Tag Archives: fantasy

Author Interview: Alma Alexander

Author Alma Alexander writes stories which are roadmaps to places people never knew existed but always believed had to be there.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Alma AlexanderMy name is Alma Alexander, and I am a writer. I taught myself to read before age 4 (because my mother wouldn’t re-read a favourite book to me, so I just picked it up and started reading for myself…) and I haven’t stopped reading since. My house is built of books (sometimes quite literally – I have an entire room all of whose walls and every available vertical surface of which is covered in bookshelves with (sometimes triple stacked) books. When not reading, I am writing; when not writing, I do gold embroidery (that’s the opulent stuff, with silk and gold and pearls) and I run around taking photographs of beautiful skies and other things. When not doing that, I sleep and I dream – and when I wake, I often make stories out of the dreams that visited me in the night.

When and why did you begin writing?

I didn’t “begin writing”. I always wrote. Since I knew how. I wrote my first poem aged 5 – first novel aged 9 – first GOOD novel aged 11 – and I currently have more than 3 million words in print. It’s always been a core part of me – I didn’t choose it, it chose me, and I’ve been its handmaiden all my life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

See above. You could say, when I won my first writing award aged 12. You could say, when I published my first word. You could say, when I was nominated for a major national writing award or two. You could say, when I published my first dozen novels. All if it is true, and none of it is. I have never “considered myself a writer”. I AM one. That is different.

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

There are currently several projects on the go, but I am generally uncomfortable talking about the projects I am currently in the process of writing – simply because I am an organic writer in the worst way and I don’t necessarily KNOW what is going to happen next in any given story. The next published works that are coming out are a reissue of “Midnight at Spanish Gardens”, which I call my Novel of ‘Choice’ and what it means to make one (and there are ALWAYS consequences…) originally published to very high reader approval and involvement but now re-edited, re-covered, and re-issued for a new readership – and a brand new book, a short story collection under the name “Untranslatable” which is going to be a very special book indeed (the conceit being that there are words in multiple foreign languages which mean thing that it takes sentences, even paragraphs, to describe in English – there is simply no equivalent single-word concept. And sometimes the best way to understand these words… is through stories. That should be out in time for Christmas 2018.

Do you have a specific writing style?

No. Although I’ve been accused (jokingly but still…) of having swallowed a dictionary when I was a baby. I DO like language, and I write lush; in my household my husband (also a wordsmith) it has been posited that he writes like Hemingway and I write like Steinbeck. I tend to write very strong female protagonists, sometimes multiples ones in the same book (as in “Secrets of Jin-shei”. But my writing “style” as such changes with every book – and I never write the same book twice.

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

I don’t write novels with “messages” as such – but if there is one, then it might be encapsulated in the prayer my Simonis makes in “Empress”: Give me the life I am meant to live. Take that as a guiding principle, and you’ll inevitably end up gravitating to the things that you want, the things that are meant for you. This doesn’t mean that you will always be happy, or even that you are guaranteed a “happily ever after” ending (I don’t really believe in those…) It does mean that you will live a life that matters. I can hardly do better than that.

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

Some. “Midnight at Spanish Gardens” includes things that I do have direct experience of, yes – the ‘Spanish Gardens’ of the title used to be a real place, one I frequented when I was at University, the description of it in the book is pretty much exactly what the real place looked like, and some of the events described as taking place there really did occur. But that’s the least “fantastical” of my fantasies – and in many of the others, the events of which I write are tied into a fantasy milieu where real-life experiences as I or my contemporaries would know them would seem direly out of place.. I’m sure I do some distilling in my own mind and some stuff can inevitably be traced back to things I may not have even consciously been aware of when writing the story – but I don’t regurgitate reality. If I occasionally reimagine it, that would be plenty.

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

Oh, lawks-a-mercy, this question is never answerable. Tolkien. Le Guin. Guy Gavriel Kay. Roger Zelazny. Sharon Penman. Rebecca du Maurier. Howard Spring. Ivo Andric. Mary Doria Russell. Matt Ruff. Mary Stewart. Spider Robinson. Octavia Butler. They have all taught me things – about how to build worlds, how to understand people, how to think when wearing a different mind, how to speak, how to act, what is ethical and what is moral and how far would I go to remain those things. That is not an exhaustive or a final list. You might say my answer to that question is Yes, writers have influenced my life hugely and they continue to do so. And they all bring different things I find inspiring.

