Tag Archives: writer

Author Interview: Alma Alexander

Author Alma Alexander writes stories which are roadmaps to places people never knew existed but always believed had to be there.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Alma AlexanderMy name is Alma Alexander, and I am a writer. I taught myself to read before age 4 (because my mother wouldn’t re-read a favourite book to me, so I just picked it up and started reading for myself…) and I haven’t stopped reading since. My house is built of books (sometimes quite literally – I have an entire room all of whose walls and every available vertical surface of which is covered in bookshelves with (sometimes triple stacked) books. When not reading, I am writing; when not writing, I do gold embroidery (that’s the opulent stuff, with silk and gold and pearls) and I run around taking photographs of beautiful skies and other things. When not doing that, I sleep and I dream – and when I wake, I often make stories out of the dreams that visited me in the night.

When and why did you begin writing?

I didn’t “begin writing”. I always wrote. Since I knew how. I wrote my first poem aged 5 – first novel aged 9 – first GOOD novel aged 11 – and I currently have more than 3 million words in print. It’s always been a core part of me – I didn’t choose it, it chose me, and I’ve been its handmaiden all my life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

See above. You could say, when I won my first writing award aged 12. You could say, when I published my first word. You could say, when I was nominated for a major national writing award or two. You could say, when I published my first dozen novels. All if it is true, and none of it is. I have never “considered myself a writer”. I AM one. That is different.

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

There are currently several projects on the go, but I am generally uncomfortable talking about the projects I am currently in the process of writing – simply because I am an organic writer in the worst way and I don’t necessarily KNOW what is going to happen next in any given story. The next published works that are coming out are a reissue of “Midnight at Spanish Gardens”, which I call my Novel of ‘Choice’ and what it means to make one (and there are ALWAYS consequences…) originally published to very high reader approval and involvement but now re-edited, re-covered, and re-issued for a new readership – and a brand new book, a short story collection under the name “Untranslatable” which is going to be a very special book indeed (the conceit being that there are words in multiple foreign languages which mean thing that it takes sentences, even paragraphs, to describe in English – there is simply no equivalent single-word concept. And sometimes the best way to understand these words… is through stories. That should be out in time for Christmas 2018.

Do you have a specific writing style?

No. Although I’ve been accused (jokingly but still…) of having swallowed a dictionary when I was a baby. I DO like language, and I write lush; in my household my husband (also a wordsmith) it has been posited that he writes like Hemingway and I write like Steinbeck. I tend to write very strong female protagonists, sometimes multiples ones in the same book (as in “Secrets of Jin-shei”. But my writing “style” as such changes with every book – and I never write the same book twice.

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

I don’t write novels with “messages” as such – but if there is one, then it might be encapsulated in the prayer my Simonis makes in “Empress”: Give me the life I am meant to live. Take that as a guiding principle, and you’ll inevitably end up gravitating to the things that you want, the things that are meant for you. This doesn’t mean that you will always be happy, or even that you are guaranteed a “happily ever after” ending (I don’t really believe in those…) It does mean that you will live a life that matters. I can hardly do better than that.

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

Some. “Midnight at Spanish Gardens” includes things that I do have direct experience of, yes – the ‘Spanish Gardens’ of the title used to be a real place, one I frequented when I was at University, the description of it in the book is pretty much exactly what the real place looked like, and some of the events described as taking place there really did occur. But that’s the least “fantastical” of my fantasies – and in many of the others, the events of which I write are tied into a fantasy milieu where real-life experiences as I or my contemporaries would know them would seem direly out of place.. I’m sure I do some distilling in my own mind and some stuff can inevitably be traced back to things I may not have even consciously been aware of when writing the story – but I don’t regurgitate reality. If I occasionally reimagine it, that would be plenty.

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

Oh, lawks-a-mercy, this question is never answerable. Tolkien. Le Guin. Guy Gavriel Kay. Roger Zelazny. Sharon Penman. Rebecca du Maurier. Howard Spring. Ivo Andric. Mary Doria Russell. Matt Ruff. Mary Stewart. Spider Robinson. Octavia Butler. They have all taught me things – about how to build worlds, how to understand people, how to think when wearing a different mind, how to speak, how to act, what is ethical and what is moral and how far would I go to remain those things. That is not an exhaustive or a final list. You might say my answer to that question is Yes, writers have influenced my life hugely and they continue to do so. And they all bring different things I find inspiring.

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

My grandfather started me off in the love of language – a poet, he started me reading poetry when I was almost too young to comprehend it. But it left a lasting mark, and maybe it’s the reason I write so poetically even today. No, I don’t have a ‘mentor’. But in one writing workshop I was fortunate enough to attend, the last one that Roger Zelazny did before he died, Zelazny asked me two questions. How long had I been writing? (and I said, forever) and Did I read or write a lot of poetry? (And I had admitted that I did). And he said to me, “It shows. You have a voice all of your own. Nobody else will ever write like this.” I take those words as something uttered by a master to an acolyte. If you want to call that a mentorship – although it is encapsulated in a single sentence – there it is.

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

This might be changing in today’s publishing culture but I still belong to the generation which, when published, did not “choose” their cover artists and have no direct links or contacts with them, even, in most cases. For something like “Empress” I did commission the cover myself – from Hugo-Award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett – because I love her work, and she and I worked together on a concept that I had for the cover. For my Book View Café-published novel “AbductiCon”, a humorous science fiction novel about science fiction conventions, the cover designer was… myself. But more often than not authors are presented with a cover during the publication process, and have to hope we like it…

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. Read FIRST. Read before you write a single word yourself. Writers who begin by saying that they don’t have time to read… have not done the training required to write. Read first. Read EVERYTHING. And learn from all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Learn about what kind of person, what kind of WRITER, you want to be.

Book Cover EmpressAlma Alexander
Bellingham, WA

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

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Happy Monday!  It is time for another batch of links that would prove useful to writers and readers of fiction.  I’ve stayed mainly on topic this week.  There are plenty of general writing tip articles to read, along with a few related to writing science fiction.  Enjoy!

Building Characters Layer by Layer

Five Things Your Editor Hates About You

A Need for Speed

Forget Your Muse

Wax On, Wax Off: 5 Areas To Polish Before Submitting A Manuscript

The Difference Between Editing and Revising a Novel

I AM NOT A GATEKEEPER

My three decades at Disney taught me not to fear automation

THE SURPRISING STORIES BEHIND THE PEN NAMES OF 10 FAMOUS AUTHORS

How to Live in a Dystopian Fiction

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

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Welcome to another Monday of writer’s links. This week I got out of my comfort zone and explored a bunch of new blogs and authors.  I found plenty of interesting articles out there.  I hope you’ll enjoy them.

A Road to Publication

ON WRITING: HOW TO WRITE A BOOK – PART ONE – THE IDEA

Who is Science Fiction For?

Why I Don’t Have a Degree

Bigger on the Inside

Characters development and personality traits

Critique Groups – 8 Good Reasons to Love

Journey of Words

Where do you get your ideas from?

Older British Accents Actually Sounded More Like Americans Speak Today

Author Interview: Lisanne Harrington

I met Author Lisanne Harrington at a book signing event.  She is a lovely lady and a fine author.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Lisanne Harrington. After nearly twenty years as a paralegal, I staged a coup and left the straight-laced corporate world behind forever. I now pander to my muse, a sarcastic little so-and-so. Only copious amounts of Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper and hamburgers will get him to fill my head with stories of serial killers, werewolves, and the things that live under your bed.

When not writing, I love to watch reruns of Gilmore Girls (although I hated the movies), horror movies like Young Frankenstein and Fido, and true crime shows. I like scary clowns, coffee with flavored creamer, and hot, salty French fries. Lots and lots of French fries.

When not hanging with “The Girls,” I write paranormal mysteries and murder mysteries.

I live in SoCal with my husband and rowdy, always-has-to-have-the-last-word Miniature Pinscher, Fiona.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a big reader, so it just seemed a natural transition to writing. I started with short stories as a small child and co-wrote my first novel when I was 11. It then progressed from there and has become a part of me. When not writing, I feel incomplete.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

To me, being a writer is a little different than being an author. Like I said above, I’ve always been a writer, but I didn’t consider myself an actual author until my first book, Moonspell, was accepted for publication sometime in the beginning of 2015.

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

The one that has recently been published wraps up my Wolf Creek Mystery Series. Moon Shadows continues the story of James Manarro, who wakes up to a strange world in which nothing makes sense. As if it isn’t bad enough that a werewolf had stocked the town of Wolf Creek and James had to kill it, or that James is dealing with very real teen issues, now the whole world is silent, and everyone—his parents, neighbors, and friends—seems to have disappeared. Then he hears a voice, one he can’t possibly hear because it belongs to his best friend, Riff, who has been dead for over three years, killed by the first werewolf to attack the town. But when James runs out to find Riff, he is plunged into a world of darkness filled with monsters determined to kill him once and for all.

The one I’m working on right now started out as a killer clown story but has morphed into a tale about an ancient Chinese mythological creature that appears every 44 years to terrorize a town.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Wolf Creek Mysteries were originally conceived as a trilogy, so Moon Shadows is the third installment. It picks up right where Book 2, Moon Watch, leaves off, and is really a continuation of that storyline.

The one I’m writing now has a protagonist based on my bestie, who wanted to be put into one of my books, and coincidentally, is the same one I co-wrote my first novel with. We’ve been friends over 50 years! She’s half Chinese, and her father immigrated from China when he was 14 and alone, and I used that as the stepping off point. While researching some elements of a killer clown story based on all the evil clown sightings from a few years ago, I came across this particular beast and knew I just had to write about it. I’m saving the killer clown story for later. 

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

Titles are generally difficult for me, so I leave them until the novel is complete. Since Moon Shadows has an eerie, shadowy fog shrouding the town, it seemed only natural when I was done to have shadows in the title, so in keeping with the “Moon” theme, this one was easy.

As for the Chinese mythological creature, we’ll just have to wait and see what it calls itself…

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

The entire trilogy explores the world, how we see ourselves, how others perceive us, and how we are all similar and go through many of the same experiences.

In my current WIP, I’m sure there will be some sort of message, but since I’m only a few chapters in, only time will tell what it might be.

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

Bentley Little really knows how to weave a terrifying tale based on normal people and events, surrounded by true elements of horror. Stephen King writes wonderfully three-dimensional characters that could very well be your friends and neighbors.

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

New York Times bestselling author Bonnie Hearn Hill was my first online writing teacher and has since become a friend. She helped me fill my toolbox with all the things I need to write a good story and weave in a mystery or two along the way. Her students have all been filleted by her critiques, which she gives honestly but with love and a sincere desire to help.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Forget about writing what you know. That’s not necessary now that research on the Internet is so readily available. Read everything you can, especially in the genre you write. Know the tropes and stereotypes and try to stay away from them if you can. If not, you need a unique spin on them. Sharpen the tools you have and always always always explore new ways to grow as a writer.

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

Just that I hope they enjoy my stories and will check out my Wolf Creek Mysteries series. Also, there’s a Monster blog on my website, if they’re interested.

Be sure to look for my upcoming murder mystery, Murder in the Family (no creatures involved), and my newest horror story, Gravelings, both due out in 2018. And check out my Chinese beast story sometime after that!

Also, I would love to hear from them. They can contact me at wolfcreek.projects@gmail.com.

Lisanne Harrington
Southern California

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The Wolf Creek Mystery Series

Publisher:  Black Opal Books

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Author Interview: Tim Callahan

Author Tim Callahan is a writer of Space Opera and Superhero fiction with a bit of Science Fiction horror mixed in.  He is a member of the Dragon’s Rocketship Facebook Group.  

Author Tim CallahanHello, My name is Tim Callahan. I work in the IT department of Philadelphia Law firm. I’ve lived, and worked, in Philly most of my life and it’s a place I love. I’m married with two dogs, A pitbull-terrier named Jeffery (Named after a robot in a commercial I liked at the time we got him) and Cocker Spalie/ Black Lab mix named Kenseth. (Named after a race car driver.) Besides writing I enjoy reading, Football, Baseball, and vacationing with my wife.

When and why did you begin writing?

Started writing when I was a kid, probably around 11 or so. I always had way more imagination than smarts and would constantly act out in school, thinking that I saw a ghost or that aliens were going to come and take me away. I also loved to read. Mostly comic books but I eventually moved on to novels. There wasn’t a day where I didn’t have a book in my hand or I wasn’t tucked into a corner of the house reading something. It was during the idle times that the voices, who I later discovered were characters, would just tell me stories about themselves and what they were doing. Eventually, I realized the only way to shut them up was to write down what they were telling me. Didn’t take me long to realize how the act of writing not only shut them up, but it was also a lot of fun.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I finished my first book, at the age of 13 (It wasn’t a very good or long book.) Even though I didn’t know it at the time, it showed that I could start and finish a story I had written. That’s probably the hardest part for beginning writers, finishing, and it’s something I knew I could do at an early age.

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

It’ll be the fifth book in my Evolutionite Chronicles books. Set in the city of Haven, which has the largest population of Evo’s, those born with special powers, it’s going to be about a powerful man with god-like powers returning after everything thought he was dead. A small group of Evo’s get together to try and stop him from destroying the world.

What inspired you to write this book?

My love of comic books and comic book stories. I can’t draw so writing is the best way to get those stories out there.

Do you have a specific writing style?

A lot of writers influenced my style but I really try to emulate the greats like Arthur C Clark, Robert Heinlein along with some of my new favorites, like Tim Pratt, Jim Butcher, and John Scalizi.

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

Don’t jump to judgment until you have all the information.

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

All my books contain something I’ve experienced, either a feeling, a person, a conversation, or an actual event. In fact, this book will have a scene where a teacher punishes a child for flushing a grapefruit down a toilet in school. (I’m the kid being yelled at because I did that in first grade and flooded the bathroom)

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Probably nothing they haven’t heard before. Write every day. Write what you’d love to read. Don’t worry about what people think. Don’t even worry about what you think while writing. Trust your instinct. Sometimes your writing brain is ahead of your thinking brain and understands the story better than you do.

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

Keep doing what you love. It might not be writing, it might be drawing, it might be computers, it might be working on cars. I’m lucky in that I get to work on computers all day, something I’ve loved as much as writing, and I get to write when I’m at home. Long as you do what you love and you’ll always find happiness, even in dark times.

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Philadelphia, PA

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