Tag Archives: fantasy

Author Interview: Angela Ashley

Author Angela Ashley writes to make sense of her world and to create one she can dwell in that is better than her own. Through her characters, she seeks to create people of depth, grace, and bravery, struggling like everyone to survive, and ultimately, to find love and meaning. She is also from my own home town of Lake Stevens, WA. It is a small world indeed! It is my pleasure to welcome Angela to No Wasted Ink.

Angela Ashley 1My name is Angela Craig, and my pen name is Angela Ashley, which was my birth name. I’m a single woman, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. I loved reading books from a very young age. As a child, I loved books about animals, especially The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. After having seen Star Wars in the theater and reading The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper, I fell in love with the science fiction and fantasy genres. When I attended Seattle Pacific University, I knew I should choose a major that would pay well, but I followed my heart instead, graduating with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Writing. I wanted to be a book editor but ended up being a home loan processor instead. I spend my free time reading, writing, and posting funny memes on Facebook when I’m not watching TV or movies with my boyfriend and my two cats.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve written poetry for years, but my job was so stressful that I found it drained most of my creativity away. And to be honest, I didn’t believe in myself enough to try my hand at writing more than poetry. But when the opportunity came to retire early, I knew what I wanted to do. I began to fill notebooks with my ideas that summer, and for months afterward. I fought through my fear and wrote my first chapter, and then another, and I surprised myself. A part of me had known I had this ability all along, but I’d pushed that voice down, until that moment. Now, I can’t imagine living without writing fiction. I’ve finally found who I am.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve considered myself a writer of poetry since my teen years, but the first time I realized I was a fiction writer was three years ago. As a perfectionist, I didn’t want to try and fail, or even try and just do okay. When I wrote that first chapter, my muse came out in full force, and I haven’t stopped dancing with her since.

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

I would describe it as Game of Thrones meets Dances With Wolves meets The Hunger Games meets Downton Abbey. The main character, Little Squirrel, is a native-American-esque teen who has come of age and must go on her Vision Quest. Her situation is unique because she’s of mixed heritage — her mother was First Daughter of House Mystalora in the Queensrealm, a woman-dominated society, while her father was a warrior of the People. While on her Quest, she is attacked and finds she has a very unusual ability. Her adopted brother and her best friend, both of whom are in love with her, find they do, as well. Meanwhile, in the Queensrealm, Kella is falling for Jaereth, a slave, even though their love is forbidden. They, too, realize they have strange abilities. Soon, they all find out they’re pawns in a game, pitted against each other and others, and that only one can survive. This game was created by unseen beings, seemingly for their amusement. But soon, it becomes clear that the real motive goes very deep, and the consequences of this ‘game’ will affect all of humanity.

What inspired you to write this book?

So many things. I’ve long been fascinated by native American culture and spirituality, and I wanted to pay homage to it and explore it with my writing. My grandma used to tell me we had native American blood, and it made me daydream about who they were and how they lived. I love the idea of shape-shifting, and I felt it would work well with the native American themes. But I found I couldn’t stop with that ability; they’re all so fun and provide so many opportunities for mischief. I also love strong female characters and a good dose of romance. But the number one inspiration was that I couldn’t find any more books that I wanted to read. They were all beginning to sound the same to me. So I decided to create my own world and the kind of characters I love, and just live in that world and let the characters inside me out.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I listen to my characters — who they are, what they want to say, and what is important to them. They are real people to me in that sense, and I respect their voices when I write. Oftentimes they surprise me by the directions they take, but I trust them. I know it sounds strange, but it’s the truth. They have a life of their own.

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

It came from one of the later chapters of the book. The villain, Malyse, talks about the reason why she began the game. She and seven others had been transformed in an accident and become almost like gods in some ways, and she explains that just as the gods play with human lives on their chess board of life, she intends to play with the lives of others, and “sometimes a gambit must be made, a sacrifice offered, in order to win a game between gods.”

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

My characters talk a lot about love and whether it makes you stronger or weaker, and about whether people can truly be good or evil. I want my readers to draw their own conclusions on these subjects, of course, but I like these kinds of philosophical questions. I’m not one to just take concepts like good and evil for granted; I want to really look at what makes a person one or the other. In my book, several characters had tough childhoods, and one had a wonderful childhood — you would expect the former to be evil and the latter to be good, but it’s quite the opposite. We become good or evil depending on what’s inside of us, not because of what has happened to us.

