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Author Interview: Michelle E Lowe

It is always a pleasure to feature local authors on my blog. I ran into Author Michelle E Lowe at WonderCon and thought she had a beautiful booth. Naturally, I had to invite her for an interview. Please welcome this steampunk author extraordinaire to No Wasted Ink.

Author Michelle E LoweMy name is Michelle E. Lowe. I’m Georgia born native who has spent most my life near the Atlanta area before pulling up stakes and moving clear across the country with husband, Ben, and our two daughters. History piques my interests, especially European history. I’m a big nerd at heart. I love reading science-fiction and fantasy stories, and I enjoy old B horror films. I also get a kick out of playing classic Atari video games and I oil paint as a hobby.

I’m a daydreamer and animal lover. I have a very old kitty named October, and one very demanding guinea pig. I took up writing as a serious career choice twenty years ago, learning a lot and sharpening my skills along the way.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve written small stuff throughout my life. Short stories, poems, things like that. When I was nineteen and in college for graphic design, I was alone, grieving in my dorm room. I’d just lost my older brother, Jimmy, in a motorcycle accident. To occupy my mind, I decided to write out this story that had been playing around inside my head for a while, and once I started, I couldn’t stop! I swear, it happened in a snap. As hokey as it sounds, in a split second I’d found my calling. I like to think Jimmy was telling me something.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received my first positive review for my book, The Warning. Writing a book and putting it out there is a huge accomplishment. And while we go through the process of writing and publishing, we don’t know whether all our hard work will be well received by readers or not. We don’t even know if we know what we’re doing! Then something happens. Someone you’ve never met has not only read your book but has posted a glowing review. After I began receiving positive reviews for my books, it got me thinking that, hey, maybe I do know what I’m doing.

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

Legacy-The Reunion is the second installment to my steampunk/fantasy series. It basically picks up where the first book leaves off, but with a completely different storyline. In this story, Pierce Landcross discovers that his long-lost parents are imprisoned in Newgate Prison and goes in to rescue them. He soon finds out that there has been an inheritance left to the family and when Pierce goes to the lawyer to collect it, he discovers that in order to claim the fortune, he must first follow a series of clue throughout the Netherlands to its location. Pierce is also accompanied by a beautiful and clever young woman, Taisia Kuzentsov, and together they seek out the loot. Their quest isn’t without risk. A dangerous bounty hunter who has his eye on the inheritance and on the price on Landcross’s head is tailing them, waiting for the right time to act.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Legacy series as a whole was something I wanted to get into because steampunk seemed like a creative and exciting genre to write. What truly inspired me, though, was the characters. I had a whole host of characters in my head and I had no real place to put them until I decided to make a go at steampunk writing.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like a story that keeps moving, so I write in a fast-paced manner that keeps readers engaged and entertained. I like my writing style to be meaningful and even thoughtful, but also fun and enticing.

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

Legacy has to do with characters and how they’re related to one another, even one character who has lived a former life. Legacy-The Reunion pretty much means a reunion of characters.

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

There is a certain message that is woven into these books. In elementary school, my class once played this game where a teacher told one student a short story in secret and then that student had to whisper it in the ear of another student and then that student would whisper it, and so on. When the last student was asked to recite the story told to them, it was a completely different tale then what the teacher said. As a story goes on they begin taking on other versions, which in most cases is harmless, but for others, it can be deadly.

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

Not really, no. I wish I lived an adventurous life like my characters, but alas, I’m merely a storyteller, locked in a dark room all day. 😉

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

I do read a lot. It’s hard for me to say who is has influenced me more, considering that I read different books from different authors. I’m a great admirer of Neil Gaiman’s style of writing. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a teenager, reading his Sandman graphic novel series. I also enjoy Anne Rice’s work and her beautiful ways of describing her characters and the world in which they live in. Chris Wooding’s work is something I’m very fond of. His world-building skills are something I’m truly jealous of. That man knows how to write fun and exciting stories made for television, and who also has a great knack at bringing the reader right into the world he has created.

