Originally posted on mwsasse: I’m re-posting this because, well, it’s your last chance! Get either of my first two novels FREE on Smashwords. But July 31 is the last day. Here’s the original post: Here’s a great way to try one of my first two novels for FREE! Both “Beauty Rising” and “The Recluse Storyteller”…
Welcome to Steph Bennion
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born and bred in the Black Country (to the uninitiated, that’s in the English Midlands, which with Birmingham was the industrial revolution’s ‘workshop of the world’). After spending too many years living in the big bad city that is London I moved last year to Hastings, a very nice town on the south coast.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.
The books in my Hollow Moon series are tales of space-opera mystery and adventure for young adults and adults young-at-heart. To date I have published three novels plus a selection of short stories, all of which share the same fictional universe where humanity has learned to cross the cosmos and reach the nearby stars. City Of Deceit, the latest novel in the series, wraps up the story of the civil war on the moon of Yuanshi, Epsilon Eridani, a war that formed the backdrop to events in the first book Hollow Moon. This is my first science-fiction novel set mainly on Earth; the story takes place in London, which in the twenty-third century is ravaged by rising sea levels, social inequalities and terrible politics. It’s all fiction, honest.
Where do you find inspiration?
I tend to get bits of ideas from all over the place; some might spark a train of thought that develops into a story, others may end up as background detail to fill out whatever world I’m creating. I try to credit influences where appropriate; for example, the asteroid colony ship Dandridge Cole, the ‘hollow moon’ of the novels, is named after Dandridge M Cole, the aerospace engineer and futurist who developed the concept in books like Beyond Tomorrow. A fantastic resource is the TV Tropes website, which is great for getting a feel for the nuts and bolts of different genres. I think it’s important to understand the reasons why people like stories and what they expect to get from one. On a very basic level, I try to write books I would want to read myself.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why?
I had a lot of fun writing the character of Zotz Wak, the young boy and inventor who in Hollow Moon reveals his superhero persona in an attempt to express his secret crush on heroine Ravana O’Brien. Zotz sat somewhat on the sidelines in Paw-Prints Of The Gods, so in City Of Deceit I gave him a leading role fighting the injustices of dystopian London. He gets to be the hero, fight the bad guys and even finds a girlfriend.
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why?
Not a character as such, but I really don’t like the weavers, the multi-legged alien horrors that reappear in City Of Deceit. Like many I have an irrational fear of spiders, so making giant alien arachnids the number one monsters in the books seemed the obvious thing to do! On a more human note, I would have to choose Governor Jaggarneth, the slimy corporation bureaucrat who also returns in the latest book. He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources?
I like to think properly about the science and technology in the books and its fun to extrapolate current thinking and imagine what this world and others might be like 250 years from now. For example, the holoverse in City Of Deceit, the corporate visual trickery behind which the real city hides, comes from current ideas on augmented reality. Then there’s things like working out which constellation Earth’s sun would appear in if viewed from a moon in Epsilon Eridani (Serpens, by the way). Research for City Of Deceit was different in that it features locations in London that many readers will know for real. I spent some time walking around central London, trying to imagine which buildings would survive the test of time and how the city might change. Victor Habbick, who created the book cover, captured this really well.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book?
Stories always carry messages; in a way, our stories define what it is to be human. The theme that emerged whilst I was writing City Of Deceit was that real change comes from within, whether it is by a virus nibbling away at cells or by human angst simmering within a city, corporation or colony. More broadly, my novels tend to revolve around working-class folk who find themselves battling the consequences of upheavals caused by those in power. The books are ultimately about friendships and how people come together in times of need.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason?
City Of Deceit is available as an ebook from most online retailers. A paperback edition will follow at some point. Hollow Moon and Paw-Prints Of The Gods are available as ebooks from all the usual websites and in paperback from Amazon. Audiobooks are a possibility sometime in the future.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?
