interview

Questing at Can-Con

Last weekend, I had a chance to check out Can-Con, the Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature. This is an event I’ve been wanting to attend since I first learned about it two years ago, but schedule conflicts and only hearing about it at the last minute prevented me from walking through the doors.

This year, I was determined.

On the weekend I was preparing to buy tickets, I received a great opportunity to attend as part of Error 404: Show Not Found and conduct a series of interviews, getting a behind-the -scenes look at what, in my opinion, is one of the most important growing conventions in Canada (the video of our explorations will be available shortly).

Why do I have that opinion? Because as a Canadian fantasy author, I feel that my voice is sometimes a whisper in the crowd. While the internet is a great place for blurring those lines of nationality, it’s still difficult for someone north of the border to draw the attention of, say, a New York literary agent (and sometimes even to hook readers if the setting is a small town in Ontario).

Can-Con offers an opportunity for new Canadian genre writers to shout out. Not only is it a collection of speculative fiction authors getting together to rub elbows and share their experiences AS Canadian spec fiction authors, it’s also a chance to check out panels hosted by some big names across a whole bunch of genres, and this year organizers Derek Kunsken and Marie Bilodeau invited a New York agent to answer questions and accept pitches.

RIGHT HERE IN OTTAWA!

This year, the event was held at the Novotel, right across from the Rideau Centre. The event took up two floors, with scheduled signings, a vendor’s room, and different rooms for the panels (discussions included the evolution of the genre, of gender and diversity in gender, on how to adapt your work to film and TV — seriously, so much great stuff). The event itself was an RPG game. On registration, you rolled for your character and kept the card with you throughout the event: a fun and creative way to get to know the competition your colleagues.

The vendor room was full of books (all the books!), local crafts, and products that complement reading to perfection (like locally made tea and coffee).

Can-Con has existed since 1992. It went on hiatus for a while, but returned in 2010 and has been steadily growing ever since. Each year, the organizers bring in incredible research resources, such as doctors and scientists, to answer your questions on any number of subjects (want to know about the spread of the Zika virus? They’ve got you covered). There are opportunities to get your pitches critiqued, to chat with small press owners and, of course, to chat with some of the most well-established writers in the genre.

I missed meeting Tanya Huff, unfortunately, but did grab a chance with speak with (and interview) Charles de Lint, an author I very much admire. These two shared a panel about the fantasy genre, and as they both have been instrumental in developing the genre in the country, are not voices to ignore.

This convention deserves the attention it’s getting and I look forward to watching them grow. Walking through the event, I saw nothing but people excited to be there: to meet fellows in their trade, to learn tricks and tips on how to make a go of the business themselves, or simply to be surrounded by books. So many books. It was wonderful.

Events like this are crucial. Writing is a solitary business and sometimes it can feel like you’re floundering without any anchors. It’s reassuring to know that’s the norm (hurray!), and that there are resources and supports there when you need them.

So next year, make sure to follow them on Twitter, on Facebook, on their website (link is at the top) and get thee to the convention!

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Author Q&A: Kevin Nielsen

The last in this round of fantasy author spotlights is Kevin Nielsen, the author of the fantasy novel Sands! Based on what I’ve heard, it’s a stellar read, so be sure to grab a copy. A voracious reader, traveller, and dragon enthusiast,  Kevin has a lot to offer the genre.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Your hopes, your dreams, your favourite childhood idol?

Well, I hope to one day be able to make a living as an author – that and eventually become a dragon rider.  As I child, my idol was actually my dad, though David Eddings was a close second for a while there.

sands2. You have a project that just came out – what’s it about?

Sands is an introductory epic fantasy novel set in the Sharani Desert.  For nine months of the year, the genesauri monsters sleep.  The clans are safe and everything is peaceful and prosperous.  Then, like clockwork every year, the genesauri monsters wake up for three months and death and chaos reign.  The clans are forced to take refuge in the Oasis and live together in a tension-filled confined space until the genesauri once again return to their sleep.  But suddenly, everything changes.  The genesauri come early.  When seventeen-year old Lhaurel takes up a sword in defense of a friend, her clan leaves her stranded as bait while they run for the Oasis.  She is saved from certain death by a mysterious stranger who helps her discover that she holds a mysterious, uncontrollable power, one upon which the fate of all the clans rests.

3. Why should people read your work?

Honestly, Sands offers a lot in the way of a unique look at the fantasy genre.  From the environment, to the magic system, and even to the characters within the story, there is a unique twist on what one would typically find in a similar YA fantasy novel.  Sands has flying monsters, desert climates, a unique magic system, and a strong female protagonist.  What’s not to love?

4. Who is your target audience?

As many people as I can get to read it.  Due to the nature of the novel, I would say it is decidedly YA and up.

5. Of everything you’ve learned and developed over your projects, what are you most proud of achieving?

Honestly, I am most proud of having been able to recently publish with a traditional book publisher.  I’ve been working toward that goal for 15+ years and to have that process end and another one begin is a feeling of indescribable joy.

6. What is your writing process?

I am a signpost writer.  By that I mean that I pick five points (or signposts if you will) I want to hit within the novel and flesh those out to begin with.  These signposts always include the beginning, middle, and end of the book, plus any two points within those three.  Once I have those, the real writing begins, moving from signpost to signpost like a game of literary connect the dots.  Sometimes this means the revision process is longer, but it works well for me.

7. How can people find you?

I can be found at kevinlnielsen.com, on twitter at @kevinlnielsen, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorkevinlnielsen

Author Q&A: Thea van Diepen

The second week of the fantasy spotlight features fellow Canadian author Thea Van Diepen. A Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan with a great sense of humour, I can attest that this lady is good people and can’t wait to dig my teeth into the new project she soon has to offer. See the link to sign up for her newsletter below? You can download some free fiction by doing so – I recommend it!

(That being said, you can also do the same by signing up for MY newsletter… )

So put your feet up, take a read, and enjoy this other new voice in Canadian fantasy (FTW!). Thea, take it away…

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Your hopes, your dreams, your favourite childhood idol?

Well, I hope and dream of reaching 5’1” someday. You can get growth spurts in your mid twenties, right?

It’s funny, I’ve been thinking about what it is that I really want out of life and what I’m aiming for and I just realized that I spent this huge chunk of my life focusing on finishing up school (I just finished my undergrad degree in psychology this year! :D) and becoming an author that I didn’t really consider what I’d do next once I’d achieved them. How do I want to inspire people?

One of my childhood idols who comes to mind when I think about this is Madeleine L’Engle, an author best known for her book A Wrinkle in Time. She’s my favourite author, and that’s my favourite book. Her books have always made me believe that I, Thea, exactly as I am right now, am loved and, therefore, capable of good and beautiful things.

I think if my stories’ impact for others could be just a tenth of what hers have been for me, I would be very happy.

In the mean time, I’ll continue enjoying life: good friends, good food, great books, spending hours trying not to die by killer bees in unnecessarily difficult video games. Procrastinating cleaning the bathroom. Buying twenty books right even though I have nowhere to put them because they were super cheap and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Liking every single photo of my niece and nephew on Facebook because they are literally the cutest kids in the whole entire world.

And suchlike. 🙂

2. You have a new project about to come out – what’s it about?

Hidden in Sealskin is about an outlaw (Adren) who, while attempting thievery to get a cure for an insane unicorn, runs into this awkward teenager (Nadin) who can see through her invisibility and insists on helping her.

I mean, there’s also magic, secrets, an explosion, a daring escape or two, and a footman who I swear has the voice of Alan Rickman, but Adren and Nadin are the reason this whole story is even happening.

It’ll be out sometime late September. Sign up to my email list to keep in the loop. 🙂

3. Why should people read your work?

It explores what it means to live in a world as upside-down and crazy as ours. It has heart, a healthy dose of fun, and when you reach the ending, the entire story – maybe even the entire world – takes on a whole new light. Even the destination is a journey. Sometimes, that journey is dark, but I believe that, no matter how deep that darkness, the light is greater still.

4. Who is your target audience?

If you’re not afraid of words and you love a good paradox, then my books are for you.

The lines from the “Are These Books for You?” (link above) that apply most to Hidden in Sealskin are:

These books are for you if…

…you like humour that says: “Moar ridiculous!”, and one or more of the characters say back: “It’s all perfectly normal.”
…you like seriousness that says: “Everything bad that can happen, will”, and one or more of the characters say back: “No way in hell.”
…you like fantasy that asks: “Who is human?”, and where magic is not always in the forefront, yet its existence is integral to the story.
…you are fascinated by the endless possibilities of the human mind, both light and dark and everything in between.
…you believe that ignorance of the truth comes not through lack of opportunity to learn, but lack of desire to see beyond mere assumption.
…you still believe in right and wrong, good and evil, and understand that shades of grey mean that light and dark get mixed up in everyone, not that they’re indistinguishable or don’t exist.
…you refuse to believe that darkness is all there is even if, sometimes, the darkness wins.
…you believe that people are capable of being childlike, even in the midst of and with full knowledge of the world’s horrors.

There’s a few more that apply as well, but these are all the big hitters. 🙂

5. Of everything you’ve learned and developed over your projects, what are you most proud of achieving?

Actually editing Hidden in Sealskin. Editing and I have a love-hate relationship, whereby it loves to remind me that it’s important and I hate to do it. With my two previous books (Dreaming of Her and Other Stories and The Illuminated Heart), editing did happen, but on nowhere near the scale it has in Hidden in Sealskin. About 10,000 words got deleted, the beginning and ending both gained extra scenes, and Adren got snarkier. Plus, I got to add an exchange wherein Nadin almost faints. That was fun. 🙂 All in all, I learned a lot about the process, which made it less scary and made a better book as a result!

6. What is your writing process?

  1. Come up with an idea while working on another project
  2. Get totally sidetracked by that idea
  3. Plan out ten books
  4. Write the first draft of the first
  5. Publish two completely unrelated books in the intervening three years
  6. Edit practically rewrite that first draft
  7. Send it to the editor and hope to all that’s good that you didn’t totally break the darn thing with all the changes you made because you have a deadline, dammit
  8. Answer interview questions and try not to think about that last step too much

Oh, wait, that’s just how I did Hidden in Sealskin.

Usually, I have an outline of some kind. This can be as simple as knowing how I want to end it and a vague idea of what I’m trying to do to get there (this works best with short stories) and as complicated as writing out a synopsis punctuated by copious usage of the phrase “and then a miracle happened.”

This is followed by writing the thing from beginning to end, in as strict of a chronological order as the story will allow. One of my more recent short stories yet to be released in any way is the most glaring reason for fudging the chronological aspect: in order to make progress on that one, I had to write scenes that happened way after where I was at and then go back to fill in the blanks. I don’t know why. That one’s an odd child.

Editing is supposed to follow this. I really do proofread, but I tend to be light on the editing because I just want it all to be done yesterday. 😛 Hidden in Sealskin is the exception to this, and I hope it’s the first of many because the post-editing version is a lot better than the first draft.

All this is punctuated by long moments of staring out into space while trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing, and sessions of totally geeking out over way too much worldbuilding and symbolism and stuff. And potentially getting completely sidetracked with new projects.

7. Do you have any superstitions that factor into your writing process?

No. And if they try creeping in, I squash them. They make it hard for me to be flexible if they accumulate too much, like rust on the Tin Man.

8. If I stranded you on a desert island, allowing you only three books – what would they be?

You’re stranding me on desert islands now? Rude. 😛 Ok, in no particular order:

  1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, duh
  2. All the Chronicles of Narnia in a single volume (shush, it totally counts)
  3. The Bible. 66 books full of stories, poetry, and the good, bad, and ugly of people being people as they learn what life’s all about? Plus bonus trippy dreams and visions? Sign me up!

9. If you could design your ideal writing setting, what would it be?

Anywhere with wifi that I can plug in my laptop, sit comfortably, and write in peace while listening to awesome music. I’m not too picky.

10. How can people find you?

Google is an excellent search tool that comes very highly recommended. 😀

Snarkiness aside, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr (my Tumblr is in temporary hibernation before I get back to more than just posing links to my blog posts. I’m working through a learning curve, but I’ll be back). There’s also my website, Expected Aberrations, where you can sign up to my email list.

My favourite place right now is Patreon, where you can support my work on an ongoing basis while getting a whole ton of exclusive behind-the-scenes stuff, early access to ebooks and other digital content, and signed copies of books as a thank you for your help in making everything possible. 🙂

LIGHTNING ROUND:

Fiction/non-fiction: Fiction!

Sweet or salty: Salty 😀

HBO or Netflix: Netflix. Because X-Files. And Stargate SG-1, whenever they renew the licence for it.

Talk or text: Talk. Always talk.

Paperback or ebook: What. No. I can’t… THEY ARE ALL MY PRECIOUS BOOKS AND I LOVE THEM *curls up in a corner, stroking Kindle and cuddling as many paperbacks as she can hold*

***

New Pic (square)Thea van Diepen hails from the snowy land of Canada and that fairest of cities, Edmonton, Alberta. She is, of course, completely unbiased (that’s what you’re supposed to get with a psychology degree, right?) and is also obsessed with Orphan Black, the books of Madeleine L’Engle, and nerdy language things. Her next book, Hidden in Sealskin, will arrive on the interwebs sometime before September 25, 2015.

Author Q&A: Paddy Kelly

While my own projects continue at a steady pace — with a third project now introduced, because apparently two is not sufficient – I decided it would be a great time to introduce you to some other fantasy authors and see what they have on the go!

This week, I introduce Paddy Kelly:

  1. Tell us a little about yourself. Your hopes, your dreams, your favourite childhood idol?

paddy-kelly-cropWith pleasure. I’m an Irish man in my mid forties, exiled to Sweden because of a romantic accident. I live and work in Stockholm as a programmer in a mobile games company. Maybe you’ve heard of Candy Crush? Yeah, we make that one. Sorry about that.

When not crouched behind a desk in my day job, I read, I run and I dance. Swing dance, mostly, although I was a prize-winning Irish dancer in my youth. True. I’m also a huge fan of craft beer and get all excited whenever new-beer day rolls around in my local outlet of the Systembolaget, the Swedish state-run alcohol store. I also love porridge and rhubarb. And if you would present me with a porridge and rhubarb beer, I’ll probably marry you on the spot.

  1. You have a new project about to come out – what’s it about?

I have a science fiction story, Lonely Hearts of the Spinward Ring, appearing in Analog magazine in the very near future. How near a future I’m not entirely sure, as they haven’t yet told me. They have, however, paid me, with a check I framed and will never cash as it’s my first fiction sale to a major magazine after 25 years of scribbling. Otherwise I’m working on my contemporary fantasy, Rare Beasts, which will be done by November. There’s not enough hours in the day. More hours!

  1. Why should people read your work?

Um … I don’t know. Because they don’t suck? My amazon reviews indicate that people like the two things I’ve made public so far. I’ve even had fan mail. Which is weird. But nice. But weird.

  1. Who is your target audience?

Adults with a twisted sense of humour. I’ve written in many genres, but I like funny and strange things above all, as well as putting new angles on tired tropes. Although I’ve written a children’s book too. For sick and twisted children.

  1. Of everything you’ve learned and developed over your projects, what are you most proud of achieving?

That a proper magazine actually paid me for my fiction. That feels huge.

  1. What is your writing process?

I write best in the early morning, in a room with no noise and no distractions. And no music! I don’t understand people who write to music. I make coffee, sit down, open Scrivener, do some light editing of the previous page and get to work. The earlier the better, as my morning brain is unable to speak or manipulate physical objects, but is very good at getting words on the screen.

I also get great ideas while I’m in the shower. So I shower a lot.

On a good day — like a Sunday with no office to go to — I might get 2500 words down. But I do write every single day, even if only for twenty minutes. Otherwise I feel angry with myself.

  1. If you could have drinks with any author, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?

That’s tricky. Although I’m sure Shakespeare would have been a blast. Not that I’d understand much of what he said, but I bet he knew some great bars. [nice choice! Probably mine, as well]

  1. What is your favourite writing snack?

Instant coffee. I can’t have snacks when I write as the tiny evil bits get under the keys on the keyboard and that drives me insane. Click click crunch. I hate that. I’ve been know to purchase compressed air in order to flush those buggers out. So no snacks. Coffee and silence.

  1. Do you cast movies in your head as you write? If so, who would you cast as your favourite character?

I don’t. I never had. I don’t either have a 100% image of what my characters look like, beyond a few details. The reader needs room to create the characters for themselves. And I don’t watch a great many movies these days, mainly due to a lack of patience.

  1. How can people find you?

scaryBy painting a circle upon the ground with the blood of a yak and singing Air Supply songs as you sprinkle gold dust onto a black candle.

Or, alternatively, at one of these places:

https://twitter.com/spongepaddy

http://swimmingtothesun.com/

I’m also a member of the Stockholm Writers Group:

http://www.stockholmwritersgroup.com/

DeepShell-smallAnd my books! Don’t forget my books.

http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Shell-Paddy-Kelly-ebook/dp/B00VBWHY50/

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AJ2ZC3O

LIGHTNING ROUND:

Fiction/non-fiction:

I read lots of non-fiction, mostly history books with some weird angle.

Sweet or salty:

Gotta say salty. I’m a total salt maniac.

HBO or Netflix:

HBO, as that’s what I started with. Also, Netflix in Sweden is kind of shit.

Talk or text:

Text, a million times text. No-one should be calling up any more when you can send text messages. In fact, if everyone just shut up almost always, I’d be thrilled.

Paperback or ebook:

Hmm. Paper. But a close call. I do love my kindle but you can’t messily squish mosquitoes with one. Well, not more than once.

Author Q&A with RJ Madigan

I recently connected with fantasy author R.J. Madigan and am thrilled to feature her on The Raven’s Quill. She has chosen a fascinating and unique route to shake up the fantasy scene and I can’t wait to see what comes of it!

So we’ll start with the … I’d say easiest question, but it’s not always. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in London with my husband and our rescue cat.  My hobbies include sea kayaking, all kinds of cookery and volunteering for an incredible organisation called ‘Riding for the Disabled,’ which provides therapeutic horse riding for disabled children and adults living in the local community. I love all animals but my favourite in the world are elephants which I was lucky enough to see in the wild last year when I went on safari to South Africa.

Doing good works and living the dream? Sounds like a pretty great way to stay busy! When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

As a child I lived in books devouring the works of C.S Lewis, Roald Dahl, J.M Barry and Tolkien.  Libraries were always a place I could escape to and truly be myself.  I was lucky enough to have two incredible English teachers, one in primary school and the other in high school who both noticed and encouraged my talent for writing.  Having always suffered with low confidence it wasn’t till after university when I joined a local creative writing group that I began to think seriously about being a writer.

Teachers really do make all the difference that that age. I’m glad you had someone in your life to encourage you. But you didn’t stop at writing, did you? You’ve opted for a very unique form of publication for The Sword of Air.  Tell us a bit about the book.

SoA coverThe Sword of Air is an epic fantasy story.  It follows sixteen year old Niamh who is forced to flee her home after her adopted grandmother is brutally murdered by the Raven Queen’s army of Fomors.  Hunted by The Raven Queen, she must search desperately for the forgotten Fae people to help her. With only her best friend Rauri and an old storyteller for protection she must find allies and the strength within herself if she is to survive against the dark powers of the Raven Queen.

[Before you go any further, take a moment to watch the stunning book trailer that was done for this book]

Apple’s iBook format allows me to stand out from the crowd and do something that is next generation.  By incorporating photos, video and sound I am able to create something that is not quite a book or a movie but something in-between. The iBook allows me to communicate my vision of the characters and the world they inhabit, making it a living experience for the reader.2-Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 16.54.58

I love this concept. What first gave you the idea to break the publishing mould and try something so innovative?

Apple have given everyone the iBooks author software for free because they have a very forward thinking strategy towards their users.  This software enabled me to take my story and illustrate it in a way that isn’t possible in a normal book.  It’s given me lots of world building creative options like music, video, 3D modelling and photography to colour my world so the reader has a much more visceral experience.

3-Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 16.24.36I was inspired by the Pharrell Williams quote ‘Kids today need a visual.’  Young people have so many distractions with TV, iPad’s, computer games, the internet and social media.  When I was growing up it was nothing to sit for hours with a print book, but now kids need something more to engage them.

I was also inspired by the fiction of Issac Asimov and Neil Stephenson where books are more than just print.  They come alive and talk to you, react and interact with you. The iPad really is science fiction made real.  Decades ago people were writing about books you interact with and no one’s really taken advantage of this.  I wanted to use it for my storytelling and the iPad makes this possible.4-Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 17.04.19

It won’t be long before kids will laugh at a book that doesn’t change or talk to them.  Printed books will become a niche hobby like vinyl is today.  It’s 15th century technology in a 21st century world.

I hope you’re not entirely correct in that regard 😉 But it’s great to create that middle ground option. How did you put it all together?

First of all I wrote the manuscript for The Sword of Air without any media input.  Then I consulted ‘The Producer,’ to service suitable imagery and music for my story.  We wanted to find music that matched the epic tone of the story.  It was an iterative process, particularly to create the end chapter movies.  I wanted to make sure they reflected the feel of the story at that point.  We used iBooks author, iPhoto and iMovie to pull all the underlying constituent parts together into the final iBooks author manuscript.

Considering you have so many different media elements in your work, what does your writing process look like?

I always start with the characters, drawing up a character sketch for each one so that I learn how they would react in 5-Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 16.25.18different situations.  I read a lot of Irish mythology to help with the world building for The Sword of Air.  Then I developed a skeletal outline for each chapter and went from there.  I don’t plan everything like some writers do.  The most exciting part of the writing process for me is when my characters start telling the story themselves.  When the manuscript was complete I moved onto the editorial stage.  ‘The Producer’ carried out an edit of the entire manuscript for me.  Then we both sat down together and did the final edit on the iPad itself rather than on paper as this is how readers would experience The Sword of Air for themselves.

What’s next on the docket?  Are you going to stick with the multi-media projects or try something different?

I am currently working on Book 2 of The Sword of Air so I will definitely be sticking with the multi-media projects for a while!

Now for a few fun questions: What is your worst form of procrastination while writing?

Daydreaming.  I think all writers are daydreamers of some sort. I spend far too much time thinking about writing – walking through scenes in my head rather than actually putting them down on paper.

What is your favourite snack food while writing?

I love baking.  It’s my meditation after a days writing so anything home baked like my chocolate and raspberry muffins or a slice of my blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting.

Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my chin. I don’t suppose you could ship some of that blueberry cake in the mail? No? Fine. So since we can’t come to you in your kitchen, where can people find you around the inter webs?

The Sword of Air is now available from the iBooks store 1-Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 16.36.32

You can download the first three chapters of this book as a free sample to see if it is the kind of book you would enjoy reading.

I have a brand new website and blog at www.swordofair.net.

You can find me on Facebook or “like” The Sword of Air

I also have an author page on Goodreads

Thank you for hosting an author Q & A with me on your amazing blog Krista!

Big thanks to R.J. Madigan for stopping by! 

EVENSONG Character Interview: Jeff Powell

I hope you guys are ready for an Evensongladen blog week! As promised, this week will be filled with character interview goodness. Since they’re the ones who face the dragons, get their hearts broken, and fall off horses, I think it’s only fair to give their voices some air time. 

Keep in mind, I conducted this interviews near the beginning of Evensong to help work out some plot gaps, so there should be very few spoilers to worry about.

To kick things off, I would like to introduce you to my narrator, my fellow author-in-crime, Jeff Powell.

KW: Thank you for stopping by, Jeff. I know how busy you are right now, right in the middle of drafting Evensong.

*view pans out to show a smiling man with tired eyes and messy brown hair in a red and black checked shirt, white t-shirt and jeans. He’s sitting on a green sofa next to a roaring fire*

JP: Always happy to take a break to chat with a fan.

KW: *blink* Right.  I can’t say that I’ve read any of your work.

JP: Oh?

KW: Well … see, it doesn’t exist in … never mind. I’ll look them up. How about we start at the beginning with a question I ask all my author guests. Tell us about yourself, Jeff.

JP: I’m a best-selling fantasy author from Montreal, Quebec. My claim to fame is the Feldall Saga, which after four books I’m currently wrapping up with Evensong.

KW: And how is the fourth book coming along? Don’t worry, I’m not asking for you to give anything away.

JP: *nervous laugh* Well, it’s great. Really. I’m loving it. Going to be my best work ever.

KW: I guess there will be a bit of a delay in production with your current circumstances?

JP: *laugh disappears into a somewhat startling glare* They tell me I’m stuck in my book.

*view pans back further to show stone walls covered in tapestries*

KW: *trying not to laugh* That must have been a terrible surprise, waking up to find that you were transported into your own fantasy world.

JP: It’s a dream. Work stress. You’re probably a figment of my imagination as well. Give me another couple of hours and I’ll be fine.

KW: Be that as it may, what do you think of this place so far?

JP: It’s … I’ll admit it, it’s amazing. It’s like picturing all your life what Disneyworld would be like, and then finally getting there and getting hugged by Mickey Mouse as soon as you walk through the gates. Authors write worlds they wish existed–because they get to do so from the safe distance of their office spaces–but somehow I  actually climbed between the pages. Figuratively.

KW: Or so you hope.

JP: Figuratively.

KW: *holds up hands* All right, all right. What about the people? Your characters. Have any of them surprised you?

JP: All of them. To look at them, they’re identical to how I wrote them. Then they go and open their mouths and none of them say what I expect them to say. But please don’t tell them that. As far as they need to know, they’re exactly how they should be. I don’t think I can handle any more of Brady’s crazy “we exist independent of you” theories.

KW: My lips are sealed. *Adds question to Brady’s interview* So what do you plan to do next?

JP: Wake up. Get home. However you want to call it. In fact, I should probably go see Maggie. See if that woman’s figured out what she’s doing.

KW: Good luck, and thanks again for meeting with me.

*Jeff walks towards the door. When he reaches it, he stops and turned back around*

JP: Hey — how are you getting home? Can’t I just hitch a ride with you?

At which point I closed my notebook and effectively ended the interview. Couldn’t have him coming home too early, could I? Now, as promised, I have a few paragraphs from the book to share with you! Be sure to check back tomorrow to hear from Jasmine & Jayden. Any questions you have for any of the characters? Leave them in the comments!

***

In the books, he always pictured the area within the walls of Feldall as a small enclosure, but the understatement astounded him. The Keep sat on the top of a hill, and from his vantage point on the stoop, he could see the whole thatch-roofed village stretched out below.

“Incredible,” he murmured in wide-eyed wonder.

Barracks and cottages, shops and training yards, and beyond the gates more houses still, with acres and acres of tilled fields as far as he could see. Too bad they were brown and lifeless from the drought.

Feeling guilty, he allowed Brady to lead him down the long line of stone stairs and over the bridge to the courtyard itself. Under the afternoon sun and falling leaves of autumn- touched trees, crowds of people hurried among the horseshoe of shops in the centre of the square.

The bustle of activity and hum of chatter filled Jeff’s senses. He closed his eyes to absorb the sounds and smells, and the chill of autumn air as it brushed over his skin. Another set of shivers ran down his spine at the wonder of his being here at all. Here, standing the middle of this invented world, where it no longer mattered whether he was dreaming or insane. Either way — miracle of miracles — he was in within the pages of his own novel.

Greylands Interview: K.L. Schwengel

Last but far, far, far from least, we have the creator of Fletch, by far the most dangerous character in the Greylands world (with the possible exception of Jack because, honestly, that man has issues that weren’t explored nearly enough in Round 1 of this project): K.L. Schwengel. She has posted a couple of excerpts from Fletch’s chapters on her Wednesday WIPpet series, so be sure to check them out for a preview!

KW: Other than a fabulous contributor to Greylands, who are you?

kls: Who is anyone? Really? Okay, bad answer. Let’s see . . . I’m a hopeless introvert and terribly private person which makes tooting my own horn something of a challenge for me, and questions like this akin to having bamboo shoved under my fingernails. I could easily live as a hermit as long as I had indoor plumbing, copious supplies of Guinness, dark chocolate, coffee, red wine, Irish Mist, wifi, and my laptop. I am the self-proclaimed keeper of *the* flying monkeys (they needed someplace to go after the whole Oz debacle), a wife, an author, an artist, a sometime photographer. I raise, train and trial working Australian Shepherds and, by extension, raise Katahdin sheep as well. I am the youngest of nine children. My mother was a librarian, my father a dreamer and jack of many trades. I have a day job that both supports and interferes with my passions in life. I exist merely to serve Her Royal Highness Princess Fiona the Cat (or so she believes).

KW: Small blog serial or not, it took a lot of guts to contribute to the project. What drew you to it?

kls: You started out with such an intriguing premise it was hard not to be drawn in. Plus, if I recall, I needed something to take my mind off the all-consuming projects I was working on at the time. It was fun to come play in someone else’s world.

KW: Absolutely all-consuming. Seeing all the projects you’re working on, I’m amazed you have time to finish any of them! Why did you choose the characters that you did? Did you know when you started with them that they would turn out the way they did?

kls: Quite honestly, Fletch chose me. I had no say in the matter. He appeared out of nowhere after reading the first installment and, as you know, Krista, it’s best not to get on Fletch’s bad side. I knew he was damaged. I knew he was going to be a problem. But I really had no clue where his path was going to lead. Whether he would survive or not. Each installment he showed me a bit more of himself. Some bits I really didn’t want to see.

KW: What you did to me, I’ll do to you: Other than your own character, who was your favorite?

kls: Hands down, Maverick. C’mon, give a guy a Scottish accent and I’m a puddle of mush. Added to that, even though he acted tough, and his choice of routes to introduce Alexis to Jack was . . . well . . . not the best, he’s got a soft side. And he’s very loyal. I admire that. He’s also protective. Yes, he lacks tact and decorum, but everyone has their issues. Pops would run a close second (third after Fletch, of course). He’s the unsung hero.

KW: What other projects do you have going on? Can we expect to see other titles from you?

kls: I’ve always got a ton of projects going on. Too many at times. But I like to keep busy and I don’t have a lot of problem moving from one to the other. That means I can always be writing on something. At the moment, I’m in the editing stage of book two in my Lightness & Dark fantasy series. I’m intending to release that before the end of the year. There’s a fantasy serial I’m working on that needs some massive re-writing/editing. I’m also working on an urban fantasy/paranormal romance, and have another fantasy piece I’m hoping to have completed by the middle of December. Sometime next year I have a short story coming out in a fantasy anthology. That had originally been slated to come out this year, but the publisher had to push it further out.

KW: Where can people find you on the interwebs?

kls: I think there are more than this, but these are the ones I’m likely to be most active on.

My blog: http://myrandommuse.wordpress.com  Where you can find out about my books as well.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KLSchwengel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KLSchwengelWrites

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6871795.K_L_Schwengel

***

Thank you so much to all of you who joined us for this week of Greylands promo – I hope you enjoyed learning about the voices behind the voices and are interested to pick up a copy of your own! Greylands is now available:

Amazon (Kindle/Paperback)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Apple

Kobo

Greylands Interview: Chris Henry

Still two more interviews to go! Chris Henry is the author of Dieb’s stories, set in The Corpse – bandit territory outside the borders of Greylands.

1) Other than a fabulous contributor to Greylands, who are you?

I’m a pop culture addict and Internet cosmonaut with passing interests in history, old horror stories but not movies because oh god no. I’m also really terrible at answering this kind of question. I am a human being filled with useful organs, and most of them are mine.

2) Most of them? I think that’s something to be proud of! Small blog serial or not, it took a lot of guts to contribute to the project. What drew you to it? 

I actually wrote a book with you many years ago and it was not totally awful. I’d been trying to get back into writing again, and you proposed this idea of a collaborated story with a dystopian future setting. It was interesting, and I’m a sucker for a failed future.

3) Why did you choose the characters that you did? Did you know when you started with them that they would turn out the way they did?

The choice I made was out of uncertainty. It was really, really early in the project when I started thinking about what I wanted to do, and the setting wasn’t completely fleshed out yet. I wrote Dieb because he gave me a chance to develop the character without having to worry too much about him meshing with others. It also gave me the opportunity to do a little world building in a world that wasn’t mine. That’s why Dieb started outside the city, and away from everyone else.

4) Other than your own character, who was your favourite?

I’m not sucking up when I say this, but Alexis. She showed a lot of strength when everything hit the fan. She adapts, and overcomes. I love a survivor story.

5) What other projects do you have going on? Can we expect to see other titles from you?

I don’t have any irons in the fire right now, mostly just terrifying ideas rolling around in my skull like loose marbles.

6) Where can people find you on the interwebs? 

I can be found on twitter where I mostly just retweet people funnier and more interesting than myself: https://twitter.com/mrCHENRY

Intrigued? Greylands is available here! And now also here (Barnes & Noble), here (Apple), and here (Kobo)!

Greylands Interview: Chelsea S. Miller

Welcome back to the Greylands interview series! Have any questions for the authors or for me? Leave them in the comments and we’ll get back to you.

I’d now like to introduce the character of Firefly’s creator, Chelsea S. Miller!

1) Other than a fabulous contributor to Greylands, who are you?

First off, thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me! This is my very first interview, so please bear with me.

This will be my second publication, I was also published a year ago in the online journal, The Wordsmith Journal Magazine. They published my short story entitled: The Heir.

I’m also the mother of a 3-year-old boy, coupled with being a wife and mother to two other fur babies and giving writing my all, life keeps me pretty busy.

2) Small blog serial or not, it took a lot of guts to contribute to the project. What drew you to it? 

I was hooked from the first sentence! I loved the story, the setting, everything. Plus I was helping out a friend, and getting my name out there at the same time, why wouldn’t I contribute? Seemed like a no-brainer to me 🙂

3) Why did you choose the characters that you did? Did you know when you started with them that they would turn out the way they did?

Absolutely not! I tend to choose characters that are a little broken, and my main was just that. As soon as I put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) the words flowed and the story seemed to write itself. How far it got, I didn’t expect at all. But I’m glad with the results! I wouldn’t have it any other way, although tragic, I couldn’t think of a better ending to her story.

4) Other than your own character, who was your favourite?

Gotta be Maverick. He’s funny, clever, and really cares about these kids. I was also a big fan of Geisha, she was strong, and quick and sneaky. I love strong female leads.

5) What other projects do you have going on? Can we expect to see other titles from you?

I’ve been working on a novel entitled Demon Dance for the better part of 4 years. I’m more than halfway done, but I’m having a little of bit separation anxiety.. I don’t want it to end! I’ve heard that you should just take it out back and shoot it, but I’m so weak! Otherwise, I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, and will hopefully have the bulk of a pretty cool story by the end of this month. Stay tuned!

6) Where can people find you on the interwebs?

I am Chelsea S. Miller on Facebook, @chelseamiller86 on Twitter and Instagram, feel free to add me, or follow me! I also have a blog, however, I don’t use it much: http://tinselsthoughts.blogspot.ca/.

Huge thanks to Krista for taking the time and effort to make this project possible. You inspire me every day with your dedication to the craft and your amazing talent. I am proud to call you my friend 🙂

Want to learn more? Get your copy of Greylands here!

Greylands Interview: C.J. Duarte

Day Two of the Greylands interviews! Duarte offered a couple of stories under various pen names, as well as some really inspired contributions that couldn’t find their way in the completed collection, namely a poster and a video. But named or not, I couldn’t allow his efforts to be overlooked into the final compilation and he was gracious enough to answer my questions today.

Before I lead into his interview, for those of your who are interested, you can purchase your very own copy (and figure out which stories might belong to Duarte) here.

And now: C.J. Duarte!

1) Other than a fabulous contributor to Greylands, who are you?

I’m C.J. Duarte–or, depending on which part of Greylands you’re looking at, one or more other names. Other than being a semi-anonymous contributor to this project, I’m a novelist whose big, experimental debut The Dash is currently in mid-release (Volume 1 of 2). My first volume has also been fortunate enough to win the 2013 Readers’ Favourite Silver Medal in the General Fiction category this past month, and was simultaneously made available as an e-book for the first time. 

2) Small blog serial or not, it took a lot of guts to contribute to the project. What drew you to it?

The mysterious premise drew me to it right away, followed by the first chapter, and then the tantalizing offer for anyone to continue the story on any tangent they wanted–within reason, of course–for an unspecified amount of further chapters. That’s probably the other thing that still draws me to it today. The fact that the main author was able to take all these sometimes-disparate elements and wrap them together in a saga that’s both complete and open-ended.

3) Why did you choose the characters that you did? Did you know when you started with them that they would turn out the way they did?

Without revealing too much about certain plots or contributions, I chose the character(s) I did because they seemed more sympathetic to me. So I tried to expand on that as much as possible, to create a contrast with whatever elements I maybe wasn’t as drawn to, even though I respected them all the same. I had no idea if a particular contribution I made would be continued or forgotten about, but that’s the chancey nature of these types of projects, and also what makes them exciting and fresh.

4) Other than your own character, who was your favourite?

If I had to pick just one favourite character, it would probably be Pops. He may’ve been more in the background but to me he was a big part of what held the world together. He, along with certain other characters, was proof that there could be potential for hope and progress, even in a very grim atmosphere.

5) What other projects do you have going on? Can we expect to see other titles from you?

Not a whole lot that I’m comfortable specifying right now, other than my currently released novel. I’ve said in prior conversations that I’m working on similar story ideas that could very well equal or even surpass The Dash on a creative level. Until that ever happens, though, I hope people who read that book are satisfied enough for a while, because I know I would be.

6) Where can people find you on the interwebs?

I try to keep it simple: for now, people can really only “find” me on my official blog-turned-general-website, thedashnovel.blogspot.com, which I update on a fairly steady basis, and where there are lots of interesting sections and materials to explore. And if they’re even more interested, they can acquire Volume 1 of my book at the following clickable links:
Amazon.com (in e-format)
Kobo.com* (in e-format)
* This just became available this past weekend, so the timing couldn’t be better to try it out!
Chapters.ca (in paperback)