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

Catherine Rudy. You may know her, but I would choose her as a mentor because she was my mentor. She runs a nonprofit online writer’s workshop class called Wolf Pirate that I was fortunate to find many years ago. She allowed me into her program and helped me learn how to write! Before, I was just telling a story, but she taught me the rules of writing and because of her and Wolf Pirate, I’m the writer that I am today.

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

With the first Legacy book, my publisher designed it. Now that I’m moving forward as an independent writer, I’m doing it all on my own. For the second, Legacy-The Reunion, I did the artwork. I was nervous about doing so, for I read how frowned upon it is for writers to make their own covers, but it actually turned out pretty well I think.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I once read that you can make anything by writing. And it’s true! Writing opens minds, introduces new perspectives, and brings people into worlds they never knew existed. Writing is an art form that is beautiful, tragic, complex, stunning and horrifying. My best advice for writers is to develop a thick skin. Take constructive criticism with a grain of salt and learn from what others tell you. Trust me, you’ll grow as an author that way. And read! Read! Read! Read! When a writer is reading, it’s different from non-writers. We’re not just reading, we’re studying! We’re finding out new ways to describe things, broadening our vocabulary, and learning how these other authors thread their stories together. Whatever genre you write, reading will help significantly when you put your own pen to paper. Don’t concern yourself about getting that first rough draft just right, either. First drafts are meant to be free spirits and very ugly ones too. You only need to get your story out of your head and onto paper or in a Word document. Worry about making it look pretty later during editing. And don’t rush. It’s so easy nowadays to toss out stories for the whole world to see. Yet the ease to publish shouldn’t mean that the art of writing needs to be forgotten or ignored. It doesn’t matter how good the story is, if readers are distracted by poor writing and grammar flaws, you’ll lose them quick!

All in all, read more, write with passion, but edit with care and devotion toward the craft, and learn from others. Most of all, write what you love.

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

Thank you! Thanks for taking the chance on a little ol’ unknown writer like me when you decided to read my books.

Legacy the reunion front book coverMichelle E. Lowe
Lake Forest, CA

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Legacy-The Reunion

Publisher: Nordland Publishing 

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Author Interview: Lisanne Harrington

I met Author Lisanne Harrington at a book signing event.  She is a lovely lady and a fine author.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Lisanne Harrington. After nearly twenty years as a paralegal, I staged a coup and left the straight-laced corporate world behind forever. I now pander to my muse, a sarcastic little so-and-so. Only copious amounts of Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper and hamburgers will get him to fill my head with stories of serial killers, werewolves, and the things that live under your bed.

When not writing, I love to watch reruns of Gilmore Girls (although I hated the movies), horror movies like Young Frankenstein and Fido, and true crime shows. I like scary clowns, coffee with flavored creamer, and hot, salty French fries. Lots and lots of French fries.

When not hanging with “The Girls,” I write paranormal mysteries and murder mysteries.

I live in SoCal with my husband and rowdy, always-has-to-have-the-last-word Miniature Pinscher, Fiona.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a big reader, so it just seemed a natural transition to writing. I started with short stories as a small child and co-wrote my first novel when I was 11. It then progressed from there and has become a part of me. When not writing, I feel incomplete.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

To me, being a writer is a little different than being an author. Like I said above, I’ve always been a writer, but I didn’t consider myself an actual author until my first book, Moonspell, was accepted for publication sometime in the beginning of 2015.

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

The one that has recently been published wraps up my Wolf Creek Mystery Series. Moon Shadows continues the story of James Manarro, who wakes up to a strange world in which nothing makes sense. As if it isn’t bad enough that a werewolf had stocked the town of Wolf Creek and James had to kill it, or that James is dealing with very real teen issues, now the whole world is silent, and everyone—his parents, neighbors, and friends—seems to have disappeared. Then he hears a voice, one he can’t possibly hear because it belongs to his best friend, Riff, who has been dead for over three years, killed by the first werewolf to attack the town. But when James runs out to find Riff, he is plunged into a world of darkness filled with monsters determined to kill him once and for all.

