Friday, August 31, 2007

[Interview] Rae Lindley

Rae Lindley was born in Torrance , California. Her articles and short stories have appeared in publications that include Suite101; The Acacia; The Post and Deep Tapioca.

She has also written for speculative fiction ezines like Lunar Castles; Nightly Gathering; Dark Moon Rising and Comic Stack.

In 2004, her film-script, "Hotel Sunset" received an honorable mention in the Television/Movie Script category of the 73rd Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition. Two years later, Quack, Quack, a short animated film that Lindley helped create and art direct went on to win the Copper Wing Audience Award at the Phoenix Film Festival.

Her books include a novella, The Eye of Alloria (Lavender Isis Press, 2007) and the novel, Cimmerian City, which is due to be released by Mundania Press in late August 2007.

In a recent interview, Rae Lindley spoke about her writing.

How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

Speculative fiction, which most would identify as sci-fi/fantasy. Most of my works deal with today’s social issues in a futuristic or otherworldly setting.

I grew up on sci-fi television, movies and books and what always fascinated me about the genre is the way social commentary can be given in such diverse settings. Of course, I loved the cool futuristic cars, cities and technology but the ones that always had an underlying story about humanity, alongside the cool-looking technology, really stuck with me and inspired me in presenting my own story lines in such settings.

Which of these movies and TV programs did you find particularly inspiring?

I was really into the Doctor Who series, Invaders, U.F.O., Star Trek (the original series), Robotech, Battlestar Galactica (the original 70s version), Space: 1999 and a whole lot of others.

Movies that I really enjoyed were Star Wars, the Star Trek movies, Alien and Aliens, War of the Worlds, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Independence Day, Blade Runner and others. I loved reading the novelizations of the movies I watched so I could get a complete idea of the story structure in the narrative as well as the visual form. There are probably others I’m missing but it would turn into a novelization itself if I listed all of them!

I’ve always been an avid film lover. So much, in fact, that starting at the age of 12, I dreamed of becoming a filmmaker.

What happened to this dream?

It’s still there on the back burner. I think I’m taking baby steps and focusing on one aspect of my career at a time. I did come close by creating animated films, so I was in the director’s seat for a while. I quench my thirst for visual storytelling with illustrations from time to time.

Writing is a lot like that and possibly even more imaginative than film because you’re presenting a world with your own characters that live, breathe and interact among one another in your head and eventually in the heads of your readers. The speculative genre allows you to take it a step further in creating completely different worlds, some bad and some good, where your characters can rise above the everyday situation, possibly have wondrous supernatural powers and become heroes or villains!

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

It’s strange, I don’t really remember a defining moment where I went to my parents or anything and told them I wanted to write for a living. It was just something I did that was a part of me. Even at school, I used to write stories while the teacher was talking and pass them on to my classmates who would give me feedback on what they thought.

During my Anne Rice ‘vampire fan stage’, I was really into Gothic horror and I wrote a few stories that are still sitting in my old notebooks from middle school and high school. I remember I scared a few of my classmates with some of those stories!

In the writing that you are doing, who would you say has influenced you the most?

Definitely my mother and father.

My mother in that she continued pursuing her education after raising two children to adulthood and my father in that he continually struggled against hardships to travel and keep us going.

My mother is currently studying law in an effort to give children a voice in the justice system as well as us writers in the family who need a little extra legal guidance. My father works as a contractor, so he goes where the technical jobs need him, traveling from coast to coast, at times. At the same time, he’s also working on a few technical books on space travel, scientific proof of higher life and artificial intelligence -- so both of them are real inspirations to me in how they can juggle so much and still hold on to their passions.

My father has also been a big inspiration because he was a science fiction fan from a very young age.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

I’d say it's one part experience, two parts emotion and a sprinkle of ‘what if’.

Many of my stories are inspired by current and past news events in the world and some personal experiences that have happened to me that usually transpire through my characters and their actions. If I feel passionately about how people are mistreated, I give them a voice through my characters to speak out and change the situation into a better one.

Who is your target audience?

I usually target my fellow paranormal, science fiction and fantasy fans at the same time aiming for the romance audience.

You’re probably thinking this is a bit strange! But I think reaching beyond genres and touching aspects of each in a story can affect even the most casual reader. Not to mention the fact that most of the great science fiction stories of our time include fantastic love stories as subplots. For example, Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity features a love story integral to the plot in a futuristic context.

What’s also interesting is, while most of the classic science fiction works had allusions to relationships, recently a new genre, romantic science fiction, is being exercised in the works of Linnea Sinclair and Susan Grant, among others.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

I would have to say my concerns are whether or not my characters are believable enough in their actions and dialogue.

When I write, it’s not really a conscience procedure. I find it hard to sit down and make a character profile, structure out the plot in an outline and then start writing. I tried that in my early days of writing and by the time I got through planning, the story was already told and the mystery was gone.

Now, I have an idea of what my characters are like as well as the plot when I start the book, but I discover what happens as the story unfolds and the characters act out the situations in my head. So a lot of times things happen that I didn’t even see coming. It’s fun to let the characters do what they want. It’s more like dreaming and recording what the characters are saying and doing.

Script Magazine featured an article by Robert Piluso about wakeful writing which I found to be very identifiable. Piluso said, “... this particular passion (in his case, screenwriting) must be providing some spiritual, emotional, and/or psychological release not ascertainable in our regular life.” So in a way, wakeful writing is like living out a dream state within the pages, which for me is true since I sit back and allow my characters to act out in my writing. I think for many writers we have this urge to tell fantastical stories that make life interesting and quench that creative thirst that’s always running around in our heads.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

Book promotion by far! Until I had to dive head first into it, I didn’t realize how much it took to spread the word about your work. Not just time and energy, but also in terms of passion. Aside from that, I’d say finding time to create new works alongside running a business.

I work at Lavender Isis Publishing, an e-publishing company... so I straddle both sides of the industry being a publisher as well as a writer. Also, I have my own freelance work where I create promotional items for self-published and small press authors who need that extra boost in getting the word out about their work.

How do you deal with these challenges?

I like to go where the readers are and let them know about my new writing works. So, be it online or people I met out and about who enjoy reading, I try to let them know that I have a book that may interest them and try to give them some cool promotional items that I create myself. It’s been hard sometimes because I have to juggle writing and the business side which can clash into each other and completely tire me out! But I just take a few days off then hop on my train again to keep going.

I usually designate time to balance both. I’m such a night owl and my most creative side comes out in the late night hours. So usually I set aside a day of the weekend or an evening in order to write and rewrite because it’s so peaceful and I can hear my characters more clearly without the hustle and bustle of the daytime noise.

Do you write everyday?

I try to! (Laughs.) Lately, my writing times have been pretty sporadic. I had to take a bit of time off in between finishing my previous book and the other to give my mind a break. So I edited some of my short stories, wrote a poem (a medium I hadn’t written in for a while) and now I’m starting to dive into another novel that is more contemporary. Sometimes it helps to do other activities completely absent of writing to let the brain rest a bit then come back fresh to tell a new story.

When I do write I usually go in streaks of about four to six hours at a time. It usually happens during certain times of the week towards the night hours, especially if I’m really trying to tackle a piece. If I’m between projects, I end up writing about once a week.

My typical sessions usually start after my mind is percolating a bit usually in the evening because I tend to write best at night. I usually read news, or check my writing blogs and message boards throughout the day while thinking of the next part in my current story. I don’t usually write on the computer, unless it’s something I have to get down right at that moment. Typically, I take a large stack of notebook paper strapped to my clipboard and plop down in front of a movie that fits in with the mood of the story I’m telling at the time. The marriage of the visual and the narrative brings out the story in my mind and onto the page. It’s usually hard to start the session. I’m a master procrastinator! But when I get started, I’m completely on a roll. I usually try to finish a chapter per writing session or at least stop at a place where the scene ends and my mind can let go of the story. Otherwise, the characters and plot keep me distracted from other things!

Why is it important to write everyday?

You have to treat it as a serious job where you set aside some time everyday to hone your craft. It takes a lot of discipline to sit down in front of a computer and hammer away at a novel or a short story, but the more you do it the better you get at it.

How many books have you written so far?

I’ve written three novels and a few short stories.

The Eye of Alloria, an illustrated novella published by Lavender Isis Press was released in March in e-book and print format. It centers on a post-apocalyptic Earth where Saron Bravewind, the King of Orland, rules the main Earth city of Orland. Saron mans a flight into space with a faith in finding a higher life to help his daughter who has fallen ill. What he finds will change the fate of mankind. Fans of elves, the mystical and romantic triangles will like this story.

Cimmerian City, on the other hand,is a science fiction thriller set in a future not far from our time. It's a world where corporations rule the world, science is big business and governments as we know them no longer exist. A war breaks out between two races and one of them isn’t human. Raven Blackheart awakens in this world as a product of both races and nurtured by the vice president of the main corporation as a symbol of the union of races. With her help, Vice President Tyler Deamond's corporation can take both beings off Earth, which is quickly becoming a waste planet, to a new terraformed planet. But... as Raven soon learns... nothing is as it seems, especially concerning humans. I think fans of thrillers, the paranormal, and science fiction would enjoy this book. I tried to offer an alternative take using the myths of vampire tradition in a realistic setting dealing with racial and class issues.

The latest book is actually the sequel to Cimmerian City entitled Cimmerian World which I’ve recently finished editing.

How did Cimmerian City come about?

I started Cimmerian City in 1999 during my high school English class where we were studying Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I still remember that day. I was doodling the idea for the story on a notepaper and from then on the story went through many incarnations, different ideas and mediums until I finally wrote it all out in novel format in 2004.

Although Cimmerian World took about a year to write and a little longer to edit, it took a lot more out of me.

What did you find most difficult when you were writing the novel?

Definitely the obstacles I’ve put my heroine through. Along with the usual external plot points and hurdles to jump through trying to save the planet, my heroine also has to learn to trust those who want to help her. She has an affinity to close herself off because of the people she's lost during her life. That transition into adulthood, the trials she goes through to come of age and stop the antagonist took a toll on me mentally because it was as if I was experiencing the same situation.

Which did you enjoy most?

With both books, I enjoyed building the personal connections between the characters. Seeing them interact in the environment, develop romantic feelings for each other and overcome so much that it's a relief at the end when the payoff finally occurs!

What sets the books apart from the other things you've written?

The tone is the darkest of all my works. I also consider the heroine of the Cimmerian books my alter ego and her story has been with me for a good chunk of my life. So of all of my books, this particular set of stories would be my labor of love.

In what way is it similar?

I like to write about seemingly ordinary characters thrown into extraordinary circumstances with an extensive amount of odds against them and see how they overcome these. Some of my stories deal with the everyday but the characters take various, out of the ordinary, actions to try and change it. Sometimes it turns out well for them, but other times they fall into traps.

What will your next book be about?

I have a few stories that I’m writing at the moment along with Cimmerian Girl, the third book in the Cimmerian Series.

I’m also working on a new illustrated novella, Marauder Star; a suspense novel entitled Before Dawn Breaks; a few short stories about how a married couple (two different sets in different stories) working in the entertainment business deal with corruption, infidelity and murder; and some screenplays I’m adapting into literature.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

It would have to be the acceptance of my first book to be published, Cimmerian City, which is the book that's closest to me. It still hasn’t entirely hit me yet!

How did you get there?

Persistence, plenty of writing and rewriting and tweaking. Receiving lots of good feedback on the direction of the work and just believing in it enough to keep pushing it out there.

This interview was first published by OhmyNews International.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

'Diary of an Asylum Seeker': Anatomy of A Work In Progress

I’ve taken a leaf off George Bernard Shaw’s book and have written a very long introduction to my work in progress, the Diary of an Asylum Seeker.

The introduction is really a ‘back story’ in that it shows part of how the Diary came about; it shows part of how I’ve been working on the Diary and it shows part of the reception the Diary has received so far.

I started working on what is becoming the Diary of an Asylum Seeker in late 2004 or early 2005 after coming into contact with the Assist Service, a medical practice which provides specialized primary health care for asylum seekers in Leicester. There, one of the people I was and still am in dialogue with is Jan Moore, the practice therapist, who suggested that I keep a diary. Which I did. For about a week or two.

I wish I’d kept the diary more religiously. I wish I’d kept it like medicine. I didn’t. I tell myself that the reason for this was because, soon afterwards, I started writing a lot about asylum seekers, about who they are, about the pressures that force them to leave home and country, about the countries they claim asylum in and the reception they receive in those countries. Some these articles have been published in places that include UK Indymedia, Worldpress.org, OhmyNews International, Labour Left Briefing and the British Journal of Occupational Therapy.

In both the fiction and non-fiction writing that I do, each time I focus on a subject, I do a lot of reading around it and I make extensive notes on it. In some cases, the subject dominates or takes over and I start living for it. Writing about the subject becomes the reason why I’m here, it becomes the reason why I’m alive. It becomes difficult to stop thinking about it and I start talking about it incessantly. Aspects of the subject also invade my dreams when I sleep and I start living them intensely that way. Because of this, the diary became a journal and then it became a notebook on asylum seekers and aspects of the immigration and asylum system and then it became a journal and then it became a diary. And then I thought, “Instead of writing newsy stuff about all this, why not a short story or a novel that will focus of a day, a week, a month or a year in the life of an asylum seeker?”

The Diary of an Asylum Seeker was born out of these questions.

While I can’t think of a novel focusing on the life of an asylum seeker or a group of asylum seekers, that’s been written in the form of a diary, I’m aware that there’s a body of work out there which, each in its own way, sheds light on how dehumanizing the asylum process can be. One of these works is the highly original and influential play, The Bogus Woman by Kay Adshead. Another is the novel, Refugee Boy by the indefatigable Benjamin Zephaniah.

The Diary of an Asylum Seeker is a work in progress. I intend to push the narrative as hard as I can and see if I can’t turn it into a novel.

Because it’s a work in progress, it’s not static: a sentence will change, here, and another one will change, there; paragraphs will be added, others will be moved; new entries will be made while other entries will be removed… such is the life of a work in progress.

If I manage to pull it off, I think the Diary will be a double-first in Zimbabwean literature. It’s already the first attempt at a novel in the form of a blog by a Zimbabwean writer. If I pull it off, it’ll be the first such novel by a Zimbabwean writer.

Even though it’s a work in progress, the Diary has been well received.

Its very first version received a commendation in the 2005 Leicester and Leicestershire Library Services Annual Short Story Contest. A year later, a slightly different version was published on both the U.S.-based Glimpse Abroad website and in the Glimpse Foundation’s quarterly magazine. This year, extracts from the Diary were published in the second issue of Tripod Magazine. Another extract, "Living on Promises and Credit" (which was written in 2002 and which I intend to integrate into the Diary) was published in Writing Now: More Stories from Zimbabwe (Weaver Press, 2005).

I’ve also received some very interesting and encouraging comments from some of the world’s finest writers. For example, Maurice Suckling, the versatile computer games scriptwriter and author of the collection of short stories, Photocopies of Heaven (Elastic Press, 2006) said, “Crickey… That’s pretty [fill in appropriate adjective here, since I don’t know how to sum that up in one word].

