Altered States is a cyberpunk anthology whose stories broaden the horizon of what is usually thought of as subgenre with tight borders. The fifteen stories inside range from the well-defined tropes, to the experimental, to everything in between. Nine are reprints, and six are original to this anthology. My particular favorites were:
“Living in the Singularity” by Tom Borthwick: the plot twist was somewhat expected but fit the story well.
“Ex Machina” by Cynthia Ward: combines hacking with psychology and explores the concept of collective consciousness. I didn’t expect this plot twist at all, and it made for a great ending.
“Extra Credit” by Paul Levinson: combines cyberpunk with parallel worlds. As always, Levinson weaves a great tale from start to finish.
“Attention Whore” by Kerry G.S. Lipp: the most interesting story in the antho. I found it to be just as relatable to modern day as it is to a near-future cyberpunk setting…and the story gave me chills.
Altered States is a great anthology to add to your collection whether you prefer cyberpunk specifically or science fiction in general. I highly recommend it.
Best to read while listening to: the soundtracks to Blade Runner and Johnny Mnemonic. Also throw some Atari Teenage Riot into the mix.
Today at the table are SH Roddey, Steven S. Long, Steven Grassie, and Laura Anne Ewald. Enjoy! J
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.
Tonight sitting at the table are Essel Pratt, Frank Creed, Nick Bryan, and Renee Carter Hall. Enjoy!
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.
Editor: Scott Sandridge
Featured Book Release: Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions
June 16 to June 25 , 2014
About 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.
Book 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”
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
I first heard of Maurice Broaddus back in 2005 and had read a couple of his stories. I had always planned on interviewing him for SpecMusicMuse back in the day when it was its own blog, even before it had its temporary stint as a column for the Double-Edged Publishing family of webzines. But I had always found myself busy: busy interviewing someone else, busy writing reviews, busy writing short stories, busy editing Fear & Trembling (in which a story of his appeared in), or just plain busy….
Screw that. The truth is I have a bad habit of putting things off until the last minute. That, and I’m shy.
Also, I wanted to make sure that when I did interview him, I did it right, that I didn’t end up asking stupid questions like “What’s it like being a black author” and other similarly pointless questions (seriously, that’d be like asking me “What’s it like being a writer who’s a quarter Cherokee?” How the hell do you really answer a question like that?).
So I lolligagged, and I lolligagged, until finally I approached him at Fandom Fest, while drunker than a hobo party crasher, and popped the question. And no, it wasn’t “Will you marry me?” 1) He’s already married (sorry girls), and 2) I’m not gay, but if I were, Johnny Depp would be the only man for me.
But then again, I was drunk, so who knows what the hell I said that night.
Nobody tell me. I’d rather not know.
So, without further ado, here’s the interview:
What intrigues you the most about dark fiction?
Dark fiction is the most honest of genres. In a lot of ways it speaks to what people feel is most true about humanity and about our experience in life. After all, pain is the most common human denominator.
How has faith affected your writing, personally, spiritually, and genre-wise? And vise versa?
That’s a big question requiring the space of an article. I can give you one example so that I don’t end up taking up all the space of this column. One way that faith has impacted my writing is that it affects some of the things I choose to write about. A lot of my stories begin with issues of faith. The Knights of Breton Court series sprang from my volunteer work I did with the ministry Outreach Inc which works with homeless teens. All of my projects with my co-conspirator Wrath James White, including the novel project we’re currently working on, begin with some argument we have about the nature of faith or God.
The flip side to that is that it’s through my writing that I wrestle with some of the deeper issues of faith, the questions that don’t really have answers. Sometimes story is the only way to meditate on those issues. Also, I have found that the exercise of getting into other people’s heads, writing from perspectives that differ from mine, helps me to empathize with people all the more.
Considering how rapid technological advances have gotten, how much has the publishing industry changed since you first started? What parts have remained the same?
Oh man, don’t paint me into old man corner. “You kids and your new-fangled reading devices. In my day all I needed was a book … and a stick. That was all the entertainment that we needed!”
Just about everything about the industry has changed in the little over a decade that I’ve been writing. From how I submit stories (I haven’t had to go to the post office in a while to mail a story in a while, unless I’m submitting to the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy); to where I send them (there are a lot of great online magazines now). Publishers are re-thinking their models as they try to figure out how to stay in business and readers decide how they want to read their stories.
With the advent of social media and all the focus on writer’s platforms and the like, not to mention the ease of self-publishing, it gets easy to lose sight of the process. Because what hasn’t changed is that you still have to write a good story first.
You’ve edited as well as written. How has being an editor helped you as a writer?
Every writer should have to do duty behind a slush pile at least once. Seriously. You learn the process from the other side of the desk. What an editor sees all the time, in terms of stories and (lack of) professionalism. You develop a more critical editorial eye when you look at your own work, too.
Where do you see the publishing industry going in the next ten years?
If I could predict that, I’d be rich.
Is there any kind of music that you find helpful when it comes to writing?
It depends on what I’m writing. A lot of the time I’m used to tuning out all sound. I have two very rambunctious boys and I’ve had to train myself to ignore their constant arguing.
When I’m brainstorming, I typically listen to something wordless. My go to album is Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Different projects require different music, however. When I was writing the Knights of Breton Court, I listened to a lot of gospel and hip hop to keep me in the mindset I wanted. When I’m working on my steampunk projects, because of the nature of the world I’ve built, I listen to a lot of Parliament Funkadelic and Bob Marley.
Anything coming out soon? And what other demented morsels might be simmering inside the mind of Mr. Sinister, er uh, Mr. Minister, uh, Maurice Broaddus?
The second volume in our dark speculative fiction meets issues of faith series, Dark Faith: Invocations (Apex Books), is about to be released. Also, Angry Robot books is about to release the omnibus edition of the Knights of Breton Court. I have a science fiction novella, I Can Transform You (Apex Books) due around the beginning of the year.
I’m currently working on a middle grade detective novel, a post apocalyptic novel (with Wrath James White) plus that steampunk novel and novella. And be looking for a lot of new stories coming out from me in the next few months.
Maurice Broaddus is an exotic dancer, trained in several forms of martial arts–often referred to as “the ghetto ninja”–and was voted the Indianapolis Dalai Lama. He’s an award winning haberdasher and coined the word “acerbic”. He graduated college at age 14 and high school at age 16. Not only is he credited with inventing the question mark, he unsuccessfully tried to launch a new number between seven and eight.
When not editing or writing, he is a champion curler and often impersonates Jack Bauer, but only in a French accent. He raises free range jackalopes with his wife and two sons … when they are not solving murder mysteries.
The way he sees is, as a fiction writer, he’s a professional liar. His dark fiction has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and web sites, most recently including Dark Dreams II&III, Apex Magazine, Black Static, and Weird Tales Magazine. He has two novellas, Orgy of Souls (co-written with Wrath James White, Apex Books) and Devil’s Marionette (Shroud Books), and edited the anthology Dark Faith (with Jerry L. Gordon, Apex Books). His novel series, The Knights of Breton Court (Angry Robot/HarperCollins UK) debuts in 2010. Visit his site so he can bore you with details of all things him at www.MauriceBroaddus.com.
The uber-awesome folks at Pill Hill Press have decided to offer a special treat for you this October.
Fem-Fangs (An Anthology) (On Sale Through Halloween–Cover Price $19.99)
Edited by Ty Schwamberger & Jessy Marie Roberts
Though people have been exploring the legend of the vampire for hundreds of years, the female vampire has been largely overlooked…until now.
Pill Hill Press proudly presents FEM-FANGS, a collection of short stories focused on fanged girls of the night with a taste for human blood and a penchant for power, seduction and terror.
Find your favorite turtleneck and sink your teeth into this monster of a collection. You’re in store for some long, dark nights filled with beautiful, hungry creatures. Don’t cry when you find yourself with two perfectly round puncture wounds on your neck…because you’ve been warned.
(Psst! You’ll find my story, “Deidre’s Folly,” in it).