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

They are most definitely based on events in my own life. Writing this book was great therapy for me. Father Daven, the priest who mistreats young Wilde, is built from my alcoholic Stepdad, Dave, though the abuse Wilde experiences are much worse than the abuse I experienced. The five sisters locked in a closet came from the fact that my grandma and her four sisters used to get locked in the closet as children, and some of the names are the same. My experiences with narcissists created my villain, Malyse, and the fact that Little Squirrel comes from a broken family unit and feels like an outsider is a direct result of my own childhood, though I wish I had a father figure like Miklos, as she does.

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

The idea of being “Chosen” and having special abilities likely came from Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series. Later in life, the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin fired my imagination, and I took the idea of each chapter title indicating which character perspective that chapter would be from, from that series. I loved the first person present perspective from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and enjoyed how real it made the action feel, so I borrowed that, too.

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

I would have to choose Suzanne Collins. The immediacy and nitty-gritty realness and imperfection of her characters and the action, plus their bravery in the face of terrible odds, really changed the way I looked at and approached fantasy fiction.

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

My beautiful cover art was created by Loraine Van Tonder of Ryn Katryn, Digital Art in South Africa. I decided to search on Facebook for a true artist since I thought so many of the self-pub covers coming out nowadays were so one-dimensional and uninspired. Her artwork, in contrast, was so beautiful and nuanced. She was so easy to work with and friendly and had wonderful ideas that really took my cover to the next level. The colors immediately grab your attention and draw you in, and the character renderings make you want to know more about them. Seeing her cover art for the first time was one of the highlights of my life. She managed to capture the magic, somehow.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t listen to that little voice that says you can’t do this. You can. Fill a bunch of notebooks with ideas, then sit down and start writing. Just start. That’s the hardest part, and once you do it, keep going. Don’t stop, ever. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it’s so worth it, I promise you.

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

Welcome to my world, and I hope you love it as much as I do. Thank you for believing in me, and please, tell others. I’d love to hear from you, so don’t be afraid to reach out on Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter, though I don’t use Twitter much. I’m always looking for new friends.

Gambit of the Gods Book CoverAngela Ashley
Lake Stevens, WA

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Cover artist: Loraine Van Tonder of Ryn Katryn Digital Art

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Author Interview: Saoirse O’Mara

Author Saoirse O’Mara tries to follow her heart with her children’s stories. Her goal is to make her readers smile, laugh, guess, and be entertained until the end, and to think about her intriguing stories for a long time. A goal worthy of any author! Please welcome her here to No Wasted Ink.

author-photo-saoirse-omaraI’m Saoirse O’Mara, also known as Theresa Berg. I write under two different names because I write in two different languages. Books written as Theresa Berg are originally German, books written as Saoirse O’Mara are originally written in English. I live in Berlin, Germany, with my American husband and our two cats, Tüte and Kami. Our household communicates in fluent Denglish (mix of German and English) of course. When I’m not writing children’s books or mystery, I’m studying languages and linguistics, currently Sanskrit and Latin. So yeah, I’m a complete language nerd. I’m also a gamer; I love playing pen and paper RPGs like The Dark Eye and Pathfinder, but also video games like League of Legends, Titan Quest, and others.

When and why did you begin writing?

I think I started writing as soon as I was able to write coherent sentences. I just had so many stories to tell, and a very creative mind (teachers may have called me out for daydreaming). I also loved reading, and when I was still in kindergarten and was finally able to read books on my own (my parents taught me to read before I entered school), I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be a writer too.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

This is a difficult one. I actually don’t remember, but it was probably after finishing my first manuscript. I was twelve or thirteen, and the story was a lot like Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. This manuscript is still hidden away somewhere at home, and I even revised it a few years later, but it’s nowhere near publishable. It did show me, though, that I am able to tell a story from beginning to end and write it down.

