Monday, October 15, 2018

Sword and Sorceress 33 Author Interviews: Evey Brett


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?
Evey Brett: I wrote stories when I was a kid and through high school, then I went to music school and stopped reading or writing anything that wasn’t college-related. Toward the end of my degree, I was having a hard time with music and needed a different creative outlet, so I started writing a bit of fan fiction. My first trunk novel started as a Star Trek TNG/DS9 crossover. I soon realized that would never sell, so I transposed the plot into a fantasy world and went to the library for writing books so I could learn how to write better. I took some community college classes with some very good writing teachers, and got into Clarion, and eventually started selling stories.

DJR: What inspired your story in Sword and Sorceress 33?
EB: I actually wrote this story for a different editor who asked for something from me but eventually turned it down. Since then it’s been through a couple overhauls and I’m glad it found a home.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Author Interview: Tara Gilboy


Please welcome Tara Gilboy, a Middle Grade author whose novel, Unwritten, comes out on October 16*. My review of it is here. Stay tuned for her upcoming blog post on writing for Middle Grades, too!

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us a little about yourself.  How did you come to be a writer?
Tara Gilboy: I am, first and foremost, a reader. Books and stories have always been one of the most important things in my life, and I’ve wanted to write pretty much since I learned to read. I still have some of the stories I wrote in elementary school. My mom recently gave me a letter I wrote to a publisher when I was in third grade, asking if I could write books for their series. (Apparently she never mailed it!) Unfortunately, until I was in my twenties, I had never actually met a writer, and so writing started to seem like this kind of “impossible dream.” Then in college, I took some creative writing classes, published a couple short stories, and worked as an editor at a literary journal, and I realized: “Hey, I can really do this!” I completed my MFA in creative writing at the University of British Columbia, which ended up being very humbling and also one of the most formative experiences of my writing life.


DJR: What led you to write MG and how is it different from YA or adult fantasy?
TG: Even though I have always loved children’s books and read tons of middle grade (and actually my first ventures into writing were always in middle grade, which is what I wrote for fun), when I was in college and started seriously pursuing writing, I focused on adult fiction. I am embarrassed to admit that I was a bit of a literary snob, and I had these really pretentious ideas about writing. My sense of story was virtually nonexistent, I sneered at plot, and I was writing a lot of “purple prose,” these kind of overwritten sentences, way too much description and exposition. But a lot of my stories left me feeling cold. I wasn’t in love with the stories and characters. I remember in my first year of my MFA at UBC, I was taking a novel-writing workshop and working on an adult novel that was this really serious historical piece about a marriage and a woman finding herself within her marriage. I was really struggling with it and couldn’t wait for the workshop to be over so I never had to look at the novel again. At the same time, I was taking a class on writing children’s books and reading all these amazing middle grade novels and having wonderful class discussions about them, and I realized that I was happiest when I was writing these kinds of stories. At the end of the first year, I changed my thesis genre and never looked back.

I think middle grade differs from adult fantasy (and to some extent, YA), in that it is really condensed into its essential elements – there is no room to digress or go off on tangents or you risk losing your reader. Middle grade readers have great eyes for what actually needs to be there in the text, and when I am writing middle grade, I am ruthless about cutting. I am also very careful about structure and pacing when I am revising. I want to keep the reader turning pages without making things feel too rushed. The focus is always on telling a good story, which is what I love so much about these books. I also think middle grade tends to look inward, where characters really make sense of their own identities, who they are, whereas in YA, the books tend to look outward, with the main characters finding their place in the world, which makes sense, since YA readers are often on the cusp of leaving home in just a few short years.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Author Interview: Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff on The Antiquities Hunter


From New York Times bestselling author Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, a new private detective series featuring Gina “Tinkerbell” Miyoko, who goes undercover in the Mexican jungle to hunt down a ring of thieves responsible for looting pre-Columbian archaeology sites. Here I chat with Maya about her latest book.

Deborah J. Ross: How did you come up with Gina S. Miyoko?

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff: I honestly don’t remember except that she arose from a dream I had, the plot of which (yes, my dreams often have plots) I don’t remember. I knew I wanted to write her as the protagonist of a mystery novel, and I knew I wanted her to be different from the female P.I.s I’d read. I love mystery and crime fiction but I noticed that all the female protagonists were alienated and broken and party to dysfunctional relationships. I wanted Gina to be flawed and have enough pain in her life to be relatable, but I also wanted her to be part of a very functional, if quirky family and support network. Among the Japanese names I was considering, Gina Suzu Miyoko meant, “Silver Bell Temple;” Tinkerbell became an inevitable nickname. And her personality just grew out of that.

DR: And Russian Orthodox witches?

MKB: Around the time I was developing Gina and the characters that would surround her, I was reading a book entitled THE BATHHOUSE AT MIDNIGHT: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia (WF Ryan). I was reading it because the novel I was working on at the time (MAGIC TIME: ANGELFIRE, from Harper-Voyager) had a Russian ex-pat as one of the central characters. Okay, and also I’m Russian-Polish on my father’s side and have been fascinated with the folklore and history of Slavic culture since I was a child. Probably more so because my grandmother was so adamant that I not be taught anything about the Old Country but be brought up thoroughly American. In any event, the book sparked the idea that I wanted Gina’s mother to be Russian and fascinated by arcana. She was originally going to be a psychologist, but by the time I started writing the book that became THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER, she had morphed into a cultural anthropologist and folklorist.

As tends to happen with these things, as I began to write the characters, they essentially told me who they were.  I’m sure you know the feeling—as if the character is inside your head whispering sweet somethings to your Muse.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sword and Sorceress 33 Author Interviews: Lorie Calkins


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?
Lorie Calkins: I’ve been writing since I was about three. I would scribble in a blank notebook, trying to make lines that looked like my parents’ handwriting.Then I’d “read” it back and tell my stuffed animals what the “story” said. Sure wish I had recorded those tales in a more reproducible manner. My stuffed animals thought they were Really Good.
The writing comes pretty easily for me, actually. The two things that are absolute hell for me are determining whether the stuff I wrote is worth showing to anyone,and trying to sell it.

 DJR: What inspired your story in Sword and Sorceress 33?
 LC: I like to turn things inside out and see what color the lining is. You never know what you’ll find. Fairy tales are fun like that, because everyone already thinks they know how the story goes.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Short Book Reviews: Imagination as a Super Power


More wonderful Middle Grade reading...
The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray, by B. A. Williamson (Jolly Fish) 

This delightful adventure crosses worlds of imagination with a singularly creative young heroine. At times the settings reminded me of A Wrinkle in Time, Kidnapped, Peter Pan, and The Never-Ending Story, to name a few. Humor tempers the seriously creepy villains, and the dramatic story moves right along with more than its share of twists and turns. Gwendolyn Gray is not only a resourceful and sympathetic heroine, but someone I would have loved to play with as a child. My only reservation about the book concerns the audience, since Gwendolyn is adolescent, but the length of the book and the complexity of the world place it more in the YA/teen niche. Regardless, I look forward to more imagination-fueled adventures.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Today's Moment of Art




 Mountain and Falls, California, by Albertus Del Orient Browere (1814 – 1887)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

NORTHLIGHT on sale, this week only!



 October 2-8, 2018, Nortlight in multi-format ebook edition from Book View Cafe for only $1.50.

She’s a Ranger, a wild and savvy knife-fighter, determined to get help in finding her partner who’s lost on the treacherous northern border. He’s a scholar who sees visions, eager to escape the confines of city life and the shadow of his charismatic mother. With the assassination of a beloved leader and the city in turmoil, the two have only each other to turn to. What begins as a rescue mission turns deadly as together they unravel the secret that lies beneath Laurea’s idyllic surface.

REVIEWS
“A beautifully constructed fantasy with characters who grow and mature before the reader’s eyes and who are engagingly human while being fantastically heroic. Her writing flows and the point of view switches are interesting and exciting. This book is a keeper.” — Rickey Mallory, Affair de Coeur
“A style and manner reminiscent of McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer series.” — The Bookwatch
“An unusual saga that starts slowly but builds to a startling climax.” — Sherry S. Hoy, Kliatt
“Solid characters and a well-designed world make for good reading.” — Philadelphia Press
“The plot moves briskly from crisis in Laureal to capture by the Norther barbarians to discovery of the true meaning of the Northlight of the title, with ample foreshadowing from the mysterious spooky something in the air of the frontier. And the culmination quite satisfactorily evokes the sense of wonder.” –Tom Easton, Analog

Monday, October 1, 2018

Sword and Sorceress 33 Author Interviews: Jessie Eaker


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?
Jessie Eaker: When I was in elementary school, I would painstakingly write out my thoughts and stories, along with accompanying illustrations, and keep them in a special binder which I fantasized about publishing.  I loved making up stories about rockets, robots and dragons.  (I didn't much care for unicorns--they were too hard to draw.)  When I hit middle school and on into high school, I entered what I now consider my great input phase--I read everything I could get my hands on.  And out of that I began to craft my first stories.  But as fate would have it, one of my high school English teachers gave a very harsh criticism of one of my works.   I was devastated--my fantasy of being published evaporating in a moment.  But then I got angry.  My story couldn't be that bad.  I resolved right then and there that I was going to prove to that I could be a published author.   Of course, it took me another fifteen years to actually develop enough to pull it off.

DJR: What inspired your story in Sword and Sorceress 33?
JE: "All In a Name" was inspired by my youngest daughter's pregnancy and their search for a suitable name for the baby.While they offered us hints as to what it might be, she and her husband had decided they would keep the name secret until the baby was born.  It nearly drove us crazy not knowing and we feared it would be some off-the-wall name that would permanently scar the child.