Tag Archives: horror

Author Interview: Gareth Wood

Author Gareth Wood writes Science Fiction and Horror, and one day hopes to combine the two. “I have ideas all the time, and write them down so that I can re-examine them later. Hopefully one or two will become books.” We hope so too, Gareth. Welcome to No Wasted Ink.

Author Gareth WoodHi, I’m Gareth Wood. I’m a commercial electrician who works in the film and television industry. I was born in England but I live in Vancouver BC. I’m nearly fifty, I live with my wife and a pair of cats who remain convinced that we are purely there to serve them.

When and why did you begin writing?

My first short story that was anything other than a jumble of ideas was written when I was about ten years old. It was a class assignment in school, to write an original short story, and I loved it so much that I never stopped. What I wrote then was a short SF piece. My love of SF started with books I found in my school library, and an SF themed children’s magazine that my mother subscribed to.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That would be 2004. I had written on and off for many years before that, but I first had something considered for publication then. That was when I gave serious thought to actually writing something with the idea of having it published. Before that, it had all just been for fun, my own amusement. Now with four books published, and a fifth and sixth coming, I think I can safely call myself a writer.

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

My latest published work is Black Horizon, the first of a trilogy. It is an SF tale about a clash of cultures, set 350 years after an apocalyptic war on Earth. Several astronauts return to Earth to find it drastically changed. I’m writing the follow-up book, The Serpent Sun, which introduces an advanced culture that spans a vast amount of territory, and also expands on the events taking place on and around Earth.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had recently re-read some books set on an post-apocalyptic Earth far in the future and was inspired by the idea that the world could change quite drastically in a short time. I had always wanted to return to SF, ever since that first short story so long ago. The title of the book and a scene associated with it came to me, and I went from there. Further inspiration came from some of the more realistic SF movies I’ve seen recently, as well as some old westerns. Black Horizon was once described by a reader as Zane Grey meets Heinlein.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Evolving. I feel I am getting better as a writer from book to book. It’s a skill like any other. Looking back I can see differences between what I wrote in my first book and my third and fourth, and now my fifth. I can say that a reader might be better able to describe my style than I could. Also, I try to write by hand for first drafts and then transfer my notes to the computer for the second. I find this works better for me since a lot of my time to write is when I’m away from my computer.

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

I had a scene in my mind, playing out like a movie. I could see the characters involved and the environment they were interacting with, and the name of the book sprang from that. That seems to be the way I get my titles. Likewise, the name of the next book, The Serpent Sun, is a visual descriptive of a specific scene in that book. I see the scenes much like films playing in my mind.

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

Not particularly. I write adventures, so maybe ‘enjoy the ride’ is the message?

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

Not at all. Before Black Horizon I wrote zombie apocalypse fiction, which I would not hope to be real in any way. For the books I write now, which are slightly hard SF, I’m making a lot of it up as I go, and it has no basis in my reality. Though if it did, that would be interesting. I think I’ve created a world of great hope and potential in Black Horizon, even if it is steeped in conflict

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

Andre Norton, whom I read early in life and still do. Anne McCaffery, who wrote some incredible science fantasy tales. Arthur C Clarke, whose hard SF books made me see the beauty of science. Iain M Banks, who was the kind of author I aspire to become. Stephen King, who scared me. Dan Simmons, for writing some of the most elegant prose about transhumanism. Craig DiLouie, for showing how to write a great action story. And of course Sterling Lanier, whose Hiero books inspired me from the very beginning.

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

Ah, that’s a hard one. If I could choose? Whom I most want to be like, and whose style I aspire to? Iain M Banks. The Culture books were awe-inspiring. His style and descriptive abilities were second-to-none. I think I would be quite happy to one day reach that level.

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

Loraine Van Tonder. My publisher selected her, and I’m glad they did. I wouldn’t have known where to start, and she did an excellent job with Black Horizon, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for The Serpent Sun.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write when and where you can. It’s tough these days juggling the writing impulse with working and living our regular lives. I manage to write by having notebooks that I carry around, or by using a writing app on my phone. It’s not always possible to write every day, but don’t worry about that. Write when you can, where you can, and as much as you feel able to. If that’s ten words or ten thousand, it’s correct.

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

Thank you for allowing me to entertain you.

Black Horizon Book CoverGareth Wood
Vancouver, BC, Canada

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Black Horizon

Cover Artist: Loraine Van Tonder
Publisher: Burning Willow Press

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE

Lit Up OC: Author Open Mic

Kean Coffee Tustin 2
Kean Coffee in Tustin, CA

I drove down the country road with anticipation, a small box of my books in the trunk of my vehicle and wearing comfortable, but nice clothing. I did my best to quell my nerves and remind myself that I’ve done this before, but it had been almost a year since I last performed an author reading in public. I felt that I might be rusty. This was no ordinary author series either. It was Lit Up OC, the series attached to my local writing guild and most of my writer friends attend it. Would I lose my voice? Would I blank out when my friends grilled me with writing questions that would go far beyond a typical layperson? Of the three authors reading, which one would I be? First? Last? I wasn’t sure.

What is Lit Up OC

I stumbled upon Lit Up OC around two years ago. It is a monthly reading series in Southern California located at Keans Coffee in Tustin. Local writers hang out with their coffee and tea while three authors read excerpts from their novels or a short story. Represented genre include mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, literary, memoir, you name it. You never know what is coming next. There are many events like this in nearby Los Angeles, but Lit Up OC is the only reading series I know of in Orange County. Our host, Madeline Tighe Margarita is the creator and organizer of the event. She handles the author introductions. Asks questions of the audience afterward about what they heard and what their impressions were in critique style. Then moderates a general question and answer session between the author and audience.

What I Read

Murder They Wrote Book Cover (blog)In December of 2017, I had a story included in a horror anthology called “Murder They Wrote” put out by Serial Sikk Publishing. The theme of the collection was speculative fiction that included a murder. My story, “We Can Rebuild Him” began as a writing prompt from an online science fiction writing club. The prompt was to write a story about a cyborg. I combined the prompt with the feelings I felt when watching the Kevin Bacon movie “Taking Chance”. It features an American escort officer returning the body of a soldier to his family. I combined this with ideas about cyborgs that I had gleaned from panels at science fiction conventions. The result was psychologically dark and although it was not technically about murder, it fits with the bloody theme of the anthology.

I read the entire story to the audience. My goal was not to sell books per se, it was for me to get out and perform a reading for the first time in almost a year. I practiced all week. Developing different inflections for the characters. Where to put in pauses for emphasis. Making sure that all technical terms flowed with proper pronunciations. Everything that I could do to make a good first impression of my writing to my peers.

What Questions Were Asked

Wendy Reads at Lit Up OC - Jan 2018
Wendy Van Camp Reads at Lit Up OC

After the reading, Maddie conducts a question and answer session. The first part of the session she asks the audience about what they heard during the reading and their thoughts about it. Considering most of the audience are authors, some with multiple books, the comments can be extremely technical and difficult to answer on the fly. I prepared to answer typical questions at the reading. The inspiration for the story. My writing voice. Experiences on the science fiction convention circuit. What national author guilds I belong to and why. The audience asked all that and more.

I’m told that I appeared articulate and that my reading was entertaining, even with the dark subject matter. Many were surprised that I had written a story in the horror genre.

I feel that “We Can Rebuild Him” is a good story to perform and I plan on using it as my main piece at the various readings I will do at conventions this year. While I don’t write dark, horror pieces as a general rule, it still showcases my current skill level as an author. If you are planning on attending WorldCon, you will hear me read this story at the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading.

Kean Coffee Reading Audience 2
Lit Up OC Audience

Why Do Readings?

Many writers are introverts who feel anxiety standing up in front of people. I can sympathize with that. When I was a beginning teacher, standing in front of 30 teenagers and trying to convey English, History or Math to them, I felt challenged. Over time, I learned to be more comfortable in front of a classroom and to speak in a manner that is engaging enough to hold the attention of teenagers. If you can do that, you can speak to anyone! An easier way to learn this skill is to join the Toastmasters in your local area. There will be fewer spitballs on your back that way!

As an author, I like to find opportunities to be in front of potential readers and give them a sample of my work. This is why I attend book fairs, do readings at science fiction conventions, and read at local salons. When you get a chance to meet readers in person, you learn things about your own work or help you match the expectations of your target audience. While these events provide me with a place to do sales of my books, that is not my main focus. I am there to make an impression on readers in the hope that they will remember me later when looking for a new author to read. Not to mention, have a good time.

Final Word

Wendy Van Camp and Maddie at Lit Up OC
Host Maddie Margarita and Author Wendy Van Camp

Being the first to read, I was able to relax and enjoy the other two writers that night.  Both were accomplished authors and I enjoyed hearing their work. Afterward, I met people that came to hear me and to purchase signed books. I’m glad that I finally gave in to Maddie’s offer to read at Lit Up OC. It was a great experience and I hope to be back again once I complete my science fiction novel. However, I will be grateful that the next time I’m at the event, I will be in the audience posing “difficult” questions to the next set of authors!