“When do you think this novel might be finished?”

H. Nigel Thomas, author of the critically acclaimed collection of short stories, Spirits in the Dark (House of Anansi Press, 1993) and Why We Write: Conversations with African Canadian Poets and Novelists (TSAR Publications, 2006) said, “The writing is forceful. It takes skill and experience, I think, to produce excellent fiction using the epistolary mode, and the excerpts you posted attest to this.”

Gordon Hauptfleisch, in his review of Writing Now: More Stories from Zimbabwe, described “Living on Promises and Credit” as “earnest and affecting.”

To go back to Maurice Suckling’s question -- I have every intention of finishing the novel.

Although I haven’t been updating the version of the Diary which appears on the blog, Immigrant Diaries, I’ve been working on it in earnest since about February of this year. In April, the winds rose and it’s been taking a lot of energy to just stay on my feet. When the winds settle down, as they are bound to, the novel should start moving more markedly. Until them, I’ll continue doing what I always do… my best. The material is there in my own life and in the lives of the asylum seekers I’m in contact with. The challenge is to see if I can tell this story in 50,000 words or more and still be able to hold the reader’s attention right through to the end.

This article was first published by Blogcritics.org.

Monday, August 27, 2007

[Interview] Rose Paisley

Rose Paisley grew up in a small town in the Amish Country of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. She subsequently moved to Harrisburg where she went to college when she was in her forties, and graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology.

She has worked as a waitress, a truck driver and as an electronics technician building speakers. She currently owns and publishes Romance at Heart Magazine, an online magazine as well as Romance At Heart Publications, a small publishing company that puts out about 12 e-books a year from selected authors.

One of her own stories, A Wild Love: Escape was published by Lavender Isis Press in March 2007.

In a recent interview, she spoke about her writing.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Actually, I didn’t decide to be a writer. It was decided for me in that I took the dare of two long time friends, Carole and Kate. They dared me to submit something because they said my writing was good enough to be published. I didn't react to the dare at first, then I stumbled onto the Lavender Isis Press and their short story contest. A Wild Love: Escape was long enough, so I thought, "O.K., I will prove those two wrong!"

I have played around with stories, but never consider myself as a serious writer, it was an accident... That is my story, and I am sticking to it with a vengeance.

How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

Paranormal Fantasy. I love outlandish scenes, settings, characters with grit, shape shifters etc. so I try to create my own versions of them for my own pleasure.

Who is your target audience?

In the past, before I thought of being published, I wrote for myself and a few friends... I guess now a target audience would be those who read paranormal romances.

What motivated you to start writing in this genre?

My love for authors like Christine Feehan, Ronda Thompson, Amanda Ashley, Cathy Spangler, Susan Grant, Susan Squires, and then Sherrilyn Kenyon, when she came along.

I did a fan fiction on an ezboard site dedicated to Christine Feehan. It took me ages to get it done. Then, I was prodded every step of the way by readers on the board. They got lucky I think. I have trouble stringing more than 10,000 words together in a coherent way.

I do not have a link to the piece I wrote... It was done years ago and I think it is long gone from the site. It was called "Of Darkness and Light" and needs a good editor! (Laughs out loud!)

Who would you say has influenced you the most?

Christine Feehan… her stories make me laugh, cry, rage, and root for her characters with abandon. Ronda Thompson… she has a wicked sense of what could be, what has been, and writes vibrantly. Amanda Ashley… she brings the dark side close to home, yet allows us to believe in their future. Cathy Spangler…who has a delightful imagination of the future and shares it willingly. Anne McCaffery… she showed me you can step out of the bounds of the “real” and create it yourself. R. Casteel, Carole Ann Lee, and S. L. Carpenter for also having faith and guiding me.

What would you say are your main concerns as a writer?

(Laughs out loud.) You are taking it for granted I am a writer. If I really was, my concern would be that my books would tempt and tantalize the reader's imagination, and the characters and their problems would truly “live” in their minds as they read about them.

To me, a writer is generally someone who is talented enough to carry off the story and the characters in such a way that the reader can get lost in the action, and can almost "see" the story as it unfolds. I think a writer has to be pretty dedicated to the story and the characters and must have the desire to entertain and carry the readers away on a flight of fantasy, suspense, or in the eroticism of the tale. Most writers enjoy writing, and most love the research, the plot development, and every aspect of their craft.

I am driven, but I don't like the "out of control" feeling I get when I write... There are times when I have to do it... it is like a compulsion at times.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

Um… nah, I don’t think so. Given my subject matter, I wouldn’t know how my personal experiences could possibly influence my writing. I am neither a shape shifter, a vampire nor a ghost, nor do I have any kind of paranormal talents like they are reputed by legend to possess.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?

Actually being published. I am not sure about the whole process, and think the ladies of Lavender Isis Press are really brave to take on the short I wrote. I will do my best, however, to live up to their faith in me.

Being published is a challenge because I don't know that I can do it again, and at this point it is almost "expected" that another book or short story would be coming. The biggest challenge is being able to string the words together to tell a good story, one that readers (other than my friends) would really want to read.

How are you dealing with these challenges?

I just do my best.

Like I said, I am not truly a writer, at least not one of romance or fiction, reviews on the other hand, oh yeah, I can write a wicked review. This... trying to write another complete story... I will just have to handle one day at a time, and do my best each day.

How many books have you written so far?

One only. A Wild Love: Escape which was published by Lavender Isis Press in March, 2007. It is the story of a man, a shifter named Hajj who has been long isolated on an island. The house he had built for his mate and family has been usurped in his absence by a vile and greedy man and then Hajj finds he may not be as alone as he thinks. It's a discovery which leads him to hope he can escape and find his true mate.

Do you write everyday?

I don’t write everyday. Christine Feehan (a favorite author as well as a friend) says I should, but I can’t. My husband and I run a website that sells consolidator airfares and there is always work to be done there, updates, new postings, etc. I also run the review site Romance at Heart and the publishing house Romance At Heart Publications.

Which aspects of the work that you put into A Wild Love: Escape did you find most difficult?

How to answer that…writing like that does not come easy to me. There are times when my mind blurts stuff out. If I am in a position to write it down, then it is O.K., but I can’t just stop and write. My businesses would suffer, and I can’t allow that to happen. Others depend on me, and it would be irresponsible to let something I do, only because I am driven, to interfere.

Which did you enjoy most?

That... I really don’t know. When it comes to writing, it is not done for enjoyment, it is something I am driven to do, then when the urge goes away, it is just that, gone away and I am left alone again for a while. To say I enjoy it would not be truthful.

How and why is it that you are driven to write? Why do you write?

I can't answer those questions, I am sorry. I am not certain I have the answer. I have told myself again and again to stop the foolishness, but my brain doesn't listen. There is something in me that drives me, and I really can't fully answer the questions as to why I am driven to write, or why I do it... they are truly beyond me.

What does writing do for you?

I know being able to write reviews releases some of the tension I live with in life, from updating websites to making certain they run smoothly, to making sure all the reviews, articles, and whatever else have to be posted to the site is done and without errors. The rest of it? Well, that part of the writing, the "novel/short story creative writing" only adds to my frustration, but as I said, it appears to be a compulsion.

What sets A Wild Love: Escape apart from the other things you have written?

The fact that it is a book, well a short story. I wrote and still write reviews, not books, so that is a big difference.

In what way is it similar?

Dunno. I never tried comparing reviews to the books I read to write about. I would have to think on that a while.

What will your next book be about?

Um, If my editor has her way, it will be a few more shorts in the same vein. A Wild Love: Escape is just one of a bunch of silly shorts I was actually driven to write inspired by art, music, and the above mentioned talented authors. I call them silly because they were done on a whim, during a flight of fancy as it were, and were actually only meant to be examples of contest entries. At Romance at Heart we were running writing contests.

How have they been received by readers?

So-so, but then I wasn't expecting any great gushing of appreciation. I do understand A Wild Love: Escape is doing O.K., and I have been asked if there will be a sequel, and will it be longer... *sigh* I can promise only to try my best.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Significant achievement? Having Lavender Isis Press publish my writing.

How did you get there?

As I said, it was a dare, and I was proven wrong. Someone did actually want to publish what I wrote, and I am grateful for their faith in my work.


This article was first published by Blogcritics.org 

Friday, August 24, 2007

[Interview] Marilyn Meredith

Marilyn Meredith is the author of the Tempe Crabtree series of mystery novels and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series of police procedurals.

Her books have won awards that include the 2006 American Author Association’s Best Thriller Award as well as the 2006 USA Book News Best Book Award, which went to her psychological thriller, Wishing Makes It So (Hard Shell Word Factory, 2006).

In addition to working as a writer, Marilyn Meredith is a member of Sisters in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; EPIC -- Electronically Published Internet Connection and the Public Safety Writers Association. She has also served as an instructor at the Maui Writers Retreat and other writer’s conferences and was, for ten years, an instructor with the Writer’s Digest School.

In a recent interview, she spoke about her writing.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I don't know that there was a particular moment… I started writing from the time I could pick up a pencil and put words on paper… Actually I started before that because, before I could write, I drew pictures to tell stories.

My first published books [Trail to Glory (Leisure Books, 1986) and Two Ways West (Northwest Publishing, 1994)] were historical family sagas based on my own family genealogy. The books were fiction because I tried to fill in all the blanks… What happened to this person? Why did they move here or there?

It was like solving mysteries because I had to do a lot of research into the time period and places where my family members lived. When I'd written about both sides and trying to decide what to write next, I realized I was reading a lot of mysteries and supernatural stories. So the next book I wrote was The Astral Gift, a mystery with a bit of the supernatural. From there I moved on to the mysteries I'm writing now.

Who would you say is your target audience?

Anyone who loves mysteries… though my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series has a touch of Native American supernatural elements. I’m also writing the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, which is also mystery but in the police procedural category.

Judgment Fire and the other Deputy Crabtree mysteries can be read by young teens on up. The Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Fringe Benefits is the latest, is darker and geared more [for] adults.

Who would you say influenced you the most?

All of the great mystery writers -- Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe and the new greats like Sue Grafton and Mary Higgins Clark.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

Our first home was in a housing development where you could buy a house for $100. (This was a long, long time ago. Everyone who lived there had low-paying jobs: sailors (my husband was a Seabee), firemen and policemen. We were friends with and partied with them all. I knew the wives and the kids [and] was privy to the problems they faced.

Later, one of my sons-in-law became a police officer. My daughter didn't like to hear about his work so he'd come to my house after his shift for coffee and say, "Well, mom, do you want to hear what I did last night?" And I listened. Once he took me on a ride-along -- that was an experience.

A few years later, I went on other ride-alongs, once with a female officer who was the only woman on the department and a single mom. From about 2:30 a.m. until 6, she didn't have a single call and she poured out her heart to me.

During this time period, I was writing personality pieces for the local paper and I interviewed our resident deputy -- also a woman in a mostly male department. She told about the problems she had because of this. I wrote the article but feared she might lose her job because of what she told me. I had her read it and she said, "It's all true, print it." She did lose her job. Fortunately, she got a better one right away.

I met and became friends with a young Native American woman who grew up on the reservation near where I live.

I grew up in Los Angeles, but after I was married, lived mostly in small town. The mystic of a small town intrigues me, so most of my books are set in small towns… fictional ones -- I draw upon all I know about the small towns I've lived in. Bear Creek, the setting in my Deputy Crabtree mysteries is remarkably similar to where I'm living now.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

Letting people know about my books is always in the forefront of my mind. Being published by small, independent publishers, I have to work harder at bringing my titles in front of readers.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?

Having enough time to do all the things I want to do. For instance, today one of my granddaughters who is planning a family reunion wanted me to make the invitation -- one with family portraits on the front and the back. While I was working on that, another granddaughter faxed me a letter written by one of the chairmen of the board for the country club she works for and asked me to edit it. Of course, I did.

And I had to stop and do the mundane every day things like wash clothes and cook dinner.

I also finished reading a manuscript for a good friends who wanted some feedback.

Because I do some other writing jobs that pay, I had a couple of phone calls about them.

What I wanted to be doing was getting started on my next book.

How do you deal with these challenges?

One at a time. That sounds simplistic, but that's really how I handle it. I try to prioritize -- but sometimes that's difficult when you've got the people who want something waiting right in your office. Oh yes, and there is my dear husband who would like some attention every now and then.

Do you write everyday?

I do write everyday, but it's not always on fiction. Mornings are my best times for creating and I do other things in the afternoons, like rewriting or promotion chores.

What is your latest book about?

Judgment Fire is about the murder of an abused wife. While investigating, Tempe comes to terms with her unhappy high school days and the reason why she ignored her Native American heritage for so long.

It takes me about six months to write a book and two to three to edit and rewrite.

Which aspects of the work that you put into Judgment Fire did you find most difficult?

I always try to find some Native American spiritualism to weave into the plot.

Because I don't want to offend anyone, I try to fictionalize everything that I use while keeping it as real as possible. I also want Tempe to grow in each book, to learn more about her heritage and herself.

I read every book to the critique group that I've attended for over twenty years and get feedback from them.

Which did you enjoy most?

I always enjoy finding out what Tempe is going to do next. Of course I always think I know, but when I get to the writing, Tempe always surprises me.

What sets Judgment Fire apart from the other things you have written?

Because this is an ongoing series, I think what's new in this one, is the unpleasant memories that come back to Tempe, which explains some of what has gone on in other books.

In what way is it similar?

Tempe and her husband Hutch have a really strong love relationship -- but this is strained in nearly every book when she goes against his wishes and dabbles in Indian spiritualism. Hutch always fears that Tempe may lose her soul.

What will your next book be about?

The next book is done and with the publisher. Tempe helps investigate the murder of an artist and, to do this, must take a trip to Crescent City where she learns about the Tolowa, and to Santa Barbara where she's nearly murdered.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

I've had many high points along the way. My books have won several awards. But the most significant is when a reader tells me how much they enjoyed one of my novels. Feedback from readers is always great.

How did you get there?

I'm not sure how to answer this except to tell you how I've gotten where I am today and that is through a lot of hard work, making myself write even when I didn't want to, and never giving up.

This article was first published by OhmyNews International.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

[Interview] Sandy Lender

Sandy Lender has been on a virtual book tour to promote her debut fantasy novel, Choices Meant for Gods, (ArcheBooks Publishing, 2007). The tour, which started on May 21 and ran until July 21, saw her being featured as, among other things, a guest blogger on sites that included Pump Up Your Online Book Promotion; Spiritual Visitations and The ArcheBooks Publishing Blog.

In a recent interview, Sandy Lender spoke about her writing.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?

Can I choose stability? I think the biggest challenges I face as a writer are: finding time for all the things I want to do with my writing career and not letting the negative voices drag me down.

How do you deal with these challenges?

First, finding time for all the things I want to do with my writing career means staying extremely organized. Because I balance my second career (writing), which doesn't pay anything yet, with my first career (I work in a magazine publishing company), which pays some of the bills, I have to be very cautious with my time. My days are packed with commuting, working, marketing/promoting, writing, preparing and sending press releases, editing, maintaining the current blog tour, etc. If I didn't keep everything organized and prepared ahead of time, I'd probably lose my mind.

Second, keeping the negative voices from eating away at my positive energy is a challenge. There are many people who don't understand the publishing industry, and they say things like, "Oh, wow, your ranking on Amazon is at 200,000 today. What on earth will you do to improve that?" What they don't understand is that the ranking on Amazon is a bogus number that anyone can pay a PR company to inflate for him or her; and it was probably around 40,000 three hours prior. And 200,000 is actually nothing to sneeze at.

Or a family member will tell me I'm overworked and I need to make a decision as to whether I'm going to continue working so hard at marketing my book or just concentrate on my "real" career. I made the decision when I signed the contract with ArcheBooks Publishing. And here's how I deal with this challenge: My writing career is my passion, and even if no one else understands it, I'm in it for the long haul

What are your main concerns as a writer?

My main concerns as a writer center on building an audience. I want to write stories that captivate and inspire and bring more readers into the core group so that the audience of people who love my characters expands with each release.

How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

Speculative fiction is the catch-all umbrella under which I'd classify my writing because I have a vampire trilogy under way and I've completed a bizarre little paranormal romance novel, but my true passion and the true genre that my Choices Meant for Gods trilogy fits beautifully into is high fantasy. This is where the heart of my fiction writing lies. I've already begun a prequel for the Choices trilogy and what could be two novellas and a volume of short stories centered on the world, characters, and history I created for the trilogy, so I'd have to say high fantasy is where my muse likes to direct me.

Anyone who has ever watched the SciFi channel or enjoyed a gothic novel like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights is in my audience. For a majority of my work, my target audience is mid to upper teens on up through adults and senior citizens.

Being a Christian, I try to keep my content clean enough that it's not embarrassing or distressing to anyone who reads it -- in language, romantic elements, or violence. The first book of the Choices Meant for Gods trilogy received a PG rating for violence, which surprised me until someone started asking me questions like, well, does anybody die in the book? Oh…

What motivated you to start writing in this genre?

This evil sorcerer named Jamieson Drake visited me back in 1982-83 and showed me the most beautiful, most independent, strongest, kindest, most endearing woman I'd ever seen. Her name is Amanda Chariss, although, at the time, I couldn't get her name quite right. I don't know how many people out there have had experiences with evil sorcerers (or fantasy characters of any kind), but they can be very persuasive in getting you to write down stories…

In the writing that you are doing, who would you say has influenced you the most?

Different forces influence writers at different stages in life and in projects, and my experience is no different. I would say that as I was writing the first of the Choices Meant for Gods books, different songs and sources of inspiration influenced me more than people. When you're a career-minded person married to a computer geek, no one supports the idea that you're writing a book. When you tell someone that you're sending a query letter to a literary agent, they glaze over, not understanding what that means or caring what the outcome may or may not be. So my "influences" on my writing were the deceased Charlotte Bronte, anything Old English or Anglo-Saxon, the incredible lyrics and music of Duran Duran and Arcadia, and the muses like Nigel Taiman that keep me from sleeping.

[Also] I believe the axiom that every work has a touch of autobiography in it. But then I look at Chariss, the main character in Choices Meant for Gods, and think I must be extremely arrogant to think any aspect of her reflects me because she is just so good. For a 20-year-old Geasa'n, she's got an amazing maturity about her. I can't possibly be "in" there anywhere. Yet she's flawed, too, so…maybe I am in there somewhere. But she says some things that are directly out of my personal experiences. So even though I write high fantasy that takes place in a made-up world with dragons and ryfel and edras popping in to threaten the characters, challenges that I've overcome in my life present opportunities for my heroes and heroines to shine.

Here's a big example that hadn't occurred to me until I needed text for some marketing materials (read: after the novel was at the printer). Amanda Chariss and her wizard guardian have been on the run from Jamieson Drake for 16 years when the reader picks up the story. They've been on the move from place to place to place, literally picking up and moving from one homestead to another, making berth in whatever household would take them in, finding new benefactors for Chariss all her life. This completely mirrors my life. My father was in the military when I was born on Homestead Air Force Base and my family and I moved 18 times prior to my move to college. (I'm preparing for a move right now…) So I subconsciously let that personal experience influence one of the main plots of Choices Meant for Gods.

Which aspects of the work that you put into Choices Meant for Gods did you find most difficult?

Keeping track of the names of the cities. I swear…I have a yellow sticky note taped to my phone that reads: "Lenors -- on the continent to the north."

Which did you enjoy most?

Dialogue. I absolutely LOVE it when one character realizes another is teasing him or her. Love it!

What sets the book apart from the other things you have written?

The articles I've been writing for the magazines I've edited and published over the past 15 years have ranged from animal husbandry and agriculture to asphalt mix design and road construction to uber-Catholicism. Believe me when I say writing high fantasy fiction about a polytheistic society about to be thrust into a war for a dragon's social domination of an entire continent sets this book miles apart from other things I've written.

In what ways is it similar?

I just can't think of any.

What will your next book be about?

After the Choices Meant for Gods trilogy and prequel, I've got that crazy paranormal romance novel ready to go. Then I've got the vampire trilogy in progress. And I've got a sci-fi/fantasy novel in my head, too...

Do you write everyday?

I write everyday. Because I work for a magazine company, I spend time writing and editing at that job. Then I write press releases, marketing materials, short stories, and character blogs, as well as my writing and marketing blog at www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com, in the evenings in support of Choices Meant for Gods. I also write an online serial novel for a small group of folks. I've completed Book II of the Choices trilogy but I am writing Book III. (I'm also working on the aforementioned vampire trilogy, but that takes a back seat to Choices.)

This article was first published by OhmyNews International.

Monday, August 20, 2007

[Interview] Emma Sanders

Emma Sanders lives in Texas where she works in the district attorney's office.

She writes romantic suspense novels and short stories in her spare time and has published two novels, Holding Fast (Wild Rose Press, 2006) and One Wrong Move (Wild Rose Press, 2007), both of which are available as e-books and as trade paperbacks.

Two of her short stories, "Christmas Bells" (Wild Rose Press, 2006) and "Hope, Love and Treats" (Wild Rose Press, 2006) are also available as e-books.

Currently, she is working on a third novel.

In a recent interview, Emma Sanders spoke about her writing.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I've always thought about writing but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I knew I had to write if I wanted to maintain my sanity. There was something missing in my life that I can't quite explain. A restlessness that could only be cured when I was writing.

How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

I write romantic suspense, which can be and has been described in several different ways by different people.

To me, though, romantic suspense is a blend of romance and the mystery of falling in love … the how, when and where, the inner conflict, etc. It's also the suspense of something bigger out there that seeks to destroy a person or a love. Impending danger that usually isn't there with a contemporary romance novel. Whether it's a serial killer or an unsolved mystery, as long as the suspense keeps us wondering, I believe that's what makes a great romantic suspense.

What motivated you to start writing romantic suspense?

I always thought I'd write contemporary romance novels but I got hooked on romantic suspense when I started devouring Sandra Brown's books.

I love the way she blends words without making me feel like I'm reading something someone actually wrote and the way she balances the romance and suspense. I love the way she describes things without going into full detail and when I'm reading her books, I feel like I'm in the same room with the characters. I love the way she puts me in the character's head and there's no question who's feeling what and I love the way she makes perfect characters out of imperfect people, even the villains.

You've suggested that contemporary romance and romantic suspense are separate genres. What's the difference between the two?

I love the contemporary genre as well as romantic suspense but the way I define it separates it from romantic suspense because, even though it may offer a touch of suspense, imminent danger doesn't await the characters at every turn and there's usually not a mystery to solve.

A contemporary romance is built mostly around the romance. A romantic suspense is half romance, half suspense, where the couple gets together in the end, but the mystery is also concluded.

Also, the contemporary genre, in my opinion, doesn't have a true villain, someone out to destroy the main characters, in a way that romantic suspense does. One of my favorite contemporary authors' books, Susan Elizabeth Philips, are a perfect example of this.

In the writing that you're doing, who'd you say has influenced you the most?

My mother, though she isn't here anymore and died when I was 15, before I truly knew I wanted to write.

She wanted to be a writer but I never knew how much until I started reading her journals after her death. She got sick when she was young and she wrote, off and on, for years up until she died.

We lived in a small town, and in that day and age information was harder to come by. We never talked about our writing dreams, so I'm not sure why she never got around to publishing some of the things she was writing. A lot of people don't ever get around to fulfilling their dreams because of the lives they lead and duties they have or their fears that they just aren't good enough. That's one of the reasons I decided to go for it … because I didn't want to regret not pursuing my dreams.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

Personal experiences are a huge part of my writing, not necessarily in what happens in my books but in what I've learned in this world. Creating characters, creating plots and subplots, creating emotions. I can always pull a part of my personal experiences into my writing.

I love to listen to people and consider learning about their individuality a huge experience. I've taken aspects of the knowledge I've gained about people and put them into my characters. Most of my legal knowledge has stemmed from my full-time job because I work for the district attorney and have done so now for nine years. Every experience can be a learning experience, if you let it.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

Time … if I'm good enough to sustain a writing career … getting my name out there and promoting myself (which is the hardest part of what I do because I'm very modest).

There's always the fear that you have only one story to tell, and others won't come afterward (though the voices in my head don't stop.) It's difficult, because I actually have a full-time career and do my writing on the side, so it takes a lot of time management, self-discipline and giving up things you might want to do, like enjoying a summer day at the lake.

How I'm dealing with all this is, I look at the future and not the here and now. Writing is my passion. I know I have to set deadlines for myself, appointments for writing, and I have to discipline myself to get it done. When you have a passion for something like this, you'll make the time to do it.

How easy or difficult is it to stick to these appointments?

I have good days, bad days and days when I sit down at my computer and the words won't stop coming. Then, when I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open, I'll take a recorder and pen and paper to bed because I have to jot down or record my ideas. I've lost many ideas because I couldn't remember them, so I've learned my lesson. It may only be a line or two that comes into my head that I can go off of later.

Other times, it seems like my words are dry and stale and I couldn't tell you the basic color of the sky. During the good days, I write as much as I can. During those stale times, I still write -- I do a lot of reading, journaling, researching, watching movies, even coloring… anything to get my creativity juices flowing again. I also remember that this too shall pass.

Do you write everyday?

I hate to admit that recently, I haven't written everyday but I make up for this during those times that I do write.

I used to write everyday for a couple of hours but sometimes life gets in the way of writing and I have to readjust my schedule. I try to write some in the morning before work and some in the evening.

What's been happening that's made it difficult for you to write?

As I mentioned before, I go through spells, but I usually resolve them because I won't buckle under the stress and writing is my passion. There are weeks or even months in my job that are more stressful than others, such as trial weeks, grand jury weeks, etc. that make it difficult to write.

Also, I work at a computer most of the day and sometimes the last thing I want to do is come home and sit down again at the computer.

When you do write, how do you approach each of these sessions?

I don't have any type of tradition or ritual to precede my writing. I usually just sit down and begin where I left off, usually by reading what I wrote the day before. If I'm having a hard time, I'll sit in silence with my eyes closed, breathing and thinking about my story, or about nothing.

It's usually not too hard to stop and then continue later if I'm on a roll, and I usually stop writing for the day when a particular scene I'm writing concludes and I don't feel I can do anymore. I'll make notes to myself for the next scene, which helps me to get started at my next session.

How many books have you written so far?

I have two novels published and two short holiday stories, all with The Wild Rose Press.

What is your latest book about?

One Wrong Move focuses on a journalist, Rayma O' Riley, who's just moved from a bad relationship and has met Camden, a chef for a restaurant that is the center for a drug-smuggling ring. Rayma and Camden's worlds collide when she releases a story on this and gets a contract put out on her life.

Which aspects of the work that you put into One Wrong Move did you find most difficult?

Research is always the most difficult but also one of the most enjoyable. I have to do enough research so that I understand the mechanics and then fuse the material into the book. The amount of research I do depends on how well I know my subject and how much I still need to learn. For example, I know a lot about the legalities of Texas because of my experience working with the district attorney's office and can usually get any questions answered through them or the various law enforcement offices. The Internet, the library and individuals are also wonderful places to learn.

Also, when I was writing One Wrong Move, I particularly enjoyed those moments when the words seemed to fly off my thoughts and onto the page … those moments when everything just seemed to flow together the way it should. That was the best experience ever.

What sets the novel apart from the other things you've written?

It's spicier and sexier than either my first novel or the one I'm working on now. It's also not really a "who done it" plot but a "how will they get out of this" plot.

One Wrong Move is similar to Holding Fast in that Rayma O' Riley was a secondary character in Holding Fast and she's also a journalist. And of course it's mysterious and romantic like my others.

What will your next book be about?

I don't like to talk about my works-in-progress but I'm very excited about this one.

This article has also been published by OhmyNews International.

Friday, August 17, 2007

[Interview] Angel Martinez

Northern Delaware author, Angel Martinez writes erotic romance novels and short stories as well as science fiction and fantasy.

Her debut novella, Aftermath was released as an e-book by Forbidden Publications in March 2007 .
Martinez has worked, among other things, as a nurse, a bank teller, a retail worker, an office manager and a technical writer.

In a recent interview, she spoke about her writing.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

I want to write stories in which my readers lose themselves, to craft characters they long to meet as actual people, to invoke in them a desire to think beyond the everyday. Stories should feed the mind but leave it hungry for more.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?

The business of writing is my biggest struggle. I began in the naive belief that if one wrote well, one would be published. Little by little I’ve come to understand that writing is only half craft these days: the writer, if he/she wishes to become a published author, must be equal parts Emily Dickinson and P. T. Barnum.

Perhaps some writers dispense with the Emily Dickinson half. But self-promotion is key. If a writer can't grab someone's attention, publication will remain a pipe dream. And while P.T. seems best remembered for taking in suckers, his true gift was for creating hype about himself. The elevator pitch, the opening line, and the hook have all crept into the writer's vocabulary these days as if we were hucksters. Self-promotion has never been natural for me; it feels self-serving and strange.

How do you deal with these challenges?

Education... I can’t stress enough the importance of research and peer support. Armed with reference books, websites, advice from other writers and writer support groups, even the most shrinking violet among us can learn to promote.

In the writing that you are doing, who would you say has influenced you the most?

Other women genre writers. Also, in school, I was acutely aware that most SF writers were male (oh, I’m dating myself, I know.) The discovery that Andre Norton was in fact a woman was a bolt of joyous lightning. Ursula LeGuin is my personal favorite for crafting such wonderful stories and for showing me the human side of science fiction.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

Life experience colors all of our writing, I think. Brief experience with the military, with the medical field, with health issues, aging parents, raising children, falling in love -- all of these things influence what writers write.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

When I was born... I’ve always spun tales. Even before I could write I told long, involved stories. It took me some time to consider professional writing since I had convinced myself there was no money to be made -- as if money could compensate for creative need. After knocking about from one soul-crushing corporate job to another, scribbling when I could, I realized that my compulsion to write had already made me a writer, willing or not.

I think my greatest fear had been that I wouldn't be capable of finishing a work and that, once complete, there would be no more. I found the contrary to be true... Once I began to write, the dam broke and stories flooded my brain.

The effort to become published happened in slow stages after that and initially it involved a lot of research. It's a scary proposition, approaching the publishing industry from the outside. Not only does the writer need to research where to submit but how. The industry has standards and rules of behavior, terminology and built-in prejudices, as all industries do. I bought books, researched online, read articles, poured over submission guidelines, toiled over writing outlines and synopses and cover letters.

Through all this, I still believed, naively, that if a work has merit, it will find a publisher. This is not necessarily the case.

The writer, like the inventor, has to expect to slog through a swamp of rejections, from publishers and agents, the vast majority of which offer no insight as to the reason for the rejection. So the writer must be tenacious and confident enough to continue and be brutally honest enough with himself/herself to recognize where growth and improvement are necessary.

A year after considering submission, I had my first rejection letter. I saved it. As a matter of fact, I've saved them all.

How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

I have two. Under the name, Sandra Stixrude, I write SF/Fantasy, leaning more towards the SF side of the coin and under the name, Angel Martinez, I write Erotic Romance, the steamier side of romance. The concept of “genres”, though, has always seemed stifling to me, as if one must fit in pre-determined boxes to be considered worthwhile. The fitting and the consideration of worth, has been done, in large part, by the publishers. To some degree, critics and academics involve themselves in the process of worth (who gets which literature prize and so forth) but between the publishers and the large bookstore chains, the public is told what fits where and whether they should enjoy it.

While I appreciate the need for the bookseller to categorize for the customer's convenience, one of the unfortunate consequences of this is the genericizing of genres with certain rules and expectations in mass market products. Fantasy reduced to a cartoon caricature of sword and sorcery quest epics. Romances reduced to the same tired plot lines involving beautiful people. This is why, I think all the genre and sub-genre categorization has stifled us somewhat. A good story is a good story, a remarkable work of literature is just that. Imagine if Virginia Woolf published Orlando today, only to have it relegated to the back aisles next to the Dragonlance series.

Who is your target audience?

Much of my SF work, the novel-length pieces, is written for young adults (though I find adults often drawn into these YA stories as well) while the short stories are for adult audiences.

The erotic fiction is, naturally, for adults, mainly geared towards a female audience though I understand from recent statistics the genre is gathering a larger male readership as well.

What motivated you to start writing in these genres?

As a young person, I read collections of fairy tales, myths and legends while my peers were reading books about the ‘real’ world. While by modern standards many of these stories that I read appear flat, with stock cardboard characters, I recognized a template in them, a need filled by these stories to hold back the dark.

I believe that fairy tales and heroic legends have suffered over the centuries because they have been consigned to print and our rich oral tradition, with the craft and skill of the storyteller, have been lost along the way.

Fantasy/SF fills this need in the modern world. The best examples following the old cultural templates in a way that breathes life into the story, gives us people we can empathize with and cheer for, reminding us that, yes, the world is dark and frightening sometimes and it’s healthy and comforting to recognize this in a format where the conflicts and eventual triumphs can be shared safely.

As for the erotic fiction -- I began writing erotica as an exploration of character and emotion because one of the most compelling issues for me when I read erotica is 'why?' Why did these two people end up in bed or on the table or the forest floor, rather than with someone else? Why does this person have certain needs? Why would someone let themselves be treated that way? Good erotica addresses the why's and explores the (sometimes quite convoluted) workings of the human heart. Before a sex scene makes sense, the writer has to build the character from the ground up, warts and all.

You've said that the craft and skill of the storyteller has been lost but when you add the ascent of the electronic media into the mix, would you say the art of the storyteller has really been lost? Or do we have a new type of storyteller (both with and without corporate sponsorship)?

We do have new types of storytellers. I can't dispute that. Innovators in film and animation have created marvelous new paths for storytelling.

The storyteller as a physical presence, as a vessel for the collective consciousness of the tribe has been lost, though. The oral tradition offered a different kind of experience where the listener was more directly engaged. Storytellers recited Beowulf and the Iliad by heart, using voice and gesture to excite, extol and explain, never quite the same recitation twice. No special effects. No off button. I think the memories and attention spans of modern humans have atrophied severely due to lack of exercise.

How many books have you written so far?

I think the question should be: How many of your books have been published so far? I’ve written a number of books, only one so far is set for publication. Aftermath was released in March 2007 by Forbidden Publications. This is a male/male erotic romance in which a couple tries to pick up the pieces after one of them is raped.

Aftermath is a shorter work than my Sf novels and only took two months to write. It's also my first work of contemporary, Earth-bound fiction. Most of my other works take place off-planet or in some other time.

It’s similar to all my other stories in that it is a human-driven story. While there are erotic passages and elements, it’s a story about emotions and human interaction.

Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult? And which did you enjoy most?

The resolution on this one had me stumped for a bit. Often I find myself writing to an ending, that is, I have a clear ending in mind and I simply need to bring the story along in a believable, satisfying way to reach it.

I enjoyed watching the story unfold. A writer’s favorite characters often develop minds of their own. When it feels like the characters have taken over and are writing the story for you -- it’s a soaring, ecstatic feeling.

Do you write everyday?

Every single day. Some days don’t afford me much time, perhaps an hour at most. On a good day, (when I don’t have to work for a living wage) I’ll put in eight solid hours.

When I write, the sessions involve realistic goals these days -- I want to write a particular scene or finish a chapter and so on. I start by turning on my laptop. This may appear to be a sardonic answer but I'm quite serious. The ritual of crawling under the desk for the power strip, watching the lights blink on, waiting for the thing to get through set up, helps center me. The housework, the yard work, the job, the family, fade in the screen's light.

I often re-read passages before proceeding. Edit. And then continue. It's rare that I do heavy editing early on, though. I need to get the story out, to keep the momentum going, if I expect to finish.

If I had unlimited funds and time and a houseful of servants to see to all the day-to-day things, I might never stop. I don't have those things so I stop when other matters intrude (time to go to work, laundry needs to be done, etc.)

What will your next book be about?

I’m working on two at the moment. One is an anthology of erotic short stories with the working title Lioness on the Knife (a reference to the Greek comedy Lysistrata) and the other is a novel set a bit in the future about an unstable musical composer who alters reality in the throes of composition.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Finding my first publisher. Perhaps this doesn’t sound like much of an achievement but in today’s flooded marketplace, a writer without an industry ‘in’ has a much more difficult time than in earlier decades. (Somewhere along the way, I suspect on a talk show, some idiot said, ‘Everyone has a novel in them’. The public seems to have taken this advice to heart and now publishers and agents are flooded with unsolicited manuscripts. One agency who sent me their regrets over being unable to take on any new clients stated they received perhaps a hundred submissions a month ten years ago and now receive over three hundred a day.)

How did you get there?

Persistence. Writing is only half the battle these days and for the driven author, the writing is easy. The only way to be published, though, is to submit, submit and submit some more. I read everything I could get my hands on regarding how to submit and what is expected -- little things like a proper closing can make a difference. I sought out advice, asked questions, and learned to handle rejection in a constructive way.

One of the unexpected things I learned during this process is that most writers don't operate well in a vacuum. The image one has of a writer is a solitary being, sitting alone and tapping away at the keyboard, an island of isolated creativity. But we need each other. This is why pockets of creativity have produced the most amazing results. The Beat Generation writers in New York and San Francisco were communities of writers who encouraged and inspired each other. Even Tolkien had a group of Oxford cronies with whom he would share his work.

For my own writing to grow and evolve, I found writing groups essential -- objective individuals coming together to discuss and argue and sometimes point out what should be obvious.

This article was first published by OhmyNews International.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

[Interview] Adelle Laudan

Adelle Laudan writes romantic suspense and biker fiction as well as books for readers in the age-group between childhood and young adulthood.

Her published works include Juliana (Forbidden Publications, 2006) and Destination Unknown (Forbidden Publications (Feb 2007), which are available as e-books. She is also the author of Iron Horse Rider (Wild Child Publishing, 2007) and Dee Days (MardiGras Publishing, 2007), which are available as both e-books and trade paperbacks.

In a recent interview, she spoke about her writing.

Do you write everyday?

I usually write every day, some days more than others.

As a rule I write when the kids are off to school and in the evenings when everyone is doing their own thing. Research takes quite a bit of time before I even begin the first chapter. If I haven’t experienced a certain aspect of my book, I research in order to bring a certain degree of believability to my writing. I then do a chapter outline. I don’t always follow the outline but it does help keep me moving in the right direction. I never know the ending until my muse shows me it.

How did your latest novel come about?

Iron Horse Rider is biker fiction with elements of romance. It started out as my NaNoWriMo project in 2006 and Wild Child Publishing contracted it before it was finished. I completed the 50,000-word Na No in the month allotted. After that, it took approximately four months to revise and edit before coming out as an e-book in April 2007.

When you were working on the book, what did you find most difficult?

This was my first attempt at writing a novel in one month’s time. Prior to this I’d never written an outline and always let my muse take the driver's seat. Na No taught me how to outline a story and become more focused. It was also very difficult not to get caught up in the research that went into this book because I find anything having to do with native beliefs and customs, fascinating.

What did you enjoy most?

The biggest challenge was setting an almost unrealistic goal and reaching it. Who knew you could write something in such a short period of time? It was a truly rewarding experience.

What sets the book apart from the others you've written?

Iron Horse Rider is the first full-length Biker Fiction book I’ve written. In fact, Wild Child Publishing has even added Biker Fiction as an official genre. As you can well imagine, this pleases me to no end, taking me one step closer to changing the image of bikers, one book at a time.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Writing has always been a release of sorts for me... As a child I lived with very strict rules and did not enjoy the same freedom other kids my age were privy to. When I brought pen to paper, I could be the person I wanted to be and do the things I only dreamed of doing. At age 10, I started writing short stories that never saw the light of day and made sure to dispose of these stories for fear my parents would not approve.

I left home at 15 and didn’t write anything, other than the odd poem, for many years. It wasn’t until after I had my first child at 22 that I began writing again. I shared my stories with one special friend who always encouraged my writing.

At 35, I had my fourth and last child and shortly after underwent major back surgery. I've since been disabled with chronic pain due to extensive nerve damage and once again writing has become a great release. I wrote the story Juliana at the end of 2005 and my friend insisted, relentlessly, that I submit it for publication. I really didn’t think I had any hope but I needed some way to feel like I was making a contribution to society since I couldn’t be in the workforce. In January 2006, I committed to giving myself one year to see if I had what it took to be a published author.

How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

That’s a loaded question... This past year, I have dabbled in more than one genre -- romance, contemporary, mainstream, erotica, romantic suspense and young adult fiction.

I also tried writing erotica and my hat is off to those who do so well. It’s not as easy as one might think. Personally, I just don’t feel comfortable writing in this genre, I think, mainly because my girls are in their tender Tween years and I’d hate for them to suffer the repercussions of anyone finding out their mother writes erotica. (Again, I'm not bashing erotica; it’s just not for me).

I discovered in the past year that I am a very emotional writer and seem to have found my niche in romantic suspense, biker fiction and Tween mystery.

Another thing I've learned over the past year is to be true to myself. Forcing myself to write in a genre I’m not entirely comfortable with, such as erotica, can never be a good thing. The end result is something forced and stilted and so unlike the way in which I write best.

You give "biker fiction" and "Tween fiction" as genres. How do you define these? What are they?

Biker fiction is mainstream fiction where the main character rides a motorcycle and lives the lifestyle. In my books, I present bikers in a positive light because I've experienced the lifestyle. Within this genre, as in life, there'll always be a touch of romance.

Tween fiction, on the other hand, is the New Age spin on middle grade fiction. It is fiction which is aimed at readers in that age between being a child and being a young adult where so many things can determine the course lives take. I created TweenTime to keep my Tween fiction separate from my adult work and also as a way of trying to encourage artistic Tween minds to develop their talents and to believe in their dreams.

What else would you say motivated you to start writing in these genres?

My children are the motivation behind my Tween Mystery Series. My writing will hopefully be my legacy to them and their children to enjoy for years to come.

My motivation for biker fiction comes from writing what I know. I’ve loved motorcycles since I was old enough to hop on the back of one and I've lived the lifestyle for most of my adult life.

I use many of my own personal experiences to bring emotion to my writing. I think if I can evoke emotion of any kind in my readers, it's a job well done. In "Feel the Rhythm", for example, which you can download free on my website, Rosa is deaf. This story represents the first time I’ve had a character who is deaf like me. I wrote this story as part of the Romance Divas Valentine Challenge. It was also my first attempt at a full-blown romance and I chose to make the main character deaf because I thought I could add an extra element of believability since it's something I live each day. It just seemed the right thing to do.

Did I succeed?

I’m not sure. I know I enjoyed writing this story.

I believe that I write with such depth of emotion because I'm severely deaf and it isn’t always easy to convey my feelings using the spoken word. The written word holds no barriers for the deaf.

Which writers would you say have influenced you the most?

I've been an avid reader for most of my life, so the list of authors would be extensive. Each one of them has added a dimension to my own writing. I have to say, though, that the author who stands out the most from my younger years is V. C. Andrews... Flowers in the Attic; Petals on the Wind and If There Be Thorns, which was the first series-type book that I enjoyed. After that, when I found an author I liked, I’d read every book on the library shelf from him/her before moving on to the next.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

One of my main concerns as a writer is knowing if people will enjoy what I write. Also, trying to find the elusive balance between my family life and my writing career.

Writing is my passion and I really work hard at not letting it interfere with my family time. It's so easy to become all consumed in writing to the extent everything else is put on the back burner. I have to structure my writing time so it doesn’t take away from the amazing relationships I have with my children. It’s not an easy thing to do but anything is possible when you believe in your dreams.

My biggest challenge so far is being in the spotlight. A big part of writing and being published is the promotional side of things. I've never enjoyed being in the spotlight and usually go out of my way to make sure I’m not. Now, I must face my fears and put myself out there for all to see. It's a constant struggle for me but I'm hoping that over time I'll be more comfortable taking center stage.

How do you deal with these challenges?

I fake it ‘til I feel it. I make sure I do things like this interview, giving it 100%. I attend chats and watch more seasoned authors and how they handle themselves in the public eye. I accepted the position of organizing chats for the Sweeter Romantic Notions Authors. In doing so, I put myself out there on a regular basis, surrounded by others who write on the sweeter, more sensual side of romance and other genres.

Also, on July 13, I'll be doing my very first book signing. I'm excited and more than a little nervous about this. My biggest fear is that my hearing disability will be a source of frustration for me and my readers but I'll be bringing someone with me whose voice I know to help me when need be.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

In general, how well my first book, Juliana was received. Not only are there numerous heart-warming reviews, the book was also placed in the top ten of the P&E readers’ poll. This had me on cloud nine.

I'm not sure who first nominated me for this award but an award won as a result of reader response is just a little more special than others.

What will your next book be about?

I'm in the middle of edits for my Freya Bower Anniversary winner, Smiling Eyes.

I'm also working on Dee Nights, the second book in the Dee Day Mystery Series. The book is set to come out as an e-book with MardiGras Publishing in October 2007. It will also be released as a trade paperback in November.

This article was first published by OhmyNews International.

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