Tag Archives: mystery

Author interview: jared k chapman

When I asked Author Jared Chapman about his writing, he replied: I love taking established tropes in the genres I write in and then flipping them on their heads, turning them inside out, and finding new ways to blow readers minds. I love filling my stories with Easter eggs that readers only pick up on second and third readings, because that’s when they get super excited and I know I’ve done my job. Please give him a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.

Greetings. I’m Jared K Chapman, not to be confused with Jared Chapman children’s author/illustrator, although we both lived in Austin in 2002. I was born in south central California to a farmer’s daughter and an engineer in petroleum. I didn’t crawl. I went right to walking around. I guess I had places to go, people to see. My dad’s job took us to Calgary, Alberta, but by 5 years old my mother moved my kid sister and I back to her father’s farm in California. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian area and got kicked out of Sunday School for asking too many questions. From age 10 to 14, I spent my school years with my father in Canada and summers with my mom. The experience gave me a diverse perspective.

I have degrees in religious studies and psychology, and I’m currently working on my PhD with a focus on extremism through the lens of social psychology. I also have a fondness for science fiction, fantasy, and horror, having grown up reading books by Ray Bradbury, Anne MacCaffrey, and Stephen King, and an array of comic books. I share these interests, whether they like it or not, with my wife and three sons.

When and why did you begin writing?

My mother would probably tell you I’m a born storyteller. I’ve been writing as long as I remember being able to write. One of my first memories is having a short illustrated story published in a book with other kids in my 3rd or 4th grade class. Seeing it in print blew my mind and made me want to do that again. I remember writing a novel in 6th grade that was a kind of mish-mash of Star Wars and Star Trek. I think I wrote it to see what others thought about my story, because I passed it around to fellow students and never got it back.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I began writing a novel in 1996… something I’m still working on. I think the moment I allowed someone to read that was the moment I thought of myself as a writer. That’s when I believed I was going to become a writer. Unfortunately, life got in the way, but I’m finding my way back now.

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

My debut novel, 2HVØRHVNØT: To Have or Have Not, is essentially a murder mystery thriller set in a futuristic dystopia where the superpowered Haves known as the Mighty are the majority, and they oppress the powerless Have Nots. Mario wakes up late for work and misses his bus into the city. While waiting in the long line of other workers, an adjudicator arrests him for the murder of his employer, a Mighty restaurateur. He must race against time to prove his innocence and help those who oppress him to survive the onslaught of the real killer. However, Mario is not the only primary protagonist. When his kid sister, Zelda, suspects he is in danger, she finds her way into the city in search of her brother, the only person she has left in the world. While on the hunt, she discovers a dark secret the Mighty would never want her or anyone else to know.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had a thought in my head about “to be or not to be” but applying it to the situation of haves and have-nots, which resulted in the title “to have or not to have.” I thought that was too presumptuous and cumbersome, so I kept thinking and though To Have or Have Not sounded much better, and I am a Hemingway fan, so there’s a little homage there. I kept thinking and thinking about this title and one day while driving home the numeronym popped into my head 2HVORHVNOT. I thought that would be a cool title for a book, so I began to think what a book with that title would be about.

I immediately thought about a tattooed identity code on someone’s arm. I thought about how it could be scanned and used in the future like credit cards, but I thought that was too obvious and really wasn’t sure what the story would be. Poor people are Have Nots and can’t even use their codes while the rich people can… it seemed like something I’ve seen many times before. So, my mind went somewhere darker. What if only the Have Nots have these identity codes and they’re forced on them? I began to think about the Holocaust and poor lives lost in the camps. I began to think about Nietzche’s idea of the Ubermensch inspiring the Nazis. I began to think about Japanese internment camps and signs that said No Jews Allowed or Colored Only Section. I began thinking about the X-Men stories where normal people wanted to round up the mutants and put them into camps. Then, I thought what if that was flipped. What if the people in power, the majority, were the ones with superpowers.

