Category: Writing

Interview: Nancy Wood, author of Due Date

How did you choose the subject for this story?

Originally, this story was not in the mystery genre at all. It was women’s fiction, and was a story about the relationship between a birth mother and the adoptive parents. However, it was clunky and slow and not so interesting! In a brainstorming session at a conference I attended around the time I was trying to figure out what to do with this uninspiring manuscript, someone suggested I turn it into a mystery.

I never thought I’d be able to write a mystery, what with clues and tension and plot twists, but I decided to give it a try. I am forever indebted to the woman at the conference for the idea and to the larger group for helping me develop the 250-word book blurb that same day. Once I chose the subject and genre, I started reading mysteries and thrillers. I got hooked, and to this day, mysteries and thrillers are my genre of choice.

In Due Date, the main character is in a very unusual situation for a protagonist. What prompted this choice for the character?

I found that making the protagonist a surrogate mom put her in a very precarious, vulnerable situation, which worked well to build tension in the story. She was also isolated, both physically and emotionally. The beginning of Due Date finds Shelby, the protagonist, moving from her brother’s home in Santa Cruz to a cottage on the intended parents’ estate in the Santa Cruz mountains. She has no car and is often alone.

A few months later in the story, she develops hypertension and is on bed rest. Shelby moved to the Santa Cruz area for the term of the surrogacy and has no friends. She’s estranged from her parents, and over the course of the book, becomes somewhat estranged from her brother. Her isolation causes her to make choices she might not have made otherwise.

What was the hardest section of Due Date to write? Why was it more difficult?

The hardest sections to write were the violent scenes, both emotionally and logistically. I have a hard time with my characters getting pummeled! It’s also challenging to figure the logistics of a fight, how to make all the actions taken by all the characters fit together in a seamless thread of action.

Occasionally, I found myself walking through the actions in my office: She’s running, in the dark, in clogs; how does her weight shift from one side of her body to the other? What’s she doing with her hands for balance? What happens when she makes contact with her enemy? And how does that feel when you’re pregnant with twins?!

Conversely, what was the easiest section to write and why?

The easiest and most fun sections for me to write are when my character is outside, wandering around in the beautiful place I call home, Santa Cruz county in California. I love the outdoors, and it’s such a joy to write descriptions of the Monterey Bay coastline and the redwood forest.

The way that the climax resolves in Due Date was intriguing. Was this a planned decision, or did the idea develop as you worked on the story?

This developed as I worked on the story. I’d been reading a lot of mysteries and thrillers by this point, and was really drawn in by the longer stories with twists. The ‘first’ ending would have been a great place to stop, but I decided to keep going and see where the story took me. Once I decided to continue, I had to edit the first part and plant in a few more clues.

When you work on developing a story, is there a process you use to help develop the idea? Or is it a lot of off-the cuff-writing, or a combination?

A combination. I have learned that I’m better off with a plot well in mind before I start. Now, after many years of rewrites, I’m better at plotting out a story to the chapter level. I also write extensive character sketches and back stories for each character, so I feel that I know how each character will act and react in a given situation. For me, it makes for a lot cleaner writing and a lot less editing.

Was there any special preparation or research you did to help develop the protagonist of Due Date?

I did a lot of reading on surrogacy and talked to a few surrogate moms. I read plenty of discussion boards, forums, and blogs, as well. I also researched fertility clinics, trying to figure out how that end of the arrangement works.

What advice would you share with other nascent authors as they work to create their own stories?

Keep going! And read anything and everything in your genre. Find something that catches your attention, and something that will catch the attention of readers, and just go with it. Writing and creating a story is so rewarding and seeing it take shape as the number of chapters increases is a thrill like no other.

Call for Submissions: Corporate Catharsis

We’ve all been there: standing behind a desk or a counter for ridiculously long hours, letting the movie of our imagination roll behind our eyes. Maybe you open the supply room door and find another dimension; perhaps the photocopier reproduces cryptic messages from other realities. We’re certain that you can, far too easily, find inspiration from your workplace. Magic, mayhem, revenge — and, yes, perhaps even redemption — can all be found there.

