Monday, November 12, 2018

Sword and Sorceress 33 Author Interviews: Melissa Mead


Enter a wondrous universe…the latest volume of Sword and Sorceress, featuring stories from new and seasoned authors. Herein you will find tales of fantasy with strong female characters, with some version of either martial skill or magic. Not all the protagonists will be human, and sometimes the magic will take highly original forms, but the emotional satisfaction in each story and in the anthology as a whole, remains true to the original vision. The release date will be November 2, 2018.




Deborah J. Ross: Tell us a little about yourself.  How did you come to be a writer?
Melissa Mead:  I don't remember when I wasn't telling stories, even before I could write them.
My first attempt to write a story for publication actually came about when my then-husband suggested that I write a story for Sword and Sorceress, but they weren't open to general submissions at that time. My first submissions (and rejections) were in 1997. My first publication was in The First Line, in 1999.

DJR: What inspired your story in Sword and Sorceress 33?
Mm: Thinking that it's kinda creepy how so many girls in fairy tales end up marrying "Prince Charming" without knowing anything about him, or him knowing anything about her. And why WOULD the rulers of a kingdom need to invite every eligible maiden in the kingdom to a ball to get the heir to the throne married off, anyway?

DJR: What authors have most influenced your writing?  What about them do you find inspiring?
Mm: Gosh, probably more than I realize. I wish I had Terry Pratchett's wisdom and humor, Robin McKinley's gift for making familiar fairy tales come alive in new ways, and Lois McMaster Bujold's general brilliance. She writes the way I wish I did. And Gail Carson Levine inspires me not only with her work, but the wise and kind advice she gives to new writers in her blog. I'm sure I'm missing many more.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Love and Death: Would You Like a Little Romance with Your Action?

Crossing genres is hot business these days: science fiction mysteries, paranormal romance, romantic thrillers, Jane Austen with horror, steampunk love stories, you name it. A certain amount of this mixing-and-matching is marketing. Publishers are always looking for something that is both new and "just like the last bestseller." An easy way to do this is to take standard elements from successful genres and combine them.

As a reader, I've always enjoyed a little tenderness and a tantalizing hint of erotic attraction in even the most technologically-based space fiction. For me, fantasy cries out for a love story, a meeting of hearts as well as passion. As a writer, however, it behooves me to understand why romance enhances the overall story so that I can use it to its best advantage.

By romance, I mean a plot thread that involves two (or sometimes more) characters coming to understand and care deeply about one another, usually but not necessarily with some degree of sexual attraction. This is in distinction to Romance, which (a) involves a structured formula of plot elements -- attraction, misunderstanding and division, reconciliation; (b) must be the central element of the story; (c) has rules about gender, exclusivity and, depending on the market, the necessity or limitations on sexual interactions. These expectations create a specific, consistent reader experience, which is a good thing in that it is reliable. However, the themes of love and connection, of affection and loyalty, of understanding, acceptance and sacrifice, are far bigger.

In my own reading and writing, I prefer the widest definition of "love story."

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sword and Sorceress 33 Author Interviews: Jennifer Linnea


Enter a wondrous universe…the latest volume of Sword and Sorceress, featuring stories from new and seasoned authors. Herein you will find tales of fantasy with strong female characters, with some version of either martial skill or magic. Not all the protagonists will be human, and sometimes the magic will take highly original forms, but the emotional satisfaction in each story and in the anthology as a whole, remains true to the original vision. The release date will be November 2, 2018.



Deborah J. Ross: How does your writing process work?
Jennifer Linnea: I have a day job, so I write for a few hours every morning before work. Sometimes I write in coffee shops, alone or with other writers, but most of the time I write in my home office. It’s a tiny room decorated with images from stories that have inspired me throughout my life – Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and Dark Crystal, R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt novels, and Star Wars, to name a few. I also keep a shelf with my favorite speculative fiction novels, and another with books about writing. Everything else is pretty loose: some days I compose on a computer, other times I write longhand; sometimes I start with a writing exercise or journalling, sometimes I jump right in. But there’s always tea. Lots of tea in iron teapots and gaiwans and mugs with tigers on them. And once in a while, if I’m trying to finish a project, I set aside an entire day. Days spent writing are some of my favorite days. 

DJR: What advice would you give an aspiring writer? 
JL: Find people who can critique your work, and whose work you can critique. If the critiques all say the same thing – listen! Then rewrite. It will make your writing better, and help you self-correct in time. As a beginning writer, I thought a story had to be working in the first draft or it was a failure, but that’s not true. Rewriting critiqued manuscripts and helping other writers improve theirs was how I went from aspiring writer to published writer. (Incidentally, “The Secret Army” was critiqued by about six people and then rewritten into the draft I submitted to Sword and Sorceress.)