The Three Writing Amigos: An Interview WITH THE REAL OUTLAWS!

Have you ever dreamed of being a bestselling writer? Appearing at the top of the bestseller lists? Winning awards? I have… and I now know three authors who can tell me what it is like. Alex Cord, John D. Fie, Jr, and Cliff Roberts have sold piles of books, picked up awards and have even had their books optioned as movies… Do you want to meet them?

John D. Fie, Jr.

One of the most successful Western authors of his generation. His hits include the multi-million selling “Blood on the Plains,” “Luke Pressor: U.S. Marshal,” and “Incident at Benson’s Creek.”

Cliff Roberts

A multimillion book selling powerhouse who has turned out hit, after hit, after hit. His latest is called “Draw!” His other million sellers include “Reprisal: The Eagle Rises,” “Reprisal: The Gauntlet,” “Connor Slate: Bounty Hunter,” “Ambushed” and many others.

Alex Cord

The legendary actor and star of TV’s “Airwolf,” who has scored award-winning hit novels like “A Feather in the Rain.” His latest novel is called “High Moon at Hacienda del Diablo.” “A Feather in the Rain” is currently being considered as a movie.

Welcome to this interview Alex, John and Cliff. How are you all today?

Alex: Feeling pretty good—thank you for having me.

John: Great to be with you.

Cliff: Greetings!

Cliff, let me start with you. You seem eager to start. Are you ever surprised by how many Western readers there are in the world?

Yes, I was surprised at the number of people who currently read Westerns. At first, I thought it was one of the niche genres and that Westerns had pretty much faded into history. I was wrong.

The Western readers are great, friendly and loyal to a fault. I greatly appreciate their patronage. Thank you for reading my work, and I’ll endeavor to make each new book better than the one before.

John, I think this is a good question for you. With your novels constant favorites, perhaps you can explain to us why Westerns are still so popular?

As surprised as people are at the success of Westerns, I’m really not. I’ve always enjoyed the West, and I know many others have, too. I think there’s a lot of hype when it comes to romance, erotica and horror—but the Western fan base is just as busy buying the books they want.

I guess you can identify with that, Alex. As someone who has been writing and making Western movies—let me ask you this one: Do you prefer writing (and acting) the heroes or the villain characters?

I prefer to write about human beings and discover who and what they are. There are elements of heroes and villains in all of us. Shakespeare wrote entire plays about one element of humanity. Evil: Richard III; jealousy: Othello; heroism: Henry V. I like to delve into the depths of an individual and see what I can find.
Interesting—but it’s the title that sometimes draws the reader in before they’ve even discovered the writer. John—let me ask you this: How did you come up with the title of your “Blood on the Plains” novel?

Well, I was looking at a photo of the Kansas Plains and thought about how it must have been back then, with the first wagon trains crossing the plains and facing a vast nothingness in all directions. Then, the thought of Indian attacks and the blood that must have been spilled making that crossing. As I looked over more photos, the story was forming in my mind. I then came up with the title Blood on the Plains.

Did you have a different experience with “Luke Pressor: U.S. Marshal?”

Luke Pressor, U.S. Marshal is a story in itself. I was asked to publish a short story by Outlaws Publishing. I looked through the short stories I had written over the years, and I just couldn’t make up my mind. Then I thought, why not combine a story or two?

From the outset, it became a challenge. Luke Pressor became the hero of the story. This is how it became Luke Pressor, U.S. Marshal.

It’s interesting how things develop. Cliff—let me ask you this: Do you think part of the appeal of Westerns comes from the fact that they mirror the American way of life?

I think Westerns are the basis of the American way of life. The good guy is always honest, sometimes to a fault; and he believes in fair play, family and doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. In the Westerns, good triumphs over evil without exception.

And Alex—which Westerns do you think have really affected your life?

Red River, Lonesome Dove, Monte Walsh, The Westerner, Stagecoach, My Darlin’ Clementine, The Wild Bunch, One-Eyed Jacks. I list them not in order of preference. They are all fine films that I have seen more than once, some more than three or four or five times. Any of John Ford’s films. John Wayne, Ben Johnson, the great Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Slim Pickens, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden. These are the finest of the fine.

John—I suppose part of the appeal of the Western comes from the covers chosen by authors and publishers to illustrate the book. What has your experience been like with covers?

Blood on the Plains, at first, had a very bland looking cover. I had a contract with a different publisher at the time. The book wasn’t moving. Outlaws Publishing took a look at the book and the cover. It wasn’t until I signed with Outlaws Publishing that the book was pulled from the market. The book was re-designed, and I immediately saw the difference. The book, with the new cover design, just jumped at you. I knew right then I had made a good decision going with Outlaws. They specialize in the Western genre. Luke Pressor, U.S. Marshal also had two different book covers. Several covers were designed, and we put our heads together and again came up with a colorful book cover with eye appeal.

I think you have some of the best covers around, John. Cliff—you signed a contract with Outlaws Publishing after being both traditionally published and self-published. Do you think a larger publisher is important? Is it a step towards success to garner a large publisher’s interest?

I think it is important to have a good publisher, no matter in which genre you write. I’ve had several publishers who failed big time at actually helping me or being part of my team for success. The larger, well established publishers seem to be out for the almighty dollar and that alone. Your success as a writer doesn’t matter to them, other than they get more money. If you’re asking who I’d consider publishing my Western novels, I’d say use Outlaws Publishing. That’s who I use. They will treat you right, and they really want you to be a success and place their success secondary to yours. Outlaws has several divisions, so they can help you publish in almost any genre. If you’re looking for a publisher, send your manuscript to Outlaws and see if they can help you. Oh, yeah, they don’t charge you to up front to publish your book and are extremely fair on royalty splits.

John—what do you do differently to other authors when writing a Western?

I like to use small, quick one-liners in my stories to add a little comedy. Also to have a few characters who are somehow different from the others.

I think that’s an important part of being human, John. It’s a shame more writers can’t attempt to inject human characteristics into their books. Alex, let me ask you a similar question. What real life inspiration do you draw from people you know when writing your books?

My life is filled with experiences with all kinds of people. A rich bank from which to draw truth. Most of my characters are either based on people I know or have elements of them. I have made a practice of acquiring characters throughout my life and studying them. A creative artist, writer, actor, painter, dancer, musician, must be intensely curious, perceptive and interested.

Cliff would you agree with Alex? And would you go back to the West if you could?

I would agree with Alex. And no, I don’t think so. Whereas part of the Old West seems romantic and peaceful, it was a very dangerous place. Knowing me as I do, I’d probably end up having to learn to be a gunfighter and fast because I don’t take injustice well. I’d be out there trying to stop the lawlessness and probably get shot dead. Maybe I’d even become a historical figure if I did. The quickest lawman to get killed.

John—what would your one piece of advice be for a young author?

For new writers, make sure you get an editor. You can’t edit the book enough. When you’re ready to publish, look around and choose wisely, then stand by for the reviews.

I think that’s great advice. Alex, did you learn anything from writing your latest Western?

I did. That writing is fun, challenging and bloody hard work. Many people say they would like to write a book, and I believe that everyone has a book in them. Getting it out from within and onto blank pages is another matter. It requires huge belief and relentless commitment.

What a learning process. Cliff, what do you think is the key to success?

Good writing, good promotion and making sure you surround yourself with those who will help you, rather than hinder you. A good publisher, publicist, and editor will make you as an author. A poor publisher, publicist, or editor will break you. I need say no more. Invest in yourself, your product and hire a good publicist.

And John—what does it feel like to be one of the top authors in the business?

It feels pretty good. It’s good to know that somebody is enjoying your story.

Check out the latest books from these three great authors.



The Art of Writing About Vampires with Author Vanessa A. Ryan

vanessa a ryan

Vanessa A. Ryan is an actress in Southern California. She was born in California and graduated from UCLA. When not writing or acting, she enjoys painting and nature walks. Her paintings and sculptures are collected worldwide. At one point, she performed stand-up comedy, so her writing often reflects her love of humor, even for serious subjects. She lives with her cat Dezi, and among feral cats she has rescued. She is the author of A BLUE MOON, an urban fantasy, HORROR AT THE LAKE, a vampire trilogy and A PALETTE FOR MURDER, a traditional cozy mystery.

How do you come up with the titles of your books?

Sometimes the title just comes to me. Other times, I ask my family, friends, the publisher, or even strangers I meet see on the street to help me choose the best wording of a preliminary title. They’ll all have different opinions, and then the hard part is making the final decision.

What is your writing schedule?

My writing schedule is to write at least a thousand words a day, seven days a week, for the first draft. Most of that happens late at night, when the phone is least likely to ring. I may stay up until two in the morning to get in those thousand words, especially when I’ve had a busy day doing something else. I know if I don’t persevere, I won’t get that first draft written. As for revisions and rewrites, I like those the best. The hard work is already done. Cutting, revising and adding is the fun part.

Do you jump out of bed with coffee in hand or are you an afternoon writer?

I never jump out of bed for anything, unless the house is on fire––which has happened to me. I like coffee and breakfast in the morning, and reading the Los Angeles Times. Three days a week I read it online, and four days a week I get it delivered. It’s an important part of my daily routine. I never turn on the TV or radio for the news in the morning. I’m the type who wakes up slowly. I like to know what’s going on in the world, but without someone barking at me. If I can, I will write in the afternoon for a while. I might finish what I started writing in the afternoon later that night, if I didn’t get enough done.

What conditions do you like to write under?

I like overcast days. In fact, I love overcast weather. I feel more creative when the sky is gray and the atmosphere is a little foggy. Sunny days are just for enjoying the warmth of the sun, smiling a lot and not thinking much.

What do you have to avoid when writing a book?

I have to avoid too many other activities, or cut the time I devote to them. And since I’ve always got ideas in my head for new stories, I have to stop thinking of them so I can write the book I’ve already started.

Do you ever get burned out?

Sure. Writing is work. It’s putting in the time. Since December, I have been taking a break. But the holidays are over, and tomorrow, I will begin looking at the edits of the last book in my trilogy, Horror At The Lake, A Vampire Tale. However, even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking of my next book or series of books.

How do you start to write a book? What is the first step?

The first step is to decide which book floating around in my head I am going to commit to writing down. I usually know who the main character is and whether I’m going to write in the first person or in the third, but I will have to rough out the secondary characters. The next most important thing is to figure out the ending. The challenge, then, is how to get from the beginning to the end. Sometimes I write plot points on three by five cards, and sometimes I just wing it and start writing. I try to write chapters that are about ten pages long, and I read over what I wrote yesterday before I begin writing again.

Which books have most influenced your life most?

I think the books of Carlos Castaneda, Curt Vonnegut, Jerzy Kosinsky, and the mystery writers of the twentieth century, such as Agatha Christie and Ross MacDonald. Also the noir writers, such as Cornell Woolrich, Charles Willeford and Dorothy B. Hughes. But one of the most important influences in my life was meeting Ray Bradbury after a lecture he gave. I had read Death Is A Lonely Business, and although not one of his most famous books, it is set in Venice, CA, where I once lived. It inspired me to write my paranormal novel A Blue Moon, which also takes place in Venice, CA. It was thrilling to meet the writer who inspired me to write the book.

Do you see writing as a career?

I do see writing as a career. Of course, every writer hopes to have a best seller, but regardless, I will keep at it as long as I have stories I feel impelled to write.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No. I’ll just write another book.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I started writing in the third grade. My teacher allotted a portion of her lessons to creative writing every week. In the sixth grade, we put on a school play, and I wrote the script.

What is your overall opinion of the publishing industry?

It’s like the film industry, though maybe without so much nepotism. While it’s easy to self-publish, it’s still tough to get into the mainstream market.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I am currently working on another traditional mystery, the second in the Lana Davis series, titled A Date For Murder. The first, A Palette For Murder, will be released this May by Five Star Publishing.

Do you ever get tired of looking at words?

I don’t know that I get tired of looking at words, but I do need to take time off. I love walking in a park near my house, watching my favorite TV shows, traveling and socializing with friends.

Who designed the covers?

The publishers of my books have designers and they create covers from settings in the books that I describe to them.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

That first draft is always the hardest part.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I have learned to be more forgiving. All my characters have flaws, some worse than others, but they have some redeeming or humanizing characteristics as well.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Talk less and listen more. I get many of my ideas for stories from what people say.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you enjoy my books and the journeys they take you on.

The Legacy of Fear (Horror at the Lake (A Vampire Tale) Book 1)

Now Available

Susan Runcan is on a quest to clear the name of her grandfather Lindon Runcan, the famous archeologist whose career ended under a cloud of suspicion. Although Lindon claimed thieves stole precious artifacts from his last expedition in Egypt, depriving the Egyptian government and his backers of the spoils, Lindon stole them himself. After the death of her uncle, Susan is the last of the Runcans and inherits the artifacts, along with her grandfather’s stately home in Lake Masley. Susan comes to the lake hoping to discover the reason her grandfather risked his career for these artifacts. What she finds is a town filled with rumors and fear. And what she discovers will change her life forever.


Available Now

Dennis Gager Talks Children’s Books, Artistry and How He Dreamed of Writing

Who do you have in mind when you write?

My characters. I like to imagine them in their settings and what they would be doing. It helps me to get my creative flow going when I write.

Have you always aspired to be a writer?

Yes, I have; but I thought it was just a dream for a long time until my wife kicked me in the butt, so to speak, to get my work out there.

Tell me about how you became a writer—what was the first step for you?

Tough one! Well, I guess it all happened when I used to write short stories for my nephew. I started to actually enjoy writing and creating fantasy worlds and having fun with it. Seeing the smile it brought to my nephew really made my day, so I guess that was my first step.

Do you think anyone can learn to be an effective writer or is it an unnamed spiritual gift?

I believe everyone has the ability to become a writer if they just take time to see the world around them, not as we’re told it’s like, but look at it through the eyes of a child. See it all new, and take time to enjoy the little things. If you can do that, I believe anyone can write.

Was there a point at which you felt this would be a career?

Not until my publisher told me they loved my book and wanted to make a series. Now I believe I can make a career out of it.

Is there a book you’re most proud of?

Actually, I’m very proud of my second book. It has been nominated for two awards, and kids have responded very well to it.

Writing is so internal, in the head, how did you release the pressure before you began writing?

To be honest, I find writing very relaxing. I feel no pressure. I enjoy writing and love to see the final product when I’m done.

On average, how long does it take for you to write your ideas down before you start writing a book?

Not long at all. Actually, I write an outline first. I map out what my story is about, which characters I want in it, and then once I have that done, I sit down and go to work.

What would you say is the “defining” factor in your writing? What makes it yours?

Having fun and enjoying the characters I’m writing about.

How do you guard your time to do what’s most important?

I spend my time with my family and dedicate myself to my writing in my free time. I have an even balance. Both are very important to me.

What are some of the more common distractions you struggle with, and what ways have you found to overcome them?

Life gets in the way at times, but I never give up. I find ways around distractions and keep on plugging.

What kind of review do you take to heart?

Ones that involve children’s opinions about my book.

How do you decide what your next book will be about?

I actually just go with the flow. Whatever catches my eye, I go with it, and that’s my next project.

Was there a link between your childhood and your vocation as a writer?

My father always pushed me to try hard, never give up and don’t take no for a answer. That’s the way I live my life, and I think that helps me to be a writer today.

When you start a new book, do you know how a book will end as you’re writing it? Or does its direction unfold during the writing, research and/or creative process?

When I start writing a story, I have a ending in mind; but sometimes while I’m writing it, I may decide to go in another direction. It really depends on me and how the story unfolding as I’m envisioning it in my mind as I write it.

