Category Archives: Interview

Meet the Fictorians: Kim May

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a crisp Fall day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Kim May

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Kim! How are you doing and what are you drinking?

Kim May (KM): Nothing exciting. Just water.

KL: If you don’t mind me sharing, you live in the beautiful state of Oregon. Do you like living there, and do you find that it influences settings in your stories?

KM: It definitely does. Oregon has very diverse terrain which makes setting research much easier. I think tundra and tropical rain forest are all we’re missing. Plus there’s fun historical sites like the Shanghai Tunnels (which I did set a story in) and places so full of enchantment that it’s not hard to imagine fairies flitting between the firs.

KL: Besides blogging for The Fictorians, you have your own successful blog Ninja Keyboard. Tell us about it!

KMNinja Keyboard is where I post updates what I’m up to, new release announcements, general thoughts on the industry or a movie, or anything else I feel a burning need to talk about. I try to keep it all about me and my work. You’ll never see a political rant or religious treatise on my blog.

KL: You’ve been published numerous times in Fiction River. Tell about your stories and how we can purchase Fiction River.

KM: Fiction River is a bi-monthly short story magazine published by WMG Publishing. Each issue has a different editor and different theme that can be anything from historical mystery or thrillers to sci-fi and steampunk. There’s something for everyone! It’s a lot of fun writing so many different genres and it’s definitely expanded my capabilities as a writer. Before I got involved with Fiction River I never thought I could write anything other than sci-fi and fantasy. Now I can say that I have published stories of four different genres.

Another great thing about Fiction River is because they’re published like books, none of the back issues have gone out of print! They’re available for purchase online on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and on the Fiction River and WMG websites. Reader’s Guide and Powell’s stores in Oregon have print copies of the issues I’m in on hand as well.

KL: Of your short stories published, which one is your favorite and why?

KM: Gosh! That’s like picking a favorite chocolate bar! I love all of them for different reasons. I love Blood Moon Carnival because that’s the story I channeled my grief for my 19 year old cat into. (She died the day I finished it.) I love Void around the Sword’s Edge because it’s my action packed “stripper saves the world” story. Moonshine is a tribute to my favorite grandmother. The Fukuda Cube was my first RPG tie-in story, and it was by far the most challenging to write. In Keep Portland Weird I got to do an ode to Pacific Rim in Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter universe. In When A Good Fox Goes To War I got to play in feudal Japan, and Schrodinger’s Bar has my coolest ending!

KL: All of those sound really fun and interesting! Are you working on any longer fiction right now?

KM: I am! I’m finishing up two novels. The first is a new adult contemporary fantasy that I’m going to indie publish sometime next year and the other is a techno-thriller I’m going to pitch around.

KL: What are some of your writing goals for 2017?

KM: I just want to survive 2017. I’ve got three short stories and a novel coming out next year…and that’s just what’s on my publishing schedule right now. I’d also like to write the sequel to the new adult book I mentioned earlier. That’s all in addition to working a full-time day job and managing my arthritis, which are exhausting by themselves.

KL: What’s some of the best writing advice you’ve received so far?

KM: This is something I’ve talked about on this blog and on my own. It’s WTFS. Write the (bleep) sentence. I used to spend so much time agonizing on what the perfect phrasing would be or if description A was better than description B. I needed to understand that a first draft is just that: the first of many drafts. It doesn’t need to be perfect right away. It’s better to put something, anything, on the page and fix it later.

KL: What writers are most influential to you and why?

KM: Anne McCaffrey, Brandon Sanderson, Jacqueline Carey, Peter S Beagle, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Patrick Rothfuss are my favorite storytellers. I easily get lost in the worlds they’ve created. Choose Your Own Adventure books were pretty influential too. As a kid I read each of them three or four times. The first time I’d find the ending I liked best and then backtrack to find the path I had to follow to get there. After reading it that way I’d re-read it to find out why the other paths ended the way they did.

KL: What is your favorite Fictorians post so far?

KM: My first post is my favorite: Stockholm Syndrome Barbie. It’s a slice of me with a cherry on top. Stockholm Syndrome Barbie – The Fictorians.