Yes, I edit my own work. One thing about spending years in a Civil Service policy team is that it taught me to be quite dispassionate about revising my own work. After I’ve finished the first draft of a novel, I put it to one side for a few months and immerse myself in something else, so that by the time I return to start the editing process it’s like looking at it with fresh eyes. I also have a friend who proof-reads the final manuscript, which helps. I think if an author approaches editing in the right way, you can successfully self-edit: Hollow Moon and Paw-Prints Of The Gods are both Awesome Indies approved books and passed the ‘professionally edited’ test.
Can you name your favourite traditionally-published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author?
This changes with the seasons. At the moment my favourite ‘traditional’ author is Alastair Reynolds and I’m currently reading his space opera epic Pushing Ice. My new favourite indie author is Emily Devenport; I’ve read two of her science-fiction novels to date – Belarus and Broken Time – which I thought had some really distinctive and original ideas. I’d also like to mention Anna Erishkigal, indie author of the very entertaining Sword of the Gods Saga, who does a sterling job looking after the Space Opera Fans group on Goodreads.
Do you have a favourite movie?
I’m going to say Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985), on the grounds that it’s wonderfully weird, features really great performances and tickles my sense of humour. It shares a lot of themes with George Orwell’s 1984 but is a far better film than the version of Orwell’s book released around the same time. As a civil servant I love the hilarious dystopian bureaucracy, in the same way that This Is Spinal Tap is the funniest thing ever to anyone who has been in a band…
Book links, website/blog and author links:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hollowmoonbooks
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5438403.Steph_Bennion
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Steph-Bennion/e/B009JRP6RC/
Great post, very useful. I’ve been contemplating starting a newsletter but didn’t know where to start. This has given me a lot to think about.
by Steena Holmes
In my last post, I talked about Street Teams and using my newsletter to connect with my readers. It raised a few questions about newsletters to which I replied “but that’s another blog.” The ladies at WITS took me up on that. So today we’re going to talk about …
Some authors groan at the thought while others smile. But when used correctly, a newsletter can be your new best best friend.
Why? Because it’s your number one method of communication with readers.
What can you use your newsletter for?
- Announce the release of your latest book
- Promote when you have a special deal on your book
- Get word out about a special contest
- Boast about a great review or that sparkly new award you won
- Tease your readers about your latest project
However – and this is a biggie – your newsletter isn’t…
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Her sensuality was at the core of her world, her quest beyond the civilized stars.
Janet Morris’ allegorical science-fiction classic, now available for the first time in hardcover from Perseid Press (theperseidpress.com).
A revealing interview with Janet Morris
Grim Interview: Janet Morris
I’m honored to have Janet Morris as our next guest. Janet has been a prolific author, with more than 40 novels, her career started in 1976 and since then, she’s been offering heaping helpings of darker fantasy, scifi, and short fiction. Often co-writing with her husband Chris Morris, there’s so much to choose from in their extensive bibliography. For those who prefer something darker, there’s The Sacred Band Of Stepsons series, based around the ancient warriors known as the sacred band of Thebes. Or there’s the Heroes In Hell series, a sprawling set of anthologies, each featuring a broad cast of characters who find their final resting place in the pits of the underworld; selected titles in the series include Angels In Hell, War In Hell, and the latest edition (currently priced at $6.66 on Amazon), Poets In Hell. And for those who want science fiction…
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Fun interview with Jimmo from Truck Stop Earth.
I’m not gonna give you all the ins and outs of old Jimmo’s life. I’ve sat in too many cracked plastic chairs before nosy-butt social workers doing that. You want deep psychological analysis of James Ignatius Malachi Obadiah Osborne’s life? Let me give you the name of my current shrink. I think Penelope has it on a thumb drive somewhere.
But in a nut shell — joke! — I’m just your average ex-vet wandering traveler who has been sucked up into a Gray mothership and been given the classic intimate biological examination. I’ve seen it all and been there, from Key West, Fla., to the ass-end of the road here in Della, Alaska. I like long walks on the beach, Norwegian aquavit, Irish wolfhounds, tough women (preferably redheads)…
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Name: Indigo Milan
Please tell us a little about yourself. I was born to a noble family, but my social status was put in jeopardy when my father was put to death for treason and my mother killed herself. I was taken in by my uncle after that. I have strong ascard power that I partially hide because my government fears it. What I don’t hide, I use in training as a healer. I love people and long to find a place in life where I can be who I am without hiding anything and without fearing persecution.
Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? I believe in protecting those who cannot protect themselves and helping those in need. I would never want to hurt anyone, but I will if I have to for the protection of those I care about.
Would you die for those you love? Yes, though I’d much prefer not to. I would risk my life for them, therefore, I must be ready to die for them.
What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? I think my desire to protect those I care about and my intense love of learning are two of my greatest strengths. I do fear the persecution of my government and my god enough that I let it trap me in a bad situation. I think that fear is my greatest weakness and one I cannot wait to overcome.
Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why My relationship with Yiloch is very special to me because of the passion and the courage I found within when I dared to help him fight his war and fall in love with him. Though he can be insufferable at times, often because of his privileged upbringing and his position of authority, he is a good man who only wants what is best for his country.
Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions? I like most living things, but I’ve never had any pets. I have ridden a few horses I grew very fond of, but none that were my own.
Tell Us About Your World
Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour. My culture in particular believes in one god known as The Divine who watches over us. My upbringing was light on religion, but childhood stories of The Sinner’s Hereafter where those who misbehaved were doomed to go did leave me terrified. Even as an adult, I shudder at the thought of that dark place even though I am not actively practicing the religion. Perhaps somewhat because I am not.
Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? I do get to travel in my adventures. I get to go across the Gilded Strait to Lyra to help fight in their internal war, then home to Caithin and back again more than once. I even get to travel down into the harsh desert of Kudan at some point where I have some amazing and disturbing experiences.
Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world? Our world has a type of power called ascard. It is an energy that exists in everything and your ability to control it is determined by the strength of your connection to the ascard within your called your inner aspect. My country fears it while Lyra, the country across the Gilded Strait, uses it for all kinds of things from fighting wars to completing daily tasks. Their closest neighbours, The Kudaness, believe it is the power of the gods and that it is blasphemous for humankind to use it.
What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) Monarchy is the most common form of government in my world. My country, Caithin, is ruled by a king who has a council of advisors who meet regularly to discuss affairs. The council can weigh in on subjects, but the king always gets the final say.
Does your world have different races of people? If so, do they get on with one another? The primary races are my people, the Caithin, the pale-skinned Lyrans, and the dark-skinned Kudaness. My people do have a tendency to be prejudiced against the Lyrans, who some keep as slaves, and the Kudaness. The Kudaness view as all as heathens for using ascard in any way. Despite these things, we usually have relative peace between the countries, except for when we don’t.
Titles: Dissident – Exile – Apostate
BOOK 1: DISSIDENT
Ascard power can strengthen, heal and create. It also has great potential to destroy, enough to topple entire governments. Indigo’s country places strict limitations on the use of ascard so she must channel her talents into the healing arts or risk severe punishment. An orphan from a disgraced family, trapped by her father’s treason, Indigo struggles to reclaim her place in a society that has driven her into an abusive engagement.
BOOK 2: EXILE
Yiloch, the newly crowned Emperor of Lyra, stands accused of arranging the assassination of the Caithin royal family. Torn between love for Yiloch and her close ties with the royal family, Indigo wants nothing more than to prove the accusation false, but the evidence puts the blood of the family on his hands.
Trying to protect the Lyran prince from the swift descent of Caithin justice, Indigo exposes the workings of an enemy who is willing to kill to protect his secrets. In desperation, she unleashes magic that sends Yiloch deep into the desert of Kudan before fleeing for her life. She must find him again to save his life as well as her own.
Betrayed by ally and by love, stranded by uncontrollable magic, Yiloch struggles to make his way back to the Lyran capital before Caithin can declare war, but standing between him and his empire is a lethal new enemy, wielding magic unlike anything his people have faced before.
BOOK 3: APOSTATE
Being rejected by the man she loves hasn’t stopped Indigo from trying to save his country. Since her own country now sees her as a traitor, she must look elsewhere for help. While Yiloch rushes back to the capital to prepare his empire for battle against an enemy that appears untouchable, Indigo turns to the least likely place to build an army of her own.
The Kudaness, split apart by intertribal rivalries, are bound together in several things, not the least of which are their hatred of her people and their belief that using ascard is an affront to their gods. If she can convince them to excuse her those sins, she still faces the challenge of persuading them to go to war on behalf of their Lyran neighbors. Even if she succeeds, they must defeat a powerful army and then she will have to find a way to clear Yiloch’s name and prove to her country that she is no traitor.
And somewhere out there, Myac is still hunting them both.
Nikki started writing her first novel at the age of 12 (which is still tucked away in a briefcase in her office). Despite a successful short story publication with Cricket Magazine in 2007, she treated her writing addiction as a hobby until a drop in the economy left her with an abundance of free time to focus on making it her career.
Nikki lives in the magnificent Pacific Northwest tending to her awesome horse, manipulative cats, and a crazy dog. She’s a wine and tea fanatic who loves sitting on the ocean in her kayak surrounded by open water or hanging from a rope in a cave, embraced by darkness and the sound of dripping water. She also enjoys horseback riding, archery, PC gaming, dancing, good anime, etc. She studies Japanese and practices Iaido because she believes we should never stop learning.
I’ve diverged a little from fantasy for my latest release. Shattered Mirror is a collection dark poems covering themes such as war, politics, nature, fantasy, and the vagaries of life. These have been written over a good number of years and some do feature in other anthologies but, for the most part, they have not been published together before.
Poetry, I think, is one of the deepest and most personal mediums, and often shows a good deal about the writer. For me, it helps me deal with the darkness and idiocy of the world in general, a way of trying to make order of the chaos you might say. Poetry tends to be a marmite genre – either you love it or hate it. I wonder why that is. Perhaps poetry is akin to music – something which resonates in our souls (or not). The epic storytellers of old, the bards and the minstrels used it to recount the great deeds, and the soldier poets of the First World War told used it to recount the great dead.
One of the favourite books from my childhood was an old book of poetry, which my father would read to me. Kipling, Masefield, Wilfred Owen, and so many more. Inspiration from history, from soul and heart were they as I heard those words, then later, read them for myself.
Anyway I digress! Currently the book is only on Amazon but will find it’s way to the other stores shortly.
Shattered Mirror: A Poetry Collection
(cover art image via fotolia (c)Bonezboyz)
I’m delighted to announce that all my novels and short stories – except those published via Perseid Press, or the Indie Collaboration are all available on Smashwords and its associate stores.
Formatting is not my strong suit, and I admit for a few I gave up and paid for the formatting for SW. The ‘meatgrinder’ is, frankly, a pain in the arse to work with. Even following the guidelines carefully left we with formatting errors not in the original document unless embedded in the code and invisible to mortals like myself, who don’t speak computer. Anyway ’tis done. So now the following are available on Amazon, Smashwords, I-books, Kobo (Except Books I and II), and Barnes and Noble.
Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I
The Shining Citadel – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book II
The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III
Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends
Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse
The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales
Outside the Walls
To save swarming the page with links I’ve simply put the links to the relevant author pages for the stores.
If you would like be be kept appraised of forthcoming or recent publications please contact me here, or use the mailing list sign up.
This is a repost of the Character Spotlight Author Roari Benjamin recently did for me on the main character of dark fey: gairynzvl. Posted here in its entirety for your reading pleasure.
For today’s Character Spotlight, please join me in welcoming Author Cynthia A. Morgan, here to grant us a peek at the enchanting, hauntingly beautiful world she’s created within “The Dark Fey Trilogy.”
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