Catherine Gracey

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Interview: Eric Wilson

In American, Author on November 29, 2012 at 9:00 am

Eric Wilson is a man of many talents. The fifteen novels he has written – such as 2 Seconds Late, October Baby, and the Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy – are impressive, but I am more impressed that he has travelled to over 40 countries. Why? Because he does this from a base in Nashville, Tennessee, and finding a decent international connection from that city is painful. Eric recently took the time to answer my questions.

1)   What is something you do in your professional or artistic life that you think is really cool, and why do you think that about it?

I get to lasso creativity and then hang on for the ride. It’s scary sometimes. Sometimes I miss and fall flat. Other times, I go places I never imagined.

2)   How did you come to be in the career position you are currently in?

I worked 80 hours a week, between my “real” job and my writing, hoping to be published some day. It finally happened in 2002, when I signed a two-book contract with a division of Random House, only weeks after we lost nearly everything. I’ve had some ups and a lot of downs since then, on this writing journey, but I wouldn’t even be on this path without the steadfast support of my wife.

3)   What is something from your personal life that you are very proud of, and why are you proud?

Proud of my marriage, because both my wife and I come from divorced homes, and we have clung tightly to each other and each other’s dreams, refusing to go down that same heartbroken trail. It helps that I have a sweet and sexy wife–sometimes, she’s both at the same time, sometimes not. Meow!

4)   What is a personality trait you possess that other people might not notice, and how would they miss it?

I’m fiercely protective of those being abused, whether it’s children or women or a janitor overlooked for a raise. I’ve had knives, fists, and even a gun pointed at me while stepping in to stop guys from hitting a woman again.

5)   If you could change just one thing about the world, what would it be and why would you change it?

I’d love to see all American kids do at least one year of overseas study, just to broaden their views of art, people, politics, and religion.

6)   If you could give a young person one piece of advice, what would it be?

Start good habits now. Don’t cheat on your boyfriend/girlfriend. Save some of your money. Stay in good shape, physically and intellectually. This isn’t a sprint, but a marathon, and you’ll end up like your parents if you don’t plan differently now.

7)   What is something that you would like to do in your life that you haven’t done yet, and why haven’t you done it?

There are still so many countries I’d love to visit. Other cultures fascinate me. Unfortunately, travel costs money, even though I do so on a shoestring budget. I need some more shoestrings.

8)   What is something that you have sworn to never do again, and why won’t you repeat it?

I will never pull another all-nighter to finish a book. Just because I’ve done all-nighters for every single book I’ve ever written doesn’t mean I have to do it again. I know it’s hard to stop once I get near the end, I know I get in a zone and don’t want to quit, but my body’s getting worn out. Maybe my brain too. Oh, forget it! It’s a habit now. A ritual. I feel another all-nighter coming on!

9)   If you could break one personal habit, what would it be and why would you break it?

Chewing my fingernails. I do it when I’m in my creative mode–nibble, nibble, nibble, ponder, think, imagine–and I know it drives my wife crazy.

10)   If you could take up a new hobby or learn a new skill, what would it be and why?

Man, I’d love to learn how to rock-climb, or learn Brazilian jiujitsu. Then again, I wish I knew how to direct films, in which case I wouldn’t have to sit around waiting for Hollywood to wise up and realize how awesome my Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy would be on film.

11)   Is there anything from you that we should be looking out for in the future?

I’m working on my next Aramis Black mystery, titled “3 Fatal Blows.” And this month I’m releasing an e-novella, the launching point of a new series called Watch Alice Go! The novella is called, “Alice Goes the Way of the Maya.” Check it out on Amazon or my website.

Thank you, Eric, for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to know more about Eric, you can visit his website.

Next Week: Robert J. Krog

Interview: Princess Alethea Kontis

In American, Author, Editor on November 22, 2012 at 8:50 am

Princess Alethea Kontis is the type of author who makes little girls glow with excitement. She wears fairy dresses, has sparkly magic wands, and comes equipped to book signings with coloured pens that match the artwork. Her work extends beyond picture books, such as The Wonderland Alphabet, to novels, short stories, poems, and essays, and she also co-edited the Elemental anthology for a children’s benefit. She lives in Virginia with her Fairy Godfamily, and recently took the time to answer my questions.

1)   What is something you do in your professional or artistic life that you think is really cool, and why do you think that about it?

I get to tell kids all sorts of things they never knew about fairy tales. It’s so much fun to watch their faces as they discover new things about events and people they’ve been familiar with all their lives.

2)   How did you come to be in the career position you are currently in?

I started writing and acting when I was eight. As the acting thing didn’t pan out after high school and the Chemistry degree went nowhere, I just kept writing.

3)   What is something from your personal life that you are very proud of, and why are you proud?

I am very proud of my self-confidence. I had to go down a lot of horrible roads and be broken into many little pieces before I figured out how to fall in love with myself.

4)   What is a personality trait you possess that other people might not notice, and how would they miss it?

I see magic everywhere, in everything. Most other people are too wrapped up in messes to notice.

5)   If you could change just one thing about the world, what would it be and why would you change it?

I would give everyone on the planet an injection of self-confidence and a good night’s sleep. VOILA! Instant world peace.

6)   If you could give a young person one piece of advice, what would it be?

Never stop searching for unicorns.

7)   What is something that you would like to do in your life that you haven’t done yet, and why haven’t you done it?

I have never been up in a hot air balloon. The Fairy Godboyfriend is afraid of heights.

8)   What is something that you have sworn to never do again, and why won’t you repeat it?

My one rule of the internet: “Don’t Poke the Crazy.” Giving attention to social misfits never ends well.

9)   If you could break one personal habit, what would it be and why would you break it?

I bite the inside of my cheek. Nervous habit I’ve always had. You’d think I’d be smart enough to CUT IT OUT by now.

10)   If you could take up a new hobby or learn a new skill, what would it be and why?

I would love to learn German, so I could read the original Grimms’ tales.

11)   Is there anything from you that we should be looking out for in the future?

My creepy fairy tale story “Blood from Stone” will be released in December 2012 from Apex Magazine. In 2013, HERO (the sequel to ENCHANTED) will be released, as well as a novella called TRIXTER and my newest collaboration with illustrator Janet K. Lee: DIARY OF A MAD SCIENTIST GARDEN GNOME.

Thank you, Alethea, for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to know more about Alethea, you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, and you can visit her website.

Next Week: Eric Wilson

Interview: H. David Blalock

In American, Author, Editor, Uncategorized on November 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

H. David Blalock is an author and an editor from Tennessee who is counting down to the end of the world this year. I suspect it might be to avoid his annual publication target but, with a list of credits as impressive as his, he probably doesn’t have too much to worry about. He is currently embarking on his first blog tour to celebrate the release of his latest novel, Traitor Angel, which is the next installment of the Angelkiller Triad. David recently took the time to answer my questions. Bonus points if you catch his reference to someone else who has been interviewed on this site.

1)   What is something you do in your professional or artistic life that you think is really cool, and why do you think that about it?

I really enjoy writing, but it’s actually the storytelling that means so much to me. I get to express myself and connect with the reader, share in a moment when our minds look at the same idea and, hopefully, see it in the same light. When that works, there are no words for how satisfying that is to me.

2)   How did you come to be in the career position you are currently in?

I have always been a writer, but of course not always published, so I guess the question you’re asking would be how I came to be a published writer. I suppose it was because I wouldn’t give up on the possibility I could be published and could share my work with a larger audience than just friends and family. Perseverance and stubbornness.

3)   What is something from your personal life that you are very proud of, and why are you proud?

At the risk of sounding cliche, that would be my two daughters, Herika and Celina. They have, in spite of their handicap of having me as their father, grown into fine women with beautiful families. I can take some credit, however small, just to make myself feel good, but the majority of that has to go to them and their mother.

4)   What is a personality trait you possess that other people might not notice, and how would they miss it?

I have a very short temper but good control. If either one slipped, I’m sure that other people would notice. It has happened once or twice in the past (maybe three times). I do not enjoy the company of fools and, thank God, I am seldom if ever there.

5)   If you could change just one thing about the world, what would it be and why would you change it?

I would eliminate the root cause of all human problems: apathy. All our conflicts and troubles can be traced in one way or another to the apathy of a nation, a race, or a people. Once people become involved, things get done. Otherwise, nothing ever changes.

6)   If you could give a young person one piece of advice, what would it be?

Never stop learning. Just because you’re no longer in school or university does not mean you can stop learning. Investigate. Question everything. Trust nothing but your own understanding, no matter how hard that may sound. Only one person can ever truly know what you need from life: you. Find out what that is, and go for it with all your heart.

7)   What is something that you would like to do in your life that you haven’t done yet, and why haven’t you done it?

Wow. That is a very profound question. Especially the second part of it. Looking back on my life, I find it difficult to say there is anything I would rather have done, so I really can’t answer truthfully. So many people go through life trying to please everyone they end up with a thousand regrets. I may have regrets, but they are for things I have done, not for what I haven’t.

8)   What is something that you have sworn to never do again, and why won’t you repeat it?

Jump out of a perfectly good airplane. It took me just a fraction of a second to realize that really wasn’t for me, but by that time it was too late.

9)   If you could break one personal habit, what would it be and why would you break it?

Probably being overly critical of myself and others. It is the kind of thing that distracts you from really enjoying the world around you. It makes it more difficult to connect with others. I never voice my critique, but it resounds in my head and colors my reactions.

10)   If you could take up a new hobby or learn a new skill, what would it be and why?

Spelunking. Why? Because it would be something I know next to nothing about and want to learn.

11)   Is there anything from you that we should be looking out for in the future?

There are several short stories from multiple publishers and, of course, my new novel from Seventh Star Press, Traitor Angel. In the coming year I hope to have two more novels out as well as the possibility of five short stories. I invite your readers to follow my blog for updates.

Thank you, David, for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to know more about David, you can read his blog and visit his website.

Next Week: Alethea Kontis

Interview: Selah Janel

In American, Author, Costume Designer on November 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

Selah Janel is a dark fantasy author and costume designer. Based in Ohio, she is a study in contradiction. She is a self professed scaredy cat who writes horror stories such as her novel, In the Red. She cites the Monster Mash as her favourite Halloween song, but isn’t sure if she’ll find the courage to dance. And she longs for the day when someone is able to find the Loch Ness Monster, but is freaked out by Bigfoot. Selah managed to unwind from Halloween long enough to answer my questions.

1)   What is something you do in your professional or artistic life that you think is really cool, and why do you think that about it?

I’ve always had my own distinct point of view, and since I was little I really connected with the stories people told or the books I was reading. My playtimes as a kid were elaborate, detail-oriented adventures and I was always inventing stories about places when my family went on trips. To be a published author is not only an extension of those imaginative tendencies, but it’s a dream! I’m also lucky to work in costume design and construction, and to be able to create characters and creatures and tell stories through their looks.  At the end of the day, everything for me relates to imagination and story, so being able to work in fields that directly feed that is amazing.

2)   How did you come to be in the career position you are currently in?

I’d been writing for myself for a long time, but was too down on myself and afraid to really give myself a chance. One or two rejection letters and I’d decided that that was it. Then, I finally reached a point where I realized that I was letting fear get in the way of something that could make me truly happy. I promised myself that I’d submit as much as possible for a year and a day, and if I got a rejection notice I’d immediately turn around and submit that piece somewhere else. I was hoping for one, maybe two, acceptances. At the end of the time frame, I ended up with three e-book acceptances, two stories in magazines, a poem in an e-zine, and a story in an anthology.  Sometimes you really need to get out of your own way and agree to learn from disappointment and fear.

3)   What is something from your personal life that you are very proud of, and why are you proud?

I’m a fairly tenacious person. Some of that was instilled to me by my parents, some of that I picked up by falling into metaphorical ditches and climbing back out. I suppose it’s more of a quality than something in my personal life, but I’m very proud of this trait. I may come off as stubborn sometimes, but if I truly believe in something, then I’m going to be dedicated and do all I can to bring that idea to fruition. I may get frustrated, but I don’t back down easily.

