Chris Tullbane, Galaxy of Authors

Chris Tullbane, Galaxy of Authors

Chris Tullbane author

Chris Tullbane

Out for pre-order: Investigation, Mediation, Vindication!

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I started writing when I was 6 or 7, not longer after we’d come back to the USA from Germany. There was an assignment to write a poem for my 3rd grade class and, as kids will do, I took it as an opportunity to tell everyone how unhappy I was to have moved to a new neighborhood. Somehow, the poem rhymed. And the meter wasn’t entirely awful.

As far as fiction is concerned, I received a multi-month severance package in 2013 when I was laid off from my software development job. After a few months of hiking and re-education, I got bored, so I decided to sit down and write something. No outline. No real concept of a plot. All I really had was my main character’s name, John Smith, which was at least vaguely funny to me.

That first draft was a mess (as all first drafts are) but enough of my friends and family enjoyed it that I decided to keep going. I liked being able to talk with people about my stories, and the feedback loop as I sent my wife and friends new pages. Seven years, five books (three unpublished), and two novelettes later, here I am!

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

Glen Cook, who was the first fantasy author I read whose prose was both accessible and poetic.

Keith Parkinson, who once spoke about finding the mundane in the fantastic, and vice versa.

Mark Strand, who looked our class in the eye, and told us all we were too young to be worrying about writing poetry and that we should go out and live life instead.

Lastly, the cover for the Storm in Her Smile is strongly influenced by the work of Thierry de Cordier, whose oceanscapes are this incredible blend of power and mystery and passion.

Tell me about your book.

The stakes are real. The mediation isn’t.

John Smith is San Diego’s least successful private investigator. He’s a community college dropout who lives with his parents. He’s a lover of martial arts movies and beer, not necessarily in that order.

What he isn’t is a mediator. Unfortunately, supernatural forces are preparing for war, and the only person who can maintain the peace—and keep San Diego from tumbling into a hell mouth—is a mediator.

Thanks to a yellow pages ad placed when he was drunk, and the fact that every actual mediator in San Diego has been murdered, John Smith is going to have to fill that role.

And that’s when things really get weird…

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have three other ‘finished’ books in the Many Travails of John Smith series which will need some polish before publication, and one quarter-finished book in the Murder of Crows series, which needs to be finished sometime before August if I’m going to be able to release it this fall.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

That’s a tough question. In the abstract, I’m not a fan. I think people should have the right to decide whether or not they want to buy a given book, not a government or some corporation.

At the same time and in regard to new books, a publishing company also has the right to decide not to publish something (either initially or after public uproar has convinced them it would hurt their brand sufficiently). It’s their money, after all!

As far as older books are concerned, I think it’s important to judge them for the era they were written in, and not by today’s standards. What’s seen as acceptable in the 2010-2020s will quite possibly look archaic and possibly even ill-intentioned a few decades from now. When it comes to the old classics, I’m all for some sort of acknowledgement or even warning that they maycontain outdated ideas, language, and beliefs, but I don’t think it serves anyone to pretend that the times in question (or the books written in those times) didn’t happen. History matters, even if just as a measuring stick for where we are now.

Like I said, it’s a tough question to answer. Whatever you do or don’t do, someone will be unhappy.

Tell me about a principal character in your book. What makes them memorable?

Juliette Middleton is one of the vampires assigned to chaperone John prior to the supernatural mediation. After getting kicked out of her House in New York for reasons as-of-yet undetailed, Juliettespent years following punk bands on tour as they crisscrossed the United States, enjoying their music and eating their roadies.

Eventually, she ended up in San Diego, where she became the youngest council member of a brand new vampire House. She’s not the best fighter in the world, and she’s not always the deepest thinker either, but she’s a fount of unending sarcasm who finds John to be the perfect target for pretty much any cutting comment she can think of.

Their ‘frenemy-ship’ becomes one of the cornerstones of the series.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Indie! I spent quite a while querying lit agents for both series, and made it as far as full-requests on both Investigation, Mediation, Vindication and See These Bonesonly to eventually get rejections 3-8 months later. With See These Bones, I even found an agent who believed in the book. Unfortunately, she didn’t think she could sell it, both because it was too long (130k words instead of 100k) and because I didn’t have the sort of brand and following that would make me a sure bet for one of the big 5 presses.

That conversation convinced me to go the indie route. If I have to build my brand/following myself anyway, I might as well be getting all the benefit from doing so, right? Now that I’ve released two books and two novelettes, I wouldn’t ever think of going back. I enjoy the freedom of being able to make my own choices, and being able to move at a much faster pace.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

It definitely helps. I’m sure there are people so uniquely talented that simply by learning the language, they’re able to turn around and create something masterful, but for the rest of us, reading is a great way to see and understand what works and what doesn’t, informing the choices and style we’ll pursue in our own work.

That said, I don’t do much in the way of careful analysis or studyanymore, at least when it comes to fiction. Most of my learning is done passively as I read, because the truth is, I enjoy books and words. I’d rather lose myself in a story than consciously look for techniques I can copy.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The best aspect of being a writer, to me, is the creative rush when you get deep into the weeds and are cranking out page after page. Finishing a 10+ hour burst of writing madness is kind of like taking a weekend-long martial arts seminar… by the end of it, your brain feels like it’s floating, and you have this sense that for a brief moment, you were acting as a conduit for ideas and knowledge, the effects of which won’t be understood for some time. That’s pretty cool.

I think most authors agree that the worst part of our job is marketing! It’s especially true for indie authors, who are doing everything themselves. I know I’d much rather be writing than looking at ad campaigns, putting together promotional tweets, arranging advance reviews, and all of the other things that are so necessary to make a book a success. But that’s part of the gig… I just wish I was better at it!

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I’m a hybrid. I create outlines for each book, so that I know what needs to happen, when, and why, but I leave them loose, with most of the connective tissue undetailed. That allows me freedom to explore tangents or expand in unexpected directions without completely wrecking the whole structure. It also keeps me from feeling like I’m just filling in the blanks or painting by numbers.

If I was a pure plotter, I’d probably produce books a lot faster… but I’m not sure I’d enjoy writing them nearly as much.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Sort of! I like to plant seeds for future events that will often go unnoticed by readers. On a second read, when they already know what’s coming, they see those seeds and realize I’d been dropping hints all along.

In The Murder of Crows series, I also have one throwaway comment that will be repeated in the sequel for an eventual payoff in book 3. It’s super minor but I’m still excited about it. I keep waiting for someone to notice it in See These Bonesand alert me to what seems to be an error (but is, in fact, intentional), but so far, nobody has.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

For a while, it was martial arts, specifically Bujinkan, although my wife was always better at it than I was. Then both my knees decided they’d had enough, and that was the end of that!

These days, I like to go out for walks when I can and my body feels up to it. When that’s not possible, I’ll listen to music outside in the shade.

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m making hurried, last-minute revisions to Investigation, Mediation, Vindication—I just got the author proof and always want to do another edit pass when I see the words in print—before its May 19th release. I’m also trying to plow ahead with Red Right Hand, the sequel to See These Bones.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

I think that, like most overly broad statements, it needs qualification.

The barrier for entry is low for indie books, so there are a lot of them, and it’s true that many are badly written and never passed through an editor’s hands. So yeah, the averages might skew downward, from pure numbers alone. At the same time, I’ve read some fabulous indie books that were polished to an inch of their lives and equal to anything in the upper echelon of traditionally published fiction.

On the other side of things, I’ve noticed more and more typos in recent traditionally published books. I think we’ve also all read books where we wondered how exactly the author managed to convince one of the big 5 presses to publish it. Sometimes, traditional publishing just means you already have a name or know a guy, and is no indicator as to actual quality.

My rule for both is to check the writing sample, if one is available. Generally, that’s all it takes to see if there are any issues with grammar, spelling, or style. As for plot and character… well, those require a deeper read so there’s not much you can do unless you have reviewers you trust. I’ve read a few books where the author’s voice was fantastic, the characters were likeable, the editing was excellent (from a pure copy perspective)… and then the plot laid an egg 75% of the way through.

What can you do? Writing is hard!

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

Science Fiction, Fantasy, speculative fiction, and whatever else they are calling it these days. I like being able to put my own twist on reality. My world-building on the page can be fairlylight, as I write in first person, and lean heavily on the unreliability (and often willful blindness) of my narrators, but I still spend quite a bit of time figuring out details that may never be directly divulged. That process of first creating the puzzle and then slowly piecing it together definitely satisfies a creative need.

Also, it’s just fun to play with expectations and to be able to throw in something completely off the wall (like a vegetable demigod!) if I feel like it.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Nope! See These Bones’ world is a post-apocalyptic charnel house, where having superpowers is one of the few paths to a good life… and even then, only if it’s the right power and you’re born in or can escape to the Free States.

Investigation, Mediation, Vindication, being an urban fantasy, is just a slightly skewed version of our world, but I don’t think I’d want to live in a world of chupacabras, crab assassins, goblins, or vampires… especially with humans being the bottom rung on the power ladder.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Revise your story until it’s perfect. Than revise it again. I don’t regret the years I spent querying agents because I used those years to edit and to write new books, but I would have had an easier road if I’d spent more time upfront on revisions instead of charging on to subsequent books in the series.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

I would love to have absolute silence when I’m writing… which is, of course, an impossibility. (I’d wear noise canceling headphones, but they’d distract me too.) I live in a new community and it has been a construction area for the last year and will likely remain one for the next year, so I’m learning to shut out noise as best I can. Even so… no music!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I did a lot of research on San Diego for Investigation, Mediation, Vindication and its sequels and was surprised just how violent the town’s history was. From the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting that became the subject of the Boomtown Rats’ I Don’t Like Mondays to the 1980s McDonald’s massacre in San Ysidro, to the time someone stole a tank (!!) and drove it down the freeway… It definitely made me see the city with new eyes.

Tell me three unique things about you.

In the mid-90s, as a college student in Baltimore, I attended a party in Kansas that was being held for players of a Norwegian-based MUD (the text-based precursors to MMORPGs). There, I met the woman I’d been trading emails with, a grad student from UCLA, and promptly fell in love. A little over two years later, we were married, and 23 years further down the line, we remain very happily so. At that time, meeting someone online was actually considered weird!

My dad was an officer in the US Army, so I spent a number of years overseas as a child/teenager, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany and Madrid, Spain. I loved both cities.

Thanks to a dedicated bar space and an incredibly indulgent wife, I have roughly 75 different whiskies. My goal is to eventually have at least one bottle of every Octomore release. We just discovered online whisky auctions, so financial doom is nigh.

Chris, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Holly Rae Garcia, Galaxy of Authors

Holly Rae Garcia, Galaxy of Authors

Holly Rae Garcia

‘Nolitete bastardes carborundorum’ (Don’t let the bastards grind you down) ~ Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I wanted to see if I could write a book. And I know that’s a terrible answer, because I’m not one of those writers who have been writing since they were old enough to hold a pen. I have been a voracious reader all of my life, so I have always appreciated and loved the written word. I figured, what better way to learn how to write a book…than actually writing a book? The learning curve was steep and at times almost impossible, but I finished it and proved to myself that I could do it. It was tons harder than I ever thought it would be. Along the way I also fell in love with writing short stories and flash fiction. The short form is a fantastic way to flex your writerly voice, and learn which genres you prefer to write in. I continue writing books because I’m addicted to them. I never dreamed I would have this much fun challenging myself.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

I’ll be that clichéd author who says Stephen King, because that’s what was on my mother’s bookshelves. And he’s Stephen Freaking King… the man is a legend for good reason. That, and true crime about mothers who killed their children were usually on our coffee tables. I should have slept with one eye open. I’ve loved Poe for as long as I can remember, and of course my younger years were filled with Christopher Pike, RL Stein, and Mary Higgins Clark.

Tell me about your book / series.

A mother loses her grip with reality as she seeks revenge for her son’s death.

Rebecca Crow’s four-year-old son is dead, and her husband is missing.

Divers find her husband’s car at the bottom of a canal with their son’s small, lifeless body, inside. The police have no suspects and nothing to go on but a passing mention of a man driving a van. Guilt and grief cloud Rebecca’s thoughts as she stumbles towards her only mission: Revenge.

James Porter knows exactly what happened to them, but he’ll do anything to keep it a secret.

James didn’t plan to kill Rebecca’s son, but he’s not too broken up about it, either. There are more important things for him to worry about. He needs money, and his increasing appetite for murder is catching the eye of a local detective.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Unpublished: zero.

Outlined but not started: two.

Finished and currently with beta readers: one.

Surprisingly enough, I don’t have any that are half-finished.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

This is a tricky one because my first instinct is to say that I think it’s ridiculous. But some books are filled with racism, hate, bigotry, misogyny, etc., and probably deserve to be shelved forever. The question I suppose is whether or not we can still learn from those books. As for banning due to stuffy parents wanting to control what their little darlings take in, I have one word: PornHub. Or is that two? Either way, kids these days have access to far more damaging media than a book.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

James Porter is memorable because he’s the bad guy you can’t help but like. You wouldn’t want him to date your sister, but you would drink a beer with him if he was buying.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I went the route of a small press (Close to the Bone/UK) because there are much higher royalty rates, and a much more personalized experience. They were also great to work with in letting me design my own cover.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

Absolutely. I feel it’s important to immerse yourself in your craft. I always find it odd when writers aren’t readers and/or “don’t have the time to read”, because why would you want to benefit from a culture you don’t partake of? I do have to watch what I read while first drafting, as style and voice tend to bleed over.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The worst bit: It’s changed how I read novels and how I watch movies. My husband (also a writer) and I now discuss plot/character/etc. and why something is or isn’t working with other movies and books. It’s one of those bells that can’t be unrung.

The best bit: Having just written something and feeling like I’ve nailed what I was trying to do. I also love the subculture of writers, both Indie and traditionally published. They are incredibly supportive and encouraging.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

Plotter. I like to have a timeline and a chapter-by-chapter summary before I start drafting. Of course, it changes almost immediately as I write. I think writers should use whatever works best for them.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

I don’t think so, not consciously anyway. I did put the number 1418 in Come Join the Murder on purpose, since it’s my photography studio’s room number at work. I think I used it as someone’s address but now I can’t remember.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

Photography is a big one, mostly macro stuff and food photography. I also like to watch cheesy B-Horror flicks with my husband (I’m looking at you, Zombeavers) and go to the beach.

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m co-writing a horror novella with my husband featuring Bigfoot, tentatively titled Easton Falls Massacre. It is currently with beta readers.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

I think Indie gets a bad rap by a few authors who want to skip the editing step, either because they can’t afford it or just don’t care. I’ve read a few poorly edited Indie books, but I’ve also read some fantastic ones. I think traditionally published books tend to all have the same “feel”, and Indies get to play around more and experiment with ideas and form. I like both.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

I’d say it’s a tie between psychological thriller and horror. I love psychological thrillers for that in-depth headspace you have to immerse yourself in, and it’s fun to play around with people’s emotions (that probably makes me sound like a sociopath). Horror is fun because it’s something I grew up with, and it feels very natural to me. It’s stepping to the edge of those intense emotions, but with a safety net that you can close at any time.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

For Come Join the Murder, I basically already live there. I made the town a hybrid of Galveston and Surfside, TX. I was born in this area, and still live here now.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Not everything you write needs to be (or should be) published. Some of it is for the exercise, or fun, or a contest, etc. I put too much pressure on myself at the beginning to get that “published” stamp.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

Oh, definitely. For Come Join the Murder it was a Van Morrison playlist on repeat. I pulled it up when I was trying to think of something Rebecca could listen to in the car while she was driving, and just kept listening. Morrison is very soothing. For the action scenes I did switch to atmospheric sounds (rain/crowds/highway/etc) to get in that space. For my current book, the Bigfoot horror novella, the playlist is a lot of Five Finger Death Punch, Alice in Chains, and Shinedown.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That it is 1,000x harder than I thought it would be. I have so much more respect for the process now.

Tell me three unique things about you.

– I’ve moved 21 times in my 40 years of life (I don’t like to sit still).
– I once met and photographed the President of Argentina (Mauricio Macri).
– I have an Advanced Open Water Certification from PADI (Scuba Diving) but haven’t been diving in years. One day I’ll pick it back up.

Holly, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Galaxy of Authors: Keyla Damaer

Galaxy of Authors: Keyla Damaer

Keyla Damaer

‘Farewell, wherever you fare.’ ~J.R.R. Tolkien

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I don’t have an answer to that. I’ve been writing since I could. Words can be magic if combined in the right way.
A few months back at my parents’ house, I found stories I wrote when I was a teen. They’re garbage, of course, but the desire to put down words has always been there. I could say that I write because I must and when I don’t, I feel sick. I write for myself stories that I would like to read.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

Indeed. When I was a kid, I used to read sci-fi books in Italian. I don’t recall the authors or the books though. I suppose the first one to influence me was Marion Zimmer Bradley with her Darkover saga, for the science fiction part. Then, when I started reading in English, I discovered Asimov, Clarke, Adams, and others. Yet, don’t expect to read hard sci-fi. Too much technobabble bores me, and for this reason, I limit it as much as I can in my stories. Also, I’m not a scientist and I prefer to write something scientifically inaccurate.

Tell me about your book / series.

Some people say to never trust a spy.

The Parallels is the first installment of The Sehnsucht Series. The keyword here is Sehnsucht, a German word for “The inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what” to quote C.S. Lewis; a yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one can identify as one’s home. It’s the longing for something or someone unattainable, Utopian, that possibly doesn’t exist. All my characters, mostly aliens, suffer from this ‘syndrome’ in a way or another.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Book two, three, and four of The Sehsnsucht Series are all in first draft stage. They all require heavy editing and a great deal of rewriting. Last year, I wrote some short stories that I intend to publish in an anthology introducing the readers to my world. Right now, my critique group is reading them and one by one I’m sending them to beta readers. It’s going to take a while before they’ll be out.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

Books are a free-speech medium. They shouldn’t be banned even if they offend a group of people. Whether that group is big or small doesn’t matter. We live in a world that has become too sensitive. I’m not afraid to use words to tell stories. No one should. Besides, I come from a country where education is free for everyone. Mind that in this context, free means affordable for everyone. No one needs to get loans to have a college degree here. Culture should be available for everyone at a fair and affordable price.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

Halazar is an alien female and a soldier. She has lived all her life in times of war and always fought for her people. She deeply believes in duty and justice and will have to choose between them.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I’m independent. Mostly, because I write for myself, I write what I would like to read. I don’t want to be told what to write and how. I don’t want others to be responsible for the marketing choices for my stories. Just this month, I received two offers from two minor publishing houses without prompting them. I refused. I’m not saying I’d say no to a good deal. I’m just saying I don’t want to waste time waiting for it. If someone likes my work, it’s out there. They can reach out for me. In the meantime, I’ll be my own employer.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

Absolutely. How can anyone write without reading?

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The answer to this question changes in time. A couple of years ago it would have been different from now and in a couple of years, it may change again. Right now, my worst enemy is marketing. I’m still trying to figure it out.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

Lanees

Probably more a plotter than a panster. There have been times when I sat and wrote a scene I hadn’t planned just because it came out of my head that way. I wrote Lanees’s final chapter in The Parallels like this. It wasn’t planned at all. I was watching the news, something grim I still remember vividly, and boom. I imagined the final scene in all its details, and the next day I wrote it. Of course, I edited it a few times before it reached its final shape.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

If we’re talking about Easter Eggs, they’re filled with it. If we’re talking about details only a few people will notice, I hope not.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

Reading, travelling, gardening, meeting new people, and drawing. I’m not really talented with that, but I drew all the symbols in my Series. I also drew my characters and then sent those drawings to my cover artist who used them to create The Parallels’ stunning cover you can see.

What are you writing at the moment?

Book two of The Sehnsucht Series. It begins where the first one ended and introduces some new characters. The main character changes too. This time it’s going to be a Manderian male.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

Some indie books are badly edited, and their covers scream amateur all over the place. The cover is the first step into marketing because it’s the first thing the reader will see. The second is the blurb, and the third is the content of the book, if they ever get to that point. Authors shouldn’t publish a novel until it has been edited unless they’re really good at self-editing. I know some of them. I also know editors are expensive if they’re good, but we need them. I must say, and this pleases me deeply, that the majority of the indie books I read do not have this problem, and I’ve read a great deal of indie books in the last two years.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

Sci-fi and that’s what I write. Like I said before, I grew reading this genre and I’ve always been fascinated by space. I can cry if I spot the ISS passing over my head and I get all emotional when I recognise a planet in our night sky. If I win the lottery, I’m gonna buy an expansive telescope.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Eleanor

As a human, I wouldn’t want to live in Manderian space. Manderians, the alien species featuring in The Sehnsucht Series, don’t fancy Terrans. They tend to be xenophobic, some more some less. They’re also at war against Earth—or Terra Prime as they call it—and the other planets allied with Earth.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Confront yourself with other authors, let them read your story and listen to their advice. And most of all, hire an editor. A developmental one can be helpful to make you understand where you’re going and where you can’t go. Those can be very expensive, but they can light up your path. Read a lot and practice. Write, write, write. Do it every day, every moment that you can.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

Sometimes I do. When writing, I prefer classical music, especially Ludovico Einaudi. When I’m self-editing the first draft I prefer silence. When working on the editor’s suggestions anything will do. Pop, rock, usually something from the ‘80s or ‘90s. I don’t listen to a great deal of contemporary music.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I learnt many things while creating my stories and I think the most important one is that we aren’t alone. I found a great number of people willing to help and I also helped many more. I don’t do it with the expectation they will do something for me. One can learn a great deal even from others’ mistakes. Cooperation with other authors in my same shoes encouraged me to do better. It still does.

Tell me three unique things about you.

  1. I’m Italian but I write in English.
  2. I’m not a chocolate fan.
  3. I can dream entire scenes of my stories.

Keyla, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

J I Rogers, Galaxy of Authors

J I Rogers, Galaxy of Authors

J. I. Rogers

‘If you don’t like what you’re reading then write something that you’d want to.’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have concepts for stories; as an artist, it’s difficult not to create them while you’re working on a project. I did my first concept art for “The Korpes File Series” in 1985 as I was thinking about heading off to art school in Vancouver. I did, I took film animation (pre-CGI) at Emily Carr College of Art and Design but didn’t complete the degree. I spent the next couple of decades working, raising a family, doing the sci-fi and fantasy convention circuit as an artist, and running ‘pencil and paper’ role-playing games for my friends.

When I moved back to the small town my parents live in my gaming outlet ended, and the voices in my head got bored.

In 2012 I did a bit of world-building / concept art for a game designing friend of mine, and everything fell into place. Two weeks after that project concluded I signed up for NaNoWriMo, and I haven’t stopped since.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

I read many genres, and as an artist, I appreciate a lot of styles. Indie or traditionally published?

Traditionally published: Jaime Hernandez, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffery, Orson Scott Card, D. C. Montana, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. J. Cherryh, R. A. MacAvoy, Arthur Conan Doyle, Iain Banks, William Gibson, Spider Robinson, Neil Gaiman, Mercedes Lackey, George Orwell, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Barbara Hambly.

Indie: I plan to publish a list of indie authors that have influenced me on my website later this year – and give them some well-deserved recognition. Releasing names now would act as a spoiler.

Tell me about your series.

“Genetic throwback seeks kindred souls for illegal antics that will‘transform’ the existing corporatocracy; voices in my head need not apply.” ~ Nash X. Korpes

The closest definition I could come up with for “The Korpes File Series” would be that it’s a blend of dystopian and science fiction elements. There’s a healthy dollop of space opera mixed in as well; I’m a fan of character-driven plot. Summing it up, the story is set against a dystopian sci-fi backdrop, and told from multiple point-of-views, and centers around the main character’s experiences as a genetic anomaly. The protagonists and antagonists each offer clues that ultimately reveal the dark machinations behind the scenes. It contains everything from Aliens hiding in plain sight to a toxic, sentient Jungle that’s inexorably encroaching on the known world.

The Korpes File – Book 1

“It’s dangerous to be Diasporan, and Technician Nash Korpes knows this only too well. As a ‘throwback’ he was coveted by the shadowy Korlune Military Research and Development for his genetics, and he’s spent more time in Med-Bays than he has at work. When he’s torn from those he loves by an act of war he seeks to make sense of it all and uncovers a nemesis that threatens them all.”

The Korpes Agenda – Book 2

“Something dark is stirring in Korlune, and there’s only one person who sees it; brilliant, but haunted, Master-Tech Nash Korpes. Freshly escaped from the clutches of Korlune Military Research and Development he finds safety within the ranks of tech giant Harlo-Fyre. As the line between friend and foe blurs and friction between Korlune’s military factions reach boiling point, Nash is forced to act.”

I’ve just started work on the final draft of book three.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Seven, but there are more flitting around in the belfry. There are currently ten planned for the world of Tamyrh.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

I don’t believe in either banning or burning books. I prefer having the option to read or not read work based on my personal assessment as opposed to having it decided for me by a government or a mob, and I believe that others should enjoy that same right. I trust my moral and ethical judgment. Enlightenment comes in many forms, and even the worst books can serve as a caution, lest we forget where we’ve been and what we’re capable of. Our fiction is just as valuable as a time-capsule of an era and should be treated as such.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I went the indie route after researching my options.

My why is simple; I have plans for my work and wish to maintain creative control. There was a time when traditional publishing was the only course outside of vanity presses, but that’s changed. Social media, the ability to create personal websites and use POD services that are credible have placed a lot of power in the hands of the authors.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

I absolutely agree. Read multiple genres, traditionally and independently published work, comics/graphic novels, go attend plays and watch a plethora of movies (I suggest International films as well as classics). All of it is fuel for the Muse.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

Worst: Waiting for reviews.
Best: Writing something that someone else loves as much as you do.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I am both. The overarching plot has been set, certain key events are set, but what the protagonists and antagonists do in their free time is somewhat fluid.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Oh yes. My beta-readers and Patrons all have things to look for.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I’m a professional artist, and my Muse happens to love mythological, sci-fi, and fantasy themes. I explore them through illustration, sculpture, and painting.

What are you writing at the moment?

Two more interviews and book three “The Korpes <insert an appropriate word here>” are the other open Word documents on my laptop right now.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

“You’re an author? Who reps you? Oh… You’re self-published? How cute. You’re not a ‘real author’ though, it’s just a hobby.” ~ Something someone has actually said to me.

I’ve encountered a few ‘unreadable’ books by those that hold they can produce a finished product in one draft, but they are not the majority. Everyone has had to up their game with the rise of the ‘indie author’, and I can’t honestly say I know an unprofessional author.

There’s still a snobbery surrounding being traditionally published, but that’s losing its shine as the advantages once offered are dwindling. Now we can access the services of professional editors, formatting software, and cover designers. Social media has made it easier to create and maintain a fanbase. What about the glamour of being offered a book deal and an advance? For myself, I’m not certain money would mollify the control freak in me regarding my current project… Perhaps the next? 😊

What is your favorite genre to write, and why?

My Muse is happy writing science fiction right now – probably because my office walls are covered in maps and sketches, and my laptop is filled with story ideas based in my world.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

If I were to there would be caveats, so I guess I’d have to say no. Why? The water is caustic, the jungle is toxic (and sentient), and humanoids require special equipment to survive for longer than a couple of days ‘topside’.

In the Northern country of Korlune, if you aren’t Korlo, you’re Diasporan (refugee) and a second-class citizen. While the Korlo inhabit the larger more modern cluster cities and have access to the best of everything, the Diasporan do not. They live in the rundown stations and mini-cities the Korlo set aside. Trains connect all of the population centers via an elaborate tunnel network, though airborne transports fly between cities.

The Southern country of Ankoresh is on a high desert plateau and receives almost no rain, but sandstorms are a problem. Though they are not as technologically advanced as the Korlo, they have greater numbers and a fine martial tradition. The Ankor and Diasporan populations are more integrated and while things appear better on the surface, underneath there are still elements that still resent the refugees… even after a couple hundred years.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Keep your metadata consistent across all platforms!

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

I create soundtracks for writing, and I’ve found downtempo psybient electronica, industrial, and angsty bands from the late 90s and early 2000s inspire my dystopian Muse.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I was surprised and delighted to learn that people like my work.

Tell me three unique things about you.

– I lived in Kenya and Tanzania for a total of six years.
– I’m ambidextrous.
– I’m a bit OCD when it comes to clover patches and find a lot of four-leaf clovers as a result; I suspect I’m an honorary Leprechaun at this point.

J. I., thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

F Stephan, Galaxy of Authors

F Stephan, Galaxy of Authors

F. Stephan

‘Only augmented pilots can cross space. But at what cost?’

Buy the books!

In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

It had been a dream dormant for many years. The day my mother had a severe health problem, the time came to face this envy and begin writing. It was also a way to work with my father, an illustrator.

And when I began, my friends said “At last, we told you so …”

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

Recently, I’ve read a lot from L.E. ModesittJr and I love both the coherence of his worlds and the philosophy behind. I’ve also read a lot of the classics (P Anderson, R Heinlein, J Vance, …).

Tell me about your book / series.

Six student fly to a distant planet to become starpilots, the first from Earth, charged to help their planet surviving from ecological collapse. Do they have what it takes to succeed?

In one hundred years, Earth is falling into an ecological collapse, looking for a way, any way, out. When an alien Star Federation offers assistance, the planet jumps on it. There’s only one catch. This Federation desperately needs Star Pilots, and very few individuals can sustain the nanorobots required to perform this job. Earth will receive all the help it requires, provided its inhabitants can prove future pilots. Six are chosen to go. This is their story.

In Human Starpilot, they will face the first stage of the training on distant Adheek and learn to manage their nanorobots.

In Interstellar Starpilot, two students go on to the Core Worlds of the Federation to further their training and face new dangers.

In Space Station Acheron, the other four return to Earth to build and run the first station to link Earth and the stars.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Interstellar Starpilot is just out of structural assessment and will be a month in copy editing. It should be live in June or July.

Space Station Acheron is 50 000 words strong and fully outlined. It could be released in late fall.

The next one is only at outline level with a thousand words of intrigue.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

Books shouldn’t be banned. It’ll always remember Usher II from Ray Bradbury in Martian Chronicles. If you haven’t read it, well, you don’t know what is in for you.

But at the same time, some books aren’t meant for all and some warning should be given to readers either when content can be offensive to certain belief or dangerous to certain age, or common readers. As a reader, I would appreciate it. I believe this transparency is important to keep book from being banned.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

Brian has chosen his life, got a degree and is suddenly thrown into another career, as space pilot, sent to another planet and injected with nanorobots which can destroy him. He isn’t a super hero, someone normal thrown into an abnormal situation and trying to survive the adventure. He’s also thrown out of his universe into another one and trying to find his place in it.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Indie.

I’m learning the trade and there’s only one way to it: write, write and face readers. Listen to what they like or don’t like and work, again and again.

I have no issue with traditional publishing and would be delighted to enjoy this type of support.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

100% aligned. I have been a ferocious reader for years in many fields. I began with a lot of classic books both in French and English, then I went into different styles and type, from mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, and many other.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The best, first, is to be able to share your dreams and ideas with others, and not just play with them in your head. And, meeting others, talking with them about your books is an incredible experience.

The worst is when someone, after reading twenty-five pages, tells you your book is crap because he wants murder and gore first and then explanations. This is very hard after so much effort into a book.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

Plotter, absolutely. I would love to be a pantser but it doesn’t work for me right now. I can focus on the scene I write once I know where it starts and where it leads, not before. But it goes beyond that. Some sci-fi books are ever expanding. The universe keeps growing as the author adds features after features and it has often left me disappointed. I want a tighter story.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not really, there are clues into the next books, but they aren’t secrets per se.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I’m part of the theater amateur group, with a focus on improvisation. This is shared creativity, beginnings, ends, small snapshots of stories. I love the gifts of stories and emotions that come out in these sessions.

What are you writing at the moment?

Right now, I’m revising my second book. The pure writing is on the third one. How do you build a station on a planet under global warming where resources and popular support are scarce? How do you come back to your birth place after seeing a wide universe and find your place again?These are fantastic themes to explore!

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

Editing is a real art and very expensive. I once delivered a book of a quality that shamed me, not running a second editing after the initial assessment. This was a mistake. I learned that lesson the hard way.

But on that same occasion, I also found a good team to help and support me on editing. It’s hard because as Indie you don’t “know” the process, the right steps. I have had the chance to find people who suggested a more professional approach, more cost effective. It remains a huge investment for me now on each book, making this writing endeavor absolutely not profitable. But if you do something, do it right!

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

For now, I love to write science fiction for the freedom it gives in the world building activity. I want to travel to foreign places when I read, and this is what I want to provide my readers.

This may change over time, naturally.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

I’d want to travel in the Federation’s worlds and especially its center, which is the focus of Interstellar Starpilots. First, because it boasts the last working star elevator in the Federation and I’d love to ride it, second because this is a beautiful place from where you can travel anyplace.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

There are so many lessons learned in that career, so much advice I wished I had had or understood sooner. The only give I would is: Go. Do it. Write, publish, you’re going to love it.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

I listen to all sort of contemporary music, played at random. Some scenes have a musical theme in my mind when I write. But, I don’t often listen to it while I write, maybe just before.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Characters have a life of their own which is, nearly, out of the author’s control. You set up a character initially for a scene. Then, you need someone in another situation and you bring him or her back. And suddenly, someone is there, facing you, with its own motives and desires, and will move on his own course from now on. You may not call the character again or another scene may lead to an intervention.

Tell me three unique things about you.

I was born in the USA and raised in France, and I love both countries.

I’ve worked and lived in many countries, been part of a student organisation whose aim was to reconnect Eastern and Western Europe and went even Down Under in Australia on a job.

I was in West Berlin 2 month before the Wall fell.

Fabrice, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

C Rene Astle, Galaxy of Authors

C Rene Astle, Galaxy of Authors

C. Rene Astle

‘It’s hard to heal when your head has been severed from your body.’

Buy the books!

In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I can’t say I actually decided to start writing. I’ve written for as long as I can remember. I have a box full of story ideas that go back to when I was growing up. I have so many stories waiting to be written that I haven’t opened the box in a long time; I’m not sure I want to.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

Probably every book I’ve read has influenced me in some way, but not the answer you’re looking for 😊. Certainly, books like The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia had a big impact. My mom (also an author) read those to us when we were kids, and that gave me a lifelong love of fantasy. On the other side, my dad had a telescope and we spent some cold night star-gazing, and I remember reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan, which is non-fiction, when I was still fairly young. I didn’t read a lot of science fiction until I was an adult, but I think that love of Space and a childhood watching ‘Star Trek’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’, led to reading and then writing it.

Tell me about your book / series.

Mina’s dying for life to get back to normal.

After the sudden death of her mother, all she wants is to get back to art school and work at the tattoo shop. Unfortunately, her roommate convinces her she needs a night of dance, drink and debauchery. When she wakes up, she finds that she’s not only a vampire but has been recruited into an eternal fight to protect the humans from the things that go bump in the night. And now an ancient terror awakes. 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Hmm, what counts as half finished? Let’s say more than 50% done. Four, I think? Maybe five. I used to be really good at starting books but not so good at finishing them. Luckily I’ve become much better at finishing books, but I still have a few from that phase where the characters are waiting in limbo for their tales to be wrapped up. But now I have so many scraps of paper with new story ideas to get to.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

As a general rule, I don’t agree with it. For most books, I’d rather see open discussion – why are people upset about the book or the subject matter or the author. This helps us develop our ability to think critically and learn discernment.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Indie. Like A.M. Rycroft, I didn’t have the patience to wait for submission, rejection, submission, revision, submission. At the time, I was also hearing from fellow writers that they were being asked for marketing plans and what not…and that’s the part I hate. So if I have to do a lot of the marketing stuff anyway, I might at well just do it all.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

Yes. I absolutely agree with this. I don’t understand when I hear writers say they don’t read. Besides loving books, I think it’s critical to honing my craft, and one of the best ways to make the mechanics second nature. Reading deeply in my chosen genres is important but reading broadly is also valuable. I find it hard to read critically (as in discerning), because I get lost in the story, but it’s important for me to understand what I like and don’t like and what works for me as a reader and why.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

I don’t know that there is a worst, other than not being able to make a living at it…yet. I love entertaining people and being able to connect with people from around the world over a shared interest. I love bringing characters to life and then living vicariously through them.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I used to be a pantser. My first novel took at least five years…I needed to be a more efficient writer to be able to get all these stories rambling around my brain on paper. So I started a journey to becoming more of a plotter. For me personally, I don’t think it stifles creativity; in fact, I think it gives me more space to be creative because I don’t have to worry about the framework – it’s already there.

As for the other approach, I don’t think anything. People need to find what works for them to get their stories written.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I have what’s called an allotment or community garden plot. It doesn’t take a lot of work in winter, since my particular plot tends to flood. But during the summer, I’m out there a lot, getting my hands dirty, listening to the birds, talking to the bees and the earthworms. It’s very different from the stories I write.

What are you writing at the moment?

Right now, I’m wrapping up book 3 of my Bloodborne Pathogens series. Then I can get back to work on the first book in a space opera series – one of those unpublished books from question 4.

Tell me three unique things about you.

I talk to bees and earthworms…I’ve already mentioned that.

I think octopuses are phenomenal creatures.

I love watching British mysteries…who knew those quaint towns were so deadly.

C. Rene, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

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