How do your books speak to people, both inside and outside the reading world?

People tell me they find them cute, they like how I write, and like the lessons their kids get out of them.

How do you see your role in impacting and influencing society?

I hope my writings can help parents and kids to bond together and do more together as a family.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to do?

I actually work as a producer for my wife’s radio network, and I enjoy that very much. If I wasn’t a writer, I would do that full time. I really enjoy working with people and enjoy all the challenges that comes with being a producer.

What are some pieces of advice that you would give someone on writing well?

Young writers often make foolish mistakes. What is a mistake to avoid? There’s never any mistakes. Just write from the heart, and if it fails, don’t give up. Try again.

Could you talk about one work of creative art that has powerfully impacted you as a person?

The Hobbit is one of my most favorite books. I love how the author draws you into the fantasy world and opens your eyes, and you just walk away with such insight into that amazing world.

What relationship do you see between imagination and creativity, and the real world?

I draw my ideas from the real world then use my imagination to turn them into something more. I put it all together and write my story.

For a writer, it is easy to become an elitist. Have you ever, or do you still, struggle with pride as an author?

No, I enjoy writing, and I don’t let it go to my head. I enjoy what I do, and I keep my pride in check. Plus, I have my wife who will keep me in line.

Get Your Copy of Dennis Gager’s Big Hit

Billy Rabbit Saves Christmas

billy rabbit

Winds Blown In: An Interview with Hit Author M.L. Newman!

winds of change

In this sequel to My Night Breeze, Audra and Mateo have been struggling to keep their friends safe, while continuing to uncover the mystery of her past. There is tension between the ‘Elements,’ and Audra finds herself the unwitting key to a hopefully peaceful resolution. She finally has more of a life than she ever envisioned; but the timing is all wrong. Will she be able to find out the truth of her connection in time, or will the enemy overtake them all?

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am an independent romance writer. I enjoy writing under different sub genres from romantic thrillers to paranormal romance. I like to write for the age demographic of Young Adult and Adult.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I like to spend my time catching up on reading, dancing for fun and sometimes watching TV shows/movies. I’d have to say that I spend more of my time reading than anything else.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I started writing back in 2009 but only a few pages of an idea. It wasn’t until 2013 that I jumped back into the story with full force. I finished Glimmer of Hope and published it in November 2013.

Where do you get your ideas?

The ideas seem to find me constantly. I have yet to actually sit down and think about a storyline that I could write. Usually while I’m driving or doing something as equally inconvenient, the idea springs up like a little video clip in my mind. And what I see is beautiful and thrilling but somehow I have to keep replaying it until I can get to paper and a pen. It gets worse with time as the clip usually moves forward adding more details that I can’t possibly remember everything. It’s wonderful and tragic all at the same time.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I do experience writers block from time to time. I’ve grown to acknowledge it for what it is. I’ve either written myself into a corner that I need to fix or I’m trying too hard to write it perfectly the first time. At that point, I take a step back and reread it from the beginning to get my mind on a different track. It helps to move forward.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

It depends how quickly the story hits. I make a point to outline almost all of my ideas. The ones that don’t have an outline usually are based on a scene that I had to get down on paper and then when I’m ready to write a story around it, then I’ll outline.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

I’ve said this before but when I had given up on reading, movies were my hobby. I would spend so much time collecting movies of all kinds that I couldn’t understand why anyone would rather read. When I was introduced back into the book world, I could have kicked myself for all the time I wasted ignoring books. It’s no secret that Twilight was the book that opened my mind and I’m extremely grateful because of all the amazing authors I’ve been introduced to like Charlainne Harris and S. C. Stephens.

Can you tell us about your new book “Winds of Change”?

Winds of Change has been a journey in of itself. In the sequel to My Night Breeze, Audra and Mateo have been struggling to keep their friends safe, while continuing to uncover the mystery of her past. There is tension between the ‘Elements,’ and Audra finds herself the unwitting key to a hopefully peaceful resolution. She finally has more of a life than she ever envisioned; but the timing is all wrong. Will she be able to find out the truth of her connection in time, or will the enemy overtake them all?

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

This book is almost pure imagination. There are some moments of real experience peppered within but with the twists, there was no way I could keep it as grounded as the first book.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

My favorite parts would have to be all the surprise twists. There are quite a few that are unexpected and one twist that has Audra between a rock and a hard place. That is one of the more intense scenes.

How did you come up with the title?

Winds of Change, while not an original title, was the perfect fit for the sequel. The theme stayed the same while showing the progression of the storyline. I knew what I wanted the title to be and after I came up with it decided to stick with it.

What project are you working on now?

I’m at the tail end of two books that I’ve been working on for over the last year on and off. I’m hoping to publish them both in 2015.

Will you have a new book coming out soon?

Yes, I will be publishing Hope Has A Glare rather soon. And I have a bunch of good things waiting in the wings to share with readers.

Get your copy of

Winds of Change

winds of change

G. Michael Vasey Talks Writing, Publishing and Where His Inspiration Comes From…

G. Michael Vasey is one of those unique writers you come across on a hot summer day. I have marvelled at this interview, and I’ve wondered what I can really say about it. I like this writer—a lot—and I can’t wait for you to like him, too! His book The Last Observer is a bit of everything, and that is the best way to describe this interview. It’s a bit of everything!

G. Michael Vasey is currently touring radio stations. Catch his breathtaking interview with “The X Zone” today.
gary vasey
Who do you have in mind when you write?

Me. I write about my interests and things that I am passionate about. I trust that the end product is something of interest to others and that I have something unique to offer – my perspective and one that is entertaining and different.

How do you find “inspiration” and where does it live?

Inspiration often comes to me in a semi-meditative state. So listening to music of the right type can start the juices flowing, or sometimes I listen to meditation music on Youtube as I write. It seems to relax me and open a channel to the creative part of me. Other books can also give inspiration too, so when I am reading something it will trigger a series of questions or thoughts and an inner dialogue. I don’t find finding inspiration difficult to be honest. If you look around and pay attention to what is around you, how can you not be inspired? For example, until recently, I lived in Prague. Most people tramp to work, head down, worrying about the day ahead or wishing themselves miles away. As I walked through Prague to work, I looked up – at the glorious architecture and beauty, history and sheer wow of the city I lived in…. that inspires me.

Have you always aspired to be a writer?

No, but writing has always been a key part of what I do for a living, and I have always enjoyed writing. Being an author sort of sprung up on me when I realized what a body of work I had had published as articles, newsletters, book chapters and so on. Once I got comfortable with the idea, I thought – why not give it a proper go?

Tell me about how you became a writer. What was the first step for you?

Having to write so as a part of my job. I must have written well over 500 articles in newsletters and magazines professionally along with 100 white papers and reams of blog articles. So, it is something I do continually. The step you ask about is probably when I first sat down with the objective of writing a book, and I did that because I was told to in meditation…

Do you have a distinctive “voice” as a writer?

I don’t know to be honest, but in poetry I do try to play with words in certain evocative ways.

Do you think anyone can learn to be an effective writer, or is it an unnamed spiritual gift?

I think anyone who really wants to write can learn, but very few writers are true masters. That is a gift that you are born with.

Is there a book you’ve written that you’re most proud of?

No, as I tend to keep looking forward as opposed to backwards. That’s not to say there isn’t a book I am fond of. My novel, The Last Observer, though certainly not perfect, is my favourite book to date; and my last book of poetry – Moon Whispers – I think is my strongest effort yet. I pick the novel because it has the potential to appeal to a broader group of readers, I think.

On average, how long does it take for you to write your ideas down before you start writing a book?

I don’t follow this approach usually. I plan it in my head and then, after it’s going, I start to write down subplots and themes I wish to develop. In the end though, the books have a surprising talent for writing themselves and surprising even me. I suppose it’s because I write in a meditative state usually and it’s as if it’s not me doing the writing anyway.

What would you say is the “defining” factor in your writing? What makes it yours?

Ah, good question! I think it’s my passion for trying to understand the nature of reality and my practise of magic. You see, I think magic (or if you prefer, metaphysics) has already described the Universe, and science is gradually catching up. What fascinates me is how we create our own reality or our own perspective on reality and how imagination and will can make magic. This provides for a never-ending smorgasbord of ideas, plots, endings and concepts to play with.

How do you guard your time to do what’s most important?

I am a multi-tasker and am always engaged in fifteen things at once. I move my focus from one thing to another and that constant variety keeps me engaged and busy.

What are some of the more common distractions you struggle with, and what ways have you found to overcome them?

There are times when I simply do not want to write. So I don’t.

What kind of review do you take to heart?

Oh, I hate bad reviews and take them ever so personally. It seems to me that there are a few people out there that simply get a kick out of writing deeply negative reviews – like trolls on a discussion board. I can’t help being hurt by deeply negative criticism. On the other hand, we only get better through criticism. It is how that criticism is delivered that makes the difference between something we gain from or something we are hurt by.

How do you decide what your next book will be about?

Well, I decide probably in a moment of massive interest in something or an idea, but then I end up writing something else entirely! For example, on my bio it says I am writing a book about the Fool in magic. It’s a great idea, and I have written a few pages, but I keep finding other things to write about, and I make no progress at all on that idea. I keep it in the bio to remind me that I must/should/will write that book.

Was there a link between your childhood and your vocation as a writer?

Yes – imagination. I had and still do have a very well-developed imagination to the point I can really be where I imagine I am. It is this imagination that runs riot and is the creative seed within me.

As a writer, however, you have the opportunity to self-reflect, to revisit experiences. How does that feel?

Sometimes good but not always….often, the worst of life’s experiences are actually the best – at least for writing.
What motivates you to tackle the issues others may avoid, such as nature and spirituality?
I have been interested in such things since I was knee high to a grasshopper as I wrote in my first book – Inner Journeys. Back when I was 12, I was attending meetings of the church for psychical research and reading Blavatsky… So, I am well-grounded in this stuff and a practising magician to boot. As a result, I guess I see the world a bit differently and want to share the idea that the world looks like you want it to.

When you start a new book, do you know how a book will end as you’re writing it? Or does its direction unfold during the writing, research and/or creative process?

The Last Observer wrote itself, I swear. The ending surprised me and still does.

How do you see your role in impacting and influencing society?

I only hope that I can make people think a bit, wake up and look around and see that not everything is how they were taught. If they do that, then I have already succeeded.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to do?

Writing is so integral to everything I do, and it’s not possible to answer this question.

What are the things a writer “must not” do?

You know, I don’t like rules. Why should a writer not do anything? I do feel sometimes that we are constrained by success, but real art is breaking all the rules and having the product mean something. This is why I love poetry – there are NO rules. I hear some people criticising Indie writers as if the only people who should write are Shakespeare and his ilk; but this is literary snobbishness, isn’t it? Everyone should be able to write if they so choose, and if they break rules of grammar but people love their stuff, then great….

What are some pieces of advice that you would give someone on writing well?

I would never tell someone how to write – I think people should write as they wish, and some will deem it to be good and some bad.

Young writers often make foolish mistakes. What is a mistake to avoid?

Answering a bad review… don’t do it. Ever. I did and I learned.

What obstacles and opportunities do you see for writers in the years ahead?

The whole industry is in flux with eBooks, Amazon and so on. Trying to keep up with how to market what you write, how to make money, how to find an audience, whether to self-publish or not? It’s knowing how things will fall out that could present either an obstacle or opportunity.
Could you talk about one work of creative art that has powerfully impacted you as a person?
Yes – a CD by Blackfield called Blackfield II. The music on that CD inspires me to write, and it feeds my creative juices. Every single poem in Moon Whispers was written listening to that CD. In fact, music often is the work of creative art that sends me….

What relationship do you see between imagination and creativity, and the real world?

Imagination and creativity are intertwined like lovers – one needs the other, and together they make beautiful music.

For a writer, it is easy to become an elitist. Have you ever (or do you still) struggle with pride as an author?

Not really – I do what I do and lots of people do the same so there is nothing special about me. But let’s see how I behave if I ever have a real best seller, shall we?

With all your success, how do you stay humble?

Age. I am that sort of age where nothing much impresses me anymore, least of all myself.

Have you ever considered writing fiction full time?

I would love to… will you get me a contract?

my haunted life 3

Scare Yourself To Sleep With “My Haunted Life 3


Erotic Adventures with Author Yveta Germano

I backed off as soon as I saw his flashing eyes. Those weren’t the mesmerizing blue eyes I could previously get lost in. These were the eyes of a man so angry, he could kill me just by looking at me.

“I told myself a hundred times I would never touch you. But you’re so fucked up in the head, you leave me no option.” His voice was hoarse and furious; it was the only thing I could concentrate on.

He threw me over his shoulder, and before I could protest and call him another name, he took me to my bedroom, shut the door and pinned me against it. He quickly pulled both of my arms behind my back and kept me immobilized with his one hand. I was still angry, and I jerked my head from side to side. He clasped my face with his other hand and pressed my cheeks in, mangling my lips outward. He was still fuming and was about to say something but stopped himself when I let out a faint cry. He let go of my face and breathed out a few times.

“You want me to stop?” he whispered and, for a short moment, I thought I should say ‘yes.‘ I shook my head ‘no‘ instead.

yveta germano pic

Who do you have in mind when you write?

I should probably say my readers, but the truth is, the characters I create take over my “mind” almost completely. Even if I have nothing but a vague idea what the story is going to be about, I always know what kind of a characters I want to bring to life. As I write and dig deeper into their imaginary heads, their stories, dialogues, thoughts and feelings take over my own mind and thought process. I no longer think up conversations, I only write down what I feel and “hear” the characters speak. Once I allow myself to become one or more of the characters, the story unfolds right before my very eyes, on the computer monitor. All I do is type and stay connected.

Once I’m about halfway through the manuscript, I do consider the readers. I want to make sure they love my characters as much as I do. I ask myself questions like, “What would the readers think about so and so behaving so weird? Would they hate him? Would they understand her? Is the scene too unreal?” I analyze the characters and the story in light of these questions or even ask my daughters for input, and then make necessary changes.

Have you always aspired to be a writer? 

I suppose I have. I’ve kept my book idea journal since my early teenage years. Somehow, I always knew I wanted to write, but I was also fortunate to have an unbelievably event-filled, adventurous, and sometimes outright crazy life. Coupled with a busy career and two daughters, I had to wait a while to get to a point in life when the urge to write became so powerful, everything else (except my family) simply faded.

Tell me about how you became a writer—what was the first step for you?

I was definitely a reader first. Growing up in the Czech Republic, we had to read a lot for school. We kept reading journals, and I loved writing my entries so much, I’d even illustrate each entry. We read everything from modern literature to classics, from Czech authors to Russian, English, American; basically every author who was somehow influential. At fifteen, I managed to read almost all of Victor Hugo (even though Les Miserábles is a very long novel…). Soon, I realized the books allowed me to imagine myself in the world they described. I loved that feeling, and I kept on reading my own personal selections of Jack Kerouac, Franz Kafka, Truman Capote, Nikos Kazantzakis, and many more. The wide array of interesting novels I read throughout my early life showed me that every story, no matter how seemingly simple or complicated, can become a great novel if written in “a light, or point of view, no one has ever seen before….”

That’s when I began to write notes in my own journal. I jotted down book ideas, short stories, personal observations of the world around me, even my feelings of how I thought I did or did not fit into this physical, “real” world we live in. It was this journal that ultimately showed me that whenever I felt like I’d rather be someone else, in some world far from ours, all I had to do was to imagine it and write it down. And so I did…. And I still do…

Do you have a distinctive “voice” as a writer?

Not really. Like I said, I feel as though the stories I write just come to me when the time is right, and I only write when I feel the urge. The voice comes with the story. If I write a diary of a French girl, the voice is hers: young, excited, scared at times. It’s the first voice of a unique person. When I wrote Bring Me Back, the story manifested itself through a third voice, sometimes a voice so strong and persuasive, I found myself listening to it wondering what will I learn next. When the need to write Choking Game finally overpowered my fear of the sadness the story would bring with itself, the voice became ardent, even cruel, but slowly turned kind, understanding, and filled with hope.

No, I don’t think about the voice. I let the story speak for itself in whatever voice feels right for it.

Do you think anyone can learn to be an effective writer, or is it an unnamed spiritual gift?

I suppose with a little talent, anyone can learn to “write” like a writer. There are many very talented people who write for hire, and they do it well. Many TV shows use such talent to write episodes after a successful pilot show. Writing, after all, has rules that apply just like any other “trade.” Even the best stories, if told without the regard for some of the rules like “show don’t tell,” “don’t jump from one character’s head to another,” etc., can fall short of their potential.

Having said that, however, I do not think one can learn to “create” stories and characters. I feel the difference between writing a piece of work and creating something from within your own inner self is tremendous. Writers who bring stories and characters to life in this way always leave a piece of themselves within the pages of the book. At least I do. I have never written a book where I would not share a piece of my own self, whether a prior experience, personal feeling, or a whole lot more.

Was there a point at which you felt this would be a career?

I never thought of it that way. Now that you mention it, I am not even entertaining the idea of quitting and going back to a day job anytime soon, if ever. So, maybe writing is my career. All I know, it’s something I love to do more than anything else.

Is there a book you’re most proud of?

This may sound a little pretentious, but I do love every one of my books. Each is very different, and each represents a different part of me or my life experience. I poured my heart out in the Choking Game, which was a very personal journey. The first book of the series, Diary of a French Girl: Recklessly Yours, was so much fun to write, I cannot wait to write a sequel.

But my love affair is the Bring Me Back trilogy. The first book was published last year, and I am halfway through with the second book. It’s taking more time than I expected because this trilogy is far more than a story. It’s a lifetime of learning, experience, imagining time and space, and the answers to enigmatic questions like, “Is there life after death? What is a soul, and where does it come from? Can we clone a human being that has both a body and a soul?” Bring Me Back is my take on all of this, and I do my best to create a story that will not only show the many possibilities, but also entertain, intrigue, and pull the reader into a world they could feel and love.

Writing is so internal—in the head—how did you release the pressure before you began writing?

I don’t. Every time I start a new book, I let the pressure build up inside my head, my heart and my soul. It allows me to forget who I am personally, and become one with my characters. The internal pressure fuels my desire to tell the story as realistically as I can by feeling it, rather then making it up.

On average, how long does it take for you to write your ideas down before you start writing a book?

I’m probably the most disorganized author you’ve interviewed. I never organize my thoughts or even think what exactly the book is going to be about. I don’t get up in the morning thinking I will spend the day writing. I don’t write a synopsis, and I write thoughts and ideas only once the manuscript is almost finished. I often go back and re-write, though.

There are two ways I start a new book. I either sit down and “doodle” a sentence. The sentence becomes a paragraph, the paragraph grows into a page on the monitor, and then a page follows another page… This is how I started Choking Game. All I did was write a Twitter tweet: I wonder what the world would be like if I didn’t exist? And the rest of the book followed in a heartbeat.

Or I get up one day and all I can think of is being alone, closing the door to my office and to the “outside world” because I feel something is pounding my head, and I have to let it come out in the form of a new story. As crazy as it sounds, this is how the Bring Me Back trilogy started. And I waited several months from when the first book was published until that same crazy feeling returned, and I began to write the second book. Once I do start to write, though, the story unfolds so quickly, I can barely keep up with the typing.

How do you guard your time to do what’s most important?

I don’t. I let things slide; I steal quality time from my family; I get anxious wanting to write while I have to do some other so-called “important tasks;” I get panic attacks that there’s simply too much to do to manage to do it all, and then… I inhale, close my eyes, and realize I am my own worst enemy. So, I do what I have to. I do one thing at a time and stop obsessing about wanting to do it all at once…

What are some of the more common distractions you struggle with, and what ways have you found to overcome them?

My friends, my family, my dog, and, of course, my second homeland, Czech Republic, where I spend a lot of time because I have more friends, family, and another dog there. I’m connected to everyone on social media sites, and if that’s not enough of a distraction, we FaceTime, Skype, go out, hang out, you name it.

But when the need to let a new story out of my head takes over, my friends and family understand my kind of “not normal.” Yeah, I retreat for a while, kind of disappear from the radar for a couple of months and go to live happily ever after in a new world I am creating at that time.

What kind of review do you take to heart?

The one where I can tell the reviewer actually read the book. Have you noticed how many reviews are on Amazon by people who did not purchase the book and seem to have no understanding what the book is really about?

As a writer, however, you have the opportunity to self-reflect, to revisit experiences. How does that feel?

Sometimes, it’s a great feeling, especially when the story has a deeper meaning, like in Bring Me Back. I find myself laughing while typing some scenes and remembering similar situations that might had happened to me before, like in the Diary of a French Girl. And sometimes the writing journey is so emotional, I can’t see the words on the monitor through the tears I am unable to hold back, just like when I wrote the Choking Game.

Yes, my work is full of self-reflection. I think that’s why I enjoy it so much, whether it’s a happy and fun experience, or a sad one. I get to revisit the past and make it better or worse in the present in a world I create. The opportunity to do this makes the entire writing process worthwhile, whether I write for readers or simply for my own enjoyment.

When you start a new book, do you know how a book will end as you’re writing it?  Or does its direction unfold during the writing, research and/or creative process?

I never know how the book will end. That’s what makes the writing so exciting. Sometimes, the story unfolds and takes such unexpected turns, I am surprised myself about how it ends. Like I said before, I do not decide to write a story, then sit down, write a synopsis, and then follow the story line. I make no decisions to do anything unless something—and I don’t know what it is—literally makes me sit down, open a new file, and start typing. I may have an idea from my journal, or I may think of something and it pops in my head, but I never have a story line.

As I write and the story begins to wrap up, I am always amazed how naturally the end of the story unfolds. Writing the very last sentence is my favorite part of every book. It has to feel right—final but not absolute. The sentence has to clearly end the story, but give the reader some room for his own opinion.

How do your books speak to people, both inside and outside the reading world?

It depends who you have in mind. One thing I realized as I wrote more young adult and new adult books, though. My characters are never quite “normal.” Even if a character acts “normal” at the beginning of the book, sooner or later he or she reveals some deeper character flaw, something unique to each one, something good and definitely something bad. I gave up on entirely positive characters. I’d go as far as saying, “I can’t do normal.” Maybe it’s who I am or maybe I met too many interesting, unusual people along my unusual life. I prefer to “hang out” with quirky, edgy, even mean or depressed characters. People come in all shapes, forms and shades. I pay more attention to those who have some kind of an internal struggle. They feel more human to me.

With a character who has certain flaws and internal struggle, it is easy to go deeper into the story and relate it to the world around us in a way that may even speak to a lot of people. I hope my books do that. It’s up to my readers to make the final judgment.

How do you see your role in impacting and influencing society?

I never thought about myself as someone who could impact and influence society. Then one day I found myself working along some unbelievably smart, brilliant people who actually considered me their equal. It was a humbling experience. That was my former career as a CEO of a privately held medical research company. I was too busy working to think about making an impact. All I wanted was to keep the company going, the scientists being able to conduct their studies, and helping as many sick people as I could. And then I picked up a phone one day and man’s voice on the other line said, “Yveta, you’re a blessing to me. Without your help, I wouldn’t be alive.” That statement made me cry, and I am definitely not one who cries often.

What I realized was that this phone call reinforced what I always believed very strongly: everything we do, no matter how big or small, has an impact. We cannot hide or run away from our actions. I am far from perfect; I have many flaws, and I have trouble following the rules; but I was always ready to accept the consequences of my actions. I was fortunate to have a career that allowed me to have a positive impact, and now I am trying to use some of that work experience to do the same with my books.

Do you look at yourself as an “envelope pusher” with your writing?

Absolutely. The further the better. I do not shy away from issues that make people feel uncomfortable. I shared this quote on my Facebook page: “Art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.” I don’t know who said it, but it’s a great thought. I kind of feel the same way about books.

What are some pieces of advice that you would give someone on writing well?

Don’t try too hard. If you find yourself thinking too much, going in circles, or making up conversations that don’t sound real, walk away. Come back in a few days or weeks or even months, whatever it takes to feel rather than make the story. If you find yourself back to where you were before, maybe it’s not the story you’re supposed to be writing.

Young writers often make foolish mistakes. What is a mistake to avoid?

Thinking that you know it all… Just because you read a lot of books or have a fantastic story idea, doesn’t mean you have what it takes to be a good writer. Books take time and the willingness to re-write, sometimes more than once. A good writer listens to feedback and is able to step back and see the manuscript with the feedback in mind. Sometimes, writers get too entangled with their point of view and don’t consider the fact that others may not see it their way. Always keep an open mind.

What obstacles and opportunities do you see for writers in the years ahead?

The Indie publishing world is a double-edged sword. Everyone has the opportunity to publish his work, which allows far too many to publish just about anything. The market is saturated as it is. It will be even harder to find the really good novels among so many other pieces of work.

Could you talk about one work of creative art that has powerfully impacted you as a person?

My all time favorite artists have always been Michelangelo for his unbelievably carved marble statues and Rembrandt for his paintings that played with darkness, shadows and light. I read many books about these two artists when I was a teenager. Ever since I read about Michelangelo’s Pieta, I knew it was something I wanted to see one day.

Two years ago, I was in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and as I walked towards the Pieta, I was blown away. It was even more beautiful than I had ever imagined it to be. I cannot imagine what kind of genius can take a piece of marble and carve Jesus dead, laying in Mary’s lap, with such an incredible detail. Every muscle, sinew, piece of the body seems so real. I stood there for a long time taking in the fact that Michelangelo carved this marvel before he was thirty years old.

I felt elated for the rest of the day, knowing that I finally saw the one statue I wanted to see my whole life. It was like I finished a chapter in one of my books. I called my mom in the Czech Republic from Rome later that evening and found out my father suddenly died on that day. Michelangelo’s Pieta had a powerful impact on me and always will. It closed not one, but two chapters of  my life.

Get your copy of steamy, sexy, erotica “Recklessly Yours” 


recklessly yours cover

Author and Artist Judy Mastrangelo Delves into the World of Books and Art

This is a fantastic interview with author and artist Judy Mastrangelo!

Welcome, Judy!

Have you always been focused in a particular area with your artwork?

I’ve always been fascinated with Fantasy art. Recently my focus is on this genre exclusively.

Why did you want to go into creating fantasy-based art? Is this kind of art a passion for you?

Yes, it is my passion and my happiness. I’ve loved Fantasy since childhood. I wanted to live in my imaginary “kingdom” that I’ve created of fairy tale-like creatures.

This includes all art forms, such as in Literature, Drama, Music, Painting, etc. I feel all of these art forms are related, and affect, inspire and are related to one another.

Whose work do you relate to most? Who inspires you?

I have a yen to revisit the works of the following artists. I never get tired of looking at the art of: MAXFIELD PARRISH, JOHN WATERHOUSE, CICELY MARY BARKER, and many Italian Renaissance artists, such as SANDRO BOTICELLI.

What was the last show you attended?

My last show was a “Fairy Festival” in Canterbury, UK.

Do you enjoy collaboration work? Working in teams?

Yes, I very much enjoy working in collaboration with talented people who respect and inspire one another.

Read the rest of the interview here

Ghost Screamed for Help

In 2005, my now ex and I were looking for a house to rent. We live in Macclesfield, England, a small town in the northwest of England. We eventually found an old Victorian terraced house, a little more than our budget, but loved it upon viewing.

A few weeks after moving in, strange anomalies started happening, and there was always a strange sense of another presence — not a bad one, more of someone mischievous. Both my ex and I saw what appeared to be a youngish girl in our peripheral vision. At first I thought it was my ex peeking round the door at me as I sat on my bed. I could see what was clearly a girl with long hair, so naturally I spoke and said along the lines of, “What are you doing?” thinking she was just being a creep, but was not there when I looked up. I shouted her name, but she was downstairs in the living room. Her experience of the apparition was of a smallish figure moving across the landing where I had seen her also. Keep Reading

True Ghost Tales From History

#6. The Man Who Tried to Save Lincoln Went All The Shining on His Family

You’ve probably seen this illustration a hundred times, but can you name everyone in it?

That’s obviously John Wilkes Booth on the right, followed by Abraham Lincoln going, “But I wanna know what happens next! D’aww …” and first lady Mary T, but unless you’re a history buff you probably don’t know that the other two are Union Army Major Henry Rathbone and his wife, Clara Harris, daughter of a prominent U.S. senator. Rathbone is best known for trying to stop Booth and getting a piece of that dagger you see up there for his trouble, and not so much for the Kubrick-esque horror that his life later spiraled into.

Rathbone was seriously injured while attending the most disastrous double date in history, and though he physically survived the attack, his mind never recovered. The officer blamed himself for failing to stop Booth, and even though he eventually married Clara two years later, wedded life only added to his insanity.

Eventually, Rathbone’s mind deteriorated to the point that on Dec. 23, 1883, he decided to deck the halls with his family’s blood. While serving as a U.S. consul in Hanover, Germany, Rathbone tried to kill his three kids, and when his wife stopped him, he fatally shot and stabbed her, then stabbed himself — mentally replaying Booth’s actions from 18 years earlier.

The police found Rathbone covered with blood and completely out of his mind. According to a widely repeated but unconfirmed report, he claimed that there were people hiding behind the pictures on his wall.

Rathbone spent the rest of his life in a lunatic asylum, where he complained of secret machines in the walls blowing gas into his room and giving him headaches. He died in 1911, becoming the last casualty of the Lincoln assassination nearly half a century after the fact. Incidentally, the house in Hanover where he lived is looking for a caretaker! This could be a new start for us, Wendy.

#5. Syphilitic “Zombies” Wandered the Streets of Italy During the High Renaissance

National Museum of Health & Medicine

When most people picture the High Renaissance, they probably imagine Italian folks in posh clothes admiring the works of da Vinci, Michelangelo, and others. What they do not usually picture is this:

Yes, while Renaissance Florence may have been a good place for the arts (and parkour, if Assassin’s Creed II is to be believed), at the same time, Italy experienced something more closely akin to a zombie movie during the first major outbreak of syphilis in 1494. Yeah, before antibiotics, this particular STD was less “secret shame” and more “literally rots your fucking face off.” According to one description, the disease (which may have been carried over from New World cooters to Naples bumholes via French dongs) “caused flesh to fall from people’s faces, and led to death within a few months.” More specifically, the outbreak caused “the complete destruction of the lips, others of the nose, and others of all their genitals.”

Meaning, it was not out of place to see victims shambling around who had lost “hands, feet, eyes, and noses to the disease.” So if today’s Renaissance fairs were accurate, about half the people would look like Walking Dead extras.

As horrifying as the thought of having undead genitalia may seem, the worst part is actually the phrase “within a few months” — that means that the afflicted somehow lived for months in this condition, the whole time screaming with pain as their flesh “was eaten away, in some cases down to the bone.” Which is appropriate, because “the bone” is why you get syphilis in the first place.

In short, for a brief period during the time of the great Renaissance masters, it was common to see people, never mind a whole army of Frenchmen, walking around with their faces falling off their exposed skulls until they finally dropped dead. Why the fuck wasn’t this in Assassin’s Creed II?

#4. Heads Literally Exploded During the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius

Johann Dahl 

Italy’s Mount Vesuvius is infamous mainly for erupting so hard on Pompeii’s face that the entire Roman city (and all its dick sculptures, since it was the sex capital of the empire) remained buried in ash for the next millennium and a half. What you may not know is that the gods were actually merciful to Pompeii compared with the horror that went down in Herculaneum, which was a smaller city situated even closer to Vesuvius when it started ejaculating magma everywhere.

What Pompeii experienced was a classic disaster flick: huge cloud of smoke, people running, blanketing ash, and maybe a subplot about Tara Reid reconnecting with her ex-husband and showing some sideboob. Herculaneum, on the other hand, experienced a full-blown supernatural horror movie due to them being hit with “superheated pyroclastic flows of molten rock, mud, and gas,”

An Interview with Bestselling Author Mike Resnick

We have with us today Mike Resnick. Mike  is one of the most acclaimed speculative fiction writers of all time and the author of hundreds of novels and short stories, mostMike Resnick FB picture of which fall into the category of science fiction or fantasy (at least since the seventies).  He is also the editor of Jim Baen’s Universe and is famous for being a fan and conference goer. We are honored to welcome today this living Science Fiction/Fantasy Legend.

SB Frank: Thank you Mike for joining us. With 33 Hugo nominations, and 5 awarded Hugos, you are generally considered the most decorated writer of short speculative fiction. In your opinion, what is the key to a successful short story?

Mike Resnick: If you just count Hugos, Connie Willis and a couple of others are ahead of me. The Locus list, which you are quoting, counts not just Hugos but all major awards from all over the world.

In answer to your question, I think when all is said and done, a story must make an emotional impact on the reader. It must move him – to laughter, to tears, to fear, to sympathy, to anger, to something. If it makes him think, so much the better, and the author has written a better story for it – but if it doesn’t make him feel, then it fails as a story, even as it may succeed as a polemic or a technological crossword puzzle in prose form.

Mike Resnick fantasy book reviews Kirinyaga, Bwana & BullySB Frank: While it’s out there being evocative, your writing is also very cerebral – smart humor or smart fiction. You explore a variety of deep themes and make people think. In particular, you often write about Africa and the problems caused by colonialism. What do you see as the biggest current challenges facing that continent? And is there an attitude or misconception toward colonialism that you would you most like to change through your writing?

Mike Resnick: The biggest problem right now is a continent-wide corruption on a scale unimaginable to those who haven’t been there (and no, tourists have not been to the real Africa). Robert Ruark wrote an international bestselling novel about the Mau Mau back in the 1950s titled Something of Value. The meaning of the title is that if you are going to take away a people’s culture, you had better replace it with something of value or you’ve got a big problem on your hands. Fifty years after Ruark, we still haven’t replaced it with anything of value to Africans, and we have 40+ separate and distinct big sub-Saharan problems on our hands.

SB Frank: You have said that your Lucifer Jones novels are particular favorites of yours. Is this true, and if so, is there a specific reason?

Mike Resnick 1. Adventures: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones, 1922-1926 2. Exploits: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones, 1926-1931 3. Encounters: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones, 1931-1934 4. Hazards: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones, 1934-1938Mike Resnick: I prefer writing humor to anything else, though of course my reputation is based on my serious work. And of all the humor I’ve written, which comes to maybe a dozen books and 90 or more stories in this field, what I most enjoy writing are the Lucifer Jones stories. They’re parodies of every bad B-movie I saw and every trite pulp magazine I read when I was growing up, and the language is a delightful cross between the purple prose of Trader Horn and the fractured English of Pogo Possum. Some of the story and chapter titles will give you a broad hint: “The Island of Annoyed Souls,” “The Clubfoot of Notre Dame,” “A Jaguar Never Changes Its Stripes,” “The Best Little Tabernacle in Nairobi,” and so on. They’re just a pure delight to write.

SB Frank: You are the executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe, which is closing as of April 2010. The closing has been handled masterfully, but it still seems a sad thing for the industry as a whole. Is there anything you’d like to say about that? And, as a corollary, from your perspective, what are the happiest and unhappiest current trends in speculative fiction publishing.

Mike Resnick 1. Adventures: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones, 1922-1926 2. Exploits: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones, 1926-1931 3. Encounters: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones, 1931-1934 4. Hazards: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones, 1934-1938Mike Resnick: Jim Baen’s Universe had a fine business model when Jim conceived it and started it, but that statement was invalid before the magazine was a year old. (I joined it in its second year.) The notion was to pay the major writers a quarter a word, three times the top rate of the digests, and to run a couple of hundred thousand words an issue – and against the competition that existed when the magazine debuted, against Asimov’s, F & SF, and Analog, it made sense to pay those rates, put together that many words, have sparking, moving covers by a top artist like David Mattingly, and charge $30 a year for a basic 6-issue subscription. After all, when you compared values, we were giving the reader more big names and more words than the digests for the same price.

But as it turned out, after we’d been in business for about a year, we were no longer in competition with the digests. We were in competition with Subterranean Magazine (which was running people like John Scalzi, Lucius Shepard, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Lansdale and myself in just about every issue), and Clarkesworld (which ran stories by Tobias S. Buckell, myself in collaboration with Lezli Robyn, and similar), and a dozen other e-zines that were paying pro rates and were free.

Mike Resnick Starship 1. Mutiny 2. Pirate 3. Mercenary 4. Rebel 5. FlagshipHow do you compete with that? Suddenly a bunch of e-zines were almost matching our firepower (and in the case of Subterranean, totally matching it) and not charging a penny. Suddenly that $5.00 an issue didn’t look like such a bargain.

We had other problems. Asimov’s came back from a near-death experience thanks to selling a few thousand issues a month via Kindle and Fictionwise/Barnes/the “Nook”. But Baen Books felt that our going to Kindle or Fictionwise would abrogate our distribution agreement with Simon & Schuster, so that was a potential lifeline that was denied us.

Weep us no tears. We announced the ending far enough in advance so that no subscriber would be left with paid-for-but-unreceived issues, no writer would deliver a commissioned story only to be told that the magazine was full and/or couldn’t pay for it, and no serial would be cut off in the middle. We pioneered the way, and when I took a quick count tonight, there are, excluding Jim Baen’s Universe, 18 magazines paying pro rates, and 14 of them are e-zines.

Mike Resnick 1. The Widowmaker 2. The Widowmaker Reborn 3. The Widowmaker Unleashed 4. A Gathering Of WidowmakersSB Frank: That’s a dramatic industry change and a great help for authors. I know you write primarily in science fiction, but you have some outstanding fantasy titles as well. Do you have any favorite fantasy writers? Any writers of short fantasy fiction for our fans at Fantasy Literature to watch for?

Mike Resnick: I’m no stranger to writing fantasy, or to appreciating it. Among the classics, I most admire T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, which I find far superior to Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. I’m also a fan of Orlando Furioso. I believe that Unknown, with stories as diverse as Sturgeon’s “Yesterday Was Monday,” Williamson’s “Darker Than You Think,” Heinlein’s “Magic, Inc.” and Leiber’s Gray Mouser stories, was far and away the greatest fantasy magazine of all time. I love Lisa Goldstein’s “The Red Magician,” Jonathan Carroll’s “The Land of Laughs,” Arthur Byron Cover’s “Autumn Angels,” and of course you could do a lot worse than Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Oh, and let’s not forget Jack Vance’s “The Dying Earth.” And while I have no interest in or admiration for paranormal romances, there is nothing wrong with the source: Bram Stoker’s still-brilliant Dracula.

Mike Resnick Penelope Bailey Oracle 1. Soothsayer 2. Oracle 3. ProphetSB Frank: Throughout your career, you have sustained a pace of several novels and I don’t know how many stories, dozens, I’d guess, per year. I am not sure if the inspiration is more impressive than the motivation. But I’d love to know how you get so many fabulous story ideas.

Mike Resnick: I get them from everywhere. One of my favorite sources is movies and plays that missed a better story (my answer to The Elephant Man was Sideshow), movies that should have been better (my answer to Don Juan DeMarco was “A Princess of Earth”), stories where I disagreed with the premise or ending (my answer to my friend Bob Silverberg’s The Second Trip was “Me and My Shadow”), and so on. Many came from my observations during our trips abroad: “The 43 Antarean Dynasties,” “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge,” some of the Kirinyaga stories, others. Some came from songs: “Distant Replay” came from “When or Where”; “All the Things You Are” even kept the song title; the last third of The Widowmaker paralleled Marty Robbins’ “El Paso”. Some come from reading, some from discussions, and some just pop into my head. I could give you the genesis of all 60 novels and 240 stories – but each would be different.

SB Frank: You’ve said that you have always wanted to write a Western. And while we were chatting about the interview, you mentioned that something was in the works. Can you tell us about it?

Mike Resnick Weird West Tales: The Buntline SpecialMike Resnick: All my adult life I have been fascinated by Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo, and I have always wanted to write a novel about them – but as a newcomer to Westerns, I simply couldn’t afford to write it for a newcomer’s advance. Then a couple of months ago Lou Anders, my editor at Pyr, asked me for a “Weird Western,” and I agreed. The Buntline Special will feature Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, an Apache medicine man named Geronimo (he really was one), a vampire named Bat Masterson, the thing that used to be Johnny Ringo, and more. Perhaps it’s not the novel I’d planned on writing, but at least I finally get to put Doc and Ringo on paper. Well, phosphors.

SB Frank: What other books, stories or screenplays do you have in the works?

book reviews Mike Resnick Fable of Tonight 1. Stalking the Unicorn 2. Stalking the Vampire 3. Stalking the DragonMike Resnick: Always an awkward question, because the answer changes by the month. Books about to be published or written include Shaka II (November or December from PS in England; it’ll be in Subterranean Magazine next year); Starship: Flagship, the 5th and final Starship book, coming from Pyr in December; The Business of Science Fiction, a collection of the Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues that have been running for the past dozen years in the SFWA Bulletin, from McFarland; The Buntline Special, sometime next year from Pyr;  Blasphemy, an omnibus volume of 2 rather blasphemous novels (The Branch and Walpurgis III) and 5 short stories in which God or Jesus have speaking parts, from Golden Gryphon in summer; Masters of the Galaxy, a collection of my Jake Masters novellas; and Lezli Robyn and I have been asked to outline a YA trilogy for a new publisher and will be doing so in January.

In short fiction, I’ve got “The Bride of Frankenstein” in the December Asimov’s; “The Blimp and Sixpence” in the December Jim Baen’s Universe; “Shame,” a collaboration with Lezli Robyn, in the January Analog; “On Safari” in the upcoming anthology Gateways; a couple of anthology stories (and a trio of assignments) with Lezli Robyn; a novella called “Six Blind Men and an Alien” for Subterranean Magazine; 2 more Harry the Book stories; and a Lucifer Jones story in just about every issue of Subterranean Magazine.

Questions from the Fans:

book reviews Mike Resnick Fable of Tonight 1. Stalking the Unicorn 2. Stalking the Vampire 3. Stalking the DragonDeeAnn: How have you utilized your love of dogs (I gather you used to breed collies) and your love of Africa to inform the storylines of your books and short stories?
Mike Resnick: Dogs first. Back in the 1990s I wrote a private eye novel titled Dog in the Manger, about a missing show dog that was just the tip of a very corrupt iceberg. In 2009, I had out a fantasy novel titled Stalking the Dragon, which had to do with a dragon show, and integrated much of how a dog show works. And I’ve used dog shows or their equivalents in a couple of short stories, “Royal Bloodlines” and “A Most Unusual Greyhound”, a pair of funny fantasies about werewolves.

As for Africa, it’s been a major factor in my career, probably the major factor. Kirinyaga consists of 10 sequential episodes; various parts have won 2 Hugos and gotten 8 Hugo nominations, and the book has garnered 66 major and minor awards and nominations (and is still collecting them). Ivory was a Nebula nominee here and a Clarke nominee in England. “Mwalimu in the Squared Circle” was a Hugo nominee; so was “Barnaby in Exile”. “Hunting the Snark” was a Hugo and Nebula nominee. “The 43 Antarean Dynasties” won a Hugo. “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge” is a Hugo and Nebula winner, and has also won awards in other countries. I did a trio of novels — Paradise, Purgatory, and Inferno – that were science fictional allegorical histories of Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Uganda. I’ve written two major sf/African novellas in the past year: “Kilimanjaro” and “Shaka II”. So as you can see, my career would look a lot different without the Dark Continent.

Mike Resnick Galactic Midway 1. Sideshow 2. The Three-legged Hootch Dancer 3. The Wild Alien Tamer 4. The Best Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gunslinger in the Whole Damned Galaxy  Anorithe: Is he a trekkie or a Sci/Fi nut himself. I know he writes the stuff, but did he camp out for the new Star Wars films…does he go to Star Trek conferences, is Halloween just a day when EVERYone dresses up instead of just some people…you know.
Mike Resnick: I am not a Trekkie. I didn’t think much of the original series, and since I stopped watching network TV series about 25 or 30 years ago, I haven’t seen any other Trek shows and spinoffs. I thought the first two Star Wars films were good summer fun, nothing more; I didn’t like the third; and the three most recent were all-but-unwatchable. I don’t go to Star Trek conferences. I do go to about eight to ten science fiction conventions a year.

Ashe Argent: Before becoming an author. Mike Resnick was a book salesman, apparently selling steamy novels for men.
Mike Resnick: Nope. I wrote in the adult field under a variety of pseudonyms, and I edited some men’s magazine and tabloids, but I was never a salesman, only a writer and editor.

Michael D Resnick, Mike Resnick fantasy book reviews 1. The Goddess of Ganymede 2. Pursuit on GanymedeAnorithe: What are your pseudonyms you used ‘back in the day’? (i.e. 1960s/70s)
Mike Resnick: Sorry. Those – there were over 150 of them – go to my grave with me.

Anonymous: Have you ever been to Africa?
Mike Resnick: Yes. To Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Malawi, Botswana, Egypt, and 4 trips to Kenya.

Joe Scanlon: What is the worst book idea you ever had?
Mike Resnick: Whatever it was, I hope to hell I didn’t write it.

SB Frank: Anything else to share? Favorites?
Mike Resnick Galactic Midway 1. Sideshow 2. The Three-legged Hootch Dancer 3. The Wild Alien Tamer 4. The Best Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gunslinger in the Whole Damned GalaxyMike Resnick: My favorite writers in the field: Catherine L. Moore, Bob Sheckley, Alfie Bester, George Alec Effinger, Barry Malzberg, Ray Bradbury, James White, Cliff Simak.
My favorite writers outside the field: Raymond Chandler, Nikos Kazantzakis, Edward Whittemore, Alexander Lake.
My favorite collaborator (I’ve had 43): Lezli Robyn.
My favorite editor: I will answer that only when I quit writing.
My favorite publisher: ditto.
My favorite of my own characters: Lucifer Jones.
My favorite of my own books: The Outpost.

SB Frank: Thank you so much for this interview!

And thanks to all you readers for stopping by. We’d love for you to comment on this post either to respond to something said or just to share your appreciation with Mike.  Mike will see all of your comments.
We’re giving away not one but two novels in connection with this event: A signed copy of Midnight’s Daughter by Karen Chance – the sequel of which, Death’s Mistress, hits the shelves on Jan 05th.