Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview, Part 4

c0c0c-final-herosbestfriendWelcome to the final part of the Hero’s Best Friend roundtable interview with the authors of the anthology. Sitting at the table tonight are Ian Hunter, Sheila Deeth, Douglas J. Ogurek, and Steven Donahue. Enjoy! J

 

Introductions

 

This is Ian Hunter from Scotland who wrote the story “Scarhead in the Glisting”. I’m the author of three children’s novels, a humourous guide to Glasgow called “Fantastic Glasgow”.  More recently my stories and poems have appeared in “Space and Time”, “The Tenth Black Book of Horror” (and the story in there appears in the very first “Best British Horror 2014”) and “The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 2”.I’m poetry editor for the British Fantasy Society, book reviewer for “Interzone” and a member of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle. I write a very infrequent blog at www.ian-hunter.co.uk

 

Name:     Sheila Deeth

Links:    http://www.sheiladeeth.com

http://about.me/sheiladeeth

 

Douglas J. Ogurek

Fiction published in The Literary Review, the British Fantasy Society Journal, Morpheus Tales, Gone Lawn, and several anthologies

Horror, fantasy, sci-fi blogger/film reviewer at Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction (http://theakersquarterly.blogspot.com/)

Written over one hundred articles about architectural planning and design

Website: www.douglasjogurek.weebly.com

 

Steven Donahue was a copywriter for TV Guide magazine for 14 years. His first novel, Amanda Rio, was published in 2004. He released three novels in 2013: The Manila Strangler (Rainstorm Press), Amy the Astronaut and the Flight for Freedom (Hydra Publications), and Comet and Cupid’s Christmas Adventure (Createspace). His short story Grit was also included in the anthology Hero’s Best Friend by Seventh Star Press in 2014.

 

http://amytheastronaut.yolasite.com/

 

http://themanilastrangler.yolasite.com/

 

http://amandario.yolasite.com/

 

http://cometandcupidschristmasadventure.yolasite.com/

 

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

 

Ian Hunter: I’ve written contemporary Highland Seer stories, almost with the seer as a psychic detective fighting evil, but because I had to have an animal companion, I’ve set this story in the past in the time of the Highland Clearances and have my seer encounter a Scottish Wildcat, which sadly nowadays is almost extinct – the true purebloods, that is, due to loss of habitat and breeding with feral cats, although there is seemingly a family up the road from where I live in Cartland Crags where William Wallace hid from the English after killing the Sheriff of Lanark. It is pretty wild and some of it is hard to get to, so maybe a family of purebloods still survive there, hope so.

 

Sheila Deeth: “Passage” is a prequel to a series of middle-grade fantasies, centered on an Irish-American teen who lives in fairly ordinary town called Hemlock Edge, near a slightly less ordinary forest. The teens of Hemlock Edge discover they can change reality in dreams, but I’d often wondered where their skills came from. The convenient juxtaposition of a call for submissions to Hero’s Best Friend, with a (human best) friend loaning me a book about her ancestors traveling from Ireland, offered me a happy chance to explore Siobhan’s ancestry through the eyes of a slightly magical Irish cat.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek: When their squigglybounce (public transportation vehicle) breaks down, a female dink (double income no kids) and her pet gilpan (a kind of bird) Yourkidsabrat get stuck with a drug addict and the status-obsessed Mommy Wifey. The dink discovers the addict is former children’s entertainment icon Wedge Medge, disgraced for his brutal treatment of gilpans, one of which was Yourkidsabrat (before she adopted him).

The dink protagonist, encumbered by a society that relegates dinks to the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, tries to convince Mommy Wifey to grant her access to Wedge Medge’s chamber so that Yourkidsabrat can use his deadly orbs to exact revenge on his tormentor.

The story was inspired by my love for animals and my ongoing struggle to find the humanity in those who abuse animals for profit.

 

Steven Donahue: Grit tells the story of a dog with telekinetic powers who aids a brave prince on a dangerous quest. The prince seeks exotic ingredients from faraway lands to create a mythical cure for his poisoned wife. Grit uses his powers and courage to help the prince on the perilous quest, where the duo face challenges from man, beast and nature.

 

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

 

Ian Hunter: Polar bears. I’ve adopted one through the WWF and he writes to me regularly saying he’s hoping to come and visit and eat – sorry, meet – the dog.

 

Sheila Deeth: I’m writing a story about dogs at the moment, but they do have a friend who is a cat. Truth is, I just like animals; but my favorite fictional ones are those that combine a hint of wildness with the gift of companionship.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Jaws – Though I’d rather see Peter Benchley’s iconic great white attacking those who exploit sharks for shark fin soup.

Marley – Journalist John Grogan’s troublesome yet lovable Labrador Retriever. The conclusion of Marley & Me offers a moving description of the impact a dog can have on humans and the lessons that dogs teach us.

Aslan – C.S. Lewis’s anthropomorphic Christ

Speaker-to-Animals/Chmeee – A giant upright alien cat who resists his species’ penchant for violence in Larry Niven’s Ringworld.

Bori – The initially burdensome bird that a musician grows to love in Ha Jin’s “A Composer and His Parakeets.” One of the best short stories I’ve read in recent years. The ending is reminiscent of short story master Raymond Carver at his best.

 

Steven Donahue: I always admired the loyalty of Boxer from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. He lived to selflessly serve those around him, and he had the heart of a hero.

 

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

 

Ian Hunter: Yes, mainly jazz, or possibly instrumental proggy stuff.

 

Sheila Deeth: I get too caught up in the music if I try to listen to something while I write. Sometimes my characters sing in the back of my head though—a noisy and very confusing place.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Always. Death metal with Christian themes. Also known as white metal (as opposed to the notorious black metal). Variations within the white metal subgenre include Christian technical/ progressive/ melodic death metal (e.g., Becoming the Archetype, Renascent), Christian doom metal (e.g., Paramecium), Christian symphonic metal (e.g., Sympathy, Virgin Black), or, in its most extreme form, unblack metal (e.g., Frost Like Ashes, Horde).

I like power. I like talent. I like nonconformity. I like a positive message. White metal combines all of that.

 

Steven Donahue: I prefer a quiet environment to write in, which is a challenge in the small apartment that I share with my wife, our chubby cat, and our three energetic dogs.

 

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

 

Ian Hunter: I wrote a horror story called “Fearwheeling” set at the North Sea Jazz festival which was published in “Fear” magazine. When I feel the need to write a poem, but don’t know what to right about I sometimes flick through the pages of “Kerrang” magazine and pick on a song title, or album title or maybe lyric and use that as inspiration, but since I’m totally in love with PJ Harvey, I have a whole load of poems inspired by her album covers, song titles, album titles and lyrics, some of which, I’m pleased to say have been published in the UK, USA and Canada, and will probably be used as evidence against me.

 

Steven Donahue: I use music to inspire me before I start a writing session. Music from the Rocky movies are my favorite, but I’m not sure if they’ve ever influenced something I’ve written.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Yes. Christian death metal influences every one of my stories. I admire this subgenre’s ability to package themes of compassion and empathy in what sounds like the opposite. This music epitomizes the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Like white metal, my stories offer positive messages shrouded in a disturbing, juvenile, or even vile container. For instance, in “Stuck on the Squigglybounce,” the Mommy Wifey character projects images of her husband’s income, her children’s accomplishments, and her possessions on the breast and butt screens embedded in her clothing. I want her juxtaposition with the dink protagonist to throw into question the values and roles that society imposes on the contemporary woman.

Additionally, some have praised or derided my stories as trippy, enigmatic, or even inaccessible. Again, that’s a lot like the music from which I find inspiration.

 

Sheila Deeth: Would the howling of dogs count?

 

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

 

Ian Hunter: Benji, on points.

 

Sheila Deeth: Benji’s gaze would remind Cujo of his true nature, leaving him open to the killing blow that allows him to choose death over causing more injury to those he loves.

 

Steven Donahue: I would root for Benji, but I think Cujo would have him for lunch.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Neither. I would first bring to justice the individuals responsible for instigating the dogfight. Then I would force those individuals to donate time and/or money to help abused or abandoned dogs.

I’d also try to show the instigators the kindness that was probably absent during their lives.

 

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June 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview, Part 3

3a401-final-herosbestfriendToday at the table are SH Roddey, Steven S. Long, Steven Grassie, and Laura Anne Ewald. Enjoy! J

 

Introductions

 

I’m Susan H. Roddey. I write various forms of speculative fiction as S.H. Roddey, and I also write romance as Siobhan Kinkade. Most days I can be found lurking on Facebook both as Susan H. Roddey and also on my author page at www.fb.com/AuthorSHRoddey. I’m on Twitter as @draickinphoenix and @SiobhanKinkade, and can always be found at www.SHRoddey.com, creepyauthorgirl.wordpress.com, and siobhankinkade.wordpress.com.

 

I’m Steven S. Long, a writer and game designer. I’ve worked primarily in the tabletop roleplaying game field for the past twenty years, during which time I’ve written or co-written nearly 200 books. I’m probably best known for my work with Champions and the HERO System, but I’ve worked for many other RPG companies including Last Unicorn Games, Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Decipher, and White Wolf.

In the past few years I’ve branched out into writing fiction as well. In addition to my perpetually-in-revisions first novel, I’ve written a lot of short stories, of which about a dozen have been published (or are due for publication in the near future). You can find some of them in other Seventh Star anthologies such as the Chimerical World books and The End Was Not The End.

Lastly, I recently completed my first major non-fiction book:  Odin:  The Viking All-Father, for Osprey Publishing’s “Myths and Legends” line. It’s slated for release in late 2015.

You can find out more about me and what I’m up to at www.stevenslong.com.

 

I’m Steven Grassie, author of “The Masterless”. You can see what else I’ve had published over the last year and a half at http://www.stevengrassie.com.

 

Laura Anne Ewald (LauraAnneEwald.com & LAEindexing.com)

I am a former librarian turned freelance writer, editor, public speaker, and indexer. An eclectic scholar with degrees in classical studies, drama, library science, and organizational communication, I find my writing to be as diverse as my academic background, though it is likely that romance will find its way into any story I write, no matter what the genre. I think my greatest asset as a writer is my theater experience: I have done some 50+ shows in college and various community theaters and was a technical theater major, so I know set design, lighting, properties, blocking, etc., and how they contribute to a story. I tend to both “set the stage” and create the “cast of characters” for each story before running the scenes in my head.

