Author Interview – Juliet and Brian Freyermuth

 

demon danceMind of the beast

Brian Freyermuth is an award-winning video game designer who has teamed up with his wife Juliet to write the Sundancer urban fantasy series. I’m always a sucker for good UF, especially the Jim Butcheresque kind that the Freyermouths have created. I always find it interesting how creative skills transfer from one medium to another, and was curious about how they found writing as a team. Take a look at what they think about this below:

Brian wrote Demon Dance and Juliet edited it. You then wrote Mind of the Beast together. I suspect I’m too much of a control freak to co-write with anyone. How do you decide who does what when writing, and how would you work through any creative differences?

It’s definitely a process we’re still working on. For Mind of the Beast, I wrote the initial draft, and Juliet came in and rewrote a bunch of the scenes and marked others for deletion. We would then edit this official “rough draft” together. When it comes to creative differences, we really don’t have that many, and we just discuss the ones that come up until one of us is convinced.

One thing that Juliet absolutely loved was writing the action sequences. She watched Captain America and the Avengers to see how bodies are thrown around by superheroes, just to get the same feel to Nick’s fights. When she wrote the action scenes in Mind of the Beast¸ she envisioned Captain America crashing into buildings.

As well as being an author, Brian is also an award-winning video game writer. I imagine the skills required to design games would transfer well to writing: scene setting, story flow and so on. How well do you think this helped with writing a novel, and were there any places where the creative process was unexpectedly different?

It definitely helps when writing a novel. For example, in video games your dialog needs to be crisp and minimal because of VO budgets. In novels having shorter dialog achieves a quicker flow on the page.

And while story flow and scene setting is pretty much the same across all mediums, the biggest difference between the two is this: while a novel is the character’s story, a game is the player’s story. As a game writer, you have to account for the choices that the player will want to make and how those changes will affect the story you’re trying to tell. In games, the dialog branches depending on the player’s choices, and sometimes there are multiple endings to the story.

Compare that to a novel, where your characters make their own choices, but it’s only one choice. You don’t have to worry about accounting for multiple branches because it’s only one tale, even if the characters drive the story.

Paranormal romance is supposed to be a subgenre of urban fantasy, but there is such a tsunami of sexy vampires out there that many readers think the two are synonymous. How have you felt this has affected the series’ reception and how you’ve marketed it?

I think there’s a lot of overlap between the two. Demon Dance and Mind of the Beast are not romance, but there is relationship drama in both. Relationships are part of human nature, so it should be part of all genres. When we market both books, we’re very careful to call them Urban Fantasies, because while the romantic plots are there, they aren’t the focus of the plot. They have the same types of mystery and action of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.

What projects are you currently working on?

We’re currently working on book 3 of the Sundancer series, along with a few minor projects on the side, including a few short stories, as well as the planning stages of a serial. Between that and my job at Telltale Games, I’m pretty busy.

Could you imagine the Sundancer series being adapted for screen, and who would you like to play Nick St. James?

No question. A younger Lou Diamond Philips. If I had to pick a modern actor, it would be an actor\model named Rick Mora. He’d have to wear blue-green contacts for the role, but otherwise his look is perfect.

Connect with Brian and Juliet on their website, or twitter (BrianJuliet)

Author Interview – Mark Speed

I’m always a bit nervous about reading indie authors I meet (even if I am one) because you never know what you’re going to get. We all know the quality varies substantially. I know a lot of readers who refuse to read indie books at all. That’s a real pity, because while they might successfully avoid some of the dreck out there, they’ll also miss some damned good books.

Dr How, Mark Speed’s Dr Who parody easily comes under the latter category. Parody is tricky to get right, and far too often it just ends up being a hatchet job of the original. Not so here.

Speed pulls it off. The series is not only professionally and skillfully written, but was also an enormous pleasure to read. Dr How and The Illegal Aliens was one of the most London-y books I’ve ever read: imaginative and funny with some truly delicious puns. Speed writes with great skill, and the stories are more than capable of standing on their own feet.

DrHowAliens

These aren’t books only for Dr Who fans. Any reader with a taste for comedic writing and fun fantasy will enjoy them.
You really aren’t losing anything by giving it a go, and I recommend that you do. There’s nothing like finding an exciting new author.
I’ve asked Mark along to answer some of my questions about the series and his writing.

Your work is original and very funny, but parody is a particularly tricky genre to get right, what drew you to it?

Sci-fi has always been my favourite genre, and I was a teenager when Hitchhiker’s Guide came out and sent it all up. I loved Douglas Adams’ outlandish ideas. Writing the Doctor How series was my chance to have some real fun, without the strictures of ‘normal’ storytelling.

No one had done a Doctor Who parody before, and I didn’t want it to be along the somewhat disparaging lines of Bored of the Rings or Barry Trotter. I love Doctor Who and it’s part of the tapestry of my life, and some of my earliest memories are cowering behind the sofa on Saturday evenings as a child.

Whilst an author is protected under the law governing satire, I wanted to do something more creative than to just mimic. So I decided that I would create an alternative universe, starting with the assumption that the BBC had been given the wrong story back in 1963. That allowed me to do a few things. First of all, it pays homage to Doctor Who as a work of fiction. It keeps it intact as a set of stories within its own space, but at the same time provides an alternative viewpoint. At the same time, it provides a rational explanation for all the horrendous timeline conflicts that exist in the Whoniverse. If you go to Reddit you’ll find fans doing their nuts trying to keep track of the mess that 50+ years of different script editors have made. It was the chance to start with a clean slate, and I’m sure the writers on Doctor Who would sometimes kill for that. In The Day of the Doctor, they even had to find a way of undoing the horrendous acts he committed during the Time War. If you start from the premise of ‘What if the BBC had the wrong story?’ it leads you down some interesting paths. Why was the term ‘Time Lords’, rather than ‘Time Keepers’ chosen, for example?

Some extraordinary things happen later in the series that you simply couldn’t do in Doctor Who. Without wanting to ruin it for readers, I cross some major boundaries.

The story is very, very British, as is the humour. I grew up in South Africa, and if it weren’t for living in London for ten years I think some of it might have confused me (the rhyming slang being an obvious example). I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed Kevin’s character as much. The UK isn’t a small market for ebooks, but it pales in comparison to the US, how have you found your writing is received in other countries?

Doctor Who himself is very British – he’s the ultimate Great British Eccentric – an archetype recognised the world over. One of the UK’s biggest exports is our famous sense of humour, and our language has come to be the world’s lingua franca. Our unique humour has been exported too via the likes of Monty Python, Are You Being Served? and Little Britain, amongst many others. Harry Potter has also done an enormous amount for popularising British fictional characters and accents amongst an audience that includes Who fans.

The US market is about five times the size of the UK, but they have always supported a much stronger sci-fi market because they’re a more forward-looking society and don’t have that British Literary Establishment baggage which frowns upon anything enjoyably readable. Sci-fi in the UK has only recently begun to be taken seriously. The term Whovian was coined in the US for fans of Doctor Who – and it’s in the US that the conventions began.

Fans of the Doctor How series in the US have written to tell me that they’ve recommended it to other Doctor Who fans, and passed the paperbacks around, but fans in the UK have said they’ve met a lot of resistance. I’m not sure whether it’s because we see Doctor Who as an almost inviolable cultural hero here. I did worry about a backlash by hardcore fans, but everyone seems to have taken it in the way I intended: it’s a homage, and a different perspective on a hero I grew up with.

If the series were to be adapted for TV, which actor would you imagine being cast as Dr How? (Oddly, when I thought this I imagined Peter Capaldi. Possibly because he’s not as boisterous as Who’s earlier incarnations. He might make a better How than Who)

This is the weird thing. I started planning this series in early 2012. I began writing it in 2013 and finished writing book one about a month after Capaldi was announced as the new Doctor. I published Doctor How and the Illegal Aliens in March 2014. It really freaked a lot of my friends out that I had – to a certain extent – nailed Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor in terms of his dress and personality. So I think you’re right – Capaldi would make a better How than a Who!

I do a little acting, improvising and comedy (I’ve taken a one-hour solo comedy show to the Edinburgh Fringe a couple of times). A great many of my friends remarked how similar How is to my own personality, so I wouldn’t mind a crack at it myself. An odd fact worth mentioning is that Peter Capaldi, Stephen Moffatt and I were all born within a few miles and a few years of each other in Glasgow, and in the same maternity hospital. Maybe there was something in the water at that time?

There’s an enormous amount of natural humour in your books, and you clearly have a great deal of fun playing with words. Do you think you’d be able to write a strictly ‘serious’ book, or would you struggle to stop the humour seeping in?

I had counselling recently about some really serious stuff. My poor therapist found it hard to do her job at some points because I kept cracking her up. It’s how I’ve always dealt with problems.

A few years ago I did get about 30,000 words into a very ‘serious’ literary work, which I would like to come back to and complete. It deals with some truly horrific issues, but still in the background there are some humorous notes playing if you listen for them. I found it almost impossible to turn off the humour completely. If you read the memoirs by Brian Keenan and John McCarthy of their five-year kidnapping ordeals (most of which they spent blindfolded and chained up, and were regularly beaten) you can see that they found humour even in those dark hours.

I think humour was designed to keep us sane. If you’re going to have an intelligent creature that can plan for the future and understand its own fate, it needs a coping mechanism.

Where do you see the Dr How series going? Do you have a specific arc in mind for the character?

I’m in the process of finishing book three of five. I planned the character arcs back in 2012 and have been refining them as I plan each book in more detail.

Doctor How and Kevin both have definite arcs. Kevin is human, and is changed because that’s the essence of humanity. There’s a limit to how much you can change a Time Keeper, but regeneration allows for some radical changes. I should note that it’s a key feature of the series that we meet one more of Doctor How’s cousins in each of the novels.

You can find out more about Dr How here, or connect with Mark on his website, Amazon, or Goodreads.

 

 

Author Interview – W.R. Gingell

I love fairy tales, especially reimagined ones, so much so that they are a major plotpoint in Murder of Crones (and writing the ‘traditional fairy tale chapter’ in that was my favourite part of writing that book).

The things that made fairy tales so enchanthing when we are children are still fantastical as adults. There’s the eerie settings, the belief in magic and true love, and the terror of something bigger and darker than ourselves.  Today’s interviewee W.R. Gingell has that same love of fairy tales and she’s done so much more with it than I have. Amongst other works, she’s also written Wolfskin and Masque, reimaginings of Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast respectively, and Spindle (out in August) covers Sleeping Beauty.

I’ve popped some links to her books at the bottom of the interview and I strongly recommend you take a minute to check them out. Nothing like a little fairy tale magic to make the day better. But in the mean time, here’s W.R. Gingell in her own words:

I love fairy tales and it’s definitely a genre on the rise. It feels like there have been more fairy tale movies and books released in the last couple of years than the last couple of decades, but even then they hardly dent the demand. As a reader, I know that I can’t get enough of it. What do you think it is about fairy tales that people love so much?

With newer fairytales, I think people love the idea of subverting the trope. It’s the joy of old characters and familiar settings turned on their heads and taken in a new direction. There are still the elements of wonder that engaged us as children (the princess, the prince, the fantastical setting) but now there are things that satisfy us as adults, too. Now, there’s a depth and reality to the characters, a more satisfying equality of gender, and a breadth of story that wasn’t present in the first fairytales.

Other than the Two Monarchies Sequence, you also have A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend, which is more sci-fi, and Ruth and the Ghost, a ghost story. Like many indie authors you aren’t confining yourself to a genre. In the past, you could pick up an author and know exactly what type of story you’re going to get. Now it could be almost any genre. How do you think this affects how readers buy books now?

I think it all comes down to accessibility and trust. A reader who has already taken the chance on you and found you to be engaging and easy to read, is more likely to trust you to lead them over into a new genre than they are to branch out by themselves. What I’m trying to do is establish that trust with my readers. When I publish a new book outside the preferred genre of some of my readers, I’d like to think that I’m able to bring them across with me. I’ve read genres I would not have otherwise read if I hadn’t trusted a favourite author to introduce me.

So I’d like to think that it won’t really affect how readers buy books now.

I was also delighted to come across another Terry Pratchett fan. I was recently asked to recommend a good ‘starter Pratchett’ to someone who’d never read him before. I found it more difficult than I expected because a lot of his books have in-jokes based on the previous books and he has so many characters who flit through. I ended up going for Nation as it’s a standalone. What would you have recommended?

I’d go with the first one I ever read: The Night Watch. I love all of Sir Terry’s books, but The Night Watch was my first and best. Such humour, yet such poignant feeling! It has everything. A top quality read.

If you could make a fictional character real (not one of your own), who would you choose and why?

I have so many! But in the end, I’d probably choose Patrick from Antonia Forest’s Marlowe Series. And then I’d be really cheeky and try to bring the twins (Nicola and Laurie) with him. They have been a constant delight to me through the years.

If you could do it all again, would you change how you have written any of your books, or how you have dealt with the publishing side?

There would be two big things that I’d do if I could do it over again.

  1. I would have started self-publishing sooner. I love the journey, I love the hard work and the frustrations, and the hugely steep learning curve it’s taken me on. I would have been doing this about two years ago if I’d known more about self-publishing.
  2. I would have approached my pre-publication process differently. This is assuming, of course, that I could go back with all the knowledge I’ve gained from self-publishing now! I’d arrange each book just a little better, send out advance copies a little sooner, get on Netgalley a bit sooner. Spindle (due out August 10th) is the first book where I’ve felt I’m doing all I need to be doing, and doing it in time. But then, Wolfskin was easier and better organised than Masque, and Masque was better managed than A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend.

You can connect with W.R. on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or sign up for her newsletter.

Books by W.R. Gingell

Spindle Time TravellermasqueRuthWolfksin

Author Interview – Stephen Oram

Anyone up for a little futuristic dystopia? You know, the kind that makes you take a good hard look at our society and worry just a little about where we might be going.

Yeah, me too.

In that case, I suggest taking a look at Stephen Oram’s Quantum Confessions and the just released Fluence.

Fluence-Cover-Reveal_300dpi-195x300      quantum

Stephen Oram specialises in writing near-futuristic dystopian fiction that reflects our society and makes the reader think. He kindly agreed to come along to my blog and answer some questions about his writing. Take a look:

‘Fluence’ is set in a future where your influence on social media determines status and success. All the best dystopian fiction has a solid dose of reality to it, so that the reader can imagine how our world can turn into the fictional one. How likely do you think it is that we might end up with a Fluence-if corporate greed and power increases unchecked?

I think it’s certainly possible. As traditional social hierarchies continue to be deconstructed it’s more difficult to spot the leaders. Social media, in combination with education and inherited pedigree, is the easiest way to assess your influence. There are fewer but increasingly powerful corporations and the concept of a job for life has disappeared. It’s completely plausible that all jobs will be with a handful of corporations and they’ll want to assess you once a year and then move you around within their empire however they choose. In this world your social media rating becomes crucial to your status, your job and where you live. All things considered, I think for some people we’re already quite close to Fluence.

A lot of writing is research, and as a writer I find myself googling the strangest things. What is the oddest thing you’ve ever had to research for a project?

I think the most bizarre research was on Quantum Physics for my first novel Quantum Confessions. It’s such a weird concept – the idea that nothing is decided until it’s observed. The logical conclusion is either an exponentially growing number of universes or someone is the ultimate observer and somehow outside the laws of physics. On a more light-hearted note, I researched women’s shoes for Amber – the female protagonist in Fluence – and amusingly Google is still pumping related adverts at me.

I think much of the attraction of dystopian fiction is down to the ethical and moral questions it can pose about how we live our lives and the potential consequences. What do you think it is about the genre that is so attractive?

I agree with you – good dystopian fiction does push and prod ethical and moral questions and really good dystopian fiction has strong complex characters that bring the dystopia to life. Personally, I find it cathartic; to be able to live, albeit fictionally, in a dark future is a safe way to experience the potential consequences of our less desirable trajectories. And of course, you can always say I told you so if it comes true.

The concepts behind your novels raise so many questions about how people would function in such societies, that I can’t help wondering how much you plan ahead. Do you drop your characters in there and see what they do, or do you plan everything out ahead of time?

I plan the dystopia carefully so it’s 3 dimensional and with the same nuances as a real world. I’m not a great fan of the simplistic black and white dystopias, I much prefer the messy ones because they’re more credible. That’s why I set my fiction in the near-future and in familiar places so it’s easier for the reader to catch the nuances. When it comes to characters, I get a good sense of who they are and then live with them for a while before I start writing. I plan the broad arc of their journey and then see what happens; I spend lots of time walking around wondering how they’ll react and what they’ll do next. The biggest shock I ever had was when a character I really liked committed suicide.

This may sound like an odd question, but I’ve had so many different answers to it that I like asking it, and based on the type of questions you have on your site and your work, I’m curious to know your answer.

If you had the option to upload your consciousness into a fully functioning android instead of dying when you reach the end of your life, would you do it? Why, or why not?

It’s a good question that touches on plenty of moral and spiritual issues. I’ve spent time considering transhumanism which has inevitably led me to think about living for ever. It’s hard to imagine and part of me thinks it might be incredibly depressing. Then there’s the spiritual element – if there is a perfect afterlife and living for ever meant you missed out, it’d be a bit of an own goal. Also, we know the world is over-populated and can’t sustain as much life as there is already, well not the way we seem to want to live it, so I’d want to know how much energy I would consume and whether I was depriving a ‘proper human’ of life. On balance though, I think I would opt to be uploaded, so long as I could terminate me whenever I wanted!

Connect with Stephen on his website, twitter, or facebook.

On the benefits of getting to know other writers out in the wild

About a million years ago, when I first decided I wanted to write a book, I knew no one else who had done so. Not even in a cousin’s-friend’s-neighbour’s-dog’s-aunt kind of way. Of course, this was back in the days pre-internet when if you wanted to meet people with similar interests, you had to actually physically go out and find them.

Later I got to know of a few people who had written books (in the cousin’s-friend’s-dog kind of way), but it wasn’t until the last few years when I got seriously stuck in on ‘The Secret Dead’ that I actually got to know other writers and got involved in the writing community.

One of the best decisions I ever made was joining Meetup and going along to a Write Together group. Write Together is the brainchild of a guy named Joao who managed to find a fix for a very writer-y problem: procrastination. We all know we intend to write at home, but there’s always a distraction. Always a reason to put it off for another five minutes. And writing groups? Well, most of them either focus on critiquing (so you’ll have to have actually written the work), or on ‘Prompts’ or ‘Themes’. Again, not a bad thing if you’re looking for inspiration, but not all that handy on finishing the novel that’s been sitting at the back of your drawer for five years.

The idea behind Write Together is a group of writers getting together and…writing. That’s it. It’s a very simple concept and one that has become increasingly popular. We all work quietly on our own projects and at the end of the session (2/3/4 hours or longer) usually have a chat about writing. There’s no pressure to share (something that fills me with terror), or write anything off-topic. Something about being in the same place at the same time every week with people in the same boat turns on the switch in my brain marked ‘Writing Mode’, and from the conversations I’ve had with fellow writers, I’m not the only one.

A good portion of ‘The Secret Dead’ and most of ‘A Murder of Crones’ were written at the Pret near Monument Station in London on a Sunday where I hosted one of the meetups as a ‘write in’. 10am-5pm every Sunday for two years. You can imagine it’s kind of hard not to get work done with those sort of hours on a regular basis. Especially if you’ve got other writers there who can look over at your laptop any moment and go ‘hey, what are you doing on twitter?’

It was one of the first things I missed when I moved out of London. However, (yay) it turns out that Bristol is churning with creative people. Someone I met described it as ‘all you can eat art’ which is a fabulously accurate description. I’ve met more writers in the last two months than in ten years in London. The place is lousy with writers’ groups. None was quite the ‘Write Together’ concept so I tagged along to one of the ones already there and tacked my own meetups to it. And again, it’s helped me meet some lovely people. I’d love to be able to fast-forward a few years and see what they’ll all have accomplished/published then.

When you have a passion for something, there’s nothing quite like getting to meet another person with the same passion, and getting to have the kind of really intense conversation that involves a lot of head-nodding and excitement. If you’re an introverty type like me, it’s even better, because you don’t have to make small talk. There’s an automatic wonderful subject to talk about. Perfect.

I’ve also met some wonderful writers online (and will write a separate post about that), but my recommendation to new writers is that despite the incredible and wonderful world of social media, it’s still hugely beneficial to go out and actually meet people on the outernet too. (I don’t like calling non-internet space ‘the real world’ because online is real. It’s just different.)

So, if you’re a Bristolian look us up on Meetup (Writing!), and if you’re a Londoner, there are Write Together meetups almost every day to pop along to. And if you’re neither here nor there, then find out what is out there in your area. Or start a group if there isn’t one. You won’t be sorry.

Author Interview – Rae Lori

Rae Lori is a writer of romance and adventure tales set across a range of genres. Her latest work ‘City of Simplicity’ is due to be released on 15th June 2015.

SimplicityCvrSM

Citizen 52701 once had a life that is now a distant memory in her dreams. All that remains is the name she carried over from the time before the change: Lyn. As a by-the-book law enforcer of a newly controlled futuristic society, everything is available at one’s fingertips. Except the one thing that matters most of all. 

A renegade is on the loose, moving under the shadows to stay alive. His one goal is to find the wife he lost when the change took over the city. The problem? She is one of the enforcers eliminating renegades who get out of line. He’ll risk everything to try and bring her back to him. No matter who or what he has to take down to do the job.

To celebrate the release, I’ve asked Rae to come along and answer some questions about her work:

If you could ‘borrow’ a character from another fictional setting (page or screen) to use in your own work, who would you borrow and what would you do with them?

Ooh that’s a tough one. I have a few characters in mind that I’d love a chance to rewrite their endings or give them more to do. I’d probably borrow Dr. Karen Jenson from Blade. I feel like there’s so much more of her story to tell even as Blade continues to fight the vampires. Her cure would be a great weapon and her gun skills would only improve over time making her a great kick-butt character. I have a fan fiction that I started some time ago featuring her. Hopefully I finish it someday!

Your work straddles a number of genres — fantasy, dystopian, romance, science fiction. I’m seeing more and more indie authors doing this. I think it’s because we’re not constrained to having to ‘market’ and have the freedom to just write what we like. Do you think if you had opted for traditional publishing, you would have been able to stay in one genre box?

Oh gosh no! 🙂 In fact, I’ve often thought that because I used to be published by small presses years ago. I’ve always loved a variety of genres myself whether reading them or writing them. It was a bit of a pain because I had to find different houses for different story genres and I often wondered if the overlap was there for my readers. Now, like you mentioned, indie publishing offers so many different great genres for readers who love reading all kinds of books. And I think that definitely allows me to tap into that reader base, offer a nice sample plate of genres and let the reader pick and choose what sounds great. The cool thing is readers know what they like and, since genres were mainly for bookstore placement, without that constraint there is more of an option for those who need it. I love it better that way.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your work? And the toughest criticism?

Hmm, the best compliment would have to be from some new readers who contacted me after reading Cimmerian City. Since the book dealt with the pharmaceutical industry and experimentation, it really hit them hard because they were exposed to that industry due to their health situations. So it really touched them on a personal level and that really hit home to me how stories can really impact the reader. Someone they never met. It’s pretty amazing.

My toughest criticism…there were a few toughies actually! One was from a reader who I know consider one of my good writer friends and she gave me feedback on an old story of mine. She mentioned how there were aspects I didn’t really touch upon. There some plot holes, it didn’t turn out as she planned and the potential was there but didn’t really reach the heights it could have. Another was from a friend of hers which was my very first steampunk book and it became a big wipeout because the culture of the heroine didn’t ring true. I think that one hurt the most because I definitely wanted to be true to the culture and character, but I flubbed it! Seeing where I went wrong now, I know what to do the next time I approach it!

What advice would you give any newbie writers out there?

One of the biggest ones I’d tell my class when I taught novel writing is to give yourself permission to write crap. The day I heard it from another writer, it stayed with me because many writers try to write perfect that very first draft and the magic comes in the rewrites. Also, definitely learn the ingredients of story writing. Although the format for writing a story may be the same, the beauty comes in how the story is told and what the writer conveys to the reader. We all have different experiences and outlooks which makes such different but fascinating stories. A writer’s voice will eventually find the reader who really hears them.

Do you write to music? If so, how do you find it influences your writing style?

Oh definitely. I’m a huge chillout/ambient fan so I have my fave artists I listen to if not Groove Salad (an internet radio station). Depending on what I’m writing, I’ll listen to a soundtrack that fits the genre in my head. Like for instance if I’m working on my spy suspense story, I’ll listen to the soundtrack or music from the show La Femme Nikita to get me in that mood. I think doing so helps me to really convey the atmosphere and character’s feelings to the reader. I like to think of myself as a movie director and the reader is my movie going public. Which works because my dream has always been to tell stories visually.

You also do graphic design. Do you think having a visually creative background helps with writing description and creating literary settings?

I like to think so. 🙂 Since I was young, I loved movies and the way they conveyed so much in so few scenes. I always liked James Cameron movies because he’s the closest to doing what I like to think of as novel storytelling on the screen. I also learned a great deal in media design school which included a lot of visual storytelling through animation. My team and I even got to animate a short film which we won an award for! I also love to create music videos for shows and tv characters and couples that I love watching so thinking in visual terms helps me to present the story like a movie in one’s mind. It also helps when crafting my covers so I get to say something that visually covers what that story is about and present to the reader so they know what type of story I’m telling. I think it works!

Rae Lori is an award-winning author of romantic and adventurous tales with a range of genres, settings and time periods. Using her love of film and visual storytelling, she strives to mix the two with the art of the written word to tell her stories.

Her manuscript, Hotel Sunset, won an Honorable Mention award in the 73rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Her chapter contribution on worldbuilding in speculative fiction won the 2011 ForeWord Book of the Year Gold Award Winner in Writing (Adult Nonfiction). Her novella, One Evening in London, was awarded Winner of Best Romance Novella in SORMAG’s 2009 Reader’s Choice Awards. Throughout her writing career, she has garnered credits writing movie reviews, fiction and articles on the comic book and film industry. Under various pen names, she has written books, novellas and short stories that run the genre gamut of science fiction, fantasy, short roman noir, paranormal romance and many more waiting to fill the book pages.

Check out more of Rae’s books on the web!

http://www.raelori.com

https://twitter.com/RaeLori

https://www.facebook.com/RaeLori

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2955866.Rae_Lori

 

Some book recommendations:

Some good news for fans of No Way Home: both Lucas Bale and S. Elliot Brandis have just released new books. Yay! Frustratingly, I’m out as I write this and uploading pics to my site has gone wonky or I’d show you the gorgeous covers for these books. You’ll just have to take a wander over to Amazon and take a look at them there.

Lucas Bale’s A Shroud of Night and Tears continues his epic Beyond the Wall series. And it’s dedicated to me and Alex Roddie! How flattering is that? I’ve beta-read for the whole series so far and it’s been very exciting to watch the story develop. This is definitely a recommended read. And it’s out on a special launch price of $0.99 (two days only), so get it quick.

I haven’t read S. Elliot Brandis’s The Pearl Diver yet, but it is definitely on my TBR list. I have read his fantastically imaginative The Tunnel Trilogy and am very much looking forward to seeing what he’s come up with in the new series. Like A Shroud of Night and Tears, it’s on special at $0.99 so now’s the time to buy.

So there you have it: some guaranteed good books for your holiday reading list. Enjoy!

 

Author Interview – Michael Patrick Hicks

Emergence will be released on 4th May. To celebrate its release, Convergence will be on sale at $0.99 for the week.

Michael Patrick Hicks’s debut novel Convergence was an Amazon Breakthrough Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and after reading it, it’s clear why. Not only is it action-filled, turn-the-page-and-find-out-what-happens-NOW reading, it’s also my favourite type of story in that it asks some very difficult ethical and philosophical questions about how future technology might affect the nature of humanity.

convergence
Convergence is set in a futuristic, post-invasion United States which has broken up into different territories. Main character Jonah Everitt lives in a refugee camp in what was California but is now under the control of the invading Pacific Rim Coalition. He’s also a DRMR addict. DRMR stands for Databiologic Receiver of Mnemonic Response, and is effectively a chemical and technological advance that allows users to relive the memories of the dead.
Jonah is hired to kill a high ranking member of the PRC and steal his memories, an act which sets an unexpected set of consequences into play.
I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read it, but it had me gripped from the first page.

emergence-800-cover-reveal-and-promotional
As a beta reader, I was lucky enough to get an advance look at Emergence, the second in the DRMR series. For those unaware of the nature of beta-readers, we read the novel prior to publication to help pick up plot-holes or style and story issues. I didn’t find too many of those (Mike’s a good writer), but I did keep writing little essays on his manuscript because he has so many fascinating concepts to mine around the DRMR technology. I just wanted to jump into his world and keep digging. You know it’s a good book when you want to grab the author by the lapels and shout, ‘Come with me! I need to know more about your world.’
Luckily for me (and you), Mike’s agreed to come along and answer some of my questions.

Your first novel Convergence is set in a post-invasion United States. This makes for some very interesting political speculation as to what would happen if a Pacific-Rim-style Coalition did invade the U.S. What attracted you to this setting?

I simply wanted to do something that was a bit dystopian and to make the environment something that was not only dangerous, but which would have a severe impact on the characters and uproot everything in an interesting way. I wanted something that was a bit grittier, a bit more noir. I was really attracted to America as a failed experiment. The USA is a very, very young nation and a bit of a Johnny-come-lately on the global stage that sometimes has a very peculiar arrogance to it. I wanted to see a North America that was “after the fall” so to speak.

The DRMR technology has some drawbacks, mostly in the form of addiction, but it also invites some interesting conjecture as to how living someone else’s memories would influence and change the user. I can’t help thinking that the introduction of this technology would lead to greater empathy and peace within the world, as people learn what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes. Do you agree with this? And if not, why not?

While I think, and at least certainly hope, that the world is moving toward greater, progressive values and inclusivity, I’m fairly positive that a technology like DRMR would be badly abused, if only by a minority of retrograde people who fear positive change and inclusivity. For all the good that could be done with it, I think there are some inherit problems and that it would kind of ruin everything for everybody. Maybe I’m just a pessimist. But, as readers will see in Emergence, it’s definitely a technology that’s ripe for exploitation!

Everyone has the stories they tell themselves about their own lives, so that even someone using the DRMR and accessing the memories first hand might come up with a different interpretation of who that person is. If someone accessed DRMR of your life, what do you think they’d learn from you?

Oh my goodness. I have no idea! Probably that I’m some horrible, darkly maligned personality with too many tortured thoughts and unending mental screams of anguish. Or maybe that I’m far more caring and squishy than I’ll publicly admit to.

If you could access the DRMR recordings of someone in real life, would you do it, and how do you think it might change you?

I don’t think I’d want to access the DRMR recordings of anybody I was close to. There are certain political figures and big-mouthed zealots that I’d be curious to access, but mostly to satisfy my own morbid curiosity on whether or not they’re the delusional, hypocritical con-men I believe they are, or if they actually believe the garbage they spiel. I don’t think such access would make me a better person, and I probably don’t want their particular brands of poison lingering in my head after all.

The DRMR world is detailed and feels very real. How did you go about researching this kind of political situation and the accompanying technology?

For the invasion angle, I looked at publicly available documents of Chinese officials war-gaming potential plans for invasion and looked at various refugee camps. The technology angle required a tremendous amount of research into memory formation, memory deletion, brain structures and how they interact, and some of the work that DARPA is doing. While the DRMR technology is a sci-fi concept, there are certainly efforts out there in the scientific community to make it not only plausible, but entirely possible.

When I tried to think of what genre Convergence is, I came up with a lot more than one: science fiction, dystopia, future tech, thriller. It’s a difficult book to pigeon hole. A lot of marketing involves trying to raise awareness of a book among fans of that genre, and having an original concept can sometimes make a book more difficult to market. Do you think this has been the case with Convergence?