I started to think about what kind of world that would be. I drew upon a lot of the social psychological theories I had learned through the course of my collegiate life. I found myself really drawn to Sherif, Asch, Milgram, and Zimbardo’s famous experiments. Ultimately, I wanted to delve into conflict resolution between two completely different groups. I also drew upon my religious studies and my interest in science-fiction/fantasy, post-apocalyptic/dystopia speculative fiction, particularly 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, The Dark Tower Series, Running Man, Demolition Man, Minority Report, and Ready Player One. All of these inspired me to create the world of Fellowship City.

In Fellowship City, there is a caste system with the highest, most powerful Mighty being the telepathic seers, monks of Sol & Luna, who police the other Mighty. This creates a world without heroes or villains, because the monks stop any crime or wrongdoing, even wrong-thinking before it happens. They eliminate the bad elements to create a utopian world for them, but in doing so, life is mundane. Their superpowers are meaningless. In this world, a pyrokinetic has a job as a barista reheating coffee in the ceramic mugs of old customers. But in nearly every utopia we find some dystopian element, and for those without powers, this world is a nightmare. They are forced to serve the Mighty, live in camps or slums, and must be tattooed with their scannable identity codes.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Varied. Sometimes I outline. Sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes it’s a little of both. Sometimes I write in first person and other times in third. Sometimes I write in present tense and other times in past tense. Whatever I do, however, I try to be as consistent as possible. But it all depends on the story I’m trying to tell.

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

At the core of it, my book is about how embracing diversity in skills and thoughts, not judging a book by its cover, nor dehumanizing others, are the only ways we can overcome that which might kill us all.

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

I think we, as writers, always draw inspiration from our own experiences or from those we know. There are definitely some small moments that were inspired by real experiences, but if I did my job well, the reader will not uncover which ones are real and which are pure fantasy.

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

I believe my three biggest influences are Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Anne MacCaffrey because their books were my gateway into real novels. Before reading their books, I read books made for kids. When I was 10, I read Misery and it blew my mind. After that, I remember finding Dragonriders of Pern books in the school library and devouring them. However, Fahrenheit 451 was the book that made me question reality and made me believe I could do that too. They all created wonderfully vivid worlds, sometimes vibrant and colorful, but other times dark and dreary. I think their ability to create such worlds is what I found most inspiring.

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

Stephen King. He is a legend. He’s published over 60 books and he’s only 73. Imagine how many others he wrote that weren’t published. The guy is a machine. I just wish I could be 1/10th of what he is. He’s like the end goal that I aspire to be like. I know I’ll never achieve what he has, but that’s okay. I just want to be 1/10th of what he is… and direct a feature film. He did that. I want to do that too.

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

Derek Smith is the artist who designed the cover. I met him in 2011 when he began dating a good friend of the woman I was dating. We married those women within six months of one another and our babies are eight months apart. He is an amazing artist, and I approached him in 2012 about doing the art for a graphic novel I was writing. I wrote it, but he got busy with his day job touring the world, drumming for a band, so we never completed the graphic novel. I decided to write it as a novel instead, so I could proceed without his art. When I completed the novel, I asked if he would do the cover because it was always meant to be a project we were doing together. Someday, we will go back to the graphic novel. You can find him at https://www.facebook.com/kickitlikebonham and https://www.instagram.com/dereksmithart/.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I waited too long to publish because I didn’t have confidence in my work. Don’t do that. You are the only person who can tell your story the way you want it to be told. So, write it and don’t be afraid to show it to people. Also, don’t have a big head about it. Be open to others’ critiques, challenges, and changes they may introduce. Those ideas may help you more than you know. It’s never too late to start. I’m 43 and this is my debut novel. I wish I had begun 20 years ago, but here I am now, and wishing only gets you so far. If you need help, there are people and companies out there who can help. I needed my confidence boosted and help on how to get published, so I found a program. Message me if you want to know about it. Otherwise, keep writing. Write every day. Only stop to send pages to the editor. Publish!

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

I grew up in the 80s, watching Saturday morning cartoons followed by wrestling, reading comic books with superheroes and books by Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, and sneaking into B-Movie slasher flicks to watch the ridiculous blood and guts spray across the screen. I loved Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, The Last Starfighter, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Goonies, and Monster Squad. I write stories that I want to read, and they are influenced by those early interests. I also studied religion, psychology, anthropology, film, and creative writing in college, and those academic experiences influenced how I see the world and how I write about it. I’ve also dealt with abuse, neglect, and instability when I should’ve been a kid enjoying all those things. The worlds I create and write in reflect all of that. My goal is to make my readers feel something viscerally in a world of my creation. I hope I do that, because it’s the best part of being a writer.


