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Posts tagged ‘imagination’

‘First, I make tea’: the craft of writing with Yoon Ha Lee

Yoon Ha Lee is a Korean-American writer of science fiction and science fantasy. YHL has a B.A. in math (maths to those of us in Australia) from Cornell University and an M.A. in math (yes, maths) education from Stanford University. Yoon loves to explore mathematics for story ideas. His fiction has appeared in several revered sci-fi & fantasy (SFF) publications such as F&SFTor.com, and Clarkesworld Magazine, and his stories have been chosen several times for  “The Year’s Best…” anthologies.

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to review Yoon’s fabulous book, Hexarchate Stories, an instalment in his much-loved Machineries of Empire series. I introduced my review with this sentence:

Prepare to be amazed and captivated by this collection of science fiction delights…

Imagine my pleasure when Yoon agreed to be interviewed for the Last Word of the Week!

Welcome, Yoon, and thank you for speaking with me today. You’ve been widely published and have quite a name in SFF circles. What words of advice would you give an aspiring author?

YOON: There is a lot of writing advice out there.  Realize that every writer is different, and that advice that works for one person may not work for another.  There’s often no harm in trying something to see if it works for you, but if the advice doesn’t work, there’s likely nothing wrong with you.  It’s intended for a different kind of writer, that’s all.  Take what works and discard what doesn’t.

That’s very reassuring. Do you have a go-to routine for writing?

First I make tea.  Then I sit down to write, except my tortoiseshell cat, Cloud, jumps up and blocks the keyboard.  I pet her until she decides that she’s had enough worship and wanders off.  Only then do I get started.  Really, worshipping a cat is one of the most pleasant ways to brainstorm anyway.  She interrupts me at intervals for more petting, which is a great way for me to take typing breaks!

I think I need another blog series called ‘authors and their feline muses’! How much research is involved in your writing?

It depends on the story!  In a sense I’m constantly researching, because I keep an eye out for ideas and interesting facts as I read or browse the internet or listen to conversations.  Some stories are mostly invention, so they don’t require me to research anything specific.  On the other hand, my forthcoming novel Phoenix Extravagant is set in a fantasy version of Korea during the Japanese occupation, and its protagonist is a painter, so I spent six months reading everything I could get my hands on about Korean archaeology and art history.  Spoiler: it’s hard to find much on those topics in English; I am indebted to my mom for helping me find books!

Ah, a secret research assistant. Excellent! How do you deal with plot holes – if you ever have any!

First, I go to my husband and whine at him, usually with the words, “Joe, my novel is brokedy.”  Then I make him take me to a cafe, where I explain why my story isn’t working (and probably the other patrons are giving us weird looks because we’re talking about nanomachines or undead generals or whatever).  He brainstorms with me and comes up with a solution.  I ask him to type it up and email it to me.  I read the email.  Then I ignore his suggestions and do something completely different.  Strange as this method sounds, it works!

I must try it! I can’t get my husband to read my books until they arrive in paperback form. How you get feedback about your story before it’s published?

I have a trusted group of friends whom I ask to beta read for me.  There’s usually a few people willing to volunteer at any given point in time.  Some of them are writers, some of them aren’t.  Every beta reader has different strengths and weaknesses, so I try to get a few different viewpoints.  For example, my husband is a physicist, so he’s great at finding logic holes.  Character arcs, not so much.

The Candlevine Gardener & Other Stories by Yoon Ha Lee

The Candlevine Gardener & Other Stories by Yoon Ha Lee

Good plan. What’s your writing goal for the next twelve months?

Right now I’m working on a science fantasy short story for the Silk & Steel anthology.  I’m a novice fencer attending the Red Stick School of Fencing in Baton Rouge, so there will be dueling!  My duelist character is going to be much more competent than I am–what else is wish-fulfillment for?

I’m currently under contract for a sequel to my kids’ Korean mythology space opera, Dragon Pearl, so I’m excited to be working on that after the short story’s done.  I love space opera so it’s going to be fun returning to that genre.  That’s due in October.  And after that, who knows?

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Machineries of Empire #1)

That’s quite a program! And you’re the third SFF author I’ve met who also fences… What’s your favourite genre to read?

