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.