Tag Archives: fantasy

Author Interview: Mel Snyder

One of the pleasures I have an an editor here on No Wasted Ink is to encourage young authors that are coming out of the gate with new work.  Enter Mel Snyder, an enterprising and upcoming writer.

Hello, my name is Mel Snyder. I am 22 years old, I’m an artist, author, language enthusiast (although I’m only fluent in two so far). I love learning how to renovate and do repairs around the house, recently rediscovered my joy for gardening, and am trying to learn my first instrument; drums. I have a noisy three-legged cat named Matrix, and spend my downtime with my wonderfully chaotic family and friend. Despite struggling with depression, anxiety, and other problems, I try my best to be outgoing and inviting to those I meet.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing at around 12-13. I loved to read, and I always thought it would be amazing to have my worlds, characters, and stories enthusiastically read and talked about. To have people empathize with the characters, immerse themselves in my stories, and clutch every page tightly as they desperately try to unravel the mysteries of the plot would be a dream come true.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably when I was 18, when I officially published my book. As much as I loved the idea of calling myself a writer, I felt like I needed physical proof to give myself that extra confirmation.

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

It takes place in an alien world where the citizens of the planet have undergone a brainwash that left every last one of them emotionless, obedient, and silent. At least, that’s what the governing system would like to think. The main character, Zepharius, is broken from that enforced repression and is trying to find the answers to why this happened while searching for the solution to restore her people. Finding others like her with the same ambition, she struggles with trust, betrayal, disabilities, ignorance, and the unknown. It’s a story about internal and external battles, fighting for what’s right, understanding oneself, and developing close bonds with family and friends to endure trials.

What inspired you to write this book?

Much like JRR Tolkien who wrote the stories of Middle Earth to cope with his traumatic and life-changing experiences from World War I, I find a lot of inspiration comes from the things I have witnessed and endured in my life. This series was my way of venting my feelings, or previous lack thereof, and showing the way life can change a person as their world seems to collapse around them. I wanted to have a book that included the complex internal struggles that many stories forget to include but many are so desperate to read, and show that characters disabled both mentally and physically can still be strong. I suppose it’s not only to inspire others, but also to myself.

Do you have a specific writing style?

First person perspective seems to be my go-to. In terms of style, I could say I am very descriptive, perhaps even too descriptive. I want my stories to be like a virtual reality world where the reader can pick up the book and be inside the scene, looking around and experiencing the sights, smells, sounds, and feel of everything around them.

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

I’m very bad at titles, which is ironic because I can make up obscure names and languages with ease. So, I decided to stick with the main character’s name. After all, the stories are only from her perspective.

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

There are various messages I’ve strewn throughout the stories, whether it be political, social, familial, or interpersonal. The most important message I want my readers to grasp is that no matter what you are going through and where you are, it is important to find people that you can trust and rely on. They may not have the same ideals, be the same “species”, or use the same methods to get through situations, but it is still possible to be united and push through difficult times with them. We are all in this together.

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

As mentioned before, the plot, the characters, and the situations are heavily inspired by the events I have endured in life. Some situations I have extracted from my family or friend and have used them as a basis for a scene or quote. Most of my characters are either a variation of myself and others that I am close with, adding a few quirks here and there.

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

Arthur Conan Doyle and JRR Tolkien. Maybe it’s why I find myself getting lost in descriptions. Tolkien opened a gateway for me to discover the lengths I could go to create an immersive, awe-striking world with various characters, scenes, situations, and action. Doyle’s work showed me how to create quirky and intriguing characters, as well as showing the importance of including even the smallest details, especially if they’re needed to understand a later plot point.

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

I actually design the covers myself! While searching for ideas on how to put the cover together, I came across the endless photos of stock covers and other illustrator’s work, but nothing seemed to come across as what I envisioned for my cover. So, I decided to sit down, pull out my paintbrushes and put my vision on canvas paper.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. If you receive criticism, accept it and learn from it. If you can’t get yourself to write, give yourself a distraction until you’re ready again. Remember that your work is a part of you, so be sure to consider it as yourself. Take pride in it, share it with others. Soon enough you’ll find those who love your work as much as you do.

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

Despite everything, there is hope. Despite betrayal and loneliness, there is trust and family. Despite trials and setbacks, there is a way to push forward. And even if you feel like giving up, you need to keep pushing through each day, because if you live through your trials, you can use them to inspire and strengthen others.

Mel Snyder
 Lexington, KY
Zepharius

 

Author Interview: JM Landels

I met Jennifer Landels at WorldCon and was immediately drawn to her well-organized author table and displays.  We fell to chatting and I extended an invitation to come to No Wasted Ink.

I’m Jennifer Landels, and I write under JM Landels. I wear many hats – writer, editor, swordswoman, and equestrian are just a few. I’m the author of the Allaigna’s Song trilogy, managing editor of Pulp Literature Press, head of the Mounted Combat Program at Academie Duello, and owner of Cornwall Ridge Equestrian in Langley BC. I’ve also been an illustrator, childbirth educator, and lead singer and guitarist of several punk/metal/grunge bands.

When and why did you begin writing?

There’s a picture of me at the age of 4 holding up a ‘book’ I ‘wrote’ and illustrated. I think it was an interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood, with about one malformed word per page. It was completely done in thick red marker. I like to think it was a feminist manifesto of some sort. I don’t know why I’ve always felt compelled to write. My first attempt at a novel was when I was fourteen. It was highly derivative, inspired by Anya Seton’s Katherine or something in that vein, and never saw more than two chapters.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In high school, I got good marks for short stories and was often given free rein to go off and write fiction when everyone else was stuck with essays. I won a few contests, and attended some conferences for young writers, and always felt I would eventually write novels. However, I stopped writing fiction in university, and even though I occasionally wrote a few pages here and there during my time as a musician and dilettante, I always got stuck. I did pages and pages of comics, but I could never get past the beginning of a novel. It wasn’t until my kids were in preschool that I took Dale Adams Segal’s Hour Stories workshop and unlocked all that pent up prose at last.

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

Allaigna’s Song: Aria is the middle book in a bildungsroman trilogy. The first book, Allaigna’s Song: Overture, follows the heroine from childhood to adolescence as she learns to control her dangerous and illicit ability to sing music into magic. It also weaves in the stories of her grandmother and mother as young women. On the surface, it’s an epic fantasy with adventure, romance, and political tension, but it’s really about mothers and daughters.

The second book finds Allaigna on the road, running away from an unwanted betrothal, furious over the lies her family has told her all her life, and searching for her biological father. It is in some ways picaresque, but the continuing stories of her mother and grandmother anchor the book in the realm of the family saga.

The final book brings Allaigna full circle as an adult and unites the timelines of the three main characters.

What inspired you to write this book?

The character of Allaigna arrived in my head as a fully formed hero, and I started writing to find out what forces shaped her into one. It took over a decade to write the first book and was heavily influenced by my three daughters as they grew. Many of my other influences show as well, such as my musical background, my involvement with childbirth, and my love of horses.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That’s a better question for one of my readers. I’m not sure. I tend to lean towards first person, but my voice changes considerably with the characters. I’m currently working on a historical series set in 17th century France, and I find a touch of Gallic insouciance shows up in the narration. With Allaigna’s Song, I have different rhythms for each of the three main characters, and I differentiate them further with tense and person.

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

Allaigna’s magical ability with music made Allaigna’s Song a fairly obvious choice for the series title, and the subtitles are musical terms. Overture is clearly the beginning; Aria is about Allaigna on her own, away from her family – a soloist, as it were; and Chorale brings a host of characters old and new together for the finale.

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

This middle novel is about Allaigna pulling free from her family with a self-imposed quest. Despite physical distance, she continues to discover much about herself and what makes a family in her travels. Saying more than that would create spoilers, so the rest is up to the reader to glean.

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

There are bits of me in all three characters, but there are also bits of my daughters, my mother, and my grandmother – not necessarily in the generational order you’d think.

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

Early on, CS Lewis, George MacDonald, Ursula LeGuin, and Madeline L’Engle gave me my love of fantasy. Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and CJ Cherryh were huge influences in my teen years – they wrote (and in the case of CJ Cherryh, still write) wonderful women characters that were a counterpoint to the male-dominated worlds of Tolkien, Heinlein, Asimov, which I also devoured.

