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Jun 15, 2012 - Interviews    Comments Off on Interview With Grant Stone

Interview With Grant Stone

Today I have an interview with Grant Stone. It’s not very often you run into a writer who feels their work is the reason they are alive, but Grant’s passion for his books is obvious. You can find him on the web at http://www.readzing.com/

JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?

GS: My career has always focused on writing and exploration. For over 15 years, I’ve held a “dream job” working as the Editor on Crystal Cruises’ luxury vessels, traveling to hundreds of destinations in almost 150 countries.

As a young teenager I started writing a journal – 25+ years ago – which definitely helped to develop my writer’s “voice.” However, the moment I truly believed I was a writer was when I wrote a piece for my grandfather’s funeral in April, 2001 (a year a half before I started writing Everything Zing.) The words and message felt so beyond my own means that I knew something greater was at work, and I’ve always believed that was the quality of good writing.

JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?

GS: Like most writers, I’m very particular with my routine. I start as early in the morning as possible, often by 6am. I keep a notepad with me to jot down notes, but the actual writing is always done on my laptop… with my legs stretched out on the bed. I usually break at the two hour mark (for at least 30 minutes) and never write more than six hours in one day. For me, the discipline was always time – so many hours per day, rather than a set word / page count.

JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?

GS: I travel a lot, so I’ve become a big Kindle fan, but there’s no replacement for the hard cover, especially a book you love and want to keep and read again in the future.

JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?

GS: Before I even wrote the first sentence for “Everything Zing” I had an outline for each of the four books. Before writing each, I thoroughly plotted out dates and events and any other relevant notes. Then, I simply took it scene by scene, often asking, “OK, what’s next?”

JGA: Why did you decide to write your novel, “Everything Zing”?

GS: This novel is my life’s work – absolutely without a doubt in my mind. It’s the reason I’m on this planet, and I’m thrilled to share the story. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world because I got to discover the Imagine Nation’s Capital City of Zing first!

JGA: Who are the readers who would enjoy “Everything Zing” the most?

GS: Book One’s inscription says it best: Dedicated to every grown-up Muggle who still believes in magic.

JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?

GS: “Everything Zing” is a four-part series, all of which are written, the first subtitled “Winter” now in publication. All of my energy is focused on promoting the current release, as well as finalizing the remaining four installments (Spring, Summer and Fall).

JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?

GS: Harry Potter! For two reasons – of course, the enormous success, but also the fact that JK Rowling’s books were the ones that turned my attention back to reading for the fun of it.

You can find Everything Zing on Amazon.

Dec 13, 2011 - Interviews    Comments Off on Interview With Khiana Washington

Interview With Khiana Washington

Today I have an interview with Khiana Washington. Khiana is doing something many older authors wish they had done – she is focusing on her writing at an early age. I think it’s safe to say that if Khiana keeps writing, she will have a lot of success with her books in the future. You can find out more about Khiana at her web site.

JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?

KW: My name is Khiana Washington, I am a jr. in high school and I am currently 16 years old. While some other kids my age are talented in sports or music, I picked up on the craft of writing. I am by no means a genius or prodigy of any sort, I still go to English class like any other kid in my grade, they only difference is I wrote a book. Writing is my absolute favorite thing to do because it is what allows me to express myself the most.

I had an idea for a story and I put it on paper; that’s how I got started writing. It sounds so simple when I say it, but I’m not sure if anyone knows how quite complicated it was. I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was only in 8th grade, not even half way through the year, but I sort of just shrugged and said “it can’t be too hard”.

JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?

KW: Ideally I would love to be able to write alone and in peace, but being a teenager doesn’t make that possible at all. I usually try to write when I’m at home, but if an idea pop ups I will quickly jot it down at school or if I’m over a friend’s house so I don’t forget. I have tons of random bits of writing in various notebooks and files on my computer considering I don’t actually write my story from beginning to end. I am continuously writing throughout the day, I never have a set schedule because usually I’m pretty busy.

JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?

KW: I love fiction novels, those are the types of books that interest me the most. I have noticed that I have been getting into more poetry lately, so that as well. I do own a kindle, which I got for Christmas about two years ago and I use it faithfully. However, I still purchase paperback books as well.

JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?