The one I’m working on right now started out as a killer clown story but has morphed into a tale about an ancient Chinese mythological creature that appears every 44 years to terrorize a town.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Wolf Creek Mysteries were originally conceived as a trilogy, so Moon Shadows is the third installment. It picks up right where Book 2, Moon Watch, leaves off, and is really a continuation of that storyline.

The one I’m writing now has a protagonist based on my bestie, who wanted to be put into one of my books, and coincidentally, is the same one I co-wrote my first novel with. We’ve been friends over 50 years! She’s half Chinese, and her father immigrated from China when he was 14 and alone, and I used that as the stepping off point. While researching some elements of a killer clown story based on all the evil clown sightings from a few years ago, I came across this particular beast and knew I just had to write about it. I’m saving the killer clown story for later. 

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

Titles are generally difficult for me, so I leave them until the novel is complete. Since Moon Shadows has an eerie, shadowy fog shrouding the town, it seemed only natural when I was done to have shadows in the title, so in keeping with the “Moon” theme, this one was easy.

As for the Chinese mythological creature, we’ll just have to wait and see what it calls itself…

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

The entire trilogy explores the world, how we see ourselves, how others perceive us, and how we are all similar and go through many of the same experiences.

In my current WIP, I’m sure there will be some sort of message, but since I’m only a few chapters in, only time will tell what it might be.

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

Bentley Little really knows how to weave a terrifying tale based on normal people and events, surrounded by true elements of horror. Stephen King writes wonderfully three-dimensional characters that could very well be your friends and neighbors.

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

New York Times bestselling author Bonnie Hearn Hill was my first online writing teacher and has since become a friend. She helped me fill my toolbox with all the things I need to write a good story and weave in a mystery or two along the way. Her students have all been filleted by her critiques, which she gives honestly but with love and a sincere desire to help.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Forget about writing what you know. That’s not necessary now that research on the Internet is so readily available. Read everything you can, especially in the genre you write. Know the tropes and stereotypes and try to stay away from them if you can. If not, you need a unique spin on them. Sharpen the tools you have and always always always explore new ways to grow as a writer.

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

Just that I hope they enjoy my stories and will check out my Wolf Creek Mysteries series. Also, there’s a Monster blog on my website, if they’re interested.

Be sure to look for my upcoming murder mystery, Murder in the Family (no creatures involved), and my newest horror story, Gravelings, both due out in 2018. And check out my Chinese beast story sometime after that!

Also, I would love to hear from them. They can contact me at wolfcreek.projects@gmail.com.

Lisanne Harrington
Southern California

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The Wolf Creek Mystery Series

Publisher:  Black Opal Books

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Author Interview: PG Badzey

Author PG Badzey writes the Grey Riders trilogy of epic fantasy fiction. His novels are unique for their perspective on Christianity in a fantasy setting and for using science-based magic systems. I’m honored to introduce this upcoming author here on No Wasted Ink.

Author P G BadzeyI am Pete Badzey (my author name is PG Badzey) and I am an author of epic fantasy fiction. Although my background is in engineering (I have spent 29 years in the aerospace industry), I have loved books and writing since childhood. My mother and one of my brothers were both English teachers for a time and I grew up surrounded by stories, storytelling, and literature. My novels are unique in that they feature Christian characters in a fantasy environment and use a science-based magic system.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing in my teens when my high school teacher told us to free-write whatever we wanted. As I was a big sci-fi fan at the time, I wrote a scene of a space battle. I enjoyed it so much that I made it my hobby. When I went off to college I even gave short stories to my siblings as Christmas presents, with them as the main characters, because I didn’t have any money. By my college years, I had moved on to Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Katherine Kurtz, so these were my primary influences in gravitating towards fantasy. Later, I read more books by a variety of authors, from Louis L’Amour to Jane Austen to Agatha Christie. Some of the works were very good, but I felt dissatisfied with others and decided that, someday, I was going to try to write my own novels and do better.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I had three short fantasy stories accepted by an online fantasy humor magazine named Dragonlaugh back in the 1990’s. When I first picked up the payment check in the mail, I felt that I had become a writer. Of course, I was technically a writer long before that, but at that time, at least, I felt I had made enough of an impression on someone else to convince them to publish me.

