Tag Archives: Interviews

An Exclusive Interview with Autumn

About six months ago, I sat down with spring to discuss what it feels like to be that season of the year. Today, I’ll be chatting with autumn, and I hope to eventually get ahold of winter and summer, too!

Lydia: Welcome, autumn. I’m glad you were able to make it.

Autumn: Thank you. Was I on time this year? What has spring been saying about me?

Lydia: You showed up exactly when I expected you would. Spring was curious about your work, but she mentioned that your opposite schedules make it impossible for you to meet.  When, exactly, did you wake up this year?

Autumn: It’s hard to say. Summer and I like to trade duties in September, so I had a few short naps while we were in that transitional phase.

Lydia: How is your relationship with Summer in general?

Autumn: Excellent. We both have serious personalities and strong work ethics, so I always enjoy taking over their last few projects of the year. Usually, I need sprinkle some rain and sunlight in that general direction and allow the plants to do the rest.

Lydia: That sounds easy.

Autumn: Well, not so much easy as it is predictable. As long as all of the other seasons have done their part, the process is fairly simple, but it does still require close attention to make sure everything ripens the way it should and everyone is set for the winter. That season can be a harsh one, so I try to make this transition as gentle as possible.

Lydia: I understand. How often do you run into problems with your line of work?

Autumn: Lately, it’s been growing more difficult. My department has noticed warmer temperatures and an increase in violent storms over the last century. We do have some tricks up our sleeves for dealing with unexpected weather, but problems in one season can bleed into the next if we’re not careful.

Lydia: What sort of problems? Also, I didn’t realize each season had their own department! How does that work?

Autumn: Well, too much or too little rain in one season can make it difficult for the plants to grow properly. An unseasonably warm autumn or winter might sound like a nice idea if you live in a cold climate, but those mild temperatures can lead to a higher percentage of insects surviving the winter. Those insects and their descendants may then eat more plants than be replaced that next summer or drain the life out of caribou. It’s a real mess.

As far as our departments go, I have several people on staff who keep track of things while we’re asleep. Summer has about the same number that I do. Winter and spring mostly work alone as far as I know.  My support staff have their own hibernation cycles, so sometimes I do see new faces when I wake up. But they all help us communicate with the seasons we spend little to no time with, and that’s always appreciated.

Lydia: Wow, that is so interesting. I didn’t realize that at least some of the seasons were run by multiple folks.

Autumn: Yes, I’m very lucky. I have no idea how winter does it alone!

Lydia: Not to change the subject, but I do have a few questions about the holidays that are celebrated while you’re in charge. What do you think of them? Do you have any favourites?

Autumn: I hadn’t really thought about that! Most of the time, that stuff is managed by the Department of Human Affairs. It varies so much from one culture to the next that my work only occasionally brushes up against that topic. I will say that I appreciate any human festivity that involves going out into nature and enjoying the change of seasons.

Lydia: That’s wonderful to hear. Would you like to leave my readers with any parting words?

Autumn: Yes, watch out for winter. He’ll be here before you know it, and he might have a few tricks up his sleeves!

 

 

Interview with Joy V. Spicer

Say hello to Joy V. Spicer ! Last week I reviewed her most recent book, and now she’s the latest person to respond to my call for speculative fiction interview participants. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

‘The Enchanted Wood’. It had a huge tree called the Faraway Tree which reached up into the clouds. All sorts of magical folk lived in the tree and right at the top, different lands would cycle through, stopping for about a week, if I remember correctly, before moving on. If you were visiting any of those lands, you’d have to make sure you left in time or be stuck on it forever.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

I don’t really have one favourite, but if its measured by the number of books I have for any one author, then it would have to be Stephen King.

What do you like most about the genre(s) you read?

My go-to genre has always been fantasy, but I also read other genres, including horror, historical fiction, thrillers and westerns. I love the worldbuilding when done well, believable characters I can relate to, and beautiful wordplay. With horror, I much prefer subtle scares, the kind that leaves you unsettled for days afterwards, like ‘The Woman in Black’, and where the story is set somewhere so ordinary, you wouldn’t expect to find anything horrifying.

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

It’s an interesting one, with great potential but, again, only if it’s done well.

If you could name a pet after one character, which character would you choose? Why?

My sons named their rabbits Sonic (she was fast!) and Wolverine (dopey bunny did not live up to that name). The first cats we had were named Cinder and Ashe, after a couple of comic book characters. The cats we have now aren’t named after characters. If I had a horse (wishing, hoping), I’d choose Elessar, Aragorn’s royal name; I love the way it feels when it’s said.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

The Walking Dead! With zero survival skills, I’d have been eaten on day one!