KW: I would have to say Jodi Picoult. She has written various novels that all have diverse themes. After reading, Change of Heart, it actually gave me a new way to look at how theme should play an important role to any story because that’s what really gives the story substances and can possibly alter the reader’s outlook. Reading her stories also made me aware of how complex stories can get and how it is necessary to not confuse your reader by tying it all together.

I also believe Ellen Hopkins has influenced my writing because she writes in such a poetic way that I have never really experienced before and it showed me not to be afraid to take risk. Also the plots to her stories are unique because they are so brutally honest. I learned from her that writing that although the work is fiction, writers must still write the truth, that’s how we relate to the audience.

JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?

KW: Honestly, I don’t plan my writing. I tried to write an outline, but it story overthrew it. I never go in sequence when I write. Actually in Looking Past the Mirror, I wrote the first paragraph and then I jumped straight to the last sentence. The first and last lines are the only things that haven’t changed since I originally wrote it. The only things that I do try to maintain are character profiles. I write a name, a few facts about what I in vision them to look like eye and hair color, then I write their personalities and how they change or remain the same throughout the book. I also have made several family trees in order to keep relatives straight.

JGA: Why did you decide to write your novel, “Looking Past the Mirror“?

KW: When I started writing “Looking Past the Mirror”, there was never really a time when I thought it would be a novel in the beginning. At first it was just something I wanted to show my mom. I really just wanted to tell a story, simple as that.  Even after writing the first chapter it took me several more to realize I could actually write a book. So I guess I decided to write my novel because it was becoming too long for the short story I originally thought it would be.

JGA: Can you tell us a bit about the main character, Faith Jordaine, and some of the challenges she has to face as the story progresses?

KW: Faith Jordaine is a very unique character who I think represents much of the various problems teenagers and even some adults must face. She is 15 years old and she is dealing with the loss of her grandmother when we first meet her. Her mother is on drugs and her father is abusive so she really loses more than a grandmother, she loses her only support system. As the story goes on Faith really has a hard time accepting who she is and understanding how to accept the death of her loved one. Faith must look deep within her and find a way to be happy without relying on the destruction she brings to her life. Faith is a witty, sassy, and hot-tempered girl who is extremely vulnerable. As the story unfolds you will hate that you fall in love with her.

JGA: Who are the readers would enjoy “Looking Past the Mirror” the most?

KW: I believe that any age 12 and up would enjoy “Looking Past the Mirror”, but specifically teenage girls would be able to relate the most and get the most out of it.

JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?

KW: I am currently working on several other projects, but the main items would be two completely different novels which are currently titled Good-bye and Bystanders. Good-bye really focuses on the value of relationships and how they can change at any given moment. Bystanders is a story that solely focuses on the supporting characters of the novel, rather than the main character because it aims to show how standing by when negative situations are happening and not doing anything, can be just as bad or worse than being in the situation.

JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?

KW: I honestly think I would become the author of “Of Mice and Men”, originally written by John Steinbeck, which I’m sure you know. I chose this book simply because it is all that I dream to accomplish in one story. It has a dynamic story line and has the ability to draw you in and make you fall in love with the characters. It also teaches many valuable lessons without coming right out and saying it. It is a story that has stuck with me and that’s what I want to be able to do with my writing. I don’t want people to be able to forget.

JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?

KW: No, I think that’s about it. I just want to thank you for your time and I truly appreciate your efforts.

You can find Looking Past the Mirror on Amazon, or at Khiana’s web site.

Dec 10, 2011 - Interviews    Comments Off on Interview With Barry Crowther

Interview With Barry Crowther

Today I’ve got an interview with Barry Crowther. Barry has been voted the Indie Author Rockstar for December over on IndieAuthorRockstar.com, with his novel “Missing” being picked as the winner from a very strong field. You can find out more about Barry, and the novels he has written, over on his site at barrycrowther.com

JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Barry. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?

BC: I’ve wrote about this a couple of times on my blog. I wasn’t a natural writer and took a long time working on craft. Joined a writers group (back in the UK) and received my (large) share of poor reviews until one day there was a silence. Nothing critical. Wrote a ton more in the short story form, got a little praise, then got a couple of shorts published.

That was the encouragement I needed to start on my first novel. It didn’t have legs but it was a great start and I snagged an agent right away. We didn’t continue to work together and I moved to the USA (California) then decided to try the Indie route. I had faith in my own ability and have a little sales and marketing chutzpah. The rest is history.

JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?

BC: I work really hard in my consultancy between 7:30am and 1pm. As soon as the clock strikes one, I’m outta there and into the same Starbucks every day. The staff know me, same drink, earphones in (a solo Noel Gallagher is my latest inspiration) and I blitz the words. I don’t leave until I have hit 1500 words, usually around 3:30pm.

Scrivener is a big help with all this stuff. It’s a (British) piece of software that is incredible for fiction writers. I didn’t believe in software but as an IT consultant I can’t ignore it. I tried just about everything and most were crap or almost there – but not quite. Scrivener is the real deal and for the price I think every fiction writer should grab a copy.

JGA: I use Scrivener myself, and couldn’t imagine going back to a standard word processor for the writing process! Changing focuse from writing to reading, how do you personally like to read books you buy these days?

BC: Slowly and begrudgingly I am moving to iPad using the Kindle app. I’ve been an iPad user from the start (Gen One) and got a couple of books including my own to see how they formatted on the screen. Now it’s just too damned convenient. This weekend for example I was looking for a book I refer to occasionally and I just couldn’t find it. Maybe I lent it to someone, can’t remember, so I looked it up on Amazon and was referring to it in minutes on my iPad. Saved myself a ton of time.

Yes, the experience is different but it’s not bad. I’m a compulsive gym rat and let me tell you it’s easier touching a screen to turn a page when you’re doing an uphill run than trying to grab at pages.

The only thing about this style of reading is the disparity in pricing. I still don’t get it how publishing houses think they can charge almost the same price for an electronic version of a book? We (the general public) know the margins in eBooks are massive compared to the physical product so where do these price gouging fuckers get off charging $12.99 for a Kindle version? They are just taking the piss!

JGA: Hmm, I think you might be holding back on telling us what you really think! 🙂 Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?

BC: Two stand out for me. The first is Harlan Coben. I read ‘Tell No One’ about ten years ago and it was the first book that made me say ‘Coool’ out loud, l was on my holidays in Spain. This guy has a specific style that is very easy on the eye and never let’s the pace slacken. That’s a difficult balancing act.

The second is James Frey of Million Little Pieces fame. James semi-autobiographical novel was so stylized that it was mesmerizing. An amazing story told in an amazing way. If you read Missing you’ll see the Coben influence, if you read Nothing you’ll see the Frey influence.

Those are the two that have had the most effect on me. Julian Barnes is the author that I read and groan at just how good he is. This is when jealousy is a good thing. It makes me want to burn my own stuff while gnashing my teeth. The guy is just too good.

JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?

BC: Again this is something that I’ve discussed at length on my blog. Should we plan a novel or just discover it organically. As I’m a mystery/crime writer the plot is important. I tried to go the organic route when I was younger but too many deadends made me go back to plotting. I just painted myself into too many corners if I didn’t know three things: the beginning as in the inciting incident, the middle or major twist and the end – whodunnit.

This all said, for the novellas I write completely organically and grow the words each day in writing sessions that reveal a little more about what is going to happen next. I suppose the answer to this is that if the work is a novel length crime drama then I plot and if it’s shorter then the writing flows organically. I don’t think either way is right or wrong, it just depends on the writer and the story, like they say ‘the book is the boss.’

JGA: Why did you decide to write your novel,  “Missing“?

BC: I had been working on something novel length and nothing was really working but I had some great scenes. I tried man-in-jeopardy, woman-in-jeopardy, dog-in-jeopardy plot lines but nothing really went anywhere and I ended up throwing a ton of work in the garbage. One day I came up with a hero idea. What if an ex-cop who is now a debt collector was press ganged into finding a missing girl. A few of the characters I threw in from the good scenes I had previously written so I had a cast of characters just needed to see how they would behave.

With Missing I plotted every detail right through to the end. Wrote the whole thing into a very rough first draft. It worked as a whole, but I still didn’t want to do anything with it. I put the MS aside for around a year and worked on some other ideas I had (one was Nothing which I wrote by hand) then came back to it. I still liked it. That was the green light.

