It’s sizzling where I live – I am hoping for autumn to arrive quickly lest I melt to goo. But it’s good weather to laze with a book or seven. Smashwords are having a summer sale and I have entered some of my books. Check out the comments below for other books in the sale.
Running July 1-31st.
The Watcher – A Jack the Ripper Tale is free with code SS100
Shattered Mirror – A Poetry Collection is free with code SS100
Tales of Erana: Just One Mistake is free with code SS100
Outside the Walls is free with code SS100
The Light Beyond the Storm Book I is only $1.50 with code SSW50
The Shining Citadel is only $1.75 with code SSW50
The Stolen Tower is only $1.62 with code SSW50
And by my alter ego
Title: Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse
Author: A. L. Butcher
Genre: Fantasy/Mythic/Dark Fantasy/Short Stories
Main character description (short).
“I am Saelth and I have come to slay your monster,” he announced. His words were bold and his demeanour bolder. Behind him rode the fiercest of his band, axemen and archers, trackers and swordsmen. A mean crew indeed and feared about the land; fur-clad and blooded, they were blades for hire.
Synopsis: He who bargains with monsters beware! A hero forges an unholy bargain with a witch and learns magic never forgets.
In a land of forbidden magic, a mysterious cave holds both riches and danger for three adventurers who discover a mighty treasure and a terrible secret.
Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse Excerpt
© A. L. Butcher
On the nights when the moon rose to its fullest, its light a silver sheen upon the roof of the Great Hall, a terrible monster came. His voice was like the rasping of flesh on a blade, his countenance blighted and ugly, twisted like melted flesh with great weeping sores and a putrid smell. Many warriors had tried to vanquish this foul creature, and now their bones lay with the prince’s in the barrow to the east of Eadsham, the settlement that had been forged by blood and toil by the first king, Aedwin. Widows were aplenty and many children made fatherless from this awful beast. Doors were bolted and barred, and not even the lord himself dared to face it. Such was his shame.
The king grew ever older and wishing to marry a man of bravery and honour to his daughter messengers once more rode out north, south, east and west in search of a hero, one with the fortitude to face this cursed beast, as they had done so many times before. On a night when clouds covered the moon’s light and rain fell in drops the size of marbles, the sky was rent with lightning as a great human warrior rode to the gates of the village. “I am Saelth and I have come to slay your monster,” he announced. His words were bold and his demeanour bolder. Behind him rode the fiercest of his band, axemen and archers, trackers and swordsmen. A mean crew indeed and feared about the land; fur-clad and blooded, they were blades for hire.
“We have slain creatures from nightmare and beasts that made grown men piss their drawers. Your curse will be lifted if the price is right!” His band nodded, for their rates were high indeed so that only lords and kings could afford their blades.
“No weapon forged by man can vanquish it! You’ll simply earn your place in the Hall of the Dead,” someone called.
Saelth looked around for the one who had spoken. “Then I shall go to the Halls of the Dead a hero, not one who cowers behind the table, or beneath the bed. I am no coward, nor simpering woman. Nothing is all powerful, or unable to be vanquished, save the gods.”
Why should readers buy this book?
The Warrior’s Curse is a tale of greed, adventure, monsters and the price of magic, set in a dark fantasy world. But it’s also a tale of people, their weaknesses and what some will do for power. It is a story within a story, as we start with a group of adventurers plundering a cave and learn of dark deeds and unholy bargains.
If you like mythic style fantasy, fast-paced adventure with a twist then you’ll love this.
Universal Link – all the major e-book stores) https://www.books2read.com/WarriorsCurse
Amazon.com audio http://amzn.to/2Ei0EGe
The Warrior’s Curse also appears in Here Be Monsters
I am delighted to announce the latest in the Myth, Monsters and Mayhem series of fantasy bundles. Here Be Monsters is now available on preorder.
Here Be Monsters
We love to fear them and fight them. Monsters come in many forms, from the monsters within to the monsters outside and under the bed. Dare you venture into the caverns and the castles? Dare you enter the darkness of an accursed soul?
An eclectic collection of dark creatures and those who fight them. You have been warned.
Here Be Monsters features 19 tales of myths, monsters, and mayhem.