I have two right now–nonfiction and tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs).  The world is full of weird and fascinating facts; my shelves have books on linguistics, military history, music theory, and other delights.  As for the RPGs, I’m a gamer with an interest in game design, so I love looking both at older settings like TSR’s Planescape (a Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting) as well as indie RPGs like Monsterhearts 2 or Tiny Frontiers.

Are you planning to write any graphic novels?

I’d love to give it a go; I’ve experimented with one- and three-panel gag strips in the past.  My current project, sort of in the nature of a warm-up, is a 22-page comic adaptation of my short story “The Battle of Candle Arc,” originally published in Clarkesworld Magazine (http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/lee_10_12/).  I have a script, thumbnails, and color test, so the next step will be to do the pencils.  Trying to make a story work in a visual format is extremely interesting.  I’m personally looking forward to drawing exploding starships because, please, don’t we all?

What would be a dream come true for you?

This is a very long shot, but I would be thrilled if someone made an animated TV adaptation of Ninefox Gambit or even all of Machineries of Empire.  I suspect that doing it as live-action would be cost-prohibitive because of all the “magical” special effects and space battles, but maybe animation would ameliorate that?  It’s nice to dream, anyway!

A wonderful dream – I’d love to see that! Thank you so much for the chat. You’re an inspiration.

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

 

LINKS

website: http://yoonhalee.com

Twitter: @deuceofgears

Instagram: @deuceofgears

BOOK LINKS

Phoenix Extravagant (preorder):

https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Extravagant-Yoon-Ha-Lee/dp/1781087946/

Dragon Pearl

https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Pearl-Yoon-Ha-Lee/dp/136801335X/

Ninefox Gambit

https://www.amazon.com/Ninefox-Gambit-Machineries-Empire-Yoon/dp/1781084491/

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, by Megan Shepherd

This is astonishing, magical, and totally unexpected.

A book to keep and to savour forever. Congratulations to all for the brilliant combination of story and illustrations.

The story follows an orphaned, ill girl who is sent to a country hospital (a former manor house) during WWII to be treated for tuberculosis, but although that is the story line, that is not really what this book is about.

Life, death, imagination, magic, the veil between the worlds, the realms of possibility, the lasting impressions of love. If this book was a poem, I would call it a meditation, reflective but not mournful, though it deals with the hard, inescapable facts of our mortality.

Viewed through the eyes of children, this novel is an absolute treat.

Memorable and somehow inevitable: reading about the secret winged horses of Briar Hill immediately makes me believe in them – as if I had always known that they existed.

Read it; I hope you will be just as pleased to add these divine creatures to your inner landscape.

Last Word of the Week: Deryn Pittar

This week I am very happy to be speaking with prolific New Zealand author Deryn Pittar, whose novels range across several genres, but always includes interesting characters and arresting situations. Deryn is also a published poet, and her felicity with words is eveident in her writing. Welcome, Deryn!

Last Word of the Week: Deryn, when did you write your first story?

Deryn: When I was a young mother, surrounded by small children. It was a short story about a guardian angel who’d been demoted for losing a client and was a nervous wreck over the antics of her new charge. It was published in a magazine for women. I didn’t write seriously again for many years as life intervened. Then ten years ago I wrote three novels in a row, none of them ever published, but it was a great learning curve and I’m still learning.

LWOTW: What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Without my imagination I wouldn’t be writing. Yes, I dream, but they are hardly ever of any use. As to planning, I barely plan. Just a few goalposts/turning points to aim for. A basic premise and some bare bone plot lines – the rest is ‘pantstering’ . I do make notes and jot down ideas but often find by the end of the books I’ve only used half the ideas and plot lines.

LWOTW: What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

When my first contract arrived six years ago. Such a thrill. From there I learned all about the editing and publishing process. I have had eight books published since with various publishers.

Earlier this year Junction Publishing released my dragon story, and a cozy mystery. In June/July they also released my series of five paranormal romances called ‘The Future Movers’. I sometimes enter competitions and have had short stories, flash fiction and poetry published both in hard copy and in e-books. I like to stretch my craft by writing in different genre.

Luck

LWOTW: That’s an impressive CV! What are you most busy with at the moment?

I co-wrote a novella this year with a fellow author. It was a first for both of us and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The process flowed as we swapped ideas, then chapters; rewrote, tightened and added, each improving the finished story. It is being released at the end of next month (October) in time for Halloween. Called Angelfire, it’s about an angel who falls in love with a soldier. He has to thwart her brother’s schemes for Halloween and rescue her from harm. It was supposed to be a horror but turned into a romantic black comedy. Lots of fun with quirky enchanting characters. We are hoping to write a sequel and all going well I should be doing that, or have just finished it! I don’t plan too far in advance in case a better idea pops up. I will certainly be busy promoting this release and hope to have the cover to show you by the time this goes to press. We both learned we can’t write horror.

In between I’ve had two sweet novellas accepted for anthologies and I’m currently writing a contemporary romance involving a wager between two guardian angels. The angel theme seems to be reoccurring. I have no idea how long this will be.

angelfire ebook cover2

LWOTW: Angelfire sounds great. Can’t wait to see it. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, Deryn, what would it be?

Listen to advice and take what applies to you, because some of it won’t.

Don’t slavishly follow all the instructions you read about how other people write. Everyone’s creative process is different and you need to do it your way. Some people plan to the nth degree before they start, others pantser from the very first sentence. I’m a bit of both…

You should write with whatever method makes you feel happy, because writing is a creative craft and being creative should give you satisfaction – not angst, worry or despair. If you are suffering from those, you are doing it all wrong. Throw away the advice books and try another method.

Join some writing groups (on line or off), find some critique partners (not family or friends) and just keep writing. Get feedback, try different genres until you find your niche. Read, read, read and write, write, then write some more. You can’t edit a blank page. Words are great things. You can put them in any order and make different scenes. Be brave!! Even if you get it all wrong, no one is going to shoot you. Laugh, learn and start again.

Sorry this isn’t ‘one thing’ is it? But then I’m a writer and words are my tools.

Thank you for this opportunity and good luck to all of you who have read this far.

It’s been an absolute pleasure, Deryn, thank YOU for taking part. And for the very Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

RED. (It’s vibrant and energetic, and warms me up when I wear it.)

Deryn’s links:

Lutapolii - White Dragon of the South:http://geni.us/vA2Bz
Luck be a Lady - Charles Paterson Investigates: http://geni.us/lrqmK
 https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000354971548  for up-to-date news
www.facebook.com/derynpittar (allied with Virginnia’ De Parte’s page.)
Blog:  http://derynpittar.tumblr.com
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/@derynpittar

And you can now buy Angelfire:

ANGELFIRE BUY LINK:  http://geni.us/m2WIB 

Last Word of the Week: Elizabeth Foster

This week we are speaking with Australian author Elizabeth Foster, whose middle-grade-approaching-YA novel Esme’s Wish I wrote a review about earlier this year.

Manly book launch

Last Word of the Week: Greetings, Elizabeth! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

Elizabeth: When I was young, I never imagined I would write stories. It seemed outside the realm of possibility. I remember writing poems as a child, but unfortunately have no record of them. Luckily, my aunt kept a story I wrote back in primary school, about a girl with magic spectacles. Since I now write fantasy, it is a sweet story I’m glad I still have.

LWOTW: As a fantasy author, what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

I write best when I am in a rather dreamy head space, almost as if I am once-removed from the work itself, so I guess dreaming is an essential part of my writing life. As for planning, I refused to plan my first book, but have since been won over to the idea that my muse quite likes some sort of guidance. When it comes to imagination, if there was no opportunity for colouring outside the lines I think life would quickly become very dreary.

LWOTW: Good point! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

I love the fact that Esme’s Wish is published and people actually read it and enjoy it enough to want to read the sequel – I’m still pinching myself! Another highlight that comes to mind is receiving Wendy Orr’s commendation for my book cover. A writer friend encouraged me to ask her and to my absolute surprise, Wendy, a wonderful and generous veteran author who has written many award-winning books, agreed.

LWOTW: That’s wonderful! So, what are you most busy with at the moment?

I have finally got back into writing the second book in the Esme series. I’m also working on getting better at photography. Now that I live near the water I am newly inspired. I used to paint and I miss being visually creative, even though I do get to imagine scenes for my books.

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LWOTW: I’m glad to hear that Esme #2 is on the way. Now, if you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

I always give the same advice. Write a lot, read widely, seek useful feedback and stay humble. Eventually you might find you have on your hands a publishable story or two!

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

All the blues.

Last Word of the Week: Felicity Banks

This week we are being totally charmed by the gorgeous Felicity Banks, the Australian author who channels the Antipodean Queen (how cool is that?) among other things. Felicity is also published by the impressive Odyssey Books.

Last Word of the Week: Welcome, Felicity. Can you tell us when  you wrote your first story?

Felicity: I can remember attempting my first novel when I was seven or so, during an idle afternoon at my grandparents’ house. It was about a family of cats, and the big drama was that Pamela (the mother) had gained weight. What unimaginable horror!

Then the amazing twist was that she wasn’t overweight after all. She was having kittens. There is no greater possible end to a story than brand new kittens.

LWOTW: A happy outcome indeed. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

It seems I was born to plan out my stories before I write them, given that I was outlining novels at age seven. Sometimes I write out pages and pages of character notes, maps, and so on. Most of the time I have about an A4 handwritten page of notes when I start writing a novel and if I’m having trouble with a scene I might write out another page of notes just for that scene. Sometimes things change dramatically partway through the story, and I’m fine with that. Once I had a weird dream and then woke up and started writing a novel that afternoon.

Imagining things is easy; real life is hard.

LWOTW: We’re with you there. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

It took me a long, long time to get published—fifteen years after finishing my first novel. At around the same time as my first novel was published, I discovered the world of interactive fiction (like “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels, but usually digital), and nowadays my writing is actually in demand. That is absolutely amazing, and I love it.

I really enjoy going to conferences and fairs, especially meeting people who’ve read my books and come back for more.

MonsterApprenticeCoverFB

LWOTW: That must be very affirming. What are you most busy with at the moment?

Trying to actually do the writing I’m meant to be doing! Which is precisely why I’m here, doing other things.

logo.thumbnail_Murder mystery 2 colour

LWOTW: Well, we’re glad you took the time out to talk with us. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Don’t! The average full-time writer in Australia earns only $12,000 per year.

But if you’re the type of person who thrives on being told not to do something, then the long years of rejection will be perfect for you. Or you can just write for fun (and if you get paid, great). That’s what I do.

FelicityPic

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Green.

Thanks for speaking with us!

You can find out more about Felicity’s steampunk fantasy books here.

Felicity’s interactive writing can be found under the name Felicity Banks at the site here – but beware, it’s addictive!

Felicity’s latest book is a middle grade novel called The Monster Apprentice and features monsters AND pirates. You can find Felicity’s various pirate tales (some for children, some not) here.

Something to Say: Deborah Sheldon

Today we’re speaking with the Melbourne writer Deborah Sheldon.

Some of Deborah’s latest releases, through several publishing houses, include the noir-horror novel Contrition, the dark literary collection 300 Degree Days and Other Stories, the bio-horror novella Thylacines, the dark fantasy and horror collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (winner of the Australian Shadows Award “Best Collected Work 2017”) and the monster-horror novel Devil Dragon. Deborah’s short fiction has appeared in many well-respected magazines such as Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, SQ Mag, and Midnight Echo. Her work has been shortlisted for numerous Aurealis Awards and Australian Shadows Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award, and included in “best of” anthologies. Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing.

Deborah Sheldon

Something to Say: Welcome, Deb! That’s quite a list of achievements. What project are you talking about today?

Deborah: Award-winning press, IFWG Publishing Australia, is releasing my noir-horror novel, Contrition, today – September 3rd. The back-cover blurb reads:

In her late teens, Meredith Berg-Olsen had all the makings of a runway model. Now in her late forties, after everything she had been through – including horrors that John could only guess at – she looked bloodless instead of pale, skeletal instead of slender, more dead than alive…

John Penrose has two secrets. One is the flatmate he keeps hidden from the world: his high-school sweetheart, Meredith. His other secret is the reason he feels compelled to look after her.