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

The book shown here, Miro the Dragon, is a children’s book about friendship and courage. In four stories, the tiny and scared dragon Miro has to learn essential dragon skills like flying, breathing fire, swimming, and hunting. He befriends a human girl who helps him believe in himself and later befriends one of his classmates at dragon school, the big dragon Botsch, who teaches him to swim. The book has fans ranging from three years old to over sixty years old, but the recommended age range is four to eight years old.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was at a medieval market in my home town and started talking to the storyteller, who complained about a lack of dragon stories for young kids, and who, after learning that I am a writer, asked me whether I could write her a story. I agreed, but after I had written Miro’s first story, she never responded to my email about licensing and payment, so I decided to instead turn it into a book. Miro told me a few more stories, which I faithfully wrote down, and once I had four stories written, I looked for an illustrator to capture him and his friends.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I actually don’t know. I rather think I have several writing styles, depending on what I write, and in which language I write. I do tend to avoid long descriptions and story “padding”, though, which is probably why my books are all rather short.

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

That was actually pretty easy; Miro told me. What was more difficult was coming up with fitting titles for the individual stories. I sometimes wrote the whole story before the right title came to mind, and at other times, the title was the only thing I had and the story followed.

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

It is okay to be afraid. And if you are too afraid to even try something new, maybe a friend can help you overcome your fear. Sometimes, all it takes is to finally try it.

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

Two of my greatest influences were Enid Blyton, whose books I devoured as a child, and Agatha Christie, the queen of British mystery. I love the stories they told, and the characters they created.

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

The cover and illustrations for Miro were done by the amazing artist Svenja Liv, who is also a friend of mine. We met in a writer’s forum online and I simply fell in love with her style. She was able to bring Miro and his friends to life with her drawings. She also did the covers for my middle-grade mystery/fantasy series A Rogue’s Tale. A few years ago, we finally met in person.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. Try out different things. Follow your heart. Listen to your characters (they’re always right, you know). But most importantly, have fun.

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

Thank you for all the feedback you’re giving me, either through reviews or personally. Thank you for letting me know that you (or your kids) fell in love with my characters. Thank you for spending your precious time with my books.

Miro-Cover-web (2)Saoirse O’Mara
Berlin, Germany

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Author Interview: Melissa Cuevas

Author Melissa Cuevas describes herself as “A little scatterbrained, but hopefully quite creative.”  I will vouch for the creative side!  Please welcome Melissa here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Melissa CuevasMy name is Melissa Cuevas (pronounced kway’vis…the Spanish word for caves). My father was career military so I grew up moving every few years. I was born in New Mexico and have lived in Idaho, the UK, Arizona, Utah and Texas. That made it very difficult to keep friends, so I spent a lot of time reading by myself. I am married and have two adult children. I have lived in rural Southwestern Wisconsin for the past twenty or so years. I play video games, write fanfiction, cosplay and attend the occasional convention.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a reader, and the thought of becoming an author seemed like a way to go. It was the dream job idea that survived into adulthood with me. As things went on and I started to come up with my own stories, I realized that the voices in my head…the snippets of head movies that played over and over in my brain as daydreams could be silenced…for awhile at least, if they were written down.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I took myself a little more seriously as a writer in 1999 when I finished my first novel. Before that, I had started numerous, numerous projects and every single one of them failed at about page 15. Then I started ‘The Emperor’s Finest’, assuming that it would also die young. It kept going, so I told myself I would take it seriously at about, oh, one hundred pages, never thinking it would make it that far. So when it started to approach that, I started looking at submission requirements and realized that I had not been measuring it correctly, by word count instead of pages. The second epiphany was that the formatting was completely wrong and the work that I thought was short was much larger than I’d thought and I was nowhere near done with it.

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

The Book of My World is a portal fantasy turned on its head. I’d read and heard about many stories that involved game players getting sucked into their games and trying to fill their characters’ shoes and becoming heroes, but I haven’t really heard many stories that involve a game character who is not the human player’s character getting out of the game world to go find their beloved friend (the player).

What inspired you to write this book?

I was honestly sitting around and working on a video game based fanfiction and musing over my character’s in game companion/love interest for that series and how much time and ‘love’ can be invested in a fictional character. Then I started to think about leaving a game, or losing access to a game and the idea of abandoning a companion that, as a player, I could have devoted hours of gameplay to making them care about me, be loyal to me, or even, love me, and how devastating my player character’s sudden disappearance would be to them if they were self-aware. Then I asked myself what they might do in that circumstance, and that become The Book of My World.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a terrible pantster. I plan nothing. I know the beginning, have a vague idea of some points in the middle, and usually have a good idea of how it’s supposed to end when I start writing. The Book of My World was a bit of a technical challenge to me because, although it is third person, it is not split narration. The main character is the only point of view throughout the book. I’ve done that with first person, but never third.