Here they come! The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death courtesy of Pill Hill Press:
“A thrilling anthology of twenty-five short stories inspired by the themes of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War, Famine and Death. Authors in this volume include: Camille Alexa, Jason Toupence, Scott M. Sandridge, Megan R. Engelhardt, Alethea Kontis, Matthew Dent, Carla Joinson, Jessy Marie Roberts, Jonathan Shipley, Will Morton, Bill Ward, Christopher Heath, Alva J. Roberts, Jamie Eyberg, Laura Eno, Kat Heckenbach, Kelli A. Wilkins, AR Norris, John H. Dromey, Scott Taylor, Jacob Henry Orloff, Marie Croke, Marshall Payne, L.E. Erickson & Nye Joell Hardy.”
So head over to Amazon.com and get your copy today!
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…but overall it was fun, fun, fun.
Day 1 – Fun in the Rain
2:30 P.M. – 4: P.M.: During my bus ride there, I get rained on…twice. Worse, all my pretty display books I had in my makeshift backpack ended up waterlogged. Fortunately, my books for the autograph signing were protected by the cardboard boxes I kept them in. While the boxes got a little wet around the edges, those books remained nice and dry.
7 P.M-11 P.M..: Opening ceremonies were cool. Clemmons is always a blast. Soon after eating some grub, I went immediately to my first of many panels for the weekend—Writing Fantasy, with Sandy Lender, Cinda Williams Chima, Tina Morgan, and Timothy Mulcahy. And yes, I’m using the booklet thingy to remember all the names again (for the most part). That panel went quite well, and yes, I brought along my Ancient Pagan Symbols by Elisabeth Goldsmith book (which didn’t get as wet as the others did) to make my usual points with, and pimped out The Silverblade Prophecy podcast novel.
After that, I went to listen to the Trusting Your Reader panel with Jason Sanford, Holly Sullivan McClure, Tina Morgan, Ty Schwamberger, and Michael D’Ambrosio. I’ve interviewed Ty before, but this is the first time we got to meet face-to-face. He’s even cooler a dude in person than he is online. I ran into Holly when I had first arrived, and we got to chat a bit before the convention started. We have three things in common: we’re both Christian, we both tend toward Gnosticism (just not the commonly known whacked out version of it), and we both know all about the NAU and Amero plans (Heh, and some people still say that’s “just a conspiracy theory”).
I also met Lucy Snyder before the convention and chatted a bit with Nick Winks and a couple other people.
Then I had my second panel for the night—What’s a Monster? with McClure, Lender, and um somebody with the last name of Arceneaux (the full name’s not in the booklet, and there’s a whole lotta’ Arceneaux’s on Google—ay, yi, yi, me and my poor little brain…). Naturally, during the panel, I gave out the definition of “Human” in Black’s Law Dictionary: “See ‘Monster’. Yeah, people got a kick out of it.
Then to the Apex Party….
I don’t remember a whole lot, but I do remember a couple things: I met a bunch of folk whose names completely escape me (you know who you are, so feel free to give a shout out in the comments section to help jog my shoddy memory) as well as hung out with Maurice Broaddus, Ty, and a few others. The party got broken up by security, so of course a few of us continued the party in other parts of the hotel. Ty’s girlfriend was nice enough to give me cigarettes.
And I don’t recall passing out three times. I only remember passing out once…and waking up on a floor in a hotel room with a hangover. Two guys who I also met at last year’s Context were nice enough to let me crash in their room. I’m trying to remember their names—WARNING, WARNING, BRAIN CELL OVERLOAD!!!—ugh, I hate my brain. Give a shout out, guys, you know who you are, and I do too…well, everything except the names. Man, I suck at names.
Day 2 – The Panel Marathon
A word to the wise: never ever do 6+ hours of back-to-back panels, readings, and autograph sessions with a hangover. It no feel good. Especially with eggs and bacon for breakfast.
I did my Best Books panel at 10 A.M. with Nick Winks, Mark Evans, and Dave Creek. I think I did well. I think…. After that was my reading. Alas, nobody showed. It might be a good thing, though, considering how reading with a hangover feels like.
Then came the two-hour autograph session. Alas, I didn’t sell one single book. However, later, Nick bought a copy off me and officially became my first autographee. And after he read my story, he started telling people how cool my story was. 🙂
Next came the 1 1/2 hour Education of a Writer panel. And no, I can’t remember who all I was with. There was, like, over twenty of us on it. Clemmons and the writer GOH’s were obviously there, as was Creek (I think), Lender, and Jackie Gamber. Way too many names for my poor wee brain to remember, even with a booklet thingy.
At 4 P.M. I went and got some grub at the Chinese restaurant across the street. Alas, poor airhead me was unable to find the Consuite with all the free grub until the third day. I then went and checked out the Editors, Publishers, and Agents… panel with Jason Sizemore, Lucy A. Snyder, Lawrence C. Connolly, Michael Knost, Dave Creek, and Mike Resnick. Resnick was his usual curmudgeony self, but dang, that guy knows his stuff!
At 5, I was on the Why Write About Freedom? panel with, Marian Allen, Sara Deuerell, Dennise Verrico, and Dan Gamber. Um, actually, Tobias Buckell was supposed to be on the panel, too, but he got sick and had to leave. The only name that’s familiar to me is Gamber, I thought the female was actually Lender, and there was this older guy (a Libertarian, like me) whose name currently escapes me. Overall, it was a cool panel, and I got to coin the phrase “Freedom is spelled G.U.N.S. Ampersand A.M.M.O”.
Sigh. Now, if only I could have that on a coin—preferably a gold or silver one.
Immediately after that panel, I managed to crawl over and participate on Putting the Science in Science Fiction with Santora, Catherine Asaro, Creek, D’Ambrosio, and Mulcahy. What with all those degrees around me and me being a high school dropout, I was bursting brain cells just to try not to sound stupid. I think I managed. Asaro, being both a hotty and a Quantum Physicist pretty much rocked that panel.
Of course, someone just had to ask us what education and degrees we had. Figures….
After that panel, I went and got some grub at the Mexican restaraunt. Oh boy, their hot sauce is HOT! Worse, it’s even hotter coming out than it was going in.
Ugh! Certain parts of my body still burn just from the memory.
Then I did my 8 PM panel, The Prose of Gaming, with James Daniel Ross. What with the combination of a hangover, queasy stomach, super-paneling brain drain, bursted brain cells, and hot sauce trauma, I was more than happy to let Ross do most of the talking to our one guest. Besides, he’s a good orator.
I skipped the 9 P.M. panels and went straight to the Meadowhawk Press and Shroud parties. And no, I did not get drunk this time! I ingeniously figured out the perfect caffeine-to-alchohol ratio in order to consume mass quantities of both caffeine and alchohol while remaining completely sober.
And, no, I did not fall on my arse trying to break dance; my Evil Twin tripped me.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
Day 3 – A Sun, Sunny Day
I managed to wake up in time to do my 10 A. M. panel, Keeping The Faith, with Jason Sanford, Aceneaux, Creek, Asaro (a.k.a. Hottie Quantum Physicist), Wyatt, and S. A. Swann. I was definitely in my element on that panel and also flashed the handy-dandy Ancient Pagan Symbols book. What can I say? I love that book. It’s a major eye-opener when it comes to symbolic literacy.
Then I was on to Since When Can I Understand the Troll Speaking? with Stephen Zimmer and Sandy Lender. That panel was small enough to turn into a round-table discussion, and Linda Winks was there with one or two others. It’s also officially the first panel I ever moderated (Yay!). Naturally, since a troll appears in The Silverblade Prophecy, I got to plug the podcast novel yet again (Yippee!).
At Noon I got to listen in on Gender Issues in Writing and Publishing and did my last panel at 1 P.M.: Translations, with Maura Heaphy and Stephen Zimmer, which was all about translating books into movies, music into stories, etc. Eventually, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen popped up in the discussion which allowed me the opportunity to coin yet another new phrase: “Jesus Christ Has Chrome!!!”
Erm, in order to understand that, you’ll have to see the movie. I’ll give you three hints, though: Optimus Prime, the “Three Kings”, and a certain “star” in the east. 😉
Seriously, all that is in the movie.
Tended the closing ceremonies, got applauded for doing the most number of panels at this year’s Context, met new folks, made new friends (even if I can’t remember all their names), and ate out at a bar & grill with the fine folks at Meadowhawk Press and Shroud Publishing.
All-in-all, it was fun—despite the water-logged books.