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If you have any questions for Kim, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

Meet the Fictorians: Dave Heyman

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a warm summer’s day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Dave Heyman

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Dave! How are you and what are you drinking?

Dave Heyman (DH): I’m doing great! I’m drinking my one and only vice, which is coffee. I prefer instant to brewed. Blasphemy, I know, but it’s easier on my stomach. When traveling I prefer Dunkin’ to Starbucks, and love that I can just say “Medium hot, 3 and 3” at the counter and get what I want. It’s a New England thing.

Coffee. Love it.

KL: I actually prefer instant as well! I don’t speak that out loud, of course, and it sounds like you know exactly why. If you don’t mind me sharing, you live in Maine. Tell us a little about that.

DH: I’ve been a New Englander most of my life. I was stationed in Maine during one of my Navy tours and after that I knew I would be back. We raised our kids in New Hampshire but the plan was always to move back to Maine and I’m thrilled we’ve executed on that plan.

To me, Maine is New England in its most concentrated form. I love the climate, I love the ocean views and the foliage and I love the people. There’s nowhere else like it on earth. There’s just a hundred places you can go in Maine and just soak in the beauty.

KL: Do you find that a little bit of Maine comes through in your writing from time to time?

DH: More than a little. My stories often have a strong seafaring component to them, that’s influenced by my Navy career but also by Maine. Earlier this year I wrote a complete fantasy short story set in Maine that I’m making the submission rounds with right now. I also have a pair of lighthouse-related stories that have a lot of Maine wrapped up in them.

KL: You’ve completed a couple of novels. Tell us more about those, what they’re about and what your plans are for them.

DH: The first novel I completed was called ‘Ash Princess’, which I started during Nanowrimo of 2013. It’s an epic fantasy, the first draft clocks in at about 130,000 words. It the novel I carried around in my head for twenty years, always with the plan of writing it “someday”. After a close friend had a brush with death, I realized “someday” needed to become “now” and got busy. It took me about six months and writing it was a great learning experience. I have no intention of publishing it, but I pull it out to look at every now and then. It’s… not awful.

The second novel is a fantasy dystopian (is that a thing? I’ve decided that’s a thing) titled ‘Shades of the Sea’. After writing one novel, I wanted to see if I could write a second one without having two decades of prep time. Between the two novels I took a David Farland workshop, and a lot of those techniques paid off with this story. It’s still in its first draft, at about 100k words. It’s a pretty good story, I might pull it out again some day to see if it can be whipped into publishable shape.

Both of those novels were less about being published and more about learning how to be a writer, developing a process that worked for me and finding my voice. I think some aspiring authors can get stuck forever polishing that first novel and never get past it. For me, it was more a case of looking at what I did and saying “Ok, neat. Now what else can I do?”

KL: What writers do you find most influential?

DH: As a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, I started with Tolkien and Clarke- -they were my primers on fantasy and science fiction. I read some Asimov and Heinlein too, but they never connected with my the way Clarke did. For fantasy, after Tolkien I moved on to Weis & Hickman, Eddings, Anne McCaffery and Katherine Kurtz. I also have a deep and abiding love for the world building in Stephen R. Donaldson’s books, even as I acknowledge the unpleasantness of his main characters. I also read a ton of Stephen King, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz.

As an adult aspiring author, I have been very influenced by some of the people whose workshops I have taken. Influenced by their prose, but more importantly in how they treat their peers and students and the passion with which they speak of the field. David Farland, Jeanne Cavelos, Mary Robinette Kowall, Kevin J. Anderson, Dean Wesley Smith- -all people I have learned a ton from and try to model myself after.

KL: You mentioned you were in the Navy. Do you find that that influences your writing? Military fantasy or sci-fi? If it doesn’t now, would you see yourself incorporating it in your future writing?

DH: I couldn’t be prouder of my time in the Navy. It was an amazing experience, and it does influence my writing, though not in the way you might expect. I didn’t leave the Navy with a love for the hardware of war, even if I love reading a good war book as much as the next person. What struck me the most in the military is the esprit de corps- -the bond that is struck amongst people working together in stressful situations. I have tapped that feeling in most of the things I’ve written, it is a powerful emotion to experience.