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

The title is actually the title of a book in the book, it belongs to Tiernan’s beloved Dyre. My World is a translation of the name of the game that Tiernan comes from.

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

I guess I’d have to go with ‘You can’t have courage without fear.’ because Tiernan is often overwhelmed and frightened, but he still does what he thinks he should do.

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

It’s based on my experiences as a video game player, but no, it’s not based on any real life occurrences or people I actually know.

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

Growing up, I definitely loved Anne McCaffery. She had an amazing ability to transport me into her world and keep me transfixed.

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

An actual mentor? No. I kind of live in my own little bubble. As for a writer I respect and hope one day to become somewhat as good as, it would be S.M. Stirling. Although I know his style is vastly different from mine, I really appreciate his character building and storycrafting skills.

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

I chose the stock images for my cover, sent them to the wonderful Rachel Bostwick and cried “Make me a pretty cover out these; please, please!” And she did.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. And then write. And then read. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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

I love them all. Even if I don’t know who they are.

bomwcover1Melissa D. Cuevas
Argyle, Wisconsin

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Cover Artist: Rachel Bostwick 

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Author Interview: Jess Frankel

Dreamer, visionary, a person constantly trying to perfect their craft, and someone who is never satisfied, Author Jess Frankel works hard to produce his YA fantasy novels.  Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Jess FrankelMy name is Jess Frankel, pen name J.S. Frankel, and I’m your sort-of-average guy from Toronto, Canada, who now lives in Japan with his wife and two children. I had your usual upbringing in Toronto but caught the wanderlust when I went to Japan to teach English when I was twenty-six. That was—dramatic pause—a long time ago. I’ve been here ever since, fighting the good ESL (English as a Second Language) fight, and writing on the side.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started not that long ago, when I was about forty-eight. I’m fifty-five now, but didn’t get serious about it until my third novel, Twisted, came out. That’s when I took up writing in earnest.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Good question. I think that everyone is a writer if they write something, regardless of whether they are published or not. In my case, though, I didn’t feel comfortable being called a writer until Twisted came out…three years ago.

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

The Titans of Ardana is a YA Action/Fantasy novel. It’s a wish fulfillment, in a way, with the hero idolizing—and crushing on—a star of his favorite television show, The Metas. In an effort to get an autograph, he finds out that Dana, the star, and Van, her twin and co-star, aren’t from around here, and the tale takes off from there.

What inspired you to write this book?

Mainly because I’m a superhero geek, and I wanted to explore the process of becoming one. It’s the mindset I wanted to look at, not the powers. In the beginning, the hero of the tale, Martin, is your average nerd, but he learns what it really means when he acquires super powers. His catchphrase is “Hold nothing back. Give everything” and that applies to any given situation.

Do you have a specific writing style?

It’s very minimalist. I don’t go in for florid prose. I simply give the basics and then some, and try to give the reader a solid mental picture of what’s going on without going overboard.

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

I always wanted to do a book about some special kind of hero. In ancient Greek mythology, a field I love, the Titans weren’t the best group of people around. I wanted to make my Titans different, people to be proud of.

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

I don’t go in for messages, really, as that can get awfully preachy. My message, if you will, is to believe that you can do what you want to do if you put your heart and soul into it.

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

In this case, yes, as an old girlfriend of mine was really into chocolate, so I sort of drew upon that experience.

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

I’ve always liked Ray Bradbury for his creative use of English, and Robert McCammon for his explorations of the human heart.

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

Martine Jardin, who works for Devine Destinies, my publisher, designed the cover. She took my suggestions and came up with this, and I was/am very pleased with it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It may sound trite, but keep writing. Many writers agonize over penning the perfect sentence and by doing so, they limit themselves. Realize that the first draft of anything will more than likely be bad. You can always fix mistakes. You can’t fix an empty file.

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

Just to say thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported me, and to those who haven’t yet read my work, I hope you’ll take a chance on this novel and my other novels. I would also like to thank you, Wendy, for giving me the chance to appear in this interview!

My pleasure, Jess.  I’m glad to have you here on the blog sharing your author experiences. 🙂

Book Cover The Titans of ArdanaJ.S. Frankel
Osaka, Japan

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Cover Artist: Martine Jardin
Publisher: Devine Destinies

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The Importance of Reading by Lisa Gordier

Fantasy Angel
Many of us know the quote by Stephen King about what it takes to become a writer and reading – “Read, read, read. You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to
read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

What Stephen King is referring to in this quote is the ability to read outside of the genre we write. It’s a very important key in how we shape our own writing. Knowing how other authors write allows us to see different techniques of our trade. From the Young Adult authors to the experienced (and perhaps no longer with us). There are thousands of authors to choose from.

Fantasy writers are a varied lot (myself among them). When we write we don’t always stick to just your normal, everyday wizards, dragons and elves. There are books in the fantasy section you may not have thought of before. For instance: Ray Bradbury, often known for Science Fiction, his book “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is classified as fantasy. Another book most may have thought of as more Science Fiction than Fantasy is “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Even Robert Heinlein wrote Fantasy for a magazine known as “Unknown Worlds”.

At this point, you may be saying to yourself that Science Fiction and Fantasy are two genres that really aren’t that far apart from each other and perhaps you might be right in some ways. Often times both genres take a lot of research into world-building, character development, and sometimes even technical research. But there is one slight difference between the two. With Fantasy you can do almost anything as long as you can make the reader believe it’s possible. Science Fiction you need to make the reader believe there is some kind of Science behind what is happening.
Mystery, Horror, and Suspense writers also come in an array of sizes. I will mention here that I’ve read some of Stephen King’s books (those that don’t scare me while reading during the day) and found them infinitely profound. I think the first of his I read was “Fire-starter” and I realized that though classified Horror, it wasn’t. I’ve also enjoyed several of Dean Koontz novels and a mystery series were written by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (who’s main character is a cat named Joe Grey). Of course, I must confess my favorite mysteries of all time are still “Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I believe the writers of these genres are somewhere between Science Fiction and Fantasy. They must delve into a bit of the unknown and fantastic. Researching things which are very real to us. Sometimes the horror or suspense may be more in the realm of fantasy, or they may have been case files of the police – rewritten to exclude names we might recognize. These authors walk a fine grey line to keep us on the edge of our seats.
I’ve been discussing Fiction but there are Non-Fiction books such as Biographies/Auto-Biographies, Self-Help, Essays and Journalism. Authors of these books or articles all want to either tell a story or help others with their stories. Some you’ll find on the bookshelf and others in magazines. It can be difficult to find an item in these categories that you enjoy, but they’re out there. I’m partial to stuff on space and the universe myself.

And last, don’t cut out Comic Books and Manga (Japanese Comic Books). Both are a large market here in the United States. I’ve found a few I really enjoy, both for the artwork and the story lines. For a comic book produced in the States I’ve started reading one called “Elephantmen”, a postwar science fiction sort of comic book. And with regards to Mangas I have several I enjoy, “Sayuki” being the top runner.

I do also try and read different magazines for articles and essays. I’ve recently subscribed to “The New Yorker” and I also read “Writer’s Life”, “Time”, “Natural Geographic” and occasionally “Life”. Each gives me a different perspective upon the world and how authors write.

In closing, as Stephen King said, don’t be afraid of reading outside of the genre you write in. It expands your horizons as an author, teaches you different techniques as a writer and at the least entertains you as a person. I have found, as I’ve followed this philosophy, that I’ve become far more open-minded in the kinds of books I’m willing to try to read. I no longer am drawn by just artwork or title in one genre. I’ll browse every one, read the synopsis of story lines and take time to see if a book will interest me. So far the only books I can’t seem to get into are Romance novels but even that may change in time.

If you’re interested in knowing about what genres of books are out there, here is a list of them all:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_writing_genres

Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – USA. Lisa Gordier grew up as a Navy Brat, moving across the country with her family. The Navy settled them mostly in San Diego, California.

Her father started Lisa reading books by Piers Anthony and Robert Aspirin when she was around eight years old. From there she found she enjoyed not only reading but writing her own stories and poetry.

When Lisa was Eighteen, she moved from San Diego to Phoenix, Arizona to go to College. she married and joined the Air Force during the Iraq conflict. She served in Italy during her first tour of duty. When she returned to the States, it was to San Antonio, Texas and a divorce. Lisa was honorably discharged from the Air Force and moved to Phoenix once more where she soon remarried and began serving in the Air Force Reserves for ten glorious years. she continued to write and draw as an artist.

After twenty years of marriage, Lisa was divorced once more and moved to Tucson. The author currently works on a fantasy novel, working on artwork for a co-authored
novel and writing poetry.