Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Author Interview: Mirren Hogan

When I asked Author Mirren Hogan what she likes best around writing, she replied,  “What can I say, writing keeps me sane!”  Now that is a sentence most writers can relate to!  Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Mirren HoganMy name is Mirren Hogan. I live on the NSW south coast, Australia. I have a dog, cat, rabbits, chickens and too many parrots to count. For relaxation, I walk the dog in the forest behind our house.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing ever since primary school. At first it was just in my head, usually at night, but eventually, I started to put things down on paper. The invention of the word processor and computer helped push things along a little bit too.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer. I didn’t consider myself an author until my first book came out last October, in spite of several short stories having been published before that.

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

There are so many current books, but I’ll focus on the first one, Crimson Fire. It’s a fantasy set in a world based on Africa. The main character is a young woman named Tabia who is sold into slavery to pay her father’s debts. She discovers that she has the innate ability to use magic, and her new mistress lets her train to use it correctly because it’ll increase her value and usefulness. Tabia is caught up in a savage coup and sent far from her home country. She struggles to find safety, security, and freedom.

What inspired you to write this book?

Initially, it was the glut of euro-centric fantasy in the market at the time. I love that kind of fantasy, but there’s a world of unique cultures (literally) out there which would make interesting settings or inspiration. I like to look at what others have done and do something different.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think most readers who describe is as loose and easy to read. I’m not out to write literary classics, I’ll leave those to other writers. I prefer to write work which is more inclusive and available to readers of all levels, which can be enjoyed in a relaxed way.

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

The book had several titles during the writing and editing process, but I wasn’t happy with any of them. I scanned the text for something eye catching literally as I was preparing the submission for the publisher, knowing they’d change it if they didn’t like it. It stuck.

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

I can’t say that I deliberately put in a message, but the main character is lesbian, and has dark skin. The book isn’t ABOUT either of these things, those are just aspects of Tabia. I’d like readers to see HER first and the rest afterward, because that’s how I believe all people should be viewed.

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

There are aspects of Tabia’s insecurities which certainly come from me. Also, her desire to read, read, read, and learn are from me!

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

Jennifer Fallon and Anne McCaffrey mostly. They have female characters who kick ass, but their work is unique. I love unique. Being different has always been something I strive for. If something was trendy, I never wanted it. Life is too short to be a clone!

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

Every writer is a mentor. Every book I’ve ever read or didn’t finish reading gave me insight into how to be a better writer and storyteller. What not to do is just as important as what to do.

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

The amazing Druscilla Morgan. She designed the cover for an anthology I edited for Plan Australia, called Like a Girl. Her work is phenomenal.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. Read, read, read. Think about what you liked or didn’t like about a story, it’ll tell you a lot about your strengths as a writer and the direction you’d like to go. Also, don’t be stuck worrying about genre. Write the story, figure the rest out later, and make your characters interested and flawed. Flaws are your friend.

Crimson Fire Book CoverMirren Hogan
Batemans Bay NSW, Australia

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Crimson Fire

Cover Artist: Druscilla Morgan

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Author Interview: Ann Snizek

Author Ann Snizek writes young adult urban fantasy with a fresh science fiction twist. Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Ann SzenikWho am I? I’m an eclectic person and a bit of a homebody. I do enjoy going out and doing things, but I completely enjoy my quiet time at home. We have a small homestead-in-progress (meaning we are slowly working toward being as self-sufficient as possible). I love animals, art, music, theater, movies, and nature. I tend to get obsessed with learning when something strikes me as interesting – which often happens – and I just run with it, devouring as much information as I can.

When and why did you begin writing?

It might be cliché, but I’ve always loved writing. I learned how to read before I started kindergarten and I spent my recess time in elementary school with paper and pencil in hand. Yes, life happened and I didn’t always get the chance to write, but story ideas constantly come into my mind and beg for me to preserve them in writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After all those years of writing, I still didn’t consider myself a writer until I self-published my first book in 2012. Even then the concept felt foreign to me. There are still days that I forget that I have several books published.

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

I have several books in the works, but I’m trying to focus on For: Giva de Vine (Payton Chronicles 2). It has been a long time coming and I feel guilty for not finishing it already. How can I call it a series when I only have one book published? Second to that book is The Sword of Israj (Tunuftol book 4) which has also been a long time coming as life happens quite often.

What inspired you to write this book?

I don’t remember how the details came about initially, but I wanted to write a story that my dad would be proud of. He passed away in 2010. He loved the arts and even wrote some himself. That side of my family was big in the arts. My grandparents owned and operated their own theatre with my grandmother acting, creating costumes and sets. My grandfather was a playwright and director.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write in a natural manner. I want to produce something that I would enjoy reading. I love connecting with my characters and going new places. I want to feel that I can relate, but also have unexpected things happen.

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

I like to play on words. The title for book one is To Eris – Human. So, For: Giva de Vine had to come next.

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

I guess if I had to pick a message it would have to be to find your own inner strength. You can often do more and be more than you let yourselves believe. Reach for the stars.

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

Some things are taken from my own life or lives of those I know and love. Others are pure imagination. I like to blend the two. I feel it allows readers to connect as well as dream bigger. Even if you haven’t been through the same experience, everyone experiences basic emotions. That is what I try to convey.

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

Anne McCaffrey has long been a favorite writer. She started with a story idea that completely took off into a universe of its own. Still, with all her popularity, she always seemed to stay true to herself. Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling are amazing too. They create amazing new worlds with no limits except the imagination and they started at rock bottom and worked their way up. I hope to be even partially as successful as they have been in their lives.

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

I try to pull techniques from books I love to read and apply it to my own writing. I constantly strive to improve my skills and grow as a writer. I don’t have a specific mentor as such. There is no one person that I go to for guidance. Instead, I look to books and push myself to learn more and always get better.

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

This cover is the only cover I’ve ever purchased. I saw it and just thought it called to me and fit the feel of what I wanted. Purchasing it actually spurred me into action and I started playing with my computer graphics program and have started creating covers myself.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing what you know and love. Always push yourself to do better, but have fun. If you don’t enjoy writing it, how can you expect readers to enjoy it?

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

I love to hear from my readers more. I wish they would give me more feedback. If you enjoy my books write a little review, let me know, and tell others. I’d love to connect with them and find out what it is they like about it and why.

To Eris Human Book CoverAnn Snizek
Rural, central Virginia

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To Eris – Human

Cover Artist: Adrijus

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Author Interview: Barb Caffrey

One of the aspects of being a writer is that we are in tune with that inner voice inside us, what the ancients called “a muse” and we now know to be our sub-conscious. When I asked Barb why she became a writer she replied, “I write because I must; the stories won’t wait.” I think that this writer is definitely courting her muse. Please welcome author Barb Caffrey to No Wasted Ink.

Author Barb CafferyMy name is Barb Caffrey, and I’m a writer, editor, and musician from the Midwest. I’m the widow of writer/editor Michael B. Caffrey, and am continuing to do my best for his stories as well as my own — this is one of the driving purposes of my life. I believe in the values of persistence and hard work, I read voraciously in just about every subject under the sun, and I love sports.

When and why did you begin writing?

Originally I started to write because I had stories in my head that I needed to tell, much the same as other writers. I remember a story I wrote at age 11 about a young girl being a ballgirl at old Milwaukee County Stadium (this was before there were any ballgirls, the people who pick up the baseballs when they’re hit foul — only boys did that job when I was 11). My young pre-teen girl was given her own bathroom to change in and otherwise tried to make friends among the ballboys. Eventually she changed at least one boy’s mind…at any rate, I anticipated that market by about fifteen years, so I wish I still had the story today to put up at Amazon!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve considered myself a writer since at least age 11, if not before. But I did put it aside for a while in college due to needing to work on my music career. Eventually I found a way to bring the two together in harmony (I just couldn’t help but make that comparison), and actually have a transgender urban fantasy/romance coming in 2015 called CHANGING FACES that’s about two classical musicians (they both play the clarinet, and music is extremely important to them).

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

AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is the first half of the ELFY duology, and is about Bruno the Elfy, a young, short being from a parallel Earth known as the Elfy Realm. He’s sent to Knightsville, California on our Earth by the Elfy High Council and told to watch for unusual magic, but before he can start to do any of that, he’s captured by two enigmatic humans — the parents of his love interest, Sarah. Both Bruno and Sarah think they’re younger than they actually are (they’re both teens, roughly); Bruno also thinks he’s far less powerful than he is, and that he has no enemies. He’s are wrong on all counts, and must make common cause with Sarah against first her parents, then a Dark Elf who’s trying to corrupt the local humans for the Elf’s own, nefarious purposes and has started first with Bruno’s mentor, Roberto the Wise. How will these two youngsters try to rescue Roberto? Why was Bruno sent to California at all? And what will falling in love mean for them both?

So it’s a coming of age tale with some age-appropriate, sweet romance, there’s much magic and suspense, and there’s a good amount of mystery along with all of the comedy and urban fantasy going on.

Or in other words: AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is relentlessly cross-genre. I wrote it because I had Bruno the Elfy in my head, telling me that Elfs were not like that (they don’t like to be called “Elves,” thank you, as that’s a swear word in their language), and that he, as an Elfy, was not a rhyming, blithering fool even if the rest of them wanted to be called “Elfy-welfies.” There even are ghost characters who have major roles, and a haunted house that’s almost a character in its own right.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote ELFY (part 1 of which being AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE) because of my late husband, Michael. When I had the idea for the story that turned into AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (part one of the ELFY duology), he encouraged me to run with it — and he had the skills as an editor and with world-building to help me write it to my best ability.

It’s because of Michael’s faith in me and encouragement that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE even exists, because I wouldn’t have known enough about true love before I met him to be able to write it at all, much less write it well.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m closer to a “pantser” than a “plotter,” though I have been known to write character sketches and I certainly have sketched rough outlines of books. But with both the ELFY duology (book 2 coming in 2015) and CHANGING FACES, I wrote the stories I heard, and edited them in situ…I’d read over what I had, add whatever else was needed, and then went right on. So all of that is consistent with being a “pantser,” even though most of the short stories I’ve written have been closer to plotted out than seat of the pants-type writing.

And with regards to my late husband’s work (which I’m trying to finish up for him), it’s much more a half/half mixture between “pantser” and “plotter.” I already know where he wants these stories to go, you see; I just have to add things that are faithful and consistent with his already established stories. This isn’t necessarily easy, as it’s a combination of retrofitting for action and adding in just enough character hints so it feels more like my work (and can thus do it at all), but I view it as vitally important.

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

Coming up with a title for the first half of ELFY was rather interesting, actually. I wanted ELFY to be in that title, and I wanted the title to be reflective of a comic fantasy. So a number of good friends read the first half of ELFY, and one of them said, “I think the title should be AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. Because he’s a young guy let loose in the Human Realm (our Earth), and no one knows what he’s going to do — including himself.”

I liked it, my publisher, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, also liked it, and we both ran with it.

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

I’m not sure if I’m a messaging sort of writer. I think mostly I want people to believe in themselves and keep trying, even if all seems lost — that’s my own, personal message, and of course that’s reflected in Bruno’s storyline. But I also think if there is another message in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, it’s that the people you meet can be every bit as important as your family — perhaps even more important, as they understand you better and want to be around you because they like you for yourself.

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

The only part of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE that’s based on anything in real life is the romance between Bruno and Sarah. My late husband Michael and I were deeply in love, and we had to work through a good deal of misunderstandings before we got there. Michael was witty, and loved to make me laugh; the way Sarah behaves toward Bruno somewhat reflects how Michael was around me. Everything else is my own invention.

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

The authors who’ve most influenced my life are: My late husband Michael, obviously, is the biggest influence of all. Andre Norton, because without her stories, I don’t think I’d have taken to the F&SF genre. Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel have read my stories and given me excellent advice.

All of these writers tell stories that show people in difficult situations that use their wits and talents to get back out of them again, and become wiser, stronger and more skilled people in the doing, regardless of genre.

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

I can’t choose only one mentor. I’ve actually had four — my husband Michael, Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. All of them have influenced me and my writing because they’ve given me cogent commentary (sometimes very blunt commentary, especially from my late husband and Rosemary Edghill), and their advice was always excellent.

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

The cover of my book was designed by Lida Quillen, publisher of Twilight Times Books, and artist Malcolm McClinton. I did give them the idea of Bruno running across too-green grass while attempting to go through a World Gate in order to get back to Sarah (you can see Sarah in the blackness, very faintly), so I had some input. Ms. Quillen picked Mr. McClinton because his artwork seemed to match the style of Bruno’s story, and I agreed with her on all counts.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice for other writers is very simple: Keep writing, and do not give up. If you do these two things, you will improve your craft and tell the stories you want and need to tell — and your audience will eventually find you.

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

To my readers: Thank you for being willing to take a chance on a new and mostly unknown writer. (And the second half of Bruno and Sarah’s story is coming soon…promise!)

Book Cover An Elfy On The LooseBarb Caffrey
Racine, WI

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AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (Sample Pages)

Artist: Malcolm McClinton
Publisher: Twilight Times Books

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Author Interview: Vanessa Knipe

When I asked Vanessa to describe herself as a writer, she answered: I can never settle to one genre – I’ve written stories from Space Opera to Epic Fantasy – so I hope that everyone who loves Science Fiction or Fantasy will find something I’ve written that they can enjoy. Please welcome author Vanessa Knipe to No Wasted Ink.

Author Vanessa KnipeMy name is Vanessa Knipe. I’m a widow bringing up an autistic son. I hold a BSc Hons Biochemistry, and trained as a biochemist to work in the NHS as a Scientific Officer working with blood. I’m a real vampire – all right for you purists I’m a phlebotomist. After my husband was killed in 2001, I couldn’t work the shifts with a disabled child so I had to leave work. As there was nothing which would allow me to work, I filled my time with writing stories. I took writing courses with the Open University – a Online University primarily for more mature students who cannot attend a brick building – in order to learn how to turn my scribbles into books people wanted to read. I gained a Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing and one day, when the house repairs don’t take all my spare cash, I will take a Masters degree. It is a joy to me to help other people who want to write.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I learned to write. After my mother’s death I found a package of stories and cartoons I’d written and never knew she kept. There was a lovely series of cartoons that I drew where a monster growled outside rich houses threatening them into giving gifts which the monster then gave to the poor people. I had no idea she was interested – she said nothing to me. I was eleven when my English teacher gave me a grade of 60/60 for an assignment – not because it had perfect spelling and grammar but because she had laughed herself silly over a story I had written. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer, but as I grew up I took onboard my parents’ views that writing wasn’t real work and instead I took Biochemistry.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In 2006, when my first book, Witch-Finder, was published. Before that, I never allowed myself to hope that anyone would want to read my stories.

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

I had two books out this year, Shadow and Salvation and Pill Wars, but I’ll concentrate on the Urban Fantasy, Shadow and Salvation. It’s a short story collection and the latest in my Theological College of St Van Helsing series: think Van Helsing goes on holiday in St Mary Mead and you have the tone of the books. A Secret Branch of the Church of England – nicknamed the Witch Finders – hunts demons which have been driven into the United Kingdom over the years because it’s surrounded by water and that makes it a good prison for spiritual creatures. The older Witch Finders are burning out and the pool of potential recruits is too small. This book starts by showing two regulars in the College when they were in training and ends with a hope of change for new recruits.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book needed to address the fact that in the previous books only rich, upper class men ever get to be Witch Finders and what happens when the Leader of the College, Laird Alasdair Dunkley, tries to expand the pool of recruits. The first words I had for this book were “Do you have an Archbishop’s license to experiment with basilisks?” To me there is a whole world of inspiration in those words. I often find hints of my stories in the news or in the activities of people around me. If I am stuck I will ask my friends on Twitter or Facebook to challenge me to write a story saving the world with some everyday item. This time it was frozen peas and a tin of paint.

Do you have a specific writing style?

For the St Van Helsing Books I like to have an ordinary object help defeat the demon, something like talcum powder or a butter dish – I like to keep a little humour to lighten the demon-fighting.

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

It reflects the soul of the chief Witch Finder – he is one of the foremost Dark Mages in the country, yet he refuses to use his powers for evil.

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

I not sure I do messages. The closest one would be always do what you think is right, even if you have to stand alone.

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

The first ever Witch Finder story has a man selling his soul to the devil to win the annual village vegetable competition. I grew up in a village in Yorkshire and know the intense competition there is to win these prizes. In Shadow and Salvation I have looked to the mythology of the UK. There are four stories about ‘Black Dogs’ – including the Barghast in York – these come from my son’s acting. He starred in a play where he had to recite the whole of The Black Dog of Newgate jail (mentioned in the first story of S&S) while around him the rest of the acting club enacted the scenes. In my head all my characters are played by well-known celebrities – it makes it easier to describe them.

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

Andre Norton, she had me asking at NASA how one became an astronaut. She has such a breadth of work that it encourages me when when I don’t stick to one facet of SF&F and the current really successful writers write on one theme. Alan Garner who wrote about the mythology of the British Isles, which first made me realise how deep the folk stories are in this country. John Wyndham who wrote in the 1970s with the overhang of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war, his Trouble with Lichen is the reason I chose to be a Biochemist. More recently I admire Jim Butcher, who made me realise that magic and the modern world could co-exist.

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

I learn from every book I read, what works and what chimes false, that makes every writer I ever read my mentor. At the moment I am listening to Rayne Hall and Chuck Wendig – I find their advice fits with the way I think.

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

My publisher designed the cover, though I have a say in whether I like it or not and can change elements. That’s why I like working with the indie publishing houses; they allow more input from the author.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Find the best way of editing for you, so that it never becomes a chore. I learned that hating editing meant I was doing it wrong for me.

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

Thank you, I appreciate that you chose my books when there are so many choices out there.

Book Cover Shadows of SalvationVanessa Knipe
York, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

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Publisher: Rob Preece at BooksforaBuck.com

Shadow and Salvation

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