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Author Interview: Manner Hall

Author Manner Hall is a young upcoming fantasy author from Los Angeles. It is always my pleasure to feature local authors on my blog. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Manner HallMy name is Manner Hall, I am twenty-five years old. I am a published author, as well as a sword and vape collector. I also happen to be a muscle car fanatic. Alongside those pastimes, I enjoy spreading joy and happiness via my social media pages and in daily life. I have five loving fur babies, three dogs, and two cats. In recent months I have also been exploring the world of good health and a centered well being. I enjoy meeting new people, I feel that a person can learn valid things from almost anybody. Which is why I am so excited to do this interview and share some of my knowledge with other upcoming writers. Perhaps if I am lucky enough, I will be able to connect with more people and hear their experiences.

When and why did you start writing?

I began writing at the age of thirteen. At the time I suffered from nearly debilitating night terrors. You know, the kind that wakes you up in a bed of sweat gasping for air. Often times I would wake up terrified because my nightmares felt so real. I was told by various family members, mainly my grandmother, that if I told someone what they were about they would go away. Sadly, that did not happen. So instead every night I began going to sleep with an open mind rather than fear. I kept a journal by my bed and when I would have a dream I would wake up and jot down what I saw and heard. Over the course of the next few months, I realized that the dreams had begun to link together much like a puzzle. I began to get to know and feel the emotions of the characters, people, and creatures that came to visit me in the realm of sleep. I was always the bystander, my dreams seemed like a movie playing before my eyes. As I see it, I am the voice of my dreams, I bring them to life through my writing. It was that pain and terror that gave birth to my book series Amulet of the Elements.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I came to acknowledge myself as a writer by the time I turned fifteen. Between balancing my studies at school and other various activities, I forced myself to find time to write. If I went to long without pumping out a chapter or two a week, I found that my night terrors would return with a vengeance. The more I slept, the more I got to know characters from my series, Tonisa, Reanon the Red etc. The expansive universe my mind had come to subconsciously build, making me realize this was my calling and my gift. The more I wrote, the more mature and eccentric my writing style became, it was then that I labeled myself as a writer.

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

The book that I would enjoy sharing with everyone would be, Amulet of the Elements Chosen of the Stone. It is a dark epic fantasy novel that I began writing, what seems forever ago. It takes place in medieval times and has races, planets, and languages that I have created myself. It is set around the story of three main characters. Zacura Bloodclaw, a hellhound who claims the breed of the Trivouchion Red Horn. She is what many believe is the next chosen Keeper of the Elements, of chosen of the stone. Zacura is the main protagonist in my series. Another character of note would be Tonisa Tyliquin. She is the main antagonist in the series, with her secret lover Calira Draconvieh or as he is commonly known, The Dark Dragon King, being the supporting antagonist.

In short, my book and its series are about the greater good. So many characters that many think would never clash do in unthinkable ways. The main focus is a battle for the planet of Evernia. It has been subjected to a noxious and plague-like cloud of darkness known as the Raxonian Bane. No one knows where or how it started, but some view it as the gods’ way of washing sin from a world they never meant to create. The secondary focus is a battle between the dragons of Evernia and the witches known as the Tyliquin race. It is a legendary war that has been going on for over ten thousand years. I would say it is a civil war, one that began with the sin of a goddess in the form of pre-marital sex with a demon. It is a battle for control, rights, and wealth in the form of land. One side wishes to regain dominion over what they feel was stolen from them, while the other wishes to see magic vanquished. This is often times found to be unreasonable in my series to most characters, as magic is what freed the draconic races from their chains and slavery to the human race in the Embryonic Era.

What inspired you to write this book?

I would have to say that my brain’s creativity inspired me to write this book and all six others that will follow. I always tell people who ask me this question, that my brain is in a way, my master. It shows me things that I never thought possible and allows me to connect mentally and somewhat physically to my characters and their stories. There are so many ideas and tales in my head that I feel it would be a disservice to my gift to never see them in print. I want to share my stories with the world. My hope is that everyone can find something in this book to relate to.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes, I do. I believe I would fall under both the descriptive and narrative columns of writing styles. I have had many of my readers tell me that my writing could be compared to a song. I found that quite flattering honestly. I am very descriptive, I enjoy explaining things like feelings, sounds and clothing textures in comparison to other items or things. I feel it gives the reader a much more realistic depiction of the text. For example, when I express something like a dragon roaring I would say something like the following.

“The thunderous ballad of serpentine vocals trampled through the open air like a drum of thunder.”

I just personally enjoy having common things to refer to when I read, especially in a fantasy novel. Authors of the fantasy genre build worlds we know nothing about. It is for this reason I enjoy adding a bit of realism to derive a scene from. Something to give the reader a painting of something that is familiar to them.

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

Amulet of the Elements Chosen of the Stone is a second edition of the first book. The original title was Amulet of the Elements Keeper of the Elements.  Over time as my skills evolved and I left my previous publishing company, I found it to be redundant. It felt more like a title for a children’s book or teen novel. Which my book is in no way marketed for, so I changed it having then been in my twenties. Amulet of the Elements Chosen of the Stone was born basically out of having more maturity and the ability to think deeper into my work. The title symbolizes that someone is the chosen being, and has been elected by a powerful and ethereal like stone, rather than by their peers or another being in the line of succession.

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

Yes! There are so many that I could never explain them all in one sitting so I will focus on pointing out the main ones. While writing AOTE, I wanted to spread what I feel is peace and wisdom in an exciting landscape. The fantasy genre is huge, so much so that some even cosplay, or live by the creed or lifestyle of some very popular books. We as people tend to be more open to make a stand or accept something if someone we look up to agrees with it. Writing is a valuable tool to see such things happen.

One of my messages would be on racism. Even today in 2018 we still face issues with judgmental opinions and prejudice. I happen to be in an interracial relationship, my boyfriend and I get looks all the time because I am African/German American and he is Caucasian/ White. Even answering this question ruffles my feathers a bit. I do not enjoy claiming a race, I am human as are we all.

To sum up this particular message I will say this. In my series, hellhounds represent the poor and middle class. In comparison to our world, they are the African Americans, the Latino, the Muslim or any race or religion that is currently or has always been frowned upon.

The dragons represent the rich and influent, they are often times prejudice and feel that anyone who is not like them are beneath them. Now I am not saying that every rich person is cruel or a racist or anything like that. There is good and evil in everyone, such is true with certain dragons in my books.

Take Calira and Tonisa for example. Calira is what is known as a hidden drake. Meaning he is a dragon but he can walk as a human. Tonisa is a Tyliquin witch, a race of human magical beings. It is illegal for a dragon to marry or mate with a witch. And in some countries as a dragon, you can be killed if you hold a Tyliquin as anything more than a slave. This couple has lived through segregation and torment. Even still, they persevere and fight for their right to love no matter the blood they claim.

The second I will share today is greed. In my books, it shows how greed can be enjoyed, but also how it can damage an ecosystem, a class of people and or creatures as a whole. My other messages are hidden here and there. I am sure everyone who reads my books will find them.

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

No, they are not. This book and all those that will come to follow, just bloom as I go. I know how the story began and I know how it will end. Everything else is up to whatever direction my imagination forces me to take.

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

I would have to say the authors who have influenced my life would be, J.K. Rowling and Steven Erickson to name a couple. I would even say a sprinkle of J.R.R Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. J.K. Rowling was my very first introduction into Fantasy followed by Tolkien, Martin, and Erickson. What I find most inspiring about them all is the originality of their work and how they never gave up on their dreams of becoming a well known and best-selling author.

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

I would have to say J.K. Rowling for sure. She is an amazing person. She created a world and story both adults and children could enjoy. Gave messages of love and war and the good side, at last, gaining the upper hand. I hope to one day be like her. She is extremely rich and famous but still remains humble and caring to others. She is not greedy nor has she ever forgotten how far she has come, I admire that.

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

I design all the covers to my books from my AOTE series to my short stories and novels. However, A wonderful man by the name of Sukrit, known as Doomguy26 on Deviantart illustrated them for me and brought my ideas to life. I chose him because he had the exact drawing style I was looking for. A realistic feel with the ability to keep the wonders of fantasy and myth in the art.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My best advice would be to do your research and take your time. Never give up on your dream of becoming an author. It has been one of the most time consuming yet rewarding activities in my life thus far. I have had the experience of meeting new people from around the globe. I would also suggest that they look into self-publishing through Amazon if they run into issues or far too many denial letters from traditional publishers. I left my old publishing company Tate Publishing back in early 2016. They were not at all what they seemed. I have since then had much more exposure networking myself than I ever had with them. Research, talk to people, explore the vast world or the internet and educate yourself before you dive in. You can also build up your followers and popularity for free while you work on your book or series. That way you can grow as you go. I began on Wattpad and just expanded from there.

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

I just want to thank all my followers and readers for their support and opinions throughout the years. I would be nothing without all you guys. To all the followers I may gain from this interview, I wish to extend my thanks in advance to you and hope you enjoy this as well as my book and those coming in the near future. And of course, let’s spread love not hate.

Amulet of the Elements Chosen of the Stone Book CoverManner Hall
Los Angeles California

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Surviving an Author Reading by Tina LeCount Myers

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When I received the programming schedule for this year’s World Fantasy Con, I was surprised and honored to discover I had a 30 minute Reading slot on Friday at 2 pm. It would be my first public reading of my debut novel, THE SONG OF ALL.
And with that, I began to panic. 30 minutes? I couldn’t imagine reading aloud for that long. I emailed my editor and my agent. They reassured me:

“It’s a great opportunity.”

“You’ll make introductory remarks about you and the book, read for 15 minutes, then take questions at the end.”

Immediately, I began to obsess over what I should read, which meant I didn’t decide until just before the conference. Then I practiced reading aloud to get the timing and inflections just right. The first afternoon of World Fantasy, I attended three readings to see how other authors handled their 30 minutes. Just as my editor outlined: opening comments, followed by a 15-minute reading, and questions at the end.

By Friday, I’d practiced reading my selection another half-dozen times. My nervousness bounded between, What if nobody shows up? What if people do show up? Of the two, the former was the real fear. Ten minutes before my reading, I made my way to Executive Salon 3 where the neatly arranged conference chairs sat empty. I set my name placard up in front, poured myself a glass of water, and opened my bound manuscript to the selection I’d chosen.

I looked at my phone. 1:56 pm. I was alone in the room. I laid out my opening remarks, some of which I hoped were clever. 1:58 pm. I was alone in the room. 1:59 pm. I was alone in the room.

I texted my husband saying, “I don’t think anyone’s showing up.”

I was about to pack up and leave, the sting of humiliation flush on my cheeks. Then a woman walked in. I smiled and greeted her and resolved to do my best reading just for her. And then two University of Texas students walked in. They were fulfilling a class requirement. I welcomed them warmly, hoping my inner relief remained unremarkable.

With this quorum of three, I began my opening remarks, managing to keep going through a late arrival, even as I tallied silently. Four.

At ten minutes after 2:00 pm, I began the reading. I found my rhythm almost immediately. My voice resonated just as I had practiced. The words rose effortlessly from the page. Fourteen minutes later, I finished the chapter. I looked up at the neatly lined and mostly empty chairs before me, surprised to see my agent. Apparently, I had been so caught up in my reading, I had not heard him slip in to take a front-row seat. I silently tallied. Five.

The subsequent applause was generous, the questions forthcoming, and the comments complimentary. I had survived my first reading. Still, the shame of 1:59 pm clung like a burr as I stood in the corridor with my agent. He had just gallantly pointed out the challenges of the time and the location of my reading when the neighboring room disgorged a packed house of enthusiastic attendees. With a flash of envy, I looked to the room’s marquee.

2:00 pm reading David Mitchell

David Mitchell, Two-time Booker Prize nominee and New York Times bestselling author of CLOUD ATLAS, THE BONE CLOCKS, and SLADE HOUSE. Guest of Honor at the conference and charmingly erudite, with a lilting British accent.

The organizers had scheduled me opposite David Mitchell!

I’d been so focused on my reading, it didn’t occur to me to look at who else was on the schedule at the same time. It felt like such a rookie mistake. But I was glad I hadn’t known.

Afterward, each time I found myself in the elevator with David Mitchell, I had a surge of envy. But my jealousy would inevitably fade because David Mitchell was invariably gracious and charming, with that disarming accent. I thought of sharing with him this anecdote of my first reading pitted against his, but the elevator rides never afforded a private moment. And just as well.

It was my first reading. A starting point. My next reading will likely not be scheduled opposite a Booker Prize nominee and New York Times bestseller with a lilting British accent.

And besides, I had FIVE folks who chose me over David Mitchell.

Five Tips That Might Help You Survive Your First Author Reading

1. Practice. Practice. Practice. I’ve been to any number of readings where a fabulous author is monotone, mumbles, or speedreads. Reading aloud is a skill. It should not be taken for granted. Practice until it flows. Time yourself. For new authors, unless a specific time has been requested, shorter is better. Under 15 minutes.

2. If possible, scope out the venue in advance. The place may have poor lighting or no podium. It may not have a convenient outlet when your computer battery starts to die. It may be freezing or stuffy. Conference rooms are notoriously bad for temperature control. And it may or may not have a mic. Be prepared—at least as much as you can.

3. Stack the audience with friends. Or at least one friendly face. If you are reading in a bookstore, library, etc., tell your friends. Bribe, cajole, and call in favors. Do what you must to get an audience that will support you. As a new author at conferences, try to meet as many new people as possible. Let them know about your reading. Have some promo material to give them. It only takes one friendly face to make a reading a success.

4. Help your audience transition from passive listening to active questioning. As a new author, you may not have a fan base that has ready questions they’ve always wanted to ask you. But you can help the audience find questions. In the transition, you can suggest topics related to your book or related to your interests. For example, “I’m happy to answer questions about the process of writing, the setting of my book, my main character’s favorite food…or you could ask me about surfing and learning Italian by watching Bay Watch in Italy.” Clearly, those last two topics are specific to me, but I am sure there’s something about you that will spark questions from your audience.

5. Try not to be scheduled against David Mitchell.


Author Tina LeCount MeyersTina LeCount Myers is a writer, artist, independent historian, and surfer. Born in Mexico to expat-bohemian parents, she grew up on Southern California tennis courts with a prophecy hanging over her head; her parents hoped she’d one day be an author. She is a member of the Western Association of Women Historians, National Women’s Book Association–San Francisco Chapter, and a guest instructor for the Young Writers’ Workshop at 826 Valencia. The Song of All (February 20, 2018, Night Shade Books) is her debut novel.

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Author Interview: Fiona Skye

Author Fiona Skye is a fantasy author who shares a home with her husband, two kids, three cats, a betta fish, and a Border Collie. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Fiona SkyeMy name is Fiona Skye. I’m originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, but I’m presently living in Tucson, AZ. I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old, but only within the past five years or so have I turned my attention to fiction. Before that, I was editor-in-chief for a weekly newspaper, as well as a staff writer for a monthly magazine. I’m also a freelance fiction editor and burgeoning cover artist.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was about twelve or so, and I’d always loved playing make-believe with my friends. I’d make up stories for us to act out—big, epic battles between elves and dwarfs and orcs (my father was a big Tolkien fan and first read The Hobbit to me when I was about seven), or we’d pretend we were flying to Neverland with Peter and Wendy, or we were stray dogs living in the forest, waiting for some nice family to adopt us. Anyway, there was a band in the 1980s called White Lion, and they had this song called The Lady Of The Valley. Something about it really got my imagination going, but instead of just playacting, I sat down and wrote my first short story. I gave it to my writing teacher and she helped me edit and develop it. I was hooked instantly. I filled the next four years with furiously-scribbled stories in about a thousand notebooks, then I applied for my school newspaper. I promptly forgot about fiction and focused solely on nonfiction for the almost the next twenty years.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Honestly, it was probably when my first article was published in my college newspaper. Before that, it was more like a hobby or a cathartic exercise or something I did for a grade. But seeing my name in print and getting feedback from readers told me that maybe I was a writer and not just a dabbler.

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

I actually have three current books. One is an alternate history love story about a 21st- century woman from Los Angeles who somehow winds up in 8th-century England. She falls in with a bunch of Danes and has to figure out to survive and get back to her own time. It’s called Bones and Ravens, and it’ll probably be a stand-alone novel.

The second of my WIPs is a mash-up of urban fantasy and sci-fi. It’s about a woman who is suffering from amnesia. She’s an assassin for the local vampire clan, and as she’s doing jobs for these vampires, she slowly uncovers a conspiracy involving the US military and a corrupt scientist. I’m writing it as a serial novel. I’m planning two “season” of five episodes each. Ideally, I’d like to release the first season, which I’m calling Silent Whisper, over a period of 5-6 weeks, so that means I’ve got to write and edit the entire thing before I can release it.

The last book I’m working on is the first in a cozy mystery series about the editor of a small weekly newspaper in a mountain village in Colorado. It’s called Bury The Lede. It’s set at Christmas time, so I have almost an entire year to write it and get it ready for publication.

What inspired you to write this book?

Bones And Ravens is inspired by the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell and by the Netflix show “The Last Kingdom”, which is based on Cornwell’s books. Plus I’ve been getting more into Old Norse myth and language as I’ve been exploring my Norwegian ancestry more.

Silent Whisper is inspired by a TV show from the early 2000s, called “Dark Angel”. It explores the same themes as my book, namely genetic manipulation and military training to create the perfect super soldier.

Bury The Lede came about because I love reading cozy mysteries, so I thought I’d try to write one myself.

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

Bones and Ravens came about because the love interest is nicknamed Hrafenkell, which means “raven’s helmet”, because he has very dark, glossy hair that reminds people of ravens’ wings. The Bones part comes from an actual historical figure, Guthrum the Unlucky, who wore one of his mother’s rib bones tied into his hair.

Silent Whisper is so-called because the main character is named Whisper, whose past is silent. I know, it’s a little on the nose, but I’m really, really bad with titles.

Bury The Lede is from an old newspaper term for starting an article with details of secondary importance while postponing more important facts. Plus it has “bury” in it and that means someone’s gonna die.

What authors have most influenced your life? If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

Diana Gabaldon and Jim Butcher are my two writing gods. Gabaldon has taught me so much about humanizing my characters and to really love research. Butcher has taught me how to play the long game—how to sprinkle early books in a series with facts that seem to be throw-aways but which show themselves to be major plot points as the series continues.

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

I designed this cover, which is the only one I have finalized for the three WIPs I’ve mentioned above. I selected this illustrator because I’m cheap! 🙂

silent-whisper book coverFiona Skye
Arizona, USA

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Author Interview: Steve Dunn

Author Steve Dunn loves to create worlds and explore their highways and byways since he was young. He always had a passion for stories both real and unreal. Spanning genres in his search for a good yarn, Steve writes breathless action, colorful characters and elaborate settings. It is a pleasure to feature him here on No Wasted Ink.

Beacon Church Elder PortraitsI’m Steve Dunn and am a full-time church pastor in Kent, United Kingdom after spending twenty years as a paramedic in the National Health Service. I also work part-time for a couple of fostering agencies too. I’m married to Jennie, and we have a thirteen-year-old daughter, a ginger dog, and a bearded dragon.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always written, can even recall one particular sci-fi short story I wrote for school homework, but it’s grown over the years into full novels. These characters appear in my head and they will not leave me alone until they’re on the page and released into the wild.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’d never really considered myself as a writer until very recently – even once I got my first two books onto Kindle I felt like a bit of an imposter, just hoping a couple of mates might download them. As they picked up in further sales and then Viking Resurrection appeared, I suddenly realized it was okay to call myself a writer (rather than “someone who writes”) and am now pretty proud of the fact. It’s a gift I enjoy seeing grow and it’s no bad thing to admit that, whilst still letting others decide how good you are and they can do the major championing on your behalf!

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

Viking Resurrection is my most recent fantasy novel. I’ve written Gold a’Locks And The Three Weres as a free novelette since, and my latest novel Suffragette Sensei is a historical thriller, but Viking Resurrection is my most popular in the world of sci-fi/fantasy. Set mostly in 999AD Europe, it’s an epic adventure that spans an era and a continent. We join twelve-year-old Amy as she hunts down her missing parents and confronts a rising army of undead Vikings, led by nine sisters with terrifying powers.

What inspired you to write this book?

It originally began as a “Pirate Princess” tale (!) but as the characters drew shape in my mind, the tale suddenly demanded a shift to an earlier era and helped define the journey that these protagonists were to take. The final tale is dramatically different to those embryonic thoughts! And I love it all the more for it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My use of language has been described by many as poetic and evocative, and I guess that is one of my hallmarks. I love evoking the sounds and smells of a scene or interaction, and am passionate about the “show, don’t tell” rule – while not banning the word “felt/feel”, I’d rather the reader senses the emotions or setting alongside the protagonist rather than simply be told how they’re feeling.

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

Once the Viking/magic storyline was taking shape, it was always going to be called “Rune-Riddle”, and stayed as such for a long time. But towards the end, I recognized this was somewhat obscure, didn’t fully sum up the tale, and lacked a certain punch for marketing purposes too. “Viking Resurrection” already sounds like a movie I’d want to see! It was a no-brainer for me. And now a prequel, “Viking Dawn”, is in the works, about one side character in particular that everyone seems to be asking for more of!

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

Stephen King has influenced me somewhat over the years, particularly in his descriptive style, and his book On Writing has been immensely helpful and inspiring. Clive Barker’s gift of melding the fantastical with the real has made a significant mark on me, and I will always have a special fondness for Bram Stoker – Dracula is my all-time favorite (and most re-read) book, with its compilation of journal entries, letters, and memos that provide such an amazing tale. No mean feat!

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

I did! I use GIMP and stock images for all my covers. My art college days paying off! Writing on a budget…

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Stop saying, “I’d like to write a book”, and write it! Even if it’s for fifteen minutes a day when life gets crazy, the danger is waiting for life to slow down – which it doesn’t always, we never know what’s around the corner – or for our “Muse” to come. Oftentimes she only arrives once we start typing/scribbling. Get those creative juices flowing by doing it, they’ll come. As Neil Gaiman says, “You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

Also, let your characters tell you what they could be doing next; it can sound weird, particularly to non-writers, but listening to these people that reside in your head puts flesh on their bones and life into your stories.

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

Just a big thank you for their support thus far – there are some in particular who are my biggest champions and they like to tell everyone about my books. For that, I am both humbled and very very grateful.

Viking Resurrection 2017 cover 300dpiSteve Dunn
Herne Bay, Kent, UK

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