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

I have self-published an epic fantasy trilogy, the Grey Riders series, and the first book is Whitehorse Peak. It’s the story of a group of young mercenaries in a race against an evil cult to find an ancient, secret weapon near the wilderness on the border of a great kingdom. It follows their adventures, relationships, secrets and challenges as they also find out that their exploits have been foretold by a prophecy. The novel is really a coming-of-age story, similar to what recent college graduates might experience as they head out into the world, except the environment is medieval fantasy. The main characters all have to learn to work together towards a common goal even though they are different races, backgrounds, and religions. The trilogy is rare in fantasy fiction because some of the characters are Christians in a fantasy environment. It also has a science-based magic system, something that comes naturally to me since my vocational training is in science and engineering.

What inspired you to write this book?

I really wanted to offer an alternative to many works of fantasy that didn’t offer a positive approach to faith and religion and treated good and evil as if they were political parties rather than defining forces in the universe. I also saw a lot of fiction in a medieval fantasy setting that was either casually dismissive or openly hostile to Christianity, which I thought odd since Christianity was intimately involved in the real-life medieval world in both positive and negative ways.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I tend towards immersive realism, where I try to involve all the senses of the reader (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) as much as possible to bring the imaginary world of the Grey Riders to life. This is challenging since many of the creatures and environments (not to mention magic!) don’t exist in the real world. I have also been described as a very “visual” writer whose works read like a movie, which is accurate since I have to envision scenes and events in the novels in my head and play them out before I can write them down.

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

Whitehorse Peak is the name of a mountain that is key to the quest of the Grey Riders. It is part of the geography I created for my D&D game and it was inspired by names of actual places cited in many of Louis L’Amour’s Western novels.

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

There are several messages that I think are important: the value of friendship, acceptance of others despite differences, selflessness, the courage to do what is right, and faith in God when all seems hopeless. I try to show these ideals in the characters and their choices (some of which are right and some of which are wrong) to inspire readers to strive towards these positive goals in their own lives.

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

I was partly inspired to write Whitehorse Peak by the close friendships I had with the young engineers I met on my first job – we all played D&D together and I felt that our relationships had the makings of a great story. The main characters in Whitehorse Peak are based on the characters that my friends played in the game and the plot lines are based on their adventures. We are still in contact with each other many years later.

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

In fantasy, the following authors are inspiring to me: JRR Tolkien (because of his lyrical style and understanding of the role of myth in history), CS Lewis (for his ability to bring religious concepts into a fantasy setting), Terry Brooks (for his creativity and sense of adventure), Katherine Kurtz (who showed how to integrate the medieval Church in fantasy), and C Dale Brittain and Christopher Stasheff (for showing how to meld magic and religion with a sense of humor and fun). These authors all grasp the heroic ideal while showing that a true hero always strives to do what is right even when sacrifice is required.

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

C Dale Brittain has been a mentor to me, always answering my questions, pointing out pitfalls, offering advice when asked, and being supportive of my efforts. We still correspond occasionally and I am grateful for her kind attention and helpfulness.

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

Bookfuel designed the book cover for Whitehorse Peak (and indeed, for the entire trilogy). I chose them because they took the time to really get to know the story I was telling in the novel and try to integrate key symbols and concepts into the cover art. They have been extremely easy to work with and have designed three first-rate covers.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Writers are so often told “no” by agents and publishers without any explanation as to why our writing was not accepted that it is easy to think that we stand no chance. It is important to realize a few things – first, that the new publishing universe has resulted in an oversupply, so patience and determination are really critical virtues; second, that writing improves if it is a regular discipline and if we are willing to learn from others; third, that writing a novel is only part of the work and that marketing is more time-consuming and fourth, that writers should really enjoy what they do for its own sake, not for the goal of becoming a millionaire and being world-famous. If you reach even one reader with your message, that is a victory.

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

I hope that they like Whitehorse Peak (and its sequels, Eye of Truth and Helm of Shadows) and take the time to think about them. I am always glad to hear constructive feedback, both positive and negative, and don’t mind if people disagree with me – it would be an odd world if we all thought in lock-step. I would hope that they read all three books and stay on the lookout for more in the continuing series. I intend to be writing for many more years with great stories to tell and would like readers to journey with me.

Whitehorse Peak Book Cover.jpgPG Badzey
Huntington Beach, California, USA

Whitehorse Peak

Cover art by Bookfuel

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Author Interview: SL Perrine

Please welcome Author S.L. Perrine to No Wasted Ink.

Author SL PerrineMy name is S.L. Perrine, some people know me as Shannon. I am a wife, a mother, a medical assistant, and on more than an occasion, I write Paranormal books.
I grew up in Central NY, and have gotten many degrees. Some I’ve used for a short while trying to find the ‘practical’ career. Others I knew right away were not going to work for me. However, my Criminal Justice Degree and Psychology Degree, as well as my medical experience have helped tremendously with some of my stories.

When and why did you begin writing?

I am Shannon. Although, I’ve never felt like a Shannon. Mostly because I’ve been a mom for eighteen years. I have a wonderful husband. I am a licensed Cosmetologist, Medical Assistant, and have an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

I would prefer to spend most of my time at home, other than work, that is. I try to make time to visit my friends and my parents at least, but I hate leaving my house, so nobody else sees me. That’s put a strain on my relationship with my siblings (I have nine). I’m trying to change that.

I like to read. I know, big shocker. I also enjoy crocheting, painting, drawing, and writing. I’m a huge fan of camping. If you follow my Instagram you would have seen lots of camping pictures last summer. This summer will be crazy, we’ve got a seasonal site and are buying a camper. Love to fish, and I bait my own hook. A country girl never leaves the mind, even if the body now lives in the city.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t know that I have, or that I ever will. I think of myself as a creator. I create worlds and characters. I create stories and art. While most of my art is in the form of the written word, I do create graphics as well. I am also a web designer. So, with that said, I am neither. I’m a creator.
To me, a writer is someone who only writes. Maybe a poet or a journalist. I create.

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

Blood Rites begins the journey into the Crawford witch line. It tells the story of a young Seraphina Crawford, corrupted by anger and fueled by blood. She will do anything to keep her friends safe because they are the only family she has left. She goes against everything she’s been taught. The biggest betrayal, Do No Harm.

She kills, and with each kill, she gains powers to do what she thinks is justice, but is really revenge. When she finally realizes she may have gone too far, it might be too late for her. She may lose all that she worked so hard to protect. Her best friend, the love of two boys who compete for her affections, and the people she chose to lead.

What inspired you to write this book?

My love of everything Wiccan, and the paranormal. I started the original story a few years ago and decided my readers needed to know how that tale came about. The original is a YA series, but The Blood Rites Trilogy is NA.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I enjoy showing my readers my stories. If Someone is going to lean against a wall suggestively, then that what I type. I like being descriptive, allowing the readers to imagine a scene in their mind as they go because that’s how I write it. I visualize everything as I write it out. I never plot a story or come up with an outline beforehand. I just sit, let the images come to me and type it out as they do. That way I’m just as surprised by the outcome as my readers are.

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

Blood Rites is named after the blood rite ritual my characters in The Crawford Witch Chronicles have to go through to get their full strength of powers and bind their coven. It’s a ritual that takes place after each of the members of the coven turns eighteen, during the winter solstice.

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

We are all human, and thus we make mistakes. Seraphina is just a child when she decides to take on the world. She goes about it the wrong way, but for the right reasons, and eventually makes amends for those mistakes.
We all make mistakes in life, but it’s never too late to make amends.

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

I’ve studied Wicca and witchcraft for most of my adult life. I have used what I’ve learned, and what I practice keeping the stories as accurate as possible.

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

Before I became a member of the indie world, being published and whatnot, I found Nora Roberts very inspiring. Though I was tired of the same old same old. Somebody found out something, meets someone, falls in love but fights it, gives in, finds out something that separated them, then eventually they made up and happily ever after was the ending.
Life and stories are not all the same. They should have a different makeup, or flow, making each one independent from the rest.

When I became published I found two women to be influential in my writing. The first, my publisher and fellow Author, Kindra Sowder at Burning Willow Press. She is a powerhouse. She has a full-time job and all the duties of running a company, but all those titles she has out is so impressive. I have strived to have the work ethic she has.
The other is my good friend, fellow Author and once a publisher, Nikki Yager AKA the Dragon Queen or The Dragon’s Rocketship. She has been my sounding board, my supporter and my friend over the last few years. I don’t know what I would do without her. Both, the Crawford Witch Chronicles and Blood Rites were the results of very long conversations. She let me bounce ideas off her for weeks when these series were just crawling into my mind.

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

I would say, Chad Dennis. He’s my imaginary friend. In 2012, we met playing an online war game. He told me he was a writer, and when I told him I was starting a book, he kept on me every day to write. Even a little bit. We both finished our books that year, but life got in the way for him. I know he’s back at it again, and hope one day I get to see the next masterpiece.

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

Aurelia Fray at Pretty AFDesigns. My publisher at Vamptasy and CHBB Publishing assigned her to me, and I must say I was blown away by her concept. I gave her a few key points, and with a few minor tweaks, because I’m anal, she nailed it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Don’t say there is no time. Make time. Don’t say you can’t come up with an idea, just sit and let it flow. The idea will come to you. Even if the first thing you write is absolute garbage, and maybe the second will be too. However, if you want it bad enough, then the idea will come and the words will flow.

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

Without my readers, I would be doing this for the same reason I started, to just put the stories somewhere that others can see it. Now, I write for another reason. To entertain those who don’t have the imagination to entertain others. To give people hopes and dreams, love and loss, and above all else…Art. Writing is just another art form. A means of expression. I enjoy expressing myself for all of you, so thank you!

blood rites book coverSL Perrine
Saratoga Springs, New York

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Author Interview: Douglas Van Belle

Douglas A. Van Belle is an award winning New Zealand science fiction and fantasy writer who is known for bringing his extensive academic research background into his work. From flash fiction to feature films, his eclectic work mixes drama, humor, science, and speculation on the human universe to produce unpredictable stories. I am pleased to be able to interview him here on No Wasted Ink.

author-douglas-van-belleWhen and why did you begin writing?

The flippant answer is: Very young and because I could.

There’s actually a lot of truth to that, but a more serious answer is that I was a voracious reader from well before I even started school and writing always seemed to be part and parcel of being a reader. There is one moment that stands out in my memory. When I was about six or seven, I saw someone’s Hugo statue on display at the local public library, and I became just a tad obsessed with winning one. The librarian (who is a story in and of himself) told me that I had to read, read, read, read first, so I read every bit of science fiction and fantasy that I could get my hands on, including a lot that was absolutely inappropriate for my age, and not too long after that, I started writing. I enjoyed the writing even more than the reading, and over the years I have kept writing simply and solely because it was something I enjoyed.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Always and not quite yet.

To be honest, there wasn’t really a first moment. I could point to key events along the way to the big book contract that includes my latest novel, Breathe. I published my first article in the local paper when I was a teenager, wrote a commissioned piece not long after that, my first research article came out when I was in my early 20’s, followed a few years later by my first book. My first serious attempt at fiction was a novella that was published in 2006, my first novel came out in 2010, and I sol my first feature film in 2013, but the truth is that I have always been a writer.

I also don’t really think that I am a writer and I kind of hope that I never do. I still spend several hours a week working on odd little writing exercises, and experimenting with style, form and other aspects of the craft. I don’t really need to do any of that anymore, but I also suspect that the moment you stop thinking you need to learn, refine and improve your craft, you lose something.

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

The premise of Breathe is that the catastrophic failure of the first base on Ganymede leaves nine people trapped in an emergency refuge that can only recycle enough air for four. As you might imagine, it doesn’t end well.

However, even with that setup, I can guarantee that the story goes places that you absolutely will not expect. No matter what you think you are seeing in the first third of the book, it will almost certainly turn out to be something different that it seems. That is particularly true in regards to the elements relating to gender and sex. One of the key story elements in the book regards the clash between intellect and the human animal, and some of the set up in the first third of the novel looks like stereotypical, old-school gender BS. The book is old-school hard science fiction, but not in that way. It’s a setup and I doubt if you will expect where it goes.