 

Author Interview: Dana Hammer

Author Dana Hammer is a writer, a housewife, a blood and guts enthusiast, and a lady. She hopes you enjoy her writing. When I heard her read from Rosemary’s Baby Daddy I was laughing so hard I about rolled on the floor. I’m excited to introduce this upcoming author here on No Wasted Ink.

author-dana-hammerMy name is Dana Hammer, and I’m introducing myself to you. It’s hard to know where to start with this sort of thing, because I don’t know who YOU are. Maybe you’re the kind of person who just wants the facts, ma’am, and you just want to know, like, where I live and how old I am and stuff. But maybe you’re a more curious sort, and you want to know my favorite movies and what my hobbies are. Or maybe you’re a creep and you just want to know if you can have a pair of my used panties. In order to cover my bases, I will answer all of those questions, in order.

  1. I live in Anaheim.
  2. I am 34 years old.
  3. My favorite movies are Kill Bill, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Django Unchained and I Heart Huckabees.
  4. My hobbies are: writing, enjoying art of varying quality, reading the profiles of prospective adoptive couples online and judging their suitability as parents, and birding.
  5. No, you cannot.

I hope this has been informative!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always written little things here and there, mostly to amuse myself when I was bored. I started writing in a more serious way when I worked in finance, because I hated that job with my whole heart, and writing kept me sane.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Honestly, not until I published my first book. Though I fully subscribe to the notion that a
writer is a writer both before and after publication.

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

Sure! It’s called Rosemary’s Baby Daddy, and it’s a comedic fantasy novel about a woman
named Lori who gets impregnated with a demon’s baby. She decides to abort the baby to hide her infidelity from her husband, but then the abortion clinic gets destroyed by a freak lightning storm. From then on, all kinds of crazy events happen.

Meanwhile, the father, the demon Pazuzu, can’t stop meddling in Lori’s life. He knows he’d be a really terrible father, but he can’t help himself; he’s always wanted a baby. In addition, he has to somehow protect his baby from his ex-girlfriend, Lamashtu, who is the demoness responsible for baby death.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had a terrible, terrible pregnancy. Pretty much anything you can think of that can go wrong with a pregnancy – yeah – that happened. So I wrote this book to cheer myself up.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like to think of myself as a concise, direct writer. If you want a lot of purple prose and
descriptions of the sky, I’m not your gal. My goal is to tell a story and to entertain you, and I hope my style helps me to achieve that.

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

Actually, I didn’t. I was having a lot of trouble with that, and a friend of mine, Rhiannon
Aarons suggested “Rosemary’s Baby Daddy”. At first I was like… my character’s name isn’t Rosemary. But then I was like, so what?

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

I don’t know that I’d call it a message, but there is a definite theme, or “moral”, if you will. Basically, this book is a metaphor for how pregnancy (and new parenthood) throws your life into total disarray. You behave in ways and associate with people you never thought you would. You’re shocked at what you’re willing to sacrifice, and what changes you’re prepared to make, in order to be a good parent. Your body becomes a strange, alien thing that you don’t even recognize. You start to care deeply about things you never gave a thought to before; like which preschools in your area have Mandarin immersion programs and which restaurants have high chairs. It’s trippy.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or something from real life?

Not really. I was pregnant when I wrote this, but Lori is nothing like me. Oh, and I’ve never had sex with a demon.

Although,there is one part that was loosely inspired by real life. One day, when I was about four months pregnant, I was sitting in my living room and I heard this really strange squawking. It was birds, but not any birds I’d ever heard around here before. So I went outside and saw a FLOCK OF PARROTS. In Anaheim! Right outside! I thought I was going insane! Then I found out that there are actual flocks of wild parrots in Orange County; mostly former pets that have escaped from homes. But this incident was sort of the inspiration for the scene in the book where birds attack Lori’s house.

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

I read a lot of Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe during my formative years, and I still love
them both. I’m not sure if my fondness for dark subjects was something I learned from reading them, or if I read them because they spoke to my pre-existing fondness, but either way, they are both quite inspiring to me. I love any writer who isn’t afraid to embrace subjects that many people might find scary or unpleasant.

I also love Christopher Moore and Douglas Adams. Their madcap, quirky and hilarious stories make me super happy. If I could be any writer in the world, I’d be one of them. If I work really hard, maybe someday I might be worthy of fetching Christopher Moore a cup of coffee or polishing Douglas Adam’s tombstone, but I’m not there yet.

Is there a writer you would consider a mentor?

I wish! If a really great author wanted to mentor me, I would be so excited, I wouldn’t be able to contain myself. It’s all I would talk about. I would name drop endlessly, and eventually, my poor mentor would get sick of me and probably take out a restraining order against me, and that would be the end of the mentorship. But thus far, no one has reached out to me with the offer. If I could choose my mentor, no question, it would be Christopher Moore. But there are literally dozens of writers I would love to have as mentors, too.

