Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Richard L Pastore

Welcome, Richard! He was the most recent person to my speculative fiction interview post, and I’m looking forward to sharing his answers with all of you today. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. It was one of the first ‘real’ books I read as a child. Even at that age, I could tell at that point, H.G. didn’t think much of mankind. Even today as I read the news, who could blame him.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

This is the kind of question that will get you a different answer every time you ask me. I have favorite authors for different reasons. So it’s difficult for me to rank one above another. I’ve often mentioned Christopher Moore and Ray Bradbury, but today I think I’ll give a vote for Richard Russo. Whenever I read his books, I experience that common mixture of awe and envy.

He manages to squeeze humor out of everyday people in both subtle and slapstick aspects. That isn’t easy. His books are definitely worth reading for any author looking for examples where character drives humor. And, now that I think of it – I guess they’re not quite under the heading of speculative fiction. Sorry about that.

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

I tend to read fantasy, SciFi, humor, and mystery, especially where the last two are mixed with the first two. I like it when my brain is stimulated, whether it be by challenging my imagination and preconceived notions, or by a clever plot with plausible twists and turns. My selection in entertainment always leans towards escapism. I can be strongly moved by real-life stories, but escapist fare allows me to relax and let down my guards. My mind is more apt to wander along the possibilities of what if?

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

Love it! As I mentioned, mix humor and/or mystery into a SciFi or Fantasy, then lead me to the cash register. I think it’s apt to call it a trend, or better yet a growing trend, since cross-genre stories have been around for quite some time. I immediately think of Isaac Asimov’s Robot Trilogy which featured a human detective learning to work with a robot partner – classic SciFi reflecting on human societal structures. I mentioned Christopher Moore earlier. He can take a mythology, shake it upside down and have you laughing all the way through.

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

I had a cat I named Merlin when I live in Brooklyn. I wasn’t allowed to have pets in our tiny apartment, and I found him when he was a little less than one month old (his mother was hit by a car). So I fed him and gave him a safe place in our small yard. As he grew, he’d have this habit of vanishing for a day or two only to suddenly show up right behind me, much to my surprise and my friends. One of them remarked, I see he’s done his disappearing act again, and so I started calling him Merlin. Two years after, we moved to a house New Jersey and I was allowed to add him to our family. He still did the vanishing thing, and I had to reassure my parents he’d quietly be back in a couple of days.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

Definitely not Westeros, (Easteros or any of the os’s). Way too violent, filthy and oppressive, which is to say, a legitimately and lovingly crafted Medieval world.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

Tough one, but I think I’ll go with Perelandra. CS Lewis’ version of Eden on Venus. If not there, Asimov’s Solaria (The Naked Sun), as I do enjoy solitude and unpopulated spaces.

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’m not a fan of sharing spoilers (at the very least don’t make it the headline). However, there is an unknown point when you wonder, is it okay for me to discuss details now? I personally avoid writing them whenever possible, which means I have to spend more time constructing a review that can provide enough information without giving away key elements.

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

I wouldn’t want to restrict it to series. One substantial book could make a decent season or even two (e.g. The Handmaid’s Tale). Although in the opposite direction, they squeezed the Earthsea books down into one animation. A good animation, but I wasn’t happy. I would have voted for that. It goes without saying “if done correctly”, but I would love to see Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, or even better, Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber. By the way, I heard rumor that his Lord of Light has been optioned.

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

Ooh. The problem with good series is that they don’t often age well during their run. My mind first jumped to Lost, but then I thought, “Well, maybe the first season.”  So then, let’s go with Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, but with an ending that isn’t rushed by sideswiping notice of cancellation.

Bonus Questions

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

There are two predominant ways ideas come to mind. The first is, I start with a broad concept which will bounce around in my brain for days without details. If enough bits of ideas (notably, plot elements) attach to it, I start to think about it more carefully. For instance, the other day I was thinking, “The most popular superhero stories are in an illustrated format: comic books, graphic novels. I wonder what it would be like to write a straight-up superhero novel.” I know there are quite a number out there, so if I also think of an interesting hook for it, I’m going to put it on my “to write” list. The currently book I’m writing falls into this category. I was thinking about one of my favorite Greek Myths and realized it hasn’t, to my knowledge, been done true to the original tale. I then considered if I could write it as a comedy as well, and off I went.

The second way ideas come about, strangely enough, is a bit of dialog pops into my head. Sometimes it’s a few humorous lines, others a discussion on a deep topic (My Dinner with Atilla the Hun?). I then start to think about the characters and circumstances surrounding this, which leads me to explore those characters more. If I like the complexity of characters (a.k.a. dolls, action-figures) I’m developing, I begin to consider setting and potential plots. It’s definitely a bottom-up process, and is the way I wrote my first book.

Gif description: black and white image of a lightbulb turning on. Black lines appear around it to symbolize the light.

 

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?

They know better. It’s their story, so who am I to argue.  Kidding aside, I feel when this happens, it’s your subconscious mind making connections and play-acting on a nonverbal (right-brain?) level, that percolates up to your conscious mind where you realize it does make more sense to go that route.

What is your favourite trope?

The anti-hero. More specifically, the Trickster archetype. Give me a golden-age Bugs Bunny cartoon any day. I’m drawn to Tricksters and love writing their dialog. The best thing, plot-wise, is that they can cause change like the gentle puff of air on a house of cards, or with all the subtlety of a boulder dropped into a koi pond.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

The twist for the sake of a twist. If I’m going to kill off a main character, or a beloved side character, it had better be for a good reason from a storytelling point of view; not as a cheap ploy to shock (yank) the reader. I think Ned Stark in Game of Thrones is a good example of the former. He’s put in the foreground as a main character, but his death both causes a chain of critical events and moves other characters to the foreground.

About Richard

Richard L Pastore is the author of the comedy-fantasy, The Devil and the Wolf (available on Amazon). His newest project is tentatively titled: Perseus Kills His Grandfather.

Born in Brooklyn New York on a sweltering summer’s day. Richard studied Cognitive Psychology in grad school, which led to a career in User Interface Design. He later switched careers to become a Business Analyst. Although having traveled across the U.S. quite a bit, he feels most at home along the eastern shore of these United States, currently residing in New Jersey.

Be forewarned, should you choose to engage him in a conversation regarding anything food-related – whether it be the history of, growing of, or cooking of – he won’t shut up.

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 the 70s when I was in elementary school, I read “A Wrinkle in Time.”  I was mesmerized and smitten from that day forward. I was a little fearful of being discovered to have read it. I felt like I broke a rule or something – and I don’t know why. It was so enticing that it felt like it was too tempting to be good for me.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

It’s a tie between Neal Stephenson and Isaac Asimov. Both are brilliant, verbose, original in their ideas, obsessed with detail, broad in their approach, and can cover thousands of years in one novel.

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

I like the hope that I find in utopian science fiction. I enjoy the surprises that I find in fantasy, like in “Wool,” by Hugh Howey. I like the psychological and sociological aspects that I find in dystopian writings, such as “Earth Abides,” by George R. Stewart. I enjoy the sense of being grounded in millions of years of humanity from reading fictional pre-history, like what I find in “The Clan of the Cave Bear,”  by Jean M. Auel.

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

I don’t think much about genres when I’m enjoying media. My favorite movie ever is “Avatar,”  my favorite TV series ever is “Star Trek,” and my favorite books include “Earth Abides” by George R. Stewart and “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson. Are those mixed genres?

[Lydia’s response: Yes, I could see how those books count as mixed genres!]

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

I would need to name a pet “Data.” He is the first non-human character that really caught my interest as I consumed science fiction.

Gif description: The character Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation is sitting in a chair and petting his cat, Spot.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

I would not want to visit the planet in “Red Mars,” by Kim Stanley Robinson. Way too much confinement in claustrophobic spaces when the planet was first colonized.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

I would want to visit the planet in “Blue Mars,” by Kim Stanley Robinson. Much more hospitable to humans. I’d also enjoy the Mars depicted in “Out of the Silent Planet,” by C. S. Lewis. I’ve always liked the two very different worlds between the civilizations who inhabited the valleys and the mountains. Going any farther from Earth than Mars is just too much for me to consider.

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’ve never been sensitive to spoilers. But I’ve certainly learned, in this age of social media to not be that dreaded person who shares the spoiler.

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

I would love to see Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation Series” made into a movie. “Mara and Dann” by Doris Lessing would also be a great movie.

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

The Netflix series “Glitch” would be interesting as a book. I’m waiting for more storylines from that one.

About: Tammy Schoch is a psychiatric nurse who lives in the United States with her husband. She taught her children to love science fiction, and they taught her the importance of avoiding spoilers on social media.

Other than science fiction, her interests include cycling, astronomy, and the occasionally retweet of interesting archeology articles. Her Twitter username is TammySchoch

Interview with Patrick Prescott

Say hello to Patrick Prescott ! He responded to my speculative fiction interview post shortly after it was published, and I’m so pleased to share his answers with you today. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

It was an anthology by Isaac Asimov called Nine Tomorrows. I was thirteen.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

Just one? Harlan Ellison, JRR Tolkien, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, James A. Michener, Harold Robbins, Jacqueline Suzanne, Anne McCaffery, Colleen McCullagh, Tony Roberts, Tom Clancy, Joseph Badal, I could go on ad infinitum. Why, because they caught my interest and held it. All of them have influenced me and my writing.  

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

I’m eclectic reading all genres. I avoid mad slasher, bloody gory horror, but enjoy ghost stories and stories of suspense. When I get tired of action adventure, I’ll turn to historical romance or love stories, then move on to something else that looks like a good story.

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

The more the merrier. Harlan Ellison wrote in so many genres, yet he was fascinating in all of them. Asimov wrote some of the best historical textbooks out there. He has books that explain science in a lay person vocabulary. McCullagh is known for The Thorn Birds, but her First Man in Rome series greatly influenced my first novel Optimus: Praetorian Guard. Tony Roberts writes the Casca books but has two fantasy series of books that are some of the best ever written, and I’m waiting impatiently for the next book in those series, he also has a contemporary series on a female rock star.

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

I have a fifteen-year-old cat named Pippin after Peregrine Took. I rescued him when the Lord of the Rings movies first came out. He is a “Fool of a Took!”

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

Halloween, Friday the 13th, Whatever world Steven King creates.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

Pern. I want a fire lizard.

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?

There should be a law, punishable by being lashed with a wet noodle for writing anything about the latest episode of GOT until one week has expired from its airing!

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

Dragon Riders of Pern. It’s inexplicable to me that it hasn’t been done. Casca the Eternal Mercenary, now at 50 books. It would great on the History Channel or Sci Fi network. 

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

Nothing comes to mind since most movies based off of a script are turned into a book after the fact. Asimov wrote the book Fantastic Voyage after the movie came out. Fan fiction took off with Star Wars and Star Trek.

Bonus Questions

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

My novel Vander’s Magic Carpet came from a friend who was a physics professor at UNM. He was giving a speech on cold fusion and super conductivity. He asked me to edit the speech, he speculated that super conductors could be used to make flying cars and cold fusion would be cheap means of fuel. I used his idea on making a flying car, discarded cold fusion and focused on how to market flying vehicles after the fall of the Twin Towers in 2001.

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?

Each character has its own stream of consciousness. Go with the flow as the creativity comes. Sometimes the characters can get out of hand and later you have to clean up the mess, but that’s better than an empty page.

What is your favourite trope?

In Human Sacrifices I tried to explain the how belief in God follows two paths. Same god, but the choice between a god of death and destruction of a god of forgiveness and love. Ayn Rand used the same trope in Atlas Shrugged only as a philosophy of life or death.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

A character that is pure evil.

About PatrickI’m a retired English/History educator. When I started writing Optimus: Praetorian Guard I could write over summer breaks but stalled during the school year. It took me ten years. I struck out trying to get a publisher until I found out about Print On Demand. Optimus was published in 2006 using P.M. Prescott. Cost me a fortune buying books and selling them at different bookstores.

I retired a few years later after 27 years of teaching and discovered e-books. I bought the publishing rights and converted Optimus into e-book and started writing full time. I dabbled in adult fiction under the name Javan Tenebrae. Got that out of my system and went to more mainstream as Patrick Prescott: Vander’s Magic Carpet, Human Sacrifices, Fletcher Family Battle Trilogy, Fan Plan Trilogy, Apple of Success, and Cloisonné Heart.

All of the e-books are available on Amazon for free if you have Amazon Unlimited or .99.

In adult e-books Corrupt or Convert was ranked 38th for a week. In mainstream Vander’s Magic Carpet sold more in the UK market than US for some reason. Optimus has been a consistent seller.

Back then e-readers were new and demand for e-books was high, but now there’s a glut on the market of writers and less demand. Many writers are e-publishing a book a week or month. I’m not that prolific.

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 by Jack Williamson, and the children’s adaptation is called “Unleashed in Space” by Alexander Steele.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

Oh, that’s hard! There are too many to choose from. I suppose for an all-time great example of speculative fiction, I’d say George Orwell, for 1984 and Animal Farm. I love both because he found such interesting ways of using fiction to comment on human nature and society as he saw it. For current authors, I’m a big fan of Audrey Driscoll’s reimaginings of Lovecraftian ideas. But there are so many great authors out there, I could never list them all.

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

Well, I read so many, this could be a long list. I love horror that hints at mysterious forces beyond humanity’s conception, and I love science fiction that examines human behavior and examines how societies are shaped. I also enjoy a good mystery where the big twist is that the cause of the trouble is something supernatural or alien. 

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

I love it. Blending genres creates some great concepts. A good example of this is cyberpunk–it began as a hybrid of two genres, hard-boiled noir detective stories and science fiction, that turned into a new genre of its own. 

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

I actually own a cat named “Mighty Cthulhu.” I named him this because my father found him as small kitten, and I thought it was funny to name him after a famous supernatural monster.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

Oh, most of them, really. I’d certainly never want to go to Fantasy-type worlds–Middle-Earth, Westeros, etc. are out for sure. 

What fictional world would you want to visit?

This is tough. Most fictional worlds have some obvious problems/dangers–they have to, because that is what makes for a compelling story, but it also means you’d have to be very brave to go there. But I think I have one book-world I’d like to live in: Sheila Hurst’s Ocean Echoes. I’m not sure if it counts  since it largely takes place in the real world, but with some science-fiction and fantasy elements. It’s a tough book to categorize, but I’ve seen it referred to as “Magical Realism,” and I think that’s a great description. Hurst’s prose is so dream-like and evocative that when I read it, I feel like I’m transported onto the research ship where most of the story takes place.

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 grapple with this issue often, because I write reviews of lots of things on my blog. I find I can’t write a satisfyingly informative review without discussing every aspect of a story, which typically means spoiling it. I warn readers up front that I’m going to be giving plot spoilers, and then warn them again right before I do. Part of this stems from my own frustration in the past at wanting to find spoilers for a movie, and being unable to because all the reviews were spoiler-free. This is particularly important to me in the case of films/books etc. that contain disturbing content. I recently reviewed a horror film with some very disturbing scenes that were also key to the narrative. I felt like I had to spoil it–with appropriate warnings, of course–just in the interest of making sure people who might be sensitive to such things would be forewarned.

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

It’s not a series, but I’d love to see someone try to do an adaptation of the short story “The Repairer of Reputations” by Robert Chambers. Although it would be next to impossible to film it… The “Bobiverse” series, by Dennis Taylor, would also be interesting to see on screen, though I’ve only read the first one so far. Oh, and Carrie Rubin’s books–I’d love to see a film of The Seneca Scourge, for example. And also–okay, I’ll stop; this could get out of hand.

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

Oooh, that’s a good one. People rarely think about adaptations going from screen to page. Now that you say it, though; that horror film I mentioned in question 8 (called The Wind) might honestly work better as a book than as a film. So much of it involves what’s going on in the characters’ minds. I admit, so many of the movies I’ve seen are based on books, I’m struggling to come up with more ideas.

Bonus Questions

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

Well, maybe the most interesting was the time it felt like I didn’t come up with the idea. For most of my books, the ideas came together very gradually. I would have in mind a hazy, vague concept of what I wanted to do, and then gradually refined it. Usually, it started with “I’d like to do a science fiction adventure, or a conspiracy thriller,” and then slowly built from there. But there was one story that came to me one day, as if by magic, 90% done. Characters, plot structure, everything was just ready to go. In mythology, you’ll sometimes read that people believed Gods or spirits would whisper ideas to them–this felt kind of like that.

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?

Usually when this happens, the character is right. I try to revise the story to accommodate what the character is doing. (Although, I sometimes don’t realize my characters are getting out of control until beta readers point it out to me.)

What is your favourite trope?

Unreliable narrators. To me, there is nothing cooler than gradually realizing I can’t trust everything I’ve been reading/seeing. I love it.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

There are a lot of tropes related to the portrayal of female characters that I find sexist. These range from the ancient “helpless damsel,” to the “wicked step-mother” archetype for villains, to putting female characters in peril as a cheap hook for a plot. (Most revenge stories do this.) I try to avoid these kinds of tropes in my stories; one, because they annoy me when I see them in other fiction, and two, as a male writing about female characters, I try to make sure I don’t get lazy and fall back on tired cliches.  

About: Berthold Gambrel is an author and blogger. You can find his blog here: https://ruinedchapel.com.

 

Interview with KristaLyn A. Vetovich

Say hello to KristaLyn A. Vetovich! She was the second person to respond to my speculative fiction interview post, and I’m excited to share her answers with you today. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

My mother hooked me on reading with the Harry Potter series. She would read them to us every night, but I would read ahead because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

At the moment, Neil Gaiman. Not only are his stories incredible, but his perspective is so encouraging and grounding for me as an author.

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

I love speculative fiction because it’s the best way to unleash everything my imagination can come up with, whether it’s through my own writing or leaping into a world of someone else’s design. It helps remind me that anything is possible and I can make a better reality.

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

I love it! Why not get creative and complex as long as it’s entertaining and makes sense for the reader? We have plenty of people (editors, publishers, etc) who keep our feet on the ground while we take our minds further into the clouds.

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

I usually let my pet’s personality inspire their names, but I did give my corgi the middle name Mikleo after a character in the Tales of Zestiria video game.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

Any world with zombies in it. Zombies aren’t my thing.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

I want to visit the world of Good Omens and just get coffee (or tea) with Crowly and Aziraphale. I feel like that would be an excellent way to spend an afternoon.

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 take responsibility for my own exposure to spoilers and if I happen upon one I see it as just another reason to experience the story as soon as possible. I’m not one to spread spoilers though. Everyone deserves the right to choose what they know going into a story.

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

That’s a tough one! So many are already coming to the screen. As long as they’re done well, I’d watch all of them to promote the authors and their series!

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

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Those characters would translate so well into books!

Bonus Author Questions

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

For the Shifted series it was just people watching and imagining how hard we must make it on spirit guides to get through to us. The story exploded from there.

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’ve had entire characters introduce themselves and I don’t realize it until pages later. I welcome them. If my creativity is flowing, I’m all for it and I like to think it usually works out better for the story than what I’d originally planned. I can always adjust in revisions if I need to.

What is your favourite trope?

I love the unwilling or unexpected hero. It shows that heroes come from everywhere and that being a hero is a choice anyone can make.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

I avoid love at first sight—though I believe it can happen. I like romance to be a secondary part of the plot in my stories so I can focus on the individuals and what makes them heroes in their own right.

 

About: KristaLyn is an internationally bestselling author, certified holistic practitioner, and intuitive coach who helps people attract the lives they want to live with the one thing they can’t control: divine timing.

KristaLyn lives in a treehouse in Pennsylvania with her husband and corgi, Jack, and cooperates with her family to help revitalize the Coal Region of Pennsylvania to a new, sustainable glory.

Website: www.KristaLynAVetovich.com

Email: info@KristaLynAVetovich.com

Social Media Handle: @AuthorKristaLyn

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