Corporate Catharsis is the anthology we all need — one that can help us survive our corporate servitude with our hearts and souls intact.

Submission Details

Open for Submissions: February 1, 2019 through April 30, 2019
Expected Publication: November 2019
Story Length: 2,000 – 10,000 words
Payment: 0.02 per word + two (2) contributor copies

Submission Requirements

  • Please submit your complete story in standard manuscript form in digital format (DOCX, RTF, or ODT) to submissions (at) (If you want bonus points, also attach a MOBI file; that will help our editorial team be able to read it faster.)
  • Please include “Corporate Catharsis Anthology” in the Subject line of your submission.
  • Include the following in your cover letter/email:
    • Title of your story
    • Your real name
    • Your physical mail address
    • Your preferred email address
    • Genre
    • Approximate word count

Submission Guidelines

  • Your story can be from whatever genre best fits its theme. However, we are not looking for erotica or stories that contain excessive gore or violence.
  • No simultaneous submissions, please. You may submit more than one story, but please send each one as a separate submission.
  • We will accept stories that have been previously published. If your story has been published before, please provide proof that you hold the current publishing rights for it when you submit your manuscript.
  • We highly recommend that you change any names based on real people in your story to protect the innocent — and to prevent possible further harassment by the guilty.

Check this page for the latest information about the Call for Submissions for this anthology.

Interview: Andrea Monticue, author of Memory and Metaphor

All authors I’m sure see this one at least once: What prompted you to get into writing?

I really don’t remember. I was in the 5th grade when I wrote my first book, Castaways of Skull Island. My teacher was quite supportive, and even bound it for me, and placed it in the classroom library. I think it was all of two or three thousand words.

When I was in the sixth grade, we had weekly writing assignments to use all the word in our vocabulary list in a short story. We were only supposed to write one page or so, but I always wrote more than was needed. At the end of each week, I’d end the narrative with “To be continued!” The next week, I’d continue with different characters and a different setting. In the end, the story was a little like Kerouac’s On the Road with lots of characters and mini-adventures, but no overarching plot. The teacher never complained.

You’ve worked on aircraft as a profession. Do you feel this helped your attention to detail in the story, and how?

Yes, it helped me pay attention to the way things worked, although I’m not certain that the average reader will appreciate the details. Instead of imagining a black box that the character activates, I imagine the details of the box. Does it work with hydraulics or electrical power? Pneumatics? EM fields? I worked for Northrop on the B2 project, and I know how complicated a machine like that can be, and all the things that can go wrong if you don’t stay on top of maintenance.

With all the detailed information on how the mind is affected for the main character, I’m guessing you had to do a lot of research for your book. Could you detail some of the subjects that you had to research, and how they affected the story?

I did do a lot of online research, but I didn’t understand a lot of it. The human mind is still mostly uncharted territory even for experts, and I’m the furthest thing from an expert. In the end I had to assume a lot of properties of the human consciousness. I also assumed that though much research had been done, a complete map of the human mind had remained an elusive goal, much like fusion research is today.

I was specifically interested in how an old personality might die and be replaced by a new one. There are actual historical cases where this happened.

What was it like for you, when you found out that your story was going to be published?

Are you kidding?! I was beside myself! The submission guidelines at Paper Angel stated that they’d reply within a month and, after six or seven weeks had gone by, I figured it was another no-go. When I finally received an email, I convinced myself it was another rejection and I had to read it twice before I realized that it was not, because the words made no sense on the first reading.

I don’t think I slept at all that night. I remember trying to tell my wife, and the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth in any coherent order, so I just let her read the email.

I was attending weekly weight-loss support group meetings, and I almost didn’t go to the meeting that night. I went, and told everybody what happened, and they gave me a round of applause.

My feet have only occasionally touched the ground since.

What was it like to see all the parts of getting a book published, such as the cover design, manuscript formatting, etc.?

Frustrating in some respects; fascinating in others. There are aspects of the story that only I have ever imagined, and now other people were trying to imagine them, too.

To shift back to the book again, the book seemed to actually have two stories ongoing. Was this structure something you planned out ahead of time, or did the story develop the parallel threads as it evolved?

You’re absolutely correct. There is the personal narrative of the protagonist, and then the global narrative of how society and government reacted to a new existential threat. People don’t exist in isolation, and I wanted to offer insights into the larger universe of Kentaurus. Plus, I have done a lot of world building for this story and wanted to show it off.

Your story raises some interesting and thoughtful questions. The foremost one, is the question of “What constitutes a living being?” The situation the main character seems to have that as a central theme. Was this a deliberate choice?

Not so much a living being, but a legal civil entity. There are debates in the story about whether the protagonist has civil rights, and if so, do they outweigh the rights of society to protect itself. These are old themes in science fiction, as well as other genres, but the debate still rages. An additional dimension to the debate in this case is that the protagonist used to have civil rights. Should government and military leaders ignore that, or do they have a point?

What authors, if any, did you read that might have helped steer you into writing Memory and Metaphor?

I was inspired by David Weber’s Honor Harrington series in terms of creating a space navy and how spacecraft of the future might navigate. I intentionally steered away from the Star Trek and Star Wars models of spacecraft that are basically airplanes in space.

The ghosts of Isaac Asimov and his robots were always haunting me in this story.

There’s also a bit of Spider Robinson in there.

I reread several of Elizabeth Moon’s books from her Vatta’s War series while writing it.

Finally, I’m sure you recognized the influence of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.

What was the thought behind the title of your book?

It’s pretty obvious that memories play a big role in the plot. The metaphor part is subtler, but I really liked the alliteration.

Finally, as a new author, what words do you have for other authors looking to become published?

An obvious one is: Don’t give up. But more importantly, stop treating your writing as something you do after all the other chores are done. It’s far more than just a guilty pleasure; it’s a part of who you are. If you don’t think it’s important enough to give it your best, then publishers won’t, either.

Why Haven’t You Written Your Book? (Part 4 of 4)

This is Part 4 of a four-part series reporting on the “Why Haven’t You Written Your Book?” survey we offered last year. You can read Part 3 here.

I would consider my book to be a success if …

The answers we received showed a clear distribution of the responses. Here is how all of the answers ranked:

  1. I get it finished and published.
  2. I sell X number of copies during the first year.
  3. I get X positive reviews for it on Amazon/Goodreads.
  4. My friends and family all buy copies of it.

Based on these results, we might conclude that writers:

  • are far more interested in actually completing their book and seeing it published than selling a specific number of copies or receiving a certain number of reviews. That sense of accomplishment appears to drive many writers more than any of the other factors we measured.
  • measure a great deal of their success by looking at the number of copies of their books have been sold. Based on our experience, each author has a different number in mind. Some authors are satisfied if only a few dozen copies are sold, while others measure their success in the hundreds or thousands of copies. (Of course, what author would dislike that?)
  • value review feedback. It helps them to know whether they have reached an audience and also what readers responded to — both positively and negatively. While a less-than-favorable review might sting, it can often provide valuable insights.
  • would like to see those close to them purchase copies of their books, but this is not the highest criteria by which they will measure the success of their work. This makes sense, as we expect our family and friends to support us in our efforts (and many of them are probably getting free copies anyway).

Why Haven’t You Written Your Book? (Part 3 of 4)

The is Part 3 of a four-part series reporting on the “Why Haven’t You Written Your Book?” survey we offered last year. You can read Part 2 here.

I’m afraid to write (or submit) my book because …

A clear margin shows that the two highest-ranked responses held true for most authors, while the remaining three ranked very close together. Here is how all of the answers ranked:

  1. I don’t know if it will be any good.
  2. I don’t know how to distribute/market it.
  3. I don’t think anyone will read it.
  4. I’m afraid people will judge me.
  5. I don’t know how to turn it from a manuscript into a real book.

