Friday, June 27, 2014

Classic Interview: Shells interviews Piers Anthony

Has technology hindered or helped the writing community today?

I think technology has helped, with pen and paper, then the typewriter, and now word processing on the computer. It makes it easier to do, and harder to lose.

There is a lot of work you have done to help new authors get their footing. What is the one thing based on your experience is the most important thing authors should know?

That publishers are not interested in the writer's welfare of his art. They are in it for the money.

For yourself as an author, what has been the most challenging aspect of the process?

Marketing my books. I can write what I choose to write, but if I don't cater to the publishers I won't get it published. Now however, self publishing is coming into its own, and that should help.

You have had a long career as an author. Has there ever been a time where you thought about giving it up or have just 'had enough?'

No. I wanted to be a writer ever since college, and I never wanted to stop. I am still writing, and will until I die.

Some readers might not know you write Erotica and where can adult readers find that work?

I don't liker censorship, and erotica can get censored. Now that there's a market for it, I write it. But it's hardly all I write, just one type. It can be found at Mundania Press, Phaze, Cobblestone, eXcessica, and soon my erotic romance novel Eroma should be published online in all electronic formats including Kindle.

How do you keep motivated to write the long running series of Xanth?

Readers keep begging me to keep Xanth going.

Can you tell us a bit about the latest in the Xanth series Knot Gneiss?

Knot Gneiss is Xanth #34. I have written two more after it, and am planning the next. It's a sort of half-sequel to Jumper Cable, where Jumper Spider was the main character. This time it is his closest friend Wenda Woodwife. She speaks the forest dialect, saying things like "I wood knot dew that to yew." I love her accent. She has to transport a 150 pound lump of petrified reverse wood that naturally terrifies everyone else; she can handle it because she understands wood of any kind.

If you had to pick one moment out of your writing career that was your favorite, what would it be?

When I made my first sale. It was only a story, paid only $20. But it was the confirmation that I could do it, and all else followed, in due course.

You can find out more about Piers Anthony at his website:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Classic interview: Shells Interviews Michael Moorcock

What do you feel is the most important thing about writing fiction?

That it should confront, in some way, the contemporary world.

What do you feel is your greatest achievement as an author?

Probably just the number of ideas, terms and analyses I've put out there.

The Elric series is considered a cult classic and a favorite amongst readers still today, how do you feel about the series now compared to when you first started it?

Elric always reflected the person I was and still does. When I started it was all new and I had no idea how it would go down with the public. Now I see so many clones it's a bit weird. I doubt very much I would be writing fantasy if I was, say, 20 today. I wouldn't change anything, though. I still like Elric, still enjoy writing Elric stories, especially since I found a way to bring him into conflict with my real world. Some of my own ways of plotting and so on have become such standard tropes, even cliches, in modern fantasy that it's a lot harder to do something new, which is why I write comparatively few new stories, these days. I found one solution by collaborating, in France, with a friend there, and the first of those novels will be appearing this year -- Les Buveurs D'Ames -- from my regular Elric publisher Fleuve Noir in Paris -- with Fabrice Colin.

Elric: Swords and Roses was recently released, can you tell us a bit about that?

It's the final volume in a series which not only collects the 'classic' series and arranges them in the order in which they were written but includes all kinds of uncollected material, fiction and non-fiction, including artwork from the very first magazine stories and so on. This last version includes a film script and, among other things, a tribute to Jim Cawthorn, who was the first Elric illustrator. The core of the book is the long (for Elric books) novel The Revenge of the Rose. The Rose is a character who has appeared in other novels, including my War Amongst the Angels sequence, the Multiverse comic and others.

Are there any projects you are working on now that you can tell us a bit about?

I'm working on the first of a new sequence about a mysterious, enduring part of London known as Alsatia or The Sactuary, using a great deal of material which is pretty straightforward autobiography. I have various short stories in the works, including a new Jerry Cornelius story Walking the Hog, another Elric novella, a novella featuring M. Zenith (who is a sort of Elric in the 20th century) called Curare! set in the 1930s, various autobiographical pieces like the one which appeared recently in the Stories anthology, an album of Cajun/Zydaco influenced music called Live from the Terminal Cafe (with Martin Stone, Pete Pavli and others) and a few reviews and introductions for various newspapers, books etc.

I'm chronically short of time!

What advice based on your experience would you tell a person just starting to write?

If you want to write detective fiction, read everything BUT detective fiction. If you want to write fantasy -- the same -- stop reading fantasy and read everything else, especially literary fiction.

What is the one thing you would want readers to remember the most about you?

Maybe that I started a lot of stuff that's so familiar they think it's always been there. If it's my books, Mother London and the Pyat sequence are the books I'm proudest of.

You can find out more about Michael Moorcock at his website: 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Interview with Author Alexandra Butcher

What made you want to become an author?

I’ve always been a writer; short stories, poems, fanfic and the like even when I was little. I usually ended being the one who wrote the class poem for the display.
Being an author – now that is another matter. I used to write adventures for fantasy role play games, such as Warhammer, Dragon Ages, Star Trek and World of Darkness and really it stemmed from there as a few people told me I should write out my ideas as more than just adventures for friends. I’d had an idea I was half-working on so that was that.

What do you find contradictory about being an author?

People expect you just to be able to come up with a story on the spur of the moment.  They also think it pays well, which mostly isn’t the case.
I tend to spot weak plots a lot more, whereas before I might have persevered with a book I wasn’t getting into now I’ll just give it up. That said I see more in a book if it is good, I’ll appreciate a great story for being a great story, well-crafted and well designed.  I think I probably see weak research now too. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

How important do you find social media is for the author these days?

Absolutely vital. We live in an international and digital world and this allows us to communicate with people, who even 50 years ago we would have no chance of exchanging words with. Most authors publish e-books these days and so the market is there to promote, network and sell books via social media.  Not only that many authors have blog followers, websites, author pages and the like. It is a great way to learn more about someone, to keep up with what an author might be writing, or planning and even just hanging out. I met my best friend online, through a social media site, plus several other people who have enriched my life. There is a great author community online, which is usually very supportive. It is great way to find new readers. As a reader I now find the majority of my books via Good Reads and Facebook and I read in a far wider spectrum than I ever used to.

Of course the downsides are there as well. Often someone might say something online and be misinterpreted, or rant and it is recorded forever. If someone misbehaves, everyone will know ;).  Not to mention there are a few individuals who take delight in cyber bullying, fortunately this has never happened to me, but I know a few authors and readers who’ve experienced it.

Could you tell us a bit about The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles-Book I? 

Book I follows the adventure of the elven sorceress Dii. The world of Erana is dark, magic is illegal, and elves are enslaved to the humans so she has no rights and her very existence is forbidden. Elves were blamed for a terrible plague, which almost decimated not only their own race but that of the humans and, to a lesser extent, the trolls.  She runs away from her wicked and abusive master and embarks on a journey to find not only sanctuary but herself. In the mix are a mysterious nobleman, an enigmatic half-elf and a shy, innocent elven huntress who seek a missing child. Of course there are bad guys too;)

It is a book of magic and mayhem, sex and sorcery and romance and revenge. The relationships between the characters are important, but the adventure is even more so. It is a world of light and dark, where the law is immoral and morality lawless.

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles-Book 1 tells about the Order of the Witch-Hunters. Did you base this particular organization
on anything from real life?

Not especially, although there are elements of the Nazis, such as herding the elves into ghettos. Mostly they are what happens when martial law becomes tyranny and when ignorance and fear are powerful tools with which to rule.

Where can readers purchase Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles-Book I?

Amazon in e-book and print, Barnes and Noble also in e-book and print and I-books. It seems to be for sale on some of the Kobo stores as well, although sadly not in the UK or US at the moment, after Kobo’s over-reaction about indie authors last year. It is also available in large print.

Can you tell the readers a bit about The Shining Citadel - The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book II?

Book II follows the same set of characters, plus a couple more, several months after the end of book I. It can be read as a standalone but is probably better if you are already familiar with the world and the characters. In this adventure an elven scholar turns up requesting aid to find a missing family heirloom, but not all is as it seems. There is intrigue, betrayal, and the nature of truth is explored by at least one of the characters. This is a truth which is unwelcome but very real and could rock the status quo.

Of course there is a great adventure, wicked bad guys, romance and a goodly helping of magic.

How does the sorceress Dii'Athella impact the story?

Well certainly book I is her story, and her history continues into book II, when she discovers who she is. Although Archos and the others are important, Dii’s transition from shy and fearful former courtesan, or ‘Kept’ to a rather bolder, braver and more confident woman is wonderful. She is the focus of the series, she is the Light of the title.

Where can readers purchase The Shining Citadel - The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book II?

Same places as book I, although just to issues with printing size I haven’t yet sorted out the large print.

Could you tell us a bit about your collection of stories in Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends?

They are set in the same world as the novels, but only one features a character directly related to the novels. The Legend of Oeliana expands on a scene covered in Book II as part of a larger scene. Told as legendary, mythic or life lessons they cover everything from an adaptation of the princess and the toad, a herbalist’s last wisdom, the love of a god for a mortal and the mayhem that brings and what happens when gods become involved with war. They cover the distant past to the future and possible future. They are all different stories, and reviews have commented on the variety of styles and subjects.

What was your favorite story to write?

Honestly I prefer writing longer stories to the shorter ones, as I can really get into a character and events in a novel. They were all fun to write, I’ve had to do quite a bit of research, including herbalism, swamp terrain and flora and fauna, medieval weapons and horses.  I am not sure I have a favourite out of them all, each and every one had its pleasure and it woes.

What was the most difficult story to write?

Hmm that is hard. My work in progress, which is Book III of the series has been a bit of a fight to whip into shape. Of the published ones, book II. I changed the ending, as I released I’d blocked myself in with what I’d planned, this meant changing the ending, the beginning of book III (which I’d planned by then). Also at the time my mother was dying of cancer, and so obviously my mind was elsewhere. 

Any future works you would like to talk about?

Book III is in progress, and hopefully will be out by the end of the year. I also have some anthology pieces coming up in the Wyrd Worlds sequel, one is a darkly humorous tale about missing socks (it makes sense when you read it – honest) and the other is a story about a god and the little green-blue world he cares for.
The Indie Collaboration has just released Summer Shorts which also has a darkly humorous fairy tale. Hopefully there will also be a charity anthology later in the year.

Where can people find out more about you?


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Interview with Barbara Forte Abate author of Painted from Memories

Could you please briefly tell the readers what Painted from Memories is about?

Catherine is the emotionally fractured casualty of a hideous childhood tragedy, and yet she’s found happy-ever-after in the person of Grayson Barnett. With the promise of a freshly polished future in her grasp, she feels compelled to bury the poisonous trail of her past beneath the purposeful lies and omissions she offers her new husband.

Now, with the inherent shame of her traumatic history secreted away and losing hold, Cat finds herself increasingly troubled as Gray falls into an erratic pattern of late night wanderings through the house, painting the bare walls with extravagant murals. And only when the unthinkable happens—a devastating blow which leaves her broken and spiraling, and an unexpected arrival on her doorstep, bearing a cache of impossible revelations—is Cat forced to question whether the man she so desperately loves is in truth a stranger, and their beautiful life a gross falsehood constructed upon a foundation of lies.

Catherine seems like a very layered character. Where did the idea of her character come about?

Cat is a composite of several people who have passed through my life and left a mark. While I purposely steer away from writing anything autobiographic, it would be a big fat festering lie to say Cat exists only in fiction. She is determined and strong, yet vulnerable and weak. She is as deeply conflicted even as she is resolute. A survivor without her consent. The more she evolved over the progression of the book, the more I felt I knew her. I absolutely loved writing her and was fully absorbed in worrying how things would turn out for her!

What did you find the most difficult when writing Painted from Memories?

Getting the words right! How to write a story with characters who love one another madly, yet without truly knowing each other? Who are equally strong and, purposeful, yet deeply vulnerable. As passionately as Cat cherishes her future with Gray, there is the inescapable awareness that she has, and continues to be, dishonest and deceptive. And so was the quandary of how to convey all of this while keeping these characters sympathetic and inherently likeable.

There seems to be a lesson in this story. How do you feel this would help women who maybe in this same situation?

Can anyone hope to build their own “happy ever after” on a foundation of carefully placed falsehoods? Cat created what she believed to be a perfect life with Gray by purposely omitting all those things she believed too hideous to reveal. It’s pretty much saying that as much as she cherished his love for her, she didn’t trust it as being true or durable. Real love is honest love. Many, if not all of us, carry around a quietly concealed box of secrets, but it’s the big things we keep hidden under the stairs that can emotionally crippleCat holds to the erroneous conviction that certain stains on her history have left her hideously flawed—a lie that is altogether counterfeit to the promise and purpose of real love.

If you had one thing you wanted readers to get after reading Painted from Memories, what would it be?

That we’re never as alone as we sometimes believe we are. There are experiences in life that can leave us feeling very isolated, hideously damaged, or eternally soiled. But life’s unfortunate events do not necessarily define us. Truth, honestly, love, trust ... these are the things we can claim and in turn offer. Unconditional love—what an awesome gift to give another person.

Where can readers buy Painted from Memories?

Painted from Memories is available in print from your favorite online retailers, or can be ordered through brick and mortar booksellers. The eBook is exclusive to Amazon—but only for a short while—after which you’ll find it hanging out in all the other places where books are sold.

Are there any future works you would like to share with the readers?

I am currently weeding through notebooks scribbled to bursting with a tangle of ideas—so I’m still percolating the next book. I do wish I was a faster writer, but I’m more the tortoise than the hare :-D

Where can readers learn more about you?


And sincere thanks to you, Shells, for the courteous invitation to stop by and chit-chat about my new book. It’s lovely being here :-D