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

It would either be Margaret Atwood, who is so remarkably clever, and who has been disobediently flitting through genres for years with her marvellous, literary voice; or Barbara Kingsolver, who writes so beautifully and passionately about families and ecology. I find her prose just guts me, in a good way.

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

I commissioned the painting from Melissa Mary Duncan. I fell in love with her work back in 2013 when she was working on the painting Frost and Snow (which later became the cover of Pulp Literature Issue 21, and is currently the first image on her website), because it looks exactly like Allaigna’s great aunt Lauraign. I decided then and there that she was my number one cover artist choice, and I was thrilled when she agreed to paint first Overture and then Aria. The cover design of Overture was done by Kris Sayer, who lovingly handcrafted title font for both the cover and interior. She was unavailable for the second book, but my daughter Kate Landels is also a talented designer and created a design that fits perfectly with the style of the first book.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Turn off your inner critic and just write. Write without thinking, or plotting, or trying to be clever – just let the words pour out. It might take some practice before you can do that. Then, when you’ve done that a good while, go through and pick out pieces that you can polish and arrange into a coherent story. The more you write, the better you will get at picking the right words the first time, and the less you’ll have to discard.

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

Thank you!

Alligna's Song: Aria Book CoverJM Landels
Langley BC, Canada

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Quantum Visions Next launches at #LosCon46

Quantum Visions Next. Volume 8 of an annual science fiction short story and poetry anthology

For the last five years, I have participated in an anthology of science fiction short stories and poetry created by editor Jude-Marie Green. The writers all used to be part of a science fiction writing critique group in the Los Angeles area. While the critique group has dissolved, Jude-Marie continues to invite us to participate in the anthology. My fellow writers are WOTF award winners, clairon graduates, or people involved in the sciences. I’m honored to be included in the project.

In previous years, Quantum Visions was printed and stapled by hand chapbook style. Each year, the annual would be launched at LosCon in Los Angeles, CA.  Many of the attendees look forward to purchasing and having all the authors sign the book at the convention.

I have sold these chapbook issues at various book tables for the last few years.  This year, our editor has decided to place the anthology on Amazon, both as an ebook and as a paperback. It looks quite professional and the stories this year are the best we’ve offered to date.  At last Quantum Visions is available to all my readers.

This year’s edition features my flash fiction, We Can Rebuild Him, and five of my illustrated scifaiku poems.

You can find the book on AMAZON

Writers of Quantum Visions Next
Writers of Quantum Visions Next: Jamie Cassidy-Curtis, David R. Moore, Wendy Van Camp, Jude-Marie Green, Chrome Oxide.

Author Interview: John Hazen

Author John Hazen is a simple man who attempts to put his dreams on paper in hopes that they may influence a reader’s dreams. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author John HazenThank you, Wendy, for having me on today. Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m a 62-year old retiree ‘living the life’ with Lynn, my wife of 39 years, in sunny Florida. I was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts. Then I went to college at Rutgers in New Jersey. I lived and worked in New York City for six years and then spent over 30 years in New Jersey before moving permanently to Florida.

I have an affinity for contradictions and contrasts. I loved growing up in a small town but I also thoroughly enjoyed living in one of the largest cities on earth. In college, my majors were in psychology and sociology but then I spent my professional career in environmental protection. I have a fear of heights when I’m up in a tall building but have sought the thrill of skydiving and parasailing. I do not like being pinned down, and I’ve carried this over into my writing. Three of my books are straightforward suspense/thrillers but the two others venture into the paranormal/supernatural with one about time travel and the other revolving around a curse that entraps souls over the centuries.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always ‘wanted’ to write but never seemed to have the time. It wasn’t until I got my first laptop that I started to write in earnest. I devoted my commuting time, about forty-five minutes each way, to writing novels. The result is that I’m now working on my sixth suspense/thriller.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It was when I got a review on my first book, Dead Dad, from an Englishman that I’d never met before. This book is a time travel story that involves a Vietnam soldier who is transported back to the Civil War. His review: “Dear Dad is a marvelously composed novel about war. I had expected a historical novel with patriotic undertones that would teach me about parts of American history I didn’t know about. While that is also true, I found much more than that: a mature reflection on war and humanity, where naive dreams meet harsh reality.” Reading that, I knew that I had accomplished what I had set out to do. I was a writer.

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

I’m actually working on two books right now. One is the third in a series of thrillers about a NYC television reporter, Francine Vega, who helps foil plots and plans that could rock the entire nation, if not the world. The second book, which I’ve only just begun, is about a young man who has a special ability that has been handed down to him from his ancestors to change events in the past and, in doing so, affects the present and future.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book, like a number of others, come from an idea that pops into my head and doesn’t let go. Dear Dad came to me because I wanted a unique way to compare a “popular” war (Civil War) with an “unpopular” one (Vietnam). My book Aceldama came from a question: What could happen if a person stumbled upon one of the coins given to Judas for the life of Jesus? My book Fava came about after reading about the Five Pillars of Islam and wondering what would happen if someone were to try and remove one of those pillars. The genesis of my present book came to me after seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child when we were in London last year. It got me wondering about the ability to change past events and how it could impact the present and future.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to be unpredictable. Three of my books are in the first person, one is in the third person and one alternates chapters from first to third and back again. I do occasionally like to insert a device. For example, in Dear Dad I preface each chapter with a letter the main character wrote to his father. The first letter is my favorite: Dear Dad, Almost got killed today. Don’t think it happened, though. Will advise when sure. Exhausted for now. Will write again soon. Love, John

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

My two works in progress don’t yet have titles. For some of my books, the titles practically presented themselves to me from the onset. Fava is the family nickname of the lead character. In others, it’s a much longer process. Aceldama (Aramaic for Potters Field) didn’t come to me until my second or third draft.

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

I always strive to impart a message in my books whether it’s a search for tolerance in the world or striving for redemption even for the most irredeemable person or whether children should bear responsibility for the sins of the parents. The most meaningful books to me over the years are ones that not only entertained me but also left me thinking at the end. I hope that at least some of my readers are left thinking after they finish one of my books.

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

I always try to intermingle stories and events from my life, things that I’ve learned about people I know and stories from my own imagination.

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

My favorite all-time novel is To Kill a Mockingbird but, since Harper Lee only wrote the one novel (I don’t count the travesty that greedy publishers put out a few years ago as her book), I’ve found it wise to get to know some other authors. I’ve loved a number of the classics such a John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis.

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

I am a huge fan of J.K. Rowling for a number of reasons. Anybody who can visualize a whole different world the way she did and then to convey that world to all of us is a genius. She actually got kids to read 700-page books! She needs to be commended for that alone. I also admire her dedication and persistence after getting turned down by publisher after publisher. I remember her as I’m trying to make my way in this competitive business.

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

My first book, Dear Dad, was self-published through CreateSpace and they supplied the illustrator. The last four were published by a small independent publisher, Black Rose Writing, who have a very talented designer, Dave King, on staff.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My greatest piece of advice is to just write. Put words on paper or on screen. You can sort them out or embellish later on. Sometimes people who want to write get too intimidated and as a result never do it. Or they have so many ideas they don’t know where to start. I look at writing as comparable to building a house. Many writers want to start selecting the blinds and carpeting before they’ve built the structure and installed the plumbing. Build your book as you go along.

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

I just want to thank them for taking the time to get to know me. I hope that they look over my books and perhaps consider reading one or more of them. I’m completely unbiased, but I have a feeling they’ll like them.

Aceldama Book CoverJohn Hazen
Singer Island, Florida

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Author Interview: Kevin Riley

Author Kevin Riley is a writer with too many hobbies who resides in Sidney, Ohio with his wife. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Kevin RileyHello! I am Kevin Riley, a 40-year-old writer and freelance designer from Ohio where I live with my wife. I have three adult kids and recently welcomed grandbabies #3 and #4. When I’m not writing or designing I’m usually woodworking and/or building something, from guitars to furniture, I love to keep busy. I also operate the Keyboard Monkeys blog (https://keyboardmonkeys.blog/ ).

When and why did you begin writing?

I first started writing when I accepted a new position an hour’s drive from my house. I had a lot of time to fill during those two hours of commuting. I used the time to start thinking about a main character and soon other characters started joining him. After a while, they just all started interacting in my head, so eventually, I had to tell their story.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I secretly considered myself a writer after I finished my first novel (The Dark Genesis of Daniel James) but I still didn’t feel right calling myself a writer to others until I’d finished by 3rd book (The Consciousness Puzzle). But even then, my career as a designer really started to get busy and I considered myself a designer first and a writer second. Last year I left the company I’d worked for since I was 19 and started freelance designing and writing. I still spend a bit more time designing than writing but my passion has definitely shifted to where I feel I am equally a writer and designer.

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

My current work-in-progress is actually my favorite (isn’t it always?). The title is “My Life As Death” and the premise is basically:

On the eve of his senior year, almost-eighteen-year-old Nathaniel (Nate to his friends) gets into a drunken accident, totaling his car and ending his life, or so he thought. In the darkness of death, a face appears and offers him a deal; agree to become a Grim Reaper (yes, there’s more than one Grim Reaper), send a select number of well-deserving souls to the afterlife and he will get to finish out the life he was meant to live. Fail to reap all of them and Nate will forever be a servant of death.

Now Nate’s not a homicidal maniac; to the contrary, he actually doesn’t like the idea of having to kill anyone, but he’s guaranteed to only have to reap the truly evil, the murderers, rapists and child molesters. How could anyone have a problem with getting rid of those people? Right? Upon touching the guilty party, Nate will even see their evil deeds and know the punishment is deserved. Then he just has to decide how they’ll die. But not everything is as simple as it seems, especially when everyone has secrets.

What inspired you to write this book?

The title My Life As Death actually came to me first while mowing one day, immediately followed by the idea and an image of a teenage grim reaper. I loved the question of how a teenager would handle being responsible for dealing with death. I mean, high school is tough enough without being an angel of death. How would he handle the added responsibility? What would happen with his friends if they find out?

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style has gently evolved with experience. Dark Genesis and My Life as Death are young adult books and 23 Hours and The Consciousness Puzzle are more Adult Action/Adventure so my style probably changes a little between them, but I think the best way to describe my writing style is “fast-paced”. I like to read shorter, action-packed books and I think my writing reflects this preference.

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

The phrase just popped into my head one day while mowing. I always listen to music while mowing and I’m sure it was triggered by a song but unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you which one.

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

This book really seems to hit on many themes such as friendship, responsibilities, redemption as well as others, but I think the overall message is personal strength and accountability. Nate is tasked with a horrible responsibility and doesn’t always make the right decisions, but he keeps going.

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

This book, more than any other, draws on a lot of my own teenage experiences and feelings, besides the whole “Angel of Death” part. There are some of the deep friendships like you develop in those years, as well as the teacher/parent/authority-figure conflicts. There’s also the whole idea of figuring out who you are and where you fit in this world, it’s just complicated by the fact that he has a unique obligation to send people on to the after-life.

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

I grew up going to the library all the time, and probably read every “Hardy Boys” book published before I turned 14 or 15, so I’d have to say Edward Stratemeyer and the collection of writers known as Franklin W. Dixon probably had the most influence on me becoming a writer. I think both JK Rowling and Dean Koontz, especially his earlier stuff, really pushed me to explore deeper possibilities with character development in storytelling because of the complexity and flaws of their characters.

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

If I were to choose one writer as a mentor, I think it would have to be Dean Koontz because of his diversity and how prolific he is as a writer.

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

As a designer by trade, I have designed all my book covers. While it’s a different application than what I was used to in my day job I loved the unique challenge, though I’m also probably my own worst customer.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

“Just Write”. My first attempt at writing a novel stopped after 15,000 words when I realized that the story wasn’t any good. But the characters were good, and my second attempt with them went much better and became my first novel. If I can do it, anyone can; it just takes time, practice and persistence.

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

To my readers, I would probably say – I’d love to know what you think of any of my books. I appreciate anyone who takes time to tweet at me, email me, or especially to leave a review, even the less than flattering ones. I don’t mind criticism at all, that’s how we grow as people and as writers, though I welcome positive feedback as well.

The Consciousness Puzzle Book CoverKevin Riley
Sidney, Ohio

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