Tag Archives: sci-fi

Author Interview: Madeline Dyer

Author Madeline Dyer writes dystopians, fantasy, and science fiction. She can often be found exploring wild places, and several notebooks are known to follow her. Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Madeline DyerI’m a writer, freelance editor, and inline skater. I live on a farm in the southwest of England where I hang out with Shetland ponies and write books, sometimes at the same time.  I hold a BA Honors degree in English from the University of Exeter.  I have a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal.  At least one notebook is known to follow me as I go about exploring wild places.

When and why did you begin writing?

Well, I’ve always been a writer, and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t creating stories. It really does seem like something I’ve always done—writing is just part of who I am. There’s something so special about escaping into a magical world, and writing is something I just have to do now. It keeps me sane!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I had my first short story published when I was sixteen years old, so I’d say that was the start of me considering myself to be a ‘proper’ writer. Before then, I definitely thought of myself as a writer, but I didn’t tell many other people.

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

Sure! So, A Dangerous Game is my latest dystopian release and it tells the story of Keelie Lin-Sykes, an impulsive young woman who struggles with her mental health and sense of self as she navigates a forbidden romance. And all of this is set against the backdrop of a war-stricken world where genetically-enhanced humans are trying to wipe out ordinary ’untamed’ people.

What inspired you to write this book?

A Dangerous Game is set in the same world as my Untamed series, and from the moment I started writing the series (which has a different narrator), I was intrigued by Keelie. She’s an adrenaline-junkie, she’s impulsive, and she’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes is right—even if it means going against the leader of her group.

But she has practically no page-time in the series as she’s not one of the characters who go on the run with my protagonist—but I kept finding that the characters who did reference Keelie a lot in their day-to-day life as they fought to survive in the dystopian world. She’d obviously had a huge impact on them as they grew up and her past actions were constantly shaping their behavior.

As I was writing the series, I just knew I needed to know more about Keelie, and so I decided to write a novella that would be all about her. But Keelie’s story kept spiraling bigger and bigger as I really got to know her, and it turned into one of my longest novels! And, thus, A Dangerous Game was born.

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

Great question! I wanted something that encompasses Keelie’s view of looking at the world; she’s an adrenaline-junkie who thrives off-putting herself in dangerous situations, and she’s constantly pitting herself against the other characters. To her, everything is a competition, a game, and because of this, she doesn’t always see reality for what it is. Instead, she’s always trying to make things more exciting, to give herself more fun, and she’s become addicted to danger, constantly wanting more and more.

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

So, there are a number of things I want readers to take away after reading this book.

Firstly, I wanted to look at how a dystopian world can impact someone’s mental health in both the obvious and not-so-obvious ways—so if readers are still thinking about Keelie’s struggle and how her sense of identity changes throughout the story after they’ve finished reading, then that’s great.

Secondly, I wanted to examine trust—what it is, how it’s earnt, and how it changes as people grow and learn more about each other. This plays into the many unreliable characters who fill A Dangerous Game’s pages, and so I wanted reading it to be a bit of a game for readers as they try to work out who can be trusted and who is always telling the truth—and who’s not. (And for readers of my series who pick up this novel, there’s a secret revealed in A Dangerous Game that hugely changes the dynamics of something that happens in book one of the series, so there are surprises for everyone.)

The other big thing I wanted to do in writing this story was to include a character with autism, but I didn’t want to fall into any stereotypes or harmful representations. So often in fiction, I’ve seen characters with autism treated as burdens who slow down the protagonist or as someone who needs to protect no matter what. And I wanted to write a book which has a character with autism in it, but where that character isn’t solely defined by their autism. And this can be seen in A Dangerous Game through the character of Bea: yes, she has autism and this affects how she copes with living in such a turbulent, ever-changing dystopian world, but she also has her own storylines, her own love interest, a job, hobbies, skills that help the others in their survival, and dreams and goals of her own—just like any other character. And that was really important to me. In order to check my portrayal of autism in the book as I was writing it, I employed two sensitivity readers who have autism, and they each gave me great feedback on my writing and read multiple drafts of the manuscript, helping me ensure that there was no problematic representation.

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

My list of authors who’ve most influenced me includes Virginia Woolf, Richelle Mead, and Rachel Caine. I think how prolific these writers are in producing books is definitely the biggest thing that inspires me on a daily basis—but also their versatility and how they’ve written in several different genres. I’m also greatly inspired by Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens due to how they created such believable characters, and Jean M. Auel for her immense world-building.

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

The cover was designed by Molly Phipps at We Got You Covered Book Design. She also designed the covers for my series that’s set in the same world as A Dangerous Game, so she was an obvious choice for this book too.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The most valuable thing I’ve done is getting into the habit of writing every day. Even if it’s just a few hundred words one day, or just some plotting work mapped out at the back of a notebook, it really helps me to stay in the mindset of whichever story I’m working on.

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

Thank you so much for all your support, and I hope you love reading A Dangerous Game as much as I loved writing it!

A Dangerous Game Book CoverMadeline Dyer
England

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Cover Artist: Molly Phipps 
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Anthology For Your Writers’ Group by April Grey

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Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Could you, should you, dare you, put together an anthology for your writers’ group?

In this age of Internet and computers, we all know how easy it is to publish online. Just hit “send.” However, putting together an anthology (ebook and/or paper) for your writers’ group may take a bit more effort.

For me, a love of learning led me to take classes from Dean Wesley Smith
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/online-workshops, in how to create a book cover and how to format a book interior. Easy Peasy? Hmmm. Well, there are many You Tubes that teach you how to do formatting and design, so yes, with a little determination and time you can do it.

Although the how to’s is something that almost anyone can do, coming up with material—that’s where having a pool of creative people is vital.

The first anthology I put together was inspired by our local community garden, along with two stories about gardens from writers I knew. I’ve been involved in SF, Fantasy and Horror workshops since the early 90’s, both on-line and in real life and so would read many, many stories a year to give crit. In return I also got my stories reviewed.

Once the idea to put together an anthology came to me, I asked of the writers in my circle if they had any stories about gardens, gardeners or gardening. I pulled together six stories. Not a lot of material, but I was thinking this could be a promotional item. I included excerpts of material from the writers. Six stories transformed into twelve! I’d seen samplers from all sorts of publishing houses.

Besides years of critting, I was an editor for Damnation Press. This rewarding work allowed me to get to know an even larger circle of writers than from my writing groups.

My second anthology was again inspired by events in my life. Cronehood isn’t for the fainthearted. This time I had ten stories to go together. Instead of photoshopping a cover all by myself, I enlisted the work of Dirk Strangely. I have long been a fan of his Tim Burtonesque style, and I figured why not splurge and send some money his way? I’ve used his artwork for four of my covers.

We all know that a cover can make or break a book. Of course, what’s between the covers matters a great deal, but it’s the cover that lures the reader in to crack open the book or read an on-line sample.

Wonderful cover art, great stories, a formatter, and an editor. That’s it. For ebooks, Smashwords is extremely user friendly. Createspace’s customer service is great (though I always fight with them about the spine—that’s for another blog).

I haven’t mentioned publicity, maybe because that’s my least favorite bit. Word of mouth, blog hops, reviews, all of this needs to be done both leading up to release and after publication. Since this is being done not to get rich, but to promote your writing group, that you really need to have group support in getting the word out that your anthology is a must-read among a sea of other self-published works.

Another thing needed is a theme. Most anthologies have one. So far the Hell’s series has focused on gardens, crones, pets, and music. All the stories are more dark fantasy and humor than horror and can appeal to a wide audience.

Recently I was fortunate enough to be co-editor of our local Horror Writers Association’s anthology, New York State of Fright. It’s at its publisher right now and should be out in 2018. I’m very excited to see that work of so many writers who I have known for years and greatly respect. The theme is centered on New York and it is a varied and exciting read!

I hope that this has gotten you thinking about your own writers’ group. Great stories and cover art are the biggest factors. If you have that, then you should consider this as a great project for the new year!


Author April GreyApril Grey’s short stories are collected in The Fairy Cake Bakeshop and in I’ll Love You Forever. She is also the author of two urban fantasy novels: Chasing the Trickster and its sequel, St. Nick’s Favor.

She edited the anthologies: Hell’s Bells: Wicked Tunes, Mad Musicians and Cursed Instruments; Hell’s Garden: Mad, Bad and Ghostly Gardeners, Hell’s Grannies: Kickass Tales of the Crone and last year’s, Hell’s Kitties and Other Beastly Beasts.

She and her family live in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC in a building next to a bedeviled garden. Gremlins, sprites or pixies, something mischievous, lurks therein. Someday she’ll find out. Please visit www.aprilgrey.blogspot for her latest news.  Follow her on Twitter and FaceBook

Planetary Grand Tour Inspires Writers

GrandTour-blog

As a science fiction writer, I often derive inspiration from the planets and moons of our solar system. It is here that the next great frontier will be found. One day, tourism will be an economic factor on the planets much as it is here on the Earth. How will future destinations showcase their location to attract those tourism dollars?

One answer to this question is from NASA itself. In 2016, a series of 1950s inspired posters about various tourism locations in our home solar system were created. Photos and posters are great sources to draw on as an author. I hope you will enjoy this batch of fantastical images about various places in our solar system and how they might develop into colonies with tourism benefits.

Below are smaller versions of my favorite posters from this series. There are a few more featuring some of the larger moons in our solar system too. Download one or two for your walls for free. Maybe they will inspire you to write about the planets or even to go there one day. The days when humanity spreads into space is not far into the future.

venus-blog

VENUS is one of Earth’s closest sister worlds.  It is 9/10s the size of our homeworld and has a dense atmosphere that could crush a spacecraft.

NASA writes about this poster:

“The rare science opportunity of planetary transits has long inspired bold voyages to exotic vantage points – journeys such as James Cook’s trek to the South Pacific to watch Venus and Mercury cross the face of the Sun in 1769. Spacecraft now allow us the luxury to study these cosmic crossings at times of our choosing from unique locales across our solar system.”

 

 

 

 

 

Earth-blogEARTH is humanity’s homeworld, but ultimately not our only gravity well.  Expansion into all corners of the globe is a fairly recent endeavor, but not our only stopping point.

NASA writes about this poster:

“There’s no place like home. Warm, wet and with an atmosphere that’s just right, Earth is the only place we know of with life – and lots of it. Perhaps our perfect world is rarer than we thought and only when we travel to other worlds will we realize how precious and lucky we are to have it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Mars-blogMARS will prove to be human’s first planetary colony.  Our first efforts to live on the Red Planet will begin in a scant decade or two.  Due to its smaller size, CO2 atmosphere, and lack of a magnetic iron core, there will be fierce challenges associated with living there, but I’m sure our scientists will be up to the task of making this world habitable.

NASA writes about this poster:

“NASA’s Mars Exploration Program seeks to understand whether Mars was, is, or can be a habitable world. Mission like Mars Pathfinder, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Science Laboratory and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, among many others, have provided important information in understanding of the habitability of Mars. This poster imagines a future day when we have achieved our vision of human exploration of Mars and takes a nostalgic look back at the great imagined milestones of Mars exploration that will someday be celebrated as historic sites.”

 

 

Jupiter-blogJUPITER is a gas giant that orbits the sun, much as a binary star might.  It has snatched 68 asteroids that now circle the mighty orb as make-shift moons.

NASA writes about this poster:

“The Jovian cloudscape boasts the most spectacular light show in the solar system, with northern and southern lights to dazzle even the most jaded space traveler. Jupiter’s auroras are hundreds of times more powerful than Earth’s, and they form a glowing ring around each pole that’s bigger than our home planet. Revolving outside this auroral oval are the glowing, electric “footprints” of Jupiter’s three largest moons. NASA’s Juno mission will observe Jupiter’s auroras from above the polar regions, studying them in a way never before possible.”

 

 

 

I hope that you have found inspiration for your own stories with these fun images from NASA. If they help ferment a few new science fiction stories for you, as they have for me, all the better.

Author Interview: E. A. Hennessy.

As a writer, E.A. Hennessy tends to focus on two main things: exploring the personalities and relationships of her characters, and sending them on exciting adventures. All the things you would wish in a fantasy author.  Please welcome Liz to No Wasted Ink.

Author Liz HennessyMy name is Liz and I publish under the name E. A. Hennessy. By day I work as an environmental engineer, and by night I’m a dancer and a writer! I love to balance my very technical job with creative pursuits. Writing has been a necessary part of my life since I was a kid, and I’m excited to share my stories with the world.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I was in elementary school. I always had an active imagination, and loved coming up with fictional versions (from aliens to elves!) of myself and my friends. I wrote about our imagined adventures.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I always considered myself a writer. My thinking has always been: I write, therefore I’m a writer!

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

My debut novel, Grigory’s Gadget, is Book 1 of my Gaslight Frontier Series (Book 2 is in the works!). The story follows Zoya and her friends from the bitter, hostile nation of Morozhia who set out to start a better life. On the way to their new home, they’re kidnapped by pirates. What’s more, the pirates have a particular interest in Zoya’s family heirloom: a small gadget of compacted wires and gears. Unsure what power the gadget holds, Zoya knows she must protect it with her life.

What inspired you to write this book?

I started writing the first iteration of this novel over 10 years ago, when I was going through a pirate-obsession phase. The original story involved time travel, and a necklace instead of a gadget, but the plot and characters were otherwise very similar.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write in a very conversational way. I love writing dialogue, as it seems to be what comes most naturally to me. I also like to keep some levity in the story, to balance out when a scene gets a little dark.

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

I knew I wanted the word “gadget” in the title. I also tend to gravitate toward alliteration. The name Grigory, which is the Russian form of Gregory, jumped out at me. I felt the combination of “Grigory” and “Gadget” set the tone for the setting of my story: a Russian-inspired steampunk world.

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

There is a strong theme of friendship and loyalty throughout the novel. I would say the main message is to seek out those true friends who deserve your loyalty, and not to be fooled by false friends.

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

Some characters were originally based on friends of mine, though I have taken many liberties since their original creation. There are also a couple scenes inspired by stories I’ve heard, such as my high school Russian teacher’s story about how she narrowly escaped the Soviet Union as it collapsed in the early 1990s and her experiences upon arriving in the United States as a refugee.

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

I had to think about this question a lot, and feel like I might be cheating a bit with my answer. A lot of authors have had a huge influence on my writing, but what about my life overall? I think that honor would have to go to story collectors and anthropologists! I’ve always loved mythology, and learning about different mythologies from around the world definitely influenced my worldview. I also used to read a Grimm’s fairy tale every night before bed (no wonder I tend to have weird dreams!).

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

As I mentioned above, there are a lot of writers who have influenced my writing. I have to acknowledge R. L. Stine and his Goosebumps books, because reading those books lead to my passion for reading and, by association, writing stories. As for my current writing style, I would say it is most influenced by Clive Barker, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gail Carriger (odd combination, I know!). I love Barker’s vivid descriptions, Vonnegut’s humor and satire, and Carriger’s overall take on the steampunk genre.

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

My cover was designed by Deranged Doctor Design. I shopped around a lot, and the covers by DDD really impressed me. They have a great range, and every cover is gorgeously done. They also have straightforward and affordable pricing, which is great for a self-published author like me.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t let yourself get discouraged – I know that’s easier said than done! Remember that you are your own worst critic, and that a first draft will always be far from perfect. Don’t let these things stop you from writing!

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

As a first-time, self-published author, I am so grateful for the support I’ve received so far! Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this crazy writing adventure, and I hope you enjoy my stories!

Grigorys Gadget Book CoverE. A. Hennessy
Buffalo, NY

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Author Interview Laura Woodswalker

Author Laura Woodswalker is a nature and science-obsessed nerd who believes that writing, art, and music are true expressions of the transcendent.  I am pleased to welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

author-laura-woodswalkerMy name is Laura Woodswalker. I ‘m a retired cat lady who has raised 3 children, worked various nursing and graphics jobs, and written several books to save my sanity. Music, art and writing have always been my favorite time-wasters. In addition to writing books, I produce electronic music and visual arts. I also perform at the electro-music festival in NY state. Between projects, I also do weaving and various DIY crafts.

When and why did you begin writing?

When I was 12, I became obsessed with the Incas and wrote a novel about them. But my writing has often been episodic, in response to difficult times in my life. I wrote my first SF novel in the late 70s when my bluegrass band broke up. After my divorce, I wrote a 200K novel about the Khazars.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t really. I don’t have this ironclad compulsion to write all the time—only when I get an idea that forces me to write it.

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

TESLA’S SIGNAL is a historical science fiction novel based on the life of electrical genius Nikola Tesla, who gave us the world’s electrical system. In 1899, while experimenting with high-frequency currents, Tesla believed he had received a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization.

This inspired me to write about an alien visitation in the early 1900s. The invaders try to recruit Tesla for their conquest of Earth. After he escapes them, he is the only human with the scientific know-how to counter their mind-control frequency devices. The authorities, meanwhile, blame him for the aliens’ devastation and hunt him as a public enemy. Nikola and his colleague Clara are the only ones who can save the world!

What inspired you to write this book?

When I read Tesla’s biography, I saw that his life was “a science fiction story that practically wrote itself.” I did not feel qualified to write a SF novel about an electrical genius…but I felt as if Tesla had grabbed me by the throat and demanded I write his story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

When readers enter our world, they are blind, deaf and crippled. They depend on us to take them everywhere. So I don’t like to distract them with too much ‘show-don’t-tell’. At the same time, I prefer to tell a story rather than make my readers wallow in suffering. Conversation and human interaction are the backbone of a compelling scene. Also, I like to throw a bit of humor into my dramatic scenes.

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

It was a no-brainer…although the signal was actually something that Tesla received, rather than one which he sent.

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

On the surface, my novel is a classic adventure story. But there are deeper levels in which I explore the soul of a lonely genius who finds love and transcendence. The message is how my characters overcome their fears and temptations, find courage and love, and the willingness to sacrifice themselves for humanity.

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

The character Clara, a Yiddish immigrant who becomes Tesla’s colleague, is very much drawn from the culture of my immigrant grandparents. Much of the novel is set in New York City, where my grandparents lived. When my characters must flee to a remote location, I put them in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania where I grew up. They meet a professor who can help them—and he is based on my father, an engineering professor.

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

Zenna Henderson, my #1 favorite author, wrote about “The People”–telepathic aliens whose ancestors crash-landed in the southwest in the 1800s. The stories depict their attempts fit in with normal Earthlings, without losing their unique gifts and differences. How could this theme not resonate with a lonely high-school outcast? Likewise, my other favorite author, Clifford Simak, wrote about “mutants” who tried to save the world while facing persecution. With my ethnic background, I could certainly relate to this. My favorite science fiction theme has always been the noble mutant, alien, and the gifted outcast.

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

In the 80s I discovered Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Darkover conventions. This subculture was my gateway to SF cons and meeting other writers. I then discovered the Philadelphia SF Writers Workshop. I attended this sometimes grueling workshop for many years. One could not ask for a better writers’ boot camp. After critiquing and being critiqued for many years, I learned how to hear an editor’s voice inside my head.

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

I designed my own cover. I was an art major with a degree in computer graphics, so I felt that if I hired someone else I would be wasting my education.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Take the advice with a grain of salt. The main point in writing is “variety”. Vary your sentences, types of scenes, styles. Readers have short attention spans. Also, transcend your ego. It is going to get hurt; that’s part of the process.

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

This is a stand-alone novel, but the companion volume TESLA’S FREQUENCY should be out in a few months.

book-cover-teslas-signalLaura Woodswalker
Phoenixville PA

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