Monsters and Myth – Dragons

This post  previously appeared as part of https://jenniferloiske.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/author-interview-meet-a-l-butcher/ which featured last year to promote Heroika: Dragon Eaters 

http://www.amazon.com/HEROIKA-DRAGON-S-E-Lindberg-ebook/dp/B00VFVCQRS/

Dragons – why do they captivate us?

Dragons have been part of mythology for centuries. The Welsh, for example, have Y Ddraig Goch, the Red Dragon as the national emblem – a dragon passant (standing with one foot raised) on a green and white background. Although the currently flag is relatively new the mythology of the Welsh Dragon is at least fifteen hundred years old, possible even Roman. The kings of Aberffraw used it to symbolise their power and authority after the Romans left. The first recorded use of it to Symbolise Wales is from the 9th Century (Nennius – Historica Brittonum).  Geoffrey of Monmouth linked the dragon to the Arthurian legends – after all King Arthur’s father was Uther PENDRAGON, and so again the dragon is intrinsically interwoven with British myth.

Henry VII (Henry Tudor) had a dragon on his coat of arms – the Welsh heritage again coming to the fore and during the reign of his son, the might Henry VIII the red dragon standard was often flown on Royal Navy ships.

In the Mabinogion the Red Dragon fights the invading White Dragon and his pained shrieks cause women to miscarry, animals to perish and crops to fail. The king of Britain (King Lludd) visits his French brother Llefelys and, on his advice, digs a huge pit, filled with mead and covered with a cloth. The Dragons cease their battle, drink the mead and fall asleep, still covered in the cloth. They are then trapped beneath Dinas Emrys in Snowdonia. Centuries later King Vortigern attempts to build a fort there, and every night the castle foundations are demolished. Wise men tell him to find a boy with no father and sacrifice him – to appease whatever is causing the problem. That boy is Merlin, who will become the Great Wizard, and he dismisses this advice and tells the king about the dragons. The two dragons are freed and continue their fight – the Red Dragon symbolising the people of Vortigern and the White Dragon the Saxons. The latter is defeated – thus these are the Saxons who failed to subdue the people of Vertigorn who would become the Welsh.

Sources: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofWales/The-Red-Dragon-of-Wales/

Dragons symbolise great power and strength. They are, perhaps the most legendary of beasts and to defeat one (or field one) was only the territory of the greatest of heroes.  Chinese, Indian, Malayan, Japanese, Khymer, Phillipino, Korea, Catalan, French, Greek, British, Germanic, Scandanavian, Slavic, Romanian, Albanian, Pre-Islamic, Tartar, Judeo-Christian and Turkish mythology all speak of dragons, wyverns, wyrms or basilisks.  The ancient Egyptians worshipped a crocodile named the Messah – which later became a dragon, and the sign of Kingship. Think about it – the Nile Crocodile is a supreme predator, a feared monster and little can best it. What better ideal for kingship – powerful, terrifying and unbeatable.

Then of course we have the symbolism of dragons as the ultimate evil – the devil or other wicked beast destroying the good Christians and being vanquished by a Christian Hero. On the other hand Chinese Dragons are seen as lucky.

Dragon literature is diverse – Christian mythology (as mentioned), Norse, Celtic, Beowulf, St George, to name but a few. And more modern writers such as Tolkien, Cindy Lyle, George RR Martin, Cressida Cowell, JD Hallowell, David Gaider and many, many more feature a dragon of one sort or another. Here’s a challenge – type Dragon in the search engine of Good Reads – I tried and there were over 100 pages of books with ‘Dragon’ in the title and that’s just the beginning.  Movies, video games, table-top games and toys feature the most legendary of monsters. Dragons are all around us – some kind and benevolent and some much less so.  We are culturally bound with Draco and his kind.

St George and the Dragon 

This part originally posted here:

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/fantasy-its-everywhere-part-2-st-george-and-the-dragon/

I am British, and Britain has a very rich heritage of myth and folklore; we have dragons, we have knights who slay them, we have mythical kings and magic swords, we have monsters inhabiting Scottish Lochs, we have fairies, pixies and ghosts aplenty, we have heroes and antiheroes.  Yet many people scoff at fantasy, thinking it is simply elves, dwarves or similar; a genre read by geeks and nerds. Well yes, in part it is, but fantasy and folklore have been with us from the dawn of time in one form or another.