So I gave it a good edit and passed it on to a real editor. By this time I had linked up with a few Indie Writers and they were making money and building a fan base. I got a couple of agents interested but they panned out to nothing and that was a 6 month forward and backward relationship. Even an agent in the UK wanted the whole thing then finally decided against it as she considered it a ‘boys’ book? That’s when I thought this industry was some kind of fuckup and I went Indie (self-pubbed or whatever anyone wants to call it.)

JGA: Can you tell us a bit about the main character, Matt Spears, and some of the challenges he has to face as the story progresses?

BC: Matt has a lot going on. This is one of the hardest parts about writing a series, the first one is where all the juice has to get spilled and you still have to leave enough room for a good story as well.

He’s an ex-cop and ex-con. Spent time in prison for the murder of a drug dealer (I’ve never revealed whether he did it or not, only me and Matt know that). Released on a technicality he goes into his fathers business collecting money for street cash lenders. You can imagine the dregs of the earth he has to encounter just in daily life. His girlfriend is about to leave him and a notorious gangster has heard he’s good at finding people. He wants Matt to find his niece who went missing two years earlier.

I threw a lot of characters into the story to keep the reader on their toes. Maybe too many -shrugs- who knows. Local politicians, celebrities, TV personalities, gangsters, bent coppers, private investigators, very fat people and a homicidal forensic accountant.

If you guess the end then you’re smarter than me. I had it all plotted then changed it at the last minute as it made sense to me that this other person was behind all the various crimes involved.

JGA: Who are the readers would enjoy “Missing” the most?

BC: Readers who enjoy a puzzle. This is more along the lines of Pulp Fiction than Agatha Christie but the clues are there. This can be solved and there a few twists along the way.

Also readers who like to learn a few things. I’ve had amazing feedback in the US that a lot of the British expressions (slang) that are used they have had to research those. Which added a dimension to the work I didn’t expect. A lot of readers compare this to Lock, Stock and Snatch where the viewer had to work on some of the dialogue after the movie was over. It’s an interesting side effect of writing in your own vernacular.

JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?

BC: The main thing I’m working on at the moment is the sequel to Missing. The first draft is complete and it’s going through a grammar check next week. The provisional title is Summers End, but I know already it won’t be published under that name. Once a novel length work is complete I find the Title in the final edit. The theme of the story becomes more obvious to me when I read as a reader and not a writer.

JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?

BC: James Frey’s: A Million Little Pieces. I would make this book my own and would have loved to defend it on Oprah. I thought Frey choked on that show. Okay, she was overbearing and bombastic in her exposure of a pseudo-autobiography but Frey knew it was a fake up front. No surprises for him there that he might be found out.

It didn’t matter that he was about to be exposed on national TV. It mattered that he still tried to portray a magnificent story and even better writing by making out it was real. Ask Stephen King, all writing is about the truth, even when it’s not the truth. If Oprah Winfrey (or anyone else for that matter) thought this amazing piece of prose was written by some self loathing, drug addled alcoholic with a death wish then the joke was on them. I read that book totally unaware of the controversy, only finding out afterwards when trying to find another book by Frey, and he didn’t have me fooled for a minute. I know how difficult writing is. The mentally incapacitated would have a hard time with it. Some drunken druggie writing this novel/memoir would be like Hobo Charlie drinking Draino down the street winning the World Chess Championship. Possible? Yes. Likely? Fucking forget it.

JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?

BC: I don’t think so my friend. My brain is pretty much fried and I’ve got another five chapters to edit! I love it really 🙂

Nov 26, 2011 - Interviews    2 Comments

Interview With Ty Johnston

Fantasy author Ty Johnston’s blog tour 2011 is running from November 1 through November 30. His novels include City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climb and More than Kin, all of which are available for the Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/Ty-Johnston/e/B002MCBQRU/ ), the Nook (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/ty-johnston ) and online at Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/darkbow ). His latest novel, Ghosts of the Asylum, will be available for e-books on November 21. To find out more, follow him at his blog tyjohnston.blogspot.com.

JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?

TJ: I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was five years old. I started with comic books, reading and writing them. Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four. Those were my earliest fictional heroes. I wrote a couple of very short novels when I was in elementary school. In my late teens I began writing short stories and one horror novel. In college I studied journalism, then I spent the next 20 years as a newspaper editor or designer. During all that time, I kept up my short story writing, with a handful of sales here and there. A few years back, like many today, I found myself looking for a new career. I decided to turn my love of fiction writing into that new career, and so far I’m doing alright. In the last six years I’ve written five novels, four novellas, two screenplays and so many short stories I’ve lost count, the majority of that written in the last couple of years.

JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?

TJ: Not much is set with me when it comes to writing. I mostly write at home on an HP desktop, but often enough I travel to a library or book store and write on a laptop. Sometimes I write on a ten-year-old Mac I’ve got in a corner. It really depends upon the project. I use the Mac for screenwriting and graphic design because I’ve got the appropriate software there, even if the computer is old.

I have no set schedule for writing, though when in the depths of a novel I do set daily word counts for myself. Sometimes I write early in the morning, sometimes later in the day. Sometimes I write in the middle of the night, like I’m doing now.

Every once in a while I write using a pencil and notebook pad, but that’s rare, and I usually just do it for a change of pace and/or when I’m starting a new project.

JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?

TJ: I’m all over the place. I have hundreds of e-books waiting for me on my Kindle, but I also have a stack of about 50 books waiting on a shelf above my main writing computer. I enjoy both digital and paper. I buy both. If I’m at home and think about a particular book, usually I pop onto my Kindle and buy it. But sometimes I’ll be out in a book store and I’ll find something I want; in that case, I go ahead and purchase it.

Of late, I’m growing more fond of shorter novels. I believe that’s because I’ve spent much of the last couple of years reading longer works, including the Malazan Books of the Fallen by Steven Erikson and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I think I need a break from the longer novels.

I do tend to prefer novels more than short stories. Short stories have to work much harder to impress me.

As a writer, I enjoy working in both short and longer forms. Each brings different skills to the forefront for me. When I’m writing short stories, I’m much more emotional about it, and experimental. When writing novels, I tend to fall into a working routine that’s almost mechanical.

JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?

TJ: I tend to like writers who can convey much in few words, and I try to do the same. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the more flowery writers out there, nor the ones who spend pages upon pages dwelling on the inner turmoils of their characters, but that’s not for me. In writing, I like action and dialogue, and if done correctly, I feel those alone can show much.

As for writers who have influenced my own style, coming from my generation, I’d have to say Stephen King to some extent. Almost any writer under 50 has been influenced by King, directly or indirectly, even if they don’t realize it, because of the influence King has brought to so many other writers, even outside the horror genre.

Hemingway to some small extent has influenced my style, as has Ed McBain. Of fantasy writers, my own style is probably closest to that of the late Fred Saberhagen, and perhaps a little close to the late David Gemmell. The likes of Andrew J. Offutt, Robert E. Howard and Robert Asprin have also had a big affect upon me.

JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?

TJ: For short stories, I do very little planning. I usually have an idea in my head for a few weeks, then one day I sit down and start writing. If the plot is somewhat complex, I might make a few notes on characters or some such.

For novel writing, I usually have tons of notes and computer files containing notes. Right now there is a small notebook, nearly every page filled, and a handful of torn-out sheets sitting in front of my keyboard for my most recent novel, Ghosts of the Asylum. And then there are a half dozen computer files on my main writing computer, with some back-up files elsewhere.

My notes usually are broken up into several different types. One set of notes will focus upon characters, their names and mannerisms. Since I write a lot of epic fantasy, I also usually have a good number of notes about places, their names and characteristics. Then there are scene notes in which I break down everything important that needs to happen in a given scene. I’ll also have notes with a broader approach, reminding me of what is supposed to happen in the next few chapters.

Rarely do I find myself trying to do a complete outline for a longer project. I usually have a basic outline in my head, but most times I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen beyond the next three or four chapters. Whenever I’ve tried to completely outline a novel, it all falls apart by the time I’m halfway through writing the book, and I never like the results.

JGA: Why did you decide to write your novel, Ghosts of the Asylum?

TJ: Ghosts of the Asylum is a sequel to three earlier novels of mine, my Kobalos Trilogy. There were events in that trilogy, especially in the first novel, that brought forth the potential for much change in one area of my fictional world. Basically, the underworld in the city of Bond had lost its overlord, leaving a vacuum for someone to fill. Ghosts of the Asylum deals with that situation while returning some of the characters from the trilogy. Also, Ghosts of the Asylum and the Kobalos Trilogy are part of what will be a much longer work, perhaps as many as 40 to 50 novels, which I tend to think of as my Ursian Chronicles. If ever finished, these chronicles will cover about 2,000 years of time, looking at particular events. Some of the stories will be relatively small in the overall picture, but others will be much more huge, have a broad and epic approach.

JGA: That sounds like a very ambitious plan! Can you tell us a bit about the main character, and some of the challenges they have to face as the story progresses?

TJ: Kron Darkbow is the main character in Ghosts of the Asylum, and in the Kobalos Trilogy. To describe him in the shortest manner possible, think of Batman in the early Renaissance. That basically sums up Kron. Family deaths at an early age urged him into a life of vengeance, and he received training under the tutelage of his uncle, a border warden in the Prisonlands, as well as dozens of other wardens. Kron learned to fight in many different forms, to use a variety of weapons, but he also learned some alchemy, multiple languages and various other skills.

In Ghosts of the Asylum, he finds himself a marked man. In the Kobalos Trilogy, Kron had been involved in the city of Bond losing the leader of its underworld. Now a year later, there are elements of that underworld who want Kron dead for little more reason than they believe his murder would be a good notch on their belt, so to speak. Of course Kron isn’t going to sit still for that. There are also riots in the streets, and then there’s the matter of ghosts haunting the Asylum, a place where a hundred died during my novel City of Rogues.

JGA: Who are the readers would enjoy Ghosts of the Asylum the most?

TJ: I think those who enjoy action-oriented fantasy with some dark intrigue would like my novels. Modern readers of David Gemmell, Steven Erikson and George R.R. Martin might enjoy my works, though admittedly I’m not as talented a writer as those three, and I don’t get as indepth with my characters and backgrounds as does Erikson and Martin.

Also, those who enjoy R.A. Salvatore and Fred Saberhagen should find something to like in my novels.

JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?

TJ: I’m not set on what my next novel will be, but I’ve got at least a hundred ideas floating around in my head. I do know what the next Kron Darkbow novel will be about, but I’m not sure yet if I want to tackle it or try something else. I’ve not written much horror in a while, and I’ve kind of been feeling the need for that. Also, I’ve got several ideas for literary novels, plus I’d like to expand and give a thriller a try.

Right now, the future novels currently at the front of my thoughts are tentatively titled Demon Chains, my next Kron Darkbow novel; Splintered Shields, a fantasy novel about my Belgad character; Day One, a horror zombie novel; and Nevermind, a mainstream more literary novel about three former college buddies who run into one another at a wedding in their forties.

JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?

TJ: That’s a tough question because I could probably name a couple of dozen books, at least. Coming to mind is Watership Down by Richard Adams, for a variety of reasons. It’s a truly excellent novel, but it’s also a great, epic story that ranks right up there with the best of in the fantasy genre. Some readers might pull back from the novel because it is about rabbits, but they are missing out on some superb story telling. Other books that come to mind are The Stand by Stephen King, Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson and World War Z by Max Brooks. Just about anything written by Alexandre Dumas causes me a little jealousy.

JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?

TJ: I’d just like to thank you for this interview, Jason, and to thank my readers.

You can find all of Ty’s many many novels on Amazon.

Nov 10, 2011 - Interviews    3 Comments

Interview With Cidney Swanson

Today I have an interview with Cidney Swanson. Cidney currently has two books out, making the first two books in The Ripple Series. Both books have been getting impressive reviews, and Cidney certainly seems to be an author to keep an eye on in the future!

JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?

CS: I’ve been a reader and writer since the time I could do those two activities on my own. I wrote only for myself for decades before waking up one day and deciding I’d write a book to share.

JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?

CS: I say on my twitter profile that I type my ideas into whatever device is at hand! Phone, kindle, laptop, desktop . . . I’ll write on paper, but only if I have to. I currently stick to a couple-hours-every-morning schedule for my actual writing time which usually happens at my dedicated desk. I save afternoons, when I’m drowsy, for things like fan mail and marketing. Oh, that sounded bad. But I actually picked that schedule because fan mail inevitably cheers (and wakes) me up. Afternoon is a good time for that, right?

JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?

CS: I still love getting a hardcover of a much-anticipated release (especially signed at an event!) But I have to admit it is so much more convenient to read on my kindle or even iTouch. I’m seeing myself switching that way more and more. I mostly read novel-length works. I like really, really, long books because I get to spend more time with the characters. I feel sad when I read a short story. For me, it is like a too-short visit. (Assuming I like the guests!) But I have read some amazing short stories. And I like poetry.

JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?

CS: Hmmmmm. For influence, definitely Tolkien was huge. That is, my work is neither derivative nor similar, and yet his world-building made me comfortable (from a young age) creating and inhabiting imaginary worlds of my own. Jane Austen and George Eliot just get humanity and being human so well. I read a ton of Ray Bradbury as a kid, and I know that’s where I fell in love with SciFi/speculative fiction. And as an adult? I love the poetry+storytelling to be found in YA authors Maggie Stiefvater, Nova Ren Sum and writing team Kami Garcia/Margaret Stohl. Love me some Audrey Niffenegger for the same reason, although she’s not YA.

JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?

CS: A story usually starts with me hearing a character talking in my head. If the character (and his or her situation) sticks with me for a couple of days, I’ll start writing or at least jot down the ideas for later. Action ideas and story arc come to me when I’m in motion. (Go figure!) So I walk a lot when I’m working out details. I used to drive, but then gas got expensive and the polar caps began to recede.

I definitely plan where my story is heading long in advance. I often outline. I knock out a rough draft first which usually needs a lot of polishing. I edit in stages, going through about five complete passes (word by word) before I call something “done.” (And then there’s outside editorial input, rewrites, etc.)

JGA: What gave you the initial idea for your novel, “Rippler“?

CS: In my mind, I saw a girl sitting quietly beside a calm section of the Merced River. As I watched her (she was staring at the river), she faded and became invisible. I had to know why. Also, it bugged me that she didn’t notice she’d turned invisible. I had to figure out how she could possibly not know that she’d vanished. The story rose from that image.

JGA: Can you tell us a bit about the main character, Samantha Ruiz, and some of the challenges she has to face as the story progresses?

CS: Sure. Sam (who’s fifteen) starts the story having recently come out of a shell of seclusion and depression that’s lasted eight years. She’s at this great spot in her life now with friends and freedom from depression. Then she finds out she has a strange gene others would kill for. So, her real challenge is to keep an ability—which she can’t control—hidden from others. But she moves from merely hiding to assuming a more active role in protecting her life and the lives of those she loves. She definitely has a character arc of increasing kickass-ness.

JGA: Who are the readers would enjoy “Rippler” the most?

CS: YA stories are enjoyed by a much larger audience than teens, so you can be ten or sixty and still enjoy YA. RIPPLER is usually categorized as Urban Fantasy or Sci-Fi. Readers who enjoy character-driven plots and well-crafted internal logic in their speculative fiction will probably enjoy RIPPLER the most. Also, to enjoy RIPPLER, you need a tolerance for peeks at some of humanity’s darker angles. And you should enjoy stories that have a dominant message of hope within the darkness.

JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?

CS: In terms of fiction that I’ve completed at least a first draft manuscript of and that will actually see the light of day? Well, I have Book One of a futuristic Sci-Fi series cooling its heels at the moment. Also in the “fermenting/aging” stage is a stand-alone paranormal romance with ballerinas and goblins. At the moment I’m focused on finishing up the Ripple Series, however. (See? I’m awake when I read my fan mail! And I listen!)

JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?

CS: Oh, easy-peasy. I’d be the one who wrote THE BOOK THIEF instead of Markus Zusak! It’s that thing about hope piercing through really dark moments and places. And that thing about poetry scattered upon each page. When I want to remind myself to be a better writer, I just open that novel to a page. Any page. I jump in and swim around a bit, and after I get out and towel off, my prose comes out better. Oh, and I almost forgot: Death as a narrator? Come on. Why didn’t I think of that? Seriously.

You can find Rippler, and the sequel, Chameleon, on Amazon.

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