What inspired you to write this book?

Funny story there, but I never really imagined Breathe as a novel. It started when a TV producer in New Zealand asked me if I would adapt some of my short fiction for the screen and write some original short films for a Twilight Zone style show. Breathe started as one of those short films. As is usually the case, the TV show died a slow and gruesome death while “in development” but a short script for Breathe was so popular among everyone who helped try to get the show off the ground that I just couldn’t let it die.

The first attempt to turn it into a feature-length film was an absolute atrocity and the project was abandoned, but about six months after that, I started asking myself questions about how such a catastrophic failure of the base might occur. I wrote about a third of a feature film script, discovered the real story wasn’t what I thought it was. That process took about three years, but once I discovered the story, the novel itself only took a couple of months.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes and no, and this one isn’t a flippant answer. The former is the reason for the latter.

Treating writing as a verb, so that style refers to the way I approach the process of writing, then yes, I have a clear and defining style. I write primarily as an act of discovery. I grab a story idea, a character, setting, situation, or anything else that might serve as a starting point and just start writing. Breathe actually started with the producer saying he wanted a story in a single room of a space ship so he could reuse a set from one of the other stories in the TV series. I played with that a half dozen different ways until I had the husband, the jilted wife and the mistress trapped in that room, then I stopped and outlined the story that became Breathe.

I do the same with just about everything. Write until I discover the parts I need, then outline the story. It’s messy, and I throw a lot of what I write away, but I also end up with stories that go in directions I would have never imagined if I started with a plan or an outline.

Treating writing as a noun, so that style refers to the stylistic elements of the stories, novels, and films I write, then no, I don’t have a style and that is because of the way I write. The style of the story is one of the things I have to discover. As is the form, the narrative voice, details of the point of view and everything else.

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

It was the working title for the short. I slapped on there just to identify it and keep track of the files and it turned out to be just too perfect to change.

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

A lot of my academic research focuses on the human, social and political aspects of disasters, so I draw from that and I draw from the years I spent working in construction prior to becoming an academic. The base is a construction site and the combination of people reflect the collection of imperfect souls that would end up building a base out at the edge of human civilization.

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

Pick a science fiction author, or to a lesser degree a fantasy author, and there is probably something they have written that influenced or inspired. I could toss out a few names, such as Larry Niven, James White, Or Ursula K. LeGuin, but given the eclectic combination of stories that emerge out of the way I write, it would be a bit disingenuous to single out one or even a handful.

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

I wouldn’t. For most of my life I wrote fiction simply for the fun of it, and as a result I didn’t start engaging the social and professional side of the community of science fiction writers until fairly recently. By the time I started attending conventions and meeting fellow writers I already had two novels published and I was reasonably well established. I do get some wonderful advice and feedback from other authors. This is a tremendously generous profession, but it isn’t what most would consider mentoring

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

Jeff Fennel, a friend out of California and probably one of the most underrated artists around. He does a lot of translucent paint on metal pieces and they are absolutely fabulous. I was talking about Breathe and he said he had a great idea for a cover. Turns out he had a dozen variations on a great idea and my publisher is using several of them as a way to help Jeff showcase his work.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yeah, nothing that you write is precious. Every writer has to find a balance between discovering the story as they write and the structured, outlined and planned writing of a story. However, if you think that anything that you write is precious, you will never be able to find that balance. My rule of thumb is that I should throw away at least as many pages as I keep. You may end up keep more or less, but you MUST be throwing some away.

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

Yeah, nothing that you write is precious. Every writer has to find a balance between discovering the story as they write and the structured, outlined and planned writing of a story. However, if you think that anything that you write is precious, you will never be able to find that balance.

breathe-book-coverDouglas A. Van Belle
Kapiti Coast, New Zealand

GOODREADS

Breathe

Cover Artist: Jeff Fennel
Publisher: Intergalactic Media Group

AMAZON