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Author Interview: Che Gilson

Author Che Gilson likes to make the small epic and the epic small.  She is a YA fantasy author from the Pacific Northwest.  Please welcome her on No Wasted Ink.

Che Gilson- Black OpalHello! My name is Che Gilson and I write things and draw things. Some of those things get published which is really, really nice. I also love to draw and paint. I mostly work in watercolor and who knows- perhaps you’ll see my work in the art show of a fantasy convention you go to! I’m also quite the nerd. I love TV, movies, manga, anime, and reading. I collect Asian Ball Jointed Dolls and one of my current goals is buying a smart phone so I can play Pokémon GO… and also so I can get a credit card reader for conventions… but mostly Pokémon…

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been creating stories since I was a child. I loved the writing prompts in English class and I loved to read. My original goal was to write and draw my own comics but in art school, I discovered my attention span for comics lasts about 12 pages. I then wrote some graphic novels but unfortunately had difficulty finding an artist to work with consistently. It didn’t help when Tokyopop shut down either. So I began to write more and more prose. It was something I’d done all along, but I finally really decided to work at it because it was the only way I was going to be able to tell MY stories, no artist required.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m not sure. I think I felt ‘officially’ like a writer when I wrote Avigon my first graphic novel, illustrated by Jimmie Robinson. I finally had my name on something and that something was in stores. That was the first real success I had getting my words out in more than a zine.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Aside from my usual line about Tea Times Three being a book about tea, witches, yummy food, and small towns. I really consider it a book about a town. I made up a fictional Maine town called Midswich. I picked Maine because it’s not a populace state and because I have an obsession with the East Coast even though I’ve only been to New York city once in high school. But the East Coast looks as close to Europe as you can get and originally I had wanted Tea Times Three to be set in England. I made Midswich a tourist town that had designed itself to look like a British village. I got the idea from Solvang, a Swedish styled town in California. There are multiple POV characters, magic, and a hint of romance.

What inspired you to write this book?

FOOD! This book is my ode to all the food I can’t eat anymore because I am allergic to everything! Other ideas went into it as well. I love what I like to call “Eccentric British Village Comedies” though all my examples of this ‘genre’ are American or Canadian. TV shows like Northern Exposure and Corner Gas. Things that revolve around small towns and shenanigans where everyone pretty much knows everyone. I also adore witches. I joke that my default mode is “witch”. And tea which aside from water, is my favorite beverage on earth. It’s pretty much the only thing besides water that I drink. So I put into Tea Times Three all the things I love, food, small town shenanigans, tea and witches.

Originally I had planned Tea Times Three as a comic book set in a little English village and the witches were much younger. I was aiming for a Middle Grade audience of kids 9-12 and maybe some shojo fans. But then Tokyopop folded and I had to re-imagine it as something else entirely. It took several years and some sage advice before the novel version clicked in my head and I started writing it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I strive for clarity in my writing. I’m not sure that’s a style, but that’s the approach I take. I want the writing to be clear, I want the characters to be interesting, I want to express myself in a way that is easily understood. I hope it’s interesting and I hope people enjoy it and that’s really what I want.

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

That was really simple. I used the name of the tea shop the three witches open in the town. Tea Times Three. And if I’m being utterly honest the name of the tea shop is a nod to Charmed the TV show. Piper opens a club named P3 which was a reference to the sister’s “power of three”, and their names which all began with “P”. This is actually the super nerd origin of the title I’ve never told anyone else!

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

One of the major themes in Tea Times Three is tolerance and intolerance. The majority of the town is nervous when witches move in and it takes a few people standing up for them for people to start changing their minds.

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

Not especially. Though I put a lot of myself into my books. I tend to give my characters all my worst personality traits and then make them bigger (the traits, not the characters). Or I give them personality traits I WISH I had, like optimism! Though I do know what it’s like to move into a new town and to live in small towns. All the food in Tea Times Three is either based on things I’ve eaten, or things I’ve seen on TV. One of my beta readers pointed out that I had described the flavor of Earl Grey tea wrong and in fact I had never drunk Earl Grey before. So I went to the grocery store and bought some. Turns out I LOVE Earl Grey and it’s become one of my favorite teas. I also rewrote my description of the flavor.