Jared K Chapman
Los Angeles, CA

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2HVØRHVNØT: To Have or Have Not

Cover Artist: Derek Smith
Publisher: Apotheosis Press

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Author Interview: Bobbi A. Chukran

I first met Bobbi A. Chukran over fifteen years ago as a fellow member of an online think tank for artisans learning to market themselves on the internet. This was back before there was a facebook, a myspace or even before the world wide web was generally established. (Okay. Now I’m feeling old!) We all worked in different mediums from writing, to painting, to making handmade jewelry. I credit this group for making me a successful artist and launching my art business. I’ve watched Bobbi grow as an artist down through the years: as a gardener, a painter, an author and everything in between. I was proud for her when her first play won an award and went on to be performed by students in various high schools here in America. Now it is my honor and pleasure to introduce Bobbi and her newly launched book here on No Wasted Ink.

author bobbie a chukranMy name is Bobbi A. Chukran, although I recently published a mystery novel under the name B.A. Neal. I thought using a pseudonym would make it easier for me to branch out into different genres. I’m the author of LONE STAR DEATH, a new historical mystery novel, an award-winning playwright and an author of previous non-fiction books and magazine articles. Right now I’m focusing on the novel and short story writing.

When and why did you begin writing?

I always enjoyed writing in school, and was encouraged by my teachers to do more of it. I remember finding an old copy of The Writer magazine when I was in middle school, and entering a poetry-writing contest. I wrote a lot of poetry back then, most of which was dreck. I didn’t win the award, but it was the first time I came to the realization that writing was something that people got paid for and did as a job.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably when a high school teacher told me I was good and that I should pursue it. I wrote for the school newspaper and wrote little stories at home, but also considered myself an artist. My first article was published in a craft magazine back in 1976. I guess that’s when I first thought about doing more writing. I wrote non-fiction for years under the name Bobbi A. McRae, then decided to try my hand at fiction.

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

It’s a historical mystery, set in 1880s central Texas. It features a feisty, headstrong young woman, Samantha Slater, who is 19 years old. She comes to town for a job as a typewriter operator, but ends up in the middle of a murder mystery that she can’t resist investigating. In the process, she gets into a lot of danger of her own, and learns a lot about herself.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had almost finished several romantic suspense novels and a contemporary mystery when the Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman show came on TV. I was fascinated by the costumes, characters, small town, and decided to start a whole new book set during that time period, except in Texas. I researched it for a year, learned about a lot of the real people and events going on at that time, and eventually came up with a few characters. I had always been a fan of westerns, and it seems that there was always one on TV in our house, so I guess it’s no surprise how the book turned out.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I tend to write a lot of dialogue, since I also write plays. I start with a few characters talking to each other and before long, they take off. I do preliminary planning, a rough plot, but it always changes.

Can you tell us more about the plays you write?

In addition to writing short stories, I also write the plays for young people. They seem more like “me” than anything else I write. They are silly, use puns and plays-on-words and feature quirky characters. They are inspired by classic tales, but with a twist. My goal is to turn those into books for young readers. Unfortunately, writing plays is a long, hard road because in order to get anywhere, you must first have a production. Only then can you seek publication (unless you publish it yourself). Once it’s published, it’s liable to get more productions through schools, churches, etc.

December 2011 I published one of my plays, THE JOURNAL OF MINA HARKER, a comedy spoof of the classic DRACULA story, as an e-script for the Kindle. Getting people to read plays is a hard sell, but I’m glad I did it because it got my feet wet with publishing e-books.

How did you come up with the title of your novel?

I started out with LONE STAR STATE OF DEATH, because the titles of many of the mysteries at the time were based on puns. When I extensively revised the book and republished it in May 2012, I shortened the title to LONE STAR DEATH.

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

First of all, I just want it to be a fun reading experience, a little escape from everyday life. Secondly, a theme emerged that I didn’t plan–that our family is not necessarily those we’re related to by blood.

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

Not really–it’s mostly fantasy.

What authors have most influenced your life?

With mysteries, it’s hard to say. I read a lot of Barbara Michaels’ books when I first started and I love the way she combined everyday stuff with fantasy stuff. Her newer books are much different. I love the sparse style of Robert B. Parker. I read a lot of books, all over the genres. Right now I’m obsessed with reading older short story collections, because I’m convinced I’m a better short story/novella writer than a long novel person. My next books will be novelizations of my fantasy/comedy plays. I’m excited about them, because they are a more cohesive collection than my other writing.

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

Not really. I’ve taken some good workshops from good authors, but basically am self-taught.

Who designed the cover of your book?

I did. I used the photo that was on the cover of the previous edition and redesigned it for this one. I bought rights to all the artwork, so it was easy to do. It helps that I have years and years of experience as a graphics designer, printshop experience, desktop publishing experience and an art degree. Those were my “real jobs” for many years. The Kindle cover and the printed cover are a bit different. I used the same photo on both, but the overall design is different.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It takes a long time to get anywhere with writing. Don’t wait. Sit down and write. I’m developing a new product I call BUTT GLUE. You apply it, then sit down. Just kidding, but it is something we all need. Take a lot of notes, start with a short story or flash fiction story first. Those will boost your confidence. Don’t be afraid to write strange things. It took me years before I would “let myself loose” with my writing, and I’m still learning. If you like fantasy or science fiction, then write that! Don’t try to write a mystery just because you think they’ll sell. Your heart won’t be in it otherwise.

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

Just, have fun with the book–don’t judge it too harshly because it’s just a story!

Lone Star Death Book CoverBobbi A. Chukran
Taylor, Texas
LONE STAR DEATH
Limestone Ledge Publishing
Cover artist: Bobbi A. Chukran
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Author Interview: Mary Firmin

I met Mary Firmin via Twitter and discovered that she is a local author from the Los Angeles area. Mary is a self taught author, much like myself and is enjoying success with her first novel. She is a good example of what you can achieve as a new author if you stick to your guns and use the resources that are available in the community. I hope you enjoy her interview here at No Wasted Ink.

Author Mary FirminMy name is Mary Firmin, I am the author of Deadly Pleasures. I have been many things in my life, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, teacher, salesman, and now, writer. Deadly Pleasures is my first book. My husband, Bill, gave me a publishing package from iUniverse for a Christmas present in 2010. We did not know that six months later he would pass away in his sleep. Soon afterwards the activity on the book began in earnest, editing, book cover, design etc. and this book saved me. While it did not eliminate my grief, his gift to me mitigated the terrible angst I felt after his passing. I believe that he knew I would need this book, and all that comes with it, to help me through the most difficult time of my life. Thank you, Bill.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have always been interested in writing but I never dreamed I could write a whole book. One day my friend, Kathleen and I were discussing, jokingly, how we would like to be a guest on the The Tonight Show. We decided the only way we could do that is if we wrote a book. So we checked the UCLA catalog of classes and found one called How to Write a Bestseller. Right up our alley! In this class we met a wonderful teacher, Marjorie Miller, who convinced us that, yes, we could write. We joined her class in Westwood and spent many years working with other authors and learning our craft. Of course, neither one of us has made it to The Tonight Show, but we both acquired such a love of writing . . . and that was the gift. This all began 25 years ago. So I guess I am an overnight success.

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

My current book is Deadly Pleasures, a mystery/thriller. It has received fabulous reviews from Kirkus, ForeWord Clarion, Readers Favorite, but it is best described by Blueink Review as, “Sex in City meets James Patterson.” Megan Riley and her three best friends are unhappy with the men in their lives and decide to hire, hunky stripper Michael Harrington, as a time-share Boytoy. They are unaware that he is a suspect in a series of gruesome bondage murders. The story takes you on their journey to find a Boytoy and has some very funny moments. But the mystery and the tragedy is the murder of several young women by the Bondage Murderer. Enter handsome Detective Matt Donovan, and Megan falls in love. The story takes place in the Southern California yachting community, Venice Beach, Malibu and Catalina Island. During Matt’s intense investigation into the grisly crimes the reader is taken on a wild ride through L.A.’s private sex clubs, bondage parlors, and the homes and yachts of the rich and famous.

What inspired you to write this book?

Years ago when I lived in Hollywood, I heard about four men who hired a woman to be on call to fill their sexual needs. I began to write a mystery that included that unusual situation. But then, I realized how much times have changed, and it would be so much more interesting if four women hired a lover, hence, the time-share Boytoy. The women had to have money, opportunity, and the desire to get back at their men. My ladies have all of that and then some.

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

I did not know the men who hired the woman in Hollywood. The characters are not based on anyone I know, specifically. Yes, some of my own experiences are in the book. I sold real estate in most of the areas mentioned. My husband and I belonged to a yacht club, and we went to Catalina frequently. I lived in Santa Monica and walked on Venice Boardwalk almost every day. The personalities in the book are a mixture of human traits that I think we all have to a more or lesser degree. I’m sure there is a little bit of me in all the ladies.

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

The working title of the book was Dangerous Games. But a movie came along with that same name, and then a similar book title. I wanted to change it and felt like Deadly Pleasures best fit the action in the book. The murder victims were fulfilling someone’s idea of pleasure. The four women were looking for pleasure from their Boytoy. And no one knew who would be the next person to die. The results were Deadly Pleasures.

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

I did not start out with a message as some writers do in Spiritual Books or Motivational Books. I wanted to write a book that people would enjoy and hopefully get a break from their everyday life while they were reading it. I have always loved mysteries, and spent countless hours reading them. If my husband and I went to Catalina for a few days, I would call it a great time if I had read six books. I am a self educated person who, later in life, took what I needed from writing classes, seminars, conventions and writer’s groups. I did not have a lot of formal education. So, if I have any message I would say it’s never too late to fulfill your dreams. If your desire is strong enough you will do it. If you want to write, the first thing you have to do is START.

Which authors have most influenced your life?

Since I am a recovering alcoholic, like Megan, the most influential book in my life has been the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. It changed me and my life profoundly. But I love Thomas Harris, the author of Hannibal and Red Dragon, which I use as a text book on building suspense.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would repeat what I said a couple of questions ago. If you have something to say, a memoir, biography, family history, or a mystery, you must sit down and START. Harold Robbins, author of The Carpetbaggers, told me, and a group of authors in Palm Springs, that ‘you have to put Ass Glue on your chair and do not get up until you have written five to ten pages.’ It doesn’t have to be perfect. But again, you have to START. You will feel such a sense of accomplishment every time you do this . . . and writing is really Fun.

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

Yes, I do. If you love a book, mine or anyone else’s, go into Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com, and give that person a good review. The author has worked for years to bring the book into fruition and it is like music to his or her ears if the reader gives them a good review. I hope you enjoy my book, Deadly Pleasures. At present I am working on number two of a Deadly Trilogy, called Deadly Secrets. It takes place in a Desert Golf and Tennis Club. So friends and fellow members, beware. And you too, Wendy!

Deadly Pleasures Book CoverEnglish born, Mary Firmin spent many years in Canada. She settled in Santa Monica, California, married and raised three children. Vice President of a large Real Estate firm, Mary and her husband Bill belonged to a yacht club and spent many hours in Catalina. She studied the craft of writing in her spare time. Eventually, she moved to the Desert where she wrote a Society Column for a local newspaper. Last year, Mary lost her loving husband, Bill, and presently lives in Rancho Mirage, California, where she is at work on her second novel, Deadly Secrets. Mary is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Palm Springs Women in Film, and the New Palm Springs Writers Guild.

Web: http://maryfirmin.com
Blog: http://maryfirmin.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/firminmary/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maryfirmin

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Mary Firmin has generously offered to gift a free copy of her novel Deadly Pleasures in a raffle. On May 2nd, I will randomly select one commentator from this post to receive the free copy. Don’t miss out. Post your comment today!

Update 5/3/12: The book contest is now closed. A winner will be selected at random from the people that left comments to this post. Thank you all for your participation!