Saturday, March 30, 2013

Marie Phillips Interview

Next up for your entertainment is Sci-Fi/Fantasy author, Marie Phillips! Marie has a few books out now and is working on 2 more. Please stick around and see what she is up to and how she got there...

Describe your books? What genre do you consider your books?  Mostly Science fiction / Fantasy, though KHAN: A MAINE COON is not of that genre. I suppose it is an animal tale, but is also a biography. It is hard to categorize.

When and why did you begin writing? Who inspired you to start writing? I started writing when I was five, creating picture type stories with a tree as the main character! As I grew older, I even designed my own publishing “firm” called “Sunrise Publications” and it featured a rainbow over a sunrise logo in glorious Crayola crayon! I’ve had the desire to write from the nonhuman point of view for as long as I can remember.

How did the idea for this book come to mind? I started out with the idea of turning Khan’s early months before we adopted him into a fantasy cat yarn, but as time went by I ended up writing his life story from his point of view. I did use some of the fantasy elements, but for the most part stuck to the true events of his life. When he fell ill, the story was no longer just a cat’s tale but a tribute to him, a bit of immortality for such a sweet gentle giant.

Who is your favorite character in the book besides the protagonist and why?  Khan’s best buddy Phantom. In writing this story, I realized just how special this cat was in all our lives. He was Khan’s best friend and in the end, protector.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the book to life?  In the research, all I had to do was carefully comb my memory, photo accounts, and medical records to keep everything true to what happened. In doing this from his point of view and allowing the characters to speak, I tried to be sure that stayed true to the cat’s personalities as well as the species. I tried to get into their heads.

What is the hardest part of writing the book? The last few chapters, since when doing revisions and editing, it was very difficult reading about the events.

Who designed the covers of the book? I did. It features a photo of Khan when he was two years old.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what is it? I learned more about my own cats and everything that goes into caring for them when they are ill. The book helped heal my heart, and in it, Khan and his best buddy will always live on.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in the book? I think I might have added Phantom’s point of view. But since I did not, it leaves it wide open for another story, this time Phantom’s.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Was there somewhere in the book you felt stuck? My problem is I have more I wish to write than I could possibly ever finish! On the rare occasion I get stuck, I will shift to another project and come back to it. Generally, yhe answers come suddenly and I must write myself notes! With KHAN: A MAINE COON, I never got stuck. The story was already there to transpose to print.

What are your current projects? I have the first two books of my FURLITES OF ARORIEL series out now. Book one is On Matissia Wings and Book II is EARTH-BRED, MATISSIA-BORN. I am working on Book 3-Eyes in the Dark of my Furlites of Aroriel series, short story Fantasy collection, that includes a tale about Old Gent, an ancient Norway Spruce,  a Furlitian Tales collection, Phantom’s tale called F-4 Phantom Wild Weasel, and  eccentric collection of stories called THE SECRET LIFE OF MODEL HORSES.

Which book of yours will be coming out next and when? Could you describe what happens in this book? Can we get an excerpt?  The Fantasy short story collection should be the next book out sometime early in 2012. It features a story called The White Dragons of Suvwilur. Here is an excerpt. If you prefer something longer let me know.

    Feklaar lifted his head, ears pricked and quivering, as thunder cracked suddenly in the high, frigid peaks he called home. A shaft of bright sunlight illuminated the entrance to his lair, telling the majestic dragon no mere thunder reverberated in the mountains. The sounds died away, and Feklaar listened carefully. The unmistakable keen of a dragon followed the last echo of thunder. Feklaar growled deeply, the utterance rumbling deep in his broad chest. Another of his kind killed by the Strange Ones, who appeared in the skies south of the Mountains months ago. He lurched to his feet, allowing a puff of smoke to escape his toothy maw. Unfurling his vast pinions, Feklaar bared impressive cutlery and shot a brief burst of flame.

What book are you reading now? Which are your all-time favourite authors / books? Favourite movies and favourite music band? I am reading Merry Maines: A Shaggy Cat Tale by Garnet Quinn. Also am reading The Land of the Painted caves by Auel. I have many others in the Kindle-waiting. I love Anne Mccaffery’s Pern stories, Robert Sawyers’ Quintaglio series, Shirley Murphy’s Joe Grey Mysteries,  Mercedes Lackey’s Valdamar series,  and have already fallen in love with the Merry Maines feline crew!  There are so many more. I love Science Fiction/ fantasy and one of my favourite movies was ET, and one of my favourite TV shows is Dr Who. I love the old classic rock bands, and Christmas music in just about any genre.

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.   I love birdwatching, collect, customize, and show model horses and other animals, and I suppose my political affiliation could best be described as a conservative libertarian.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers? Well, my stories are definitely off the mainstream. I love to write stories from the nonhuman point of view. If you are a reader, like myself, who loves to read stories that feature aliens, cats, horses, trees, fantasy creatures, which tell the story from their eyes, then you will likely enjoy my work! If talking animals bother you, or nonhumanoid aliens bother you, you will likely not enjoy my books.  I had one editor tell me she could not relate to my Furlites because they had tails! She suggested removing them and I laughed. My proofreader and mentor said, “don’t you dare”.  I replied, “don’t fret, I can’t! Cut off a Furlite’s tail and they can’t walk very well!”  We had a great laugh.  You can’t lop off the tail of a Saurian biped!!! So if you enjoy books like Watership Down, Tad William’s Tailchaser’s Song, or Robert Sawyer’s FARSEER, you most likely will enjoy mine.

Quick-fire questions:
ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover? I always loved hardcovers and paperbacks, but since I got my Kindle—its ebooks now.

Cats or dogs? Love them both but choose cats.

Coffee or tea? Coffeeee-where is the IV????

Favorite food?  So many to choose from but I love a nice rare steak!!

Vanilla or chocolate icecream? Chocolate!

What are 4 things you never leave home without? Purse, cellphone, keys, and a special bracelet I have in memory of my Mom.

Laptop or desktop for writing? Mostly desktop, but have a laptop for times working at the desktop is not possible.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing? At my desktop, with the huge 24’ screen, during the day.

If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you? Dan Marino, Anne McCaffery, Chef Gordon Ramsey

List 3 of your all-time favourite movies?  ET, Star Trek IV and Lord of the Rings

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed? DR Who Christmas episode

Where to find Marie...

My blog:

 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, March 23, 2013

C.G.Ayling Interview

I wanted to thank fellow writer C.G.Ayling for stopping by here to do this interview with me. C.G. is in the midst of an epic series named Malmaxa. I hope you all enjoy the interview!

Q. First off, tell us a little bit about you.
I’m a young soul, trapped in an aging body and I have no desire for fame, or fortune.  C.G.Ayling is my pseudonym, borrowed from my Godfather, an honorable man very deserving of fame.  Sadly, fortune would serve him poorly, as he passed away in 1990.  While who I am physically really doesn’t matter, I reflect who I am spiritually, and philosophically, in my tweets, which you can find by following @CGAyling on Twitter.

Q. Tell us about your books.
My principle work is a series bearing the name Malmaxa.  The first two books, “Beltamar’s War” and “The Pilgrimage”, are already available.  Beltamar’s War introduces readers to an apparently brutal, primitive world ruled by six divine, immutable laws.  In Malmaxa, no other laws are permitted, this has many ramifications the most obvious being that no government is possible.  The first of the six laws states, “None Shall Speak for the Gods.”  As with many elements within the series, this law seems contradictory, but is not – its purpose is to prevent the formation of organized religion, not belief itself.  Like any functional, developed culture, Malmaxa is an extremely complicated world.  My writing style gradually reveals it, and by the end of the first book readers are only beginning to grasp where this tale leads.  That makes it sound like it’s a slow moving, rambling tale – it isn’t, a lot happens, with literally everything resulting in cause and effect.  Expect to be confused, but anticipate rewards as you decipher clues revealing the true nature of Malmaxa.  If you don’t enjoy complex, epic tales that raise more questions than they answer, Malmaxa is not for you.

Q. When did you start writing?
With passion?  In 1976.  With purpose? In 2006.

Q. Why do you write?
For release.  As I age, I become more and more disillusioned with the state of the world.  The world is not improving, it is becoming more controlling with each passing year.  Every year we have less real freedom, and are bound into increasingly restrictive little cubicles from which escape is virtually impossible.  The mass-media actively tells us what to think.  Instead of serving us, our governments enslave us to corporations for whom there are no rules, since laws are purchased by corporations.  Malmaxa offers me release from this unjust world, and lets me reveal my view of perfection to anyone who cares to read it. If that turns out to be no one, I’m still content as Malmaxa has let me cast out some of the demons that trouble me.

Q. What would be your choice for a superpower?
Invisibility!  Actually, in Malmaxa one of the six classes of Seizen (in my series, Seizen is the collective name for humanity) holds this power.  Think how much you could accomplish, if no one knew you were there.  Kind of like being anonymous, which I am, so in a way I already possess my superpower of choice!

Q. Who is your favorite author?
Omar Khayyám.

Q. What are you reading now?
At the moment I’m listening to an audio series from “The Great Courses”, titled “Memory and the Human Lifespan”, as presented by Professor Steve Joordens of the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Q. Who is your favorite character to write?
In Malmaxa, my favorite used to be the villain.  Placing oneself in the mind of an utterly selfish person is rather liberating. It’s also extremely challenging – I really want readers to identify with him and realize that he is human, with human desires, fears, goals and misunderstandings.  You’ll notice I never named the villain – that’s because I have no desire for who the villain is, to be immediately obvious.  My new favorite character is Eden.  Eden is a six cycle old child (a cycle might loosely be considered a year, but is actually significantly longer) by the end of the second novel, Eden’s character is developing and maturing far faster than that of a young child should.  This is because of her exposure to elements normally reserved for adults, much like young children of our time.  Eden is a crucial character in the tale, although she is not the protagonist – there, a hint, without any spoiler.

Q. Do you have a writing process?
I do. I use hidden text to outline a section, before filling it out.  I don’t intentionally write in sequence, though a lot of it ends up this way.  I spend a great deal of time back tracking and cleaning up story threads, of which there are many.  While driving, which I do an extraordinary amount, I record thoughts onto a voice recorder.  Then, when time permits, I incorporate these thoughts into my hidden text, and later flesh them out.  I do a significant amount of research as I write, and I pay extraordinary attention to the little details – to me, the tiny things matter more than the biggest, for truth is easier to ascertain with sharper focus.  I never tell anyone where the plot is going, not even my wife or youngest daughter, Julia.  They often ask me for hints and clues, but I’m nothing if not hard hearted and point them back to what they’ve already read – it’s all there, hidden in obscure details and metaphor.

Q. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Anticipate heartache – though it won’t reduce the pain of rejection, it will reduce the shock.  Thought that sounds overly dramatic, I present it with the best intentions.  Having poured your heart into our writing, our natural tendency is to assume everyone will love it as much as we do.  If you go the traditional publishing route, you’ll face rejection – usually in the form of complete silence from agents and publishers who exempt themselves from courtesy in their submission guidelines.  If you self-publish, the indifference and assumed rejection of silence is still there, though more insidious.  If you’re expecting it, it won’t shock you quite as much – if you’re anticipating instant fame and accolade… well it might shock you enough that you stop writing, that would be a loss for us all.

Q. What inspired you to pursue writing?
The desire to bring honor to my Godfather, or at least to his memory.

Q. What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing?
I don’t watch TV willingly, and I can’t recall the last time I went to a movie.  Occasionally I’ll watch shows or movies on Netflix.  I recently watched the first four seasons of “Sons of Anarchy” – I enjoyed the first two seasons, an intriguing premise about just who the “bad guys” really are.  The third and fourth season crossed far beyond the line of believability, I won’t be following that series any further.  One of my favorite movies is “Apocalypse Now”, another close contender is “To Live and Die in LA”.

 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, March 4, 2013

H.L.Stephens Interview

A few weeks ago, i had the distinct pleasure of meeting a fine person and author named Heather Stephens, who goes by the pen name  H.L. Stephens. From the moment I interacted with her, I knew she was not only a serious writer, but was a kind person and someone who cares deeply about her writing. Her interview is very heartfelt and real and I for one appreciate the sincerity. Do yourself a favor and pick up her work!

First off, tell us a little bit about you

-        My name is Helen. It is a family name, and every day I thank the good Lord above that I was not born a boy; otherwise, my name might have been Cleon (another good old family name). In a Star Trek generation, you do the math on how many fights I would have had defending my honor. ‘Stephens’ is a tribute to my father. He has always been one of my biggest fans and biggest supporters. I am proudly owned by a 10 pound Pomeranian name Peanut Pumpkin Pie. She is the light of my life, and I would challenge any parent to have more pictures of their two legged kids than I do of my four legged one. I grew up in Charleston, SC but have lived in the Appalachian mountains for the last 16 years or so. My greatest hope is that long after I am gone if ebay or something like it still exists, some person will find one of my books for a really great deal. They will sit down in their favorite chair, open the well worn pages of their moderately priced treasure to begin to read the words that first poured forth from my heart, and they will rediscover why they love to read.

Tell us about your books
-        The Chronicles of Mister Marmee novels are the firsthand accounts of the many investigations and exploits of the feline adventurer and consulting detective, Mister Marmee and his best friend and colleague, the famous dachshund detective Sir Happy Heart. The world is introduced to them in the first novel The Case of Jack the Nipper which was released in eBook form June of 2012. In this first full-length novel, a series of brutal attacks and a connected murder set the city of London on edge. Sir Happy Heart and Mister Marmee find themselves unavoidably embroiled in the case as the details of each victim are brought to their very doorstep by Inspector Hyrum Farley himself, in his efforts to stop the perpetrator of the crimes before he strikes again. With clues that lead from the bleakest slums, to the darkened doorway of illegal dog fighting, to the country estate of one of the most powerful and influential families of Victorian times, these extraordinary detectives must prevail before the Nipper takes his next victim. It's a race against the clock for these two fearless detectives, and time is running out!

The second novel in the Chronicles of Mister Marmee is nearing completion of the first draft. I hope to have The Case of the Wayward Fae ready for release by the end of this year.

When did you start writing?
-        I started writing when I was a little girl. We still have the diary I started when I was like 4 and 5 years old. It is amazing the deep and pertinent things you write in your diary at that age. Heavy stuff. For some reason, I drew a lot of bugs. I have no idea why.

Why do you write?
-        I write because the voices in my head won’t be quiet unless I do. They are inconsiderate little buggers that wake me at all hours of the day and night if I try and ignore them.

What would be your choice for a superpower?
-        I would love the ability to walk through walls because sometimes I really don’t feels like messing with the doors.

Who is your favorite author?
-        This is a hard one to nail down because my tastes vary and my appreciations for various authors exist because of the gifts they bring to the table for the types of things they wrote about. Every time I try to pick one author as a ‘favorite’, I remember another author who gave me equal pleasure at a different time for a different reason. I begin to feel cheap and tawdry, like I have had some illicit affair, but for argument’s sake, I will name a few of the classics that have been among my favorites for many years: Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austin, Trollope, James Fennimore Cooper, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

What are you reading now?
-        I am currently reading a few books at the same time, as much for pleasure as for research. The Land Beyond the Forest by Emily Gerard is the book that inspired Bram Stoker to write his most famous work. Written in the late 1800’s, it is Emily’s experiences while living in Transylvania. I am also reading Catnip by Valerie Tate. It has been a fun read so far. It came up as a “you might also like…” on my book’s page (The Case of Jack the Nipper) so I was curious. My third and (so far) final source of reading pleasure at the moment is Victorian Murderess: A True History of Thirteen Respectable French and English Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes by Mary S Hartman. Because of the Era of my current series (The Chronicles of Mister Marmee)

Who is your favorite character to write?
-        I would have to say it is a tossup between Mister Marmee and Sir Happy Heart. They are both such charming and fallible souls. I cannot help but love them both. Their relationship with each other is beautiful, and I find myself intrigued to find out how it will unfold through each new adventure. They are such complex characters; I cannot in truth choose one over the other because they both have at their heart the same source inspiration – my own real life Sir Happy Heart. He was incidentally a black and tan miniature dachshund who passed away on February 19, 2013.

Do you have a writing process?
-        I suppose in some way I do, but in the classic sense, I don’t have a set structure. With each story, I generally start at the beginning and I write until I reach the end. I don’t always know what the ending will be. It often feels as though the story writes itself, and I am often excited to find out what is gong to happen next. I will at times have a general direction in mind, but more often than not when I sit down at the computer and construct the story, it takes its own flow. Sometimes, entire segments will come to me completely out of order from the rest of the story, and I will write those as they come. Then I just work on the rest of the story until it ‘catches up’. I have never written an outline for a story or anything like that. I carry journals around with me and write ideas, thoughts, snippets, names, whatever I don’t want to forget. If I don’t use it in my current project, I save it for another one. I guess you could call it my disorganized organizational method.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
-        Don’t give up and keep writing. It is a hard road sometimes, and there are days where it will feel impossible. The key is to keep doing what you love, no matter what anybody tells you. If you can’t beat them, out write them. The more you write, the better you get at your craft. At some point, they are going to get tired of seeing you name come across their desk. Don’t be a turd; just be tenacious. Give them a reason to respect your commit, not hate your guts. Remember, the only way that a dream can die is for you to lay it down and walk away.

What inspired you to pursue writing?
-        I really sucked at MMA, so I thought I would get into something where I wouldn’t get beat up all the time. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I actually became a writer for a number of reasons. First, I couldn’t help myself. It is in my blood, and I could no sooner stop writing than I could voluntarily stop breathing. I think about writing when I am doing other things, so you might say I have it pretty bad. Second, my mom is a writer. She has been a contributing author in over a dozen Chicken Soup For the Soul books and has been a great encouragement to me to take my love of the craft to the next level. 

What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing?
-        My tastes vary widely so I can’t give a comprehensive list of all my favorites but I can give a few. Firefly – one of the best series ever to be cancelled in the first season. Tera Nova – second best series ever to be cancelled in the first season (okay so I have a thing for hard luck cases where TV shows are concerned). Law and Order – I think it is the clink/clink between scenes that gets me ever time. Transformers (all of the movies) – okay I loved the cartoon as a kid, geeked out over the movies as an adult. Sue me. Any movie with Sam Elliott because he just has that ‘you’re gunna get your butt kicked slow and easy like’ kind of way about him. Most Disney and Dreamworks animation. I am a huge kid at heart. I still cry at the same Disney movies that made me cry when I was a little girl. Call it the soft nuggety side of me.

 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.