Let’s look at one of the best known English myths – that of St George and the Dragon.

Most accounts claim St George was born in Cappadocia, in what is now Turkey, of Darian origin. He enlisted in the Roman army, and quickly achieved a reputation for his physical strength bravery, loyalty and courage and he achieved a rank of Tribunus Militum, in charge of over 1000 men. He was martyred during the reign Emperor Diocletian in 303 AD in Lydda, Palestine, for refusing to persecute Christians, when Diocletion brought in edicts against what was then a reasonably small but vociferous sect. Including the burning of churches, the destruction of holy scriptures and the execution of Christians. George defended the Christians and their faith and was imprisoned, tortured and executed. There are various accounts of is martyrdom, some claiming it took seven years as God restored him to life three times. His fame was carried as far as Russia, with his head was carried to Rome.   His emblem of the red cross on a white background was carried on the tabards and shields of crusader knights. It is also the flag of England and forms the red cross part of the Union Flag of Great Britain. St George is the patron saint of England, taking the role from St Edward the Confessor who is now often forgotten. His tomb attracted pilgrims, and his fame spread when Richard the Lionheart introduced his military cult to England during the crusades and the Battle of Acre, before this his cult appeared in Byzantium.  John Cabot carried his emblem to Newfoundland and both Sir Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake flew his standard. It was also carried by the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower.

Jacobus de Voragine in his Golden Legends (13th Century) speaks of him in Silene in Libya. Another 10th Century account places St George in the fictional area of Lasia, ruled by a tyrannical emperor called Silinus. The area had a lake, inhabited by a venomous dragon, local inhabitants would feed it sheep to keep it passive, and then when these failed to satisfy it, children were chosen at random. One day the lottery fell on the king’s daughter, the king offers half his kingdom if his daughter was spared. This is an idea which appears in other mythology – the king – unable to defeat a monster offers his daughter and riches to a hero. St George, the knight, happened to be passing and wounding the dragon with his lance (and with God’s blessing)  then capturing the dragon with the princess’s girdle allowed it to be led by the noble lady to the city gates, where St George converted them to Christianity and duly slew the dragon.

In some accounts he was the son of an English Lord, Lord Albert of Coventry and his mother died in childbirth. The babe was stolen by a ‘wild-woman’ of the woods (possibly a witch or gypsy) but he eventually outwits her and becomes a knight. Of course after the slaying of the dragon and rescue of the princess he married the maiden, returned to England and lived happily ever after… Although as with many legends another version states he faces a second dragon, in Warwickshire, kills it but subsequently dies of its poison.

Of course this is a religious myth, and many would say not fantasy as such – the dragon represents evil, and those who slay them champions of Christianity. He is also believed to have protected horses from witchcraft – one should hang a flint with a hole over the stable door with verse depicting him vanquishing a hag. But there is more than religious allegory, he epitomised courtly and chivalrous values; he was a warrior, saviour of damsels in distress and vanquisher of monsters.  And some would say religion uses elements we class as fantasy, and ideas which appear in religion appear in myth and folklore. The two are intertwined. The more magical elements of the myth probably appeared after the Reformation, with the overtly Christian inferences stripped out by the Protestants and the more romantic elements of the story take the fore.

His heart (allegedly) lies in Windsor and was a favoured relic of King Henry V, who invoked him at the siege of Agincourt (1415), where the English were victorious against the French, but later kings have claimed his protection and as the patron saint of England his influence is firmly entrenched.   There are other local English myths – including one in an Essex village where a dragon (probably a crocodile escaped from the king’s menagerie) was killed by a local nobleman – one Sir George Marney.    The Uffington White Horse, in Berkshire, England (an ancient white chalk horse cut into the landscape) has a dragon myth.  There is a hill named Dragon Hill, is claimed by Thomas Hughes in his book The Scouring of the White Horse (1859) to have been the site of the slaying of the dragon by ‘King George’. The bare patch is supposed to be where the blood of the dragon spilled, nothing will grow. Hughes cites another region, Aller in Somerset, where a shepherd tells of a hill which saw the death of the dragon and the burial of its slayer. The horse at Uffington is itself curious being linked with Alfred the Great, (878 AD) Hengist the Anglo Saxon leader, Celtic (100BC) but in fact has been in existence since the Bronze Age – around 1000BCE. Brinsop in Herefordshire also claims ownership of St George – its parish church has a medieval carving of the deed being done. The dragon apparently residing in the local ‘Dragon’s Well’ and the next village being known as Wormsley – ‘worm’ or ‘wyrm’ being an alternate word for dragon.

Heroika: Dragon Eaters 

This brings me to Heroika: Dragon Eaters. This anthology turns the tables. Our dragons are not the nice sort. They are the alpha predator, the scourge of land, water and sky, they are true monsters. Only the bravest, most desperate or foolhardy take them on and fewer life to tell the tale. Dragon Eaters came from an idea from fantasy author Janet Morris – who wanted a ‘snake eaters’ type of anthology. The best of the best fighting the worst of the worst you might say. What was born was seventeen diverse tales from ancient mythic to futuristic and steampunk. They share a theme, albeit a loose one, and all types of dragons are slayed, vanquished and devoured. I suppose you could say the winners eat the losers. As you’d expect it is filled with blood, scales, fire and magic, swords, airships, flying beasts and so very much more.

Do you have a favourite dragon story? If so feel free to comment on it.

http://www.royalsocietyofstgeorge.com/history_of_st_george.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dragons_in_mythology_and_folklore

http://www.sacred-texts.com/lcr/fsca/fsca16.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_George_and_the_Dragon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Legend

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dragons_in_literature

 

 

 

Book Spotlight – The Golden Sword

Book – The Golden Sword – Book II of the Silistra Quartet

Janet Morris – fantasy, science-fiction, epic

 

Beginning in May 02 2015, after more than 30 years of print, the four volumes of The Silistra Quartet are being published in all-new Author’s Cut editions by Perseid Press, revised by Janet Morris.  The second of these, The Golden Sword, released in May 2016.

The Silistra Quartet is a series of fictional memoirs by the High Couch of  Silsitra herself, Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi. The books chronicle the adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe, The Silistra Quartet is Mythic Fiction, combining elements of science fiction and fantasy with mythology, metaphysics, and magical realism from a distant realm.

The Golden Sword

Front Page

Overview: The Battle of the Sexes is never over…

She had the power to create planets.
The sixty carved bones of the Yris-tera foretold her ancient fate.
Her heritage of power took her beyond time and space and stole from her the
one man she loved.

Enslaved on the planet Silistra tomorrow’s most beautiful courtesan unleashes the
powers of the gods.

Silistra2_goldsword_AC

Overview:  High Couch of Silistra:  Biology dictates reality

One woman’s mythic search for self-realization in a distant tomorrow…

Her sensuality was at the core of her world, her quest beyond the civilized stars.

Aristocrat. Outcast. Picara. Slave. Ruler.

Praise for the Silistra Quartet:

“Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure.” – Charles N. Brown, Locus Magazine

“The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe” – Frederik Pohl

“To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time. The best single example of prostitution in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series. […] Each the books exhibits a consciousness its form as an historical autobiography; the author appends glossaries for each novel and includes prologues, epilogues, biographical sketches, and copious notes to guide the reader into a better grasp of the mult-levels of the work, […]  To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time.  — Anne K. Kaler, The Picara From Hera To Fantasy Heroine

FOR ADVENTUROUS READERS ONLY
“Long ago the human colonists of Silistra waged a war so vicious that centuries later the planet has not recovered. Men and women alike suffer from infertility — the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birth rate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children . . . and their social order is based on their fertility and sexual prowess.
On a planet desperate for population, women hold the keys to power. These are the adventures of Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria and holder of the ultimate seat of control: the High Couch of Silistra.” — Jim Baen, publisher, Baen Books.
 

“The best single example of prostitution used in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series… Estri’s character is most like that of Ishtar who describes herself as “‘a prostitute compassionate am I'” because she “symbolizes the creative submission to the demands of instinct, to the chaos of nature …the free woman, as opposed to the domesticated woman”. Linking Estri with these lunar and water symbols is not difficult because of the moon’s eternal virginity (the strength of integrity) links with her changeability (the prostitute’s switching of lovers). […] Morris strengthens the moon imagery by having Estri as a well-keepress because wells, fountains, and the moon as the orb which controls water have long been associated with fertility, […] In a sense, she is like the moon because she is apparently eternal, never waxing or waning except in her pursuit of the quest; she is the prototypical wanderer like the moon and Ishtar. She is the eternal night symbol of the moon in opposition to the Day-Keepers […] At her majority (her three hundredth birthday), she is given a silver-cubed hologram letter from her mother, containing a videotape of her conception by the savage bronzed barbarian god from another world. […] If Estri’s mother then acts as a bawd, willing her lineage as Well-Keepress to her daughter, then Estri’s great-grandmother Astria as foundress of the Well becomes a further mother-bawd figure when she offers her prophetic advice in her letter: “Guard Astria for you may lose it, and more. Beware of one who is not as he seems. Stray not in the port city of Baniev …look well about you, for your father’s daughter’s brother seeks you”. Having no brother that she knows of does not stay Estri from undertaking the heroic quest of finding her father.” – Anne K. Kaler, The Picara: From Hera to Fantasy Heroine.

Monsters and Myth – part 1 – Cyclopes

Fantastical creatures have featured in mythology and storytelling since people first sat around the fire and told of great beasts and wicked monsters. They are at the core of our cultures, from great dragons, to hydra, to sea monsters, mermaids, fairies and pretty much everything you can think of and some you wish you hadn’t.  Many  were humanoid, some carrying more arms, legs or eyes and some less. Some weren’t – lizards,  half birds, half lions, creatures which look they they are made up of left over bits of other animals. The unnatural zoology was vast.

Of course many still feature in modern fantasy – dragons, fairies/feyfolk, unicorns, shapechangers and more.  Paranormal fiction is extremely popular – with the vampires/werecreatures etc as the heroes. But what of the lesser known creatures? The nightmare of our ancestors?

The ancient Greek heroes fought and slayed everything from Medusa, the snake-haired woman whose gaze was petrifying, to one eyed Cyclopes – the offspring of mighty Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa, (Homeric tradition) or second generation gods – the spawn of Gaea and Uranus (Hesiod). They were giants, builders and liked to snack on mortals (and demi-gods) who strayed into their path. Some were famed for working for the lame god Hephaestus, and some such as Polyphemus were shepherds. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus).  Today I am going to focus on these creatures.

The Greek deities were a paranoid lot (with good reason for the most part) and the Cyclopes were imprisoned by Uranus who was afraid of their power. To be released again by the Titans and Chronos in order to defeat Uranus they were later imprisoned again as their power increased, only to be released by Zeus so they could help him overthrow the Titans. (Yes intrigue and double crossing was the staple diet of the Greek immortals.)

One eye had been traded in order that they may see into the future – but as such bargains often turn out – the small print was overlooked and all they could foresee was the day of their death.

Odysseus blinded and tricked Polyphemus, who had it must be admitted eaten several of the trickster’s friends – who in turn were trying to steal some of the giant’s provisions and had found their way into the cyclop’s den.

Getting the cyclops tipsy Odysseus thrust a burning, sharpened stake into the monster’s eye – then cried out his name was ‘No one’ or ‘Nobody’ (depending on the translation) so when the cyclops staggered outside crying ‘Nobody’ blinded him the other giants thought him mad.

Of course Odysseus being Odysseus couldn’t resist letting Polyphemus know who it really was once he was safely back at sea. Telling him it was ‘Odysseus, son of Laertes of Ithica who has blinded you’. This was not among Odysseus smarter plans as this particular cyclops was the son of Poseidon who was rather annoyed and send the great hero’s boat in a rather roundabout way home…

The story reappears in later myths – Virgil tells the story from the perspective of a seaman of Odysseus’ crew left behind (Aeneid) and Aeneas and his crew see the blinded giant and his companions and beat a hasty retreat.

Later mythological writers, including Ovid, speak of the love affair between Polyphemus and the sea-nymph Galataea – with a greater or lesser tragic ending (she loved another).  And Wilhem Grimm collected tales and retelling of one-eyed giants from Serbia, German, Finnish, Romanian and Russian mythology.

In the Renaissance composers brought the tales to opera. Giovanni Bononcini, Jean-Baptiste LullyJoseph Haydn  and George Frideric Handel composed works around the story of Polyphemus, Galataea and Acis, her lover (whom Polyphemus kills). Artists and sculptors too have used the cyclops and his tale as a basis for their work. Interestingly too the Scottish Rite Freemasons have Polyphemus as a symbol for civilisation that harms itself using ill-directed blind force.

Origins – Othenio Abel in 1914 argues the origins maybe from prehistorical dwarf elephant skulls – with a big central hole for the trunk, which of course would be gone by the time the fossil was found.

Cyclopia – is an uncommon but real condition is a ‘rare form of holoprosencephaly and is a congenital disorder (birth defect) characterized by the failure of the embryonic prosencephalon to properly divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

Often the nose is missing or is non-functioning and appears ABOVE the single eye-socket. The foetuses usually abort or are still-born, however some living cyclopic animals have been recorded, although they rarely survive for long. Causes can include toxins such as cornlily or false hellebore Veratrum californicum – which resembles Hellebore, which is given as a natural remedy for vomiting, cramps and poor circulation. White Hellebore, which was cited by Hippocrates, also contains teratogens  which can cause the deformity. Genetics too can cause the condition – the Sonic the Hedgehog gene regulator (yes really) can suppress a particular protein needed in eye development in early embryos and cause the mutation.

So misunderstood fossils or deformities could have created a myth, which in turn became the story of one-eyed giants.

Sources:

http://www.theoi.com/Gigante/GigantePolyphemos.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Cyclopes/cyclopes.html

http://www.greek-gods.info/greek-heroes/odysseus/myths/odysseus-polyphemus/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus)

Mutants: On the form, varieties and errors of the human body. (c) Armand Marie Leroi 2003

The Odyssey of Homer (various translations)

 

 

Author and Narrator Interview – C.S MacCath

Name: C.S. MacCath

Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m an American expat living on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, one of the most beautiful islands on Earth and a Gàidhealtachd of the Scottish Gaelic language. My husband Sean and I own a hundred-year-old minister’s manse here and run an enterprise web development company and small press from home. We’re both vegan, and we’re both volunteer wildlife rescuers for a facility in Seaforth, Nova Scotia called Hope for Wildlife.

Tell us about your process for narrating.  (Be as elaborate as you like.): Before I begin recording, I read the piece aloud with attention to vocal inflection and voicing of characters. Key passages and phrases are highlighted during this reading, and each major character’s dialogue is also highlighted with its own, separate color. Then I read through the piece again, focusing on those highlighted passages while I work to establish an overall cadence for the narration.

During recording, I break often, perhaps every page or two. This gives me the opportunity to rest and clear my throat with water so my reading voice remains constant throughout the piece. It’s easy to become fatigued after a few hours of recording, and that affects vocal constancy as well, so I try not to work longer than three or four hours during a session.

Once I’ve recorded the piece, I listen to it carefully for sound artifacts. These are nearly impossible to scrub from a recording, so passages containing them need to be revisited. I also listen for places where my reading was inconsistent or simply didn’t convey the meaning I intended and revisit these as well.

Finally, I splice the recording and listen to it a final time to make certain I haven’t missed anything. For more information on that part of the process, you might read my blog entry: .Recording for Audible ACX – Technical Post

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I most certainly think it’s one important future of storytelling, since audio books are a dynamic and convenient way to enjoy the written word. My husband is an audio book fan, and his listening habit takes the place of the reading habit he had as a boy. My own listeners have mentioned they prefer audio books as well. I love them too and always have one on the go.

That said, I believe audio books occupy a place alongside paper books and e-books. Not every reader has the same needs, and I think the publishing industry should continue to meet those needs equitably.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? I produce my own audio books; from cover art to narration to digital mastering. In fact, I’m just finishing the remodeling of a small room in my house so that I’ll have a properly sound-attenuated space to record in going forward. It took me roughly a year to build these separate skills, and there was a lot of trial and error, but I prefer to be self-sufficient where I can when it comes to my career. I also enjoy the work quite a bit. It’s a nice creative break from the writing itself.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc?) I have mixed feelings about ACX. The technical requirements for self-published audio books are precise, but not onerous, and they need to be what they are in order for listeners to have a quality, distraction-free listening experience. So I have no quarrel with the technical rigor of the process. The web site is easy to use, and I’ve found the ACX support crew consistently helpful when I’ve called them with questions. ACX also provides a number of audio book codes to authors for promotional purposes, which is nice. As for earnings, I’m not excited about the royalties offered to authors who don’t distribute their audio books exclusively through ACX, but I’m not willing to sign a seven-year exclusivity contract for pieces I distribute as an independent author.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write speculative fiction and poetry, which includes science fiction, fantasy and the occasional bit of Pagan-influenced slipstream. My first collection is entitled The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales and is comprised of work published between 2004 and 2010(ish). I’ve also sold a number of stories and poems since then, which you can find by visiting the “Things to Read” sidebar at csmaccath.com. I’m presently working on a series of science fiction novels entitled Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom, for which I’ve written a novel I’m shopping around to agents and publishers right now. I’ve just begun another novel in that series, and I’m planning to pitch a second collection of short fiction to a good small press later on this summer.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? I have! But I found as I was writing the character that she diverged from the person quite a bit for the sake of the story. So when I finally did shoot her in the head, she wasn’t much like the woman I derived her from, which is probably for the best. Fictionalizing real people can lead to legal trouble if the fiction resembles the person too plainly.

That said, I’ve extracted character types, motivations and even remembered conversations with difficult people and given them to my fictional villains. I find this humanizes them, which is necessary if you want your bad guys to be more than foils in a story.

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 world-build for everything I write, even short stories. In fact, I often begin my research with a vague idea or perhaps just a strong character and allow the world-building to lead me into the story. As for favorite resources, I research so widely that I don’t really have any specific favorites. However, I have taught world-building at science fiction conventions and can offer a few of my own resources to your readers.

The first is a series of blog entries I wrote about constructed languages, or conlangs. You can find the introduction to that series here: ConLangs 101: Introduction. The convention workshop resource sheet on conlang construction can be found here: ConLangs 101 Resource Sheet.

The second and third are resource sheets for two convention workshops: Physical Worldbuilding and Cultural Worldbuilding. These were intended for attendees, so there are a few things in them that might not be relevant to your readers, but there’s some good stuff too.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? There’s always a message underlying my work. My recent story “N is for Nanomachine” was a look at the ways people choose to approach death. My forthcoming story “C is for Change” is about the way people are broken and what happens when they transcend that brokenness. I write about life, so meaning is important to me.

As for its overall importance, who can say? There are a number of popular speculative fiction writers who specialize in artful prose and poetry that have no underlying message, and their work sells. It reads like cotton candy tastes to me, and I don’t care for that sort of thing, but that’s only because I do care so much about message and meaning. Your mileage may vary.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I have never, ever commented publicly on a review of my work, and I hope I’m never so far off my game that I do. Very occasionally, I’ve sent a brief ‘thank you’ e-mail to a kind reviewer or mentioned my appreciation for a good review in a blog entry, but that’s it.

Reviews are conversations readers have about writing, and writers should never insert themselves into that conversation when it’s about their own work. This is especially true of negative reviews. Writers don’t live in the heads of their readers, and while some negative reviews are hurtful on purpose, most are just honest expressions of what didn’t work for a reader. That kind of critique can be helpful.

As for importance, I think reviews are important tools for reader discussion, but I think they’re somewhat less important for writers, except as a means for finding out how their work is received and where some skill-building might be in order. That said, I still love it when a reader has something nice to say about my writing. ☺

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I just finished The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey, and I have to say that on the whole, it didn’t work for me. However, my favorite novel of the last year was Lexicon, by Max Barry, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all people with a pulse. I’malso following the Saga comic series by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples and love it.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have a collection of action figures from the Pacific Rim movie, and I play with them.

Where can we learn more about you?

Social Media links:

Blog: csmaccath.com/blog

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ceallaighsmaccath

Twitter: twitter.com/#!/csmaccath

Google+: plus.google.com/+CSMacCath