Based on these results, we might conclude that writers:

  • suffer fears about the quality of their work. There are likely many reasons for this, the discussion of which is potentially fodder for (many) future blog posts. Certainly, however, the generic rejection letters returned by the vast majority of publishers are of little help, in terms of offering authors insights into why their story might have been rejected and how to improve in the future. One of the interesting things that we’ve observed in relation to this item is how many authors, after completing the milestone of publishing their first book, seem to feel the stress even greater with their second book, fearing that the same creative lightning won’t strike twice.
  • don’t understand — or are intimidated by — by the process, even for self-publishing, of taking a story from completed manuscript to saleable format and then market it. Not all authors want, or have time to, develop the skill sets necessary to do this. This is one area in which publishers can add value for the author. Many authors can grasp the basic understanding behind what it takes to create a printed edition of a book, but generating a digital edition feels technical, complicated, and somewhat magical.
  • are afraid that, once they have completed and published their work, they will fail to find an audience for it. This is why getting the word out about it (marketing and promotion) is so important (which, of course, leads back to #2). One way to reduce this fear is by finding your audience (and helping your audience find you) by talking about your book before it even comes out, to help create demand and develop an audience well before it becomes available for sale.
  • fear what people might think about them or their work while reading. It’s no secret that stories often reveal as much about the writer as they do to the reader, so this can be a daunting fear for many authors. This can be tough to get past, “What will my friends and family think?” This is also, of course, why pseudonyms are a thing. This is something that authors need to be prepared for because, even if their response might be “That’s nothing like me! It’s just how the character behaves.” or the infamous “I based that character on someone I know …”

Next week, we will be looking at how authors responded to “I would consider my book to be a success if …“.

Why Haven’t You Written Your Book? (Part 2 of 4)

The is the second part in a four-part series reporting on the “Why Haven’t You Written Your Book?” survey we offered last year. You can read Part 1 here.

I would write my book if …

The answers we received ranked fairly close in terms of the numbers of responses received. Here is how all of the answers ranked:

  1. I knew someone would be interested in publishing it.
  2. I had more time to do it.
  3. I had a support group to help me along the way.

As the results were close across all three responses, we might conclude that writers:

  • are looking for a return on their investment in time writing and editing their work by knowing that, at the end of that process, someone will be interested in making sure that it finds an audience.
  • wish that they had more time to actually, well … write. Finding — or making — time to pursue their writing is perhaps one of the most challenging obstacles that authors (or, indeed, most creative people) face in this fast-paced, over-scheduled world.
  • want someone to assist them, or at least cheer them on, during the creative process. While the act of writing is a solitary activity, it’s nice to know that there are others out there who share both the passion and the pain of the creative process.

Next week, we will be looking at how authors responded to “I’m afraid to write (or submit) my book because …”.

Why Haven’t You Written Your Book? (Part 1 of 4)

Many of us know people who have written — or threatened to write — books, but then those books never seem to materialize in a final form. Even after we started Paper Angel Press, and positioned it as an author-friendly platform for getting your written creations read, we still experienced the same hesitation among writers, even those with whom we had good working relationships. Why was this happening?, we wondered.

So, last fall we ran a survey with two different audiences in order to try to understand why writers don’t complete or submit their books. We also sought to understand how writers might measure the “success” of their work after it has been published.

In an effort to keep the survey as brief and accessible as possible, we offered only three statements for the respondents to complete:

  1. I would write my book if …
  2. I’m afraid to write (or submit) my book because …
  3. I would consider my book to be a success if …

During the course of the next few blog posts, we will share the results of this survey with you.

We hope you enjoy them and find them useful. Maybe you’ll see yourself in our results and ask yourself, “Why Haven’t You Written Your Book?”.

Interview: J Dark, author of Broken Bridge

How did you get the idea for Broken Bridge?

The idea came late in the writing. The first few chapters were the characters establishing themselves. The antagonist’s trap came as a surprise to me. I could feel something, I just didn’t have the real understanding what the character was up to until later in the book. It honestly felt like when you see a great movie and someone decides there has to be a sequel to it. That’s how the first few chapters felt. Once I got into the story, things started clicking and the puzzle pieces fell in place.

How do you normally write — by the directions the characters take you or do you plot it out? Have you tried it either way?

Both Best Intentions and Broken Bridge were totally off-the-cuff. Both seemed like I was at a coffee shop interviewing Fern about what happened. She talked, and I recorded it as best I could with pencil and paper.

Where did Fern come from? Is she based on someone?

Fern reminded me a lot of my daughter, her sister and friends. They all are in some way a part and parcel of Fern.

I understand you had to do a few rewrites. Did you rewrite the entire novel or just parts? What parts were the most difficult? What did you keep from one version to the next?

That is an interesting question. The original ending for Broken Bridge was meant to be a cliffhanger. I wanted that thrill leading into the next book. The publisher and editor said that wasn’t the best idea. My ego got in front of me and I tried to rewrite the first ending twice, and it just didn’t work. I finally saw what they had been trying to tell me, and rewrote the last half of the book from scratch. It turned out a lot more acceptable to the publisher, but I had to get past my own ego to get there. As a writer, I have to put myself into writing, but not let the ego get in the way of constructive criticism. A book is a team project.

Did you find it difficult or easy to write a second book? How many books are planned for this series? Do you have the series planned out, or are you going to sit down with the characters and have them guide you?

The second book was definitely harder, for a few of the reasons outlined previously. I’d never thought past the first book and, when asked if there were more books in the series, was something I had to think about. The obvious answer is: yes, there are more books. I’m envisioning four, but again, the publisher and the editor have a big say in that with me. The last thing I want is for the series to drag on to the point where it goes stale. I’m more for a small series that outlines a world and a character, getting an adventure snapshot of their lives, and moving to the next character/setting/story — like anything with me. Plotting out has had very mixed results. I love writing spontaneously. The characters, when I’m in the story, tell me where to go and what’s happening.

The description in this novel is extensive and doesn’t seem to get in the way of the story. Do you find narrative or dialogue easier to write?

I originally found that dialog was easier for me, and narrative was my weak link. That may be why there is so much in Broken Bridge. I’m nowhere near as good as other authors in getting in a character’s head and describing their feelings, so dialogue gets me that glimpse. Likewise, the setting is what helps frame the narrative, and with the narrative, I can hopefully recreate the mood of the story, and drag the reader in. That’s the ideal situation. Like any neurotic writer, I’m never sure if I got it right. It feels great going down on paper, but six months and two edits later, I’m not quite as certain it came out right.

There are a lot of red herrings in the story as well. Were these planned or did these just come up?

The red herrings are to me a lot like what happens in real life. You have choices each day, and your life is determined by them — like taking a left to go to one store versus a right to go to a different one. Saying “yes” to a date, versus saying “no” and waiting for someone more ‘compelling’ to show up. Each choice creates movement. The red herrings are a glimpse of what might have been, or, foreshadowing for something in a following book. And it could simply be someone saying something they think they saw, and it’s so preposterous or unlikely, that nothing happens.

What was some of the research you had to do in order to write this book? For example, how are you familiar with the pistols/weapons that Fern used?

My boyfriend helped me a lot with ideas for weapons. He is a history buff, and a reloader. If I got stuck, or wanted to throw an idea out about things like the survival straw, he and I looked them up online and on the outdoor sites. The stuff you can get for survival is amazing! I’ve never seen so many gadgets. The settings and things I researched online, there’s a lot of information out there.

Interview: Flavia Idà, author of Children of the Wrong Time

Children of the Wrong Time has a very thoughtful story, and at the same time, it feels that it is a warning. What brought about the idea for this book?

The original “Ha ha!” moment was a line from the movie Parenthood. Not a particularly memorable movie, but this line struck me as the perfect summing up of a topic I’d been mulling over for a while. The line is: “You need a license to drive, you need a license to fish, you need a license to own a dog, but any moron can become a parent.” It got me thinking, what if there is a way to expand into a full story the idea expressed by this line?

This idea was reinforced by the normalization, if not the glamorization, of dysfunctional parenthood that can be found in contemporary popular culture; for instance in TV shows such as “Sixteen and Pregnant”, “Paternity Court”, and the worst of them all, Maury Povich’s endless variations on the theme “I’m seventeen, which one of these three men is the father of my baby?” By contrast, another source of inspiration was a voice of reason from one of my favorite people, Judge Judy Sheindlin: her memorable catchphrase, “If you can’t feed them, don’t breed them.”

Children of the Wrong Time feels to me like one that had to come out in an inspired frenzy that didn’t let you sleep until it was on paper. Was this a frenzy, or a more calculated development of an idea?

Actually, it was slow writing. Once I posited a society based on rules that don’t exist, I needed to make sure that all the rules compute. The premise is that, according to the laws of this futuristic society, people are not allowed to become parents until they prove that they are fit to be parents. That’s easy. Then come the details: Who wrote the laws? Why did they write the laws? How are people tested for fitness to be parents? Who administers the tests? What are the tests? A lot of interlocking details to be worked out so that they meshed into a believable picture. The story was originally 60 pages long or so; but the pieces of the puzzle kept coming fast, and the length basically doubled. Interestingly enough, the story originally was set in a futuristic America.

As I was proofing the story just prior to publication of the book, it occurred to me that Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been criticized in America because Atwood is Canadian, and as a Canadian she has no business imagining a futuristic America. I agree with the criticism, so I thought: if Margaret Atwood is criticized because she’s Canadian, imagine the trouble an Italian would get into if I presumed to imagine what a futuristic America might look like. So, over the course of two short days, while Steven patiently waited for my proofs, I reworked parts of the novel to switch the setting to an entirely fictional country. If I can give myself a facetious pat on the back, I’m proud that I was able to avoid this pitfall literally in the nick of time — not to mention relieved.

How was your preparation for Children of the Wrong Time different from the historical novels, The Iron and the Loom and The Names of Heaven?

It’s two entirely different genres of course, but I discovered that the process was surprising similar. In the historical novels I wanted to recreate a world that no longer exists; in Children of the Wrong Time, I wanted to create a world that doesn’t exist, period; which is to say, start from a fixed point, and from there travel backwards in time in one genre and travel forward in time in the other genre.

Stories can spur the imagination, like in science fiction, and tackle controversial subjects in a manner that provokes discussion. What do you see as the reason for this story’s existence?

Science fiction if often maligned as a “lightweight” genre. I think it’s quite the opposite. Science fiction can be the perfect vehicle for some of the toughest existential questions: What would you do if all of a sudden nobody died anymore? What would you do if the world were taken over by beings that have nothing in common with you? What would you do if you were not allowed to have children unless you prove that you’re fit to be a parent? Questions as endless as those that have beset the human race since day one.

Interview: L. A. Jacob, author of Grimaulkin

The first question I’d like to ask is about the book in general. If I remember correctly, Grimaulkin is written for Young Adults?

Yes, mostly in the high-school plus range. The main character is 18 years old.

Did you find that focusing on that particular age range influenced the style of your writing?

Oh, definitely. My first draft, the one I wrote when I wasn’t paying attention to words, had a lot more detail and swear words than the final version did. Since the time period is in the year 2000, I didn’t have to worry about modern lingo and slang, as I was familiar with the slang at that time.

So, why 18 years old for the main character? Was this a deliberate choice for the character? Or did you feel that the character “evolved” to be 18 as you created the story?

I wanted him to be at least at the age of consent, because. in this book, and in subsequent books, there will be an awful lot of sex talk. Boys that age think and talk a lot about sex, and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t shock the reader — or their parents — by not having characters be at least at the young adult age.

That makes sense. Do you see this as a series of books, rather than just a single story?

I’m working on the second one now. There’s a third one in my mind, at least. I want to culminate in a relationship between him and Scott, so there will be at least three books in total.

You have another series you’re writing, called War Mage. I’ve read it, and liked the great detail in it. In Grimaulkin, the magic feels very similar. Do both series take place in the same “universe”?

Yes and no. The magic systems are the same, but in Grimaulkin‘s universe, I’m trying to keep out the extra little beasties, such as vampires and werewolves. The magic is similar to how magic would work in the real world (which I believe it does), but on an instantaneous basis. For example, I do believe that magic works, but only if the Universe chooses to let it work for your own higher good. In Grimaulkin‘s universe, it works, but as blatant obvious workings, not subtly, as it does in our own world.

I noticed that Grimaulkin has a very different opening, with the main character being released from prison as the book opens. What prompted the choice to start at his release?

I initially wrote Grimaulkin as a coming-of-age story, starting from when he was a little child and growing up, how he became strong in magic, and how he learned at his aunt’s knee. But it was so boring. Then I tried to write some prison scenes, but they were just too rough. He was getting beaten up all the time. So, I wanted to start from a place where he was a new person, changed from the old child that he’d been, and contrast that with his family, how Evie (his sister), would accept him for whatever he was, however he was.

War Mage a very rich background detail. In comparison, Grimaulkin has a very sparse background, with just enough detail to get a general idea of the setting. Was this a deliberate choice to make the story stand out more?

Sort of. I was writing about places I was familiar with — I mean they’re right down the street from where I live right now. War Mage, although still within an hour’s drive, was unfamiliar territory. I also typically write without much detail to setting, because I want the characters to drive the narrative, and I want the reader to pay attention to the characters and their actions.

There are some intense scenes in Grimaulkin. How close to personal experiences of your own do these scenes come? Did that make it difficult or easy to include those scenes in the story?

A lot of those scenes come from the emotions that I feel, not necessarily the action. I was more trying to find the scene to fit the emotion, rather than actually finding the emotion to fit the scene. I’m a method writer, and put myself in the shoes of my character. Although a few things come from my own experiences — such as getting bullied in high school — I hold onto the emotion and look for scenes that will express it.

A book almost never goes smoothly. What was the most difficult part of writing Grimaulkin for you?

I had problems right in the middle. When the first body shows up dead, I said to myself, “What do I do now?” I am an organic writer as well — a “pantser” as they’re called, or a “discovery” writer. I write to see what’s next in the story. I went back, reread it, and thought, “Well, I’ll just add in another demon.” So, the second half of the book flowed from there.

The other hard part was the ending. I knew what had to be done, but I kept writing it too short. I talked to my beta reader, who gave me some ideas which I used, and it came out much better. Organic writers have a habit of writing short, to the point endings, because it’s, well … the end.

With having two series, War Mage and Grimaulkin, do you find that ideas might start as an idea for one series and, on occasion, become a better idea for the other series?

Yes. In War Mage, Brent has a “knack” — a limited telekinesis as well as his magic. Mike doesn’t have that additional knack; he just has an excellent memory. But as we talked about before, the magic systems are the same, in general. In addition, War Mage is more military-based, and is a whole different world than Grimaulkin, which is the civilian world, and four years before War Mage takes place. Some of the ideas cross over, but I try to keep them fresh and original, not knowing if the same person will read both books and notice I’m reusing stuff.

When you write stories like Grimaulkin or War Mage, do you find that it comes in spurts, or more in a continuous period of writing?

The muse usually grabs a hold of me for days — if not weeks — and does not let go. I’ve found that if I try to write things in spurts, that I lose the context of the story and have to re-read what I’ve done. That turns into (more) editing of what I’ve done. I wrote Homecoming in one month, and Grimaulkin, this version, in just under a month as well. Grimaulkin has been in my head for three years.

There are a lot of nascent authors out there. What would you give them as advice?

To write. To not think about writing. To write the story, however it comes out, and not care who will see it, but that it’s yours, and it needs to be told.