Contrition is a horror story with noir undertones and an atmosphere of mounting dread.

STS: Is there one aspect of Contrition that you relate to the most – a favourite character, scene, effect? Can you tell us more about that?

My novel has two timelines: the present day and the 1980s. For the latter, I drew upon my own memories of high school for inspiration. If some of my old chums were to read Contrition, the basis of a few events might seem vaguely familiar. Since I hadn’t thought about my teenage years in a long, long time, it was interesting to sift through the memories, both good and bad. I think doing so gave the novel’s earlier timeline its rawness and pathos.

STS: What do you think drives you to pursue your creativity?

My brain is hard-wired to write. I started writing when I was a kid, and I’ve been a professional for 32 years. I’ll write until my dying day. There are two of me: the subjective self who lives this life; and the “observer” who squirrels away occurrences, feelings and thoughts to use in fiction. Every experience is potential fodder. I often reassure myself while going through a rough time, “Deb, elements of this will make good stories.” And it helps!

STS: That’s an interesting way to approach hard times. I like it! Now, many writers have described their processes using analogies – the famous Hemingway one, for example, in which he says that writing is simply a matter of sitting in front of the typewriter and staring at a blank page until you start to sweat blood. Others speak of stitching scenes together, following characters on a journey, immersing themselves in a storyline. What can you say about your process?

I see each writing project – whether it be a short story, novella or novel – as a kind of jigsaw puzzle. I know what “picture” I’m trying to create. I just need to find some way to put all the pieces in the correct order. I’m technique-driven. To use another analogy, I build a story like an engineer builds a bridge.

STS: Jigsaw-like, that’s excellent. Finally, what five words would you use to describe yourself as a writer?

Technical, productive, committed, pedantic, curious.

STS: Wonderful! Thank you so much for talking to us today, and all the best for Contrition!

 

Pictures

Author photo

Contrition cover

Links

Website: https://deborahsheldon.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3312459.Deborah_Sheldon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Deborah-Sheldon-936388749723500/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B0035MWQ98/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

Last Word of the Week: Kathryn Gossow

This week, I’m chatting with the intriguing Kathryn Gossow, whose YA novel Cassandra (published by the magical Odyssey Books) explores questions of future, knowledge, love, and fanily duties.

Last Word of the Week: Hi Kathryn! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

Kathryn: The first story I remember writing in primary school was about the moon and a little girl falling in love. When the moon had to return to the sky, it slipped out of the girl’s grasp and you can still see her hand print on the moon. I remember writing the line ‘forgotten like the man who invented matches’ which impressed my teacher. In grade 7, I wrote the end of year play. It was about a girl trapped on an alien planet at Christmas time. The aliens feel sorry for her and organise Christmas for her including an upside down tree and an electric dustpan for a gift.

LWOTW: What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Inspiration rests in our dreams and imagination, but have you ever had someone try and tell you about their weird dream? Dreams don’t confirm to storytelling conventions. On the other hand, have you ever read a washing machine manual? Too much planning and the heart that comes from the inspiration – the dream or imagination – loses its emotional impact. There needs to be a balance – like eating both your vegetables and your cake.

LWOTW: First time I’ve though of writing as a balance between vegetables and cake! Nice. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

This year, by far, it was having my book Cassandra short listed in the best fantasy novel category of the Aurealis Awards.

GOSSOW_KATHRYN

LWOTW: Fantastic achievement, Kathryn. Congrats! What are you busy with at the moment?

So crazy, crazy busy. I am working on my new book about a librarian who can heal people with books. I am editing my almost completed collection of short stories – The Dark Poet. I am also on the marketing train with my first book Cassandra. Then there is blogging and sending stories to magazines. I also have to dust my house, prune my stone fruit trees, buy a new thingamabob for my broken swivel mirror…do you really want the whole list?

LWOTW: I reckon that’s enough to be getting on with 🙂 If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Put your bum in the chair and write. It won’t write itself.

 

You’re right there – and no one else will write it for you either. Thank you so much for your insights, Kathryn, and all the best with the writing. And the thingamabob of course.

Kathryn’s home page is at: https://kathryngossow.net/

Last Word of the Week: Patricia Leslie

This week, I’m very excited to speak with Patricia Leslie, who writes urban fantasy that blurs the edges of reality with a dashing mix of action and history. You might know her books Keeper of the Way, The Ouroboros Key, and A Single Light. If not yet, pop them on your TBR list 🙂

Last Word of the Week: When did you write your first story, Patricia?

Patricia: I remember loving the physical action of writing before I could form letters so probably not long after I started school. I was an enthusiastic creative writer all through school. Writing was my way of sharing the words I couldn’t articulate (I was very shy), making sense of all the ideas in my head, and planning. I’ve “always” written whether it be stories and silly poems, notes on books I’ve read, quotes, or plans for world domination – it has all come from the scratch of a pen on paper.

A good session of writing is exhilarating and I miss it when I’m caught up in the minutiae of a writer’s life – not to mention family and work life on top of that! Some days, it’s all I can do to raise the remote control to change the channel on the television and others I race home and spend hours on my iPad or with my notebook, writing and writing and writing.

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LWOTW: Interesting! Tell us, what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

I have used some of my dreams (and nightmares) in my novels and short stories. One story I wrote called “Forward” is entirely based on a good/bad dream based on Whisper Magic, possession, and Fate. I’ve mentioned in other interviews that I’ve always been a committed day-dreamer and have concocted whole worlds, characters, and magics in my head. I use my downtime (usually right before I go to sleep) to imagine scenarios in the hope I’ll go on to dream about them. More often than not though my dreams are all about processing things that are happening in my life or feelings or anticipations.

Planning: I’m a list-maker so naturally I also plan, but once I start writing I just write. Some pieces are put aside until they are ready to fit into the overarching plan and some change the plan completely. Flexibility is the key to avoid inhibiting the flow of creativity.

LWOTW: I’m with you on the flexibility thing. And what’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

  1. Receiving a notification from Lending Rights Australia that I’m about to receive a payment! I do enjoy monetary surprises!
  2. But before that, there are two amazing moments: winning first place in a short story competition on my birthday and receiving my first publishing contract (which was also my scariest moment).

LWOTW: Prizes, birthdays and publishing contracts. How divine! What are you most busy with at the moment?

Promoting my latest novel, Keeper of the Way, which is Book 1 of Crossing the Line, and researching/writing books 2 & 3.

I’ve been updating my website, reinvigorating my previously sparse newsletter, writing lots of guest posts, and contacting book bloggers about reviews. As well, I’ve been organising speaking opportunities. Next on my To Do list is following up with bookshops.

LWOTW: Good luck! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Never give up

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

A light aqua/turquoise/green kind of hue

Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing on Last Word of the Week.

 

You can find Patricia at https://www.patricialeslie.net/

Patricia Leslie’s books are available through all the usual online outlets

Last Word of the Week: K J Taylor

This week we are pleased and just a little bit excited to meet the author K J (aka Katie) Taylor. You can find out more about Katie’s fantastic (in every sense of the word) books here.

Last Word of the Week: Welcome Katie! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

KJ: In primary school, aged about six. I loved books so much that I started making my own – not just writing them but putting them together with pages, cover art, and even little publisher’s logos I made up. I still have them, and they’re adorable.

LWOTW: They sound divine. Maybe the world should see them. You must have been an imaginative kid. Tell me, what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Usually dreams are too silly and illogical to easily translate into novels, but I’ve had the odd one which inspired a book. Imagination is important too, though when it comes to writing – and especially in spec fic – sometimes it’s equally important to do as Terry Pratchett suggested and apply a lack of imagination. By which he meant to ask yourself the sorts of logical questions little kids ask because they haven’t learned that it’s not polite to ask those questions. Such as, if Death rides a horse, does the horse have to poop? Does it have a stable? What does it eat? Where did he get it from? Asking questions like that lead to far superior worldbuilding – lazier authors often just resort to explaining things away by saying “it’s magic” or “it’s like that because I say so”.

Some authors plan out their books; I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of terrifyingly elaborate diagrams with highlighter pens and sticky notes. This isn’t a technique that’s ever worked for me, but I do plan what I write – it’s just that the plan is in my head, and is therefore more flexible and loosely defined. I often don’t know how the book is going to end when I start writing it. However, going into a book with no plan at all is rarely a good idea and will generally lead to the story meandering all over the place, which was a problem I had a lot when I was younger and still occasionally encounter today.

LWOTW: Great advice for us spec fic folk! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

I’d say it was back in 2011 when I made my first and so far only appearance at ComicCon in San Diego, and a packed audience of more than three hundred people all cheering. I felt like a rockstar!

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LWOTW: That must have been completely amazing. So, what are you most busy with at the moment?

I’m currently working on a bunch of things, and at this particular moment I’m focusing on the final trilogy of the series I’m most well known for, which began with The Dark Griffin in 2009. There have been a few shall we say hiccups along the way – I had to find a new publisher after the bottom fell out of the fantasy market in about 2015 or so and publishers dropped most of their fantasy authors including me. Then the new publisher I found shut down without notice, so I had to start all over again. It’s been a major pain in the proverbial booty. Honestly, I find the writing side of the business easy. It’s the business side of the business that’s aged me horribly.

LWOTW: Haha, I would like to be so *horribly* aged 🙂  Now, if you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Don’t write for the fame and the money (or assume that there will be either). Write for the love of the craft, and because you have something to say. If your heart truly is in it, you’ll get to where you need to be in the end. It won’t be easy, but you’ll get there one way or another.

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

It used to be purple, but now it’s blue!

Thank you so much for sharing, Katie.

 

You can find all thing K J Taylor at www.kjtaylor.com

Katie’s Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/kjtaylorauthor/

And she tweets @WorldStitcher

Last Word of the Week: Julian Barr

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to Julian Barr, whose debut novel The Way Home has just been released by the awesome Odyssey Books.

At one stage, I taught the subject Backgrounds to English Literature at the University of Melbourne, so both the Iliad and the Odyssey loom large in my internal world. I’m excited to see them take on a new lease of life in Julian’s YA The Ashes of Olympus series!

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LWOTW: Salve, Julian! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

I have the vaguest memory of writing a piece of Thomas the Tank Engine fanfic when I was really little, but I wrote my first original story when I was about seven. It was a thrilling tale of a boy who woke up to find himself transformed into a koala. In retrospect, it was a little bit Franz Kafka, only less surreal and creepifying.

LWOTW: And with not so much buzz, perhaps. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

For most writers, the first two come easy. The last part is harder. Planning is an acquired skill which ideally gets better with time and practice. We’re very lucky to live in an age when there are so many resources out there to assist.

LWOTW: I’ll have to find out what those are! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

When the email arrived from Odyssey Books with an offer of a contract for my debut novel. I was shaking as I read it, but so thrilled. The title is The Way Home, the first book of the Ashes of Olympus Trilogy. It’s a YA historical fantasy based on Greek mythology, in which a band of exiles must brave the wrath of the gods to find a place to call home. That said, seeing the talented Aussie artist (and old mate) Matt Wolf bring the illustrations to life was a definite highlight. See the header for an example of his extraordinary work.

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LWOTW: I can’t wait to get my hands on it. What are you most busy with at the moment?

Edits on the second Ashes of Olympus book. I’m also working with the amazing archaeologist Dr Amelia Brown on an academic book. We are translating the early medieval sources regarding St. Nicholas. Yep, as in Santa. That started when I was researching an historical novel about St. Nick, but I was shocked to learn the sources hadn’t been translated into English. I was lucky enough to study Greek at uni, but I am a big believer in making research as accessible as possible. Since we started, a couple of collaborative translations have cropped up online, which is awesome, but this will be the first peer-reviewed translation with commentary. I also have a couple of other fiction projects in early stages, but they are a bit hush-hush at the moment.

LWOTW: How intriguing! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Remember the value of kindness. Take every learning opportunity. Be in it for the long haul. And you don’t have to be afraid.

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Blue! No doubt due to the continuing influence of Thomas, haha.

 

Julian’s links:

Website/blog: jbarrauthor.com

Twitter: @jbarrauthor

Where to buy: The Way Home is available through all the major online booksellers by the time this interview is released. Or, even better, see if your local indie bookstore or library can get it for you!