Universal Link books2read.com/HereBeMonstersBundle
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2JBwvUY
- Monster Town” by Steven Savile
- “The Magic of Fabulous” by Michele Lang
- “A Murder of Crows” by DeAnna Knippling
- “Minotaur” by DJ Chamberlain
- “Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse” by A. L. Butcher
- “Blackbeard’s Aliens” by Robert Jeschonek
- “Caught Between Monsters” by Stefon Mears
- “Night Terrors” by J.A. Pitts
- “Beasts of Tabat” by Cat Rambo
- “Demon Daze” by Deb Logan
- “A Knot of Trolls” by J.M. Ney-Grimm
- “The Stolen Tower” by A. L. Butcher
- “The Maker, the Teacher, and the Monster” by Leah Cutter
- “One Red Shoe” by Russ Crossley
- “Dawn of the Chupacabra” by Kyle Bergersen
- “To Be a Monster” by Jamie Ferguson
- “The Beast of Talesend” by Kyle Robert Shultz
- “Children of the Monster” by Russ Crossley
- “The Genie’s Secret” by Robert Jeschonek
Name: Simon Williams
What attracts you to the genre in which you write?
I guess I’ve always been attracted by escapism, something that I think is more important than ever (for the sake of one’s sanity) in the age in which we live. The fantasy and sci-fi genres allow for a broad template of speculation and imagination which I think is unparalleled.
What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d known when you started your writing adventures?
Probably the advice I received a while back, to do my own thing and be master of my destiny rather than to try and write books that I think publishers might want. I think for an author finding your true voice and writing according to that (in other words, writing what you feel you’re best at and which you feel happiest doing, rather than trying to chase some rather nebulous commercial tail) is essential. Luckily I decided about seven years ago to do just that.
If you could have dinner with any famous person or character who would you choose?
I think I’d choose a character from one of my books (either Nia or Vornen, from the Aona books). If I chose a famous person I’d probably spend the whole time worrying about not being interesting enough to hold their attention at all. Whereas, meeting your creator… you’d hope that would be interesting for characters. Or maybe not…
Who has been the greatest influence on your own work?
Authors as diverse as Alan Garner, Clive Barker, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tad Williams, CJ Cherryh and others – it’s difficult to pick one, but the author who made me decide I had to follow this curious path was Alan Garner, when I was aged about 9 or 10.
Do you think the e-book revolution will do away with print?
I think it obviously affected sales at first, but there will always be people (myself included) who prefer print copies. In fact I believe sales of print copies of my new book have been slightly higher than Kindle versions so far, which is a pleasant surprise.
Which 3 books would you take to a desert island and why?
I’ve been meaning to read Clive Barker’s Great & Secret Show and Imagica for a while so it would be a good opportunity to chill out and be absorbed in his unique universe for a while. I think the other might be CJ Cherryh’s Chronicles of Morgaine, which I read as a teenager and loved.
Author bio and book synopsis
Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):
I’m a UK-based author of fantasy, science fiction and horror (usually a blur of all three in one form or another). I wrote the five-book Aona dark fantasy series which is now complete, and YA fantasy / sci-fi adventure Summer’s Dark Waters, followed by its sequel The Light From Far Below, which was published in Spring 2018. I also write short stories on occasion although not that often, and compiled some of these into Disintegration, an anthology I brought out a few years back.
I try not to be bogged down by the limitations of genre and often start books from scraps of ideas and dreams, concepts and characters. Somehow, sooner or later the whole thing gels into a more cohesive plot and I work from there. I think strong, multi-faceted characters are essential and endeavour to make them central to whatever I happen to be writing.
Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)
The Light From Far Below is the sequel to my YA fantasy / sci-fi adventure Summer’s Dark Waters. It’s set a year and a half after the events in the first book and things have moved on for the two central characters, Joe and Amber. So has the world itself. It’s difficult to go into detail without giving too much away but this sequel is more epic and darker in tone and deals with some of the uncomfortable truths about humanity – all seen from the eyes of two young teens.
The Light From Far Below:
(US): Amazon author page
Author name: Charles E. Yallowitz
My two biggest publications are Legends of Windemere and War of Nytefall. The former is a 15 book adventure series that takes place in the fantasy world of Windemere. I published the final book in December and I’ve just released the first volume of my vampire series, which takes place in the same world. Both series have plenty of action, humour, and colourful characters.
