Category Archives: Interviews

Subreddits That I Love

The Reddit Logo. It is orange and has a smiling alien face in it.

Thank you to Iniverse for giving me the idea for this response post. Go read about the subreddits this blogger enjoys before continuing on here.

Reddit is a site filled with a massive series of message boards on every topic you can imagine and then some. Each topic is separated into its own page there in something called a subreddit.

Today I will follow in Iniverse’s footsteps and share some of my favourite subreddits from that site that fit into the scope of this blog. All of the links in this post are safe to browse at work or if you have a small child looking over your shoulder, but do be warned that this isn’t true for every subreddit out there!

Fitness and Health Subreddits

woman using ab rollerr/1500isplenty

A well-balanced diet can make it easier to reach many different fitness and health goals. This sub is filled with (generally) healthy recipes and support for anyone who is trying to live a healthier lifestyle. There is also r/1200isplentyr/1800isplenty, and r/cico for people with different calorie goals for each day.

r/bodyweightfitness

Who says you have to go to the gym or own fitness equipment to grow stronger? This subreddit contains countless exercise routines that use nothing but your own body weight for strength training.

r/Dance

Am I a great dancer? Not yet, but who says you have to be the best at something in order to enjoy it?! Dancing is for everyone and anyone who enjoys it.

r/EatCheapAndHealthy

The title says it all. I’m always striving to eat well while keeping my grocery budget trimmed down.

r/xxfitness

This is a fitness sub specifically for and by women. Unfortunately, some of the biggest fitness subs are not always welcoming to us. While I read many of them, I’m cautious about which ones I comment on and recommend in general.

r/Yoga

I do a lot of lurking here.

Mindfulness and Meditation Subreddits

 woman closing her eyes while sitting on a couchr/Meditation

r/Mindfulness

These two are self-explanatory, I think.

r/RelaxingGifs

This can be a wonderful resource when I need something visual to focus on. All of these gifs are quiet and soothing enough to calm my mind down enough for a more traditional meditation session.

r/Stoicism

The themes of acceptance and adaptability in Stoicism remind me a lot of mindfulness and meditation.

 

Speculative Fiction Subreddits

A wizard walking down stone steps in an abandoned stone castle covered in vines that's next to a massive mountaing range.r/AskFantasy

r/AskScienceFiction

These subreddits are fantastic for everything from geeking out over your favourite speculative fiction  stories to asking any manner of questions about anything related to these genres.

r/HorrorLit

This is the best horror subreddit I’ve found so far. The commenters there are well-versed in this genre and pretty friendly to newcomers from what I’ve observed.

r/ImaginaryFairytales

Anyone who reads or writes fairy tales should see the beautiful imagery on this subreddit.

r/ScifiConcepts

Here is a slightly more cerebral and writing-focused version of AskScienceFiction. Both readers and writers are welcome, but be prepared to do a lot of critical thinking.

Writing Subreddits

high angle photo of woman writing in a notebookr/AbandonedPorn

I promise this link is safe for your boss, child, or pet to see if they walk past your screen. It’s fascinating to observe how buildings change after humans stop using them and nature begins to take over.

This is excellent source material for anyone writing about ancient ruins, abandoned cities, and the like.

r/AskARace

There are many other AskA subreddits out there for various countries, continents, and minority groups if you need more advice while writing characters who are different from you in some way.  I picked this one specifically because it has such a diverse and knowledgable set of users.

r/CemeteryPorn

You can learn so much about previous generations by paying attention to how they buried and commemorated their dead. I adore looking at tombstones and photos of tombstones.

r/OldSchoolCool

Most of these photos were taken between the 1940s and 1980s, give or take a few decades. They can be a good reference for anyone writing about the 1900s who wants to get their fashion and hairstyles right.

r/WritingPrompts

Endless free ideas are here for the taking if you need some inspiration.

r/WritingLGBT

This is a good place to discuss writing LGBT+ characters and finding books featuring these characters. There are also plenty of LGBT+ authors poking around there, too, if you’re one of us and want to make some new friends.

 

What are your favourite subreddits?

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 Matthew Kagle

Photo of the right half of author Matthew Kagle's face.Say hello to Matthew! He signed up for  my speculative fiction interview post last week, and I’m thrilled to share his witty answers with all of my readers today. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

Green Eggs and Ham. It’s a powerful dystopian novel about the dangers of factory farming and not maintaining public transportation.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

J. Michael Straczynski. I’m reasonably sure I’m going to like whatever of his I pick up.

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

Science fiction/fantasy lets me look outside of reality. I read a mainstream book once and disdainfully thought “But this could have actually happened!”

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

The idea that a genre is a narrow, easily-defined thing is laughable. Science fiction stories often have psychic powers. Fantasy novels sometimes add elements of technology. You change a few words, and you can swap genres.  For example:
It was dark. I saw an [ALIEN/DRAGON/DEMON/EX-GIRLFRIEND]. I attacked it with my [BLASTER/SWORD/PENKNIFE/CHARM]. It howled with rage and retreated. I raised my [FORCE FIELD/SHIELD/BROKEN BODY/LONELINESS] in triumph.

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

I’ve named several pets after characters. I named one pet Lily after the Harry Potter character and another after an obscure comic character named Winslow.

Logo for Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. The title is written in a fancy script against a plain, white background.What fictional world would you never want to visit?

The Buffyverse. If you go to high school, you die. If you’re one of Buffy’s friends, you die. If you live in 50 miles of the Hellmouth when they close it, you die. If it’s Tuesday, you die.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

I suppose Star Trek. Morality is nearly universal. The good guys almost always win. Every race is sexually compatible.

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?

It’s hard not to share them because it’s damned fun to talk about the things that enthuse you. If there was some way to put a filter on my browser to avoid spoilers until I was ready, I’d love it.

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

My first novel would make a killer non-linear web series…
Other than that, I’d like to see a Demolished Man 4D show that uses touch, feel and smell to represent psychic powers.

Book cover for My Dinner with Andre by Wallace Shaw. It shows two men sitting at a restaurant table having a conversation.Which TV show or film do you think should be turned into a book?

That’s tough, because I can’t think of any examples of novelizations turning out well. My Dinner with Andre, maybe?

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

I’ve gotten a lot of story ideas from vivid nightmares.

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?

Not really. Sometimes I choose to develop a character further, and I end up taking him or her somewhere new.

What is your favourite trope?

Villains turning into heroes and vice versa.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

Shrinking. Swapped bodies. Deus ex machina. Mistaken identities. Prophecy/destiny. Meet cute. Manic pixie dreamgirl.

About Matthew: Matthew Kagle was born in 1972 and raised by his grandparents after his parents died in a car crash.

He graduated from University of Amherst with degrees in philosophy and comparative literature; then studied at the School of Hard Knocks.

He currently lives in Baltimore with his beagle, Melchior, and mountains of student loans.

Matthew can be found on Twitter and his website.

His most recent books include The Loom of Sorrows and A Thousand Secret Sorrows.

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? A graphic novel about a werewolf: Tetfol, by the Belgian artist Eric. I was six years old and marked as… Read More

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 Tammy Schoch

My mother has decided she wants to be interviewed, so say hello to Tammy Schoch! This is so cool. If you’d like to join in on the fun as well, go check out all of the details on my speculative fiction interview post.  What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading? Back in… Read More