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

My grandfather started me off in the love of language – a poet, he started me reading poetry when I was almost too young to comprehend it. But it left a lasting mark, and maybe it’s the reason I write so poetically even today. No, I don’t have a ‘mentor’. But in one writing workshop I was fortunate enough to attend, the last one that Roger Zelazny did before he died, Zelazny asked me two questions. How long had I been writing? (and I said, forever) and Did I read or write a lot of poetry? (And I had admitted that I did). And he said to me, “It shows. You have a voice all of your own. Nobody else will ever write like this.” I take those words as something uttered by a master to an acolyte. If you want to call that a mentorship – although it is encapsulated in a single sentence – there it is.

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

This might be changing in today’s publishing culture but I still belong to the generation which, when published, did not “choose” their cover artists and have no direct links or contacts with them, even, in most cases. For something like “Empress” I did commission the cover myself – from Hugo-Award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett – because I love her work, and she and I worked together on a concept that I had for the cover. For my Book View Café-published novel “AbductiCon”, a humorous science fiction novel about science fiction conventions, the cover designer was… myself. But more often than not authors are presented with a cover during the publication process, and have to hope we like it…

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. Read FIRST. Read before you write a single word yourself. Writers who begin by saying that they don’t have time to read… have not done the training required to write. Read first. Read EVERYTHING. And learn from all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Learn about what kind of person, what kind of WRITER, you want to be.

Book Cover EmpressAlma Alexander
Bellingham, WA

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Author Interview: Dorothy Winsor

Author Dorothy A. Winsor writes young adult and middle-grade fantasy novels. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

WinsorHeadhshotI’m Dorothy Winsor. As a kid, I loved reading so much that my mother once tried to get me to go outside more by limiting me to five chapters a day instead of burning through Nancy Drew novels. Eventually, I became an English professor. Then the writing bug bit, and I quit teaching to write full time. I live with my husband in the Chicago area, not far from our son, daughter-in-law, and granddog.

When and why did you begin writing?

Much as I loved fiction, I didn’t start writing until I was in my fifties. All my writer friends wanted to write even when they were kids, but I never thought of myself as creative enough.

Then I became enchanted with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. Poking around on the web for more information, I discovered fanfiction. Anyone who’s looked at fanfic knows it’s written with a wide range of skill. I looked at stories posted by brave twelve-year-olds and decided if they could do it, I could at least try.

Once I started, it was hard for me to stop (I tend to get obsessive). Raymond Chandler supposedly once said you have to write a million words of crap before you can write anything decent. When my word count hit that number, I decided to try my hand at writing my own stories. The Wind Reader is my third novel.

The moral of my story is there’s no wrong way to become a writer. Also, it’s never too late.

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

When I finished a first draft of The Wind Reader, I wrote a tweet-length description of its premise:

Street kid Doniver is taken into the castle to be the royal fortune teller. Good news? Food and a safe bed. Bad news? He can’t tell fortunes.

That sums up the plot but it probably misrepresents the tone. Doniver is in a grim situation, plus an assassination plot is underway that the prince is relying on Doniver to uncover. He survives only with the help of two street friends and his own wits and courage.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m a little embarrassed to admit where my inspiration came from, but what the heck. I’ve already confessed to writing fanfic.

My husband was watching the TV show “Psych,” which is about a guy who pretends to be psychic and winds up helping the police solve crimes. I realized I could tweak that premise into a fantasy plot about a fake magician solving a mystery.

For me, inspiration often comes like that, noticing events and stories around me and twisting them a little sideways.

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

I was wrestling with exactly what Doniver could do to tell fortunes. We were living in Iowa at the time, and on the edge of the prairie, the wind is a constant force. Doniver is from the mountains and now lives in a prairie-like environment, so I thought the wind might be one of the most powerful forces in his world and made him a wind reader.

