Sunday, May 1, 2016

MICHAEL GARDNER: ONE OF NEW ZEALAND’S BEST SCI-FI/FANTASY WRITERS

This is my third interview with a co-author of the new Sci-fi and Fantasy anthology, Reality Glitch: 11 exciting stories by authors from around the world. Today I am excited to have with me a friend and a terrific author, Michael Gardner.

Hi Mike.

Hi Gerard.

It’s wonderful to have you here. I’m excited to have my readers get to know you and your work. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us a little something about yourself, Mike.

I’m a humble writer from Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud, better known as New Zealand. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My first work, aged two, was written in red crayon on the kitchen wall. It wasn’t well received. Since then I have been working on my craft to please my readers more. Without a reader, an author is nothing.
Writing has been a great journey. When I started the journey, I thought I was destined to be a science fiction and fantasy writer. I love these genres but the more I write, the more I’ve discovered I just like to tell stories.

Other than Reality Glitch, what are you now working on?

Valley of the Shadow (The Hand of the Khryseoi: Part 1)

And when is its expected date of publication?

6 June 2016

Great! I can’t wait to read it. What’s the genre?

It’s an Epic Fantasy / Paranormal Fantasy

Can you tell us a little about the book?

The Hand of the Khryseoi: In the distant past, an army of men and women were called upon to defend the earth from a great evil: Eurynomos, the God of Death. They were granted immortal gifts and named the Khryseoi, the spirits of the Golden Age. This is their story.

Part One: Valley of the Shadow
The great war between the Khryseoi and Eurynomos has been won at a great cost. Phylasso, the leader of the Khryseoi, has sacrificed himself to bring the war to an end. As time passes, Raven, a Khryseoi bowman, discovers Eurynomos’s servants still roam the earth, murdering the Khryseoi from the shadows. With Phylasso gone, Raven faces his greatest challenge, to reunite the Khryseoi and stop Eurynomos’s dark spirits before they destroy all life on earth.

Wow! Sounds exciting. What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

Valley of the Shadow has been swirling around my head for about 20 years. About 10 years ago, I put fingers to keyboard and wrote the story as one book. It was okay but I realised I’d missed the potential of the larger story. After I broke it down, I realised I had to reinvent the way it was told, to start again from scratch. No writer likes having to throw out a manuscript and start again. I did my planning work and saw I had a book with three distinct movements, three climaxes and enough material for a ballpark of 250,000 words. As novels go, that’s a sizeable ballpark! The work seemed daunting and I admit I found reasons not to make a start. Yes, writers can procrastinate by finding other things to write about. But this book was always there, like a pressure valve inside my head.
My subconscious did the job of overcoming the hurdle. I found myself at the keyboard writing a short story called Writer’s Block (which features in Reality Glitch). Writer’s Block is about a guy who has to write The Lord of the Rings from memory. Essentially, that’s what any writer does when they write a book; they write it from memory. That short story did the trick. Straight after Writer’s Block was published, I was busy working on the opening to Valley of the Shadow.

So, what is next?

Well, parts two and three obviously. I’ve started so I have to finish. It is one book, even though it’s going to be published in three parts. The working titles for parts two and three are Daemon Fire and My Brother, My Enemy. But next I’m going to have a break, a writer’s break that is, which isn’t a break at all because I’ll be busy writing. I feel weird if I’m not working on something. [Laughs]. Anyway, my break will be to finish a short story. I get a lot of inspiration from dreams and I woke up one morning with a short story fully formed. So that’s next.

Is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?

Yes. Valley of the Shadow may be Paranormal Fantasy, but don’t expect Twilight. This is a totally different book, drawing on Greek mythology for inspiration. This first part takes place during the Classical Greek and Roman eras.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

Absolutely. Health and Safety are after me on a number of counts. First, there’s sleep deprivation. When you’ve gotta write you’ve gotta keep going until you’re finished or you fall over trying. Second, partner alienation, which happens as a result of locking yourself away in an anti-social manner to write a book. Alienated partners can inflict grievous injury, with the power of their tongues alone. Finally, writing is an incurable condition. There’s no pill or operation that’ll make you stop wanting to do it. I’m filling out Health and Safety forms like crazy!

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes. I’m a writer. ARGH! I write website copy, magazine articles and sometimes work for the local paper as a stringer.

What do you consider your biggest failure?

I wish I’d been serious about writing fiction a long time ago. Serious is the key word there. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but not with the urgency you need to get a novel finished to a decent standard. I knew I’d always wanted to write something, but writing novels was something that novelists did. I had no idea how to start, and not for lack of finding pen and paper, but because I’d told myself I wasn’t a novelist. I was flying home from holiday and filling out the arrivals form for customs when I had a moment and wrote ‘writer’ in the ‘occupation’ field. That was the turning point. Looking back, my life has made me who I am and I don’t have any regrets, but I do have to get a move on. I have a ton of stories to write and fewer years to write them all.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

This is going to sound politically correct but it’s the truth. My partner first of all. She believes in me and gives me her unconditional support. That inspires me because I want to prove to her that her faith in me is well placed. Also my dear old mum. I owe my mum so much. As kids, she took us to the library every week. We had to get a book. We had to read. I discovered the wonderful world of literature and have never looked back. She’s a writer too and has taught me so much about the craft.

Okay, now comes the part of the interview where I ask four quick questions and hope for four quick replies. Ready?

Go!

My best friend would tell you: I’m a happy, easy-going guy. Usually when it’s my turn to buy a round.

The one thing I cannot do without is: cheese, beer, my computer, my partner (better put her in), my PS4, a good book, sleep… oh wait… did you say one?

My biggest peeve is: finding typos in my work.

The thing I’m most satisfied with is: currently, I’m really satisfied with how Valley of the Shadow has come together. I surprised myself with what has emerged in the story. I’ve had some great beta readers and editorial support. I think it’s a book people will enjoy reading. At the end of the day, that’s why we write: for readers.

Great interview, Mike. Thanks so much.

Thanks, Gerard!

Michael has agreed to give our readers a special sneak peak at his latest book, Valley of the Shadow (The Hand of the Khryseoi: Part 1)


The horizon was a streak of silver fire separating the ruined land from the dark clouds seething above. Thousands of bodies lay on the blackened plains: men, women, and twisted creatures that might have once been human. The air carried the bitter scent of burnt flesh.
Raven stood on the crest of a lifeless hill overlooking the valley. He was dressed in a ragged cloak, giving him the appearance of a great black bird. He held a long bow. A single arrow remained in his quiver but he let the bow slip from his fingers. “Tell me what happens when you die,” he said, in a voice hoarse from shouting.
At his side stood a heavy-set, blond man with a mane of a beard, also carrying a long bow, which he was using as a crutch. Wolf’s chiton had long since faded to a shade of mottled grey and was covered with dirt and dried blood, although the seams were still bright with yellow dye. He glanced at Raven. “It’s extraordinary, in four hundred years you’ve never died… not once.”
Perhaps I’m lucky,” said Raven. “Please, tell me again.”
I’ve told you at least a dozen times.”
Raven looked up at the sky. For a moment, a glimpse of blue appeared through a crack in the shifting clouds. He opened his mouth, but before he could speak, the clouds had closed again. Looking at his companion, he saw Wolf’s eyes were firmly fixed on the road, a scar on the earth running along the valley. He sat down and gathered his knees under his chin. “This war. I thought I’d feel differently about it coming to an end,” he said.
Wolf cleared his throat. “Differently?”
Yes. At first, I thought I’d feel some sense of triumph. Then I imagined I’d be full of sorrow for the friends we’d lose.”
Wolf kicked a stone, and Raven listened to it clatter down the hill. “I feel only numb. Is it wrong to feel this way?”
Give it time,” said Wolf.
For a moment, I thought I saw the blue sky,” said Raven, looking up again.
Wolf raised his bushy eyebrows, but didn’t remove his gaze from the road where their comrades had set out hours before. He put his thumb to his teeth and chewed the nail.
Raven began to count bodies. He lost track and gave up. The battle had been a swift and brutal affair. The engagements always happened fast. After, they would regroup and gather their strength for the next exchange, but now Phylasso, their leader, had called for an all-or-nothing assault. His plan had come as a shock, not because of the bolder strategy, but because now the war would be decided for better or worse.

You can learn more about Michael Gardner’s work on Amazon and on Goodreads. Here are the links: (P.S. Don’t forget to buy some of his books: you won’t regret it!)



Sunday, April 17, 2016

AUTHOR JAMES AUSTIN McCORMICK HORROR, FANTASY & SCI-FI WRITER

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing James Austin McCormick, another of my co-authors of the new Sci-fi and Fantasy anthology, Reality Glitch - 11 exciting stories from 11 authors from around the globe. This is the second interview of the series.

James is a college lecturer from England and a fan of all types of speculative fiction, most notably science fiction, horror, and sword & sorcery fantasy. Whenever possible, he tries to blend these elements in his own writing.

H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Rice Burroughs were his first writing inspirations. More recently, James is inspired by Frank Herbert and Clive Barker, whose works, he says, he never grows tired of re-reading.

James lives in the rainy city of Manchester with his wife and two young daughters, the eldest of which is something of a budding writer herself.

Welcome James. I'm very happy you're here. Let's get to it, shall we?

Tell us, other than your excellent short story contribution to Reality Glitch, what is your most recent work? And can you tell us a little about it.

My my recent work is titled, Dragon: The Tower of Tamerlane (the third book in my science fiction series, Dragon)

After the death of the Tuolon Ambassador Lagua and the failure to bring the non-humanoid worlds into the Alliance, Sillow and Brok’s long partnership is finally at an end. Now a reluctant solo agent, Sillow is called upon to undertake his first mission, investigate the Tower, a high-tech prison complex along with the oligarch who runs it, a mysterious nobleman who calls himself Tamerlane.
Seeking evidence to prove Tamerlane is responsible for a series of terrorist attacks, Sillow quickly uncovers the sheer scale of his plans, a lethal military strike on all four humanoid home worlds.
Caught and imprisoned however, the Sylvan finds himself helpless to warn the Alliance of the coming danger. All the while, something has been evolving, growing stronger inside the Tower, something intangible yet far more dangerous than Tamerlane ever could be, a being implacably opposed to all life in the galaxy. And only Sillow has any chance of stopping it.

Sounds exciting! What else are you working on?


At present I’m writing a sort of steam punk fantasy. I’ve always enjoyed mixing genres but I’ve not tried anything like this before. It’s very slow going especially as it keeps evolving and forcing me to constantly revise, but it’s also great fun.

What other novels have you written?

I write a lot of short stories but my longer works tend to be between twenty to sixty thousand words, so novellas up to short novels. I’ve six novels/ novellas out to date and these cover horror, fantasy and science fiction.

What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

Pacing. To deal with this I sometimes set out the plot points as if it were a screenplay (for example, the inciting incident, plot point/turning points 1 and 2 and also break it into three acts).

What are you planning on writing in the near future?

Without doubt more Dragon novels. So far these have been fast paced, action orientated and somewhat comedic in tone. I feel however that the next one needs to have a harder edge and a darker tone than previously. It’s something I’m figuring out at the moment.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I’m a college lecturer and teacher trainer. I taught abroad for many years but I’ve been working at a college in my home town for over ten years now.

What motivates or inspires you?

Escapism. I write mostly speculative fiction and the more I can create my own landscapes, worlds, characters and back stories the more I enjoy it.

What has been your greatest success in life?

Having the courage to pack in my supermarket job and go to university when I was in my mid-twenties. Many people at the time told me I was making a mistake but it was something I knew I had to do. It was the best decision I ever made.

And I'm certain your fans would agree with you. Okay, now comes the part of the interview where I ask three quick questions and hope for three quick replies. Ready?

My best friend would tell you: I’m a worrier. I work hard at not being one, and normally I do a reasonable job at it, but the natural tendency is always there.
  
The one thing I cannot do without is:
My morning cup of Earl Grey tea. I allow myself one caffeine drink a day and I wouldn’t be able to get going in the morning without it.

My biggest peeve is:
I tend to have more of these as I get older but queue jumping is close to the top of the list.

James has been gracious to give us an excerpt from his most recent work, Dragon: The Tower of Tamerlane.

“Take a good look Drake,” the guard said as the craft closed on the gigantic, ornate structure resting between frozen mountains. “This is the end of the line for you. I hear Tamerlane wanted you personally.” The man grinned, splitting his ugly face in half. “Which ain’t good for your scrawny ass, believe me.”
The prisoner remained indifferent to the mocking tones or indeed the attempt to scare him, but then Darius Drake was a most unusual figure. Small and malformed, his owlish eyes nevertheless exuded an absolute, unshakable confidence, a haughty detachment that often unnerved those around him. The guard was one of them. It was partly for this reason he felt compelled to say something to the perfectly silent prisoner who’d got so deep under his skin.
Drake regarded the structure below. The closer they came, the more like some bizarre, oriental tower it appeared. After some moments he turned his watery gaze back to the guard. There was no aggression, no challenge, just a cool contempt.
The smirk crumbled from the other man’s lips. “You be taking those psycho eyes off me freak,” he warned, lifting his rifle.
Drake blinked impassively back, his wrinkled, wizened features unreadable.
Those damned eyes, the man thought. He couldn’t stand them anymore. He moved forward, stopping the rifle butt an inch or so in front of Drake’s face.
The little man didn’t flinch.
The guard’s knuckles whitened around the weapon and for a moment he looked as if he might use it. Then he sneered. “You ain’t worth it. Little cripple like you.” He shook his head, sitting back down. He made a point of avoiding the prisoner’s eyes.
A derisive snort made him whirl round, a large blue vein bulging in his neck. The guard stared at a powerfully built, buxom woman with long auburn curls that fell to her shoulders. She was a striking sight, and as he was aware, she’d caught him more than once ogling her during their half day’s journey to Tamerlane’s prison complex. One of her shoulders and arm was completely cybernetic yet the metal was so smooth, so perfectly formed it seemed almost like a bodily adornment rather than an artificial appendage. A thin silver line ran across one of her cheeks whilst above it the eye glowed with an artificial soft ruby light. That eye was mocking him.
“You got a problem?” he snarled.
The woman sneered. “Real tough guy, aren’t you Kerry? Bet all the ladies are real impressed by you.”
     The guard’s nostrils flared. “Shut your bitch mouth.” Narrowed eyes swept over her. “Look at you, Titanya, the Pirate Queen. Least that’s what they call you, ain’t it?” He slid along his bench, moving towards her. “Well, you don’t look so noble to me. More like a slattern.” He placed a gloved hand to her throat. “Don’t look so damn tough, neither.”

Great! James, I want to thank you for the excerpt and for the interview.

Here are a few ways to connect with author James Austin McCormick:

Book online sales links

You can connect with James on Twitter: Jimbomcc69

Or on his Facebook Author Page: 






Monday, April 11, 2016

AUTHOR K S FERGUSON TALKS ABOUT "REALITY GLITCH" AND MORE

I’m delighted to present the first in a series of interviews with my co-authors of the new Sci-fi and Fantasy anthology, Reality Glitch - 11 exciting stories from 11 authors from around the globe.

Today, I’m joined by K S Ferguson who lives in Washington State. K S has published one critically-acclaimed novella, Puncher's Chance (co-written with James Grayson,) which appeared in the June 2006 edition of AnalogScience Fiction and Fact, America's longest-running science fiction magazine. She's since completed another five novels. She enjoys writing suspense and murder mysteries in futuristic and fantasy settings, and occasionally writes fiction in the guise of technical manuals for unfinished software—otherwise known as help documentation.

Welcome K S.

Hi Gerard

I’m happy you’ve agreed to this interview. Let’s get to it.

1) So, tell us about your most recent release.

My latest release is “A Moment of Madness,” my contribution to an anthology with 10 other international authors. The work is titled Reality Glitch.

My last novel was Undercover Madness, the second book in the River Madden series. River Madden is a hapless schizophrenic with the uncontrolled ability to fracture dimensional barriers. He works for Dimension Protective Services, a cooperative organization comprised of members from the human dimension, a dimension where Raptors are the dominant intelligent life form, and another dimension where Neanderthals are dominant.

2) Sounds very Sci-fi. What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book, and how did you overcome it?

Writing River Madden is what I do for enjoyment between writing my other two series. River is a strange and crazy character who goes on wild adventures. He has a wry sense of humor and a talent for finding trouble. My greatest fear was that after writing the first novel and then taking a break to write another book, I wouldn't be able to find his unique voice again. But it flowed onto the page the same as it did the first time. I have no idea where his voice comes from. My other works sound nothing like his stories.

3) Tell us what else are you working on.

Family Owned, the third novel in my SF mystery series. Here's the description of the series:

The year is 2040. Earth recovers from a flu pandemic that killed a third of the population and left another third crippled. Jump gates allow travel between worlds, but the handful of galactic colonies are run by mega-corporations more concerned with profits than people.

Rafe McTavish, self-made man, believes it's possible to be a capitalist corporate executive and a humanitarian. Kama Bhatia, the love of his life, computer genius, and corporate spy, challenges him to prove it. Together they unmask greed-driven murderers less concerned about body count than with crushing their competitors.

4) What other novels have you written?

Two novels in my futuristic Rafe and Kama mystery series, two novels and a short story in my River Madden series, and the first novel in my Hellhound series, which features a supernatural PI and is set in 1968, No Place Like Hell.

5) Here’s a question I normally ask mystery writers, but I know your books, even though they're Sci-Fi adventures, fall into this vein, as well. How many people have you done away with over the course of your career?

You do mean in my books, right? Because I've entertained the idea of sending a pipe bomb to more than one member of upper management at some of the corporations I've worked for. So far, I've been able to resist the temptation.

In my books, an appalling number. Sometimes they're the primary victim, and sometimes they're collateral damage as the hero closes in on the villain, and the villain gets desperate. I've even done in the occasional likable secondary character. But I never kill kids or dogs. I don't need the hate mail.

6) Speaking about “other” jobs you’ve worked at, do you have another job outside of writing?

I do the occasional project in the computer industry. Sometimes that's technical writing or editing. Occasionally it's project management or production work. I'm not fussy.

7) Let’s talk about motivation. What motivates or inspires you, and this doesn’t necessarily have to apply to your writing?

I find motivation and inspiration in trailer music. (That's the epic music written to accompany movie trailers.) Like the blurb or opening of a good book, the music has to communicate the promise of what the work contains, and it has to make an immediate and memorable emotional attachment of the viewer/listener to the movie, all in a minute or two. The best composer in the trailer business are absolute geniuses. I frequently select a piece with the same emotional content as the scene that I'm writing and put it on loop. It helps me to find the right words to convey what I want the reader to feel.

8) Any pet projects you’re working on at this moment?

I've spent the last couple of years exploring 3D art creation, and more recently, I've dipped into 3D animation. I hope to ship an animated trailer for Reality Glitch. I used what I've learned to create the Reality Glitch cover.

And you’ve created a great cover (featured here) and a terrific trailer, which can be seen in my last blog. Okay, three quick questions for you for three quick answers. Ready?

1)      My best friend would tell you I’m a …

            A champion for the underdog.

2)      The one thing I cannot do without is:

            My morning cup of tea.

3)      The one thing I would change about my life:

            I would have started writing sooner.

K S has graciously allowing us a sneak peak at her short story “A Moment of Madness,” which you’ll find in Reality Glitch.

Heat melted the soles of my sneakers until they oozed and slipped across the metal surface of Dodo's new transdimensional platform. Sweat poured down my face and dampened my back. I wasn't one of those brave guys who thrived on danger. Why, oh why, had I agreed to go for a test drive of the little white Raptor's latest invention? All I wanted was to get home alive.
"The coolant system chirp-caw-clack does not work as expected, River Madden," Dodo squawked, referring to whatever had broken in her own dino language. She hunched low over the mushroom-shaped control console in the center of the eight-foot diameter flat metal plate that carried us through D-space, the demon-filled void that existed between dimensions. The little Rap looked like she might collapse from heat stroke any second.
I could barely hear Dodo over the chanting of the Neanderthal ex-priest pyromaniac who stood at the outer edge of the platform. His mop handle rang against the floor in time to his magical intonation, the mop's string head waving and dancing a crazy jig. I'd dubbed the teenage Nean Flash, an acronym for his fancy formal title, and it had stuck.
In response to Flash's spell, a wall of blistering flame crackled around our flimsy conveyance, separating us from the dangers of D-space, a place where intelligent creatures of all stripes went gibbering drooling mad without a Nean's holy protection. I'd seen what lay in the void beyond the flames and returned sane. Well, at least as sane as I was when I went in. Being schizophrenic, my sanity was often in doubt. But without shielding, my Rap and Nean companions would have their minds broken in a million unrecoverable pieces.
Just my luck that the only Nean able to travel with me on board could only conjure fire. Why couldn't the insolent kid make a soothing light wall like the rest of the priests? No, the kid had to make our shields into a towering inferno that barbequed us to a crisp.

Many thanks to K S Ferguson for the interview and for allowing us a peek at her story.

Reality Glitch: There are cracks in reality… sparking mysterious events, allowing spirits to enter from the other side, or sending us to strange places we never knew existed. Take the journey… if you dare.

Reality Glitch has a publishing date of April 20th, 2016. You can pre-order you Kindle edition on Amazon: http://goo.gl/MxQDTW
Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy

To learn more about K S Ferguson please log onto her Website: http://www.ksferguson.net