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Author Interview: Chico Kidd

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Chico for consenting to be interviewed here on No Wasted Ink. As you can see, Chico has quite a catalog of titles to her name with many more to come on the horizon. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did.

Author Chico KiddI am Chico Kidd, author and artist, whose ghost and dark fantasy tales have been published in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. Over the last few years I’ve been busy with a sequence of novels and stories featuring Luís da Silva, ship’s captain and reluctant demon-hunter. Demon Weather, the first novel in the series, has recently been published by Booktrope; the Portuguese-language rights have been bought by Lisbon-based Saída de Emergência. The next three novels, The Werewolf of Lisbon, Resurrection, and Sinned Against, are complete; a fifth is in progress. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 13 and Dark Terrors 6 featured three short stories between them. Others have appeared in Supernatural Tales, Acquainted with the Night, Poe’s Progeny, and elsewhere.

My first novel, The Printer’s Devil, came out in 1996 from Baen and was reprinted last year by Booktrope. It’s a tale in the classic English Ghost Story tradition of M.R. James, as were most of the stories in my first hardback anthology Summoning Knells (2000). I also write in collaboration with Australian author Rick Kennett, and our collection of Carnacki the Ghost-Finder stories No. 472 Cheyne Walk was published in 2002 (both Ash-Tree Press).

When and why did you begin writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember— by age 10 I was telling people that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Luckily everything I wrote prior to 1979 has vanished into the mists of time. Why, is also easy. I loved reading. I devoured books like a starving book-eating creature. I wanted more books like the ones I loved to read, and spent hours thinking up titles and storylines and designing the covers for them. The earliest thing I recall writing was one set in Narnia, and I also worked my apprenticeship by writing stories in imitation of authors as diverse as Dick Francis, P.G. Wodehouse and Tolkien. There are now many, many more influences on my writing!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Since 1979, when my first published story, An Incident in the City, appeared in the first issue of Rosemary Pardoe’s long-running Ghosts & Scholars series. I’ve had writing jobs ever since I graduated, from greeting-card verses to advertising, but don’t really think that counts. For quite a long time, I wrote only ghost stories, mostly in the tradition of M.R. James. They found modest homes in anthologies and in small press, to which I contributed seven collections of my own: Change & Decay, In & Out Of The Belfry, Bell Music, Bells Rung Backwards, Wraiths & Ringers, and Ghosts, Scholars, Campanologists & Others. Nearly all these stories went into Summoning Knells. And then I got writer’s block, which was completely horrible. And it was cured by Captain da Silva, who barged into a story from heaven knows where and took over my writing life.

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

Although Demon Weather is the first novel to feature the intrepid Captain, chronologically it is the 14th of the Da Silva Tales. The preceding stories do not need to be read to make sense of the novel! (Although I think readers might find it fun to find out more about some of the characters’ backstories.)
Luís da Silva is the captain of a barque, the Isabella, in the days when sail is in its long decline and steamships have more or less taken over the seas. He is rather more well acquainted with the night than he wants to be, but the powers that be have different ideas. (These are not the sort of powers that be that make prophecies and steer people towards destinies, but rather the kind that say to themselves “This fellow would be good at doing certain kinds of stuff, so let’s give him a nudge in the right direction,” or even just “Let’s give him some abilities that will make his life suck”.) As Riley Finn once said to Buffy, “It turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse.” And he also has a rather shady past, which in this case comes back to bite him in the shape of a not-at-all-nice sorcerer out for revenge.

Luckily the Captain has allies in the form of a Scooby Gang which includes a werewolf, a man who can fiddle with time, an English antiquarian, a bad-tempered witch and an almost-corporeal ghost, not to mention his very resourceful wife, Emilia, and a young son and daughter who are sometimes more hindrance than help.

What inspired you to write this book?

Well, as I mentioned, I’d had a bad case of writer’s block, but once the dam broke I found myself writing like crazy. I was averaging around 10,000 words a week for a while. And so I zipped though a ton of stories that were like episodes from a series, before coming face to face with an idea that was a lot more complicated and needed the length of a novel to do it justice. I wrote the thing in three months!

Inspiration covers a lot more than that, however. I am inspired by boats and the sea, by the way Joss Whedon blends horror and comedy, by inventing characters and exploring milieus, by the city of Lisbon, by folklore and legend and the sheer fun of writing.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I do, and Rick Kennett has dubbed it “Weird Noir”. It’s Chandleresque, basically, when the Captain is doing the narration. I use a mixture of tenses in the first-person bits, because it’s a mixture of his memories, his thoughts, his actions, and it all makes it more immediate: he’s telling you the story, but it’s happening now in his mind. But I also tell the story from multiple points of view, and try to get personality across by variations in style. I sometimes make use of a version of José Saramago’s style (not many full stops, bit stream-of-consciousness-y). Harris the werewolf’s thoughts are a big part of his personality. There are a few bits of omniscient-narrator stuff where I need to describe something outside of everyone’s experience. It’s all kind of a mixture, I think it’s quite cinematic, with jump-cuts and voice-overs and zooming out and in.

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

That’s kind of interesting. I’m usually good with titles, and they often come before I write the story— sometimes a title actually triggers the story. But it wasn’t till about halfway through Demon Weather that I settled on that title. It was called Hunting Souls up to then.

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

Whoa, no! I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t count demon-slayers, werewolves or even ship’s captains among my acquaintances. Much of the Captain comes from me, I guess, in terms of philosophy at least. But I don’t agree with that old truism “Write about what you know”. If everyone did that, there would be no fantasy or SF at all!

What authors have most influenced your life?

My life? No. My style, most certainly. But I love certain authors without wanting to use anything of theirs: Terry Pratchett, for instance, Ursula Le Guin, Elizabeth Moon, John Connolly. I suppose I have to say that Joss Whedon is the single most obvious influence on the DaSilvaverse, with my diverse gang of supernatural-evil battlers and the mix of action, horror, humor and characters you care about (I hope!) But I am a magpie, I pick up shiny things from all over the place, books, movies, TV, tradition, history, art, my own travels…

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

No, I can’t say that there is. I am terrible at following examples, instructions or rules, I don’t idolize any writers, although I do admire a good many. My real-life heroes are people like Aung San Suu Kyi and the late war correspondent Marie Colvin.

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

*coughs modestly* I did it myself. One of the first things I do when I have a character who I know will be with me for a while is draw their face. It’s a shortcut to getting inside their skin, until I get used to them.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write what you enjoy. Get inside the skins of your characters. Never stop writing, and don’t be afraid to run with the story.

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

Welcome to my world— I hope you enjoy the ride!

Demon Weather Book CoverChico Kidd
London, England

Chico Kidd’s ghost stories have been published in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and continental Europe. Chico was born in Nottingham, England, and now lives, writes and paints near London.

Demon Weather is published by Booktrope.

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Author Interview: Tami Parrington

I often fall into chatting with fellow writers on twitter and this is how I was introduced to Tami Parrington. Tami is an author that started with more traditional publishing of her work, but moved into self-publishing after a series of events changed her outlook. Please welcome Tami Parrington to No Wasted Ink.

Author Tami ParringtonHello, my name is Tami, and I’m addicted to words. I started actually writing down the stories I came up with in high school, although my active imagination began long before that. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I truly began a quest for publication of anything I’d written though.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

My plans for this year were to re-release Dark Side of the Moon, and complete a new book for the Demon series started with Hell’s Own. Dark Side of the Moon is such an important project for me. It was the second book I completed in my professional career. This was back when self-publishing was still considered only vanity work, and the wonderful world of indy authors did not exist. It had been accepted by a mid-sized publisher and made it to press (physical book only, ebooks weren’t widely considered much by publishers then even though some very good ebook houses were springing up back then). Unfortunately, less than a month after publication, the house it was published through went bankrupt due to some sort of crazy dealings in the financial world of the owner’s husband. Dark Side of the Moon was suddenly an orphan.

In those days, traditional publishers didn’t want a book already put out by another house, even if it had only been out a short while, and there weren’t a lot of viable options for a book with such a fate. Over the years I wrote more books and either had them published by other companies, or as the Indy world began to grow, published them myself. However, another unfortunate turn of events made self-publishing Dark Side Of The Moon difficult. The novel had been created on an old computer that died a rather horrible death, and the files were lost. At the time, since the original publisher had everything it didn’t concern me, but after the original digital copy was gone, I couldn’t do anything with it because all I had were paperback copies of the book, no manuscript on a hard drive.

That event and several more over the following years made me very anal about backups. I now have two external hard drives where I back up my novels, as well as saving all work to a cloud drive file. I never could bear the thought of having to retype the entire thing again. I do have a few problems with carpal tunnel thanks to decades of typing, so that much is not something I like to think about. Finally, I just decided it had to be done. I really like the story, and there’s so much of it that actually happens in the entertainment industry. I brushed it up, and updated it a little, but am just very happy to say that it is all nicely redone on my hard drive now.

How did you come up with the title?

Any Pink Floyd fan knows that Dark Side of the Moon isn’t original as titles go. However, it is just perfect for this book that deals with the music industry’s crazy fanatical side and its dark and sinister side.

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

All of my work tends to have some message in it that I hope the readers can take away with them. What good book doesn’t? While the theme and message in Hell’s Own is wildly different from that in Dark Side of the Moon, or even Married to a Rock Star (book one of the Rock Star series), one thing I do want readers to know before they embark on a journey with me is that I don’t follow formulas and my heroes and heroines do not always make the right choices. In fact, they often do not. They are not “heroes or heroines” in the commonly thought of publishing view. People in real life don’t make the right choices all of the time. That doesn’t make them bad. It makes them human. I don’t even bother to try and make ‘excuses’ for my character’s shortcomings, as if to say, oh this person is doing this, but it’s not their fault. What I really want readers to come away with in Dark Side of the Moon, and perhaps any of the stories I write, regardless of genre or theme, is that good people make the wrong decisions sometimes, the struggle is to deal with them, try to overcome them, and to find the way “home” again to where you can make things right.

Are experiences in the novel based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

In Dark Side of the Moon, definitely. For a long time in the early to late 90s, I was very involved in a large, vibrant and powerful fan community–I saw that side of it firsthand. I also got to see a lot of the “business” side because I knew people who were musicians and caught up in the whole power and image struggle. The same is true for Married to a Rock Star, except that the story is not based on any actual events. Of course, Hell’s Own is not based on ANY actual events either. If you do ever hear about a demon flying about, trying to escape from the devil with the help of two humans please let me know so I can hide.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Wow, so many. I guess I’d have to go all the way back to when I was very young. Not the earliest, perhaps, but in my late childhood, early teens, the Walter Farley books (The Black Stallion series and others) had a profound impact on me. Those were, I think, the first books that showed me you could lose yourself inside a story, and that even fiction could teach you things about the world it existed in. Plus I just loved horses. Later, Anne Rice showed me that you could create something wildly new from an old character type. I think the entire “vampire movement” from Buffy to True Blood, and Twilight to Personal Demon have her to thank for that.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not anymore. In the early 90s, I did signings, I did conferences, I did all that. Now, it’s not all that necessary, and I prefer it this way As a self-published author, most of my sales are in the form of ebooks, although some physical books do sell. Being self-published is still a big road block for authors who want to try and get into brick and mortar stores, although I am hoping that will change even more as the publishing world evolves. I’ve watched as the Internet has become such a powerful force in marketing, that for self-published authors especially, it is the best form of marketing. Connecting with readers through social media, blogs and reader dedicated websites such as Goodreads, provides a wonderful resource for both sides. If anything, I think the internet has made authors more accessible to readers, and the connection much more personal. You only get a few minutes at a book signing. Online you can have a long-term relationship if you want it, and even if you aren’t that committed, you can follow everything your favorite authors do much easier.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Follow your heart. Do what you love, and create what you believe in. You can hope, and you can want readers to love it too, but you’re not going to please everyone. You do, however, have to please yourself.

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

What I would like to say most to readers is: Thank you! Thank you for finding the joy, for finding the excitement and for being such a big part of my life and the life of every other author out there. Without readers we’d be talking to ourselves, and we do that enough anyway.

Dark Side Of The Moon Book CoverTami Parrington, also known as T.L. Parrington, lives in Burbank, Illinois, a little suburb just south of Chicago. Along with her fiction, she is a full-time freelancer and spends her days happily writing and playing with her crazy dog and having conversations with her parrot so that no one thinks she’s talking to herself.

Dark Side of the Moon is available at the following sites: Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Please follow Tami on Twitter at @TParrington or visit her at her website.
The book cover is self-illustrated by Tami Parrington.