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

I think in terms of themes (observations about life) rather than messages (advice on how to think or act). A theme can be as simple or even clichéd as love conquers all.

For The Wind Reader, I’d say the primary theme is if you lose your honor, you lose yourself. And by the way, one of the most satisfying parts of writing young adult fantasy is that you can use the word “honor” unironically. In this book, honor means living by your core beliefs and values.

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

I don’t deliberately insert people or events from my life, but I think all writers draw from their own experiences. What else do they have to draw from?

So I find I repeat emotional notes from one story or book to another, sometimes in ways that are a surprise to me. For instance, I had parents who did their best, and yet, over and over, I find myself writing about troubled relationships with a father. All I can say is, “I’m sorry, Dad!”

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

Marco Pennaccietti did. My editor at Inspired Quill found his portfolio online and asked me if I thought he’d be good for The Wind Reader’s cover. I liked his work so my editor contacted him. I found it exciting to see how someone else came up with a visual representation for my book.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I’d give the same advice my aerobics teacher gives our class: consistency is more important than intensity. Write regularly, every week, every day if possible, even if it’s only a line. Waiting for inspiration is a fool’s game. It’s consistent work that creates the conditions for inspiration to appear.

Also, trust your instincts. If a scene or a line or a characterization feels off, it probably is. Learn to love revision because of the way it lets you see the book getting better.

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

Dear Readers: Most importantly, I hope you enjoy The Wind Reader. I hope you can’t wait to get back to it after you have to put it down. I hope you have fun with it.

But also, I once heard George R. R. Martin say that he thought of himself as the sum of his experiences and reading was an experience. Sometimes the experiences he had reading felt more vital and important than what was going around him day to day. I hope The Wind Reader leaves you feeling that your experience of life has been expanded and enriched.

The Wind Reader - 3D Book (Small) (1)Dorothy A. Winsor
Barrington, Illinois

The Wind Reader

Cover Artist: Marco Pennaccietti
Publisher: Inspired Quill

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Flashfiction: The Curse of Love by Wendy Van Camp

The curse of love

Standing in the bright light was a girl in a dress of fine green cloth. She shifted from one foot to the other and did not meet Agathe’s gaze.

“What brings you here, dearie?” Love? Money? Revenge?

“Daniel. I want him to notice me.”

“And he prefers another?” So it was Love.

She selected a vial from the collection on the sill. “Two silvers.” The girl pulled the required coins from her pouch and ran away.

Agathe smiled. Daniel would notice her, but so would all the men. It would not be love for the maiden, only a curse.

I was given the challenge to write a micro-fiction of under 100 words with the prompt “cursed”.  This little tale is what I came up with.  Challenges are fun and stretch your writing skills.  I thought that I’d share this one with you.

Author Interview: Tiger Hebert

When I asked Author Tiger Hebert to describe his writing, he replied, “I write dark, epic fantasy that dares to hope.”  Don’t we need more hope in the world?  I think so!  Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Tiger HebertHello, my name is Tiger Hebert. I am a Christian, husband, father of three children, and a veteran. I have a BA in Communications, and I work in the Quality and Training fields. I was born and raised in Maine, but I now live in North Carolina with my family. I love the outdoors and I am passionate about football, food, family, and faith.

When and why did you begin writing?

When I was a kid, I guess I had a knack for creative writing. The teachers really encouraged it, but I never did anything with it outside of school assignments. As I went through middles school and high school, I started getting into a variety of gaming ranging from Magic TCG to Hero Quest to Diablo. This really piqued my interest in writing fantasy, and I knew that one day I wanted to write something, but I never did anything about it.

Several years later, when I was in the military I began writing poetry and lyrics as an outlet. I didn’t really think I’d do much of anything with it until a friend told me that it was actually good. I dabbled in that type of writing for a few years, but never took the plunge into attempting fiction. Until one day, right around Christmas of 2011, I couldn’t wait anymore. So I created a blog for my “dragon” story, and I just began writing. I didn’t outline, plot, or worldbuild. I just started writing. After a few weeks, I realized I had something, and I needed to take it more seriously. That pet project turned out to be my first published novel, Dragon’s Fire.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After I had written my sixth or seventh chapter of Dragon’s Fire, I was kind of blown away at how quickly it was coming together. The early reader feedback on those raw, and unedited chapters was incredible, and it gave me the encouragement I needed to finish the project. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I felt that it was actually something that I could, and should do.