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

In college I took a creative writing class and the teacher kept telling us to read Raymond Carver. So I went to the book store grabbed a collection of Raymond Carver off the shelf, sat down and read. It blew my mind. The diamond clarity of the prose, the sense of so much going unspoken, the stories of small intimate, painful moments, took my breath away. After that I wanted to write like Raymond Carver. I did too, in as much as my smaller talents could manage. but It was another writer friend of mine who took a look at my prose and said “You need to describe things more, what the hell is this?” (I paraphrase). So for love of Raymond Carver I stripped my prose down to the bones, then after talking with that writer friend I started to build it back up again.

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

Yes! Suzanne McLeod. She’s a British urban fantasy author and you should go check out the Spellcrackers series! I met her through a Live Journal group for UF authors called Fangs Fur Fey. She posted that she was having trouble with her book and was looking for a cheer partner to swap snippets with. I had been working on Tea Times Three for awhile and was stuck on that manuscript as well. So I replied to her and we began exchanging bits of our books. We still email back and forth and encourage each other to this day! She has provided the most ridiculously good edits on some of my shorter works and has encouraged me to keep writing for years.

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

I designed the book cover for Tea Times Three, and my earlier urban fantasy novella Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight. Though for Tea Times Three I commissioned the hand lettering you see on the cover. The lettering was drawn by Courtney Kilpatrick of Typecast Lettering. I found her on Etsy. I had a very strong vision of the Tea Times Three cover, I even had the clip art picked out years before it was published. I thought I might have to self-publish and I wanted to be ready. Having the title handwritten was inspired by Bookcoverarchive.com which showcases the covers of literary novels and has an extensive gallery of beautifully designed cover work.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. But be ready to go with small presses and Indie publishing. Write what you want, what inspires you. If you love it chances are others do too.

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

You’ve probably heard this from other authors, but if you like a book leave a review! It doesn’t have to be brilliantly written. A simple “I liked it.” is great. Small press and Indie authors live and die by the kindness of readers.

Tx3 cover flat smallerChe Gilson
Salem Oregon

FACEBOOK
TWITTER
Tea Times Three

Cover artist:  Courtney Kilpatrick
Publisher: Black Opal Books

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE

Author Interview: Jeffrey J Michaels

Jeffrey J Michael’s goal as an author is to inspire people to be better humans. All that he does is with the intention of offering the reader an opportunity to explore new ways of looking at their world (and worlds beyond).  Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Jeffrey J MichaelsMy name is Jeffrey J. Michaels. I am a Gemini. As such I am deeply involved in whatever interests me at the moment.

I am currently polishing a sweeping fantasy series of interconnected tales collectively known as “The Mystical Histories.” It is varied enough that I may even finish most of the stories. I like to think of my work as “metaphyictional,” combining fantasy and humor with metaphysical elements.

In my real life I am a well-respected creative and spiritual consultant

If you need to know more than this, we can sit down over a nice cup of coffee or 21-year-old scotch some afternoon and I will provide fascinating facts such as “born in the Midwest” “loves the Art Institute and architecture of the Loop district of Chicago” “likes peaceful pine forests and giant sequoias” “voracious reader” “many brushes with fame, but not impressed by it” or “likes cats”. Probably there will be a story involved with each of those facts and it may even be true.

When and why did you begin writing?

My grandmother told me that I was always telling her stories from the time I was able to speak. My mother said I was always making things up and I don’t think she always approved. Blah, blah blah, something about lying or not telling the truth, she would say.

I don’t consider myself a writer so much as a storyteller. Paper and pen seemed a good medium to immortalize some of the better lies, er, stories.

It is not so much a thing I began doing as it is an essence that makes up a great part of me, a motivation that cannot be excised from my existence.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

High School solidified my commitment to the written word. I shifted from being a passive participant to an active creator. What that means is I stopped just reading others’ work and started writing and (this is the important part) distributing the stories I was making up to others: teachers and fellow students, the kind fellow that ran Brainerd’s Bookstore, a couple of cousins who acted like they liked my work. I tended to avoid showing things to friends and family by instinct and I would say this is wisdom for every writer to follow.