I do have a series planned that revolves around a military ship in a fantasy setting, so I’m sure I’ll pull on lots of my Navy times there.

KL: What’s your favorite work you’ve written so far?

DH: I have a novella that is about 75% complete (but 100% plotted) called The Fifth Interdictor. In short, it is a fantasy about a seemingly unstoppable guardian who slowly learns that her whole life has been engineered, with many layers of secrets hidden from her. She pulls the pieces of her true life together, but at the cost of her power- -becoming weaker and more vulnerable the more she truth she uncovers. Strangers become family, allies become enemies and her own identity is questioned. Is she a hero, or a monster?

It is my favorite thing I have written, with both my favorite protagonist and my favorite antagonist. I expect to complete it next year (another project muscled its way to the front of the line) and once it is done I will be finding a way to get it in people’s hands.

KL: What are some of your long-term goals with writing?

DH: Up until about six months ago I was running with no real plan. From 2013 when I got serious about doing this every day I was just focused on writing, writing and writing. Growing, learning, evaluating. I submitted a few short stories here and there, but nothing beyond that. I figured when I was ‘ready’ I would know.

Six months ago I decided I would write a novel that was intended not for growth, but for publication. The novel is a historical fantasy set in Nepal in 1950, titled Under Everest. I am working on it right now, and I expect to complete it in about another two months. I also have the aforementioned Fifth Interdictor, which I intend to compete and publish, as well as a nautical fantasy series I expect to start late this year.

KL: I love that – having projects specifically for growth and some specifically for publication. Do you have any stories available that our readers can buy or read online? Any plans for that in the future?

DH: Nothing out there yet. I am hopeful that 2017 will change all of that.

KL: I know you’re relatively new to the Fictorians, but what is your favorite Fictorians post you’ve written so far?

DH: I’m super excited and honored to be a full time Fictorian! My favorite Fictorians post is the first guest post I did, “Petting the Dog in Space”. I was so taken by the plight of little Philae the comet lander and I was very happy with how the post came out.

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If you have any questions for Dave, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

Meet the Fictorians: Ace Jordyn

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a warm summer’s day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Ace Jordyn

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Ace! How are you doing and what are you drinking?

Ace Jordan (AJ): Hi Kristin! I’m still waking up! It’s 7 a.m. and this is my prime writing time. I’m drinking a green rooibos tea called Sea Buckthorn Green. Its aroma is earthy and it has a delicate taste of macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn berries with a smooth hint of cream and caramel.

KL: You’ve done some pretty exciting traveling lately. Tell us more about that!

AJ: This summer’s main adventure was to northern Saskatchewan to a cabin in the woods. It was fun and busy with a family reunion and seeing many old friends. It’s just remote enough that you have to drive a couple kilometers out to get a cell signal for the phone and internet service doesn’t exist. There are landlines and electricity but otherwise, it’s pretty laid back.

KL: That sounds wonderful! Do you often travel? And do your travels find their way into your work?

AJ: My travels always get into my stories one way or another. For example, I’ve been to Morocco twice and what strikes me every time I’m there is how a civilization has flourished in such a harsh environment. That harsh environment is a setting in a novel. The island of Crete, with all its ancient Minoan sites has inspired a series set 4,000 years ago. I like to take history, or a historical site, and twist it into a fantasy which isn’t necessarily historically accurate. New places are jumping off points. And that can happen in the back yard too like with a rock in a creek which inspired a trilogy. I wanted to know where that rock came from, its journey from the Rocky Mountains, and why it was so important. When I asked those questions, I discovered a whole new world I’d have never imagined otherwise.

The cool thing about being in a new culture where I don’t know the language and the customs, is a sense of being alien, not fitting in. That always puts me in a position of child-like wonder about the surroundings. Also, it reminds me, as a writer, not to take things for granted, especially value systems, cultural norms, and daily life issues. It reminds me not to impose my values and reactions on characters – they must react and be authentic to their world, which usually conflicts with how I live and perceive my own life. Here’s a post about this experience.

KL: I’d love to travel to Morocco. Maybe someday I will! So what are you working on right now?

AJ: Right now I’m working on two projects (maybe more, and that depends on the day). I’m back to world building for a steampunkish fantasy novel. Here’s my process: I get a flicker of an idea and I write it down. I do some character building. I write the first few chapters to get a feel for the story. I sketch an outline, then do more character work. For this novel, I decided that a female protagonist would work better than a male protagonist so I rewrote the first chapters. Now, I’m doing a little more world building. I find that if I nail the character and world details at the start, it sets the tone and the rest of the novel writes itself.

I’m also writing short stories. New fables and folk tales for children. I just had one (When Phakack Came to Steal Papa, a Ti-Jean Story) accepted for Volume 27 No 4 by On Spec, The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic. Here, I twisted up history and fantasy in a Canadian context.

KL: Where can we find and buy your work?

AJ: I coedited Shanghai Steam Anthology. It is recommended reading in Orson Scott Card’s book Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-of-This-World Novels and Short Stories.

I also have an independently published middle grade book Painted Problems which deals with the impact graffiti has on a community.

When Phakack Came to Steal Papa, a Ti-Jean Story can be obtained through On Spec next month.

As for my other novels and short stories, they’re being subbed to traditional publishers. My reason for doing this rather than self-publishing is because of distribution. My target market is middle grade and YA. Traditional publishers have access to a distribution system that I can’t access on my own.

KL: What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

AJ: My favorite thing is whatever I’m currently working on. How can it not be? If I don’t love it, it won’t be written.

KL: From what I understand, you’ve been in the Fictorians from the beginning. Were you one of the first?

AJ: Yes. I attended the first Superstars Seminar and it was a great experience not only for the instruction we received but also for the people I met. As we got to know each other, we realized that we all wanted a web presence but weren’t necessarily ready to have our own website. But most importantly, we wanted to provide meaningful information, to share our experiences and knowledge so that others could benefit from what we’ve learned. So we formed the Fictorians and it’s been a wonderful experience for us and hopefully for our readers too.

KL: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

AJ: Hmmm …. There has been lots of advice, but the best one, the earliest one ever was receiving permission to be mean to my characters. I didn’t have to be nice – isn’t that what we’re taught as kids, to play nice? But as a writer, I don’t have to be nice. It’s better if I’m not. Characters need to struggle, they need to make mistakes, and they need to take readers on a journey that hits the all the emotional points.

KL: What advice would you give to a new writer?

AJTake your time and write a lot. Don’t be in a rush to publish (self or traditional) your first novel or short story. By all means, do so if you want for some have had great success in doing that. Most of us don’t. I think what’s important for all writers is to find their storytelling voice. That takes time and refinement of the craft. Here’s my story with this: I couldn’t write a short story. The form eluded me forever. Anything I tried always sounded like a long pitch for a novel. After six or seven novels, short story writing clicked. Why? Because I had found my voice. I had discovered my passion, or niche as some would call it. And that passion is for folk tales and fables. Finding your voice does wonderful things – that’s how the Ti-Jean story got written and it’s the first ever fable published by On Spec.

My novels incidentally, aren’t folk tales or fables – they’re a tidbit of history with a fantasy twist. So I guess that means I have two writing voices.

KL: Great advice. And finally, what’s your favorite Fictorians post that you’ve written so far?

AJ: My favorite is the one I wrote about using Maslow’s Hierarchy to write pitches and get to the heart/moral premise of a story. Discovering that I could use Maslow in that way was astounding and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a tool that can be used when you’re trying to write a pitch or when brainstorming a new story and you need to nail down the moral premise. I refer to that post a lot.

Thanks for this opportunity to chat with you, Kristin. I wish you and all our readers many great inspired moments!

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If you have any questions for Ace, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

Meet the Fictorians: Colette Black

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a warm summer’s day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Colette Black

Author Pic

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Colette! How are you doing and what are you drinking?

Colette Black (CB): Other than a sudden case of pink eye–how do we contract stuff like that?–I’m doing great. I’m not currently drinking anything, but my most recent drink was almond milk. I’m lactose sensitive, so…

KL: I love almond milk! I’m also lactose sensitive, as my husband would surely attest to. If you don’t mind me sharing, you live in Arizona. Does the landscape influence your writing at all?

CB: On occasion. I’ve set a couple of short stories in Arizona, such as Watchboy, using my knowledge of the geography and climate. I’ve also used that knowledge in other books, such as Mwalgi Justice, when writing about a dry, desert climate. I wouldn’t say that the landscape encourages me to write any more or less in that direction, though. I also spent time in the Philippines, and set a short story there called “Eden’s Hell.” At the same time, there are places I’ve never been, like India, but I did a large amount of research and set the majority of my story, “Beneath the Skin” in that country. Of course, then I had someone who had lived there look over the story for me.

KL: When is your most ideal time of day to write? Do you have a schedule or routine that you like to follow?

CB: My best time to write is evenings, but that’s also usually the best time to spend with my teenagers. It’s a balancing act, and although mornings aren’t my best time to write, I’ve found that I can often make it work and so that’s usually when I get the most done.

KL: You have three books out right now in your Mankind’s Redemption Series: Noble Ark, Desolation, and Mwalgi Justice. Is it a trilogy or can we expect more books in the series?

CB: The Mankind’s Redemption Series will eventually have six books. No more and no less. The fourth book, Lenfay’s Hell, will release in 2017. It’s a wild ride trying to keep humans alive on an aggressive alien planet. That challenge only becomes more important when Lar and Aline discover secrets pertaining to both their races that nobody else knows about.

KL: I noticed that you also have a short story collection out called The Black Side. Which is more difficult: short fiction or long fiction?

CB: For me, short fiction. My brain thinks in over-arching plots and subplots. Skimming that down into an interesting, 3000-5000 word story, which is what most magazines prefer, is one of my greatest challenges. I still do it, because it’s good for honing a myriad of skills.

KL: What writing projects are you working on right now?

CB: I’m focused on Lenfay’s Hell, but I’m also spending time on the second book in The Number Prophecy, Thirteen. I think I’m even more excited about that than Lenfay’s Hell, which is saying something. I also have a couple of short stories that I hope to have published soon.

KL: Have you been doing any interesting research lately for any of your writing projects? Care to give us a little taste?

CB: I found a fascinating story from the 1500’s about a knight that supposedly killed a dragon in the Slavic region of Europe. Using the backstory from one of my other projects that hasn’t released yet, called Moon Shadows, I created a courtship between a half-Mongol peasant and a Ukrainian princess. It’s a 16th century urban fantasy with local shapeshifters, wind dragons from Asia, and the creation of a new power. I can’t wait for this short to be picked up because it’s one of my favorites. Keep your eyes out for “Swan’s Petition”

KL: That sounds great! When did you join the Fictorians?

CB: I actually helped organize the Fictorians. After the first Superstars Writing Seminar, I suggested to the goal-keeping group we’d formed that we put together a group blog. Evan Braun and some others took the reins and started putting the plan in motion; people like Matthew Jones understood and incorporated the technical side, and we started with only 2-3 posts per week, each of us posting about twice per month. It fills me with joy and wonder to see what it has become. We’re more professional, we fill every month with unique and fascinating posts, and we incorporate a multitude of guest posts from talented authors on a regular basis. It’s amazing.

KL: And here we are today! What writing advice have you received that you would pass on to other writers?

CB: BICFOK. No, it’s not a swear word, though sometimes it feels like one. It means Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard. We have to write, keep writing, and write when we may not feel like it. Also, remember to read…A LOT. We can’t improve our writing if we’re not reading.

KL: And finally, what has been your favorite Fictorians post that you’ve written so far?

CB: That’s tough. I’ve written a LOT of posts. In the end, though it’s short, I’d have to say my Gratitude Post is my favorite. If it wasn’t for my family, their encouragement, and their patience, I could have never written the stories that I did. My family is everything to me.

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If you have any questions for Colette, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!