Interview: Dr. Robert E. Hampson

This guy is brilliant. He’s a neuroscientist working on how humans remember stuff and he’s a science fiction writer as well. He’s also a very nice guy and fun to chat with. If you can, sit down with him. You’ll learn something, I guarantee it.

Interview: Dr. Robert E. Hampson
Dr. Robert E. Hampson
Dr. Robert E. Hampson

What is your quest?

My quest is to entertain and inform.  An online friend once remarked that I teach as naturally as I breathe.  I’m a scientist, so much of my nonfiction writing is basically: “How do I break this down so that the average reader can understand (with maybe some recourse to Google)?”  Sometimes while writing nonfiction I hit on something that I think would make a good plot point for fiction.  I grew up reading Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, so I want to write stories that take people on adventures in a future that has a certain hope for spreading mankind to the stars.

Then again, one of my strongest influences was James P. Hogan, so I also lean toward having sympathetic scientist/engineer characters and include the human side: love, laughter, longing and loss.

In person at conventions, I definitely like to entertain, and often I find myself in the position where my main contribution is to be the comic relief.  Strangely, that doesn’t make it into my fiction very often.  “Headspace and Timing” in Tales from the Lyon’s Den is the rare exception, and I hope folks like it. (Rob’s Note: This was released on 25 September as the first of a new set of Four Horsemen anthologies. You should buy it. You should especially buy the second one, Luck is Not a Factor, because I have a story in it 😀 )

What is your favorite color?

I like to take something from my education and professional work and weave it into the story.  Again, I tend to have sciency-type characters, although I’ve also shamelessly borrowed from friends’ careers as well.  For “Unto the Last, Stand Fast” in The Good, the Bad and the Merc I was heavily influenced by “The Last Stand” by Sabaton.  I’ve also written stories that draw heavily from dreams.  My stories for John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series were influenced by some things I remember from free-association musing and dreaming after reading John’s stories.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

I think any writer has this – there’s something we think is funny, or cute, or an essential reference – and the reader doesn’t get it.  One of the problems with having lots of ideas, writing them down, even writing the stories (but not selling them) is that I create a character.  I *like* the character.  The character has adventures.  In my mind, I know all of these things, so when I write something else in that universe or with that character, I incorporate the known background.  Unfortunately, if the other stories never see the light of day, the reader has no idea why the fact that “Mr. Davis” was a Boy Scout camp counselor should mean anything.

I’ve had an anthology editor tell me I’m just not ready for prime time… after I’d already sold 4 stories to anthologies.  Granted, I haven’t sold to big name magazines (Analog, etc) yet, and I definitely known that I have much to learn.  But it’s certainly amusing to contemplate that 10 stories sold (by now) is “not ready.”

Rob Hampson playing the trumpet.
Rob Hampson playing the trumpet.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

My proudest production is a story that was submitted to the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Mad Science Writing contest.  My story “To Serve and Serve Again” is one of my favorites.  It has a bit of history, though – I wrote the story “They Also Serve” about a cardiovascular surgeon dealing with his own version of PTSD having to patch up soldiers and send them back to war.  It was for Tom Kratman’s Riding the Red Horse and he wanted a sequel that would continue the story. (Alien invasion, and a treatment the doc developed was key to allowing human soldiers to survive).  TAS was around 10k words, TSaSA told the tale of a combat medic, since one of my best friends served two combat tours as a medic – and it came in at almost 15k… I actually figure I could probably write 3-4 more stories in that setting and compile into a book if I ever get the time.

…And then the sequel anthology fell through.  The TRADOC contest wanted stories of no more than 5k words.  The problem from my perspective was that TSaSA was just right for the contest (and I was right – it was a finalist) so I had to cut it.  So I trimmed some of the explicit character development and left scenes that would allow the reader to fill in the gap.  I had to cut what I thought was important backstory, but it had to go.  The final product was lean but read well.  I was proud of it, and obviously the jurists liked it – it was in the finalist compilation of the best 25 stories submitted.

Interestingly enough, someone did an analysis of how the stories submitted to the contest were a pretty close match to the Department of Defense’s advanced research solicitations.  It seems that a keyword search of the “research wanted” announcements by DoD was a pretty close match to a keyword search of the stories submitted.  The article singled out one particular story to illustrate a fictional “portable medical record” that was nearly identical to a DoD solicitation for a “portable medical record” … and that story was mine.  So, yeah, I’m particularly proud of that one.   Military SF, ripped from the pages of actual research… kinda.  .

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? The “Doctor Russ” muppet.  This one’s pretty obscure, but a long-time friend of mine worked with Sesame Street to develop educational videos for children of deployed and returning service members.  For Russell’s retirement from the Navy and DARPA, one of the Sesame Street producers showed a video featuring Elmo and Dr. Russ and presented him with the Dr. Russ muppet.
  • Crunchy or Creamy?  Crunchy.  More character
  • Favorite Sports Team? San Antonio Spurs.
  • Cake or Pie? Why not both?  (actually, Pecan Pie, but I can no longer eat it due to the high sugar content)
  • Lime or Lemon? Again, both.  Lymon.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  French Onion
  • Wet or Dry? I’m a big guy who’s always sweating.  Definitely prefer dry.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Not a performer, but I’m a fan of video game music.  The guys composing music for Halo, Mass Effect, Destiny, etc. are composing fantastic symphonic epics.
  •  Whisky or Whiskey? Shame on you!  There is no “e” in whisky.  Single malt. Neat.  Preferably old enough to pour itself another.
  • Favorite Superhero? DC:  The Flash, Marvel: Captain America
  • Steak Temperature? Medium rare, especially if it’s well-aged beef.  The longer the aging, the rarer I would cook it.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? The Six Million Dollar Man… it influenced my career, so this is a no-brainer.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

  • June 1-3, Guest, ConCarolinas, Charlotte, NC
  • June 29-July 1,  Guest, LibertyCon, Chattanooga, TN.
  • July 13-15, Guest,  ConGregate, High Point, NC.
  • August 30-September 3, Guest, Dragon*Con, Atlanta, GA.

Thanks to Dr. Hampson for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Mag Review: Astounding (May, 1941)

Greetings all

You have my apologies for not getting a chance to review a magazine last week. It will happen again next week as I’m on the road for most of the week.

This week, I’ll be reviewing the Astounding from May, 1941 (Vol. XXVII, No. 3). This is the first time I’ll be reviewing a magazine where I’ve read the issue immediately before or after. You can find my review for April, 1941 here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1352.

Astounding May, 1941 Cover
Astounding May, 1941 Cover

Table of Contents: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?57588

This issue starts out with an editorial by John W. Campbell entitled History to Come. The opening line is a fun one to remember. “Fundamentally, science-fiction novels are “period pieces,” historical novels laid against a background of a history that hasn’t happened yet” (p. 5). I like that thought, especially since Campbell uses this editorial to discuss what that means. He focuses especially on the research involved and emphasizes that what an SF author should be doing is “mental research into possible future” (p. 5). He does this to set up Robert A. Heinlein’s “History of Tomorrow” timeline, which we’ll discuss in about 120 pages.

As I research this editorial and wallow in Campbell’s brilliance (and, of course, Heinlein’s), I discovered something very interesting. Alexei and Cory Panshin said in The World Beyond the Hill that this idea of world creation, which seems fairly obvious to me, changed science fiction. “Science fiction hadn’t been seen in these terms previously.  But the publication of Heinlein’s Future History chart would force a general alteration of perception of what science fiction was about and how it was made” (Alexei and Cory Panshin, Heinlein and the Golden Age (excerpt of The World Beyond the Hill), https://www.panshin.com/critics/Golden/goldenage3.html). I suggest you all read the whole article.

Baseball Yearbook Cover
Baseball Yearbook Cover

Then there’s an ad for the Street & Smith Baseball Yearbook of 1941. As a guy who got into sabermetric research in the late 80s, I think this is awesome. It’s the forerunner of Bill James and those who followed him.

That’s a young Bob Feller on the cover, by the way. He would play the summer of ’41, and do well, though not as well as in 1940. Then, of course, he loses 1942-44 and most of 1945 for the war, serving part of that as a Chief Petty Officer on the USS Alabama. I hadn’t actually caught that before, and it makes my time roaming around the Alabama a bunch of times as a kid even that more awesome.

These magazines are like traveling in time.

Anyway, I suppose we should actually turn to the fiction. The first story is Universe by Heinlein. Not surprisingly, given Campbell’s editorial, we see some of Heinlein’s most intricate world-building in this story.

The story is about a generational ship on its way to the stars. One fascinating little touch Heinlein used was the standard greeting, “Good eating.” With just that little bit, we learn a ton about the time and place. He’s so deft.

And the story is really good. What happens to humanity if they’re on a generational ship and many generations pass? What happens to their understanding of science? To their society?

It would change, undoubtedly. Our hero is someone who has grown from that society, raised by exiled muties, and learns the truth of their ship. His is now the job of tilting at the windmill of those generations’ evolution to get them, perhaps, finally, to Centaurus.

Oh, look. We move from Heinlein to Isaac Asimov. What a darn shame, having to read these two hacks. Such a bummer. Anyway, the story is another early Robot one starring Susan Calvin called Liar.

You’ve probably read this story as it was reprinted a bunch of times, but here’s a synopsis anyway. A brand new robot has the astounding ability to read minds, though how its positronic brain gained this talent is unknown and is completely not repeatable until they learn just how it happened.

RB-34, Herbie, is programmed with early versions of the Three Laws of Robotics, so this ability is a real problem for it. When it talks to people, it knows what they want, so telling them the truth might actually hurt them. So, it supplies the answer that the person talking to them wants.

Of course, this leads to conflict as Calvin desires the love of one of the other scientists and another character hopes to be the next director. After they realize Herbie is providing different answers to each person, they confront him. Now, Herbie is in an insoluble situation. No matter what he says, he will hurt at least one of the humans. In the end, he collapses in positronic insanity.

I love Asimov’s Robot stories because he’s so good at creating logic puzzles. Reading these stories in original form is incredibly fascinating because the laws of Robotics aren’t actually specified until 1942. In some ways, this is Asimov fumbling towards something amazing.

And yes, its a great story. Shocking, I know.

So we move to a story called Solution Unsatisfactory by Anson MacDonald. There’s a goodly amount to unpack in the author here, because that’s a pseudonym for Heinlein. Yes, he’s got two stories in this issue. What a fascinating time that was for science fiction.

And dates are really important when unpacking this story. This issue was released in May of 1941. The story is, essentially, about Mutually Assured Destruction. He’s asking the same questions that Truman would have to answer in 1945 and in the years following.

MAD was, and is, an unsatisfactory solution. Heinlein proposed another, that of a world-wide dictatorship which has a monopoly on the superweapon, but even he points out that will never work. Campbell has a follow-up to this story where he asks for any better suggestion. The request is almost pleading.

Moving on we get In Times to Come, the preview of the next issue. It promises a neat murder mystery, a “whodunit-to,” if you will, that helps deal with the challenge of writing a murder mystery in science fiction. The story is Ross Rocklyne’s Time Wants a Skeleton. I’m looking forward to reading that when I find that issue.

Also on that page is the scores from the ratings of the previous issue. Yeah, Heinlein might be good and really prolific at this time. The April issue also has one by him and one by him as Anson MacDonald. They were, by a large margin, the best-rated stories of that issue.

The next story is Eric Frank Russell’s Jay Score. This wasn’t a bad story, but I’ve had the twist before. It’s about a freighter that is blown off course by a micro-meteorite. It’s headed directly to the sun with broken rockets. They get the rockets going, but even so a slingshot around the sun will be difficult.

They only manage it because of Jay Score, the assistant pilot. He’s a larger than life figure. Six foot nine or so, laconic, immensely capable, and so good at chess that he’s actually able to be the Martians on occasion. He is, of course, a robot names J.20.

As I said, it’s a twist I’ve seen before and done better. It’s the kind of deus ex machina that bothers me. Surviving only because he’s a robot means that there’s no real heroism involved. Robots can be heros, just look at Asimov’s examples. But here we’re expecting to see a hero and instead we see something superhuman. It lessens the story for me.

Next is a cute little entry called Fish Story by Vic Phillips and Scott Roberts. Basically, it’s about a an old colonel telling tall tales in a bar. This particular story is about catching highly poisonous giant frog-like creatures on Venus. He succeeds by the use of creative chemistry.

As I said, it’s a cute piece of fluff, but highlights one of the few drawbacks of this exercise. I often wallow in the history of these stories, like I did in Solution Unsatisfactory. However, that’s a two-edged sword. So many of these are set on Venus or Mars as if they’re teeming with life, which we now know isn’t true. It’s a case of knowing too much sometimes.

We move on to Subcruiser by Harry Walton. This is ripping yarn of a ship captain drugged by his executive officer so he can steal their subspace cruiser and take it to their enemies. The captain thinks the drugs are simply part of alcoholic fits brought on by depression from a previous battle.

In the end, he manages to defeat his XO and save his ship, and in the process regain the trust of his crew. Great story. To bad Walton didn’t write more.

Next we get to the monthly section called Brass Tacks. This one is special, though, as it publishes a chunk of Heinlein’s timeline, as mentioned in the opening editorial. The entire section can be found here: http://astoundingstoriesatwar.lmc.gatech.edu/files/original/5c982f03ae0d7bd88f8b8a0f636f3860.pdf.

Next is the conclusion of The Stolen Dormouse by L. Sprague de Camp. Here’s the link to my review of the Astounding of April, 1941 and Part I: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1352.

This story is a mashup of a number of different threads. A bit of Ivanhoe. A heaping helping of Romeo and Juliet. Some Purloined Letter. However, there are a ton of loose threads. The heroes survive and live happily ever after, so that’s fine, but I feel like the ending was rushed and condensed. De Camp almost built too much depth into this world, and I didn’t think all of it was explored enough.

If you go to the story’s Wikipedia page, it has a number of comments from a variety of different perspective and I think that’s part of my frustration. So much is going on, it’s written well, and it’s full of action, so it’s a good novella. It’d be a better better novel, though.

That’s it for this issue. It was another great issue, but it’s hard to go wrong with two Heinleins and an Asimov.

I’ll probably not have a chance to do a review next week, so I’ll plan on getting one out Halloween day. That being the case, I’ll review the Imagination of October, 1950. This is actually the first issue of this magazine. I’m curious what I’ll find in a debut.

Thanks very much and have a great day.

Next Week’s Issue: Imagination of October, 1950.


If you have any comments or would like to request I keep my eyes open for a specific issue or month, feel free to comment here or send an email to me at: rob@robhowell.org.

If you want to see previous reviews, the Mag Review category is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=432.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Ian J. Malone

This week’s interview is with Ian J. Malone, who I met while on the same panels at a number of conventions. He writes SF, including a short story in For A Few Credits More along with me.

He’s also a guy who works hard for all of us independent writers. At least once a week, he’s posting useful links or websites in his Facebook group the Alliance for Indie SF&F Authors. If you’re an independent writer, it’s a good group to keep track of.

Anyway, here’s the guy himself.

Interview: Ian J. Malone
Ian J. Malone
Ian J. Malone

What is your quest?

I’m easy to peg on that one, brother. I aim to live on the beach one day, making enough money as a full-time SF author to support my family. That’s it. If I can pull that off, I’ll be over the moon.

What is your favorite color?

As the tagline goes, I write “character-charged sci-fi with a shot of country.” That’s a fancy way of saying I write stories about every day, blue collar folks who wind up in situations that aren’t so every day in nature. Most of the time that involves high flying space ships in some capacity, plus aliens, other worlds, AI, and so forth.  Inevitably, though, most of my protagonists tend to be human as I’ve always found them more relatable to read/write.

As an aside, I also really enjoy wearing hats… a lot.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

The biggest challenge I faced, particularly in the beginning, was learning how a story is supposed to look in text, on the page. I’m legally blind, and have historically done all of my reading via audio. So, when the time came to write a novel of my own, I had A TON to learn about style and technique.

Example: I never knew when penning my first book that a character’s thoughts were presented in italics. You kinda don’t get that in an audiobook.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I’m a chronic lister. My daily tasks at work, chores around the house, writing goals. You name it, and I’ve probably got it dictated onto a note in my phone somewhere.

As social media goes, I’m also a big fan of the list feature on Twitter. I keep lists for every topic imaginable, from craft and publishing to geek culture, news and sports. Moreover, the tweets on those lists come exclusively from sources that I’ve vetted, which helps to cut down on the whole fake news thing.

Note: I wish Facebook would give me a feature like this. It’s absurdly efficient. Alas, Father Zuckerberg hasn’t seen fit yet in his infinite wisdom to bestow upon we, the little people, such an enormously helpful tool. *sigh*

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? ANIMAL!
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy, all the way.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Florida State Seminoles
  • Cake or Pie? Gotta go with pie, especially when it’s my wife’s homemade apple.
  • Lime or Lemon? “He was green! Like a lime!”
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  I make a Mexican layer dip that I’m told is legendary back home in Florida.
  • Wet or Dry? Wet makes me think water, so I’ll go with that.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Joe Bonamassa featuring Beth Hart
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Never was a Scotch guy, so gimme that e.
  • Favorite Superhero? Superman.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? 70s were before my time. Best I can do is early 80s, in which case I’ll go with Miami Vice.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall = college football season and chili weather
  • Favorite Pet?   The Cranes!
  • Best Game Ever? John Madden Football
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee, black
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci-Fi

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

Why in the holy name of frak are you a Cowboys fan, Rob? Come on, man. I thought you were better than that! :p

My Answer: Because I grew up in Hillsboro, TX in the early 1970s, which is near Dallas. I’ve been a Cowboys fan since 1973 or so. In other words, I come by this fandom honestly.

Every night at Pennsic I’ll spend some time checking on Twitter and my feeds for news from Cowboys training camp. I’m really excited about this year’s team. Last year was lost to Roger Goodell being a jerk, and at some point we’ll win it all again and I can’t wait to see him have to give Jerry the Lombardi Trophy.

 Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I’m for sale “wide” in all the usual places: Amazon, Kobo, B&N, iBooks, etc.

And where can we find you?

Do you have a creator biography?

As a graduate of Florida State University, sci-fi author Ian J. Malone has written in a variety of arenas ranging from public health to news and sports. When it comes to his fictional work, however, he’s a firm believer that nothing shapes a person’s writing like experience. That’s why he credits his tenures in radio, law enforcement, and military contracting for much of his inspiration, plus the legion of family and friends who’ve stood with him along the way.

Beyond writing, Malone is an avid fan of audiobooks (he’s legally blind) and the outdoors. It’s also not uncommon to find him at a ballgame, a concert, or somewhere out by a grill.

Malone is an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and a resident of Durham, North Carolina — but he’ll always be a “Florida boy” at heart.

Colonies Lost
Colonies Lost

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?  

You might have asked, “where can readers test drive your work before buying?”

Answer: Anybody who signs up for my email newsletter at ianjmalone.net gets not one but two free short stories! The first is titled Mako: Genesis, and serves as the official prequel to my SF adventure series, The Mako Saga. The other is titled Nightfall: A Roanoke Short Story, and serves as the prequel to my new book, Colonies Lost.

Subscribers will also get first look sneak peeks at new book materials, as well as occasional updates on release schedules, events, and discount/freebie promotions.

Malone’s latest book, Colonies Lost, tells the story of a disgraced US Marshal who takes a freelance case to feed his family, only to come face-to-face with America’s greatest unsolved mystery: What happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island?

You can find Colonies Lost for sale on Amazon, or wherever ebooks are sold.


Finally, let me know any suggestions or comments you have about this interview format so I can keep tweaking it.

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326.

If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Interview: Christopher Winder

Today, it’s an interview with another new author in the 4HU, Christopher Winder.

Interview: Christopher Winder
Christopher Winder
Christopher Winder

What is your quest?

My quest is to write stories that I’d love to read. Stories that make people laugh, cry, get angry, feel joy, or smack their foreheads really hard.

By doing that, I want to move into full-time writing. For me, writing is play – not work. I’m mentally exhausted after a long writing session, but I have yet to sprain my ankle, get a sliver, break a leg or suffer third-degree burns because I wrote something. Yes, it’s work. Yes, it’s hard. But no, it’s not hard work. I love it.

My greatest influences in writing are Stephen King (his non-horror stuff, except Four Past Midnight, which was absolutely wonderful), and R. A. Salvatore. Both, but especially Salvatore, could drag me around by my emotions, beat me over the head with them, and force me to come back asking for more. I’m not there yet, but one day I’d like to surpass even that master of words.

What is your favorite color?

I don’t really have a favorite color overall. For cars, it’s copper. I love the look of a copper-colored vehicle – where it looks like the whole thing was made from the same stuff as pennies.

For book covers, I love contrast. I admit that my favorite covers are those of the vampire genre. Dark grays and black with a splash of red. Sometimes literally a splash… because vampires… you know. I don’t write in that genre – at least not yet – but their book covers are gorgeous.

As far as colors having influence on my writing, as far as I know, colors don’t influence me at all. I say that, but I try to surround myself with as much green as possible. I read somewhere that green helps people think scientifically. Since my main genre is science fiction, it seems to fit. I don’t know if it helps or not, but I do like the color.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

The most frustrating thing about being an author, my greatest challenge, is staying on task. I can’t visit the grocery store without thinking-up a new story idea. I can’t sit down at the computer without seeing another story that I really want to write – that isn’t going to write itself. Staying on task until each story is complete is the hardest part of the job.

The next-hardest part is character names. I know that once I write them, I’m stuck with them. I guess it’s the equivalent of jumping out of an airplane, trusting that your parachute is folded correctly. Because, once you jump, you’re committed. (Rob’s Note: Behind the Names is awesome, especially the Random Name generator)

Besides that, I also struggle with imposter syndrome. I feel a little better knowing that most authors do, but I wish none of us did. Sometimes it’s paralyzing, but I push through by reminding myself that I enjoy the task of writing even when I think it’s no good.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

The one thing I’m good at more than anything else is learning. I can learn anything I put my mind to. I learned how to write by listening to others, reading others and reading books. Throw a few YouTube videos into the mix and POOF – author.

My second magic power is teaching. I’ve learned that anyone can be taught, and the more I teach something, the more concrete it becomes in my own brain. So, I do my best to teach new authors everything I know because not only does it help them, it helps me.

Speaking of which – my doing so does not hurt my own sales. I don’t compete with them. We write in the same genre. People consume our work and move on to the next. It’s not something like a refrigerator where they buy it and hold onto it as long as possible. We are entertainers, and once the entertainment is over, it’s time to move on to something new. (Rob’s Note: Agreed, we’re not competitors because it’s not a zero-sum game)

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Mister Snuffleupagus
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy
  • Favorite Sports Team?  Winnipeg Jets
  • Cake or Pie? Pie, but only if it’s chocolate.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip? French Onion
  • Wet or Dry? Vacuums? Both. Personally? Dry.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Nikki McFarland (Nikkitanix)
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whiskey, on the rocks.
  • Favorite Superhero? Magneto. He counts, right?
  • Steak Temperature? Rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? M*A*S*H
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Winter
  • Favorite Pet? Max my tabby cat.
  • Best Game Ever? 7 Days to Die
  • Coffee or Tea?Coffee
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Mostly Sci-Fi, but only 51%.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

  • Website: http://www.chriswinderbooks.com
  • Podcast: http://www.sfshenanigans.com
  • Stay tuned for several new releases both from me alone and from myself and JR Handley with our co-written stuff. Plenty of Pew-Pew, red shirts getting decimated and starships. The first should be released in October.

And where can we find you?

I’ll be at 20 Books Vegas in November. Just look for the charming, handsome, tall, great-smelling, hysterical, humble guy.

Do you have a creator biography?

Chris Winder is a United States Marine Corps veteran who spent nearly half his eight years training other Marines in the fine art of field wire and switchboard operation.

Each class was dosed with a big helping of humor, which he learned is the key to helping people absorb and remember information. Therefore, Chris tries to sneak some humor into every book he writes.

His first novel, Cloud Development, is a technothriller revolving around a ten-year-old boy, his parents and the corporation his father works for. For years, LumoTech has been trying to unlock a dangerous secret and when their research targets the little boy as the key, his parents aren’t given much of a choice.

He currently works as an Information Technology Specialist for his local government where he spends much of his days wondering if there’s life on other planets, if aliens will be bipedal and if they think we are delicious space-cows.

Chris lives in a small town in northern Arizona with his wife and son, (his two oldest, daughters, are grown and live in the greater Phoenix area), his two cats, (Squeaker and Max), and his elderly dog, Scout.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

Everyone has a dream – a really big thing that seems like it’s out of their reach and it too hard to accomplish. You should have asked what’s my really big dream?

And I would answer it’s to teach kids how to write creatively. I find that writing is not only fun, it’s therapeutic. I have at least a million words which will probably never see the light of day because I wrote them for me and me alone.

I’ve confronted demons which I’ve held deep inside for decades. I’ve learned things about myself I’d forgotten. Most of all, I’ve learned to be okay with who I am.

My dream is to travel the state of Arizona speaking to kids about how to do what I do. I’d first like to visit juvenile detention, residential treatment centers and the like. Once I have a cadre who can learn to write, who I’ve helped build the confidence in, I want to publish their work and donate all the proceeds to the charity of their choice.

Once that’s done, I’ll move on to the adults.

That’s the great thing about being an author. We don’t need resumes. We don’t need job experience. Nobody cares if we had a rough past, if we’re in jail, if we have a history of drug abuse, or anything else. So long as we can string words together in a way that is entertaining, we can make a living.

I’m not the same person I was before I started writing. I’d like to pay that gift forward to as many people as possible. Even if they don’t become full-time authors, they will know they have the ability. If they only publish one book to prove they can do it, that’s still a win.

Writing makes people better.


Thanks to Christopher for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Jake Bible

Another writer who’s in the Four Horsemen anthologies. I’m looking forward to getting to know him.

Interview: Jake Bible
Jake Bible
Jake Bible

What is your quest?

My quest is to continue writing novels that my fans/readers enjoy. I currently have 60 published novels by three small press publishers, but I still have plenty in me. I’ve also started stretching my writing skills by writing screenplays and TV pilot scripts. Fingers crossed my TV agent came make that dream come true!

What is your favorite color?

I always aim to create fun, action-packed, humorous scenes and dialogue. I need to make myself excited, make myself laugh, make myself want more when I go back and read what I’ve written. If I’m not enjoying the story/characters/dialogue then how can I expect my readers to? (Rob’s Note: This is so true)

Flipside Cover
Flipside Cover

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

The constant ups and downs of the publishing world are a little frustrating. Okay, more than a little frustrating. The current climate in publishing is chaos. What had been stable genres are now being upended by new players. What had been sure things are now questionable because the strategies for success are ever changing. I’d love a little stability, now and again, but I guess I’m in the wrong industry for that. Le sigh…

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I am a prolific writer. I can write a 75K word novel in four weeks, including editing. I write fast and I write tight. Some editing is needed, but the majority of the time I’m able to get things done the right way the first time. I am also a varied writer when it comes to genre. I don’t stick to just scifi, but write fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, thrillers, humor, and in all age groups. It’s impossible to pin me down. I hope that’s a good thing…

Lightning Round

Roak Cover
Roak Cover
  • Favorite Muppet? Animal.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Seahawks.
  • Cake or Pie? I refuse to choose.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Ranch. Ranch is the dip to rule them all!
  • Wet or Dry? Wet? No, dry. No, wet. Wet…
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? In the age of Spotify, I don’t think unheard of performers exist. Sky Cries Mary comes to mind.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whiskey.
  • Favorite Superhero? My wife.
  • Steak Temperature? Still alive, since I’m vegetarian.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Six Million Dollar Man
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? All you have to do is call and I’ll be there. ‘Cause you’ve got a friend.
  • Favorite Pet?  We have two rescue chows, so I can’t choose because they are both awesome.
  • Best Game Ever? Poker.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Yes.

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

What do you consider to be you at your peak potential? When are you happiest with your output?

Rob’s Answer: Whew. Another tough question. I don’t know that I can answer that because I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet. I’ve had some insanely productive times, but I’ve also had some less so. I need to get more consistent, and once I do I think I’ll be much stronger.

I will also say I’ll never reach my peak. It’s a truism, but I get better every time I write. I’ve had help from my editors, too, who make me understand why something is a mistake so I can understand the craft better. I think I’m a good writer, but at the journeyman level right now. Mastery only comes with more practice.

Z Burbia Cover
Z Burbia Cover

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I have new releases coming out monthly. Best way to find those are to sign up for my newsletter. Never any spam! Click here! Or just go to my website at jakebible.com

And where can we find you?

I co-host the Asheville/WNC Writers Coffeehouse every month at ZaPow pop art gallery in Asheville, NC. Usually third Mondays of the month (but sometimes changes). Come out and see me if you’re in the area.

Do you have a creator biography?

Jake Bible is a Bram Stoker Award nominated-novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel. He has entertained thousands with his modern pulp fiction tales. Jake reaches audiences of all ages with his uncanny ability to write a wide range of characters and genres.

Jake is the author of 55+ novels, including the bestselling Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter series of space crime novels, the bestselling Z-Burbia series set in Asheville, NC, the bestselling Salvage Merc One, and the MEGA series for Severed Press. He is also the author of the YA zombie novel, Little Dead Man, the Bram Stoker Award nominated Teen horror novel, Intentional Haunting, the middle grade ScareScapes series, and the Reign of Four series for Permuted Press. As well as Stone Cold Bastards and the Black Box, Inc novels for Bell Bridge Books.

Jake hosts and produces a semi-weekly podcast,

Writing In Suburbia, where he gives his take on being a full-time professional writer while also living a suburban life as a father and husband.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? 

You should have asked how I got started?

I started writing professionally in 2008 when I released my first novel as a free podcast on iTunes. This was just before the Kindle hit the market, so if you wanted to get your work out there digitally, podcasts were the way to go. I made a ton of friends that I still have today and was lucky enough to know folks like Scott Sigler before they hit it big. I still podcast today, although not my fiction. I host the podcast Writing In Suburbia where I talk about being a writer in a suburban setting and how I go about living a normal life. Because, surprisingly, writers are people too!


Thanks to Jake for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Rob’s Update: Sailing Fast

Week 41 of 2018

Greetings all

This was not my best week, at least in terms of writing. There were a variety of reasons for that, and they’re all good, though. I got to help my mom and a friend of hers out. I got to do some major work around the house. I get to see the proto-incipient step-daughter this weekend. That all adds up.

So I’m not going to chat much more as we’ve got plans.

Current Playlist Song

Sober by Tool. What an amazing song. It’s one of those that made me love a band immediately.

Quote of the Week

Today is the 243rd birthday of the US Navy. This week’s quote is actually my favorite John Paul Jones quote, though it’s not the one everyone thinks of first.

“I wish to have no Connection with any Ship that does not Sail fast for I intend to go in harm’s way.”
Captain John Paul Jones, 16 November 1778

News and Works in Progress

  • The Feeding of Sorrows (approx. 20,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on more of the Four Horsemen authors. Check the Recent Blog post section for the complete list.

Today’s Weight: 384.4

Updated Word Count: 214,609

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 435 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Interview: Peter Cawdron

I’ve not yet met Peter Cawdron, though I follow him in For a Few Credits More. I like that story though, and he’s clearly a thoughtful fellow. If I ever get to Australia, I’ll make sure to look him up and share a few beverages discussing the universe.

Interview: Peter Cawdron

Peter Cawdron Portrait
Peter Cawdron Portrait

What is your quest?

Enlightenment.

I was a religious nut for decades. One book held all the answers. Only one group was capable of interpreting it. Everyone else was sincere but misguided. Thankfully, my one saving grace was honesty. When I heard a preacher trash Charles Darwin, likening him to Hitler, I felt conflicted. Hitler was a pretty bad dude, setting the world on fire and killing tens of millions of people. Didn’t Darwin sail around the world collecting animals? Really doesn’t seem comparable, does it? I grabbed a copy of On the Origin of Species and a highlighter pen and began reading. Much to my delight I realized Charles Darwin was methodical and honest in following the evidence wherever it went. He too was conflicted by religious sentiment, and once wrote to a friend saying, his discovery of evolution by means of natural selection felt like “confessing to murder.” In Charles Darwin, I found a kindred spirit.

Since then, I’ve taken off my rose-colored glasses and seen the world anew. I’ve come to appreciate the astonishing times in which we live and the way science has transformed our world—at times for the better (vaccinations have saved hundreds of millions, if not billions of lives), at times for worst (our infatuation with fossil fuels has allowed us to ravage the environment). In all cases, however, science has been a catalyst for change.

When I write, I try to inspire a sense of awe about reality, along with a need for responsibility.

What is your favorite word?

Myopic.

We’re all shortsighted.

A hundred years ago, we thought the Milky Way encompassed the entire universe. A couple of decades ago, Hubble showed us that even our most outlandish predictions were shortsighted. We now recognize the observable universe as spanning 93 billion light-years! We think the entire universe (not just the portion we see) is a minimum of 156 billion light-years in diameter. Then there are the emerging theories challenging this, looking at the curvature of the universe on a cosmological scale that suggest the real size could be as much as 23 trillion light years, and yet here we are on Earth, fighting over a scruffy patch of ground for oil or ideology. Our behavior is insanely shortsighted.

Likewise, the idea that we are alone in the universe is foolish and conceited. We have no reason to believe that—and every reason to believe otherwise. Like a medieval scholar standing on the shores bordering the Atlantic Ocean, making any kind of judgment about the existence of other continents is steeped in hubris. We need to wait until the evidence is in.

We share this astonishing planet with upwards of a trillion other species, but we only care about a few (deep fried chicken, anyone?). The rest, we’re happy to drive into extinction. As a writer, I try to get readers to see the bigger picture and inspire a sense of awe and reverence for this celestial oasis adrift among the stars.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen dictionary?

In orbit, or within the atmosphere?

Being an independent writer is akin to being a busker on a street corner. No matter how good you are, you’re only ever going to reach a handful of people for a few minutes at best. Trying to breakout as an author is like talking at a rock concert. There’s so much noise it’s hard to be heard. There are a lot of great authors rocking the world. I’m glad to be one of them in my own small way.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

My holy-hand grenade would be participating in anthologies like the one we both contributed to—For a Few Credits More. The best advice I can give to emerging authors is to collaborate in an anthology. It’s an awesome way to contribute to the writing community, meet other authors, and reach a wide variety of readers. Too many people underestimate the importance of short stories. They’re an awesome way to grow as an author and provide readers with an opportunity to sample a wide variety of writers to find those that match their tastes.

 Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal
  • Favorite Sports Team? Queensland State of Origin team (unknown outside of Australia)
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime (in a Corona)
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Yo Yo Ma (playing Bach’s six cello suites)
  • Favorite Superhero? Ralph Hinkley—The Greatest American Hero
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? I write best on rainy days
  • Coffee or Tea? Hot chocolate (dark)
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Science fiction with complex characters

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

If you were a character in Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, who would you be and why?

Rob’s Answer: Probably Barliman Butterbur. Wait. He works too hard. In truth, probably some random hobbit in the Green Dragon. I like food, beer, good cheer, and I hate wearing shoes.

If I was feeling especially heroic, then I would say one of the Blue Wizards, probably Pallando. I’m the kind of guy who likes to do a bunch of stuff, but not necessarily in the limelight.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

I wish I could attend some of the US conventions, but the cost is prohibitive from Australia. Maybe one day I’ll make it to Comic-Con.


Thanks to Peter for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Eric S. Brown (Rerun)

Greetings all

This week I’m interviewing Eric S. Brown who is, among other things, one of the many writers like myself writing in the Four Horsemen Universe. He’s also written a bunch of horror, military science fiction, and kaiju stuff.

And when I say a bunch, I mean it. Take a look at his Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Eric S. Brown/e/B004G6XP7E/. You’ll find twelve pages of books there.

Eric, what is your quest?

I am a professional horror and SF writer.  I’m also a collector of all things comics and SF.  David Drake is my hero.  I learned how to write by reading his work when I was younger.  One could blame my whole career on Dave.

What is your favorite color?

I like the color green.  I also like to scare people with words.  I’ve been writing horror for about 17 years now.  I write the type of stories I want to see as a fan.  That’s how my book Bigfoot War came about.  I had been writing zombie stuff for a long time and even did a Z novel for Simon and Schuster (War of the Worlds Plus Blood Guts and Zombies).  I was burnt out on zombies and really wanted to do something different.  Bigfoot War is that.  It makes Sasquatch truly frightening beasts and unleashes hordes of them upon the world.  Bigfoot War (Bigfoot Wars on IMDB) was adapted into a feature film by Origin Releasing with C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders) and Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club).  While the paycheck was nice, I really didn’t care for the movie and it didn’t have a lot to do with my then series of Bigfoot War books.

Eric S. Brown
Eric S. Brown

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I like to think that the books I write are FUN above all else.  From Bigfoot War to Kaiju Apocalypse to Casper Alamo (set in Chris Kennedy’s Four Horsemen Universe) my books are about guns and monsters with loads of action and more than a little gore.  I have a Mech/Psionics/Vampires book coming out later this year entitled Psi-Mechs Inc.  I am biased but I think it’s the best thing I have ever written.  It’s about mech pilots and psychics who hunt monsters.

Lightning Round (answer any or all, be as verbose and whimsical as you wish)

Casper Alamo cover
Casper Alamo cover
  • Favorite Muppet? The Shrimp guy.
  • Favorite Sports Team?  I don’t do sports so I am going with The Micronauts on this one.
  • Cake or Pie?  Cake
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip?    Don’t have one.
  • Wet or Dry? Wet.  Always wet.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?   Sorry but to me music consists of Rush, more Rush, and a little more Rush. (ed. note: I knew I liked him for a reason)
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Don’t drink.
  • Favorite Superhero? Wonder Woman for DC and Daredevil for Marvel.
  • Steak Temperature? Well Done. (ed. note: Sigh)
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall.
  • Favorite Pet?  (provide pictures if you want) I love cats.  The favorite cat of my life was Howard, named after Lovecraft.  I had him for seven years but he passed from health issues.
  • Best Game Ever? I don’t really game so I will go with 2nd edition D&D from back in the day.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee!!
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci-Fi all the way.

What question(s) would you like to ask me? 

How did you get into interviewing people?

My answer: I had been interviewed by other people, and I wanted some more content on my blog. Also, it turns out that perhaps the most time-consuming aspect of writing my weekly email is finding someone to spotlight. This way, I don’t have to worry about it.

Do you love the rebooted BSG as every right thinking SF person should?

My answer: Oddly no, mostly because I haven’t actually seen it. Much like Eric, I loved the original and I found it hard to give it a chance. Also, I don’t watch many TV shows. Usually, my personal preference is something to do with sports.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

The Squad cover
The Squad cover

And Where can we find you?

I try to attend Liberty con every year.  Aside from that, I am a very stay at home sort of writer.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? 

My newest release is The Squad.  It’s a Bigfoot horror book set in the south.  Other books I have had released this year as Casper Alamo, Day of the Sasquatch, Bigfoot, and a dark fantasy, Lovecraftian Roman novel entitled Beyond Night.


Thanks to Eric for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell


 

Interview: Marisa Wolf

Marisa is another person I met at LibertyCon. She is chock full of awesome, as you will see here.

Interview: Marisa Wolf
Marisa Wolf
Marisa Wolf

What is your quest?

To write stories that people can’t put down, to imagine what the future could look like (both in a “yaaay!” and a “yeee-ikes” sort of way), and to write characters people think about after the books let them go…

What is your favorite color?

Characters that feel real – thinking about how they might react in all kinds of situations that never make it to the story so I have a better idea of their life choices. Thinking through the emotional response I’d like to provoke. Sometimes that means reading out loud to make sure what was snarky-funny in my head lands outside of my actual head. Sometimes it’s writing a fight scene to Immigrant Song so I get the mood right. Sometimes it’s brainstorming gut-punch moments with authors who are really, really, really good at such things (coughKaceycough) (Rob’s Note: Kacey Ezell’s interview is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1470).

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

Whewwww the voice in my head is an ASSHOLE. Can we curse here? (Rob’s Note: Don’t hurt my saintly ears)

I feel like you curse when you go hurtling off the bridge, and also that voice is the equivalent of being thrown from the bridge in the middle of your grail-quest. Right, the voice – the one that tells me I’m not good enough, that people are going to notice I don’t belong with all these amazing writers, that I should probably not bother to write because no one’s going to like it…UGH that voice makes setting and keeping a writing routine hard. (Rob’s Note: That voice deserves to get cursed at)

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Character development – where they end up is not where they started, even if they deny that growth to themselves (I’m a big fan of characters in denial about something, which maybe says something about me? Unclear). This is for sure a skill I developed through fanfiction, where I had characters I wrote for yearsssss.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Cookie Monster. The right answer.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy. Except when I want crunchy, and then crunchy.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Bad News Bears. Hufflepuff’s Quidditch team. (for real I was raised on Boston sports and so believe firmly in the underdog and then my teams did all the winning and it’s an identity crisis, I tell you #hardproblemstohave)
  • Cake or Pie? Peanut butter pie, then everything else = yes, please, excellent runner up
  • Lime or Lemon? Someone already made the lime in the coconut joke, didn’t they?
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Cheese.
  • Wet or Dry? #thatswhatshesaid
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? #imnotahipster #basicmusicaltaste #idontcareitssogood
  • Whisky or Whiskey? YES, please and thank you.
  • Favorite Superhero? Kitty Pryde #shehadaDRAGON
  • Steak Temperature? Medium rare, I will accept only rare-r temperatures as valid answers.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Not gonna lie, all the ones I thought of were 80s. Early 80s, but…yeah.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? …all you have to do is call! (dammit now that song is in my head) (Rob’s Note: My job’s done here)
  • Favorite Pet?  I can’t pick a favorite, or I will be haunted by all the good boys and girls who went before. All dogs are the best. All cats are also the best. Even the jerks.
  • Best Game Ever? Either Uno or Apples to Apples with my family (each side has claim to one) – there is always loud arguing, snorting, attempts at cheating that are immediately seen through, and so much laughter I’m honestly sore the next day.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee. Unless I want tea, and then tea. But for real: coffee.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? YES. Also you have a typo, ‘or’ should be spelled a-n-d.

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

What was the first book/story that GOT you? The one that made you catch your breath and need to read and re-read and maybe also re-re-re-re-read it?

Rob’s Answer: Well, I would probably have to say the Hardy Boy books. For a while, they were my babysitter when my parents both had classes to teach at the same time. They would buy me one that I didn’t have, which usually took me about 2-3 hours to read. That meant I got a lot of them one semester when I was five.

I’d also like to toss out The Ghost of Dibble Hollow. I read that book like a zillion times in 4th grade. I still have a copy and I might just read it again this weekend.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

Coming soon: Hunter (the sequel to Assassin) and a few special projects…

And where can we find you?

Do you have a creator biography?

Marisa Wolf is the author of “Under the Skin” in The Good, the Bad, and the Merc, and the co-author of Assassin, with the fabulous Kacey Ezell. With more to come in the 4HU, she’s also co-authored a short story in another universe with Kacey (“Underneath” in Sha’daa: Toys, from Copper Dog Publishing), and has apparently decided to have five or more projects going at the same time all the time.

She was born in New England, and raised on a healthy diet of Boston sports teams, Star Wars, Star Trek, and the longest books in the library (usually fantasy). Over the years she majored in English (in part to get credits for reading which…partly worked), taught middle school science and history, was headbutted by an alligator, built a career in education, earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and finally decided to finish all those half-started stories in her head.

She currently lives in Texas with three absurd rescue dogs, more books than seems sensible, and one deeply understanding husband.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

You should have asked what nerd property do you desperately want to see come to some sort of media life in a very high quality way? That way I could have answered Dragonriders of Pern. Now! Please and thank you.

You should have also asked if there will be a sequel to Assassin so I could mention that Hunter is coming soon.


Thanks to Marisa for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Doug Dandridge (Rerun)

Doug Dandridge is one of the great independent writers out there. He’s done really well in part because he puts out a ton of good material. My personal favor is his Exodus: Empires at War series, but he has over thirty published titles, including two other series, Refuge techno-fantasy and The Deep Dark Well trilogy. Now he’s started Kinship Wars, a traditionally published series. Let’s just say I’ve visited his Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Doug-Dandridge/e/B006S69CTU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1522973584&sr=1-2-ent a number of times to get his books.

Exodus: Empires at War, Book 1 Cover

And I’m not the only one. According to his bio, “(h)e has amassed over 5,000 reviews across his books on Amazon, with a 4.6 star average. 5,000 reviews! And about that same number on Goodreads. I am learning just how hard it is to get a single review out of readers, so that’s even more amazing to me than the hundreds of thousands of books he’s sold.

Clearly, he knows both how to write and how to market online, so I was excited when he agreed to answer my questions.

Doug Dandridge

What is your quest? I like to craft technically sound science fiction (and fantasy as well) in an interesting and well thought out setting, with strong characters. Sometimes I actually succeed. I like the physics, chemistry, biology to stay as close to accurate as possible. Which doesn’t mean I don’t make up whimsical of utterly fantastic elements, but I see no need to step on real world principles when not necessary. My major influences include Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, David Weber, Robert E Howard, Jim Butcher, R A Salvatore and Larry Niven. I get a little bit from each one and possibly blend them together into something of my own. It seems to work, as I was able to not only quit my day job, but make a very good living at it.

What is your favorite color? Like Jim Butcher I start off with a map most of the time. I do a lot of research. Even in fantasy, I look up a lot of information, put a lot of it on paper. I world build to an extreme, probably more than I need to, but then, when I have a series, I just need to add onto the already detailed world. And I draw a lot of things out on graph paper, which allows even a poor artist like myself to visualize my settings. Spaceships, star systems, castles, even the look of dragons. All goes down on paper. And when I’m creating a star system I like to use programs to look over the configurations of planets and make sure it all works (wouldn’t do to have your inhabited planet go spiraling into the star). Probably more than I need to, but I read the horror stories of people finding fault with the science in other works. I even use Nukemap to make sure my things that go boom have an accurate damage radius.

Doug Dandridge with Helicopter

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush? I wrote a series called Refuge, which actually started off really well. Both of the first books sold over 5,000 copies. They mixed modern technology with magic, with people from Earth crossing over to another dimension against their will and having to fight wizards, dragons and things that go smack in the night. With tanks, attack helicopters and a couple of tactical nukes. Due to the physical and magical laws of the planet, the technology would only last for a short period of time, and the humans had to use it or lose it. So by book three they had lost it, and I had lost my readership. Turned out that the majority of people who bought the first two books loved the idea of technology versus magic, so book three sold just over two thousand copies, while four barely made it over a thousand. I’ve tried to salvage the series with book five, resorting to magic imbued steam tech. But I’m afraid once you lose readers you’ve lost them for good, at least for that series. The lesson? When something is working, don’t make radical changes.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? I am really proud of the Exodus: Empires at War series and the spinoff, Exodus: Machine War. This is the universe that turned me into an independent success. Of the 240,000 odd books I have sold, over 200,000 of them are in these series. They have been well received, and I have collected a lot of fans from all over the world from these books. I feel that I write battle scenes really well (see R A Salvatore and Jim Butcher above), and I’m also good at putting in technical details without overwhelming people with info dumps. The Exodus series is nearing its end, but I will start another side series, going back in time to the origins of my human Empire.

Lightning Round

  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy.

    Five by Five Cover
  • Favorite Sports Team? Florida State University, because I went there and I live in Tallahassee. Any of the teams, not just football. I go to women’s soccer, both basketballs, softball, volleyball, even sometimes baseball.
  • Cake or Pie? Pie, because cake is too rich.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime, because lemon is just too sour.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Home-made French Onion dip. None of that weak store made stuff. The Lipton’s Onion Soup with sour cream.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? A German Jazz guitarist named Vogel Kreigel. He played in a little hotel in North Germany back in the late 1970s. One of the best jazz guitarists in the world at that time.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? I used to love Wild Turkey 101. Haven’t had a drink, for health reasons, in fourteen years.
  • Favorite Superhero? Spiderman. I’ve been a Spidey freak since I was five years old, and I bought the issue of Amazing Stories that featured the webhead.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium rare.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Man, go back to the sixties and I might have something. The seventies did nothing for me, and I spent half of them in the Army.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall, love the crispy temps. Best time for going to football and soccer.
  • Favorite Pet?  (provide pictures if you want) I had a ginger cat years ago named Beau who was the smartest pet I have ever had (and I’ve had an Australian Shepard). He died way too young at age nine.
  • Best Game Ever? Video Game? Fallout New Vegas, with lots of mods. Best gaming world, best story, a lot of fun to play in VR.
  • Coffee or Tea? I’m a big coffee drinking. Buy the beans and grind them myself before brewing them.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? I love them both. I would actually like to write more fantasy, but somehow I slid into the scifi niche, so there I am.

What question(s) would you like to ask me? How do you come up with these questions?

My Answer: I think the first time I asked questions like this happened because I got tired of internet question memes, so oddly that made me make my own. The ones out there were just bland and boring, and so I made a whimsical one to have fun with my friends.

I used the idea again when I got married to my second wife. We wanted to make it fun, so I asked a larger series of questions to everyone involved in the ceremony. Then, we had a friend who is great at such things introduce us all as if we were wrestlers coming into a WWE event or something like that. We had a fantastic wedding.

As everyone who answers the interview questions realizes, I want to get some idea of your methods. Hopefully, this will help me and my readers find things that might improve our writing and publishing skills. However, I didn’t want it to be bland and boring, hence the Monty Python way of asking the questions.

But I also wanted to give each of you a chance to be something more than a name on an e-book. For example, I think it’s awesome that I now know you’re a Florida State fan. Plus, given how much I like to host people, it’s always a good thing to know how to cook their steak should the opportunity arise.

Aura Cover

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? How did you ever decide to get into this crazy business?

I was out of work and pissed off at the employer that had just fired me, and decided to write a book exposing the corruption of mental health organizations. I sat down and wrote that book in two weeks, then started on an alternate history. When that was done, I went to work on a 260K word fantasy.

Refuge, Book 1 Cover

I wrote on an off for over a decade, collecting over three hundred rejection slips, but trying to do it the old way, through a publisher. Finally, in 2010, I was really sick of my job and wanted to become a full time writer. I wrote the equivalent of 7 novels that years, including the books that were turned into the first two volumes of Exodus: Empires at War and Refuge: The Arrival. I didn’t actually put anything online until December 31, 2011, and nothing much sold for the first eight months. I did a giveaway for a book called
The Deep Dark Well, and 4,100 went off the Amazon hard drive. When Exodus came out in November (I had put out Refuge first, thinking it would be the breakout novel), I started selling 100 books a day. In January of 2013 I sold 8,900 books and the sales continued into February with 5,400. I kept getting good sale the first couple days of March, and I turned in my two week notice and never looked back.

What’s Your Upcoming Event Schedule? I will also have books coming out later this year from Arc Manor Publishing (Kinship War) and Chris Kennedy Publishing (When Eagles Dare).

Doug’s Book Biography:

Doug Dandridge is the author of over thirty self-published books on Amazon, including the very successful, Exodus: Empires at War series, the Refuge techno-fantasy series, The Deep Dark Well Trilogy, as well as numerous standalone science fiction and fantasy novels.  In a five year period as a self-published author, Doug has sold well over two hundred thousand eBooks, paperbacks and audio books.  He has amassed over 5,000 reviews across his books on Amazon, with a 4.6 star average, and a similar number of ratings on Goodreads with a 4.12 star average. He has also written his first traditionally published novel, the first of a series, Kinship Wars. He served in the US Army as an infantryman, as well as several years in the Florida National Guard in the same MOS.  Doug, who holds degrees from Florida State University and the University of Alabama, lives with his five cats in Tallahassee Florida.  He is a sports enthusiast and a self-proclaimed amateur military historian.


Thanks to Doug for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

 

Opinions and fiction of person misplaced in time.