’d always found a much-needed escape from harsher realities in my own childhood, and I wanted to leave a legacy of that tradition for my own boy.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style is to put myself into the head of a character, and just start telling his or her narrative. In my Gup the Sailor stories, I pretend I’m a young boy raised on a ship, by honorable freebooters, and just start typing out the story. It’s worked for me so far, but I’m not sure that’s so much a “style” as a writer’s coping mechanism.

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

I like to use idioms when I write book titles but write them with a twist that connects to the story or narrative. For example, my upcoming book is called Gup the Sailor and the Devil to Pay, which is the sequel to The Dangerous Voyage of Gup the Sailor. The first book, which did have a wrapped up conclusion, still left a small cliffhanger from which the second story picks up–and the idiom “there’ll be the devil to pay” actually fits nicely with the narrative to come. Most of the time when I write titles, they’ll have a pun, or a play on words, if not just be blunt for frank’s sake.

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

Not so much a message, but definitely a thematic spectrum: that courage, sticking to your guns, and doing what is right, not what is expected, are not going to be easy but is always worth it in the end. And that the right path for me is not always the right path for others–and that’s okay, too. Accepting life’s adversity and change for what it is, and maintaining a strong sense of self in spite of it, is a strength of character not nearly celebrated enough.

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

Not at all, but I assume a highly celebrated psychologist could explain the allegorical connection of pirates to my feelings about algebra.

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

Well, apart from Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and C.S. Lewis for obvious (and aforementioned reasons) I’m addicted to literary fiction from Ernest Hemingway, Banana Yoshimoto, Isabel Allende, Franz Kafka… to name a few. Mostly because each of these authors has a strong grasp of reality, that they’ve woven into a subtle fantasy that takes my breath away.

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

Not a writer, but a reader–my mother. She taught me to spell, read, and write before I was old enough to attend school. She’s a teacher, herself, and a specialist with special needs literacy and has a masters in literacy education. She read to me … a lot as a child. And though I struggled with dyslexia and social anxiety and awkwardness, my mother encouraged me to overcome my personal adversity to be the writer I wanted to be. Her encouragement helped me overcompensate for my shortcomings, and that makes her a better mentor than any other author out there–who may or may not share my struggles with basic socializing.

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

Oooh… this could be a whole other interview! The illustrator who designed my current book cover is no longer in my employ. I have a new illustrator, Holly Huffenberger, who is currently producing book covers for second editions, as well as working on the upcoming cover of my next novel. I chose her because her artwork has this wonderful playfulness about it that compliments the whimsy in my stories.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

No, do you think other writers have any advice for me? I try not to give too much broad advice. I will say if there’s ever an author out there that feels they’ve come face to face with something that makes them want to give up, they are more than welcome to contact me for specific things I’ve done to avoid succumbing to defeat. Other than that, writing is as much a journey of self-discovery as any other journey. Nothing I can say without a specific prompt will really be much help at this point.

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

Read everything. And if it’s unreadable to you, put it down and move on. There’s so much out there, don’t let one bad story keep you from the next. (I’ve still not finished some highly acclaimed books, but I didn’t let my distaste for them prevent me from grabbing the next book–sometimes books by the same author, and discover I adore them!)

The_Dangerous_Voyage_of_Gup_the_Sailor Book CoverJenai M. Marek
League City, TX

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Gup the Sailor and the Devil to Pay

Cover Artist: Holly Huffenberger
Publisher: www.MommaSharkPress.com

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