Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

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.



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 and my blog at


Lillian Csernica

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,, 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


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