What have you found the most challenging part of the process?
As strange as it sounds, I find the most challenging part to be the later editing stages. I’m always having a blast with outlining and writing the first draft, but I’ve found that I hit an odd mentality when I’m doing my 3rd or 4th readthrough. I begin making changes for the sake of making changes, which makes it difficult to do a true editing run. So, I guess the biggest challenge is my own insecurity and doubt here.
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?
75% plotter and 25% pantser. I used to be more of the former, but I realized that so many of my character bios and outlines didn’t survive the first draft. So, I come up with a general idea of what I’m doing and key points that I want the plot and characters to hit. Everything in between is up to what strikes my fancy while I’m writing.
What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?
I used to think the Perma-Free idea was a mistake. Not that it demeaned the author or the work, but that it didn’t serve a purpose. It wasn’t until I sat down to think of ways to help promote my own series that I realized a free Volume 1 could help get people into the rest of the books. Creating a low or no risk introduction is a great way to attract readers, especially those who might not normally read your chosen genre.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
I eat an entire cartoon of ice cream and yell at myself in the mirror. Kidding since I can’t do that without making myself sick these days. I read the bad reviews to see if there are any good points that I can use to improve myself. If not then I shrug, talk to a few friends about it, and move on. You’re not going to please everybody, especially in this business.
Sort these into order of importance:
This is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. I’m going with Great Characters, Awesome World-Building, Good Plot, and Technically Perfect, but they’re all coming in very close. I think the first three on the list influence each other too much to really put one above the other. A good plot can stem from a great character while helping to forge an awesome world. With the technically perfect part, you do need to get close to that, but I think you’ll also always get someone pointing out mistakes. Then again, I’m a Present Tense Third Person author, so my entire style is sometimes called a typo.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?
With my fantasy books, I don’t do a lot of research beyond monsters and weapons that exist in the real world. Most times, I find myself looking things up in the spur of the moment because a scene doesn’t feel believable. This happens a lot when I have a character who uses poisons or I’m trying to make a monster act like a certain real world animal. As far as the wildest subject, I’ve had to look up a lot of anatomy to see if a character will survive certain blows and to make sure a villain that enjoys torture knows what they’re doing. With that second thing, you’d be surprised how quickly it can go from cringe-worthy evil to groan-inducing comedy.
How influential is storytelling to our culture?
I think it’s more influential than people realize. We run into stories every day that cause us to think and act in response to them. It isn’t always a grand tale of adventure or the in-depth story of a real event. Some stories are nothing more than a person telling you about their day. They might not have the same impact as a fantasy adventure, but people who listen will walk away with something new in their heads. That can lead to changes in the culture, especially if the story reveals an area of society that needs to be worked on.
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?
Rip Van Winkle because I could use a good night’s sleep. Seriously, I think I’d like to be a griffin, but the more docile kind that will allow people to ride on their backs. That way I won’t be seen as a threat and I can still fly around whenever I want to. As much as I hate heights, I like the sense of freedom that I feel when I imagine flying without a plane. Almost like you’re part of the world, but still isolated with your own thoughts until you return to the ground. Typing on my laptop might be rather difficult, so I’d have to go with a human who can transform into a griffin.
What is your writing space like?
I switch between two writing areas because I don’t have a designated spot to call my own. One is sitting on my bed with my laptop and notebooks while the other is the dining room table. The second choice doesn’t have as much privacy as the first, but it’s easier on the back. I’m hoping to have an office one day, but I work with what I can get for now.
Tell us about your latest piece?
My latest work is called War of Nytefall: Loyalty and it’s the first volume of a new series. It takes place in the magical world of Windemere like Legends of Windemere, but a few hundred years earlier. The Great Cataclysm has just struck and changed the entire world, including transforming a vampire named Clyde. Having been buried for fifty years, he has returned to discover that his people have been in an endless war against the hunters and sun priests. It is not long before Clyde realizes that the strange events that buried him also gave him unique powers. He no longer loses his strength in the sun and physical strength that surpasses even the vampire nobles, which he fears will make him a target. As he fights in the war alongside his old friends, he starts to uncover more changes, including one that kicks of a vampire civil war between the Old World Vampires and the newly arrived Dawn Fangs. As with my previous series, there’s a lot of action and colourful characters to drive the plot along.
Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this?
I think there is still a stigma about indie authors being of low quality and it might never go away. Many readers think indie authors refuse to edit or are so unskilled that no publishing company will touch them. A lot of people also look at the indie author scene as easy money and crank out a simple book to make a few bucks, which seems to get more attention than the majority who take the trade seriously. Those who are sceptical of the self-publishing world will always point to the lower quality works as examples of the whole too. It really comes down to the exposure one has to the indie scene and where the majority of attention goes to. If the community is painted in a negative light then the stigma will remain, but if you have a positive reputation then it will go in the other direction.
How important is writing to you?
Writing has been an important part of my life for a long time. It’s how I relax and what I love to do. If I’m not working on a full-length book then I’m fiddling with my outlines. Some days the only time I feel like I have any control over things is when I’m writing, so it acts as a stabilizer in a way.
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Truthfully, his tales of adventure are much more interesting than his real life, so skip the bio and dive into the action.
Welcome back to Walter Rhein, fantasy author. He’s visited a couple of times before, but he’s back to talk about his exciting new release.
- Please tell us about your publications.
My latest book is called ‘The Literate Thief‘ and it is the second book in a three-part series entitled ‘The Slaves of Erafor.’ I first embarked on this journey when I met Janet Morris on Facebook. Having some discussions with her inspired me to put together a narrative I’d been daydreaming about. The narrative involved slavery, but not in the historical sense. I wanted to approach the idea of how we all become slaves of thought to various ideas, and what the cause of this widespread slavery is.
The scary thing is that this series has become more relevant. I’m seeing more and more instances of narrative control in the media, particularly in the United States. However, I didn’t write this book as a response to US politics. I wrote it as a general condemnation of evil as it tends to manifest. Any similarities to current events are purely coincidental.
- What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?
I think it’s important to know that the idea that ‘quality work finds an audience’ is something of a myth. Sure, maybe over time a quality book will gain traction, but you really have to publicize it. The publishing world is very corrupt. I meet a lot of people with Master’s Degrees in English and they make me want to pull their hair out because a lot of what they’ve been taught to believe is simply not true.
Also, literature is very elitist. There are many poverty class writers out there who are producing fantastic work and the literary community completely ignores them. When I say ‘poverty-class’ I’m talking about storytellers that you might come across in bars or other places. I’ve heard stories told in bars that are better than anything that would ever come out of a prestigious magazine by highly educated writers. I think those highly educated writers resent their lack of talent, and the grand talent that can be found elsewhere, and they take action to make sure those voices are silenced.
- If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat.
Willy Wonka. Chocolate.
4. What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?
I don’t understand how you can promote a book without giving some copies away. After all, don’t you send a book to the publisher for free? It’s not like publishers pay you to read your work now is it?
The reality is that all major publisher give away hundreds, if not thousands of advance reader copies in order to hit the market riding the crest of a wave of reviews. Sometimes indie writers are held to a different standard than major publishers on this issue, which doesn’t make any sense to me.
I don’t think it demeans the work at all. You want people to read what you wrote and that’s not easy to do. If you think something is important enough to put in the effort to publish it, then you shouldn’t have any qualms about doing whatever you can to get as many people as possible to read it.
- What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?
I actually just did this on my own blog. There was a review that I really appreciated on Amazon, so I took the text and responded to it on my blog, you can read it here. Responding to reviews is very important I think, as long as you don’t do it in a way that makes you look foolish. I find that the reviews I’ve received have greatly helped me improve my work, and they direct the sequels a little bit too. Interacting with readers is the whole point of this endeavor.
However, I would say don’t respond on Amazon, because Amazon might freak out and delete your whole account. It’s always important to bring the debate to a platform where you have control.
- How do you deal with bad reviews?
I haven’t gotten too many lately, but that’s just a by-product of my current popularity I think. I have a wonderful group of followers who offer genuine comments and are excited about my books. If I move up to the next level, a little bit more mainstream level, I’m sure I’ll get more negative reviews. If a reviewer offers what I believe to be a viable point, I’m always grateful to them. However, it’s irritating when you get a negative review for some reason that’s absolutely absurd. But it’s like getting into an argument on Facebook, you have to trust that the next person who comes along can see which person is arguing in semi-coherent sentence fragments, and which one seems to flash a little education.
The toughest critic I’ve encountered so far is Janet Morris, but when she points something out I’ve always agreed that something had to be changed. Sincere criticism makes you a better writer, so I’m always appreciative of that.
- What’s your next writing adventure?
I have extensive notes for two books, first is the follow up to ‘The Literate Thief’ which will be the third book in the series. There will be something of a conclusion to a major narrative thread in this volume, but I’ve not dismissed the idea of doing a fourth volume.
I also have a book about education that I’ve been scribbling notes for. I haven’t quite figured out what the tone for that one will be, but I think it has to be comical, something like ‘Catch-22.’ I’ve written a dozen or so chapters for it, but I haven’t quite gotten the narrative voice figured out. Once I get it, I’m pretty sure the book will flow out of me quickly, but you can’t push it in the meantime.
- What is the last book you’ve read?
I’m currently reading ‘The Scarecrow‘ by Cas Peace. It’s one of her Albia stories and it’s fantastic. Peace is a great writer that more people should be aware of.
- With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling?
Without a doubt. The reality is that if you go mainstream you’re going to get the same old safe narrative over and over again. Mainstream follows the trends and indie sets them. I was in a Barnes & Noble the other day and I took a picture of the front display just because there wasn’t a single book on sale that I had any interest in reading whatsoever. It’s all book adaptations of powerful films and biographies of boring celebrities that are famous for doing nothing. Who wants to be traditionally published when that’s the kind of garbage you have to write?
- Are indie/ self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this?
I’m published with Perseid Publishing, a small press owned by Janet Morris. Morris is a very well-respected writer, but I still find that I’m regarded with skepticism among certain writing communities. I’ve come to believe that the literary community is, to some extent, more interested in silencing voices than giving them a platform. This makes sense if you consider the money angle. It’s easy enough to understand that some groups don’t want a book to be widely read if it doesn’t make money for their company. That’s a case where the quality of a work is irrelevant.
I remember one instance where I was at the Chippewa Valley Book Festival. I was selected for this festival and I was sitting at a meeting with one of the other authors who was regarding me with undisguised contempt. I started talking with her and she clearly had the sense that I didn’t deserve to be there. Now, this was a writer I’d never heard of, and whose name I can’t even remember. It just struck me as very strange that she’d be so critical of somebody who had a publisher and who had been selected to appear in the festival. But that’s a very prevalent attitude.
Who knows? Maybe they’re scared and intimidated.
- Is there a message in your books?
I always aspire to have something useful in my books. I don’t know if it’s a “message” but it’s an encouragement to at least start thinking about certain problems or issues. A person can be greatly empowered just by examining something that s/he always believed was true without question.
Sometimes if you line up a bunch of ideas, people connect the dots and come to a new conclusion about something they’re carrying around in their mind. The fact is that there’s a lot of junk in our mind that doesn’t do us any good. In fact, it was put there on purpose to not do us any good. The difficult thing is that a lot of people have become very attached to that junk and if you try to tell them to throw it away, they become very offended. So what you have to do is set up the whole argument and have them walk along the argument with you, and at the end, hopefully they come to the realization themselves.
My hope is that I’m helping people remove the junk. Others might say I’m contributing to the problem. The good thing about writing is that, in the end, the reader can listen to you or not.
- How important is writing to you?
It’s just something I have to do. If I don’t write for a long period I start feeling really bad, like groggy. It just helps me take a break from thinking, or carrying ideas around in my mind. Once they’re recorded I can stop worrying about them, I guess they become somebody else’s problem at that point.
Mainly I think of my kids. Growing up I always felt that there were a dozen or so pieces of information that adults could have given me and I would have had a much easier life. I’m trying to make sure I get as many good little nuggets of information nailed down for my kids to find as I possibly can. The thing is, there are a lot of lies out there. There are false narratives used to make you beholden to some other entity or individual. That’s the kind of thing that writing can fight against, but it’s an eternal struggle.
Thanks for having me!
Here Be Dragons – Myth, Monsters and Mayhem
They stalk our myths and hunt our past—dragons—humankind’s greatest and oldest foe. Good, bad, legendary and deadly. Dare you enter the dragon’s lair?
Tales of dragons, their friends and their foes.
Available for pre-order now! Released 31st March 2018
Featuring 13 fabulous dragon-themed stories.
The Crown and the Dragon – John D. Payne
Dragon Writers – Lisa Mangum
Of Blood and Scales – A. L. Butcher
Devouring Light – J.M. Ney-Grimm
Ascension of the Whyte – Karen Wrighton
Of Dragons and Centaurs – Deb Logan
Night of the Clockwork Dragon – Louisa Swann
The Legend of G and the Dragonettes – Russ Crossley
The Dreamweaver’s Journey – Diana L. Wicker
Graybill – Rita Schulz
Star-drake – J.M, Ney-Grimm
Like at Loch Ness – Karen L. Abrahamson
Winter Glory – J.M. Ney-Grimm
Here’s my latest author interview – yay!
Welcome A. L. Butcher
Author of Tales of Erana and many others.
(Links to where books may be found are at the end of this interview.)
Note: Alexandra prefers to utilise a mix of her book cover images etc. in place of an actual profile photograph. (She is not alone.)
Please tell us a little about yourself.
British-born Alexandra Butcher (a/k/a A. L. Butcher) is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with…
View original post 1,749 more words
Author name: Sherry D. Ramsey
*Please tell us about your publications. I enjoy writing both short fiction and novels. I have a series of science fiction novels published by Tyche Books (Alberta, Canada) (The Nearspace series: One’s Aspect to the Sun, Dark Beneath the Moon, and Beyond the Sentinel Stars); a middle-grade fantasy from Dreaming Robot Press (New Mexico, USA) (The Seventh Crow); and a self-published urban fantasy/mystery (The Murder Prophet). I also have two collections of previously-published short stories, To Unimagined Shores and The Cache and Other Stories.
What have you found the most challenging part of the process? I feel somewhat frustrated that I don’t write faster—in the current publishing climate there’s a certain pressure to publish consistently and often for greatest success. I see many authors publishing three or more books a year, and I just don’t seem to work at those speeds. Last year I had a short story collection, a new novel, and a couple of short stories come out, and that seems like a lot for me. I know it’s usually not a good idea to compare oneself to other writers, but I would like to be able to work a little faster. I’m not a perfectionist—but I am a bit of a procrastinator. Maybe I need to work on that!
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I’ve always been a pantser, for sure. A long time ago I tried outlining a novel, and then found that I was no longer interested in writing it; the fun of “discovery” seemed to have disappeared during the outlining process. Lately, though, I’ve begun to find a middle ground—I’ve discovered that minimal outlining actually helps my writing process and reduces the chance that I’ll run out of steam/ideas on a project. So now I guess I’m a hybrid between pantser and plotter. Plantser?
If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. I think I’d have to choose Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe to have dinner with. No doubt he’d wax forth on some fascinating topic for dinner conversation, and of course the meal would be superbly prepared by his chef, Fritz. We might have corn, “roasted in the husk in the hottest possible oven for forty minutes, shucked at the table, and buttered and salted,” since Wolfe considered that to be ambrosia. It’s probably cheating, but I expect Archie Goodwin would also be there for dinner, so I’d get two characters for the price of one. If I were particularly fortunate, Wolfe would show me his orchid collection after dinner. The perfect literary character interaction!
What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? I think that offering some work for free can be a valuable promotional tool for writers who would like to find new readers. Many readers are wary of taking a chance on a new-to-them writer, and most of us watch how we spend our hard-earned dollars these days. It’s also a way to introduce a new reader to a series or character. I don’t think it’s demeaning to authors or their work when it’s done sensibly, professionally, and as a promotional choice.
