Tag Archives: science fiction

Author Interview: Murray Lindsay

Murray Lindsay is an indy author from Canada.  He writes science fiction with a wild west twist.  Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

murray lindsayMy name is Murray Lindsay and I’m a proud flatlander. Really. Born and raised on the rolling prairies of Saskatchewan, no matter where I have travelled or how long I lived elsewhere, I have returned with relief. My most recent return met with even greater-than-usual revitalization as I met the woman of my dreams and we have recently moved into the perfect (no, really) house.

My mother (a teacher) taught me to read well before school started. What I read is down to my father and grandfather (Mom’s dad). I grew up devouring a back library of Astounding, Analog and hundreds of SF&F books. I recall being confused when visiting other little chums and asking “Where are your books?” and they’d point to a couple on a coffee table.

I am a graphic artist and illustrator by lifelong trade, sometimes in a shop, currently freelancing out my home. Writing has always been fun. Being an author is heady stuff.

When and why did you begin writing?

From pre-school onwards. My parents kept my childhood doodles and explained the tales I made up to go with the drawings. Why? I can only refer to the fact many kids start out drawing and telling stories. The mystery is rather why a scant few of us keep on going while our peers dump their creativity. I have no answer. Perhaps growing up in a house full of books kept my imagination alive.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve considered myself a writer my entire life. I won’t claim to have always been a good writer, but I wrote. I usually received the accolades of high school English teachers. I wrote a piece of fiction for a final essay in my university class on the History of Ancient Greece. I’ve always loved penning letters, trying to make them fun and informative for the recipient. I’ve Game Mastered hundreds of hours of roleplaying games, which were all set on a world of my own creation. The saga has many stanzas.

Only with the publication of “Home on the Strange” did I dare to call myself an “author”.

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

“Home on the Strange” is my first published novel. I have this month finished a fully science fiction adventure with the working title “Patient Zero”, involving a take on “where are the aliens?” question that puzzles scientists and nerds alike. Next on the list is to get back to the next “Brewster & Brewster Adventure”. I fancy the twins will have a trilogy before I’m done.

What inspired you to write this book?

I unexpectedly became filled with the urge to write a Western. I wanted to slap a saddle on a horse and go like stink.

After I realized this loco idea was not going away, I started to think on the matter. I found no desire to travel the very well-worn trails of the American Wild West. Which sent me north to the days of the Canadian frontier. The Canadian west was not too “wild”. I did not fancy fancy-stepping around historical events trying to generate an adventure.

The my first love of SF&F came to the rescue. Off to parallel Earths and divergent histories! A wild west in another Earth’s 21st century!

Do you have a specific writing style?

Energetic and adventurous with humour layered in for seasoning. My fans, friends and family flatter me by agreeing I have a “sparkling way with words” and that my dialogue is pretty snappy.

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

The final result is a western with a hefty dollop of oddness and SF poured over it. “Home on the Range” became “Home on the Strange”. I web searched and couldn’t find but a couple of books with that title, and nowhere near the part of the book store I’d be in. Feeling it too good to be true, I added “A Brewster & Brewster Adventure” to guarantee avoiding infringements. Not only that, but it gives a vintage ring that suggests sequels.

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

Honesty being the best policy, I have to say “no”. It’s a tall tale, some far-fetched fiction, a rootin’-tootin’ race for life and limb across the western Canadian prairie. I’m told it’s a fun ride. That being said, there is a definite undercurrent praising loyalty, friendship, blood-is-thicker-than-water and such values.

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

I’d rank perhaps my major influence as Keith Laumer. An underrated, I feel, SF writer of the 1960’s. Life and death challenges abound, but the hero still slips in a wry observation or sarcastic witticism. I think that blend of comedy and crisis results in an excellent creation for the simple reason it mimics life. And what that guy could do with a simile!

After him there ranks a legion. Jerome K. Jerome, Damon Runyon, Poul Anderson, Glenn Cook, and etc.

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

I can’t claim any literal mentors, other than perhaps the members of my writing groups. Some of those wonderful folk are a couple of spaces further along on this game board than I. But, all their advice and comments have been so useful at assorted times that it’s impossible to single one out.

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

In point of fact, I did all the illustrations (cover and inside), design and layout. “Graphic artist” is my day job, you see. I cut myself a helluva deal in negotiating the fees. Used  those skills to lay out and create a proper ePub edition as well.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

For writers, I’ll say my greatest epiphany was when realized that many “Writing Rules” are a matter of taste. It was like seeing parents argue when two favourite authors gave totally contradictory “Rules”. I advise reading many many “How To” books and sources to get a sense of the actual foundation principles. Then pick three of those gurus and follow their teachings. (Of course, I mean award winning, well-regarded, have sold a bushel of books, gurus).

For those going the full publishing route: I feel great sympathy and embarrassment for authors who can not or will not use a professional artist for their covers. Land and sky, but there’s a multitude of wretched covers out there. My advice: if you have no access to a professional, then you should keep the cover as simple as possible.

Don’t think of a basic cover of essentially fonts and colour to be “boring”. It is “neutral”. Better the reader starts Page 1 in a neutral frame of mind than the mocking, sour sneer an amateur cover engenders.

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

For my book, and any author’s work, I ask “Tell your friends”. One honest opinion-review from a buddy is easily equal to a hundred “thumbs up” from strangers. And they tell two people and they tell two people…

BnB digital coverMurray Lindsay
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Home on the Strange – A Brewster & Brewster Adventure


Sonnet: Cassandra

Cassandra (blog)


In the morning your ship will be sailing
Prepared by your father to whisk you safe
Watch the silicone city understanding
As the people flee the enemy in haste

Now that the last bloody day is dawning
You suffer your secrets within your heart
For none would listen to words of warning
O Cassandra, it is time to depart

Into the fair skies you rocket up
Away from the death you have forseen
In orbit, solar sails prepare to cup
waves of photon energy by machine

Sorry Cassandra, we did not believe
We only saw it as dreams you would weave

Sonnet by Wendy Van Camp
Illustration by Wendy Van Camp

I am known for my scifaiku poetry, but I’ve been experimenting with longer poetry forms lately.  The sonnet is a classic poetry form.

Author Interview: Melissa Dickerson

Melissa Dickerson is a young adult science fiction writer who is occasionally funny but mostly just tries really, really hard.  Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Melissa DicersonI’m Melissa, and I love books. I adore them so much that I write them as well as read them. I love libraries and book fairs. My favorite books are ones that take place in our reality, but with a twist (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files), anything post-apocalyptic (Divergent, Hunger Games), or anything YA. YA is my guilty pleasure.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I’ve just always had the urge. I was always that weird kid in school, scribbling in a notebook when everyone else was doing classwork or playing games. My prized possession is a writing assignment from second grade. It has one of those writing prompts at the top that says, “As the clock struck twelve on Christmas Eve, the lights went out!” Then I had to write a story that complimented the prompt. I’m sure that I was intended to write something about Santa, or my parents… My story has a burglar, dodging bullets, and a fight scene. I’m sure my teacher thought I was deranged. I’m not certain she was wrong!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have a horrible case of impostor’s syndrome, so I didn’t consider myself a “Writer” (capital letter emphasized) until I finished my first book. Then I couldn’t deny it anymore! I’m still working up the confidence to introduce myself as a writer instead of saying “I work in IT”.

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

I’m working on the sequel to Cured, which is tentatively titled Controlled. In it, Emma discovers that there is still a good bit of the government intact and it is not friendly to post-zombies. It’s Cured, but with the volume turned up. More fight scenes, more intrigue, and more snark. I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you! I think you’re going to love it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had this image in my head of a girl in a hospital gown, covered in blood, looking helpless, only everyone is terrified of her. I had to explore it, and that turned into Cured. Then I discovered that there was a second book in there, too. My mental image of Controlled is of Emma standing before a bunch of armed humans, showing she’s unarmed – only they’re still terrified.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write what I like to read, and I like to read books that draw me in with great drama and characterization, and then make me laugh out loud. So serious subjects, but with a narrator who has an irreverent outlook on life. That’s what I aimed for, anyway!

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

Cured was easy – it named itself, since it’s all about what happens if you cure a zombie. Controlled was harder. I went around in circles for a while, then ended up having to brainstorm with my writing group.

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

There are plenty of overarching themes and ideas, but the one I really want to drive home is that women are awesome! I am a huge believer in gender equality and want young women to have a good role model in Emma. I think her belief in herself is inspiring and her impetuousness is relatable for young women.

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

The story of Emma’s mother sticking up for her in Cured is loosely based on real events. Emma’s mom and mine share a lot of similarities. Livvy is a combination of two really good friends who have always supported me, no matter what crazy shenanigans I get up to.

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

Stephen King, definitely. I was reading him in middle school, and his stories were terrifying and delightful. His writing taught me that it’s okay to have dark and twisty parts of yourself (which I definitely do), and more than that, it taught me that it’s okay to occasionally let them out to see the light of day.

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

Someone told me that I write like Jim Butcher, and so now I can die a happy girl. I actually met him at San Diego Comic-Con one year, and he was the nicest guy ever even though I was a total fangirl lunatic. I love his writing style and that he considered himself a “long shot” as an author in the beginning. I feel the same way about myself, so I feel like maybe, just maybe it’s possible for me to be successful too.

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

Believe it or not, it’s a stock photo. I ran across it while looking for ideas for the cover and couldn’t get it out of my head. Once I saw it, I fell in love, and there was no other option considered.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Stick with it, and keep going. Finishing what you start is the hardest part of writing. The second hardest part is believing in yourself. If you just keep writing, you’ll get better and better at it.

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

Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for reading. I’m so glad you gave me a try.

CuredMelissa Dickerson
Costa Mesa, CA



Cover Artist: Peter Juhasz
Publisher: Infinitely Improbable Press


Believable Science Fiction by J Byran Jones

Futurology, the practice of forecasting technology and society, is akin to the morning weather report. While some of the methodologies can lend a hand in predicting the future, they can be laughably incorrect in hindsight. If you are crafting a believable future or sci-fi version of the world as a fiction writer, some key observations are essential. Notice I say “believable” sci-fi. Sometimes the most accurate vision of the future may not be the most creative space to write for or be fun to read. Our 2016 isn’t riveting compared to some previous imaginings. Instead, writers should construct a solid foundation so readers can immerse into the setting. Sci-fi is based in what-if scenarios, and it’s the writer’s job to answer intelligently. No reader or viewer wants to feel smarter than the author/screenwriters and get pulled out of the experience.

If the entire piece hinges on an unbelievable concept, the work will suffer. In the 2014 film Lucy, the plot depends on the misconception that humans only use 10% of their brains, when people really use it all and only 10% at a time. Any person with this knowledge will not able buy into the movie. Writers and readers beware.

Comedies have more leeway in the concept category. Idiocracy (2006) says that humans of lower I.Q. are producing more children and as a result, the population will become stupider over time. The movie convinces the viewer with anecdotal evidence. A 100 point I.Q. man gets locked in a time capsule and awakens to discover he is the smartest man alive and hilarity ensues. There are many reasons why this can’t happen and certain tasks like construction require a basic level of know how, but since the idea that dumb people have more kids at least feels real, we buy into it. Since comedies often create unlikely what-if scenarios in all genres, we are more likely to forgive such things in future-based stories as well.

The purpose of the sci-fi is to serve the story not predict the future. In the 1989 comedy Back to the Future Part II, we are treated to spectacle. Their 2015 is meant to provoke awe with hover-boards and flying cars but it also is supposed to be funny. The film took things that felt real like endless sequelization and absurd style and turned them into jokes. Even though we don’t wear our pants inside out today, it echoed the ridiculousness of the 80s. It depicted inevitable things such as video calls but also gave us self-drying pants that tell you, “Your pants are now dry.”

We have the capability but no self-drying pants. Its creation was not driven by what drives industry. For consumer electronics, that’s capitalism. Companies make what people buy. Pants are already cheap, easy to use, easy to make, and are available. There’s no practical reason people would make the change. Emotions drive capitalism too. Nostalgia drove Nike to create a limited run of self-tying shoes from Back to the Future Part II. Just because electronic scissors can be made doesn’t mean it belongs in sci-fi novels. Whenever considering tech to put in fiction consider if a mundane object can be made better and whether it would be worth it.

Government also propels technology. To what degree versus capitalism varies on the reality set forth in the fiction. The government may not resemble what it is today, but people will organize and money will be there. Think about what drives such organizations to make technological advancements. The threats of being destroyed via war or its own people are safe bets.

Past history applies to new worlds. Things that may have prominence in the past will reoccur given the right conditions. Piracy, church power, and colonialism are just a few examples. If society is advancing, so are electronics and medicine. But before adding those elements into your fiction, consider your society. Ancient peoples such as the Greeks applied the scientific method to medicine. Centuries later, Europeans moved backward making leaps in logic based in superstition. As a result, their medicine was less advanced and even lead to people’s deaths.

Also consider what impact any piece of technology has on the world. Think of what effects the smart phone had on the world. Does the tech have a secondary use? Does it drive another industry legitimate or otherwise? Do people behave differently now that everyone has a camera in their pocket?

Don’t write technology that solves everything. Stories need stakes, and the more limitations or the higher the cost, the more drama is added to the situation. In Elysium (2013), a medical capsule heals anyone to 100% with no repercussions. No resources seem to be expunged, and there are hundreds of them. The only reason stakes exist is because the antagonists don’t feel like sharing. A franchise that has tech add to the stakes is Mass Effect. In the video games, space travel is limited to traveling between waypoints called mass relays that launch spaceships from one and stop at the other. It’s a brilliant alternative to franchises that use hyper-drives.

When writing sci-fi, you are the inventor of a world. Imagine what tech your proposed society would create and how in turn the tech would alter them. If you make it compelling and believable, you’ll have the basis of a great future-world fiction at the tip of your pen.

J Byron JonesJ Bryan Jones authors, screenwrites, and creates graphic novels. J first pursued the sciences before turning to writing, earning a Bachelor of Science at the University of California –Davis and working several jobs as a research field technician. Looking back at his childhood constructing elaborate stories with his brother (@Raz0r13), he’s not sure why it took him so long to consider a career in the creative arts. Most of his work consists of contemporary fantasy and near-future science fiction. His novelette Our Silicon Souls earned an honorary mention in the prestigious Writers of the Future contest. First Publishing Rights are available.

J can currently be seen operating the Long Beach Chapter of Coffee House Writers Group and acts as the Director of New Media. He hosts, edits, and produces the CHWG Podcast which holds conversations with members of the writing community, conversations on writing topics, and Shop Talks giving advice on writing. Available on YouTube, Soundcloud, and iTunes.

CHWG Podcast 2

Please visit LinkedIn for connecting with J professionally, follow @JBryanJones on Twitter and like on Facebook.

For Coffee House Writers Group visit chwritersgroup.org. They hold critique groups in California in the cities of San Dimas, Long Beach, Anaheim, and Claremont that can be found on meetup.com. Follow @chwritersgroup on Twitter and like on Facebook.

Author Interview: Xavier Leggett

Science fiction author Xavier Leggett focuses his writing on the emotional trauma that his characters face as they grapple to comprehend sudden death at very high speeds in deep space, or on alien worlds. I am pleased to welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

XavierLeggettI started writing and drawing at a young age. Science fiction always intrigued me and I based a lot of my early writing on Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea; Isaac Asimov, Fantastic Voyage, I, Robot. I always craved adventure stories and that’s what I wrote.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Difficult question to answer, because I’ve always considered myself to be an artist of one sort or another, but I didn’t think I was a serious writer until I began working on The Blood of the Empire. When I had determined not to write the same three chapters over and over and decided to forge ahead and finish the book. I set up a schedule, daily and weekly goals, and just went for it, thinking more about writing than my current ‘day job.’ That’s when I knew I was a writer.

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

The Blood of the Empire is my first novel and The Furies of the Empire is my second. Currently, I’m working on my third and fourth novels of the ‘Empire’ series. Novels three and four are tied closely together in much the same manner as novels one and two. At this stage I’m herding all of my characters, trying to get them to stay within the framework of the plot. Which is a challenge for any author because characters tend to want to run off and do their own thing.

What inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration for writing The Blood of the Empire was the desire to take the space opera just one step further. Key to this inspiration was Star Wars and Star Trek. I wanted to write about heroics of larger than life characters, maintain a the sense of wonder, but make my stories a little more violent, turn the sex appeal up a notch or two, make the combat scenes more frantic, chaotic—more realistic. That doesn’t necessarily mean making the scenes bloodier, it means putting the characters in the thick of highly stressful, life-and death situations, where everything is coming at them all at once . . . there’s noise, screaming, heat, sweat, debris flying through the air, acrid smoke stinging their eyes. That’s what I wanted, and that’s what I write.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style can be quite poetic in some areas, quite descriptive at other points in the prose. I feel that you shouldn’t overdo it; you have to get your words on paper and get your characters from one scene to the next, and hopefully there’s something nasty there waiting for them, trying to kill them.

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

For The Blood of the Empire I wanted something that sounded epic, something that would get a potential reader’s mind to race. But there is a danger. Gone with the Wind isn’t about bad southern weather or tales from tornado alley. The Catcher in the Rye, isn’t about mid-western flour mills or the life of a snarky baker. A few people even thought that The Blood of the Empire was about teen inner-city angst and vampires. But my story’s about three friends, struggling to trust each other and survive a brutal galactic war . . . if they don’t kill each other first.

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

Without being too obvious, I just want to let my readers know that there are alternatives to the typical heroes they may see on movie screens or read in novels. These heroes may be hidden at first, but they’re out there. They’re not sidekicks, they aren’t going to play second fiddle to anyone, they certainly don’t want to be your buddy. A quick look at my book covers should give you a good clue as to what I’m talking about—my heroes they are out there, saving the galaxy, dealing with their own demons, fighting the ‘good fight’ for those who can’t. . . or won’t.

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

All experiences featured in my novels are fictional. Some of the characters may sound like people I’ve known during my life—it’s amazing what you pick up eavesdropping on conversations—but 99.9 percent of it is highly fictionalized. However, many of the battles have components based on actual historic battles, just to keep that sense of realism locked-in.

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

When I was young it was Verne, Asimov, Bradbury, and Wells. As a teen, I read Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff about a dozen times. The way he described the rigors of astronaut training with a humorous, yet his commanding sense of detail was incredible. I wanted to emulate that. Later, as an adult, I began reading Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy thrillers. It was at this time that I began the first draft of The Blood of the Empire and found myself suddenly reading Elizabeth Moon, Robert Jordan, David Eddings and Terry Brooks. Discovering all these writers, writers from divergent genres . . . helped to strengthen my own writing. But I think there are two at the top of the list that I almost forgot. Frank Herbert and Robert Heinlein.

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

Every book that I read is primarily for entertainment, secondarily to learn something new about the complex craft of writing, literally every author is my mentor. With each book I read, I can analyze the plot, dissect character development, and engage in my own bit of editing.

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

I illustrated the cover myself. I taught myself a few programs, DAZ Studio, Poser, and Photoshop. Currently, I’m sinking my teeth in Zbrush which will provide more 3D art for use in future cover and art projects.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Writing is tough art form to master, you could be a best-selling author for twenty years then discover a quick change of scene trick and think, ‘why haven’t I been using this before?’ It’s a pleasure to write, but you have to be disciplined, and you have to put in brutal hours to be good at it, and still there’ll always be new things to learn—and there always will be. So keep writing, make it more important than breathing.

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

Thank you—thank you very much for you support and encouragement. Dannen, N’ckshell, and Rook are alive because you believe in them. And they will do everything in their power to make you cry, laugh, or pull your hair out when they do something stupid. I enjoy writing because I enjoy taking readers, like you, to places you’ve never been.

Empire_Front_Cover_1000Xavier Leggett
Missoula, MT


The Blood of the Empire