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

I am currently working on The Halls of the Fallen King. It is my third book and is the next book in the series. I am hoping to finish up the 2nd draft and get it to beta readers sometime in May. The book follows our heroes from Dragon’s Fire, into the subterranean ruins of mysteriously abandoned dwarven ruins.

No one truly knows how or why an entire civilization just disappeared, but as waves of magical energy continue to radiate out from the ruins, it’s time to investigate.

What inspired you to write this book?

When I wrote Dragon’s Fire, I thought it would be a standalone tale, and it does stand on its own two feet quite well. However, there was so much more in the world to explore, including a much large story arc.

Then as I wrote Dragon’s Fire, I just really fell in love with the dwarfs and their culture, and I wanted to explore it further. The idea of diving deep, literally, underground into a mysterious dwarven kingdom sounded too fun to pass up.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m sure I do, and maybe someone else can articulate it better than me. I don’t have any fancy ten dollar words to describe their style. I generally say that I write dark, epic fantasy that dares to hope. I really strive to provide vivid imagery to really help the reader immerse themselves. I also work hard to maintain a healthy balance when it comes to the pacing because I’m not a huge fan of books that are slow.

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

The Halls of the Fallen King sort of fell into my lap if you will. It was a line from Dragon’s Fire describing the forgotten kingdom in a tiny dose of foreshadowing. Which interestingly enough, happened without me being the wiser. The line itself is based on the speculation of the Dwarven King’s fate and that connection to his kingdom’s sudden abandonment (or so it seems). Did the king die, did he go mad?

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

I can’t say too much, but one of the themes that deal with a combination of guilt, sorrow, and depression.

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

Tolkien and CS Lewis are huge to me. I was exposed to the splendor of Middle-Earth as a child, and the wonder never left me. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are timeless classics that never have never lost their luster to me. Ironically, I didn’t become familiar with CS Lewis’ works until I was an adult, despite them being children’s tales. Now, even as an adult, I can really appreciate the stories and all the messages they convey.

Among our contemporaries, I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson and Steven Erikson. There are a great number of things that each of them does quite well. They are both fantastic world builders. They touch on everything from history to religion to art to society. The depth that they bring to their fictional worlds is unparalleled in my opinion.

I also have an immense respect for Brandon Sanderson’s work ethic. His product is off the charts. I would love to churn out books at the same rate he does, while still maintaining such a high standard of quality.

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

No, and perhaps that is silly of me. I find that I try to learn from a wide variety of other writers. I have found value from reading articles and blogs of bestselling, traditional authors. I’ve found value in learning from other self-published authors who have carved out a nice little spot for themselves, but I’ve also found tremendous value in learning from other people who have not yet had success. I think learning from each other’s experiences is invaluable.

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

(This cover is not yet finished released, but it should be in the next couple weeks)
Stefan Celic did the cover art for The Halls of the Fallen King. I started looking for a new cover artist well over a year ago, and a few people mention working with Stefan. The style of their covers was slightly different from what I was looking for, but when I looked through his portfolio, I saw that he had a diverse array of skill and style.

So I put out some feelers, seeing if he felt he could pull off the vision I had. He was not only confident he could, but he actually sounded excited to take on the project. My progress on the book hit a few snags so everything was delayed, so we never moved forward. Fast forward to this year, I reached out to him again to see if he was still interested. He was, so once his schedule opened up, I commissioned him.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write now, and write often. I think those are the two things that the best and most successful authors have in common. They don’t wait for “someday” to write that book, they just get started. Then they develop good writing habits, to make consistent progress.

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

Thank you! Thank you for your time and your patience. It will be rewarded.

hall of the fallen kingTiger Hebert
Whitsett, NC

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The Halls of the Fallen King

Cover Artist: Stefan Celic
Publisher: Brightblade Press

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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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