What fictional world would you want to visit?

Middle Earth. I’d divide my time between Rivendell for its ethereal beauty and zen-like atmosphere, and Hobbiton for the food and to spend time in a hobbit-hole.

Book cover for The Vagrant by Peter NewmanSharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

This is more for films/shows than books. I’m not a big fan, especially when no warning is given. I don’t even watch more than one trailer for a film. But if a film/show has been out for a while and I haven’t watched it yet, the onus is on me to steer clear; near-impossible with social media being so immediate.

Which series do you think should be made into a TV show or film next?

I’m always wary of books being made into films. If I had to choose, I’d say ‘The Vagrant’, but only the first book in the trilogy, which I enjoyed immensely. Sadly, the second book did nothing for me, which meant I didn’t even bother with the third.

Which TV show or film do you think should be turned into a book?

‘Grimm’. I enjoyed the series so much. I think turning that into a book series would give more scope to go deeper in exploring the characters and lore than the medium of TV allowed.

Bonus Questions

Book cover for Joy V. Spicer's The Spellbound Spindle. There are roses entwined with the wordsWhat is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

After I’d written my first book, I was convinced I didn’t have another book in me, so when the idea for my second book just popped into my head, it literally stopped me in my tracks. My subsequent projects are fairy tale retellings, like my third book, ‘The Spellbound Spindle’. I research (my most favourite part of writing!) the different variations of the tale, pick out key points then work on giving it a fresh twist.

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

That’s something I’ve not experienced until now. Ready to start my next book, or so I thought, but I was really struggling. Until I realised this morning, the characters ‘want’ their status to be different! It is a strange feeling, realising the writer isn’t actually the omnipotent creator she thought she was.

What is your favourite trope?

To quote Stephen King, “ordinary people dealing with extraordinary situations”.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

Love triangles and insta-love. I’m positive love triangles don’t happen as often in real life as they seem to do in YA novels.

Photo of author Joy V. Spicer. She is smiling in it. About JoyOriginally from Malaysia, I’ve lived more than half my life in the UK. I started writing as a way to alleviate the boredom of work, hiding my notebook by the till, before realising how much I enjoy creating stories. My two sons still live with me and they make me proud and inspire me (sometimes make me jealous!) with their prodigious imaginations.

You can read more from me on Twitter and my blog

Interview with Laurie Boris

Say hello to Laurie Boris! She responded to my call for speculative fiction interview participants last week after someone I follow on Twitter let her know about it. I hope you all enjoy reading her responses and getting to know her as much as I did. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. It was fascinating, and so different from the rest of the stories I was reading at the time. 

Who is your favourite author? Why?

That’s always such a difficult question. But in this area, I’d choose Margaret Atwood, not just for The Handmaid’s Tale but for her underrated and underappreciated treasures like Oryx and Crake. I love her imagination and foresight.

What is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

“What if?” is my usual starting point. The Kitchen Brigade began with a flash fiction story I wrote as a writing exercise for JD Mader’s 2-Minutes-Go, about a group of kitchen slaves plotting to poison their captors. Then that blended with a what-if mashup of Russia’s suspected role in cyberattacks against Crimea and how George Washington’s spies were able to transmit their intelligence. What if the US was attacked and had to live without the electronics and connectivity upon which we’d grown so dependent? And I went off from there.

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

I love it! I don’t know if that’s because I personally like blending and changing genres, but I like the creativity coming out of the cross-genre work, especially among indie authors.

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

I try not to make my characters do things that aren’t organic to them. In my experience, forcing a character into anything almost always backfires and almost always results in the motivations sounding false.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

I have absolutely no desire to visit the world of The Hunger Games. May the odds ever be in your favor.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

Dune. Just so I could see a sandworm. I read the original books while commuting on Boston’s Green Line, and the creaky subway cars coming out of their tunnels always made me think of sandworms.

Sharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

Ack! Warn me first! Seriously, you can’t stop people from talking or sharing, but if a book or movie has been out for a while, it’s on me if I see/hear a spoiler.

What is your favourite trope?

I’m fascinated by human nature and how we learn/don’t learn how to interact with people different from ourselves, and what results from that. I like to see a broken character seeking redemption in nearly any book I read or write, and this crosses over to my preferences in speculative and science fiction. I’m drawn to first contacts, countries occupied during wars, and how humans cope with losing their power or status. Like nearly all schoolchildren in America, I was introduced to Brave New World and 1984, and while the bleak ending of 1984 infuriated me (spoiler alert! ☺ ) I like the trope of the one meek person who figures out what’s going on then tries to destroy the system.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

Because others have done it so well (and I do like reading them), I’m not interested in writing about pandemics or post-nuclear apocalypses. Let them have at it!

About Laurie: Laurie Boris has been writing fiction for thirty years and is the award-winning author of eight novels. When she’s not hanging out with the imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, reading, and avoiding housework.

You can learn more about her on Twitter, Facebook, her Amazon author page, and her website

Interview with M.H. Thaung

Say hello to M.H.! She responded to my call for speculative fiction interview participants last week, and I’m excited to share her answers with you today. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge. I’m really showing my age here – must have been about six at the time. A year or two after that, my parents took me somewhere on the train without a ticket (in those days, under-5s travelled for free), but the ticket inspector caught me reading Alice in Wonderland.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

Oof, that’s a tough decision. I’d say Terry Pratchett overall since he wrote so many books, and I can pick one that matches my reading mood. I enjoy him not so much for his humour, but because of his insight into how people behave. All his people are believable people, as well as being vampires, trolls and so on. Roger Zelazny is also high on my fantasy author list. In contrast to Pratchett, it’s because his larger than life characters appeal to me.

What do you like most about the genre(s) you read?

I dip into various speculative genres – SF (on the soft side), alternate history, urban fantasy, low fantasy. There are common aspects to all of them. I like seeing the knock-on effects of whatever is different in that world taken to some logical conclusion. That is, “the different thing” isn’t just cosmetic – it affects the story.

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

It’s not always easy to place a book into a genre (I have this problem with my own writing). I like the idea of experimenting – a bit like fusion restaurants – but you’d need to try a specific combination before deciding if you liked it or not. Something to save for when you’re feeling adventurous, maybe. Given how many books are available, there’s scope for all tastes to be catered to, whether meat and two veg or a combination of eclectic ingredients from five continents. Ok, I’ll stop with the food comparisons now!

If you could name a pet after one character, which character would you choose? Why?

If I had a pet, I might call it Esme (Weatherwax). Why? So I could talk to it and imagine it giving me pithy, unsentimental advice on life in return.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

Arrakis. Doesn’t seem like a friendly place at all!

What fictional world would you want to visit?

Assuming personal safety wasn’t an issue, I’d like to explore the world of Alan Dean Foster’s Journeys of the Catechist series. It wasn’t the most interesting story I’ve ever read (and I’m sure it’s horribly dated by now), but my curiosity was sparked by the different locations the adventurers pass through.

Sharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

I don’t share spoilers since 1. it annoys some people, 2. it feels like there’s little point in talking about a book if your conversation partner hasn’t read it already and 3. I know very few people in real life with similar reading interests to mine. However, I’m not bothered by overhearing spoilers. This might be partly because I only read: I don’t watch TV or films, and it feels like books prompt less discussion in general.

Bonus Questions

What is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

I don’t think any of my story ideas have had unusual sources of inspiration. Random generators are pretty helpful – cards and lists that you might use in RPGs or collaborative storytelling.

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

I love it when my characters start wanting to do their own thing, but I still tell them I’m in charge. It’s not always that easy! There was one specific incident when I was writing A Quiet Rebellion: Posterity. It’s the final book in my trilogy, so I knew the characters pretty well by that point. One character woke me up and told me she was going to kidnap another character. It complicated the plot wonderfully, and (I hope) got me out of a mid-story slump.

What is your favourite trope?

Not exactly a trope, but I love dramatic irony and my characters (most of whom are supposed to be on the same side) getting in each other’s way, with the best of intentions.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

I’m not terribly keen on grand, pre-ordained fates or saving the world. My characters might want to save their little part of the world, but their concerns are largely personal.

About M.H.: M. H. Thaung is a pathologist working in a laboratory in London, UK. It’s been over ten years since she cut up a dead body. She started writing for fun about four years ago, and since then it’s turned into an obsession—er, major hobby. She recently released A Quiet Rebellion: Posterity, the final book in her SF adventure/mannerpunk trilogy.

Website.

Twitter

Terry Pratchett fans may be particularly interested in M.H.’s interview with Stephen Briggs. 

Interview with Chris Chelser

Say hello to Chris! she’s someone I’ve known on Twitter for ages, so it was wonderful to receive her submission for my speculative fiction interview series. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

Tetful by Eric

A graphic novel about a werewolf: Tetfol, by the Belgian artist Eric. I was six years old and marked as a paranormal horror fan for life. 

Who is your favourite author? Why?

I don’t really have one. When a story strikes a chord with me, it doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of that author’s work does, too. If ‘favourite’ means ‘most read’, it would be Terry Pratchett, but Michael Crichton, M.N. Seeley, R.H. Hale and Laura Purcell are other authors I greatly admire and whose work I love to read.

What do you like most about the genre(s) you read?

The darkness within ourselves. I’m not interested in monsters roaming the forest/sea/house when they only exist to scare the main characters. I much prefer the ambiguity of psychological horror and the surrealistic imagery when that is mixed with supernatural elements.

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

I’m a fan, both as a reader and as a writer. Genre conventions exist, but in and of themselves, there is only so much you can do with them. Cross-genre stories can mix those conventions to create fresh twists and tweaks that keep the audience captivated.

If you could name a pet after one character, which character would you choose? Why?

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Captain Flint. The pirate, not the parrot! In Treasure Island, Flint is a terrifying shadow whose reach extends beyond the grave, never seen but always present. As a kid, I found that influence more fascinating than Jim Hawkins’ treasure hunt. Then Starz’ TV series Black Sails, which tells the story behind that famed treasure, made Captain Flint one of the most complex, well-rounded and realistic characters ever to appear on screen. 

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

I’d say the future as Orwell’s 1984 describes it, but we’re already in the middle of that…

What fictional world would you want to visit?

Discworld! I feel I’d fit in better there than I do in our society.

Sharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

Personally, I don’t mind spoilers. I try not to share any because I know many people hate them, but to me, a spoiler can convince me to give that story a go. The premise alone may not interest me, but when I already know the plot twist (or even the ending), I get curious to learn how the writer(s) structured the plot and the characters towards that end.

Which series do you think should be made into a TV show or film next?

Several people have told me my Kalbrandt Institute Archives series would make a good TV show, haha! But in all seriousness, the first story that immediately came to mind as great TV series is the graphic novel Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Luckily, more people thought so, and it is currently in production. 

Which TV show or film do you think should be turned into a book?

I’d love to read the novelization of Black Sails! That would be a Game of Thrones-sized series, given that the show has the same intricacy and complexity as an epic novel. Few series have that, so for the most part I’m not a fan of adapting written-for-screen stories to page.

Bonus Questions

What is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

When I create a story, I collect elements that this story needs to tell itself (events, setting, characters, style) and slot them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Most of those jigsaw pieces result from serendipity or plain old research, but some of the more surreal ideas were inspired by psychotic episodes.

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

When it does, it means you’ve done a good job with this character and gave them a unique personality that develops as the story does. A side-effect of this is that you may find that the character’s most likely response to a given situation no longer fits the original plot you devised. So, improvise! 

I hold consistency in high regard, so when a character wants to go left instead of right, I adapt the plot accordingly. This often only requires a brief sidestep before they naturally get back with the program, but sometimes their choices influence the entire main plot. That is why I only set the beginning and the end of a book before I start writing: to make room for the unforeseen developments that spice up a story.

What is your favourite trope?

Brooding, tormented male characters searching for redemption. Not for the purpose of redeeming them, but because recreating the blood, hallucinations and anguish that come with drowning in your own nightmares is a big part of the reason I started writing in the first place. 

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

Romantic subplots. I often find those distracting. My characters aren’t virgins and they do have crushes or longterm relationships, but don’t expect them to fall madly in love with each other. They’ve got bigger fish to fry!

About Chris:

Inspired by first-hand experiences, Chris H. Chelser writes supernatural horror about ghosts, history, and the human soul. She lives in the Netherlands with her family, where the demons under the bed keep her company while she works. Her books include Kalbrandt Institute Archives series, her novel The Devourer, various short stories and the upcoming surrealistic novel The Ship That Tried To Sink Itself.

You can find her on www.chchelser.com and on Twitter: @chrischelser. 

Interview with Leah Wong

Say hello to Leah!  She responded to my call for speculative fiction interview participants a few weeks ago. I hope you all enjoy reading her answers to these questions as much as I did.  What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading? I clearly remember going to my elementary school library and checking out Stephen… Read More

Interview with Berthold Gambrel

Welcome, Berthold! He was the third person to respond to my speculative fiction interview post, and I’m thrilled to share his answers with you today.  What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading? A children’s adaptation of a science fiction story called “The Legion of Space.” The original story (which I’ve never read) is… Read More