Sort these into order of importance: Good plot, Great characters, Awesome world-building, Technically perfect. For me, the characters come first. Sometimes a character arrives on the doorstep of your mind with a suitcase in hand and not even a name, but they have a story they want you to tell. You can’t turn them away. I think most of the time, we keep reading a book or put it down forever because of the characters. If you love the characters, you can forgive a lot of other sins in a book. Plot comes next—the smooth, flowing experience of reading a well-plotted book is such a rewarding experience for a reader, I think we should always strive to create that as writers. World-building is important, of course, and sometimes the world can even be like another character in a book—but the most fabulously-imagined world can’t carry a book if the characters and story are not strong. Technical perfection—I’m not convinced it exists. I do some work as an editor, with two co-editors, and even working as a team I don’t think we’ve ever ended up with a technically perfect work. It’s important to create the best work you can, but striving for perfection might mean no-one else ever gets to read it. I think we have to learn when our work is “close enough” to perfection, and let it go.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I write many flavours of both science fiction and fantasy, so I’ve done research on topics from medical nanomachines to particle accelerators to how magic might be fueled by different minerals. One of the most interesting things I researched lately was the question of how two machines/computers, each created by a different alien species, might learn to communicate. I learned a lot of fascinating things about both computing and language acquisition!
Which authors have influenced you the most? I read a LOT, and over the years I think there have been many authors who’ve influenced me in my writing. I love to write humour and humorously convoluted situations, so the influences of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Connie Willis are there. I love science and the future, so Nancy Kress, Jack McDevitt, and classics like Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl have left their mark. And I love to work with the wide reaches of imagination in fantasy, so Dave Duncan, Maggie Stiefvater, and Elizabeth Bear have made an impression. So many more I could name!
What is your writing space like? I’m very fortunate to have a small but wonderful office at home. I have a normal sitting desk and also a treadmill desk, where I try to spend at least part of each writing day. Too much sitting is not good for me! The walls of my office are covered with overflowing bookshelves and inspiring artwork, and I have a large southwest-facing window that gets lots of light and houses many plants. There’s one extra chair so a friend or family member can come in and visit. This sounds idyllic, but now add in lots of notes, maps, knickknacks, filing cabinets, binders—and some folks might find it too cluttery! For me, it’s inspiring and comfortable, though, and although I might sometimes write elsewhere in the house with a laptop, I always come back to my office as my main creative space.
Tell us about your latest piece? Coincidentally, one of the projects I’m currently working on is another Olympia Investigations story, featuring Acacia Sheridan, the main character from “The Goddess Problem.” Acacia is a private detective with a special gift – she can communicate and interact with supernatural creatures of all sorts. Her clientele includes ghosts, demons, fae, and many more denizens of the otherworld…which makes for some interesting cases. In the new story, her client—who is also a suspect in a series of murders—is a vampire, so I’m having some fun playing with traditional vampire-story tropes.
What’s your next writing adventure? I have another Nearspace book underway, and several other partially-finished projects trying to get my attention. I’ve also seen a few interesting calls for short story submissions in the past few weeks, so ideas are percolating for those as well. I may write slowly, but there’s never a lack of things to write!
What is the last book you’ve read? I just finished listening to the audiobook of Blade Runner by Philip K. Dick. Although of course I shouldn’t have been surprised, I was struck by how much deeper the book is than the movie (although I’ve always loved the movie) and what themes and ideas did not make it into the movie, despite being central to the book. I never expect movie adaptations to be particularly true to a book—the demands of the media are completely different, after all—but the book gave me a lot to think about in terms of choices made at the time concerning what to include and what to leave out. How do we decide what’s vital to a story? Can you separate out certain themes and still have a complete tale? Lots to ponder.
Sherry D. Ramsey is a speculative fiction writer, editor, publisher, creativity addict and self-confessed Internet geek. When she’s not writing, she makes jewelry, gardens, hones her creative procrastination skills on social media, and consumes far more coffee and chocolate than is likely good for her.
Her books include the Nearspace series from Tyche Books, One’s Aspect to the Sun, Dark Beneath the Moon, and Beyond the Sentinel Stars; the middle grade fantasy The Seventh Crow; The Murder Prophet; and two collections of short stories. With her partners at Third Person Press, she has co-edited six anthologies of regional short fiction and a novel. A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Writer’s Council, Sherry is also a past Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer of SF Canada.
Sherry lives in Nova Scotia with her husband, children, and dogs. You can visit her online at www.sherrydramsey.com, find her on Facebook, and keep up with her much more pithy musings and visual life on Twitter and Instagram @sdramsey.
Sherry’s book The Goddess Problem features in Immortals
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