My book titles include The Stars of Dreams and The Stars of Home (the first two books in my science fiction series, The Commonwealth Chronicles), A Chance for Life (a contemporary romance), and two novellas, Derry’s Hope (science fiction) and Voices in the Night (contemporary paranormal). All are available at Amazon.com. My newest title, Words to Love By (July 2014), is a contemporary romance.

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

 

S.H. Roddey: Look What the Cat Dragged In was an experiment in “what if?” that went a little far into left field. It’s a contemporary murder mystery told almost entirely from the point of view of a talking tuxedo cat named Miko. After he brings a human foot into his human’s house, he finds himself trying to prove his woman isn’t the killer.

I used to have a tuxedo cat who would bring me gifts (some of them still wiggling). While his name wasn’t Miko (we called him “Cat”. He was a stray that wandered up and decided to live with us), the cat in the story very much embodies the personality of my beautiful Cat.

 

Steven S. Long: My story is “The Wolf Sentinel.” It’s about Greylord, an aging wolf who’s been driven from his pack and doesn’t expect to live much longer. He comes across an injured human — Vorgath the Warlock, one of the main characters in the novel I mentioned above — and adopts him as his new “pack.” He helps Vorgath survive long enough to heal up and complete an important mission.

 

Steven Grassie: Kojima is a rōnin, a disgraced and masterless samurai; his dog Shiro is an akita, as loyal to his master as his master is to him. These friends get caught up in a series of events that test their skills and endurance to their limits. The story is essentially one of redemption, and it also turns out to be the last of the heroes’ many adventures together…

I myself am the proud owner of two akitas, and I’ve long been fascinated by the breed’s history and their connection with the samurai and the Japanese ruling elite. And come on, who doesn’t think the samurai were pretty cool? Hero’s Best Friend gave me the opportunity to write a story about both types of warrior: one human and one canine.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: “Memorandum” was actually inspired by the Disney movie, The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963), one of my all-time favorite Disney flicks. It is a movie I grew up with and for years played with in my imagination. Then when I became a sci fi fan, my imagination went a little further: What if the character, Lori McGregor, was neither a witch nor just “a bit weird?” What if she was really an alien? And what if Thomasina was more than just a house cat? (Don’t you just love those “what if” exercises?)

“Memorandum” started out as simply “The Witch” (the first half of the story), which I wrote for a short story writing assignment in college, but later I thought, “Why not take this all the way?” Thus was born Dr. Mroweo Hsstu’s testimony, which will someday be augmented by “the rest of the story” as told by Dr. Reni Lira’s, the “human” character. I have no idea when the novel-length manuscript will be written, but when it is, it will become Book 3 in my Commonwealth Chronicles.

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

 

S.H. Roddey:I’ve always been partial to the animals in fairy tales. I grew up reading Aesop’s fables and both the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson stories, as well as folklore from around the world. Shapeshifters in particular have always intrigued me. I love how the folk tales use various animal forms to subtly introduce personality traits in characters or further unsavory themes.

 

Steven S. Long: Flag in The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; the fire lizards in Anne McCaffrey’s “Pern” novels; Odin’s ravens Hugin and Munin; various and sundry from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia (Bree, Reepicheep…), and of course Shadowfax.

Honorable mention to Rorschach’s canine sidekick Blot the dog, the greatest animal companion who never existed. 😉

 

Steven Grassie: Guenhwyvar, the magical panther companion of Drizzt Do’Urden in the Forgotten Realms books. The Direwolves in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire are awesome too.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: Growing up, there wasn’t an animal character I didn’t like, and I still reread them regularly—Charlotte’s Web; Misty of Chincoteague; Black Beauty; Man O’War; Beautiful Joe; Lad, A Dog; Winnie-the-Pooh and all his friends; and, of course, the wonderful animal inhabitants of Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. For all the dog and horse stories I read growing up, though, I think the cats intrigue me the most—perhaps because I’ve lived with them all my life and currently live with six of them, so I appreciate their personalities more. A contemporary author I’m really appreciating for her animal characters these days is Nora Roberts. Her dogs in The Search and the cougar, Baby, in Black Hills really pop off the page and add so much to the depth of her human characters as the reader sees them interacting with these wonderful animals.

  

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

 

S.H. Roddey:Every time I pick up a pen. Silence is my worst enemy. As long as I have sound (preferably cranked up very loud), I can keep focused.

 

Steven S. Long: Not specifically. I listen to music constantly because I enjoy it, but I don’t think of it as helping me write.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: I find I write best in silence, though for background I do sometimes put in a CD. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics or a beat, however—as a musician, I can’t help but tap my feet and sing along, which doesn’t help my writing at all, so my usual show tunes and big band jazz are out. When I do listen while I write, I lean toward Classical in the Romantic Era (Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Rogers), and often listen to the “program” music of today found in the sound tracks of movies like Star Wars, Star Trek, Shadowlands, The Man From Snowy River, Michael Todd’s Around the World in 80 Days, High Road to China, etc.

 

Steven Grassie: Hell yeah! I very rarely write without music on in the background – and that music very rarely isn’t metal. I try to match the mood of what I’m listening to with the vibe of whatever it is I’m writing – my taste within the genus of metal music is pretty eclectic.

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

 

S.H. Roddey:Absolutely. I listen to a lot of instrumental music when I write, and the movement in it helps me keep pace, particularly when I’m writing fight scenes. From time to time themes and subjects from various songs will work their way into my shorter fiction as well.

 

Steven S. Long: I do have an idea or two for stories inspired by lyrics in songs. Now I just have to find the time to write them. 😉

 

Steven Grassie: Not as yet – however I’ve a story idea based on a song by the band Lamb of God (no, I’m not telling you which). The song’s title is the main inspiration, but the song itself – its tempo, its power, its relentlessness – makes me want to create a tale to capture, and do justice to, its essence. The story will be fantasy, and dark… though don’t ask me what happens in it yet. And for the time being, it’s deep in the ‘to be written’ queue.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: I can’t think of any in particular, but I do find the battle sequences in the original Star Wars, any Star Trek movie, or the Indiana Jones titles can really inspire my battle sequences. I don’t write many of them, but when star ships are battling, or the heroine and hero are facing danger, there is no one better than John Williams for inspiration in my mind.

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

 

S.H. Roddey:My first reaction would be to say “CUJO!!!” and be done with it, but I think this question bears some real discussion.

If we’re perfectly honest with ourselves and each other given the circumstances of each, Benji would likely win the first round since Cujo is rabid. However, after one bite from the St. Bernard, that cutesy little monster would be down for the count. He’d lose his mind (and subsequently his cuteness), and then he’d become a smaller, less intimidating version of Cujo.

Though I have to say, BENJI VS. CUJO: THE ULTIMATE WAR would make an excellent graphic novel.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: I gotta go with Benji on this one. How can I not, since all my stories end in happily-ever-after? Seriously, though, Benji is small, but he’s smart and quick. Cujo was just a very big, very sick puppy. If I were to write it, I’d have Benji save the day by managing to fire the sheriff’s revolver in order to put poor Cujo out of his misery. I’d cry at the end, too—I can’t even listen to the theme song from Old Yeller without getting weepy—but Benji would be the reluctant hero in this one.

 

Steven S. Long: Benji, clearly. The writers are on his side. 😉

 

Steven Grassie: In a straight fight, I reckon Cujo. But of course Shiro could take both of them at the same time, paws down.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview—Part 2

c0c0c-final-herosbestfriendTonight sitting at the table are Essel Pratt, Frank Creed, Nick Bryan, and Renee Carter Hall. Enjoy!

 

Introductions

 

Hello, my name is Essel Pratt.  I have been published in multiple anthologies and have my first novel, Final Reverie, releasing this summer.  I can be found on Twitter (@EsselPratt, Facebook (search EsselPrattWriting), and at EsselPratt.Blogspot.com.  Other than Seventh Star Press, I have been published with Rainstorm Press, Cruentus Libri Press, Nightscape Press, Dark Moon Digest, JWK Fiction, Apokrupha, and more.

 

Frank Creed is a housecatter, end-times cyberpunk novelist, creator of The Underground universe, and founder of the Lost Genre Guild for the promotion of Christian speculative fiction. The Chicago born Creed lives in the Vancouver area of BC, Canada. Read the full bio at http://frankcreed.com 

 

I’m Nick Bryan, author of darkly comic crime and fantasy, including stories in Seventh S tar’s A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court anthology, the weekly London detective webserial Hobson & Choi and an upcoming novel re-imagining Hell for a new world. Updates and inner feelings on Nick Bryan Dot Com.

 

I’m Renee Carter Hall, a fantasy/science fiction author writing stories for adults like me who never quite grew up. (A lot of my fiction features animal characters of one sort of another, so this anthology was right in my comfort zone!) My short fiction has showed up in various print, online, and audio publications through the years, including Strange Horizons, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, and the Anthro Dreams podcast. My online home is at http://www.reneecarterhall.com, I blog at http://reneecarterhall.wordpress.com, and I’m also pretty active on Twitter as @RCarterHall.

 

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

 

Essel Pratt: My normal writing genre is horror, so “Brothers” was a little out of my comfort zone.  So, I created a setting that takes place after a horrific battle between hero and villain.  The story focuses on an aged wolf that fought alongside his human brother during a time of great turmoil.  The reader sees a glimpse of the final battle during a flashback scene and gets a feel for the brotherly love that the two heroes share.  Although the focus of the story is on the canine portion of the team, the overall theme is one of friendship, brotherhood, and unity.

 

Frank Creed: I’d always had the concept of a cyberpunk animal story, and I heard of the anthology when one of our cats died. My contribution, “Dusk,” is the tale of a GMO tuxedo kitten saved from a lab and raised by the Cat Whisperer, or Whisp. While on Underground assignment in Chicago’s Chinatown, the pair are confronted by no fewer than six of the deadly robot-like Goliath battle-suits of the One State. Whisp goes down early in the battle, and the intrepid Dusk is left alone to save his partner.

I always thought my Cyberpunk animal would be more chromed, but Dusk is the size of a small mountain lion, has lengthened dew claws that work like thumbs, and nearly human reasoning capacity.

 

Nick Bryan: My story is “The Violet Curse,” in which a loyal dog tries to help her fantasy hero owner save the day, only to find she might be his undoing.