To a degree, it has been, yes. But, the readers that have found it, so far, have been very kind and have received the book warmly. So, for that I’m completely grateful! Convergence is definitely a mish-mash of a lot of different genres, so if somebody hates sci-fi but loves mystery/thrillers, I think there’s a good chance they’d like Convergence. A lot of people think sci-fi is just aliens or Star Trek type stuff, but there’s plenty of room within the genre for other types of work. I operate very much in the Cyberpunk Noir end of things. Convergence is definitely more on the Blade Runner end of science fiction, in terms of it being very much about humans, on Earth, dealing with daily life, but their life just happens to have a little bit more high-tech stuff than we do. At least for now.

Who would you say are your favourite authors, and do you think they have influenced your writing?

Stephen King, Richard K. Morgan, Tom Clancy, Dennis Lehane – those are my big favorites. And yeah, I think they’ve definitely influenced my writing, a lot. Particularly in terms of technothriller writing, I think reading each of those writers has really helped shape my own writing style and my approach to writing and story-telling.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what’s coming next for the third of the DRMR series?

Not yet. Emergence is book 2, and that releases Monday, May 4, 2015. I’m working on an entirely separate and different project at the moment, for the Apocalypse Weird crew, and that’s where my focus is at these days. I’ve got a couple ideas for the third DRMR book, but it’s still a ways off. People should keep an eye on http://michaelpatrickhicks.com and sign up for my newsletter there; whenever I have an announcement to make, those are the readers that get it first.

Where would you like your writing career to be in five years?

I’m certainly hoping I’ll have a nice catalog of titles that a wide range of readers can plunge into!

What is your least favourite part of the publishing / writing process?

The business side of things on the publishing end can be mind-numbing and exhausting. Trying to line up ads with a number of promotions sites, and locking in release dates and coordinating between print and digital markets and waiting on proof copies, and keeping track of income and expenses for tax purposes, and spreadsheets and spreadsheets and spreadsheets – that is all very much not glamorous or fun. Don’t let anyone fool you – writing is a business, regardless of how much fun the writing side of things can be. But even that has its dreadful moments! It’s work. It’s not digging graves or working in a coal mine, thankfully, but you still have to be mindful of the fact that it is, first and foremost, a business.

You can connect with Mike on his website, twitter, facebook or goodreads (and do. He’s very nice. I promise)

Nosferatu

nosferatu

I’ve been intending to see the original 1922 version of Nosferatu for ages. It’s one of the seminal horror films of our time (arguably even the most influential). I got to see it in the best possible way: in Bristol’s Victoria Rooms accompanied by original organ music — just as it would have been shown back in the day. (Enormous kudos go to David Bednall on the organ and his improvised score. It was incredible and I can’t believe how much talent must be needed to improvise something that awesome.)

I’m not sure if anyone could possibly complain about a review of an almost hundred-year-old movie containing spoilers, but if that sort of thing bothers you, consider yourself warned.

Nosferatu is a thinly-veiled version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The original script was the Dracula story, but the film makers couldn’t obtain the rights so they ended up changing the names and the ending. Unluckily for them, it was still close enough that Stoker’s heirs sued successfully over the adaption, and a court ruled that all copies be destroyed. Luckily for us, all copies weren’t destroyed. At least one survived to become one of the oldest and greatest horror movies of our time.

The film hasn’t aged nearly as much as it could have. It’s still relevant. Still scary in parts and it’s had me thinking about it on and off over the last few days. The most obvious difference to modern movies is the over-acting, but I really enjoyed that part of it.

happyhutter

Gustav van Wangenheim as Hutter was the most manically jolly character I have ever seen on the screen. It felt a little silly at first (there were a few titters in the audience), but it did mean that when he does finally realise the nature of the Count and cowers in his bed, terrified of the monster coming towards him, it felt like watching a happy, bouncy puppy realise it’s about to get a kicking. I haven’t felt that sorry for a fictional character in some time. Poor innocent little puddle.

coming into the room

Nosferatu (Max Schreck) was fantastic too. There was no angst or guilt or sparkles. He was just pure creepy vampire and I loved him.

ellen

Greta Schroder as Ellen was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting such a strong female character from such an old movie. I thought she was going to spend the film screaming and fainting. There was plenty of that but she was the one to save the day. She was certainly a lot cleverer and determined than her innocent puppy of a husband.

 

Ultimately, a fantastic film and one I was really pleased to have seen. It was even worth the wait to get to see it with such a fantastic live score. This evening I’m going to watch the 1979 remake. Let’s see how it measures up.