Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tails of the Pack Final Interview: The Brass

The cover's back! Did you miss it? Remember to purchase the anthology here or here.

Today is the final interview in my Tails of the Pack series. I am talking to Steven Wedel, who not only wrote a story for the collection, but also wrote the introduction and edited it. Busy guy!

Heeeeere's Steven!

  1. Tell us about yourself. What do you write? What do you do besides write?
I write almost exclusively supernatural fiction for adults and young adults. I can't seem to write anything that doesn't have a slavering monster in it somewhere. My best known works are After Obsession, co-authored with Carrie Jones, and my Werewolf Saga books. What takes up most of my time, at least nine months of the year, is teaching high school English. Or, as I call it, slamming my head against walls of laziness and willful ignorance.

  1. What's your writing/editing routine?
Pray for summer. Write like crazy. Repeat. haha I get a lot more done during the summer, but the rest of the time I write in the evenings when I don't have too much to grade. I pretty much never edit until I have a first draft done, then I'll edit, turn it over to my critique group, then edit again with their comments in mind.

  1. Who or what are your influences?
The usual suspects for anyone who grew up in the 1970s-80s ... Stephen King, Peter Straub, William Peter Blatty, Ramsey Campbell, etc., along with the classics, from Charles Dickens to Robert E. Howard, John Steinbeck to H.P. Lovecraft.

  1. What's on your bookshelf (or shelves!)?
Books. Duh. There's a pretty wide range. A lot of horror, of course. A lot of classics and fantasy, a healthy dose of Westerns, and a ton on non-fiction on ghosts, witches and witch trials, werewolves, vampires, etc. I also have several books on mythology, general and specific cycles.

  1. Do you have any advice for other writers and editors?
Journey said, "Don't Stop Believin'" and Triumph said, "Never Surrender." Just keep at it. Never overlook a chance to improve or to submit. Too often it's about being in the right place at the right time.

  1. What's your favorite thing about writing?
I don't go to jail for killing people. Writing really is my therapy. And my escape from reality without drugs.

  1. How did you become the editor of Tails of the Pack?
Maggie Bonham, owner of Sky Warrior Books, knows about my Werewolf Saga. We were at a convention in Oklahoma or Texas and she mentioned wanting to do a werewolf anthology, if only she could find the right editor ... And her eyes rolled my way. I agreed, and there we are.

  1. Did you have to do any research for your story?
A little. It was geographical. At this point, after five published books in my Werewolf Saga, my twist on the werewolf mythos is pretty established, so I just needed to know a little about the landscape where it happens.

  1. Give us a blurb for your story.
Ha! What happens when the author of a popular series of werewolf novels gets asked, "Can you turn me into a werewolf?" too many times?

  1. What other projects or publications are you working on that we should know about?
Carrie and I recently sold our second collaboration to TOR Books for a 2014 release. Graveside Tales released a new edition of Murdered by Human Wolves in October, and I'll be re-releasing the rest of my Werewolf Saga, including the brand new book Nadia's Children, this spring and early summer.

Thanks Steven! And thanks everyone for reading my interview series. Don't forget to buy a copy of Tails of the Pack and enjoy the excellent work by all these authors!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tails of the Pack Interviews: Two Who Write as One

Hello everyone! Today's interviewees sent pictures so I can abandon that shot of the the cover of Tails of the Pack (which is still available here and here).

Today we talk to Frog and Esther Jones, who somehow manage to write together without wanting to kill each other. This is them:

And this is their interview:

  1. Tell us about yourself. What do you write? What do you do besides write?

Frog and Esther Jones live in Eastern Washington with their hedgehog, Cinnabun, Oxeye the Flemish Giant, and their beta-reading panda bear. By night, these two are fantasy authors, but by day Frog works as an attorney in Northeast Washington and Idaho, and Esther works as an administrative assistant in Spokane.

  1. What's your writing routine?

Generally we write on the weekends, and whenever we can sneak extra time in. We have full time day-jobs, so it can be tough to find time to write during the week.

  1. Who or what are your influences?

Both of us have been heavily influenced by Jim Butcher and Robin Hobb. We love character driven stories that force our protagonists to make hard choices. We've got a bit of a Kung Fu movie master-and-apprentice theme running through our novels too.

  1. What's on your bookshelf (or shelves!)?

The Dresden Series by Jim Butcher, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, The Farseer books by Robin Hobb, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Seven Exalted Orders by Deby Fredericks, Flicker by Kaye Thornbrugh, and The Sharpe Series by Bernard Cornwell.

  1. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Get your butt in the seat and start typing. Don't worry about whether it's good or not. You can worry about that later.

  1. What's your favorite thing about writing?

Frog: Getting to meet parts of myself that I don't often think about. When I'm writing I'm fracturing pieces of myself off and examining them. So in some ways it's a discussion with myself. If I'm very, very lucky, it's an argument.

Esther: I really enjoy seeing characters and worlds that only existed in my head take shape on the page. It's very liberating, and often goes places I didnt originally expect!

  1. Why did you decide to write a werewolf story for Tails of the Pack?

We're Skywarrior Book authors and we love participating in their anthologies... and really, Werewolves are just fun. After seeing the call for submissions, Heyboy just popped in our heads. Once we thought of him, we had to tell a story from his view point.

  1. Did you have to do any research for your story?

We found a stray and set him loose in the meat aisle of the local grocery store, taking careful note of how he behaved.

Ok, not really. We kid only because we love. Our story is a light-hearted romp that didn't really need research.

  1. Give us a blurb for your story.
When Heyboy, a local stray, is bitten by a strange human while fighting over a dumpster, he finds he has the heady ability to change forms. He tries to fit in with the humans around him, but fears hes more likely to end up in the pound.

10. What other projects or publications are you working on that we should know about?

We are currently working on Book 2 of the Gift of Grace Trilogy from Skywarrior Books. Book 1, Grace Under Fire, came out in October of 2012. The Gift of Grace Trilogy centers around two main characters, Grace and Robert, who live in a world where magic is outlawed. Yet without it, reality falls apart. The books follow Grace and Robert as they fend off supernatural threats to themselves and others-- and try to keep themselves out of trouble with the law while doing it. You can find a full description of the first book here:

Book Two continues their adventures, along with a few new twists. ;-)

Thanks guys! Now you made me want to go to Cinnabon...

Tomorrow is our final interview (sniff) with Steven Wedel, who not only wrote for the anthology but edited it as well. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tails of the Pack: Bridges DelPonte

Hello dear readers! As you may have noticed, I am interviewing my fellow authors who have work in the werewolf anthology Tails of the Pack, available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Today I interrogate Bridges DelPonte, whose story "Chasing the Moon" turns lycanthropy from a curse to a reprieve from something even worse. She also used to direct family plays, which is so Dickensian it just makes my day.

And now...Bridges!

Tell us about yourself. What do you write? What do you do besides write?

I have been writing since I was a kid growing up in the Boston areaone of nine kids. I tortured my siblings with my writing and directing of annual family plays. So far, my published works are both non-fiction and fiction in the legal, travel, science fiction, and mystery genres. I have published two books and numerous articles, short stories, manuals and editorials and contribute small business educational content to and blog articles about local events and business profiles at I have always enjoyed the puzzle of finding the right word, phrase or plot twist. I live and teach law full-time--but would love to earn my keep someday as a full-time fiction author.

What's your writing routine?

I wish I could say I have a routine, but I tend to write in sporadic streaks sandwiched in between my scholarly research and writing efforts. Being a bit of a night owl, I write mostly late at night into the early morning hours. When the rest of the world is quiet, my brain likes to fill up the silence with story ideas or plotlines.

Who or what are your influences? 
I read many short story anthologies that expose me to a broad range of authors and writing styles. I am a bit partial to traditional authors like Poe, Dickens, Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie who navigate life’s darker impulses. I am impressed by authors who have remained relevant for decades and whose work often seems so contemporary.

What's on your bookshelf (or shelves!)?

You will find a lot of short story anthologies in the science fiction, fantasy and mystery fields. I also like to read biographies since I am fascinated by the strange twists and turns of people’s real lives. One book that has really stuck with me was Beryl Markham’s, West with the Night. She turned her autobiography into a series of time-jumping vignettes that didn’t follow a standard linear approach. Her incredible life story unfolded in a mysterious way that I found fascinating. Normally, you will also find a stack of reference books on all kinds of writing since I am always trying to improve on my craft.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Join a critique group. Objective third parties will really tell you the truth about your writing which every writer really needs to hear to fully develop your work. Be prepared to write and rewrite until your eyeballs fall out and your fingers are worn to the nub. But in the end, I am more satisfied with the final (at least for now) draft.

What's your favorite thing about writing?

I have always enjoyed the puzzle of finding the right word, phrase or plot twist. When I start something, I have a rough idea about its course, but prefer not to prepare detailed outlines. I like to see where my writing will take me and sometimes it is not where I expected to end up.

Why did you decide to write a werewolf story for Tails of the Pack?

Oddly, I was channel surfing on my car radio and some DJs were joking about teenage werewolf movies. One of them mentioned Michael J. Fox who is living with Parkinson’s Disease. That chance radio snippet led me to this story about a werewolf with Parkinson's Disease.

Did you have to do any research for your story?

I am a New Englander and the story is set in Maine. I used to drive up to Acadia National Park and other smaller lakeside communities to canoe, fish and hike during the off-season. There is so much natural beauty and rugged terrain in Maine. I remember bumpy rides exploring old dirt logging roads. These Maine folks are a tough breed and have to work hard to scratch out a living during long, harsh winters in some pretty remote places.

Give us a blurb for your story. 
In Chasing the Moon, Zeff, a former high school ice hockey star and Maine logger, is struggling with early onset Parkinson's Disease. His illness is robbing him of his speech, his strength and maybe even his beautiful wife, Lupe. Zeff’s only respite is his monthly transformation into a werewolf when he can once again wander and hunt in the Maine woods of his youth. What was once his curse is now his only reprieve from his physical prison--until an old rival for his wife's affections threatens his secret.

What other projects or publications are you working on that we should know about?

My legal mystery, Deadly Sacrifices, set in my Boston hometown, won a 2012 Royal Palm Literary Award (unpublished - mystery)from the Florida Writers Association. The protagonist, Marguerite “Monty” Montez, is a female DA of Portuguese heritage who is handling her first murder case after years of toiling in the small cruelties of district court. I am working on the next book in this series. You can check out my writing at

Tune in tomorrow for Esther and Frog Jones, same bat-blog! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More Interview Fun! Day Four

And here we find ourselves once again, looking at the lovely cover art for the anthology "Tails of the Pack", which contains my werewolf story as well as many others. You can purchase it here and here, in case you forgot since yesterday.

Today we talk to Aaron Smith, the latest author to brave my interview. His story, "The Librarian" is about a man whose wolfish nature is controlled, until something terrible happens to those he loves...

And now, heeeeeere's Aaron!

  1. Tell us about yourself. What do you write? What do you do besides write?  

    My name is Aaron Smith, I’m thirty-six years old, and I live in New Jersey. As for what I write, I can’t seem to limit myself to a single genre and I don’t think I ever will. Writing about different things is just too much fun. In the five years or so since I started seriously writing, I’ve written mysteries, horror stories, science fiction, fantasy, a western, a few war stories. I’ve had three novels published, as well as stories in anthologies, pulp magazines, and comic books. I’ll write about almost anything if given the opportunity. I see absolutely no reason to limit the possibilities. I do go through phases though. Lately I’ve been writing a lot of horror, but I’m sure I’ll go back to mysteries at some point, or science fiction, or maybe write a historical novel or something else I’ve never tried before. The most well-known property I’ve had the opportunity to work on is Sherlock Holmes, and I’m still amazed that I managed to do that, considering that Holmes is easily my favorite literary character. I’ve had four Holmes mysteries published in the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective series of anthologies from Airship 27 Productions, with a fifth coming in the next volume.
My latest novel is a vampire story called 100,000 Midnights, which was released in June by Musa Publishing. So far it’s only available as an e-book. I hope those readers with Kindles or Nooks will look for it.
As for what I do besides writing, for almost twenty years now I’ve been running produce departments for a major supermarket chain. No, it’s not the most glamorous job in the world, but here’s a little secret about it. It’s perfect training for a writer. Think about it. Every human being has to eat, so everyone, from the richest millionaire to a single mother on welfare, has to shop for food. So, in that business, you get a really good look at uncensored humanity. Working in stores in different areas over the years, I’ve met people of all economic statuses, all different races, religions, political affiliations, and ages. I’ve chatted with celebrities and helped Smokey Robinson pick out his broccoli. I’ve been screamed at because of prices or because some paranoid woman thinks her child will die instantly if he eats a blueberry grown in Canada. I’ve had a gun pointed at me by a thief, seen people panic-shop when a snowstorm is coming, administered first aid to people who’ve slipped on grapes, and been in bizarre situations with all different sorts of people. Want to see people with their true personalities hanging out for all to witness because they’re going through a routine that they can’t avoid? Then hang out in a food store. It’s a great source of research, a good look at the beauty and the ugliness of human nature.
  1. What's your writing routine?  

    I write or rewrite every single day, except for an occasional day off after finishing a big project. I have a nice little office in my basement (out of view of the television, which is important), with my computer and hundreds of books. The minimums I set for myself are either 1,000 words a day of writing or 5,000 words of editing if I’m polishing a project that’s already done in its first draft. Often, I surpass that thousand words, but 1,000 is the minimum I have to do to keep from feeling lazy and guilty. I usually juggle two or three stories at a time so that if I get stuck on one story I can jump over to another, which often un-sticks the first one too. I don’t have a set time when I write. Sometimes I do it in the morning before work, sometimes in the afternoon when I get home, and other times in several short spurts over the course of the day. But I will not do anything for pleasure or relaxation, like watching a movie, until the day’s work is done.
  1. Who or what are your influences? 

      I truly believe that I’ve been, to some extent, influenced by everything: every movie I’ve seen, book I’ve read, person I’ve met, or memory I have. But if I have to name names, I’ll mention the writers whose influence I’m most conscious of and grateful for. Those would include HP Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming, Bram Stoker, Roger Zelazny, Ray Bradbury, Robert E Howard, JRR Tolkein, Robert Anton Wilson, and Stan Lee (and the artists he worked with). I guess I’ve also been pretty heavily influenced by many of the world’s oldest stories, the authors of which are often unknown. I mean the stories in the world’s religious texts or in ancient myths or old folklore, many of which also inspired the writers I just listed. 
  2. What's on your bookshelf (or shelves!)? 

     Looking around the room to answer this question, I wonder what a psychologist would say about the strange assortment of books surrounding me. I have a lot of some things and a little of everything on my bookshelves. Obviously I have many books by the writers I already mentioned as influences. As for some of the other stuff here, I have novels by the masters of Science fiction like Asimov, Heinlein, and Dick. I have a nice assortment of horror ranging from older material by Lovecraft, Poe, and HG Wells to more recent books by Stephen King (although not as much King as you might expect; I like some of his work but not all of it), Kim Newman, and Poppy Z. Brite. Lately I’ve been exploring the works of three somewhat harsher horror writers: Edward Lee, Richard Laymon, and Jack Ketchum. I have plenty of mystery and spy novels too. There’s a scattering of classics like the Canterbury Tales, Dante’s Inferno, Shakespeare, and Homer. I have tons of books on the world’s religions and mythological systems and I get many ideas from them. On the flip side, I read a lot of science too, with my favorite fields being quantum physics (I love the strangeness of it, but don’t ask me to explain its mathematical foundations!), psychology, and biology. I’m always interested in history too, especially that of the two world wars and the middle ages. Someday I might write a book set in medieval times that portrays life as it really was then, which was pretty disgusting and brutal, not like the sanitized version you see in old movies. I’m a longtime comics fan too, so you’d find a few shelves of collected editions of classic comic books from the thirties right up to modern material like the works of Neil Gaiman. So I do have a wide range of genres and subjects among my reading material. 
  3. Do you have any advice for other writers? 

     I certainly do. Maybe it’s none of my business, but I see things that frustrate me when I’m looking around writers’ forums online and it seems to me that some writers, especially those just starting out, make things more difficult for themselves and worry at times when they should just be writing instead. When I began writing, I didn’t bother with forums and online discussions. I just wanted to write and so I limited my communication to back and forth dialogue with my first editor. I must have been doing something right because I started to get stories accepted. I see a lot of people worrying so much about the little details that I can’t imagine how they find any time to just get the writing done. I see discussions about there being too many vampire stories, for example, out there and how it’s futile to try to submit a new one. But while that discussion was going on, I was busy writing and successfully selling a vampire novel! I’d like to say to other writers: don’t overanalyze things, don’t let others tell you what you should or shouldn’t write. Just do it! You should have two concerns when working on a story. First, will it be clear to the reader what is happening in the story? Second, is it interesting enough to make the reader want to know what happens next? That’s it. Get that first draft written and then you can go back and fix things or re-evaluate the choices you’ve made. But writing must come first if you’re going to get anything done. Write what you feel you should write and don’t let trends dictate your actions. Don’t wait for the right time, as far as popularity of subjects goes, to finish that particular story, because by the time you get around to it, the magic in your mind might be gone and you won’t be able to get that particular piece of work to do what it could have done when the idea was fresh. And one other thing, on the subject of self-editing. The best piece of advice I ever got on that, when I was worried because an editor wanted me to make some major changes to the style of a story, was “Love the story, not the words.” 
  4. What's your favorite thing about writing? 

     Writing is the quickest, most precise form of artistic expression a person can accomplish alone. Before I settled on writing, I tried some different art forms and all had certain limitations. I tried visual art and was able to draw quite well. They say a picture paints a thousand words and maybe that’s true, but it’s much easier and faster to write a thousand words than paint a picture! I was an actor for a while, but theatre or film depends on a large number of people working together and it gets to be a bit much for someone like me, not being the most social person in the world. I tried music too, but the beauty of a song is that it can mean many different things to many different people and I’d rather have my ideas understood exactly as I intend. And, also, writing requires no expensive or bulky equipment. There’s no need to carry a guitar around or buy paintbrushes or anything. All you need is a pen, a scrap of paper, and your imagination. 
  5. Why did you decide to write a werewolf story for Tails of the Pack?  

    Half the time I write whatever I want because inspiration came from somewhere. The other half of the time I write because I challenge myself to fill a need that somebody has. Occasionally, I’ll come across an anthology looking for a certain kind of story and I’ll let it sink in for a while and see what pops into my head. I read that Tails of the Pack needed material and a little while later the basics of my story, “The Librarian,” showed up in my mind. I hadn’t planned on doing a werewolf story, but the opportunity presented itself, so I took advantage of it. 
  6. Did you have to do any research for your story? 

     No. I had the werewolf lore I’d picked up over the years from books and movies and I came up with what I thought was an interesting twist on it and went from there.
  7. Give us a blurb for your story.  

    Lycanthropy cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. Thanks to a miracle of modern science, Byron has lived for years without losing control to the wolf inside him. But now, when those he cares about are threatened by the greed of an evil man, will he dare unleash the animal within and do what must be done? 
  8. What other projects or publications are you working on that we should know about? 

     I think anyone who likes my werewolf story will enjoy my vampire novel, 100,000 Midnights. I’m currently working on another horror novel, this time about zombies. I have a spy novel coming out sometime within the next year. And I hope fans of Sherlock Holmes will look for the newest volume in the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective series, which was just recently released. The best way an interested reader can learn more about my work is by visiting my blog at

    Thanks Aaron! Anyone who likes Holmes is OK by me. Check back tomorrow for more Q & A with Bridges DelPonte! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tails of the Pack Interviews Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of my Tails of the Pack interviews! This werewolf anthology that is full of awesome is available here and here.

Today's awesome interviewee is Deirdre M. Murphy. She usually writes in a shared world setting, which is fascinating to me as I've never tried it, but luckily for us she decided to create some flash fiction for this collection!

And now...Deirdre!

Tell us about yourself. What do you write? What do you do besides write?
Oh, I do all sorts of things.  I have a day job and enjoy music (singing and playing as well as listening) and various art forms.  If only I didn’t need sleep…though, truth be told, I enjoy sleep, just not as much as storytelling and other creative things.
I write mostly science fiction and fantasy.  I love the idea of magic, that things aren’t what they seem and that the world is filled with mystery and possibilities.  I love science and logic too—they’re great tools—but the world is infinite and complex and strange, and I love stories that embrace that fact. 
What's your writing routine?
I think I like writing the best when I get a compelling image in my head and dive in to a new world, letting this world recede from my consciousness and look to see what compelling new person is there, what new problems and possibilities so different from my own she (or he) must confront and (hopefully) conquer.
My most productive routine for writing—sleeping in, doing some housework or yardwork, diving into a conversation or two online, and then getting focused to write in the evening and letting this world go away until I can’t keep my eyes open and fingers moving over the keyboard—is incompatible with having a day job.  And of course there’s more to life than earning a living and writing.  I end up writing when I can, on a lunch hour or while eating dinner, on weekends between errands and chores, and while mostly ignoring TV shows that I really like.  Sometimes I get into a predictable pattern for a few weeks, but life always seems to interrupt my schedule.
Who or what are your influences?
I like reading writers’ blogs.  Whether I agree with their thoughts or not, it helps me keep my writing goals in mind.  It also helps me to refocus for writing after doing hours of non-writing or non-creative tasks.
I also like reading fiction that draws me in, that immerses me in some other place and in somebody else’s problems.  That makes it sound escapist, doesn’t it?  And maybe it is, to a point, but I find that if I get out of whatever rut I’ve been in by reading a good story, I have more energy—and often new insight—for tackling my own problems when I return.
I love the fact that there’s more to were-critters these days than wolves, and also that there’s more to supernatural monsters than horror.  I like stories with interesting characters who have interesting friends and enemies.  Sure, the tale of the good human fighting to control the beast within can be done well, but there are other contrasts that are worth exploring—intellect and instinct or nature and technology, to give two examples that are well-suited to a were-being’s story.
What's on your bookshelf (or shelves!)?
Oh, everything!  Of course, not really everything, but I do have a lot of books ranging from anthropology to zoology in the non-fiction area and Abbey to Zelazny in speculative fiction.  I have a big old Victorian house that was built to have a women’s parlor and men’s parlor instead of just one living room; my living room is where the womens’ parlor used to be (i.e. the room with the pocket doors that open wide enough for hoop skirts) and the men’s parlor is now my library, which is overflowing with books and dragon sculptures.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t let one bad story or flat character (or even ten) stop you.  Some of my best stories flew out my fingertips almost perfect in the first draft after a story or three that I had to fight and rewrite and tear apart and rewrite again and which never got better than mediocre.  Other times, the rewrite process has let me turn a dud into a gem.  My favorite of the songs I’ve written only happened after a multitude of false starts over the course of a decade.  You only guarantee that you will not succeed when you stop trying.
Don’t think just writing word after word is enough.  Try to make every story better than the last.  If you don’t do that, you can end up inadvertently practicing your mistakes.  If you find yourself making the same mistake over and over, do something else so it doesn’t become a habit!  Good writers learn to identify a mistake, then how to correct it and eventually how to avoid it.  I don’t dislike re-writing, but I must admit I am really happy when a story needs only minor polishing after the initial draft.
And most important:  Play!  Trying new things might get you a wonderful story or might not, but it will expand your skills.
What's your favorite thing about writing?
Oh, gosh.  I guess it’s that I can do anything—tell any story I want, set in any world, with any characters at all.  Well, I can if I have the skill and inspiration and time and use them all well.
Can you give us a blurb for your story in this anthology?
It’s flash fiction, so if I say much, it’ll ruin the story.  But there is a werewolf and a full moon!
Why did you decide to write a werewolf story for Tails of the Pack?
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of two spirits, two people or two very different sides of the same person, having to share a life and a body.  I’ve also been fascinated by the idea of one being with more than one shape.  These two themes are at the core of many modern werewolf stories.  Another theme in many werewolf stories is the love of nature and the need to conserve and protect the wilderness.  The best werewolf stories ask, what makes a being a monster?  I ask, do the wolf and the human agree as to what is good and what is monstrous?  If they don’t, how do these two beings—or these two facets of the same being—coexist in the same body?
With such a rich palette of themes and conflicts to play with, how could I resist writing a werewolf story?
Did you have to do any research for your story?
I’ve always been interested in everything—well, almost everything.  Sometimes a story I’m working on inspires me to research something totally new but more often I read things just because they’re interesting and then feel inspired to write a story.
What other projects or publications are you working on that we should know about?
I’m part of an online shared world called Torn World at .  We operate on a subscription basis, with a twist—if you become a Torn World supporter, most of the money you paid is retuned to you as Torn World credits, so you can direct which Torn World creator(s) get those funds.  That way you can reward your favorites or even commission a story, art, or poem directly. 
Torn World is a science fiction world with weird, broken time-technology (though the characters don’t yet realize that), huge snow-unicorns, mysterious blink-birds, frightening anomalies, and more.  In the Empire, scientists rule, but they have no way to predict what new knowledge—or dangers—will be revealed as the old, deadly barriers between the Empire and the rest of their world drop, one by one.  Some of the stories at Torn World are free to read—I hope you’ll stop by.
I also write stories in my own worlds.  There’s so many ideas that intrigue me that don’t fit into the Torn Word concept, and I want to play with them all.  I have stories that entwines magic, music, and nature; I recently wrote a story for an anthology set in a world where all magic is cooked up; I have a near-future SF story which was sparked by thing about a way we could be using existing (or almost-existing) technology; a constant challenge is finding homes for stories so I can share them with readers.  I have an under-construction website at , with links to some of the fiction I wrote and shared online while unemployed.  For updates, look for me on Live Journal or Twitter as @Wyld_Dandelyon.
Thanks for inviting me to chat!
Thanks for reading, friends! Tomorrow's interview will be with Aaron Smith, who will be breaking our Girl Streak. Tune in on Wednesday! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Let's All Welcome My New Guest!

Hello friends! Welcome to Day 2 of my Tails of the Pack interviews. Don't forget, you can purchase this superb werewolf anthology here and here!

Today's author is Sarah Ennals. Her tale,  'Noble Metals', is set in the 1970's and involves picking up a hitch hiker...hardly unusual in those days. This time it's the hitch hiker who's...unusual.

Take it away, Sarah!

 1. Tell us about yourself. What do you write? What do you do besides write?

Well, so far, I've only one other published story, 'The Emmet.' It
began as a sort of not-quite-steampunk period piece, and turned into
the tale of a man who covets his neighbour's giant ant. Most things
I'm working on fall into the fantasy/SF genre, but generally the kind
where there's one weird thing in an otherwise realistic setting;
although that setting tends to be historical; I like having that sort
of distance. When I'm not at my day job, I draw cartoons, and I do a
lot of knitting. Lately I've also started sewing.

2.      What's your writing routine?

Erratic, I'm afraid. I do listen to a lot of music while I'm writing
-- partly for inspiration, partly to drown out distractions. Sometimes
I'll compile playlists for particular stories. I also scribble a lot
of notes on small scraps of paper -- they're less intimidating than a
full sheet of foolscap. Bit by bit I transfer them into an online
document that I can check from anywhere.  I've also been known to
email myself notes from work.

 3.     Who or what are your influences?

'Noble Metals' originally grew out of some anecdotes my grandfather
told me about the jobs he did while putting himself through college in
the 1930s, although for logistical reasons I eventually had to move
the setting up to the 1970s. There are a lot of strange things that
really happened and that haven't yet been used in fiction. I've been
reading a lot of Frederic Brown's crime fiction the last few years;
also Cornell Woolrich, who basically invented noir, and Chandler...
Not sure how much that shows up in my stuff, though -- it's more the
little everyday details in their work that inspire me: I figure if I
don't know what the characters should do next, they should probably
stop and eat something, and the next scene can grow out of them
talking over dinner. Also, Chandler is full of characters who only
show up for one or two scenes to move the story forward, but who are
amazingly memorable. I'd love to be able to do that.

 4.     What's on your bookshelf (or shelves!)?

(Goes and looks) A lot, mostly in chaos. Lots of Lovecraft, including
some of his published letters. 'A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities,' by
Jan Bondeson.  Some anthologies of ghost stories, mainly Victorian.
Picture books, how-to guides. Non-fiction, especially about animals,
and criticism.  It's been a while since I took down Charles Lamb, but
I was obsessed with him in high school, which is sort of an odd time
of life to be fixated on an early-19th-century essayist. Chandler,
Gaiman, Chesterton, some Cory Doctorow. A big anthology of Early
English stage drama, mainly Corpus Christi plays and Saints' plays,
which tend to be like professional wrestling meets biblical fanfic --
just incredibly bizarre and fascinating.

5.      Do you have any advice for other writers?

 Just jump right in, I guess. Also, use spell-check and a beta-reader,
if possible. My spouse is usually my beta, but I trust him. Also, it's
not procrastination if it's research.

 6.     What's your favorite thing about writing?

It's more tactile, in a way, than reading; it proceeds at a slower
pace. I'm also still getting used to the idea that if I want something
to happen -- it can (as long as I can make it make sense).

 7.     Why did you decide to write a werewolf story for Tails of the Pack?

Originally, I only knew that my PoV characters were going to pick up a
hitchhiker and he was going to turn out to be something non-human; and
that this revelation was going to be through the medium of some object
triggering a reaction in him.

8.      Did you have to do any research for your story?

As noted above, it was originally set in the 1930s, until I remembered
that the Head Tax had pretty much prevented Chinese immigrants from
bringing their families over to Canada, so that if I wanted the
restaurant to be run by a family with a teenage daughter who was born
in Canada, it would have to be set in a much later decade; but I also
had to check the history of the price of gold and pick a decade where
the narrator's job would be viable.

9.      Give us a blurb for your story.

Um, "commercial travelers; mysterious hitchhiker; resourceful
waitress?" Or wait, "Loup-garou + pâté chinois?"

10.     What other projects or publications are you working on that we
should know about?

Sandra Kasturi (of Chizine Publications) is trying to push me to
finish a novel I began a few years back, about superheroes and
villains, but since things like Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog have
come out in the meantime, I'm worried people will just think I'm
jumping on a bandwagon. I've got a first draft of a 7,000-word story
called 'A Mind is a Terrible Thing;' and I'm tinkering with an idea
about a female private detective in the 1950s, which may or may not
turn out to include speculative elements.


There was a question  -- two questions, really, in the interview
yesterday: "What's your advice to writers" and "Did you do research
for your story?" I woke up with my brain making further comments on
the topic of research for fiction: do it, yes, but deploy the
information you discover wisely. Awkward info-dumps are bad enough,
but worse is characters who keep making clever remarks on aspects of
their environment that should be beneath their notice.

The example that always jumps to my mind is Anthony Burgess' A Dead
Man in Deptford
,a novel about the life of Christopher Marlowe
that just can't get over the crazy lack of standardized spellings in
Elizabethan England: every time characters are introduced, they'll
spend several paragraphs talking to each other about how there are
multiple ways to spell and pronounce their names. Not only did this
completely yank me out of the story whenever it happened, it's now the
only thing I can recall about the book.

Even if it were had just been Marlowe who did this (he at least has
the excuse of being a writer*,) and everyone else rolled their eyes
and muttered "he's on about it again," I think I could have accepted
it as plausible; but, well, a modern-day equivalent would be a story
set in the late 20th/early 21st century in which everyone chats about
how the temperature of their tap water can be adjusted by turning the
faucet handle; or wonders out loud who decided that chairs should be
the height that they are; without this ever becoming an actual plot

It occurred to me last night that there's an opposite example in Cory
Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town: in which
the protagonist's name changes from paragraph to paragraph. He's
usually called Alan, but it soon becomes evident he'll answer to any
masculine name beginning with A, and when his younger brothers show up
(by this time we know Arnold is one of the few members of his family
able to pass as human), we realize they weren't actually named -- they
were alphabetized.

This works, because none of it is ever directly commented on in the
novel -- to Alan it's completely normal, and he's our PoV character.
Whether regular humans notice Arthur's shifting nomenclature is left
to the reader to judge, though I suspect they simply block out any
incongruity. Only one person pointedly addresses him as Abdul
shortly after meeting him to let him know she's spotted the
phenomenon, but she's not exactly human either, as it turns out, and
her perception is probably meant to foreshadow this.

*  He also gets really annoyed if anyone addresses him as
"thou," but at least he doesn't lecture them about how it's
disrespectful to address anyone in the singular unless they're a close
personal friend.

Thanks Sarah! Good luck with your future work (and don't worry, everyone loves superheroes no matter what!). 

Join us tomorrow for more words of wisdom from Deirdre M. Murphy!