 

Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage” was inspired by the classic Tolkienesque stereotype of a wizard — a bearded old man with a staff — and wondering what might happen if wizards have to deal with the same aspects of aging as their non-magical counterparts. It’s told from the perspective of Jiro, the big-cat companion of the emerald mage Korrinth. Jiro’s accompanied Korrinth on many quests and adventures in their younger days, but now that the mage’s powers are waning, Jiro has to face the prospect of becoming something of a caregiver as well as a companion.

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

 

Essel Pratt: When reading fiction, my favorite animal characters are those that come to life with a sense of believability.  It really doesn’t matter what type of animal it is, I want to feel a connection to the animal and believe that he or she is real.  In the Jungle Book, Louie is a simple character with depth.  This makes him very believable in the role. Rafiki is more complex in nature, yet his place in The Lion King is portrayed in a comedic way.  I can connect to him because he is that wise old uncle or grandpa that we all know, who acts childish and reckless in his actions but is the best giver of advice you will ever meet.  Then there is Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia.  In the end, he has such a small role in the overall group of stories. However, he also has the most important role.

It really is not about whether the animal is reptile, mammal, amphibian, etc. It is all about how those characters are portrayed and how they add to the story itself.

 

Frank Creed: Charlotte and Templeton from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, the horse from Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Fiver from Richard Adam’s Watership Down.

 

Nick Bryan: I’m a big fan of the array of talking mice and other woodland creatures from the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. Over in comics, We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely uses some amazing storytelling techniques to portray animal senses.

 

Renee Carter Hall: Oh, too many to list them all, but some of the ones coming to mind right away are the rabbits of Watership Down, Jane Lindskold’s Blind Seer, Meredith Ann Pierce’s Jan the unicorn, Aslan from C. S. Lewis’ Narnia books, Kipling’s Bagheera, Clare Bell’s Ratha, Naomi Novik’s Temeraire, and S. Andrew Swann’s Nohar Rajasthan.

 

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

 

Essel Pratt: Always.  Internet based radio has guided my fingers across the keyboard more times that I can count.  My preference is very eclectic in nature and varies from Bach to Gwar.  However, some of my biggest inspirations while writing are Nobuo Uemetsu, Lindsey Stirling, and remakes of various popular songs (new and old) using piano or violins as the main instruments.  I typically have multiple playlists with different beats and intensity that I play during various scenes that I am writing.  If I can use the music to set the soundtrack in my head, I can get a better feel for the flow and begin to actually experience it myself.

 

Frank Creed: Yes. Techno from the Quake III soundtrack and from an artist named Bassic make a good backdrop for cyberpunk. It’s been ages since I’ve tried my hand at fantasy, but I used baroque classical music for that.

 

Nick Bryan: I use a lot of ambient music and jangly rock. Some combination of Trent Reznor’s film soundtracks and REM is typical.

 

Renee Carter Hall: Often. I tend to have music in the background most of the time while writing — usually new age of one kind or another. Many of my stories wind up with a playlist or at least a theme song, and having that can make it easier for me to get back into the mindset of the story with each writing session.

 

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

 

Essel Pratt: My inspiration comes from everywhere, so would need to answer yes to this question.  When writing the flashback scene in “Brothers”, I listened to “One Winged Angel” a lot.  It has the perfect blend of intensity, operatic stress, and builds to climax beautifully.

 

There are many times that I will be cruising down the highway on my hour drive to work and a song will come on the radio that ignites my imagination.  There are many stories that I have yet to write, but are saved in a file on my PC, and have the title of the song that inspired it saved in a file. I will usually create a station on Pandora that begins with that song and the see where it takes me from there.

 

Frank Creed: One of my Underground tales is titled “Whiskey in the Jar” after the Irish proverb for saving up for retirement. It’s available in Splashdown Books’ Aquasynthesis Again anthology. It also happens to be the title of a darn fine Metallica song. J

 

Renee Carter Hall: Most of the time for me, the music gets fitted to the story instead of the other way around, but every once in a while the music is the source.

 

Nick Bryan: A lot of stories have the rhythm and words of whatever music I was listening to as I wrote them, although it’s something that gets refined out in the edit.

 

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

Essel Pratt: I believe that this question is similar to the race between the tortoise and the hare.  With that said, Benji would be the winner.  Cujo will act upon rage and instinct, whereas Benji will take the time to think the situation through.  His small frame will allow him to hide in tight quarters until his plan comes together. Cujo, on the other hand, would more than likely tire himself while scavenging for the little guy.  In the end, even if Cujo did happen to capture Benji, he would most likely choke on his small frame.  Therefore, Benji wins either way.

 

Frank Creed: Benji would outsmart Cujo by running to the local gun shop where the proprietor would already have food out for him, and roasts Cujo with a flamethrower.

 

Renee Carter Hall: Tough call, but I’d say Cujo would infect Benji and they would then roam the streets in darkness together. And fight crime.

 

Nick Bryan: Cujo. Being unrealistic never helped anyone.

 

June 23, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview, Part 1

c0c0c-final-herosbestfriendWelcome to part 1 the Hero’s Best Friend roundtable interview. Sitting with us tonight are Cindy Koepp, Lillian Csernica, David Wright, and Lisa Hawkridge.

 

Introductions

Hi there! I’m Cindy Koepp. I write science fiction, fantasy, and teacher resources. I’m also an editor with two small presses when I’m not wrangling glasses or studying for a master’s in adult education. I currently have one published novel and four self-published resources that will soon be re-published by a small press in a much spiffier format. In addition to teacher resources coming soon from two small presses, I have five novels in queues at three different publishers.

Check out my webpage at http://ckoepp.com and my blog at http://cindykoepp.wordpress.com

 

Lillian Csernica www.lillian888.wordpress.com

My very first short story sale, “Fallen Idol,” appeared in After Hours and was later reprinted in DAW’S YEAR’S BEST HORROR STORIES XX. I’ve also published stories in DAW’S Year’s Best Horror Stories XXI, 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, and HORRORS! 365 Scary Stories. My Christmas ghost story “The Family Spirit” appeared in Weird Tales #322 and “Maeve” appeared in #333. My pirate romance novel, SHIP OF DREAMS originally appeared in paperback as part of the Leisure Imprint from Dorchester Publishing.

Current releases include short stories in Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions and Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails.  More stories are forthcoming in These Vampires Don’t Sparkle and Fantastic Stories Presents Tales of the Imaginations.

Born in San Diego, I’m a genuine California native. Right now I live in the Santa Cruz mountains with my husband, two sons, and three cats.

 

My name is David Wright. By day, I am a mild-mannered video producer currently working for the Army. I started writing in 2007. I have had two short stories published in The Sentinels: Alternate Visions (White Rocket Books) as well as a short story and poem in Gideon Cain: Demon Hunter (Airship 27).

My first novel debuted less than a month ago. It is called My Brother’s Keeper and it is the first book in my Galahad’s Doom series. It’s Sword & Sorcery with a spiritual theme.

I’d love for everyone to follow my blog, galengriffon.blogspot.com, to keep up with the latest from me.

 

My name is Lisa Hawkridge, and this is my first time being published. I come from a small town called Needham, of which most of the people outside of the Boston area, and even within said area, have never heard. Some of my work can be found at http://www.lmdhawk.tumblr.com

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

Cindy Koepp: “The Hat” is a tale about a group of well-trained birds who work with a king’s spy network. When news of an enemy spy in the area reaches the network, they devise a plan to capture him. Cloud, an umbrella cockatoo, is recruited for the job.

Although Masika, my African Grey, was not too thrilled that the main character in “The Hat” was a cockatoo, she was ecstatic that birds got to play such a large role in the story. I promised Masika that I’d cast an African Grey as the lead in another tale.

 

Lillian Csernica: One day Kevin and I were tossing ideas back and forth.  He must have been the one to come up with the idea of a zombie armadillo.  We decided to go for something funny and satirical.  When we do a reading of the story, I still can’t get through the ending with a straight face.

 

David Wright: First of all, I’m extremely pleased with my story, “Wind of Change”. It is actually set in the same world as my novel and it takes a couple of my favorite supporting characters and spotlights them. Since Hero’s Best Friend was published three months prior to My Brother’s Keeper, this story marks the debut of this fictional setting of mine that I have been developing for years.

In my novel, we meet Jabbok, a nomadic warrior and a prince to two tribes, evocative of a Native American. He is accompanied by a red-tail hawk named Kaja.

When I saw the open call from Seventh Star for Hero’s Best Friend, I took it as a challenge to write an Untold Tale set in the world of my books.

I knew right away I wanted to feature Kaja. But I did not want him to speak or have internal dialogues; it needed to fit the tone and approach of my novel. I also wanted to try to stick to a spiritual theme, again, keeping in tone with My Brother’s Keeper. I decided to make it an origin story of sorts, showing how Jabbok and Kaja first met and perhaps shed some light on their bond and ability to communicate.

The story is very short, but I think it hit all the marks very strongly. It makes me want to write more Jabbok and Kaja stories. I hope people will check it out, love it and then post comments on my blog telling the whole internet of its awesomeness.

 

Lisa Hawkridge: My story is about a young snake named Ezra and his “semi-beloved human companion” Elena. The two of them end up playing a supposedly pivotal role in war that’s really none of their business while reuniting with Elena’s family, and all the characters, especially Ezra and Elena, are asked to question their motives for being where they are.

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

Cindy Koepp: Oh, the eagles of Lord of the Rings. The red-tailed hawk in Ladyhawke.

 

Lillian Csernica: Wolves, horses, and mythological creatures like the Fu dog.

 

David Wright: Since I’ve grown quite fond of Kaja, I’ll go with the hawk from Ladyhawke, the one Michelle Pfeiffer turns into during the day. And let’s not forget all the wonderful companions of The Beastmaster. I grew up watching that on TBS and I still want a pet ferret to this very day.

 

Lisa Hawkridge: I don’t know if the Redwall books count, because it’s a whole different dynamic, but Sunstripe and Taggalog are my favorites for that. For animals in more traditional roles, Fang, from the Harry Potter series and Solembum from the Inheritance Cycle are two of my favorites. I was also very fond of the cat in Coraline, derisive of names though he was, and of Mr. Bigglesworth from Austin Powers, although he had very little characterization.

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

Lisa Hawkridge: No. The reason being that I always seem to find music distracting, as I end up paying more attention to the lyrics than to what I’m writing. The few times I’ve tried it, it’s been more of a hindrance than a help, so I usually write in silence.

 

Cindy Koepp: The only music I listen to while writing is Masika’s whistles and chirps. Sometimes the radio in my head plays a tune. Anything else is too much of a distraction.

 

Lillian Csernica: All the time.

 

David Wright: Yes. It can’t be anything with words or anything with which I’m overly familiar, because that only distracts me. I like to turn to the digital music channels on the TV and pick Classical or Light Jazz and have it playing softly in the room.

I find it helps keep me in the zone and lose track of time.

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

Cindy Koepp: Oh yes. In the case of “The Hat,” the theme music from the 1960s/70’s TV show Mission: Impossible played on my mental radio station now and then.

 

Lillian Csernica: While I wrote the chapters for Alexandre, my pirate captain in SHIP OF DREAMS, I’d play U2’s “With Or Without You” over and over again.  You could say the “soundtrack” for the first book of my fantasy trilogy-in-progress is “The Best of Berlin.”

 

David Wright: I can’t say I’ve ever heard a piece of music first and then came up with a story based on that. But there is one piece that never fails to inspire images of knights in shining armor fighting valiantly.

It is O Fortuna. Perhaps it has been overused in recent years, but it is awesome. I first encountered this music in

John Boorman’s Excalibur film. It is heroic and powerful and I strongly associate it with Arthurian tales, which is the kind of stuff I write.

 

Lisa Hawkridge: When I was just starting out writing, I tried to write the scene described in “Midnight Shift”, as sung by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Air Men, but that never went anywhere. Other than that, anything I write inspired by music is much more indirect. I’ll listen to a song, and I’ll think of a character that would relate to the song, and write about them. Also, because I’m a writer, whenever I hear instrumental music, my mind immediately jumps to what scene would use said music as the background soundtrack.

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

Lillian Csernica: I like to root for the underdog, but come on. Cujo would snap up Benji in two bites.

 

David Wright: Hm. Well, it’s a bit of case of Brains vs. Brawn, isn’t it? Clearly, Cujo is much more physically intimidating. But Benji is like the MacGyver of dogs. He’s clever enough to find a way to outsmart Cujo. So I say Benji all the way.

(now excuse while I go write a MacGyver/Benji team-up story…)

 

Lisa Hawkridge: In a straight up pit-fight, Cujo would win, no problem. In a fight or challenge where the environment introduced more factors, Benji might have a chance, but if the challenge was a fight, Cujo would still probably win.

 

Cindy Koepp: Benji, absolutely. See, everyone underestimates the cute ones. He seems so quiet and innocent, but what you don’t know is that Benji is a shape-shifting mutant. Cujo would be all about getting growly and mean and everything, and Benji would just have to shape-shift to his attack form, and it’d be all over.

June 22, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hero’s Best Friend Anthology Tour

Hero’s Best Friend Anthology Tour

Editor: Scott Sandridge

Featured Book Release: Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions

June 16 to June 25 , 2014

HerosBestFriendTourBadge

ScottSandridgeAbout the editor: Scott M. Sandridge is a writer, editor, freedom fighter, and all-around trouble-maker. His latest works as an editor include the Seventh Star Press anthologies Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, and the two volumes of A Chimerical World, Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court.

 

 

 

 

HerosBestFriendCover1200X800Book Synopsis for Hero’s Best Friend: How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!

 

Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice-from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.

Whether you’re a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you!

So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero’s Best Friend.

Featured in Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions:

Joy Ward: “Toby and Steve Save the World”

Frank Creed: “Dusk”

Cassie Schau: “The Hunter’s Boy”

Steven Donahue: “Grit”

Jason Cordova: “Hill 142″

Herika R. Raymer: “Dook”..

Essel Pratt: “Brothers”.

Lisa Hawkridge: “Ezra’s Girl”.

S. H. Roddey: “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”

Steven S. Long: “The Wolf Sentinel”

Laura Anne Ewald: “Memorandum”

Cindy Koepp: “The Hat”.

Ian Hunter: “Scarheid in the Glisting”.

Steven Grassie: “The Masterless”.

David Wright: “Wind of Change”

Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage”..

Nick Bryan: “The Violet Curse”..

Lillian Csernica & Kevin Andrew Murphy:

“The Restless Armadillo”.

Douglas J. Ogurek: “Stuck on the Squigglybounce”

Sheila Deeth: “Passage”

 

Editor Links:

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/scottmsandridge

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/smsandwrites

Website/Blog:

https://smsand.wordpress.com

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5772749-scott-sandridge

 

Tour Schedule and Activities

6/16                Beagle Book Space                Guest Post

6/16                Tiffany Apan’s Blog               Interview

6/16                Deal Sharing Aunt                 Interview

6/16                Elizabeth Delana Rosa ~Book Lover and Creator of Worlds~       Review

6/17                Sheila Deeth                           Guest Post

6/18                Come Selahway With Me     Guest Post

6/18                On Cloud Eight-and-a-Half   Guest Post

6/19                Sapphyria’s Book Reviews    Guest Post

6/20                Beauty in Ruins                      Guest Post

6/21                Jorie Loves a Story                Review

6/25                Book in the Bag                     Interview

 

Tour Page URL: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/heros-best-friend-anthology-tour/

Tour Badge URL: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/HerosBestFriendTourBadge.jpg

 

Amazon Links for Hero’s Best Friend

Print Version

http://www.amazon.com/Heros-Best-Friend-Anthology-Companions/dp/1937929515

Kindle Version

http://www.amazon.com/Heros-Best-Friend-Anthology-Companions-ebook/dp/B00IAHEI1W

June 13, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

SpecMusicMuse—Interview w/Walter Rhein

I had the pleasure of interviewing Walter Rhein, author of The Reader of Acheron. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Tell us a little about yourself.

Currently I’m working with Janet Morris at Perseid Press (http://www.theperseidpress.com/).  It’s been fascinating working with her since she’s the author of some of the most important works of Heroic Fantasy published in the last 50 years.  I’ve also got a book coming out with Harren Press (http://www.harrenpress.com/), which is an up and coming press I’ve enjoyed working with.  I got my first publishing contract from Rhemalda, which has now ceased operations.  Prior to that I lived and worked in Lima, Peru.  For a while I was the editor of LivingInPeru.com, which was a fun gig because I got to go and do promotions for all the gourmet restaurants in Lima.  These days, the best place to find me is at HeroicFantasyWriters.com (please subscribe to the email feed), or at the Heroic Fantasy group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/heroicfantasy/).  A lot of my writer friends, including Janet Morris, are generally looking for insightful reviewers, so if you join and introduce yourself, you might get some offers for free books.

How did you come up with the world of Erafor?

Lima is a bit of an inspiration honestly, but so is the US.  I wanted to create a world that is in a rapid state of deterioration due to a kind of overwhelming malaise that I think readers will recognize.  I was also inspired by some recent classes I took to become certified as a high school teacher.  I found it mind boggling that most of the tactics that are used for teaching in the US are obviously out of date and intended more for instilling obedience than a love of knowledge or learning.  My two main protagonists, Quillion and Kikkan, are very much aware that there is more to the world than they are being told—and they’re very irritated that they have been misled.

Reading and writing being forbidden is a major plot point for Readers of Acheron, and it’s central theme.  How vital is such a theme to modern day society?

The only advantage to oppressing reading and writing, or any kind of knowledge whatsoever, is to enable enslavement.  That’s it.  I wish people would consider that when various groups toss around ideas as to what concepts should or shouldn’t be taught in public schools. What’s even more funny is when people claim they want to keep you ignorant because “it’s in your best interests.”  I’ve had a lot of experience with people who always screamed and yelled about how many favors they did to for me and how grateful I should be.  Here’s a tip for life: people who are really doing you favors, don’t bash you in the face with it every two seconds.

Has music ever inspired a scene or story for you, and do you write with music in the background?

I don’t actually.  I have never listened to music a whole lot.  I’ll listen to the first chorus or so, then I start drifting off into dreamland and hours pass buy.  I once did a two hour drive and only noticed at the very end that my tape (I’m old) was jammed and I was blasting crackling tape hiss at myself.  If I want to pay attention to what’s coming out of the speakers, I put in a foreign language tape.

Anything coming out in the near future?

I have a humorous travel memoir that’s been primed to launch for about a year.  That could be coming out in two months, or it might be another year.  We’ll see.  I should be finishing up the second volume of “Slaves of Erafor” before the end of the year.  I assume we’ll see a January 2015 release on that.  It’s going along well, but you never know, the bottom might fall out.  Also Harren is re-releasing my first novel with Rhemalda, “The Bone Sword” soon.  The original publication date for that was May 15, 2014, so you see how that’s going.  But I expect it to come out within a month or so.

 

Where on the Internet can you be found?

HeroicFantasyWriters.com is good.  As I mentioned before, sign up for the email feed and I’ll send out notices when I’m looking for reviewers.  I do a lot of free books since I always like to launch a book with 30-50 reviews on Amazon.  You can also find me at Facebook here (https://www.facebook.com/wrhein), or just send me a good old fashioned email: walterrhein@gmail.com

 

Thanks for having me!

June 3, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse Review—The Reader of Acheron (Book I in the Slaves of Erefor Series) by Walter Rhein

13 12 26 New Full Spread Cover Wrap WRImagine a future where technology and knowledge has been lost, reading and writing is forbidden, and slavery has become common. That is the world of Erefor in Walter Rhein’s novel, The Reader of Acheron.

Rhein paints a grim world of physical and mental oppression through the eyes of the two main protagonists: Kikkan, an escaped slave; and Quillion, a freelance mercenary who has secretly taught himself to read. They soon find themselves caught in between a political struggle between those who wish to bring knowledge and enlightenment back into the world and to end slavery, and those who seek to keep such knowledge in the hands of an elite few. Rhein brings multiple dimensions and depth to all the important characters and even to a few not-so-important ones, and he has dialogue mastered so well that most times speaker attributions aren’t even required to know who is saying what.

While a couple subplots are left open for later books in the series, the main plot of this book, and its twists, are wrapped up neatly. It was an enjoyable read from start to finish, and I didn’t want to put it down…nor wait for the sequel.

Best to read while listening to: The soundtrack to Braveheart with a dash of the Resident Evil soundtrack.

June 2, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments