Monday, October 28, 2013

Capes & Clockwork author interview with Robert J. Krog

Capes & Clockwork author interview with Robert J. Krog

     Capes & Clockwork is an upcoming anthology from Dark Oak Press which fuses the beauty and elegance of steampunk with the action and adventure of the superhero genre. As part of the ‘gearing up’ to the release of ‘Capes & Clockwork: Superheroes in the Age of Steam’, I’ll be interviewing some of the great authors that contributed.

And now on the stage, right here for your reading pleasure is…. Robert J. Krog.

Robert J. Krog is the author of the collection, The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, and the novella, A Bag Full of Eyes.  He has numerous short stories in various publications.  He is a native of Memphis, TN, and probably the most over-educated and inappropriately educated lawn care spray tech you’re likely to meet.  He is a regular author guest at various conventions in and close to the midsouth. His website is:

Do you base your characters on people you know or know of? 
I do, but not directly.  I don’t paint folks I know right into stories, but I do write characters of the same type in.  I’ll take a person with a particularly admirable or annoying characteristic, something fairly unique and put in a character with the same quirk.  I have taken particular incidents involving folks I know and reproduced the incident with a similar character, but I don’t generally try to make the character an exact reproduction of the person I know.  I’m actually pretty careful to avoid doing that.
Do you plot out your stories or just make it up as you go? 
I never do a full plot outline, but I do envision the stories from beginning to end in my head and usually stick to that.  A lot of details develop as I write.  The longer a story is, the more likely it is to have parts and twists that were made up as I went along.  The beginning and ending, though, usually are what I had in mind from the start. 
Do you have a routine when you write? 
I write best if I do something physical for a while first.  If I exercise, do some chores, just work with my body for a while doing something that leaves my mind mostly free to wander, the ideas come smoothly and then I sit down and write.  If I don’t immediately have the opportunity to sit at a keyboard and type, I jot down a few notes, at least, and then work them up later.  It works pretty well.  I don’t often come across a note, however long ago I made it and not know what I had in mind.  I do sometimes come across a note and find that I no longer think it is as interesting as I first thought.  It helps if I practice the discipline of making the most notes on projects I already have in the works. 
What is your latest project/release? 
My latest project is as an editor.  The Dark Oak Press anthology, A Tall Ship, A Star, and Plunder, is all stories of pirates from various genres.  It should be out later this year. 
What book do you read over and over the most?
I reread the Lord of the Rings every year or so. 
At what age did you start writing? 
I started writing in the seventh grade.  I was 12 or 13 at the time and pretty terrible at it.  I was naïve enough not to realize that, so I didn’t stop, J and so I improved.  Being terrible at first is pretty common.  Persevering is a bit less common, so I’m glad I was naïve enough to keep at it.  I did realize later, how bad my first work was.  I only realized it, though, because I had improved.
What genre do you prefer to write?  To read? 
I don’t limit myself to any particular genre in reading, though I avoid romance, graphic horror, and a few other types.  In writing, I tend naturally toward fantasy, but I make myself stretch in other directions purposefully. 
Do you prefer writing short stories or novels?  And why? 
I love writing both.  Short works are easier, of course, and that’s all I’ve actually completed and had published, so far.  Novels are harder, and I have several in the works, and have even completed rough drafts, but the final products are still incomplete.  Novels are more satisfying, because of the depth and complexity.  Short stories have the attraction of simplicity and pithiness. 
Where do your ideas come from? 
My ideas come from all over.  Some are dreams.  Some are daydreams.  Some pop up from listening to the news.  Some from discussions with other fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Like every other author, I also borrow ideas from other authors, and take them off on a tangent.  The last story in my collection, The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, Tell Me Your Dreams is a horror twist on the old Science Fiction story, The Cold Equations.  My Novella, A Bag Full of Eyes, was inspired from several different sources concerning seeing what other people had seen, such as the movie Wild, Wild West, and The Sandman comic book.
What are you working on now? 
I’m working on a novella or short novel titled Penultima.  It’s a post zombie apocalypse story, though zombies are not the point of it all.  It’s about right and wrong.  All good stories are actually about right and wrong.  J

Thanks for the chat. I'm looking forward to your upcoming works.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Capes & Clockwork author interview with Andrea Judy

Capes & Clockwork author interview with Andrea Judy

Capes & Clockwork is an upcoming anthology from Dark Oak Press which fuses the beauty and elegance of steampunk with the action and adventure of the superhero genre. As part of the ‘gearing up’ to the release of ‘Capes & Clockwork: Superheroes in the Age of Steam’, I’ll be interviewing some of the great authors that contributed.

And now on the stage, right here for your reading pleasure is…. Andrea Judy.

Andrea Judy is a writer, and professional pixie. She makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia and enjoys causing mischief by talking non-stop about Internet memes and all of the stories she’s working on.  She has had poems and short stories appear in various literary magazines, and had her first original one-act play performed at a local university. She is returning to her roots in genre fiction, especially steampunk. 

At what age did you start writing?

Since I was very young. Even before I could write I would tell all kinds of stories.


Where do your ideas come from?

The Idea Factory of Schenectady, NY.
No the ideas come from all over the place. Music inspires me a lot.


Do you base your characters on people you know or know of?

Not intentionally but pieces of real life pop in  all the time. After I finished my story for Capes and Clockwork, I realized that Rowan, my main character, is very similar to one of my best friends, but while I was writing it that never clicked.

Do you plot out your stories or just make it up as you go?

A combination of both. I do a very loose framework, usually something like a plot point for every 1000 words or so. It helps keep me on target and on plot, and see any big issues before I have to rework an entire story.

Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what do you listen too?

YES. I cannot stand silence. What I’m listening to changes depending on what I’m working on. For anything Steampunk I tend to listen to a lot of jazz and blues.

Which of your characters would you most like to meet in person?

Ha! I’d love to meet Rowan and Bee. Hardworking detectives and junk dogs are probably the most interesting people to talk to, right?

Which of your stories/books/works do you consider the best?

The ones that haven’t been written yet. I always look towards the future, and improve every day so I always think the next story is going to be the best one. 

How much do you write each day/week?

I write every day, and try to get at least 1000 words down. It’s a challenge because I work full-time and have a lot of other responsibilities, but writing is important so I make time for it every day. I make sure I write by not allowing myself to eat dinner until my words are written. It’s amazing how much focus you have when your stomach is growling in your ears!

Can you tell about your experiences working with publishers?

I have had a great time working with all the publishers I’ve been involved with. The process has been smooth, and I really couldn’t be more pleased.

Do you have a routine when you write?

Butt in chair, and write. I don’t worry about routine or having a certain something to write. I write when I have the time, and sometimes that means writing during the commercial breaks of a TV show.

What is your latest project/release?

My first stand alone work, The Bone Queen, will be available in November from Pro Se Productions. I’m incredibly excited about having a digest novel out, and it’s a great story about a villain and how she came to be so wicked. It will be (hopefully) released at Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention November 15-17!

Do you have any signings or appearances coming up?

I will be at the Georgia Literary Festival in Milledgeville, GA on November 9, and will be at the Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention November 15-17.

Who were your inspirations?

My mother inspires me with her dedication and unwavering belief in me.

Favorite authors?

Neil Gaiman, and Guillermo del Toro inspire me with their work and their imagination.

What book do you read over and over the most?

Oh, that’s a tough challenge. I don’t tend to re-read books very much, but I read Stephen King’s On Writing at least once a year.

Is there a book or book series that you recommend to people?

Not so much a series, but I always recommend people explore books outside of their favorite genres, and to look at books not put out by the big six publishing houses.

Do you have a dream project that you want to write in the future?

I would love to work with DC on a Wonder Woman reboot.

Do you have a special way of generating story ideas?

Not really, I usually just listen to a lot of music and go running. If that fails, a long bubble bath cures a lot of story block issues.

How much of you is in your characters?

I think all of my characters wear a piece of me, but I don’t think any of my characters are real representations of me.

If you could live the life of one of your characters, who would it be?

I want to be Rowan, and solve crimes. We both live in Atlanta, so I’m almost there!

What genre do you prefer to write?  To read?

I read and write nearly everything. I cast my net wide. I really like fantasy, and sci-fi, but my background is in literary fiction. I enjoy writing fantastical settings or the real world with a twist. I like taking familiar things and twisting them just enough to make them into something new.

Do you prefer writing short stories or novels?  And why?

It depends on the story. Sometimes the story doesn’t need a novel to be told, and sometimes a novel isn’t enough for the story you’re trying to tell.  I think figuring out the right length for the story you want to tell is one of the biggest challenges of being a writer.

What are you working on now?

I am working on my second digest novel featuring my villain, The Bone Queen, and the Pulptress hashing it out in an old cemetery. I’m really excited about it!

Is Writer’s Block ever a problem for you?  If so, how do you deal with it.

I don’t think writer’s block is an issue. I have days where I don’t want to write, but I still force myself to do it. Giving up because it’s hard is too easy of a way out. Write when the words are flowing easy, and write when every word is a struggle, there isn’t any other option.

What 3 things do you feel every aspiring writer should know?

1. FINISH WHAT YOU START. You can’t be a writer until you’ve finished something you’ve started, don’t chase every project that catches your eyes or else you’re just going to run yourself ragged.
2. Don’t be afraid to write crap. It happens; everyone has bad days and bad sentences. Don’t let the fear of being bad stop you.
3. Network. Writing is a lonely job. Go out and meet other writers especially if you’re just starting out. Most writers are happy to sit and help out new writers. Also, read, read, read, and write reviews for what you read.


What is your funniest/ awkward moment at a convention/signing event?

Oh god, this could be a whole book. I once met a troll in Arkansas and literally scared the piss out of a cow.


How do you use social media in regards to your writing?

I’m social media obsessed. Part of my daytime job involves handling social media accounts so I spend a lot of time on them. It’s easy to get sucked in and waste time so I suggest people schedule posts and limit their time on the internet so that you can get your work accomplished.

 Thanks for the chat, Andrea!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Capes & Clockwork author interview with Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Capes & Clockwork author interview with:
 Nikki Nelson-Hicks
    Capes & Clockwork is an upcoming anthology from Dark Oak Press which fuses the beauty and elegance of steampunk with the action and adventure of the superhero genre. As part of the ‘gearing up’ to the release of ‘Capes & Clockwork: Superheroes in the Age of Steam’, I’ll be interviewing some of the great authors that contributed.
And now on the stage, right here for your reading pleasure is…. Nikki Nelson-Hicks.
Nikki is a resident of Nashville, Tennessee and is often heard muttering, “That’ll show ‘em! Eat my last Chips Ahoy, the cookie stealing summamitches!” while wearing only flannel bottoms and a black rhinestone studded bra. She is a blogger, a government worker/drone and her story, Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, is featured in Capes & Clockwork

Nikki, when you create your characters, do you base them on people you know and how much of you is in your characters?

I put these two questions together because I can. So, yes. I like to start off with a seed of someone I know. It helps me to build a character by using the skeleton of someone I know then I slap on whatever meat I need to make the character do and be what the story requires. Does that make sense? Or is that way creepy?
As for how much of myself is in my characters, John Irving said that every novelist starts off writing about himself but if he wants to succeed, he’d best quit and learn to write about other people because NO ONE is that interesting. I agree with that sentiment although I also believe that, as egoists (and ALL writers are egoists), we can’t help not putting a little bit of ourselves into our characters, not if they are organic.

Do you plot out your stories or just make it up as you go?

A little bit of both. I only NEED two things at the beginning: where I am going (how the story ends) so I can figure out the best way to get there (how to start the story). It is always the middle part that is a fatty quagmire. To keep myself on track, I always keep a journal of my stories. I prefer Moleskine journals, unlined, so I can draw and doodle characters and sketch out plots.
Sometimes I will write a chapter from several different angles until I find the right POV. It’s a trick I learned from an artist friend who would sketch an object from 3-4 different angles before deciding on which idea was perfect.
For this story, Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, I was told the setup (a mashup of Steampunk and Superheroes) and a word count. That was it. The rest of it was up to me to figure out. I usually write horror so a Ghost Busters theme seemed natural for me. I did a little research on Victorian child labor, theatre and Spiritualism.
First, I created my villain, decided what he wanted, and how he would get it. 
Then I created my heroes and figured out what they wanted and how they would foil the villain’s plans.
And then I just ran with it.
I often compare writing a story to shooting up heroin. If I can find the perfect vein, it’s a rush. The story just flows through my bloodstream. But, sometimes, there is a lot of jabbing with a very dull needle before finding that right vein. It can be hellishly depressing. Luckily, I didn’t have that trouble with this story. I fell in love with Timothy Flood, Giselle Benedict and WEB and had a blast telling their story.

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

With Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, I wanted something with a Steampunkish feel so I listened to the soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Also I’m a huge Holmesian so…it killed two birds with one stone.
While I was writing A Chick, A Dick, and a Witch Walked Into A Barn…, a short story I wrote for Pro Se Productions. It had a very 1930’s pulpy feel, so I listened to red hot swing music.
Do I think it is a necessity? No. Neil Gaiman said he needs complete silence in the beginning of a story or he gets distracted. Stephen King said about how music created a barrier between himself and the outside world so he could create. Everyone’s process is different.

If you could live the life of one of your characters, who would it be?

Easy question. Harry Dean Frogge. He is a protagonist in my Travis Dare series of stories about a ghost hunting team and their adventures. Harry has flaws: he likes to live rough and has a tendency to dabble in drugs and unsavory things BUT he is the bravest, most badass friend you could ever want to have on your side. Can you be jealous of someone you created? I am. I wish I was as fearless as Harry. This is a guy who has been through some serious traumatic shit, came out the other side, stood up and said, “Is that all, motherfucker?” He has no fear in helping other people or doing what is right.

What genre do you prefer to write/read?

I write horror so I am predisposed to things that are weird and fantastic.
However, let me define what I mean by horror.
I don’t like gore or splatter punk. I don’t like stories where people are massacred or tortured. Yes, a woman is hung by her thumbs while her vagina is welded shut (yes, a writer submitted a story to me for an anthology I was editing with that little gem. I rejected it) is horrific and nightmarish but there has to be a freaking REASON for it. And that reason better be damn solid. If it is done for the effect of grossing me out, that is sloppy and boring writing.
The difference between reality and literature is that there are definite rules in Storybook World. Things happen for a reason. Metaphor is a solid, not a liquid, squishy thing. And it is never more important than in Horror. Without a reason, it’s just gore and that’s lazy writing.  I despise lazy writing.

Is Writer’s Block a problem for you? If so, how do you deal with it?

My family is often on my back to keep writing. They are always asking what project I am thinking about, what am I writing, what new idea am I brewing because they know, better than anyone else in the world, that I am a very poor human being when I am not writing. I become depressed and that leads down a very dark, slippery slope down a very deep hole.
When Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
For me, the worst times are right after I have finished a project. There are the few days of blissful, YAY! LOOKY WHAT I DID! but they fade to that gray sludge of what to do next. My mind is flat and my creative well is dry.
So, what do I do?
I refill the well. I go on walks in strange, new places. I read new books. I read fiction and nonfiction. I go wandering. I draw, paint, sculpt with clay. Some other artform that isn’t writing. I watch movies, television, go to plays. Hell, find some play that is doing open auditions. Nothing gets those creative juices flowing like anxiety and competition.
I keep my mind open and look for new ideas. I try desperately not to pay any heed to the Black Dog of Depression that is howling just over the hill. It is always there and it does no good to sit down and wait for it to rip out your throat. Keep moving, keeping pumping and fill the well.
And then I put my butt back into the seat and write.

What is your latest project/release?

Currently I have Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, a short story in the Capes and Clockwork anthology. I also have stories in the anthologies Nashville Noir (The Unanswered Call) and Soundtrack Not Included (Black Cherry). I also have three short stories with Pro Se Productions that are due to come out in 2014. I edited a horror anthology called, Comfort Foods: This Ain’t Your Momma’s Cooking which is available on Amazon. I also edited a book for Pro Se Productions, Six Guns and Spaceships, an anthology of space Westerns.
And in my spare time, I am working on stories of my own. The Travis Dare Adventures and the Bogie Bar stories are high on my list of Very Important Stories to Finish.
As well as getting back to my blog, Sometimes it is forgotten in all the craziness.

Do you have a special way of generating story ideas?

I read. I read lots of things. Fiction, nonfiction. Encyclopedias. Magazines. Newspapers. Obituaries. Oh, man…obituaries are a gold mine for life stories and names.
 I talk to people. Strangers, friends, friends of friends. Everyone has a story to tell and, if you talk to a writer, you can damn well be sure it will end up in a story.
I ask questions. Lots of questions. Who? Why? What the fuck? Those are the main three.
I watch people. I’m that creepy creep sitting in the corner table at the pub, drinking alone and scribbling in a notebook. I try to suss up people standing around me. Why are they wearing that? Where did they come from? Where are they going? Who are they meeting? Who are they avoiding? I put on my imaginary deerstalker and go Sherlock Holmes on their asses. It’s fun for me. Probably not so much for them, I guess.
But here’s a tip that most people won’t tell you: try and kill a story before writing it. You have to decide which are worth spending time on. Which ones are worth the days, weeks, months they will eat up if you decide to write them to life. Is it worth it? Ask yourself that question before opening up that vein and pouring your life’s blood into it.

What are the 3 things every aspiring writer should know?

1)                  Whatever you are thinking, think bigger.
2)                  It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.
3)                  Don’t think. Get out of your own damn way.
And here’s a fourth one because I’m a Giver: Have Fun. If you aren’t having fun, neither will your reader.


What is your funniest/awkward moment at a convention/signing event?

When Neil Gaiman broke my heart and made fun of my t-shirt.
You can read the whole story at my blog, under the heading The Neil Gaiman Story.