4)   What is a personality trait you possess that other people might not notice, and how would they miss it?

I am socially shy. A lot of people don’t believe this and think I do well with people, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared to death at some point. I’m fine if I have something to talk about…speeches and performing don’t bother me, but just mingling or walking around in crowds on my own makes me nervous. All my theatre training comes in handy, though, and helps me to work through it. And I genuinely like meeting and learning about new people, so that helps, too. I work very hard to not let it show, but sometimes I clam up or over-talk if I’m nervous around new people.

5)   If you could change just one thing about the world, what would it be and why would you change it?

I feel like people are always trying to be right. It could be about politics, religion, class status, intelligence,  what superheroes they prefer…it doesn’t matter. It’s become almost stylish to put others down instead of informing them or trying to meet somewhere in the middle. People are allowed to have differences of opinion – it doesn’t make them wrong or bad people.  We all share common traits. We all have families, we all have dreams and passions. We should be focusing on what we have in common instead of trying to be right, or separate ourselves from others.

And if someone notices someone that truly is wrong about something – I’m thinking about the internet memes where it’s funny to slam someone or rant on them for getting facts or grammar wrong – then have a conversation with them. Try to inform them; don’t go off on them just to prove you’re right or better! How is being awful to people funny? How is that going to help anything? I suppose I’d just like people over all to be more tolerant and to try to appreciate each other for all the great qualities we all possess.

6)   If you could give a young person one piece of advice, what would it be?

The same piece of advice that a friend gave to me a few years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. Just keep working. Just keep trying, keep progressing, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’ll get to where you want to be if you keep at it. It sounds simple, I know, but it’s dead-on right.

7)   What is something that you would like to do in your life that you haven’t done yet, and why haven’t you done it?

Learn to cast and mold for prosthetic masks and that sort of thing. Mostly because I haven’t had time to really sit down and play with technique or find a class. It’s definitely something that I want to do for myself soon, though.

8)   What is something that you have sworn to never do again, and why won’t you repeat it?

I haven’t sworn not to do it again, but I very reluctantly go on roller coasters. I’m not a fan of plummeting from heights, and I just can’t help but think that with my weird luck, I’d be riding one on an off day or something.

9)   If you could break one personal habit, what would it be and why would you break it?

I have the tendency to be a late sleeper if I can get away with it. Sometimes this is truly because of the schedule I have to keep, but others, it’s not. I’d like to be able to keep to normal human hours when I’m able to for once in my life.  I feel like it makes other parts of my life out of whack – I don’t stay as organized as I’d like because I’m either sleeping in or up late to compensate and get work done. I feel like I’m just a little bit out of alignment in that respect and I’d really like to correct that.

10)   If you could take up a new hobby or learn a new skill, what would it be and why?

Salsa dancing, or ballroom dancing in general. I’ve always wanted to learn, and there’s such a romantic element to being able to move well and being close to someone on the dance floor and expressing yourself with your body to music. I’m in the process of getting more comfortable with myself, so this is something I’d like to finally tackle. Lord knows if I’ll ever work up the nerve to learn, but it’s on the list!

11)   Is there anything from you that we should be looking out for in the future?

I have an e-release slated for December with Mocha Memoirs Press called Holly and Ivy. It’s a Christmas-themed story about a “stuck” woman who is forced to move back home, and becomes re-acquainted with her childhood dryad friend who lives in the trees of her family’s Christmas tree farm. I like it because  not only is it set against magical and holiday elements, but it explores the nature of choices, of what’s more important: friends and keeping a promise, or being true to yourself and moving forward. I don’t claim that there’s a right answer, but the characters definitely surprised me with this one. I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone!

Thank you, Selah, for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to know more about Selah, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Goodreads. You can also read her blog and Fandom Scene column, or follow the Facebook page for In The Red.

Interview: Stephanie Osborn

In American, Author on November 1, 2012 at 9:00 am

When your daughter tells you that she isn’t sure if she should pursue arts or science, hand her one of Stephanie Osborn’s books and start saving for higher education. The former rocket scientist has brought her scientific knowledge to her novels, including Burnout, Extraction Point, and the Displaced Detective series. While a lot of us would be jealous about this American’s ability to have not one but two dream careers, it hasn’t all been easy, as Stephanie explained while answering my questions.

1)   What is something you do in your professional or artistic life that you think is really cool?

I am often a guest at science fiction conventions where, due to my background, I end up getting to meet the really big names and sit down and talk to them on a more or less level playing field. People like Howard Tayler, Jerry Pournelle, Sarah Hoyt, John Ringo, Lois McMaster Bujold and Travis Taylor. Most of the time we are sitting around telling funny stories but occasionally we brainstorm together or discuss writing techniques or even crazy-wild technology and theory.

2)   How did you come to be in the career position you are currently in?

I’ve always written, from the time I was in elementary school. I wrote fiction and plays all the way through school, and was accepted into the undergraduate honors program at my university partly on the basis of my writing ability. I had a book manuscript in the hands of my writing mentor, Travis S. Taylor (of One Day On Mars, the Looking Glass series, and Rocket City Rednecks fame) that I’d started some time earlier based on some work-related conversations, and it involved the deliberate sabotage of a Space Shuttle and the ensuing investigation and cover-up. It was hard to write, because it was about just what my job was about preventing – a space disaster.

Anyway I finally got a first draft finished and to him to critique, when the Columbia went down with a friend of mine aboard. And the scenario for the disaster that I used was what happened to Columbia, basically, with the main exception being accident vs. sabotage. That took a little bit of dealing-with, because your head plays games with you on something like that. But Travis convinced me it was worth publishing and not to scrap it, which I seriously considered.

And as time passed after the accident I realized it was time for me to leave the business; the disaster and losing a friend had done something to me, something I don’t think has healed completely to this day. So I left the civilian and military space business and threw my eggs into the basket of writing fiction. (And occasionally popular science books.)

3)   What is something from your personal life that you are very proud of?

I will never, EVER, regret the fact that I worked as a payload flight controller for Space Shuttle and later the International Space Station. I am very proud of that work.

But maybe that’s not the kind of “personal life” you mean. I am very proud of my husband, Darrell, who is a very talented man, very gifted, gentle, strong, loving, wise, and protective. If you’ve seen all of my books, you’ve seen a number of examples of his work, because he does most of my cover art. He’s also an award-winning magician and balloon artist, known as “Doc” Osborn to his fans and at science fiction conventions. He’s definitely a keeper, and I’m glad I had the good sense to see it when we met in college.

4)   What is a personality trait you possess that other people might not notice?

I’m actually very shy and sensitive. Most of my close friends realize the sensitive part, but other than immediate family, not too many people realize that I’m shy. In fact, some people don’t believe it. But early on, I had to develop a public persona, like acting a role, in order to get used to being in front of people. Eventually that public persona became a part of me, and now it’s just a facet of my personality. I click into it when I’m in public, and shift gears when I’m at home. It’s the difference between standard cruising and afterburners, really. Or first gear versus overdrive.

I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs personality tests several times and I generally score just barely borderline extrovert on those tests. As time has gone on, it’s moved a little more to the extrovert side, but I suspect in my younger years, I landed on the introvert side. So the development and incorporation of this persona into my personality has helped a lot.

But it still takes a toll on me. I do come home from conventions and need to rest for a day or two, and simply be in the quiet of my home. (And Elrond Half-Siamese, the cat that owns my husband and me, helps by sleeping on my feet or in my lap and purring. If I’m not careful, I end up sleeping with him!)

5)   If you could change just one thing about the world, what would it be and why would you change it?

That’s kind of like the question for beauty pageants where the contestant always answers, “World peace,” isn’t it? (There is a grin on my face at this point.) I don’t know offhand. I’d like for people to be kinder to each other, to have some common sense and courtesy. To think before they act. And I realize I’m talking about myself on all of that, too.

Now if I could expand that question past the atmospheric boundaries of our planet, I’d say I’d love to have superluminal travel capability. I want to get out there and explore, and I’ve got some friends who want to go too. I think we could crew a starship nicely, my friends and I. Seriously. Neuroscientists, aerospace engineers, physicists, and the like? Yeah, I think we could handle it.

6)   If you could give a young person one piece of advice, what would it be?

Read. Reading is one of the most important things we can do. Reading is a form of communication that transcends time. The same tales that were told millenia ago, the same themes, the same lessons to be learned, are often the best tales that are being told today. For instance: Right now we have two television series and a film franchise – Elementary, Sherlock, and Sherlock Holmes, respectively – that are based on stories a century or more old, and yet they hold up even in new settings. One of my own series is a collection of Sherlock Holmes tales, the Displaced Detective series, begun well before I’d ever heard of the new movies and television series. And Conan Doyle’s central themes themselves are older than he. Reading these stories can tell us about the ancients, about our ancestors, about ourselves, about our children’s children’s children. It worries me sometimes when I hear younger people declare, sometimes with pride, that they don’t read. Because there was a time, not so very long ago, when the very ability to read was a coveted thing.

7)   What is something that you would like to do in your life that you haven’t done yet?

Gone into space. I fully intended to become an astronaut. I planned my entire education around that goal. In fact my first job upon moving to Huntsville, Alabama, was as an astronomer on a defence sensor project. I was also a payload specialist candidate for the prototype flight on the Shuttle. Unfortunately the Challenger disaster grounded the Fleet indefinitely, and that prototype never got built.

By the time I was in a position to formally apply to the astronaut corps, I had developed a couple of chronic medical conditions which would have washed me out in the physicals. So I never got to go up.

8)   What is something that you have sworn to never do again?

Smoking. I deliberately set out to learn to smoke a pipe in order to write Holmes. I got pretty good at it, too, and I learned very quickly how to handle one, how it fits in the hand, how to light it, clean it, how it soothes and lightly tranquilizes. In a matter of about two weeks I had it down. What I didn’t like was that it left a taste in my mouth like I’d been licking an ashtray.

So I asked some friends for advice. The universal response was to drink some sort of alcoholic beverage after, as a solvent to wash away the residue in my mouth. (In retrospect, this was probably not a healthy response unless I intended to spit out the stuff.) Cuing off the Victorian habit of a smoke and a drink of whisky or brandy after dinner, I tried exactly that. What I didn’t know, but learned later, was that tobacco “potentiates” (increases the effect of) any other drug with which it is used. I do not like the sensation of being drunk; I like having full use of my faculties too much. But this was the only time in my life I have ever been so drunk I threw up. And it is not something I ever want to do again. I have a nice collection of pipes, mostly for the aesthetics, but I have never smoked tobacco since.

9)   If you could break one personal habit, what would it be?

Procrastination. Because it really… just… you know… lemme think about this a while…

10)   If you could take up a new hobby or learn a new skill, what would it be and why?

That’s hard to say. Because if I really take a notion to do something, I usually manage to do it some way, at least sufficient to satisfy my curiosity. I kinda think I’d like to learn how to use power tools, because then maybe I could help out Travis on his TV show. I never really had occasion to learn before now.

11)   Is there anything from you that we should be looking out for in the future?

Well, I’m working on the sequel to Burnout; the fourth Cresperian Saga book; the fifth, sixth, and seventh Displaced Detective books. I am looking for a home for the first book in the Adventures of Aemelia Gearheart steampunk series; it’s with a publisher now, being reviewed, and I’m hoping they like it. We are still pushing for the Burnout movie. There’s a trilogy I’m working on also, but it’s a little too soon to talk about it, I think. I have a lot of irons in the fire.

More immediately, Book 4 of the Displaced Detective series, The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings, comes out November 15, as does A New American Space Plan, with Travis S. Taylor.

Thank you, Stephanie, for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to know more about Stephanie and her books, you can find out more at her website.

Next Week: Selah Janel

%d bloggers like this: