Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays, Folks!

I wanted to thank all of my followers and contributors in the past year that have helped me develop this site and all of the others.

I will be bringing the blog back with more exciting interviews, updates on writing and reading and everything else from the Realm of Ashenclaw in the new year!

In the meantime, please have a happy and safe holiday!

 Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!

All of my work can be found on AMAZON -- Kindle versions here

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit MY HOME PAGE to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase my full length novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights, the short stories: Wothlondia Rising, and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2012 unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Michael Eging/Steve Arnold Interview

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Michael Eging and his writing partner, Steve Arnold on social media. The two of them have written a dark fantasy series, beginning with The Paladin of Shadows Chronicles, Annwyn's Blood. The two of them were kind enough to let me interview them and the following is the result of said discussion.

The book!
When did you start writing?~

Mike:  I started writing in Junior High School.  My father passed off to me The John Carter of Mars Series, Sailor on the Seas of Fate (Elric Series) and other.  As I read them, I realized I had stories I wanted to tell as well.  Throughout High School, I had a few notebooks that I would write in and doodle illustrations in the margins.  My grandmother’s old typewriter allowed me to clack away into the wee hours of the night on a variety of short stories and a never finished novel.

Steve:  I remember even as a child being simply awed by the imagination of writers, how they could come up with entire worlds.  I tried to make stories of my own but just could never come up with anything to compare.  Then when I was about twelve I discovered Dungeons & Dragons.  I started running a game with Mike as my first player, and sort of fell into making up dungeons and creating histories and back-stories to go along with them.

Why do you write?~
Michael Eging
Mike:  Now?  For sanity’s sake in large part.  With life being so consuming, it is wonderful to push aside the crush of the everyday and create.  Also, a few years ago, I was busy taking my older children from activity to activity and slowly crunching away when I had time on a novel.  Suddenly it dawned on me that if I didn't take this seriously, one day I would be gone and I wouldn't have these stories to pass on to my kids.

Steve: I find it's an escape.  It's refreshing to take a little time, go off to a world unlike my own and imagine what life would be like.  It's also a way to show other people how I see them, sort of hold a mirror up to the world.

What would be your choice for a superpower?~
Mike:  I have always been an Iron Man fan.  So, I guess no super powers per se, but I would really dig a suit of armor, with a splash of hot rod red.  Or the really cool stealth armor, even better!

Steve:  Never really thought of myself as a superhero.  I don't really have a good answer for that one, though I have often thought it would be pretty cool to be like John Carter on Mars, master swordsman and with a physique made for another planet.  Right now if I was to put on one of those muscle breastplates my physique would (to paraphrase one of my favorite authors) 'fill it like Jell-o fills a mold'.

Who is your favorite author?~
Mike:  I have many favorites.  Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard, Stephen R. Donaldson, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Timothy Zahn, David Drake… and the list goes on.  However, I keep coming back to Roger Zelazny and the Chronicles of Amber.  I first found those in the library in the late 1970s as a child and I remember curling up sitting in the windowsill at the library to read them as I waited for my parents to finish work and take me home.  The noir opening of Nine Princess in Amber grabbed hold of me and I found myself riding in a car on the mad chase to Amber - the car driven by a man who you are never quite sure has a complete grip on reality… or does he?

Steve Arnold
Steve: Terry Pratchett, hands down.  I like the funny edge and how he captures the stupid things we do.    I first found Colour of Magic in the library in high school and have been hung up ever since.

What are you reading now?~
Mike:  I am reading a book by an ancient Greek historian/chronicler name Procopius called the Secret Histories.  It is a scandalous account of life in the Byzantine court of Justinian and good pre-reading for future projects.

Steve: Hah!  Draft chapters of Book Two of the Paladin of Shadows.  Seriously, it's like this never ends.  I just got done re-reading The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek.  It's an analysis of the origins of totalitarian governments and why they end up the way they do.

Who is your favorite character to write?~
Mike:  I was just talking to my wife and writing partner, Steve, about this.  I think my favorite character to-date is Roland, from the Song of Roland.  When I was in college, my favorite professor, Dr. Paul Pixton, introduced me to The Song of Roland.  I was sucked into the world of Charles the Great and his valiant knight who faced down treachery and found immortality in legend at Ronceveaux.  Dr. Pixton mentioned that he hoped someone would one day produce a movie based on the story.  Shortly after I wrote an outline for the script and put it on the shelf as I pursued graduate studies in History at the University of Maryland and took my first post-college job working on Capitol Hill.  Over a decade later I dusted off the outline and wrote the first draft of the script.  Needless to say, it needed a lot of work, and a friend who works in Los Angeles mentored me into developing the script further.  Many producers and agents who read the script loved it, but wondered why I pursued a medieval epic as my first project.  Sometimes, passion for something just can’t be shaken off because of “the market.”  As a result, while yet unproduced, Song of Roland was my first optioned script and will always have a special place in my heart.    Stay tuned, there is more to this story to come!

Steve: I don't know that I can say I have a favorite overall, but in Annwyn I have a special affinity for Aldonzo.  Yes, he's young, vain, shallow and foolish, but he has the greatest potential for growth out of all of them and I think ultimately that's what I've liked in any of my characters or for that matter characters in other writers' stories – that they learn something.  I like kids' movies a lot and I think that's why.

Do you have a writing process?~
Mike:  It depends on when something pops into my brain!  I try to write every night after my wife and children head to sleep.  Even if only a few paragraphs or two.  But sometimes, I will wake in the night and something is just burning on my mind.  So, I jot it down before I forget it.  A fantasy novel I am currently working on is the result of one such encounter with a story in the darkest of the night.

Steve:  I like to roll things around in my head for some days before I write them down.  I rarely have something flash into my head that I just have to get down on paper that turns out any good.  I've found if I go with the first thought I get it's usually just a variation on what I've already seen and seems tired and overdone.  But if I let it sit in the background and percolate while I work, run errands or whatever, I find that new variations, new perspectives, come to mind and things get a lot more interesting.  This was the difficulty I had trying to write as a kid – I hadn't learned to wait yet.  Once I have the idea then I try to decide, what am I writing?  Crime drama?  War story?  Hero fantasy?  What is the core feeling I want to evoke?  I want to have a general idea, then identify basic elements of hero, villain, motivations.  Then nail down linking details.  How does it all work?  What's the environment and context?  How do we get from point A to point B?  Why does the hero/villain/wingman want this and not that?  Sometimes this takes back story that never sees light in the final product, but you need just the same so your storytelling is consistent.  Then fill in all the little style points in between with stirring prose.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?~
Mike:  Understanding the marketplace will be critical to your long-term success.  E-books and print on demand have given a voice to aspiring writers across the globe.  After a well-written piece of work, I recommend two things.  First, read voraciously.  Not just in a singular genre, or path.   Read authors who inspire you, find new voices and dig through old, new and emerging classics.  Second, find a way to stand out.  There is a deluge of material for readers to search through to find your work.   Find ways to get in front of your readers.  Find others who are willing to take a risk, read your work and join your chorus.

Steve: Write what you know.  You can take your own personal experiences, no matter how mundane, and put them into a story no matter the setting.  People really want to read stories about people.  Settings are just trappings, window dressing, that adds flavor, but it's the experiences lived and lessons learned of your characters that will make them memorable.  And don't be afraid to let things percolate for a while.  You'd be surprised what can come into your head that way.

What inspired you to pursue writing?~
Mike:  My father at first.  He read my work.  Encouraged me. Instilled in me a love of the written word.  Whether books, short stories, poetry, or screenplays, he was the greatest influence in my life.  Second, my own family.  As I held my children in my arms, I realized that I wanted to share these worlds and characters with them.  Third, good friends who encourage me to not give up and allow me to share with them ideas, thoughts and stories.  Friends, like Steve, keeps me inspired.

Steve: I just wanted to emulate those people that made it possible for me to while away some of the more boring parts of my life in a much more fulfilling way.  It wasn't until Mike started approaching me about helping him with his projects that I seriously considered doing this for real. 

Tell us about your books~
Mike:  We just launched Annwyn’s Blood, Book One in the Paladin of Shadow Chronicles.  These characters have been with my writing partner and me since college.  Albion of the Dark Ages, after Rome fell and Arthur’s Camelot, was a dangerous place and ancient forces contended with newer ones for control of the isle.  Here is the blurb we did for Smashwords that encapsulates this:
Amid the dying embers of a fallen Empire, a young knight embarks on a personal crusade to reclaim the soul ripped from him by a deceitful lover's bite, and to save his family and their world from the rage of the implacable god who sent her. Ancient magic awakens from centuries–old slumber as the dead no longer rest in peace, and long buried legends and secrets could be the world's only hope.

This was something that when we wrote it, we received responses from publishers and agents that they loved our writing, but seriously…. Vampires?  Please send us your next novel.  So we put this on the shelf in the mid 1990’s and moved on to other projects.  We co-wrote the story for a WWII thriller screenplay and a horror script.  But this novel was sitting on the hard drive and nagging me to get into readers’ hands.  So I called Steve and said, “Hey, if I can recover these old WordPerfect files, do you want to do something with this?”  Of course, the result is Annwyn’s Blood.  We are very excited to revisit this world and bring all of you along with us.

Steve: Annwyn is a Dark Ages vampire tale, with a reluctant hero that finds himself hounded by an Elder God who's desperate to make him point man in a bloody bid to regain power in the world of men.  It started out as a short story Mike wrote back in the late 1980's, inspired by a little 'girl trouble' he had.  Some time later he got the crazy idea to turn it into a novel and he called me up to help.  To be honest I don't know why – my real passion isn't writing, it's drawing (every year I do a piece for my wife for Christmas).  I suspect he wanted his old dungeon master to figure out a backstory.  So I thought about it, not really sure what I was going to be able to do with it (which is probably where I began to realize things work better for me if I let them stew for a while) and eventually came up with a couple of chapters which he thought (rather to my surprise) were great!  We spent the next five years finishing the book, and then the rejection letters came.  Like your stuff; not what we want.  After a while we just had to set it aside and get on with life, jobs, kids, and so on.  Then I had an idea for a story, a WW2 spy/crime thriller and jotted up a treatment just because it was in me.  It was hard to do that much.  Mike turned it into a screenplay and now it's getting shopped around with Roland.  Next came the horror script and by now we were settling into this whole 'writer' thing (or at least I was; I think Mike had long ago).  By then online publishing was a big deal and Mike realized we could bypass the gatekeepers, so he pulled Annwyn off the shelf, blew the dust off it, sneezed a few times, and sent it back to me for a fresh edit.  And here we are.

I'd like to thank Mike and Steve for sharing with the folks here at Eye on go buy some books!

 Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!

All of my work can be found on AMAZON -- Kindle versions here

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit MY HOME PAGE to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase my full length novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights, the short stories: Wothlondia Rising, and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2012 unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

DC and Michael McGannon Interview

I met DC and Michael McGannon on twitter recently and found out a little about them. They are the father/son Coauthor team of Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hutners: The Varcolac’s Diary (available now) and Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: Witch Moon (due late Fall 2012). They also have a compilation of short stories, which will be available in early 2013. If they are not writing, you can usually find them speaking at conventions and other events about monsters, folklore, things that go bump in the night, and of course, their books. So, without further ado, here is the interview!

-When did you start writing?
D.C.: I started writing about the 4th grade, when I wasn’t getting in trouble or drawing cars and trucks all over my papers.  My teacher had a writing contest and I wrote a story about Snoopy inspired by the Peanuts Gang and Charles M. Schulz.  I continued writing and later began writing business and leadership development materials, and some college courses.  I’ve done quite a bit of copywriting and work for non-profits.

Around 2005, I realized just how bored I was with all that and just longed to lose myself in the “story” again.  I started reading from some new authors and became inspired again.  My biggest inspiration was, and is, my son Michael.  He had written so much by that point, and we started talking about writing together.  This is where Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters was born and now we are just weeks away from releasing Book 2 in that series.

Michael: Young. I was always scribbling and drawing characters as a young child, giving them superpowers and secret identities and villains to face (every hero complete with tragic backstory, according to my mom!). Before I could really express my characters with words I would draw them in battle, and I’ve got boxes upon boxes of old loose papers and sketchbooks filled with characters.

Similarly to my dad and coauthor, it was in 4th Grade that I won a school writing award for a trio of post apocalyptic superheroes, and that was one moment when my creativity shifted from sketch art to writing.

-Why do you write?
Michael: I think there is a lot to be learned from stories. Take a look back throughout human history…we’ve always been telling each other stories! It’s just part of our nature. And while some of these tales may just be fanciful yarns, it all starts in our heart, right? I think we can learn and grow from each others’ stories.

D.C.: I write because I love to create.  I love the ability to express through the written word.  I love bringing that character or scene or fight sequence to life and feeling like I’m right in the middle of it, and then imagining what the reader’s face will look like when he or she reads the same thing.
I write because I love to, and I want to inspire people to read, to tell stories, and to imagine deeper.

-What would be your choice for a superpower?
Michael: I want to say walking through walls like Darcy in  The Varcolac’s Diary…but splitting myself into two or even four clones would be more practical. I’d like to be able write a book, read a book, wash the dog, and catch up on some anime…all at the same time!

D.C.: I think either flying or super laser beam eyes.  Don’t ask me why, but I think those are two of the coolest superpowers in the universe.  Plus, I’m already a ninja.  Can you imagine a flying, laser-beam shooting ninja?  Pretty much unstoppable!

Michael: *facepalm*

-Who is your favorite author?
Michael: That’s a hard one. There are too many great authors out there to choose just one. Neil Gaiman would be my first go-to answer, though. Whether it is in science fiction, fantasy, or horror, he embodies a lot of the strange and the weird that I love. A lot of his work reminds me of Poe and Lovecraft (other faves!).

D.C.: My son, Michael.  I also love C.S. Lewis, Joseph Delaney, John Flanagan, and Chris Mould.

-What are you reading now?
D.C.: The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton, and I’m re-reading Chris Mould’s Something Wickedly Weird series.  I’m also reading the instructions on the back of a bag of oatmeal.  For some reason, it’s one of those things I haven’t been able to memorize yet.  Drives me crazy!!

Michael: The Eyeball Collector, by F.E. Higgins. Right now I’m on a Dickens-ish kick. I love Dickensy stories of weary cities and bustling streets, street urchins and pickpockets, eccentric shop owners  and grumpy old men wrapped in scarves and holding onto their top hats in the wind. Also (if graphic novels are allowed) American Vampire by Scott Snyder. Nice vampire story that brings the monster back to the myth.
(And…the back of the oatmeal bag. We’re having trouble around step number 9….)

D.C.: (There isn’t a step number 9.)

Michael: ….

-Who is your favorite character to write?
D.C.: Charlie from Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters.  There’s a lot about him that I relate to and there’s a tension in him that really forges the best in people, but he’s got to go through hell to get there.  I think a lot of people relate to that.
I’m also working on a short story right now that is way out of my comfort zone and the character is facing some pretty crazy stuff.  Trying to walk in his shoes is demanding, but very liberating as well.  That story will be for adults, and may or may not involve what some would consider zombies, but I wouldn’t throw that title on them too quickly.  It may also involve instructions to make oatmeal, but that is absolutely all I’m giving away and you can’t make me say anymore!  (Unless you offer some coffee.)

Michael: In the Charlie Sullivan and the Monster series, I think the Vadiknov twins, Lisa and Liev, have to be my favorite characters to write about. They’re the ‘encyclopedic types,’ providing a lot of knowledge to the group, and a lot of sarcasm and humor to the story. At first, it’s almost like they’re one character, but Lisa and Liev develop into their own characters with their own snappy personalities. They were very intricate and fun to think about when writing The Varcolac’s Diary. A few fans have said that Liev was their fave as well.

Lisa’s grown to be my all-out favorite in Witch Moon, though. For those who haven’t read the first book, she’s going through some turmoil and embodies a lot of anger and angst in Book 2. She kicks heinie!

-Do you have a writing process?
Michael: Yes and no. It seems to change with each book and project. A few things that have stayed consistent: late, late nights, loud music, and chocolate. The music goes from power metal to movie soundtracks, depending on the type of scene I’m writing. In the past I would use some scriptwriting techniques to outline a book, which works wonders, but that process has melded and changed with each new story.

D.C.: I do.  It’s called chaos!  Ha, ha.  At least by most people’s standards.  I’m one of those people that can look at a piece of paper or the screen for weeks and nothing comes out.  I may have to draw or storyboard on a whiteboard, or go for a hike or something, but then it just pours out like crazy.  Then I have to go fix it all, because it’s a mess.

-What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Michael: Put your characters through conflict. I don’t mean have them stub their toe and have a bad day, I mean drive your character to his or her limits throughout your story. They have to struggle to pass this trial of a life you’ve given them, and if they survive that struggle, they will have changed, whether for better or for worse. Conflict. Your characters can’t develop without it, and your readers won’t care without it.

Write the story you need to write. If you’re trying to become an author, chances are you aren’t doing it because you want to be a billionaire. Sure, super authors are out there, but most of us don’t get there right away. We’re choosing this because writing itself is important to us, and with some hard work it can provide as a career. So write what you care about writing. Don’t write for others, don’t worry about the trends (unless you love to work with the trends, in which case go for it!), just get what’s in your heart onto your page, and go from there.

D.C.: Read!  I really believe you are better when you are reading.  We should probably read more than we write.  Play.  We are too serious too much of the time.  Play a game.  Play with your kids.  Do something that is enjoyable on a regular basis.  It’s what fills you up and when you are full you have something to offer others.  When you are empty, you’ve got nothing.

I would also say don’t get discouraged with yourself.  Writing is hard.  It takes discipline and you get better as you go.  I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I’m much better than I was in 2005.

Get coaching.  Don’t try to do this alone.  Find a mentor.  Someone who can guide you as a writer.  This will take years off your development alone!

-What inspired you to pursue writing?
D.C.: Well, my 4th grade teacher really made that initial spark happen.  I was always reading.  I had the entire Hardy Boys collection, White Fang and the Call of the Wild by Jack London, and tons of other books.  Buying books from those school book drives was probably my two favorite times of the year.  But I never really thought about writing until that writing contest.
Writing that story really woke something up in me, and I have never forgotten it.

So, here’s to all the teachers and librarians out there.  You really do have a huge impact on all of us.  Stay in the trenches and know what you are doing is worth it and changes lives!

Michael: If I wasn’t sketching as a kid, I was reading. I always was fascinated by things of a more supernatural nature. As a very young child, my mom would read books with me such as Three Billy Goats Gruff and Where the Wild Things Were, but more special was the Chronicles of Narnia series, which she would read to me before bed. I finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was twelve, already having watched the first Peter Jackson LOTR film.
The books I read in my childhood struck a chord and filled me with a sense of wonder, and I always knew that, whether through book or film or art, I wanted to fill others with that same wonder.

Since I’d always been scribbling drawings or notes about characters as a kid, and thanks to my parents’ lifelong love and participation of the arts, writing just seemed like a natural choice. It just gradually grew until I decided that was the creative outlet that suited me best.

-Tell us about your books
D.C.: Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters is about friendship.  It’s about the relationships between a group of teenagers and several other quirky characters that are forced to realize what’s really important in this life.
When we set out to write these stories, we had all these monsters, creatures, magic, worlds, and supernatural powers in mind, but none of it worked unless these five teenagers met and waded through some pretty intense struggle to work together.

The other thing we wanted to accomplish is bringing to life the monsters and creatures of legend.  We wanted to re-introduce witches, banshees, harpies, dragons, vampires, werewolves, the Ferryman, and so much more, but keep their legends intact.  We definitely didn’t want to reinvent these monsters and make them something “new”.

We gave them a new context to exist in, but really respected their origins.  I think if you really learn about the monsters and creatures of legend, you find a terrifying and powerful group of beings that don’t need to be messed with.
The one approach we did take with them was to introduce them from various cultures.  For example, the varcolac from Book 1 (The Varcolac’s Diary) is a vampire/werewolf hybrid, who is just pure evil, but the twist is he’s from Russian folklore.  We borrowed from Asian folklore, Irish story-telling, Russian monsters, Native American history, and so on.

What you get is an army of monsters that are known from legend, but then you get to learn some of their origins and lore from other cultures.
Book 2 will feature 3 of the most powerful witches in all of history, set in another country, and introduce some new monsters that will just enthrall the reader.  And some that I even gasped at…and I helped write it!
Ultimately it is a fun romp through magic and monsters that flows very nicely, while focusing on the friendships being forged in a new adventure that one reviewer said, “…reminds you why you love to read.”  That was pretty special to us.

Michael: …..what he said!

D.C.: Gary, it really is a pleasure to chat with you for this interview.  You are an inspiration and I look forward to learning more from you and working with you in the future.

Thanks a bunch!


 Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!

All of my work can be found on AMAZON -- Kindle versions here

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit MY HOME PAGE to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase my full length novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights, the short stories: Wothlondia Rising, and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2012 unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ilana Waters Interview

I hope you enjoyed and have been enjoying the interviews that I have been directing to you in the recent  past. I am hoping that this series of interviews brings you all some new work to peruse whilst you wait with baited breath for my next novel... :)

Continuing with the interviews from fellow fantasy/sci-fi authors, I was able to track down Ilana Waters on twitter and asked her  some questions. The following is the result of that interview~

When did you start writing? What inspired you to pursue writing?

I’ve wanted to be writer since I was six years old. My first grade teacher said I was good at writing, so I figured that’s what I should do (this really tells you something about the power of labels). I didn’t take writing seriously as a career until a couple of years ago. I figured it was now or never. I chose “now.” J

Why do you write?
I think a famous writer once said “I write for the same reason I breathe. Because if I didn’t, I would die.” I apologize for not remembering the name of that writer, but safe to say, I share his/her sentiment!

What would be your choice for a superpower?
Reading people’s minds. I believe it was Anne Rice who said “If you can read the minds of men, you can have anything you want.” Heh-heh. ;-)

Who is your favorite author?
Hmmm . . . there are too many to choose just one, but off the top of my head I can think of Lemony Snicket, Michael Ende, Philip Pullman, and Diana Wynne Jones.

What are you reading now?
I’m currently looking for new things to read, because I’m in mourning after having finished all of Roald Dahl’s children’s books.

Who is your favorite character to write?
In The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt, I think my favorite character to write was Sophie (the apothecary). I could see her so clearly in my mind: smart, feisty, with an explosion of curly hair. Plus, she blows up at people the way I wish I could sometimes, so that was easy to visualize. J

Do you have a writing process?
Hmmm . . . usually I procrastinate a bit in the morning, followed by some dawdling, then lollygagging until noon. Just kidding! Sort of. I do tend to procrastinate a little, but when I sit down to write, it’s often so much fun I can’t stop!

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Read books that you feel are well-written. Read the kind of books you’d like to write. Sometimes, seeing something done gives you a better idea of how to do it than someone explaining it to you. You can read all the books on writing you want, but until you actually witness those ideas in action, they’re hard to emulate.

Tell us about your books:
My first book, The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt: Book I of Hartlandia, is a middle-grade fantasy. It’s available at AmazonBarnesandnoble, AppleKobo, and Smashwords. Look for the release of Book II of the Hartlandia trilogy in 2013.

Ten-year-old Stanley Delacourt loves his quiet life in the peaceful village of Meadowwood. At least, he does until his best friend is killed. Then the town library—where Stanley lives and works—is burned to the ground. The individuals responsible for both tragedies are a nasty group of soldiers. They work for the kingdom’s new leader: Christopher Siren.
No one understands the rules Siren’s creating. They don’t know why breaking them means death, or why the leader is so keen to destroy books. And no one can figure out where the former queen and king disappeared to—or if they’ll ever return.
With the grown-ups too fearful to take action, Stanley vows to confront Siren. He plans to get answers and demand justice. Little does he know that his journey will involve sword-wielding knights, kidnapper fairies, and dark magic.
Stanley has only two allies back home. One is an intimidated witch named Meredith. The other is a young apothecary called Sophie—who may have enchantment problems of her own. Can they help him discover the reason behind Siren’s crimes and end this terrible reign? Or is Stanley set to become the next victim in the tyrant’s evil plot?

If you enjoy the fantasy works of Rick Riordan, Lemony Snicket, or Philip Pullman, then explore the world of Stanley Delacourt today!

Also, I can be cyber-stalked at these fine locations:

Thanks, Ilana and I hope to see you stalking us here at Eye on Ashenclaw in the future!

 Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!

All of my work can be found on AMAZON -- Kindle versions here

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit MY HOME PAGE to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase my full length novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights, the short stories: Wothlondia Rising, and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2012 unless otherwise noted.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Forgotten Realms Author~Erik Scott de Bie Interview

As many of you who regularly read my blog may already know, I met several of the Forgotten Realms authors at GENCON 2011. It was an amazing time and I was particularly lucky to speak with Erik Scott de Bie for an hour or so about writng, etc. 

Over the last year or so, I have corresponded with Erik and he has been kind enough to help me out and continues to encourage me to press on. That being said, I asked him if he would grace Eye on Ashenclaw here with an interview and he agreed. Now we may all know what it is like to work for Ed Greenwood!

How did you get involved in the Forgotten Realms setting?

When I was 12 I read a novel called Darkwalker on Moonshae, the first Forgotten Realms novel ever published, which started my crush on the setting. But it wasn’t until the next year, when a friend of mine handed me a copy of Elfshadow and we started up a Forgotten Realms campaign that I fell in love with it. I’ve been into the setting ever since.
I first started writing in the Realms professionally for the Maiden of Pain open call, which I didn’t win, but my sample caught the eye of then WotC book department head Peter Archer and editor Phil Athans. They kept me in mind for a limited call, which became my first novel Ghostwalker.

How is it working with Ed Greenwood?
Ed Greenwood is an extremely intelligent, classy, genuine person. I’ve met few people as good at making you feel welcome, and he can (and will) literally talk to anyone for any length of time. He’s a good friend and colleague to have. Also, having Ed’s email is indispensible for Realmslore questions.

Give us a brief synopsis of your book(s)
My Shadowbane series is an ongoing quest of my vigilante paladin Kalen “Shadowbane” Dren--a thief who turned to a life of noble struggle against evil. Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, the third in the series, sees Kalen return to Westgate, the city where he grew up, in part to redeem the Eye of Justice (the organization that trained him), in part to find a lost friend. It also tells the story of Myrin Darkdance, an amnesiac wizard and Kalen’s best friend, who recovers some surprising pieces of her forgotten past. And, of course, their respective quests are complicated by the interference of a dangerous and mysterious elf shadowdancer.

When did you start writing? What inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing fiction since I was 8 or so (I wrote an epic galactic war story between two alien races, illustrated by yours truly), but I started writing seriously in 7th grade. My first story was meant to be ten pages and ended up being closer to fifty. I wrote my first novel in high school as a reaction against being bored out of my mind in honors chemistry class. And I’ve been writing a novel or two a year ever since.

If your books were made into a movie, who would play the roles?
That is a dream/nightmare question! I’ve had very vivid images of characters in my mind as I’ve been working. For instance, Arya from Ghostwalker should be played by Charlize Theron (circa The Italian Job), while the ghostwalker himself would be Ed Norton (circa Fight Club), Lord Dharan Greyt would be Alan Rickman (circa Harry Potter mid series), Lyetha Elfsdaughter would be Gwyneth Paltrow, and Meris Wayfarer would be Orlando Bloom. Ilira “Fox-at-Twilight” Nathalan (Depths of Madness, Shadowbane series) should be played by Evangeline Lilly (unless Elaine gets her for Arilyn Moonblade) or Olivia Wilde. When it comes to the Shadowbane series, Kalen I see as Chris Evans (Captain America) or Chris Hemsworth (Thor) or perhaps Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the detective from Batman Begins, or the main character in Looper), while Myrin should be someone like Zoe Saldana (Star Trek).

What would be your choice for a superpower?
Teleportation. So much of our life is lost in transit. Also, it’s just awesome.

Who is your favorite author?
Neil Gaiman. For reasons that should be obvious to anyone who has read Neil’s work. He hooked me with Sandman (particularly book 4, Season of Mists), and I really like Anansi Boys: funny and exciting and clever all at once. The thing about his work is that it seems effortless.

What are you reading now?
Right now I’m working on Bullied by Carrie Goldman (a non-fiction book about bullying and how to prevent it), The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (a non-fiction book about Ted Bundy), Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (a fantasy novel and the first of Sanderson’s popular Mistborn series), and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (a philosophical novel about an architect and a substantial basis for the philosophy of Exceptionalism). I pair that with a lot of comic book trades that I go through in about an hour or so: X-Men, Avengers, Wonder Woman, those are my favorites. So pretty diverse, I guess.

Who is your favorite character to write?
That’s really tough, because I thoroughly enjoy all my characters. The ones I don’t enjoy are the ones who get the dead in short order.
Of my Realms work, I love writing the protagonists from my Shadowbane series a great deal. My favorite is probably the elf shadowdancer Ilira “Fox-at-Twilight” Nathalan, whose evolving outlook/status fascinates me: over the course of a century, she changes from a sly, witty, party girl into a more mature, dark, sensuous, treacherous noblewoman. She is sexy and kick-ass the whole time, but in different ways at different points in her life. I also really enjoy writing about Myrin, because she’s surrounded by lies, secrets, and intrigue, which I unravel gradually. Kalen really excites me when I get to talk about his struggles with his faith and his calling, and I also really love watching him kick the tar out of a bad guy. And there’s a special place in my heart for the thoroughly duplicitous but noble Lilten, whose powers are complex and cool and whose history is a bottomless well of intrigue. And she’s not a Shadowbane character, but Aryande (from “Body in a Bag,” from Realms of the Dead) is great fun to write.

Outside the Realms, I like writing about the protagonists from my World of Ruin series--Regel, Ovelia, and Mask--who have cool triangles of tension and loyalty that make them a fun challenge. My con artist bard Tarrant Akayn from my Pathfinder writing is also a favorite. I also really enjoy my flamboyant gun-mage “M,” which is short for Morgan (from the story “Witch Fire” in Beauty Has Her Way) and my wacky mad scientist Circe (from “Dr. Circe and the Separatist Man-Cheetahs” in Growing Dread: Biopunk Visions). And of course, Stardust and Lady Vengeance (from my superhero novella “Eye for an Eye,” in Cobalt City Double Feature) are unmatched in sheer geeky glee.
See? I just love all of my characters.

Do you have a writing process?
I am such a disorganized writer. I write when I have time, usually listening to music, often with a cat and/or dog curled up next to me, and occasionally with a scotch on the rocks in my hand. Which makes the typing somewhat slower but is totally worth it.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Work, game, design. I have a full-time day job as a tech writer contractor for the Boeing Company, which keeps me busy between 30-40 hours a week. I run twice-monthly 4th Edition D&D Forgotten Realms and an Academy X-themed superhero campaigns, and I play in two different twice-monthly 4e D&D campaigns, as well as a rotating game night with some gaming industry folks. I also moonlight as a professional game designer for D&D (Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea, Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond, Neverwinter Campaign Setting, and several DDI articles and D&D Encounters seasons) and recently for Margaret Weis’s Marvel Heroic Roleplaying system (I’m a minor contributor to the Civil War books and one of the primary authors of the forthcoming Age of Apocalypse event books). And I try to find time to hang out with friends, play video games, and spend with my wife and our cats and dog.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Try and stop. If there’s any way you can be happy not writing, do that. If there isn’t, well, then my condolences, but you are doomed to be a writer.
I say this because writing is a tough business. It grinds your heart and soul right out of you, causes headaches and stress disorders, and makes you lose countless hours of sleep. You can give it your all and you still meet with rejection after rejection, and the odds are you still won’t be financially successful.
Do not write for the money. Do not write for the respect. Do not write for the history books.
Write because you enjoy telling stories. Write because you like providing good things for people to read. Write because you have to--because there is nothing else you can do that will make you quite as happy as writing.
Write for you, and no one else.
Do not give up. This will be hard, and more discouraging than any other quest you can undertake. You have to have that drive that will not let you back down or give up, that will force you back up off the mat after every single knock-down punch. You have to believe in the quality of your work, believe that you will find an audience, and believe that you will succeed. At the same time, you need to listen to feedback, constantly tweak your work to make it better, and have enough self-respect to hire a decent editor for yourself.
Also, do not neglect your family, friends, or responsibilities. You’re going to suffer, but don’t make yourself a martyr.
For more specific advice, check out this post on my blog:

What sets your books apart from others of the genre?
My work is very genre bending. My first book, Ghostwalker, was a fantasy western, wherein a cloaked hero swept into an isolated frontier town to avenge himself against the men who killed him fifteen years previous. Sort of High Plains Drifter in the Forgotten Realms. My second book, Depths of Madness, was a fantasy horror story along the lines of Saw: a group of characters awaken in a dungeon, not knowing each other, and have to work together to escape.
My Shadowbane series is kind of superhero fantasy fiction: the characters are larger than life and are often brought low by flaws both human and superhuman. The main character, Kalen Dren a.k.a. Shadowbane is sort of the “Batman of the Realms,” a thief turned vigilante paladin who acts the part of a mild-mannered guardsman by day but dons black leathers and a cloak to fight evil the guard can’t touch by night.
My World of Ruin series is high fantasy, but it’s also post-apocalyptic and a little bit cyberpunk with strong environmental themes. The story is set two thousand years after a magical war wiped out most of the people of the world. The long-ago fallen empire has left behind airships and warmachines (mostly clanking and on the verge of breaking down since no one remembers how to build them), as well as magic-enhanced relics that put out smoke that pollutes the world. Magic stands in for fuels--fossil, nuclear, etc.--and technology is warped by magic going into its construction. Against this backdrop, I weave a story that is high fantasy but also so deeply based in the characters’ interpersonal relationships and intrigues.
A final point about my work in the Realms specifically: Since I’ve grown up in the setting, I have a particularly wide view of the setting. I thread all kinds of references and homages through my work which are subtle enough to be missed by a casual or first-time reader, but which a seasoned Realms fan will pick up on and appreciate. Maybe that makes me just a geek. You decide. :)

Is it true you’re writing the fourth, as-yet-uncontracted book in the Shadowbane series?
You guessed it! Wizards has not yet contracted me to write another book (their resources are invested in their large-scale Sundering event), and doing so is a nebulous “in the future” arrangement. I’ve decided that the story needs an ending (maybe not THE end, but a possible end), and I might as well write it while it’s fresh in my mind. So I’m just writing the fourth book, which is called (working title) SHADOWBANE: KINGDOM OF NIGHT. I’m hoping that eventually WotC wants the book, and will jump at the chance to buy a fully realized and edited manuscript. And hey, if you want to help make sure that happens, check out my website for ideas how to help support the series:

Where can we find you on social media?
I am on Facebook (Erik Scott de Bie is my personal account, and Erik Scott de Bie is my author account), Twitter (@erikscottdebie, #shadowbane), and my website can be found at I am also active on the Candlekeep boards (a web forum for Realms fans, Hit me up, and let’s chat!

Erik Scott de Bie is a twenty-something (almost thirty-something!) speculative fiction author, best known for his work in the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting. His fifth novel, SHADOWBANE: EYE OF JUSTICE (third in the ongoing Shadowbane) series came out in September, and his current NaNoWriMo project is the (as-yet-uncontracted) fourth in that series. He is an avid contributor to the Cobalt City superhero universe, from lending his voice acting talents to the character of Stardust to his recent novella in COBALT CITY DOUBLE FEATURE. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies such as BEAUTY HAS HER WAY, HUMAN FOR A DAY, WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME, and WHEN THE VILLAIN COMES HOME. He also moonlights as a game designer, having contributed to numerous D&D projects such as PLANE ABOVE: SECRETS OF THE ASTRAL SEA, SHADOWFELL: GLOOMWROUGHT AND BEYOND, the NEVERWINTER CAMPAIGN SETTING, and multiple seasons of the D&D ENCOUNTERS program. He lives in Seattle with his wife, multifarious cats, and a hyper but cuddly dog.

“Sword of Shadowbane” (prologue to SB: EOJ, sample chapter—don’t read chapter 1!)
“Heir of Shadowbane” (free e-story)
Chosen of the Sword” (free e-novella)
“A New Purpose” (story included in the Shadowbane bundle, AFTER the main book--see table of contents)
Book 3: Shadowbane: Eye of Justice (Wizards, Kindle, Nook, Kobo)  (note the prologue is set between "The Last Legend of Gedrin Shadowbane" and "Heir of Shadowbane")
Shadowbane 4 (working title) ???

Other Realms novels, not in the Shadowbane series but related:
Ghostwalker (Wizards, Kindle, Nook, Kobo): A fantasy western
Depths of Madness (Wizards, Kindle, Nook, Kobo): A fantasy horror story

Non-Realms work, specifically anthologies:
When the Hero Comes Home (Kindle)
When the Villain Comes Home (Kindle)

I'd like to thank Erik for joining us and for giving us a glimpse into his world. (Now go buy some books!)

 Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!

All of my work can be found on AMAZON -- Kindle versions here

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit MY HOME PAGE to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase my full length novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights, the short stories: Wothlondia Rising, and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2012 unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rock Me Like A Hurricane

I have been on a break here from my blog and have also been taking a break from my writing for a month or so as other things have taken priority and things have been happening that require my attention. This post is more of a personal thing and nothing to do with writing or the like and is more about how fortunate some of us really are, so turn away if you must.

I was one of the unfortunate people to be affected by Hurricane Sandy and let me tell you...this was scary. Our power has been out since Sunday evening around 7:15 pm or so and it has been interesting since then to say the least.

My family was lucky enough not to sustain any major house damage, tree damage or bodily damage by this freak of a storm and I feel sorry for anyone who was truly affected in an adverse way. This is not what the economy needed for sure. With so many people still out of work and rising gas and food costs, this just seems to be piling on now. If it wasn't so sad, I would laugh.

Anyway, my family and friends are still without power in our neighborhood and believe it may be coming back soon as on my way to work, I noted the convenience store on the other side of the highway had power finally.

So, looking at this in a positive light, I am thankful that no one I know was injured and that it did not occur either in the dead of winter or the scorching heat of summer. No electricity in those times would be pretty awful. Getting a taste of life without electricity is pretty wild and makes me thankful that we live in a free country where we can make our own decisions and are afforded the luxuries of making our own way.

I am betting that many children will be conceived during this time and hopefully, a lot of reading was had by all! (Alright, so I snuck in a reading comment) That being said, I know we can come together and persevere through this and anything else that comes. My message to all is please do not lose your humanity no matter what happens: Storms, floods  zombie apocalypse's or whatever. Be cool to your fellow human beings. Our behavior is the only thing that we can control on this crazy planet and nothing makes is worse than people know...ass-clowns.

Zig Ziglar said it best: "You will get what you want if you just help enough other people get what they want."

See you on the flip-side!

 Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!

All of my work can be found on AMAZON -- Kindle versions here

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit MY HOME PAGE to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase my full length novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights, the short stories: Wothlondia Rising, and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2012 unless otherwise noted.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rick Novy Interview

Continuing with my rounds of interviews from the amazing independent authors I've met on social media, I give you now Speculative Fiction/Sci-Fi author: Rick Novy!

In what genre do you write for the most part?
I write mainly speculative fiction, with a leaning toward the SF side of the fence.

Give us a brief synopsis of your book(s)
When Wisconsin Territory botanist Calvin Scholz receives a mysterious package from an old friend who recently came to an untimely demise, it sparks a wild adventure. The mid-1840s is a dangerous time, for the Americans are at war with Mexico.

Scholz survives attempts on his life as he tries to deliver the package to his friend’s brother, a Savannah ichthyologist interested in fish-powered machinery--ichthyotech. The situation grows increasingly dire, and Scholz finds himself aboard a riverboat in the Amazon Basin wilderness.

While this novel contains a fast-moving, original story, it is also a tasteful parody of the Steampunk movement. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, as well as a few compulsory bad puns.

Rigel Kentaurus
It’s the first human voyage outside the solar system, and Proxima Centauri is the destination. The crew of the sleeper ship Deep Space discovers we are not alone, and not everyone out there is nice. Diverted to Alpha Centauri A (Rigel Kentaurus) to fetch and return a faster-than-light prototype, the crew learns that humanity is the only civilization to ever solve the light barrier problem. Now, Deep Space must defend it as a military secret, because the mysterious Betels have been at war with the brutal Thrace since before mankind discovered fire–all with sublight space travel.

Neanderthal Swan Song
The world of anthropology would have been excited when a perfectly preserved Neanderthal body is discovered in the Greenlandic permafrost, if authorities would allow the details out. When an American anthropologist involved in the excavation is denied access to the body, she uses an illicit tissue sample as source material to carry the Neanderthal’s clone to term herself.
Meet Ike Mudge, twenty-first-century Neanderthal man. Self-educated and raised in a laboratory thirty-thousand years out of his time, he is alone in a world of billions. Will it drive him insane, or will he make a final contribution for his kind–a Neanderthal Swan Song?

When did you start writing?
I wrote on and off since I was in grade school.

What inspired you to write?
I'm not really sure. It's as if there has always been this knowledge deep down that I would write.

If your books were made into a movie, who would play the roles?
I envisioned Johnny Depp playing the protag in Neanderthal Swan Song, but Depp is gettig too old for the role. Other than that, I haven't really put much thought into actors playing the parts in my books. There isn't much to be gained by spending mental energy on it, unless you use that to build the character in your mind. Usually, I already have a personality in mind for my characters, so actors don’t play much of a role in my character creation.

What would be your choice for a superpower?
The best superpower there is would be to have incredibly good luck.

Who is your favorite author?
I don't really have a favorite; there are so many good ones out there.  In fact, I can't read consecutive books by the same author. I usually start tiring of the voice, and even if I don't I want to prevent that from happening.

What are you reading now?
Harlan Ellison's The Other Glass Teat, Kim Stanley Robinson's Antarctica, Manfred Schroeder Fractals, Chaos, Power Laws, and a few more. I haven't been absorbed by any of these books, so I jump back and forth. 

Who is your favorite character to write?
I had a lot of fun writing Robert Wenthworth in Fishpunk. He is madcap, but not stupid. That makes him a lot of fun to write. I also had a lot of fun with Malshaak in Rigel Kentaurus. I enjoy writing from the alien point of view and I'm told I'm pretty good at it.

Do you have a writing process?
It all comes down to butt-in-chair time.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I'm an avid aquarist. I have anywhere between 12 and 20 aquariums going at once, depending on what I happen to be trying to do at any given time.  Breeding can take a lot of tank space.  I'm a member of the crew at, a great resource for people struggling with aquarium-related problems and trying to heal sick fishes.
I'm also am a pretty avid NFL fan, with allegiances to Green Bay and Arizona. I teach math at the local community college as adjunct faculty. I have a big yard to take care of, and I'm a dad to three teenagers.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Keep writing, be persistent, and find your own game. Your writing is like nobody else's, so don't try to imitate, just be yourself. But, those million practice words are not optional. Keep working on improving at all times.

What sets your books apart from others of the genre?
I don't think the author is ever the right person to answer this question.

What method do you use to publish your books for those of us who might not know how?
I'm an independent author, and I mean truly independent. I am trained as an engineer and scientist, so I understand how ebooks work. In fact, a few years ago I wrote a short non-fiction book on how to create EPUB files. It's obsolete now because in those days, the software to do it for you didn't exist. Now, I just use the tools that are available.  So, back to the question, I write the books, I create the ebook files, I manage the accounts on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all my other online vendors, and I am responsible for fixing any problems. That doesn't mean I don't get help, it just means that I am the decision-maker and ultimately responsible for the quality of my product, or lack thereof.

Where can we find you on social media?
Twitter: @ricknovy
Facebook: (I've already like it!)
Amazon Author Page:
Barnes and Noble Author Page:

 Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!

All of my work can be found on AMAZON -- Kindle versions here

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit MY HOME PAGE to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase my full length novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights, the short stories: Wothlondia Rising, and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2012 unless otherwise noted.