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

My most recently released volume is the first in a trilogy that is a part of a larger series. It is titled “Tasa’s Path” and introduces us to a young girl who travels to a mystical community, ostensibly to learn how to become a steward of Gaia, the living earth. She thinks she is normal, but by the conclusion of the book she is setting off with her friends to find others, like them, who are of the Blood of the Dragons. Tasa was hoping for a quiet life of reading and collecting books, but she finds herself in possession of a sword forged in dragonfire, and one of her friends is dragon named Torin.

What inspired you to write this book?

I read a book about a young boy, Harry somebody, who is invited to a school of wizardry. He and his friends get involved in a lot of adventures in the first book and in subsequent volumes things get quite dangerous and dark for the kids. I wanted to write a brighter series, but maintain the emphasis on education and learning. Basically I was looking to tell an upbeat story about happy kids playing in the woods at a Renaissance Faire style community. It was all going fine until the beast men showed up.

I have several other volumes in progress. In structuring them I took my cue from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, which contains several trilogies and many stand-alone volumes. Her stories all weave a larger history of humanity in space and colonizing the planet called Pern.

In my work I tell the histories and tales of the mystical beings we know of as dragons, giants, elves and fairies. I am a metaphysician by nature and seek to weave the philosophies of stewardship for the planet and co-existence with all life forms into my stories.

Do you have a specific writing style?

There is an oft repeated phrase in writing classes these days that one should “show not tell” and to a great extent I agree, but I do like to tell sections of my tales, as if we are sitting about a cookfire and grilling up a bit of mastodon meat. I sometimes envision myself as a shamanistic type, one of the cave painters, a Druidic bard, or perhaps a Grecian student of Homer telling an epic tale.

Here is a secret about all the books in my series. There is a single narrator of the stories, though he remains well hidden and may never be fully revealed. I am just taking dictation for this great being. But please don’t tell anyone.

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

“Tasa’s Path” is called such because the main character is Tasa and she learns of her path through life beginning in this book. The following volumes are titled “Tasa’s Journey” and finishing with “Tasa’s Home”. The entire series is under the umbrella title of “Tasa’s Passage” and each title has multiple meanings that eventually tie in to the greater series.

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

I dislike books that are preachy or purposefully sermonizing, so I tend to believe that mine are not “message” books. That said – yes there is a message. Respect the earth, love life and live it well, get along with everyone if possible and let others be if not possible. The characters in my series often get back to a single question when they are confronted with a challenge or an obstacle. It is the question that guides all the mystical beings. “Is the action I am about to take for the good and well-being of Gaia?” Gaia is the character that exists in every one of my books. Every one. She is the vital energy of the planet earth itself. We are expressions of her will and as such we do not own her or any portion of her. We are of Gaia and when we walk a balanced path we act as stewards of the earth itself.

Sorry. Looks like I got a bit of a sermon in there after all!

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

Not really. One thing I get asked is “How do you write about women so well?” My life has been blessed with the knowing of powerful women. Not dominating, but strong. Not forceful, but intelligent. Not warriors, but nurturers. They have influenced me every step of the way and I cannot express enough gratitude to every single being who has shown me the balancing path of strong yin to assist yang in creating a beautiful life.

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

As to fiction authors that I have enjoyed I must first say that Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne connected me to the joy of imagination and adventure early on. As time went on I discovered many, many others such as Isabel Allende and Italo Calvino, but the two that remain most influential in my mind to this day are Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Gene Wolfe.

Mary of course wrote Frankenstein and this single creation set off a chain reaction of media representation that continues strong to this day. But it is often more her life story and the fact that she is the author of many powerful novels that are relatively unknown that I find inspiring.

Gene Wolfe was kind and generous to me during a brief decade or so that I was privileged to know him personally. Many of my writing lessons are directly traceable to candid offhand remarks that Gene said in quiet discussions. In addition he is a damned fine wordsmith and quite possibly the finest writer of the late 20th and early 21st century.

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

I would love to be able to call Gene Wolfe a mentor, but our communication was never such a formal student teacher thing. Still, more than any of the writers I have had the privilege of knowing, Gene’s sly style and wit has shaped much of my confidence as a writer. He demonstrated early on that an author should never take the reader’s intelligence for granted. Write to a higher level and raise the bar for the reader to reach if they choose.

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

The initial painting of Tasa is done by a young artist named Lane Brown. He is a great talent and I found the portrait by chance one evening while looking for images on the internet. He has since done a few pieces for me and I love his art. We took that original painting and using a website called 99 Design submitted it in a contest. Of course the prize is money you provide as a fee for whoever wins and you are the one that selects the winner. We were blessed to find a designer out of Romania, Andrei Bat, who is working with us to create a unified look for the entire series.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Gene Wolfe said to me, “If you want to be a good writer read good writing.” I often quote that advice to students and clients. The corollary is, if you want to be a great writer read great writing. In addition, I tell aspiring writers to write the story they want to read. That is not uncommon advice, but I believe it is the advice that will help fan the creative spark to full bright flame.

Remember that the universe is a creative energy and YOU are an aspect of the universe, a particle of that same creative force that brought the entire diversity of existence into being. Act like it! Create!

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

In the immediate context of reading I say this, enjoy! Read what you wish and ignore the critics who are more than willing to tell you what is wrong with this or that book or author. Are you having fun with the book? Then it is a good book!

In the greater sense of life and living, here is a little story.

A hero of mine, Norman Vaughan, did what many thought was an impossible thing. He went to Antarctica at age 89 and climbed a mountain that was named after him. He had gone to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd in 1928 and Byrd named a mountain after Norman. The guy got it into his head to go back and climb this thing and everyone said, “You’re nuts, Norman.” But he did it despite all the naysayers and a great many setbacks and outright disasters. When he got to the top he said, “Dream Big and Dare to Fail.” Those words changed my life about and I give them to all my students and readers whenever possible.

Tasa's Path Book CoverJeffrey J. Michaels
Huntington Beach, California

FACEBOOK

Cover Artist: Andrei Bar
Publisher: Quintessence

Tasa’s Path

AMAZON

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another day of No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links! Being a science fiction and fantasy author, I was looking at articles that pertain to my favorite genre. Be sure to check out the one about China’s Science Fiction Awards if you haven’t heard of it yet. As usual, io9 is on top of things all things sci-fi! There are also plenty of general writing articles to keep you busy this week. Until the next one, enjoy!

Read science fiction – Our global crisis simulator

How to Harness the Dark Side of Your Impact Character

The Chinese Government is Setting Up Its Own Major Science Fiction Award

Making Fiction Come Alive! Using the Senses for Maximum Impact

New Report States the Obvious: Indie Authors a Threat to Legacy Publishers

How to Write Like the Buddha

A Messy, Liberating Guide to Journal Writing

Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Revision and Copyediting

Book Pirates—ARRGH! Have Pirates Stolen your Book or Blog?

The Truth About Natural-Born Talent

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksMonday’s are my favorite blogging days. It is when I get to share my wanderings on the web as I read up on topics to expand my knowledge of writing and how to be an author in this ever changing platform landscape. This week the articles cover thoughts on general writing, poetry, reading more books, and a nice one from Writer Unboxed about what makes your fiction literary that I personally found to be a unique outlook.

8 Necessary Tips for How to Write Child Characters

Self-published authors may be no worse off than the rest of us

How to Write Mind-Blowing Plot Twists—Twisting is NOT Twerking

Indie Authors Are Responsible for the US eBook Decline

This Unique New Bookstore Is Filled With Optical Illusions

Consumers believe they have more rights than they really do in digital media

Here’s my secret weapon: I read

How to write REAL dialogue? Listen up!

What Makes Fiction Literary: Scenes Versus Postcards

Boston’s Sidewalk Poetry Can Only Be Seen When it Rains

Author Interview: Jon Wasik

Author Jon Wasik has been telling stories since he was a little boy, but didn’t put pen to paper until fifth grade, when he had grand dreams of becoming the next big sci-fi/fantasy writer. Since then he has written hundreds of short stories and multiple novels, many of which can be found posted on the web. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jon WasikMy name is Jon Wasik, I’m an IT tech by day, a fearless writer by night! Okay perhaps not fearless, but hey, I can dream. I live in Colorado right now, a state which seems to have an identity crises when it comes to seasons, but at least it keeps it interesting! I love all things geek, including reading, video games, and sci-fi/fantasy conventions!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, so one day when I was bored in 5th grade, I just picked up a pencil because I wanted to write my own Star Trek story. Everyone in my class read it, and most enjoyed it, so from that day forward I was hooked. I knew that I could inspire readers the same way books had inspired me all of my life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That first fateful day in 5th grade was definitely day one, but it wasn’t until I created a website to post my first fanfic in 1999 that I truly felt like a writer. It was then that more than just friends and family could read my stories, and it was then that I received my first feedback, both positive and negative, from complete strangers.

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

At the time that I write this, The Sword of Dragons has been published for nearly a year. Forged 3000 years ago, The Sword was designed to end the civil war between the Star Dragons and their twisted kin, the Dark Dragons. Now, a rogue Mage has discovered the Sword and has used it to incite war. Only the outcast Warrior Cardin Kataar and the fledgling Wizard Dalin stand in her way. Together, they must unite the four kingdoms against her, or watch everything they know fall to darkness.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Sword of Dragons has a very, very long history. When I first started writing, I was completely obsessed with writing sci-fi, and so this novel started as a sci-fi with fantasy elements. I wanted to tell my own epic space opera like Star Wars or Star Trek (sensing a theme?) One day I realized this would work so much better as a high fantasy. So the inspiration for this story has varied sources. Sci-fi for sure, in fact, the main trio, Cardin, Sira, and Reis, I had long ago modeled after Kirk, McCoy, and Spock (though that has drastically changed since then…) Some Arthurian legends played a role too, such as the powerful sword central to the plot, but that too evolved into something very different.

Ultimately, my inspiration came from a desire to create a new universe, complete and imaginative, that readers could delve into for years to come.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My favorite novels have always been in third person limited, so I find myself always drawn to that medium. To me it is the best of both worlds: you get to focus on seeing the world from the specific character or characters you focus on, and so learn so much about them, but also the beauty of a wider picture from being able to see events from multiple perspectives. In The Sword of Dragons, I specifically keep each chapter centered around a single character’s PoV.

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

Originally it was called Sword of the Dragon, simply because it was a Sword crafted by the Star Dragons. However, when I finally finished the final draft, many many years after I had started the original story, I did a search in Amazon, and found that another novel had been published with that name. At first, I was saddened, how in the world could I come up with a better title for this novel? But then a friend suggested that “The Sword of Dragons” would be a more apt description anyway, so I ran with it, and I find that it does in fact fit the history of the titular weapon better.

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

There are many, but I love leaving most of those to the readers to discover on their own. However, the two that I think are most obvious are that 1: no weapon or object in existence is inherently good or evil, it all depends on who wields it; and 2: the universe runs on action, not inaction, and if you wish to make a difference, you must act.

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

Being a high fantasy, most of the novel is imagination. But like any good writer, I drew as much on real life as I could. For instance, the character of Reis, always grinning and in good cheer, but able to be serious when the need arose, was based loosely on one of my closest friends. I’ve had limited experience with sword fighting, but had to adapt that knowledge to a fantasy adventure setting.

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

Certainly Tolkein, not in writing style but in story quality and world-building. J. K. Rowling has most definitely been a huge inspiration, and her writing style is incredible! But honestly, I grew up reading a lot of the Star Wars novels, and I loved the styles of Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole. Their ability to tell adventure stories with just enough detail to satisfy, but not too much so as to slow down the action, has been a big influence on me.

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

I’ve never had another writer take me under their wing. The only reason my writing has progressed so much over the years is because of friends who have not been shy about giving honest feedback on my writing.

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

Christian Michael was the artist for book 1. I chose him because I knew him in person and so could work with him in real-time, but also because I loved the work he had done for his own book covers.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write with passion! I cannot overstate that, your passion is your greatest strength, and believe me, readers can feel when it’s there, and when it’s not. So write what you love, and love what you write.

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

You all are why I write! To inspire and bring excitement and joy to all of you. And I absolutely love hearing from you, so please never hesitate to reach out to me🙂

Sword of Dragons Book Cover
Jon Wasik
Denver, CO

FACEBOOK

The Sword of Dragons

Cover Artist: Christian Michael

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE