Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Author Interview: Nils Odlund

Author Nils Ödlund is a Swedish writer, living in Ireland, who writes deep character driven stories set in an urban fantasy world. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Nils OdlundMy name is Nils Ödlund. I’m originally Swedish, but I’ve lived in Cork, Ireland for the past fourteen years. My day job is in customer support, and I spend most of my free time gaming, reading, or writing. I’m happily single, and tend to keep to myself, but even then, the isolation of the last year has worn on me. I try and keep active in various online writing communities, though – to have people to talk to and cut away from the day job for a bit.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing in 2011. Initially, I wanted to create a fantasy setting for a Pen & Paper RPG, but then a friend of mine suggested I write short-stories set in the world. I figured it’d be a good way to show off various aspects of the setting I’d created so I set to it, and then I never really stopped.

The short stories grew longer, and eventually they turned into novellas and novels. It’s been ages since I did any actual work on the setting, though.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I used to consider myself a gamer, and to a certain extent I still do. At some point, and I don’t quite remember when, I realized that I spent more time writing than I did playing games. That’s when.

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

My next book is called Nothing Left to Lose, and it’s the tenth book in the Lost Dogs series. Lost Dogs is the story of Roy van Waldenberger and Alene Moneya. Roy is a retired wrestler who’s on a journey to find the love of his life. Alene is an aspiring young journalist who decides she’s the one to tell Roy’s story.

Both Roy and Alene are therianthropes. Therianthropy is an affliction where the spirit of a predator takes up residence within the mind of a person. It makes the person stronger, faster, and tougher, but it also slowly turns them into an animal.

Much of the story focuses on Roy’s and Alene’s relationship with their respective inner beasts, and how it impacts their lives and their place in the world.

What inspired you to write this book?

Originally, I just wanted to show off the setting I created, and I needed an excuse for someone to go on a road-trip by train. It was just meant to be a series of short stories, but the stories grew, turned into novellas, and later novels.

The setting is still there, and it’s still important to the feel of the story, but it’s the characters who matter. I’m not going to say that they write the story, but getting to know them and figuring out who they are has definitely been a major inspiration outside of the original idea.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Can I say “blunt and evocative?” I try to avoid long flowery descriptions and instead focus on using words that trigger association and mental images. I believe that the imagination of the reader is a lot stronger than any words I can put on the page. I try to give them a framework that encourages them to fill out their own images, and to put part of themselves into the story.

Originally, I thought everyone was able to picture things in their mind, but then I learned of aphantasia, and how some people don’t have an inner eye that lets them see things. For a while, it troubled me, because my writing relies so heavily on the readers inner vision. I worried someone with aphantasia wouldn’t understand my books.

Eventually, I decided to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve talked to people with aphantasia, and usually when descriptions get too long, they just skip or skim them. My descriptions are generally short, so I figured they’re easily skipped if they don’t make sense.

In addition to the above, I try to write in a plain and simple style. I’m not a native English speaker, and my command of the language (especially word flow) isn’t perfect. I try to be aware of this, and to limit myself to using only words I’m perfectly comfortable with. My hope is that this results in an easily readable and gently flowing prose, which does not trip up the reader.

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

Lost Dogs, the series, was originally going to be called Werewolves On A Train, but I decided to skip that. It carries too many connotations and gives a somewhat silly impression.

Within the world of the story, “dog” is a derogatory term for therianthropes (except between themselves), and since the two main characters of the story are a bit lost, each in their own way, the name stuck.

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

There are plenty of messages. Some are rather blunt and on the nose, others are more subtle. One recurring theme is that the world doesn’t wait and giving up is not an option. Life isn’t fair, everyone makes mistakes, and there is no simple solution.

That doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. Sometimes life is unfair in your favor.

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

My largest influences are probably Tove Jansson and Neil Gaiman.

Tove Jansson is a Finnish author and the creator of the Moomintrolls. Her writing style is absolutely amazing, and she has an uncanny ability to infuse even her children’s books with nuggets of timeless wisdom.

Neil Gaiman has this way with storytelling and world building where the fantastic elements feel solid and grounded. It’s like they’re a natural part of the world and not something cool that the author wants to impress me with.

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

I’m one of those writers who underestimated the importance of covers when they started out. I asked a local artist friend to do cover art for me. The art itself was great, but it didn’t work as a marketable cover for an indie fantasy book.

Eventually, I began tinkering with it, and discovered I could do acceptable covers myself. They’re not top-notch professional level, but they’re at a stage where I’m still not ashamed of them even if they’ve been around for a couple of years now.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you’re starting out. Seek other writers and learn from them. Ask for feedback, give feedback, and learn what feedback applies to your writing – because not all feedback is relevant feedback.

Also, don’t rush it. Writing is a long game.

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

While this will be the last book in the Lost Dogs series, it will not be the end of Roy and Alene. Their story isn’t over.

Nils ÖdlundBook Cover
Cork, Ireland.

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Last Fight of the Old Hound

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Author Interview: Jonathan M Lazar

Author Jonathan Lazar describes himself as a queer and quirky, mostly fantasy writer that tries to break conventions but who also plays with tropes. He loves tea, making homemade pizza, and posting pictures of his cats on his social media accounts. Please welcome Jonathan to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Jonathan M. Lazar, and I am mostly a fantasy author. I say mostly, because I also write science fiction, and I have an LGBTQ+ romantic comedy available. I am self-published for most of my works, but I have been fortunate enough to have my Urban Fantasy series picked up by Kyanite Publishing. I am originally from Chicago, but have lived in Kalamazoo (Michigan), Springfield (Illinois), Saint Louis (Missouri), and currently live in overly sunny Tucson. My husband and I are owned by two adorable Siamese cats named Ping and Pong.

When and why did you begin writing?

Funny story actually. Back in the third grade we had a homework assignment to use as many of the weekly spelling words as possible. I used all ten, in what would now be considered a fan fic. I wrote a very terrible Power Rangers story, I don’t remember what it was about now. My teacher said that I would go on to win an Oscar (I am still waiting for that to happen).

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I can say I first considered myself a true writer, after my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) way back in 2008. This was when I wrote my first 50k word novel for a fantasy series I only had notes on. Prior to that, everything was notes, or attempts at short stories.

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

This book and the entire Gehenna Cycle series actually, takes place in the far, far future of my science fiction series, the Terran Rising series. I know crazy, magic in a science fiction series, right? But I found a way, one that will eventually be explored not only as I get the science fiction series available, but as I continue on with the Gehenna Cycle. So stay tuned.

What inspired you to write this book?

Fate of the Flame is actually the third book in the Gehenna Cycle that I wrote. During my first NaNoWriMo, I wrote, Shadow of the Queens, which is the second in the series, and then during another NaNoWriMo I would go on to start the third book in the series. However this was always the intended first book in the series, chronologically. I knew the characters, the world, and the idea, but actually writing it down, took a very long time, mainly I had to figure out how they got from point A to point B and met everyone in-between while still staying consistent with the world I had built.

Do you have a specific writing style?

For many of my works, I am a sucker for the small details. I love describing the way the suns rays hit fabric, water, or a window. I love describing the way a piece of clothing moves in both the wind and as someone adjusts themselves, or the smells of the building or what’s in a cup. I like to fully immerse not only myself but my readers in the world. I find this adds such depth to the world that I am building.

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

Fate of the Flame was determined as the ultimate title, since the novel revolves around the Augur prophecy that details the Order’s fall by the hands of the Boy with Sapphire Eyes. Wish there was a more hidden meaning behind that, but its not. Sometimes titles naturally manifest and are in direct correlation to the novel’s happenings and sometimes, they are more symbolic. Though I can say the original title of this book was almost Destiny of the Flame.

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

This novel is an epic story with a prophecy, and through out the entire book, there is the theme of lies vs truth. As the religious, Order of the Unnamed Goddess will do everything they can to keep power, and are not below lying to the populace.

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

I want to say outright no, as this book is part of my epic fantasy series, however, this series started off as a very terrible fantasy story involving myself and my friends (back in high school). So I do see myself as my MC, Bastian. Also because I was the main character when I first wrote the story… then reworked it to make it what it is today. Very little, aside from some names that remain.

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

Most definitely this would have to be Roger Zelazny and his Chronicles of Amber series. His writing made me realize that fantasy can have elements of science fiction and vice-a-versa, which plays heavily into the Gehenna Cycle.

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

My cover designer was OlivaProDesign on Fiverr. I have used her for several other of my novels, including my fairy tale fantasy series Bound by Wolves & Roses. She is both professional and as you can see, just fantastic. I chose her, because as an independent author, it can be difficult to get fantastic covers for a relatively low-cost. This satisfied both requirements.

I am also going to throw a shout-out to my amazing editor, Katlyn Webb of Ambition Editing, LLC. I found her on a whim, or she found me. But she has been instrumental in editing many of my works, including Fate of the Flame.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice has to be keep writing, make a doable word count goal. Start small and build up, and most of all, get that first draft done! You will always hear that your first draft is crap, and I have plenty of crappy first drafts. Your first draft is just to get your work finished, everything after that is perfecting the work.

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

I always love hearing from everyone. I am quite chatty on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter, regarding writing, my cats, food, tea, and endless array of topics. Feel free to comment on my posts, tell me what you love, what you hate. Sign up for my monthly newsletter and get a free novella. Also don’t miss out on my author page on Facebook, because that’s where I also occasionally run the bulk of my contests.

Jonathan M. Lazar
Tucson, Arizona

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 Fate of the Flame

Cover Artist:  OlivaProDesign
Editor: Katlyn Webb (editor)
Publisher: Kyanite Publishing

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Author Interview: JG Gatewood

Author JG Gatewood is a prolific YA author that loves to write about vampires.  I hope you will give him a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Jason GatewoodHello. My name is Jason Gatewood. I spent my early years in Iowa before my family decided to move to Colorado when I was 13. I’m never leaving (if I have my way). I love everything about this state. The outdoors. The mountains. The professional sports teams. It’s just a great place to live and raise a family. I’ve been married for 17 years and have two sons, Branden (13) and Evan (8). Fortunately, my wife feels the same way about Colorado. We also have a 100 lb Alaskan Malamute. I am currently working on my MA in Professional Fiction Writing from the University of Denver.

When and why did you begin writing?

I feel like I always enjoyed writing, from grade school all the way through high school. But I never really did anything or tried to complete a whole story until 9 years ago when I was laid off. While looking for a new job, I took my time and wrote my first book. I made a lot of mistakes, but have learned so much along the way.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received the first proof copy of my first book. It didn’t feel real until I held it in my hands.

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

My most recent novel is an Adult Urban Fantasy book called The Vampire’s Curse: Life Eternal. It is the first book in a trilogy about a young man who is fighting a losing battle with brain cancer. He is visited on his deathbed by a vampire who offers him eternal life in exchange for a year of service. Out of options, he agrees. But he despises what he’s become. His family and friends think he’s dead and he’s lonely. He refuses to serve his year and now he’s on the run. Most of my stories are suitable for pretty much any age above 12, but this one is not. It is definitely adult in nature.

What inspired you to write this book?

One fall weekend in 2016, my wife and I decided to watch all the Twilight Movies back to back. There’s nothing wrong with them, I even read the books, but I got into a conversation with my wife about how PG the books were. When I think of vampires, I don’t typically think PG. I told her that night I wanted to write a vampire book that was the opposite of Twilight, and where I experimented with the ideas of what we know about vampires. A month or two later was NaNoWriMo and I went through with the idea. I’m really happy with it. It gave me the opportunity to unleash myself. I’m usually a pretty reserved person, so being able to say all the things I normally wouldn’t say, was quite a cathartic experience.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t know that I have a specific style. It depends on what I’m writing. For instance, The Vampire’s Curse was a completely different style and tone from what I normally write. My YA fantasy book is from the perspective of a teenage girl, so I tried to channel as much of that as I could. I have to get into my characters and I let them dictate the style.

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

I had the idea for the title before I ever started writing. He’s a vampire who hates being a vampire. It made sense to me and I ran with it. Usually, I go through a few different titles before I settle on one.

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

In this story, there wasn’t a deeper meaning. I had fun with it, and as I mentioned before, It gave me the opportunity to say things I wouldn’t normally say. I wrote it more as an entertainment piece (including humor) and that was all there is to it. This isn’t always the case. My YA book deals with issues of racism and differing religions.

What authors have most influenced your life?

What about them do you find inspiring? There are so many. Stephen King is probably my favorite author and the one whom I inspire to be the most. However, I write primarily fantasy, so, from that standpoint, I would say, Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and Branden Sanderson. Their world building and plot design are so amazing and I only hope to be as masterful as them someday.

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

Outside of the above-listed authors, I haven’t been taken under any wings, but I am a member of a critique group through RMFW that contains members with varying backgrounds and accolades. Thes people have helped my writing so much. They truly are my brothers and sisters.

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

I usually design my own covers. For this book, my publisher took with what I created and went in a similar direction. But ultimately, they decided on the cover.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

This isn’t something that happens overnight. Sit back and relax and enjoy what you are doing. Writing is a craft that takes time to develop. Write often and keep writing. When you aren’t writing, read. Read anything you can get your hands on. I mentioned I am currently working on my Masters. I have read many stories and novels I never would have picked up before that I absolutely loved and learned a lot from. My last bit of advice, find a critique group or writing community. I was nervous at first, but it was probably one of the best things I ever did.

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

The biggest thing I have to say is, Thank You!. I enjoy writing. It keeps me calm at the end of a bad day and makes me smile when I am feeling down. But none of it would be worth it if I wasn’t sharing it with people. So again I say, thank you.

cover_vampires_curseJ.G. Gatewood
Parker, CO

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The Vampire’s Curse: Life Eternal

Publisher: Isabella Media

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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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