#CoffinHop … Haunted by the dark

Click on the “EYE” to take you to my COFFIN HOP TRICK for a TREAT Prize Page…Enter if you dare…Enter or be scared….Contest ends at the Witching Hour (3am) 31st October 2012…(Contest closed)

kim-coffin12

So we are a day away from the end of Coffin Hop 2012. Just like last year it has been a BLAST. However it is not over until it is over so don’t feel glum. If you have not had a chance to hit up all the incredibly talented authors on this blog tour, you still have 2 days left to catch up & still 2 days left to enter my contest *Click on the EYE above*. Just click on that skull at the bottom of this post and it will take you to the Coffin Hop Boneyard where you can find all the other incredible authors.

Now, I know some may scratch their heads wondering what sort of person writes horror or reads horror. Well I can’t speak for all horror authors but I can speak for myself and I can speak of most of the other coffinhoppers since I am privileged to call a lot of them friends. I think Horror has got a bad rap over the years and Horror Authors along with it. So much so that the publishing industry uses every other euphemism to market a Horror Author and their Horror Fiction other than the term: Horror.

In May I wrote a post on: What is Horror? It was a question posed and answered by a group of horror author bloggers. You can find the full post here: Shivers down my Spine

But here are some passages that I would like to highlight for you…

horror |ˈhôrər, ˈhär-|noun1 an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust: children screamed in horror.• a thing causing such a feeling: photographs showed the horror of the tragedy | the horrors of civil war.• a literary or film genre concerned with arousing such feelings: [ as modifier ] : a horror movie.• intense dismay: to her horror she found that a thief had stolen the machine.• [ as exclamation ] (horrors) chiefly humorous used to express dismay: horrors, two buttons were missing!• [ in sing. ] intense dislike: many have a horror of consulting a dictionary.• (the horrors) an attack of extreme nervousness or anxiety: the mere thought of it gives me the horrors.2 informal a bad or mischievous person, esp. a child: that little horror Zach was around.ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from Latin horror, from horrere ‘tremble, shudder’ (see horrid) .

I think the very origin of the word answers the question: What is Horror? Horror is an involuntary trembling and shuddering from sheer terror. For me however, true horror is those scenes that play with your mind. Psychological fear is far more intense and horrific than mere physical fear. The mind is a scary place. It’s capacity for imagining the worst and the darkest is scary. Think of your favourite horror movie, the imagined monster behind the shadow at the foot of the door that is ajar is far scarier than the monster that is seen and can be fought. What is unknown is far scarier than the known? For me, that is true HORROR.

Horror is the difference between the UNKNOWN vs the KNOWN and theUNTHINKABLE vs the IMAGINED. Horror is those shivers down my spine, that prickling on my skull and the bone-deep chill that makes my heart want to stop.

This is how Stephen King defines Horror:

“The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…”

So what is so different about Horror Authors? I will tell you this. I think Horror Authors are the SkyJumpers of the publishing world. To be a Horror Author you need to plumb the depths of the human heart and all its terrible secrets. You have to face the darkness and then shine a light on it, exposing it. Not only are we SkyJumpers but we are SkyJumping into a dark night sky. That takes guts! It requires a strong spine and a streak of recklessness. On top of that we are the red headed step child that the Publishing world does not want to acknowledge.

But when you – as a reader – read a piece of horror fiction, you have no other choice but to dig deep yourself into your own emotions and FEEL. Horror Fiction strips away all your defences and lays you bare as an emotional being with equal amounts of joys and fears. Horror Fiction strips away all polite etiquette and gets you to connect with your most primal and your most HUMAN instincts and emotions. You may be scared stiff but you won’t stop turning the pages to find out what happens. Horror fiction is a guaranteed Page-Turner. Horror Fiction has a way of getting under your skin and being unforgettable. For a time, while reading that Horror story, you forget your own horrors.

“Blessed are the weird people – poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters and troubadours – for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.” – Jacob Nordby

Horror Authors > Are we crazy? Are we dark? Some may be. But then great minds are always called Crazy by someone, somewhere.

But is it crazy or dark to have the courage to acknowledge both the light and the dark, the day and the night, the joy and the fear? Call me crazy then and call me dark. But it is through writing down the dark stories that I can get to the light. It is through writing down the dark stories that darkness does not overwhelm me. Humanity can be a horrific thing and sometimes we need to acknowledge the truth of that horror to let the wild and precious beauty shine in through the cracks in the dark. You cannot appreciate the Dawn unless you have experienced the coldest, loneliest, darkest hour of the Night. If I didn’t write the stories and poems that I do…then I would truly be haunted by the dark…

“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Remember to visit all the other coffin hopping macabre and haunted places buried in the

COFFIN HOP BONEYARD

for frightful contests, spookilicious giveaways and horrific halloween inspired swag.

You can also click through to the linky list included on this blog here or click on the creeptastic skull beneath…

Tell me do You CoffinHop?
x marks the spot where the spirits watch you from veiled shadows…
Don’t forget to enter my TRICK Haunted Flash Fiction for TREATS
Enter if you dare…Enter or be scared…

x

Thanksgiving | Create-Spirational People

It is Thanksgiving in the USA. I am not in the USA nor am I American but I have many American friends. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful and appreciate people that you care about in life. I have been blogging now for 18months and in that time my friendship circle has grown to include inspirational people – writers, poets and artists from all around the globe. I am continuously inspired by the creativity and imagination of these people. So in honour of Thanksgiving I am going to create a new Blog Award which will be given out annually to mark my gratitude and to honour the most Create-Spirational Blogs that add to my Inspirations…

Announcing The Annual…

The Annual “CreateSpiration” Blog Award ~ Awarded by Dragonfly Scrolls

There are rules and requirements for this blog award to be passed on…

  • Pick 20 Blogs that have truly inspired you in the year
  • Write an acceptance blog post
  1. Choose a quote on Inspiration.
  2. Choose a quote on Creativity.
  3. Choose and post a song-video that has inspired you this year. (After all what is life without music.)
  4. Write down a list of 5 things that inspired you in the year.
  5. Write down 5 ways that you plan on being inspirational in the coming year.
  6. Pass on the award to the 20 blogs you have chosen.
  7. Each year you must choose 20 new blogs, you can only give out this award once to someone.
  8. Link back to the post where you were awarded.
  9. Link to this rules & requirements page  – The Annual CreateSpiration Blog Award
  10. Awarded every Thanksgiving. (The last weekend in November)

_______________________________

The 20 Blogs who are my Favourite Create-Spiration Blogs for 2011

For the above Awardees, grab the following award widget                                                                                      (by clicking on the image) to feature on your blog:

© Dragonfly Scrolls 2011-2012 Blog Award

Favourite quote on Inspiration:

I dwell in Possibility | Emily Dickinson

Favourite quote on Creativity:

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. | Mark Twain

My 2011 Song of Inspiration:

This song inspires me in both its lyrics and because it is a celebration of New York – a city that truly is an inspiration in looking for the silver lining in a heavy storm cloud – and because it is a song about having a “pocketful of dreams” and going out into the big wide world to chase those dreams and make them a reality. 

Five things/people that Inspired me this year:

  1. My family – who supported me in my dream to become a full-time writer
  2. My friends – who always cheer for me in all my endeavors and who always believe in me – also counted on to give me a good butt-kicking every now and again. Special mention to: Alethea Dantes, Vasiliqui Galanopoulous, Jay Smith, Jane Webb Olivier, Desre Tate, Emma Mees, Colin Nel, Leigh K Hunt, Rachna Chhabria, Drew Cross, Al Boudreau, Judith Van Praag, Penny Epel, Danielle Beith Ruschena. (Each of you have a trail of footprints in my heart. I am honoured that you are in my life. Thank you for your love, support, encouragement and the constant source of inspiration through friendship that you gift to me just by being you. x)
  3. Eat,Pray,Love – This book and this movie have inspired so much in my life
  4. Social Networks – All those I follow and connect with through blogging, twitter,Facebook ect.
  5. PostaDay 2011 and PostaWeek2011 – These helped me get into a regular blogging schedule.

Five Ways I plan on being inspirational in 2012

  1. Through my Amazon Wanderings where I take off into the wild yonders of South America and write about it.
  2. Through this creativity & inspiration blog @ Dragonfly Scrolls
  3. Posting a photo at least once a week in a new photo-blog starting 01.01.12…link coming soon
  4. Posting a poem at least once a week in my poetry portfolio @ Soul Photographs
  5. Creating a gratitude journal that will work in combo with the new photo-blog.

Myths & Legends & Lore

Various mythos.

There is something magical about mythology. I have always been fascinated by Mythology. Mythology has really shaped the modern fairy tales and modern stories. One could say it is the cornerstone of fiction. I have been delving into different mythologies over the last year while doing research on my current works in progress. What I love most about mythology is that it teaches us about the human character – both good and bad. The other thing about mythology is that one never tires of it.

No matter how many times I read the tales of Greek mythology, I never tire of it. There is always something new that I learn to love about it. Over the last few months though I have been delving into ancient African mythology, Native American mythology and Romani (Gypsy) Mythology. All this mythology has been research for my works in progress.

Researching all this mythology has made me wonder about the writers of these early myths and legends. Except for the Greek mythology, many of these mythologists remain unnamed but yet the myths have lived on for centuries and for millennia. Many of these myths were created before writing. They were told around fireplaces and passed down generation to generation. Like with all tales that are spoken, they changed subtly over the years with each telling. One could almost say that all mythology is like chinese whispers: that childish game where you sit in a circle and whisper a tale into someone’s ear and then that person whisper’s into another’s ear and so on until the last person has to say aloud what was whispered. What comes out is very rarely what was first spoken. Perhaps this is why the writers remain unnamed. Instead of just one story-teller there were different story tellers with each generation.

Last year I met Chris Vogler who wrote The Writer’s Journey. He was one of the main key speakers at a writing conference. He gave a fascinating talk on Muses: where the idea of muses came from and who the muses are. He was also saying about how so many modern stories have their basis in mythology. It was a fascinating talk.

One can learn so much about a nation by studying their myths, legends and folklore. Every culture has their own mythology and their legends are how they identify themselves with both the inner and outer world. For me these tales are so much more interesting than flat history tomes. The history that these myths and legends tell of is rich in imagery and evocative in description.

Even the modern tales of magic, vampires, elves and dragons are built on the foundations of this mythology. Another thing that I find fascinating about mythology is that whether the myth is Greek, Roman, African, Russian, Celtic in origin; they have the same elements of good and evil. Who is to say what is fact or fiction? In mythology the reader gets to decide what is real or imaginary. To me that is very exciting.

What is your favourite mythic tale or legend?

What mythology would you like to know more of?

Kim

Visions of creativity in words & pictures | Tina Hoggatt

Today I interview a lady who brings a triple threat of creativity: writer, artist and illustrator. It never fails to amaze me at the endless talent and creativity of the warriors that I interview on this blog every week. Tina Hoggatt is another of these super-talented ladies. She has not allowed bias or criticism to encroach on her dreams, instead she forges on ahead. Having had a successful career in Art she has recently gotten back to her original creative dream: writing. She has also managed to meld together these two creative pursuits in the guise of an illustrator. She has kindly allowed me to include a few illustrations here in this interview for your enjoyment. Without giving too much away, I will allow Tina to do the talking for herself. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable as Tina and I sit down for a one-on-one chat. 

Welcome Tina Hoggatt….

 

girl with a quill: Ernest Hemingway famously wrote a six-word story. Tell us a bit about yourself in 6 words. Who is Tina Hoggatt?

Tina: Seriously fun, loves words and pictures. 

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?

Tina: Early on – I didn’t make novels as a child but I did write stories and was fairly clear about it as an identity by the time I was eleven or so.

girl with a quill:How long have you been writing for?

Tina: I was committed as a writer in middle school and had a writing group with a few girlfriends but was discouraged by a mentor at thirteen. This had sexist overtones (‘there are no truly famous women writers; only men are serious writers’ etc ) which I knew were both wrong and incorrect but at the time I lived in between two happily married women painters so I thought I’d pursue art. Who needed the grief?  I wrote in my twenties and then committed to an art career, which actually worked, but I have come back to writing in the last five years or so and have been very focused for the past few years.

girl with a quill: Besides writing, what are your other passions / hobbies?

Tina: I make paintings and prints and have been working in porcelain enamel on steel recently, which I adore. I have a letterpress shop in my studio and don’t use it enough. 

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?

Tina: The greatest influence on me as a writer were my parents being who read to their children twice a day for the whole of my youth. From this I learned that there needed to be music in the language and that story was king.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Tina: Contemporary fiction. Late bloomer finds husband and confidence, experiences setbacks and family turmoil, emerges in midlife with clarity and urgency to kick some serious ass.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?

Tina: I have two office spaces and a studio and mostly sit at the kitchen table when I write so I can watch the birds at the feeders and see the garden. I also write every day on the bus during my commute.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?

Tina: I often see a scene, a character in a place with some very simple action. I may write a page or so that becomes the nut of a story. I’ll write a huge hunk of it, then finesse the plot.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Tina: I come from an honest pantser background and have been dragged into plotting, at which I frankly suck. But I’m working on it. Plotting is a time saver and time is what I don’t have enough of.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?

Tina: I write YA and MG and have created illustrated books. In adolescence crossroads are reached that force a choice about both action and character – defining moments. These happen with much more frequency than in adulthood, at a time when emotions run high. I’m interested in exploring those points and in speaking to them for the reader.

girl with a quill: We all have little habits and quirks that make us individual. 

What are your bad habits in writing? What are your strengths in writing?

Tina:

  1. I have a tendency toward complication and complexity that can get in the way of fluid storytelling.
  2. My visual training and art practice make me a good observer. I think this comes out in the writing. Also I’m pretty good with dialogue and its integration.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?

Tina: Biography. 

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the book/s you have written?

Tina: I have contributed essays to two books edited and published by fine letterpress printer Jules Remedios Faye, The Ladies Printing Bee and Fallen Angels. What is the Panda to You? an artists’ book in a tiny edition was a collaboration with artist Jeffry Mitchell. I wrote the text, printed the book and collaborated on illustration. I’ve made several other similar editions as well.

I’ve illustrated several books for mainstream publishers, My Jim by Nancy Rawles and Home Field, a collection of essays on baseball edited by John Marshall. I also have some manuscripts moldering in virtual space.

girl with a quill: What is your best sentence you have written?

Tina: Gray and quick and flipper slick, here and gone – yoohoo!

Is it the best? Maybe not, but fun.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?

Tina: I’m working on Clickstream, a YA book I’m calling contemporary para-scifi. Boy recovering from the death of his brother is visited by the ghost of his dead dog and a shimmering particle stream of a naked girl from the future, discovering that his brother’s essence has been preserved in an experimental chip developed by his dad, who is working to retrieve him. Complications ensue. It’s about bringing back the dead, bicycles, friendship, comic books and love. Also it’s funny.

girl with a quill: First drafts are for the writers themselves. Who reads your work after you?

Tina: I work on my first drafts with two writing groups in real life and one online group. These are my beta readers for finished work. Also, my mom is an invaluable reader.

girl with a quill: Why do you write?

Tina: At this point it’s a practice, and without a creative practice I turn into a real creep. 

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?

Tina: Despite life’s emotional hardships there is friendship, unexpected wonder and joy to be had in this life.

girl with a quill: Do you believe in Muses? If you do, who/what is your Muse?

Tina: My muse is a donkey whose tail I hold as it leads me through a darkened room. Sometimes I bump into the furniture. Sometimes I get a glimpse into another room.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Tina: It has to be a character in another author’s book, to spend time with people I have come to know and love, and see their places.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Tina: My writing is character driven, but without story there is no sustained engagement. I’ve proven this, actually, to my chagrin.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?

Tina: Right now I’m very fond of the ghost of a dog named Gus who is taking time out from a pleasant afterlife to help out a messed up boy here on earth. 

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Tina: Mary Russell, from the genius mind of Laurie R. King. Scholar, sleuth and wife to Sherlock Holmes – who is no slouch himself. 

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Tina: It’s a dinner party, right? There has to be synergy. Mark Twain for sure – he was funny, told fabulous stories and always wore a white suit – at least in his later years. So right there you have a keystone. He’s going to have to smoke outside though. I’ve been in love with Myrna Loy my whole life and Twain would love her brains and sass, as well as her legs – so Myrna’s next to Twain. I’d invite Dorothy Parker but she was a mean drunk and you know there will be drinking. Julia Child’s in the kitchen. She makes great conversation and she’ll sit at that end of the table so she can check the miracle sauce at regular intervals. This dinner will need a poet and a fabulist. Pablo Neruda may feel a little shy at first but he’ll warm to the northerners, and he can recite for us in Spanish. And I think Joan Baez would round out the table nicely. She’ll put everyone at ease and tell surprisingly funny anecdotes, imitate Bob Dylan and lead the singing after dessert.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?

Tina: All sleuth dinner: Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew (I wanted to be her), Yashim the eunuch and Maisie Dobbs.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Tina: Don’t quit, it’s a waste of time and talent.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?

Tina: Don’t quit, it’s a waste of time and talent.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?

Tina: The first book you reach for on the bookshelf of a summer cabin.

girl with a quill: Where can we find your book/s for sale?

Tina:  You’ll have to wait for a year or two.

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?

Tina: My blog: http://tinahoggatt.wordpress.com/

My website: http://tinahoggatt.com/

  

 

Introducing Joe Pranaitis

Introducing Joe Pranaitis.

Join me as I sit down with Joe tonight. We discuss how healing can be found through the creative medium. Joe shares with us his passion for Sci-fi, in particular; the influence of Star Trek on his writing. So take a seat, make yourself comfortable, help me in welcoming Joe to the Dragonfly Scrolls studio.

Welcome Joe.

 

girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Joe Pranaitis?
Joe: To begin I’m a writer, an artist, and a theatre manager. I’m also the youngest of two boys. I’ve always felt like an outcast. Then again, growing up in East Chicago Indiana wasn’t the best of times. It got to a point where I wouldn’t go outside at all and so I started drawing. The drawings became my little world, including the ones about war. When my parents divorced; I was thrown into a tail spin and tried to off myself, at age 13, when I started High School. A couple of years later, when I was a Junior; my art teacher gave me a sense of direction by giving me the assignment of creating my own comic book. Needless to say, I’m a fractured human like everyone else but I’ve learned to channel my feelings into my writing and art.

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
Joe: I guess I would say that I wanted to be a writer after I heard Star Trek: Final Frontier and could see the pictures that the words described. Then it just took the free time between high school and college to get me going in adapting the comics that I created.

girl with a quill:How long have you been writing for?
Joe: I’ve been writing for about fifteen years now.

girl with a quill: In your bio, you say that you first wrote a comic book. Are you still interested in writing graphic novels?
Joe: Yes I am.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
Joe: Yes. I talk to my boss and one of my ushers whom has begun writing his own book.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
Joe: My greatest influence would be Diane Carey. When I would go on a car trip to Ohio, to visit my brother and his family, we would bring audio novels; one of those would be Star Trek: Final Frontier. I’ve been a big fan of her trek writings since then.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
Joe:  If my life story were a novel I would say that we’re at the mid-point before any big changes really happen. As to what genre, I would say that’s a good question and I really don’t know.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
Joe: Where I write is at my computer next to my bed. I put toys, pictures of family and models of starships around as well as having my book cases full of books and dvds.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
Joe: When I sit down for a writing session; I put on some music and read a little of what I wrote before and then let the story flow through my fingers to the key board.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter,or a pantster, or a little of both?
Joe: I would say a little of both because sometimes I do stumble onto a plot point where I know I need to think things out before putting them on the page.

girl with a quill: You write mainly science fiction. What drew you to this genre?
Joe: What drew me to sci-fi was that my parents were into it while I was growing up. I can’t count how many times I’ve watched the original Star Wars and Star Trek: The motion Picture.

girl with a quill: Which Sci-fi authors have influenced you?
Joe: Besides Diane Carey, I would say that the other authors that have influenced me are Keven Anderson, Vonda N. McIntire, Karen Traviss.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
Joe: Adventure.

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the books you have published?
Joe: Sure, the first two volumes in the series Infinite Possibilities: Chronicles take place in the 29th century. They follow the voyages of the starship Lionheart from the moment that she leaves dry dock and is struck by a space probe from another Earth on the other side of the Galaxy to a number of parallel universes. This leads to it becoming the fleet flagship and dealing with civil wars among the Pirate republic and their own colonies. Now here is a little hint: the second story within Volume one is the leap off point that I used to continue the story of Horizon station and her crew in through three of seven planned books.

girl with a quill: Your first book is part of a trilogy? In writing the trilogy, did you write them as separate stories individually or did you get the idea for the complete trilogy and then divide the story ideas into 3 books?
Joe: No, the first book is not part of a trilogy but the first story within the first volume was before I expanded the story to a now 3000 year story arc that stretches from 65 million years ago to the middle years of the 50
th century. But the original trilogy arced from the Lionheart’s launch to events that, if I were to explain now, would be massive spoilers for the rest of the series since I’ve planned the Chronicles series to go beyond 12 volumes.

girl with a quill: What are your thoughts, if any, on Indie/Small Press publishing vs Traditional Publishing?
Joe: So far I’ve only dealt with Indie/small press publishing so I have no idea how traditional publishes would be since I’ve been turned down by more than 100 agents who don’t have a clue that star trek just landed on their lap.

girl with a quill: What tips would you give aspiring pre-published authors out there to get a foot in the industry door?
Joe: I would say to write and let the story take you to where it ends up. As for getting your foot in the industry door; write a good query letter or letters and send them to both agents and publishers but watch out for publishers that ask for money up front because they will keep asking.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Joe: Yes I’m working on my 10
th book right now and it is an expanded story that I wrote in 2006 when my original story turned 10. It takes place in a parallel universe to the original series; where we see the coming together of the crew of the Lionheart, from the loss of her first captain, to an all-out war and then to it’s end. It’s the beginning of a new adventure for the ship’s second captain post war to passing the ship down to her first officer leading to the birth of the first officer of the Lionheart-A. It is also the first of a duelogy.

girl with a quill: Why do you write?
Joe: I write because I have a hunger for it. The ideas that I have, I feel I need to write down.

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
Joe: Yes. It is basically good vs. evil.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?
Joe: If I found a golden lamp with a genie and he told me I could enter another author’s book I would ask to visit Star Trek: Final Frontier. The character that I would choose would be George Kirk, starting from the time that he saw the original Enterprise in dry dock for the first time. Now why I chose that book and character is because at times I feel like I’m there watching the last part of the ship, that I’ve been asked to be a first officer on, being constructed.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Joe: I would say both since you can’t have a story without a character and vise versa. But I mainly focus on the story line.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Joe: My favourite character that I’ve created is Captain Bontrk because through him we see everything that happens to the Lionheart. We also see what will happen because he knows that eventually his ship will be retired to allow the Lionheart-A to go on her adventures. As to why; I would have to say that it’s because his face is hidden, we never see it but we know that it’s there and it’s reacting like everyone else’s.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Joe: You know I never really thought that I had a favourite character in the literary world; just stories. Right now, my favorite story is the Vatta war series. Even though I’ve only read the first two books, I really enjoyed them.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Joe: Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Ronald Moore, J. Michal Straczynski, and Frank Herbert. As to why; well I’ve always wanted to meet all five of them. I wish that I had met Gene Roddenberry before he passed in ’91.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Joe: They would be Captain Kirk, Ky Vatta, William Adama, Optimus Prime, and Batman. I know quite a cast. When I was growing up; Kirk was always my favourite Captain. As for Ky, because I understand her and know that sometimes doing what we think is right could get us into unknown trouble. Now why William Adama; well, it’s because I felt for him during the four years of BSG and he is a favorite character too. As for Optimus Prime; well, when I was a kid he was my first transformer and in that respect became my childhood hero. Now Batman; well, after losing my parents, both to heart attacks, I now see why he has such a bleak outlook on life even though he is on the side of good.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Joe: Considering that was only two years ago; I would tell myself, that even though I may have to pay for the book to be both published and edited, that it is worth it; and to do a giveaway as soon as I can, as well as look for goodreads.com

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Joe: That’s hard because the future is always changing. I would say that I took the right path by getting the first two published and that my first two publishers are always a backup if I really want to get a story out.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Joe: As for my legacy; I just want people to enjoy my books and to continue to enjoy them and discover them as time goes on.

girl with a quill: Where can we find your books for sale?
Joe: My books can be found on Amazon.com, Barns & Noble.com (BN.com) and the publisher’s websites

girl with a quill: Finally, where can we find on the web?
Joe: I can be found on Facebook, MySpace, trekspace, goodreads.com, twitter under joepranaitis.

Talking E-Books,Indie Publishing and Writing

There is a lot of talk in the world of writing and publishing about the shape of Traditional Publishing vs Indie Publishing and Print Publishing vs E-Book Publishing. Many writers are adamant on which side of these particular fences they sit. But there are still some who are caught between a rock and a hard place. This could be because they do not know enough about the newer industries of Indie Publishing (Independant or Small Press Publishers) or E-books. Perhaps you have already made up your mind about which side of the fence you are on but if you do have questions and want to know more then this is the interview you want to sit in on.

Today I am talking E-books, Indie Publishing, Editing and Writing with Susan Landis-Steward: Writer, Editor, Publisher.

So take a seat and get comfortable. Time to be informed by a lady who knows the different sides of the publishing debate. She also has the unique position of being both a writer and publisher.

Welcome Susan. Thank you for joining us here today.

 

girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Susan Landis-Steward?

Susan:  I’m an almost 60-year-old woman with way too much education and way too many ideas. I fully expect to die at my desk with my slippers half on (just as they are right now) doing something involved with editing, publishing, or writing. But not for another 20 years or so. I am a lesbian mom in a very long-term relationship. We have three stupendous daughters and are relieved that the youngest just got her own apartment. We do not suffer from empty nest syndrome, but maybe that’s because we both have such interesting lives of our own. We also have four amazing grandkids, ranging in age from 13 years to three weeks. I’ve spent my working years doing things like computer systems analyst, journalist, editor, child welfare worker, teacher, professor, and even did a brief stint as a call center minion. Probably the most interesting thing to other people is that I am brain injured. I died during minor surgery, caught a jump-start from a passing surgeon, and was shouted back to life by a small elderly nurse who spent the better part of a day yelling at me to breathe. I ended up with some minor brain damage and fibromyalgia. Blessing and curse. The blessing being that I can no longer work for someone else as I need frequent naps. The curse is obvious, I think.


girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?

Susan: I started writing at the age of four and never looked back. I always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I realized I’d like to actually write something for people to read. I didn’t get the courage until I was in my 30s and went to work as a reporter.  Having thousands of people reading my work was terrifying. I tried to resist my first byline, preferring anonymity. But I got over it. After a couple of decades of journalism, I wanted to try my hand at fiction. Here’s another blessing of the brain injury. There is a women’s writers group that meets at the local community college on Wednesday afternoons. With no job, I was free to join. I started my first novel, Blind Leading the Blind, and it was just published in March 2011. I’m currently working on the sequel, Blind Spot. They are lesbian mysteries featuring a former detective and a blind therapist. Love, sex, action, horses, motorcycles, belly dancers, crime: what more could a girl want?

 

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing?

Susan:  Well, that involves math, but I’m 59 now and I was four then so 55 years? Is that right? But professionally, I’ve been writing for 27 years as a journalist, freelance writer, academic, professional writer for the State of Oregon, and many other tasks. I’ve made my living as a freelancer exclusively by the pen for the past five or six years.

girl with a quill: You founded Puddletown Publishing. How did you get into this?


Susan: Wow. I bought a Nook Color last fall because my eyes can no longer be sufficiently corrected to allow me to read most trade paperbacks without removing my glasses, covering one eye to keep the astigmatism at bay, holding the book two inches from my face, and squinting. With my Nook, I can bump up the size, change the font, and make the background a comfortable color.  Great adaptive technology for the baby boom. So, on January 2nd, we went to a party. It was the fifth party that week and I actually tried to get out of it. But my partner insisted, so I took my Nook. That’s what introverts do; we make sure we always have a book along in case we need a breather from the clamoring crowd. So, when I got tired of socializing, I went and sat in a quiet room with a friend,  CONTACT _Con-3B5146219 Renee LaChance, and we started talking about e-books.  Renee was the founder and publisher of Just Out newsmagazine, Oregon’s gay rag, and was itching to get back into publishing. I was a bit at loose ends myself, one regular editing gig having ended, and pretty soon the conversation went from “Why isn’t anyone doing this?” to “Why aren’t we doing this?” Within a week we were on our way. We published our first flush of books in March and our second group of nine books is coming out soon. We are having the time of our lives.


girl with a quill: Do you take control of the editing process like traditional publishers or do writers self-publish through your company?

Susan: We are not a vanity press. We call ourselves an indie press because we’re small, but we function like a traditional publisher in terms of acquisitions, editing, art, and all that rigmarole. Even my own book was submitted to the entire process. Our readers read it without knowing it was mine.  One of my books got a no, so it’s due for some serious rewriting if I ever have the time. 

girl with a quill: For those of us in the dark about e-book publishing, explain to us the process of submitting and publishing a book through your company?

Susan:  When we are accepting submissions, ask that books be sent as Word documents with a short bio and a synopsis. Right now we’re looking for books by lesbians and women of color—it’s a small group, but we don’t want to be swamped with submissions. Others will get their chance. We publish all genres. We do expect submissions to be well-written, tell a good story, and be carefully edited. I’m a bit of a grammar and spelling Nazi and won’t waste my time on something with lots of errors. I’ve quit reading many traditionally published bestsellers because they are so poorly written and edited. The books are then sent to readers who tell us if they think we should proceed with the project. Usually we go with their recommendations, although we do take another look if they say no and we think the project still has merit. Once contracts are signed, we (meaning I) do the first editing pass, looking for obvious structural problems and glaring writing problems. I take notes, send the book back to the writer, and work with the author to make it the best it can be.  Meanwhile, Renee starts working with illustrators and other sub-contractors. Once the book is up to my standards, Renee, who is a masterful copy-editor, goes through it with a fine-tooth comb and catches all the picky stuff I might have missed. Renee and I are a good match. I’m a good editor, while she’s got a business brain like no other. So she handles the contracts, the sub-contractors, the money, the traditional marketing, and all the parts I hate to do. I do work with the authors around social marketing because I enjoy that part. Renee also does the formatting for POD. Finally, we format the book, load it at all the usual suspects, and celebrate. The e-book goes up as soon as the book is ready. POD follows a few weeks later. Oh, and we pay better than average royalties and have the luxury of working with great new writers. It’s so fun!

girl with a quill: This is an e-book Publisher. What do you believe is the future for e-books and more publishers like yourself taking advantage of the wave?

Susan: I hear people all the time who say, “I’ll never get an e-reader. I love ‘real’ books too much.” Most of them are younger folks.  I said the same thing until I realized I hadn’t read anything for fun for a few years. I used to read between 200 and 300 books a year. Suddenly, I was barely getting through three.  My eyes just couldn’t handle it. I did a few rounds with my eye doctor and finally gave up. Then, bang! e-readers.  I’m reading like a maniac again. So older folks are snatching them up because you can read anything on an e-reader. Kids love them. My grandkids grew up on computers so the e-book is an easy transition for them.  And studies show that kids are reading more with e-books. Even my 30-year-old daughter bought one because she wants to be able to carry several books in one compact space, and the new apps for the Nook Color make the thing a small computer that fits in a purse. Lots of servicemen and women are buying e-readers because they fit in a uniform pocket and can hold hundreds of books. The traditional publishers have been slow to change and are going the way of the dinosaur. With books by indies costing only a few dollars, more and more people can afford to buy a book. And I love being able to check books out of the library without leaving my house. I don’t think books are going away any time soon, but the Big 6 and the brick and mortar stores need to enter the 21st century if they want to compete.  I also see a lot of writers who still want a “traditional” deal, even though it’s not in their best interest. Why spend years scrabbling for an agent, waiting for the agent to shop the book, then wait another year for the book to come out? All for 7.5 percent royalties. And, if your book doesn’t sell well, it’s on the shelves for 3 months before being remaindered, and you still haven’t earned your advance back. No wonder writers don’t make any money. An e-book is for sale forever. Writers are finding that they can either self-publish or go with the smaller e-presses like Puddletown and have their books on sale in weeks instead of years. The royalties are better, the quality is often better, and you can still have print copies for POD. There are still some problems to be worked out, like the inconsistent quality of self-published books, but I think the market will take care of that over the next few years.  Overall, I see e-books continuing to take a larger and larger share of the market. They’re cheap in a poor economy, they’re green in a society that should be worried about that, and they’re technology that Americans have shown they adore. Barring major solar flares knocking out the grid or the end of the world, I think even dyed-in-the-wool book lovers will be reading e-books with some regularity.  

girl with a quill: Why have you chosen to do predominantly only e-book publishing? Is it a personal preference? Why?

Susan:  It’s a fairly wide open market, it’s environmentally friendly, and it’s better for the writer in the long run.  We also are committed to a “green” workplace and you don’t get much greener than this.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?

Susan:   I’m an introvert so I like being alone. With Dropbox, I can see my business partner and our subcontractors working away at their homes. (Dropbox alerts you when other folks access the files.) I have my dog and some cats, so I’m happy. I also belong to several Facebook groups that I visit throughout the day. Renee and I also talk on the phone almost daily, and we meet once a week to go over the endless list.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?

Susan:  Without a doubt, Madeleine L’Engle. She’s been my favorite since I was a child and got A Wrinkle in Time for Christmas the year it came out. Her writing and her liberal perspective on faith have both influenced me greatly over the years.  I was fortunate to study with her for a short time.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Susan:  Is there a genre called crazy-as-hell? My life has been a roller coaster with all the usual events: marriage, family, work, taxes. But there’s been a huge element of surprise as well: house burned down, floods, and we’ve got two more horsemen yet to come. I’ve died and lived to tell about it, started several new businesses and driven them to success. If I told you everything, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Sometimes, I think I’m trying to work out several lifetimes of karma in one.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?

Susan:  I have a room of my own in our home, lined floor to ceiling with books, and a desk that is cluttered beyond belief. I need a big monitor so I have a 32” flat screen TV I can blow everything up to 200 percent on. I have several computers, usually a couple of cats lounging around, and a lot of outsider art and photos of family and friends. There are also a lot of art supplies as I like to dink around with other creative forms. I’m primarily a fiber artist in my spare time.  Like Gandhi, I believe we could have world peace if everyone would just spin their own yarn.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?

Susan:  I mull. I gestate. I listen to voices in my head. Finally, when I can stand it no longer, I sit down and start writing.  It’s almost like mental illness.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Susan:  A pantster, for sure.  I tried plotting but could never get the whole thing done. Finally, I sat down and started writing.  Sometimes I have no idea what’s coming next, so I get surprised.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in now?

Susan: I love mysteries so I write mysteries. I’m also working on a couple of theology projects (I trained as a theologian), and one book that combines theology with mystery.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?

Susan: Probably fantasy or science fiction. With lesbian protagonists. I like women’s voices and there’s not enough good lesbian literature out there.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?

Susan: I’m writing two sequels to my first book.  The first is Blind Spot and the second is Blind Faith. The first three are all in the POV of the detective who is neurotic as hell but can see. The fourth book will be Blind Leading the Blind and will be in the POV of the blind therapist. That will be a challenge.

girl with a quill: Why do you write?

Susan:  Because it’s what I do. If I’m not writing books, I’m writing articles, or sermons, or blog posts, or…

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?

Susan:  Hmm.  I guess the combination of lesbian and liberal theologian makes me most interested in the ideas of inclusion and diversity over all other themes. I want to write things that normalize all the differences for my readers. Like the idea that lesbians can just be normal folks or that a blind person can lead a rich, rewarding, and creative life. Or that one can be spiritual, even religious, without leaving your brain behind.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Susan:  Oh! I’d be Meg Murray in Madeleine L’Engle’s books. Or I’d be Anna Pigeon in Nevada Barr’s books. I like Meg because she’s an awkward kid and so was I. I like Anna because she gets to work in the National Parks. 

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Susan:  I like character driven books best. If you have a good character, one that I can get to know and care about, I’ll probably forgive minor issues with the story. I’m not as forgiving about great stories with flat or stereotypical characters.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?

Susan:  I’d have to say Erik Walton (short for Erika) in my Blind series. She’s smart, tough, smart-assed, and neurotic as hell. Her weaknesses and tenderness shine through all her bluster. Her inner dialogue is pretty true to my own life.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Susan:   Marvin in Dr. Seuss’s Marvin K. Mooney. He cracks me up.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Susan:  Madeleine L’Engle. Well, duh. Nevada Barr, because she writes gripping books with great female characters.  Rita Nakashima Brock, one of my favorite feminist theologians. Mozart, because I’d want him to play for us after dinner, and he was a crazy child prodigy.  Willa Cather, because she’s one of the few writers who can take my breath away, and I can’t figure out if it’s the story or the writing that did it. An amazing thing when that happens.


girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?

Susan:  Anna Pigeon, because I love her adventures in the wilderness.  God as portrayed in Gospel by Wilhelm Barnhardt, because he’s laugh-out-loud funny as hell, doesn’t take him/herself seriously, and is much like God as I imagine him/her.  Alex Delaware, from the mysteries by Jonathon Kellerman, because I could use a good guitar-playing shrink.  Stephanie Plum, Janet Evanovich’s bounty hunter, because she makes me laugh and she’s the kind of person I like to hang out with. Rina Lazarus from the books by Faye Kellerman, because I want to know everything about her faith.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Susan:  Just write. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Just write.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?

Susan: Just write. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Just write. And publish it.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?

Susan: Mostly I think about my kids and grandkids. I want them to be proud of my body of work. Even though I don’t want the grandkids reading some of it until they’re older. I think explicit sex, even if fairly tame, has no place in the hands of kids under 15 or 16 or so.

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?

Answer: HYPERLINK “mailto:susanls@puddletowngroup.com”susanls@puddletowngroup.com

HYPERLINK “http://www.puddletowngroup.com/”http://www.puddletowngroup.com/

Facebook: HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/PuddletownGroup”http://www.facebook.com/PuddletownGroup

HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blind-Leading-the-Blind/196477380374053″http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blind-Leading-the-Blind/196477380374053

HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/slandissteward?ref=ts”http://www.facebook.com/slandissteward?ref=ts

Blogs: HYPERLINK “http://puddletown.wordpress.com/”http://puddletown.wordpress.com

HYPERLINK “http://susanlandissteward.wordpress.com/”http://susanlandissteward.wordpress.com/

Twitter: HYPERLINK “http://www.twitter.com/susanls”http://www.twitter.com/susanls

HYPERLINK “http://twitter.com/puddletowngroup”http://twitter.com/puddletowngroup

 

 

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Spotlight on Matthew Munson

Today I welcome a writer who I met through an online writer’s group that I belong to. What always amazes me about the writing groups I belong to is the plethora of writing talent in these groups. Matthew Munson is one of these writers. He is a writer who likes asking the Big Questions. He likes writing stories that make a reader sit up and say: What if? So join me in welcoming Matthew Munson. Pull up a seat and make yourself comfortable as we discuss life’s challenges, writing, fantasy, clowns and morris dancers…If you are like me and want to know what Morris Dancers are, well pay attention and Matthew will tell us all.
Welcome Matthew…Thank you for joining me in the Dragonfly Scrolls studio.
 
girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Matthew Munson?
Matthew: Matthew is … an Englishman in New York. Ha, not really, I just love the song 🙂 So that’s the level of my humour anyway … I am English, though.
    I’m 29 years old (30 in June) and live in the south-east of England in a town you’ve probably never heard of (thanks for that quote, Sir Terry Pratchett). I live right by the sea in touristy Broadstairs and have been born and raised here. I have a condition called dyspraxia and OCD and am currently learning British Sign Language. Looking over that last paragraph, I can’t work out how I’m not actually three people.girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?

Matthew: I don’t honestly think there was a specific time when I didn’t want to write, in some form. My dad was a journalist and both my parents have always been avid readers, so literature and a love of words has always been part of my life. For a while, I considered going into journalism, but don’t think I’d enjoy the intensity of the lifestyle – I like to be a bit more laid-back about my career choices!

girl with a quill:How long have you been writing for?

Matthew: Well, I wrote my first book when I was eight or nine, and it was a way of getting out of double geography at primary school – which I loathed. During my teenage years, I’d often write short stories, but never had the confidence to do anything with them. It was only when I was in my twenties did I actually think “Come on, Matthew, just do it” – face the fear (and the rejection!) and start sending some stuff out there!

girl with a quill: You have a very interesting website written from two different POVs? What made you decide on this unique website?
Matthew: I wish there was a more interesting story to this … a friend of mine and I have joined forces to publicise our work. We thought by sharing a site that we could increase traffic to our short stories and double our chances of getting people interested in what we’ve written. We share a lot of similar interests, so sharing a website seemed a logical extension of that.
girl with a quill: On your website you state you have 3 fears; Clowns,Morris Dancers and Water. Is there a reason why you fear these? What are Morris Dancers? 
Matthew: You don’t know what Morris Dancers are? I’m shocked! They’re an English folk tradition; dancers with bells tied round their legs and hankies tied to their sleeves doing weird dances to welcome in Summer on May Day. They’re a very … intense group of people who have regular conventions, and probably the only group of dancers that you can hear coming from half a mile away. There’s also a dance called the “Black Morris”, which welcomes in Winter – as a kid, that used to terrify me, and I can’t shake it off to this day.
    Water – well, that’s an easy one. I had swimming lessons as a kid, and would never put my head under water, so my swimming teacher once pushed it under and I swallowed a huge amount of water. It was absolutely terrifying, and any large body of water still gives me the creeps to this day.
    Clowns … well, don’t they scare you??
girl with a quill:One often hears that you need to face your fears to overcome them and I believe writers often use stories to work through events. Have you ever/Would you create a story with these three things you fear?
Matthew: Strange you should say that … I’ve written a short story about a clown called Hector, which was published in Ethereal Times a coupld of months ago. That was great fun to write – I utterly LOVED creating the compexity of Hector, he was – and is – awesome, at least as far as I’m concerned.
    I’m currently working on a short story about the sea as well … but I won’t say too much about that at the moment. As for Morris Dancers … hmm, that’s one to think about for the future – maybe!
    I am definitely one who channels his thoughts and feelings into his writing; it’s very therapeutic.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
Matthew: Facebook and Twitter! I have met some awesome writers through here – Eden Baylee, Richard Wood, my interviewer to name but three, and there are a lot more there. I love bouncing ideas off people and seeing how other people work.
    I’ve also got two “off-line” friends as well, one being a very prolific writer in the south-west of England, James Sheridan – we’ve known each other for 20 years, and can be totally honest with each others’ work. David Grimstone is a huge inspiration to me, and I’m glad to know him – he always incredibly encouraging to me and I always value our chats!

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?

Matthew: Phew, there’s a question … I don’t know if I can say one thing. My parents, clearly, are huge influences on my writing. As I said earlier, I grew up in a house filled with books and words, and learnt to love both. I think that my dad’s writing style has rubbed off on me, although he is far more awesome at constructing a column or an article; our humour is very similar, though, so we tend to approach things from a similar viewpoint.

    Author-wise, I’d have to say … well, there’s a list. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are utter legends, and Stephen King and James Herbert aren’t far behind. I could go on and on and on … but those four appeal to me because of their complex plots that are still very easy to follow and wonderful to read. I love writers where you’re physically excited about their next book.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Matthew: It would definitely be a cross between fantasy and some sort of medical textbook, I suspect! Fantasy because I don’t honestly believe people would believe some of the jobs I’ve had and people I’ve met during my life, and medical because of my dyspraxia and OCD that has an impact on my life – although I make sure it’s as little impact as possible.

    The arc would be … interesting, to say the least; highs and lows, the same as anyone! Really developing new strands to my life in my 20’s; developing the confidence to face the inevitable rejection of being a fledgling writer, starting to learn Sign language and becoming an advocate for dyspraxia and deaf awareness. An intense arc, some might say!

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?

Matthew: I have a desk in my front room right by the window, so I can look out over the street from my flat. I love that; it gives me so much inspiration, just that view of people and the sea. The actual desk is fairly Spartan – two laptops, some notepaper and pens … oh, and a book I really MUST take back to the library. I prefer the space to be as empty as possible; it’s less distracting and more calming for me.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?

Matthew: They won’t shut up! I usually spend a week or so just jotting random thoughts down; names of characters, bits of plot, etc, then spend a lot of time daydreaming! I find music really helps me with that; it sends me off into the realms of … well, wherever you got when you daydream! I often walk as well – for some reason, walking and music together really help me think about the process. Gradually, things solidfy in my mind and I just start writing.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Matthew: Both – although more of a paster, if I’m honest! Everytime I start a story, I tell myself I will plot it through and follow that plot religiously … but it doesn’t quite work somehow. I love how things can evolve, and that can only happen if your plot is flexible enough to change.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in now?

Matthew: Reality-based fantasy. I love using the real world as a basis for my fantasy stories, because I love the “what if” question, and fantasy really helps me explore that. I can put the world into different contexts and see how people would react to the incredible.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?

Matthew: I’d love to try horror one day – but haven’t yet got the confidence. You need to be able to get that “fear factor” just right, and I need to read more extensively more I even have the nerve to try it!

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?

Matthew: Working on a couple of short stories at the moment, then hoping to go back to my manuscript in a couple of months; I need to change portions of that, so I’m having some “thinking time” away from it!

girl with a quill: Why do you write?
Matthew: Because I couldn’t imagine a life without it.
girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
Matthew: I would hope there’s a humour that permeates my work. I find it funny, but the test is if other people find it funny as well! I’d also like to think that there’s a passion for life that comes through, as well; a message that life can survive, in a lot of different forms.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Matthew: I’d love to be a characted in Jasper Fforde’s series of Thursday Next books. Thursday is a LiteraTec, a detective working in and out of the fictional world and real world. That would be a fabulous job to try.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Matthew: Character, because without strong, powerful characters, your story will wither and die.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?

Matthew: I’ve got two; Hector the Clown, who I’ve mentioned before, because he’s got this extraordinary gift and just uses in such a morally dubious way, but for reasons that he thinks are good and decent and honest.

    My second character is Joseph, a leading character in my unpublished manuscript “Fall From Grace”, which I’m just re-editing now. He is very similar to me in many ways, and he was definitely my mouthpiece in the book.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Matthew:It’s tough to pick just one, it really is. I’m going to say Thursday Next again, because of how she’s written; Jasper Fforde has created this absolutely deep and layered character and invested a huge amount of humour and pathos within her.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Matthew: Must I have just five?? Alright then … Jasper Fforde (because of his book series and how much I suspect his humour is similar to mine, Richard Wood (because  he runs the Word Count Podcast and has just been published – and would have a lot of stories to tell), Terry Pratchett (who is just plain awesome), David Grimstone (the author I mentioned earlier who is incredibly down to Earth and well-versed in so many subjects that overlap with my interests) and Jeani Reactor, editor of the Horror Zine, who is an amazing and patient editor!

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?

Matthew: Thursday Next – because she just kicks arse; Samuel Vimes from the Discworld novels, because he would actually give a totally straight answer to anything you asked and wouldn’t filter his response; Davey Swag from David Stone’s book of the same name because he’s had experiences so far out of this world, it’s untrue; Symond Bryson from The Prodigal’s Foole, because he could really advise me on my own fantasy creations, and Lyra Belacqua from Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy – she’s so well-written and complex.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Matthew: Don’t be afraid of rejection. It happens to everyone – accept it and make your writing better as a result.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?

Matthew: Remember how you felt when you had your first piece of fiction published? Hold on to that feeling; if you ever lose it, it might be time to consider your options.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?

Matthew: To engage people in my stories and make them think.

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find you on the web?

Matthew: At www.writeordie.co.uk or 
http://vikingbay.blogspot.com/ – come and visit, maybe even say “hi!”