Who designed the cover of your book?

Sheryl Sopot from Hyperchick Design did my book cover. I chose her because she’s
awesome, and we’ve been friends for years.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes. Be independently wealthy. Failing that, marry someone who will support you financially while you write. You need to have free time if you’re going to write a book; you can’t be spending all your time at an office doing spreadsheets. Also, read a lot. It makes writing a lot easier. Also, alcohol is your friend. Unless you’re an alcoholic. Then candy is your friend.

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

Thank you for reading my book! I really hope you enjoy it.

rosemarys-baby-daddy-book-coverDana Hammer
Anaheim, California

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Rosemary’s Baby Daddy

Cover Artist: Sheryl Sopot

AMAZON
BARNES &  NOBLE

You’re Writing What? by Katherine Sanger

College Students

I’m one of those people who feels like I can never learn enough or get enough education. Whenever I can, I attend any workshops or events that are local. I get to as many conventions as possible. And I have gone to school for far too long now.

My last degree was an MFA in Creative Writing.

I selected the program carefully, making sure that it didn’t have dismissive language or didn’t specify that it only wanted ‘literary’ fiction. From research, I knew that many programs looked down on genre writing, and I saw no reason to make myself suffer for two years by writing things I had no interest in.

I’d heard, many times over, that “good writing is good writing.” That genre shouldn’t count in determining if something is good or bad. Writing should stand on its own, regardless of what type of writing it is.

Yet still, during my MFA, when we had a presentation on genre work one day, the “literary” authors giving the talk trashed genre work and mocked it. But then, ten minutes later, they used examples from “Carrie” by Stephen King to show us how passive voice can be used successfully in fiction writing.

Something was clearly wrong.

Later that day, I was in a student-led workshop, and talk turned to the third-term papers that we had to write. They had to be serious research papers, ones that could potentially get published. I brought up the fact that I intended to write one about horror. Another student told me that I couldn’t possibly do that – horror was not “academic enough.” Apparently, the fact that I had actually taken classes in horror, science fiction, fantasy, and gothic fiction while working on a previous Master’s degree didn’t count. Clearly, to him, there was no value to anything that fell into a “genre.”

My frustration level was high during that residency period. High enough that I eventually talked to the director of the program. I asked him flat out if genre fiction was considered “not good enough” for the program, and I told him of the discouragement that I’d encountered so far. He was not happy. He assured me – and re-assured me – that what I had always heard was right: good writing was good writing. He saw no reason why my paper on the use of humor in horror would be rejected by a faculty member, and he wondered if I had misunderstood the presentation. I hadn’t, but it was encouraging that he thought that way.

Throughout my MFA, I ran into the same problem again and again. However, I finally figured it out. The biggest problem was that the people who felt that genre fiction was a lesser form were just not familiar with it. It sold well, and so, in their minds, it was “commercial” fiction and had no value from a literature standpoint. Of course, these same people were all trying to write the next great American novel which, as far as I could tell, would also have to sell well. Didn’t that count as a commercial writing project?

I got lucky during my final semester. My mentor, who happened to be completely unfamiliar with anything genre, was extremely open to learning. When I told her my intent was to write a short story collection of stories that centered around Cthulhu eating people who were staying in a basement apartment over time, she asked me to send her reading material so that she could learn about Lovecraft and Cthulhu. She may not be able to pronounce Cthulhu, but she could read it, and she happily (it seemed to me, anyway), critiqued my stories. She would note where she was unsure if something I had included would be known by my intended audience, but otherwise, she focused on writing. Because good writing is, after all, good writing.

Katherine SangerKatherine Sanger was a Jersey Girl before getting smart and moving to Texas. She’s been published in various e-zines and print, including Baen’s Universe, Black Chaos, Wandering Weeds, Spacesports & Spidersilk, Black Petals, Star*Line, Anotherealm, Lost in the Dark, Bewildering Stories, Aphelion, and RevolutionSF, edited From the Asylum, an e-zine of fiction and poetry, and is the current editor of “Serial Flasher,” a flash fiction e-zine. She’s a member of HWA and SFWA. She taught English for over 10 years at various online and local community and technical colleges. You can check out links to her many, many blogs at or find her at Facebook or twitter.

Wendy Van Camp published in Far Horizons Magazine (Feb 2015)

Far Horizons Magazine Cover February 2015

I’m pleased to announce that a book review and three of my Scifaiku poems have published in the February 2015 issue of Far Horizons. The magazine is free to readers. I hope you’ll stop by and read not only my work, but the other fine stories to be found there.

Far Horizons: Tales of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror