Tag Archives: Four Horsemen Universe

Interview: Alex Rath

The interviews are back! This week I’m interviewing Alex Rath, another of the many talented authors writing the Four Horsemen Universe. It’s a throwback to last year’s Four Horsetober.

Quick side note, since it’s been a while. I’ll post an interview of a creator each Wednesday. If you’re a creator, whether author, musician, artist, or crafter, and you’d like to be interviewed, send me an email at rob@robhowell.org and I’ll send you the questions.

Now, on to Alex…

Interview: Alex Rath
Alex Rath
Alex Rath

What is your quest? At the moment, my focus has been on the Four Horsemen Universe (though that’s expanding). Pretty much all of my characters will take in parts of my own personality, the big one of that being versatile, and creative. As a person who has spent 25 years in technology, starting in the days when we had very limited tools, and had to be very creative in how to accomplish our goals with only a language and no libraries or pre-made routines to work with, I always had to invent the wheel. My characters tend to do the same, and it’s a lot of fun to take things that exist in a universe, and think of a new way to apply it.

What is your favorite color? I like a combination of intense action, sprinkle in some humor, often in the form of a pop-culture reference, and then throw in some emotion from out of left field to catch the reader off guard. So far, each of my stories have had at least one scene that evokes some kind of emotional response. Even though I’m writing military science fiction, I want the readers to feel the humanity of my characters, and hopefully find at least one they can relate to and say “Yep, I know that feeling.”

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush? I’m fairly new to the writing game… but I’d say my biggest frustration has just been getting stuck or coming up short. I have a tendency to ‘get to the point’ which doesn’t really make a good read. I’m not accomplished at all at outlining or plotting a book and tend to ‘pants’ my way through it. That’s something I’m still trying to figure out how to work on, because both of my works so far have “ended” short of where I wanted them to be in length. Now, I don’t try to get more length just to get it… I just feel like it needs to be a certain length to contain an interesting story that gets the reader involved in the characters, which is one of my big goals.

 What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? Based on feedback from readers, I’d say I’m pretty good at conveying emotion, and getting the reader to FEEL that emotion. I had quite a few reviews and private comments on my first book, written with Chris Kennedy, that indicated I’d nailed the point home when it comes to dealing with the loss of comrades in a military setting. One particular person was brought to tears, and it’s a person I know well, and understand why. That was, for me, the highest praise I could possibly get, especially given that it’s not something I have personally experienced, other than losing friends who served.

 Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal
  • Best Thing From the 80s? Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
  • Your Wrestler Name? Spartan  (duh, lol)
  • And Signature Wrestling Move? Blade Chop
  • Favorite Weird Color? Chartreuse
  • How Will You Conquer the World? Take over the internet
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Yosemite Sam
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? Secret Labs Titan Series office chair
  • What Do You Secretly Plot? Making people learn to research facts
  • Brought to you by the letter ___? R
  • Favorite Sports Team? Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps  (Drum corps is a sport, fight me) Rob’s Note: Nah, it totally is, and I’m one of the biggest sports fans around.
  • Cake or Pie? Cake
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip?   French Onion
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Here Come the Mummies
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Neither… I quit drinking
  • Favorite Superhero? Deadpool
  • Steak Temperature? Mid-Rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? W.A.T.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Favorite Pet?  Lacy, my bearded dragon!
  • Best Game Ever? Dungeons & Dragons
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  Yes

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

Rob’s Answer: Mostly pantsing, though I have a general idea where characters are going to end up like dying heroically, falling in love, or whatever seems appropriate. I find, though, that the characters know the path to those ends better than I do.

Also, I often will have a scene come to mind in the shower, lying in bed, driving, or other such time where my mind can roam a bit. In a sense, I plot one scene at a time, and wait for the pantser in me to generate that scene.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

Do you have a creator biography?

Alex Rath is a Military Science Fiction and Fantasy author, currently residing in Columbia, South Carolina, with his wife and daughter.

He has been creative in one form or another since childhood. He got his start in fantasy with Dungeons and Dragons in 1979, and kept going from there. Some of the ideas that he writes come from his extensive experience in Role Playing Games, starting with D&D, and onward through other games like Star Fleet Battles, Battletech/Mechwarrior, Shadowrun, Masquerade, and too many more to name.

From there, he took his creativity online to more online games than can be remembered by writing character backgrounds, stories, and game related fiction. Now, he puts his creativity to the book format, and is excited to become a professional author.

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

You should have asked how I got started in writing. It actually started with a Facebook conversation with Chris Kennedy, where I pitched the idea of a short story about the Computer Operations Center of the Golden Horde, since my professional expertise is in computers, programming, information security, etc..  He suggested it could be a full book and offered to co-write it with me. That happened, and here we are!


Thanks to Alex 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

FantaSci AAR

I’m home. The overall trip was over 4000 miles. There were a bunch of highlights, and you can find my Gulf Wars AAR here.

The cap to it all was FantaSci. This was the first year of the con, but you really wouldn’t have known that if you weren’t told. They did have some advantages, like pulling from a former con (HonorCon) and having it be a major event for two different fan groups (The TRMN and the 4HU Mercenary Guild). However, that doesn’t ensure success, and it was a very successful con.

I’d like to stop for a moment to thank Lyons and his staff for doing a great job. If the name Lyons sounds familiar in the context of the 4HU, it’s because he has been tuckerized as the owner of the Lyon’s Den merc bar, which provided the impetus for three anthologies of short stories. He and his crew had things organized well. As I said, one could not tell it was the first time with this con, as the issues I saw are the issues one usually finds at any con, like issues with the hotel and its bar and restaurant.

Another side note, I rather enjoyed the hotel. The food was pretty good, not terribly expensive, and the bar had an IPA on tap. The rooms were also much cheaper than one normally finds at a con. I hope they stay there.

I was in a lot of panels, which is just the way I like it. On Friday I was in a fun panel sponsored by Ian J. Malone, which discussed sports in SF and fantasy writing, such as baseball in the Honor Harrington universe and the like. Sports has been a part of humanity since we became a species, and it will continue in space and exist in fantasy worlds, just like it did it in the Middle Ages.

My next panel was a discussion of writing in shared worlds. I’m getting a taste of this in the 4HU, and have plans to open up Shijuren for at least some anthologies, so this was a valuable one for me to listen and learn, as well as comment.

Saturday was a huge day for me. I started with a panel discussing Alternate History Change Points. This was actually a major treat for me, as one of my favorite authors, Steve White was on this panel. Also included were Kacey Ezell and Christopher Woods, so it was a lively panel.

Then I went into a stretch of four panels in five hours, starting with a panel on pantsing. Pantsing, if you’ve not heard the term, means writing from the seat of your pants. The other end of the spectrum is plotting. It was a huge thing for me to discover that pantsing was an accepted and normal form of writing, because that’s what came naturally to me. I tend to plot more than I used to, but generally only in vague terms. It still makes more sense to see what the characters do rather than forcing them into a certain path.

Immediately was the Chris Kennedy Publishing panel where Chris talked about all the things that are coming. I got to talk about the Feeding of Sorrows and see a bunch of things coming down the pike. Kennedy is amazing. He has done incredible stuff and made a bunch of opportunities for other writers.

After an hour break, I was in a panel on genre blending, which of course I talk about a goodly amount given the Edward novels.

Finally, I was on a whimsical panel about the messiest ways to kill undead. This panel was designed to go off the rails, and off the rails we went. Lots of fun.

Saturday night was the highlight of the event. It was perhaps the best single experience I’ve had in the con scene as a writer. The 4HU Mercenary Guild held a Dining Out. If you’re in the military, you know what this means. It is a ritual dinner, with a number of specific toasts and ceremonies. I was generally an observer, asking questions of the vets at my table and learning. I was also smart enough not to create a reason that I needed to drink the grog. A certain Minion, on the other hand, fought the grog and the grog won. Much hilarity has and will ensue on that.

After the Dining Out was a number of fun things. Saturday happened to be Kacey Ezell’s birthday, and also she and Marisa Wolf had a bestseller on Amazon to celebrate. Then there was floating to some parties, including going down to karaoke, which was a lot of fun. I even sang some Dropkick Murphys. Then we ended the night chatting in my room until late, even getting security to tell us to be quiet.

Sunday was much more laid back. I didn’t have any panels, though I did go to closing ceremonies. This was the first con where I was “featured” in any way, and I made sure I was at the ceremonies. Lyons paid me an incredible honor with that, and I can’t thank him enough.

Mostly what I did on Sunday, though, was get out my laptop and offer to update wiki entries. Many of the attendees to the con are redshirts in the 4HU, and I added fun things to a number of entries.

Then I was in a quandary. I had plans to eat with my aunt and uncle around 5pm. However, I *really* wanted to get home. I canceled and left around 2 to try and get past Nashville on a Sunday night. I made it to Clarksville, despite losing an hour to construction in Knoxville. It’s a good thing I did, because I was pushing through a bit of flu yesterday and I might have lost a day coming home. Given that in two days I set up at Planet Comicon, I really couldn’t spare the time. Side note, I feel much better this morning, even to the point of keeping food down.

FantaSci was an amazing con. Truly one of the best I have ever been to. LibertyCon level, even. I ticked off all the professional goals I had, enjoyed myself, and met a bunch of new friends.

It was also the launch of the 4HU Mercenary Guild fan group. You can find it here: www.mercenaryguild.org. I know I’m only a bit player in this universe, but it’s still cool to be a part of it. If you like the 4HU books, sign on up. I’ll be starting up a Foresters unit when the time comes.

I may not get to go next year because of timing, though. I think it’s on the second weekend of Gulf Wars next years, so I may have to make a choice.

However, I’ll go back every year I can. It’s on the list.

 

Interview: Chris Kennedy

Today Those in Peril released. If I haven’t mentioned yet it’s an anthology of alternate naval history stories.

You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Those-Peril-Phases-Mars-Book-ebook/dp/B07NPG7QFW/

It’s published by the one and only Chris Kennedy, who has given many indie writers such as myself a bunch of opportunities. The world of mil SF is far better for having him be a part of it.

Speaking of far better, I hope you enjoy “Far Better to Dare,” my entry in the Those in Peril.

Interview: Chris Kennedy

This week’s interview is with Chris Kennedy, who has shown many of us how to be an independent writer. He’s written several series of his own, founded a publishing company that supports other independent authors, and, along with Mark Wandrey, started the Four Horsemen Universe of which I’ve contributed.

He’s taught me quite a bit already, and I suggest you listen to him and watch what he does.

What is your quest?

I want to sell a million books. Failing that, I want to help my authors sell ten million books.

What is your favorite color?

Science fiction…with a side of fantasy.

Chris Kennedy
Chris Kennedy

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

Not coming from a writing background, I had to learn to do it right. I read blogs for 15 minutes a day for four years to help develop my craft and my ability to sell more books. I’m still not totally where I want to be, but I’m a much better writer than when I started, and I’m a lot closer to the goal.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I like writing gritty combat and a good motivational speech once in a while.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Definitely crunchy. I don’t know why they make that other stuff.
  • Favorite Sports Team? UNC Tarheels basketball (despite their showing in the NCAAs last year), NY Yankees baseball, and Atlanta Falcons football.
  • Cake or Pie? Pie…but why can’t I have both?
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon…because you can put it in Corona and make it taste better.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Helluva Good Sour Cream and Onion
  • Wet or Dry? Sopping wet. (Rob’s Note: He’s a Navy guy)
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Two Steps from Hell. Outstanding for combat writing music.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Bud Light. (Rob’s Note: Sigh)
  • Favorite Superhero? Gal Gadot Wonder Woman. Because Gal Gadot.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Best Game Ever? In # of hours played? Everquest.
  • Coffee or Tea? Diet Pepsi
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Scifi, with a side of fantasy.

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

How many MAC rounds can a trooper survive?

Rob’s Answer: If we’re talking a magnetically accelerated piece of tungsten, then zero if the trooper isn’t in a CASPer. If we’re talking the fully-loaded magazine of MAC rounds we’re going to have at our LibertyCon party, I would say most can survive five or so, depending upon rate of fire and body mass. However, this survival is likely to be more painful and the target might prefer the quick death of tungsten.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

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

You should have asked, “Do you have any free book promotions coming up soon?”

Why yes, yes I do.

Both “Janissaries” and “Cartwright’s Cavaliers” will be free this weekend. Want to introduce someone to my writing or the 4HU? This is your chance to do it—get them to pick up a free copy this weekend!

You can find them here:


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: Philip Wohlrab

Greetings all

Tonight it’s time for the Docfather, Philip Wohlrab himself. He’s a writer and a combat medic. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him at LibertyCon and several other conventions. If you’re at a con and see a guy in a heavily-adorned Imperial Andermani Navy uniform, it might just be him.

Interview: Philip Wohlrab
Philiip Wohlrab
Philiip Wohlrab

What is your quest?

Ultimately, I want to tell a good story, whether it is set in the future, the past, a past that never happened, or complete fantasy. I want to entertain people, pull them out of the land of the mundane, even if for a little bit. Right now, I have a couple of projects that I am working on, first is my novel set in an entirely new universe known as the Squidverse. Think WWII meets Star Wars, with a helping of the Mind Flayers from D&D. I am also writing a short alt history of the Battle of Jutland, where the US and Germany are allies, and lastly another short set in Black Tide Rising, though whether it gets published after certain people read it is going to be interesting.

What is your favorite color?

Cyberpunk Electric Blue? Hmmm, I do draw a bit from nature when I am creating new creatures. The Akkorro, aliens in the 4HU, are literally drawn from Cuttlefish. In fact, I like squids, and octopi quite a bit so you will see them featured in my stories in some form or another. I also try to get the little details right, what were the sounds, what were the smells. As a combat vet I can tell you that certain smells will never be forgotten, and I try to bring that out in my writing.

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

Time management is my biggest issue. I should be writing more, but I find myself getting distracted by things. I also tend to idea hop, so I have to make that work for me when I am working on multiple projects. This is a bit of a learning curve.

 What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Emotion, I think I do that well. The Beach was an emotional short to write, for me, and I know it has hit readers pretty hard based on some of the feedback I have been given. I like to give people the emotions the characters are feeling, as it allows the readers to connect with the characters. You may have never experienced combat, but you have had some experience that has terrified you, or gotten the adrenaline flowing. So, if I can tap into that, and give the reader some personal idea of what the character is feeling, I am going to try and work that in.

 Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Doozers from Fraggle Rock. I mean these guys spend all their time building stuff that the Fraggles just eat anyways. That has to take some fortitude not to poison the Fraggles.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy for the WIN!
  • Favorite Sports Team? Atlanta Falcons, I am used to disappointment.
  • Cake or Pie? Why not both?
  • Lime or Lemon? Definitely Both.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Ranch
  • Wet or Dry? Wet
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Gunship, seriously if you like 1980s Cyberpunk go give these guys a listen.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whiskey
  • Favorite Superhero? Darth Vader. What? He has comic books!
  • Steak Temperature? Damn near still mooing.
  • Best Game Ever? Hmmm I am currently very much enjoying Battletech.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee, drank black as hell, or perhaps Irish. Never adulterated with cream or sugar.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci-Fi.

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

Rob how do you find time to do all the stuff you do?

Rob’s Answer: Uh, I do a bunch of stuff? I don’t feel like it, especially right now when I’ve been fighting a bit of a dry spell with writing.

I do try to do at least a little bit each day, though. One of my favorite sections from the Prince Roger series is the bit where Roger talks about eating soup with a knife. It’s not always easy, and it requires determination, but you have to keep doing a bit here and there.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I have a couple of things up on Amazon, and a few more on the way. I have a short I independently published entitled The Medic. My short The Beach is available in The Good, the Bad, and The Merc. I have another short that will be published in the Homo Stellaris anthology, that I cowrote with Kacey Ezell, about the first pregnancy in space, and I have a short coming out in the next 4HU anthology involving a German merc company, and the Akkorro.

  • https://www.amazon.com/Philip-Wohlrab/e/B01HTBZ57A

And where can we find you?

I attend Libertycon and Dragoncon each year and can be found at other Cons in the North Carolina or Virginia area, schedule permitting.

Do you have a creator biography?

From my Amazon page: Philip Wohlrab has been a medic with the Army for over 12 years, and he has served his time in the sandbox. He currently trains the next generation of Combat Medics and runs a schoolhouse medical section. When he isn’t doing Army things he can be found at various Sci-Fi Cons, and writing.

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

You should have asked how my service has affected my writing. I have served both in the United States Coast Guard, and the Virginia Army National Guard. This has given me a unique look at very different service cultures, and I use that to ensure that when I am writing characters that they are unique to their service branches. Army speak doesn’t always translate well to Naval speak, things of that nature.

Lastly a small snippet from my upcoming Squidverse novel. Thanks for doing this Rob!

Outer Luzon System

Space itself seemed to blur as ship after ship of the Taiyo battlegroup emerged into the realm of physics that Einstein and Newton would recognize. Atago, a heavy cruiser, formed up the center of the battlegroup alongside the Taiyo, while two Nagara Class light cruisers took up station as the inside defensive ring. Six destroyers formed the outer ring of warships that would protect the heavy cruiser, and light carrier.

Admiral Lady Hitomi Izumi scanned her repeaters arrayed around her command dais, she was looking for any flaws in the deployment of her vessels. Admiral Izumi was known to be exacting in her expectations of junior commanders. Finding no faults, she sat back in her command chair and crossed her legs.

“Commander Sasaki are there any indications of enemy ships nearby?” inquired Admiral Izumi. “Also, what was it that they were calling these things now?”

“They are calling them squids My Lady,” said a moon-faced heavy-set officer sitting at the sensor station. “Also, our scopes are not showing anything out here My Lady, however the sensor drones we left back in system is still showing a sizable Squid fleet around Marigold. Most of the ships though are either transports or supply vessels.”

“Interesting, I wonder where their warships have gotten off to? If they had been present in force we would never have been able to sneak in our own transports, but you would think they would have reacted by now to our presence in the system.”

“As you say My Lady, but we have no indication as to where they are, or when they left. Perhaps these Squids are harder pressed for ships than we previously thought? Could it be that they have used their entire fleet in the attacks across the entirety of the Fan and left nothing in reserve?”

“I think that most unlikely,” chimed in another officer. This worthy was Commander Asuna Hasegawa, Izumi’s chief intelligence officer. “I suspect that we have yet to see any reserve formation for these squids as you call them Commander Sasaki, it is more likely that we are seeing just the tip of their frontline units.”

“Then where are their warships Commander Hasegawa, and why aren’t they here?” growled back Sasaki.

“That is a good question Commander Sasaki, and one I wish I had an answer for.”

Oort Cloud

Luzon System

Fleet Controller 672 was proud of the fact that she had predicted that the human battlegroup wasn’t going to jump completely out of the system. It was rare that a Squantalavi female would be elevated to a position such as hers, but she had consistently demonstrated that she was one of the most agile thinkers in her cohort of officers. Even in a society dominated by males, 672 had both excelled, and been recognized as one of the best officers of her generation. That didn’t mean that she didn’t experience her fair share of hiccups in her career though. She had not been given a position in of the first assault fleets, but instead had come in as a second-tier commander, as the males of her cohort jealously guarded the prime assignments. Still Fleet Intelligence 11 had seen her potential, and rather than relegating her to one of the Skazi battlecruisers, he had given her command of a Saltze battleship.


Thanks to Philip for taking the time to answer my questions and the fun snippet.

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: 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

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: Jason Cordova

Greetings all

Sorry I haven’t posted anything for #Four Horsetober in a few days. I had to help my mom out for a bit and that threw me off schedule. I’ll start making it up this morning with Jason Cordova.

I met Jason Cordova at LibertyCon and he immediately said something sarcastic to me and offered good scotch. I liked that so much I went out and bought Wraithkin, book 1 of the Kin Wars Saga. I liked *that* so much I bought books 2 and 3 in that series.

Interview: Jason Cordova
Jason Cordova Portrait
Jason Cordova Portrait

What is your quest?

I try to include my own life experiences into the writing. The problem I have is I find oftentimes that some of the things I’ve done are so farfetched that nobody would believe it! So I borrow techniques from the best in the business – Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Tim Zahn. Zahn especially has been a huge influence on my writing career, since the very first SF series I ever read was his Conqueror’s Trilogy.

What is your favorite color?

I love a vivid action scene, but I noticed over the years that I’m a little vague when it comes to describing a character’s appearance in detail (unless it’s a plot device!). I think it’s partially due to a deep hatred some authors have of overly describing things (“info dumping”) that can yank a reader out of the story. I’m all about pacing, dialogue, and character development without talking about how pretty/handsome they are. If I can write a 100,000 word novel and people are complaining that it’s too short and they “just started it, how come it’s over?”, I feel like I’ve done my job. (Rob’s Note: I agree, and strive to limit my Raymond Chandler tendencies… most of the time)

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

The English language continues to vex me. In my head everything is part Spanish, part English, and translating a lot of it means I mix up order of words and verb tenses. I have the same issues when I try to write in Spanish (too many English-isms). Fortunately, I’ve had fairly decent editors over the years who are patient and willing to shoot me an email with a question. The most common one is “What are you trying to say here?”

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I’m definitely proud of my Kakata Korps short stories set in the Four Horsemen universe. Using a relatively unknown group of behind-the-scenes guys who are struggling to find their way in a war-torn universe appeals to me. I enjoy writing about Mulbah and his crazy little band of hard-charging Liberians. I also am immensely pleased with the Kin Wars Saga. I love writing in that universe, even if it’s a constant reminder of the friends I’ve lost over the years due to illness.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? GONZO!!!
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy
  • Favorite Sports Team? Atlanta Braves
  • Cake or Pie? Both?
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon-lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Salsa, but homemade and onion-free (onion allergy will kill me one day)
  • Wet or Dry? Dry
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Mindless Self Indulgence. They’re my guilty pleasure indie band of weirdos.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Scotch
  • Favorite Superhero? The Flash
  • Steak Temperature? Rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Little House on the Prairie
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall/Winter
  • Favorite Pet?  My cat Casper
  • Best Game Ever? Civilization V (Rob’s Note: Over Civ VI?)
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  Sci-Fi

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

How do you find time to do all that you do and continue to have a life?

Rob’s Answer: You tell me. I do this full-time, given that I’m too educated to get any job that I’m qualified for. You also work, so I would say you’re the one with the more challenging path.

Working for yourself is hard, though, especially the motivation to do things every day. That’s my big struggle. In school, I would binge work. You can do that some in this job, but not as often because you don’t have gaps like you do in school.

As for my life, it’s not terribly active outside of going to cons and SCA events, which have become my work. My sweetie and spend most nights watching TV together or working on projects around the house. I’m surprisingly domestic anymore.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

And where can we find you?

  • FantaSci (probably, still waiting on confirmation) – March 22-24, 2019
  • Libertycon – May 31-June 1, 2019
  • Dragoncon – Aug 29-Sept 2, 2019

Do you have a creator biography?

A 2015 John W. Campbell Award finalist, Jason Cordova is probably best known for his popular Kin Wars Saga series, as well as the Kaiju Apocalypse trilogy with Eric S. Brown. He also has written a YA science fiction series called The Warp. He was also featured in John Ringo’s bestselling Black Tide Rising anthology, and the highly-regarded Forged in Blood anthology set in Michael Z Williamson’s “Freehold” universe. He will have a story in the upcoming Freehold: Vengeance anthology (Baen Books). Jason currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. He is also a kaiju enthusiast.


Thanks to Jason 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: Serendipity

Week 40 of 2018

Greetings all

Been a good week here, though a little disjointed. Since I’ve moved back I’ve been to the doctor a bunch. During the time I was in Omaha, I kept waiting to figure out where we were going to live before getting a doctor. Since we didn’t actually find a place, I kept putting it off. Now that I’m 50, it’s not smart for me to avoid doctors, so I’ve been getting my 250,000 mile checkup, so to speak. That means a bunch of visits, and I had several this week.

The good news is that I’m doing pretty good for 50. I’m also really pleased with my new doctor. My last KC doctor took forever once you got to see her. She’s very smart, but I simply don’t want to wait three hours once I get there. This new doctor is actually incredibly quick. Other than the procedure I had last week, I’ve had something like ten office visits in the last month and a half. I’ve spent less time total in those visits, including with the specialists, than I did the first time I visited my old doctor. Nevertheless, each time takes out a chunk of the day.

What isn’t in as good of shape is my old phone. I didn’t want to upgrade to a Note 9 just yet, but I dropped my Note 5 and broke it. Ah, well. I did want the 9, and frankly the 512Gb of storage has already proven useful.

Still, I titled this week “Serendipity” because of last weekend. I got a chance to go to the Great Plains Ren Faire because a friend mentioned it. I did well and I got to briefly see my mom. I’ll be back in April.

Then, once I was there, another friend posted they were at the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Fayetteville, AR. Idly, Friday night, I checked their tour dates since I wanted to see them at least once. And, lookee there, they’re playing Saturday night after the Ren Fest closed in downtown Wichita. Definitely serendipitous.

I was a little disappointed in the Marshall Tucker Band, who opened for them. For whatever reason, their sound was a bit off. Can’t You See was fabulous, though. Anyway, I really enjoyed Skynyrd. The bits where they interwove parts of Ronnie Van Zant singing on the screen were powerful. Tuesday’s Gone live was worth the price of admission.

And I got to yell for someone to play Freebird without irony.

Oh, and I also named this post “Serendipity” because I love that word. It’s so mellifluous. It was also the title of our English reader in 6th grade. It had some great stories.

Ah, well, that’s enough about me. I’m going to get back to work. Have a great week.

Current Playlist Song

Acadian Dance by Rik Emmett from Triumph. This is from his acoustic album where he basically plays around and shows off all he can do. It’s good writing music.

Quote of the Week

Today is Neils Bohr’s birthday. He’s got a number of great quotes, but this is one of my favorites, especially since I started writing. And before you ask, I still have quite a few to make.

“An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.”
– Neils Bohr

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

This week I started #Four Horsetober, a bunch of interviews of other authors in the Four Horsemen Universe. You can expect a bunch of interviews throughout October in honor of the two Lyon’s Den anthologies.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on the Four Horsemen writers. See the list above for all the interview links.

Today’s Weight: 382.8

Updated Word Count: 209,771

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki:  417 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: Christopher Woods

Greetings all

The next entry in #FourHorsetober is Christopher Woods. He and I have been in panels together and hanging out at cons for a few years now. I really enjoyed his novel Soulguard, especially since part of it was set in Wichita, my hometown. He was recently nominated for a Dragon Award with his novel Legend, which is set in the Four Horsemen Universe.

Interview: Christopher Woods

What is your quest?

Christopher Woods
Christopher Woods

I never expected to be an author, so my initial answer would have been to get a general contractor’s license and build houses. But then I wrote a book. And another. When I published the first two, I realized that my goals had completely changed.

Now? Now, I want to write stories. I want to write stories like Louis L’Amour. Like Roger Zelazny. Like David Drake, John Ringo, and David Weber. There are so many authors I read over the years and I find that I want to do the same thing as they have.

I want to entertain people with my stories like Jim Butcher and Larry Correia. These are the things I never thought were possible until now. So now my goals are to write books and, hopefully, make enough money through that career to be able to say “Sorry, I don’t build anymore. But I know a guy who I can put you in touch with.”

What is your favorite color?

According to the Psychology of color, it should be yellow. I don’t particularly like yellow so I will say purple. The reason I say yellow is the fact that it is associated with laughter.

There are many techniques that can be used in writing. My specialties would be humor and dialogue. People like to laugh and it makes the reading that much easier with a smile on your face. The easiest way I have found to express the humor is through dialogue. The interactions between characters are fun to work with and I find a great deal of places to draw inspiration for these characters in the people closest to me.

My whole family is a family of smart-asses. I’ve been around them my whole life, and I find that the friends I am drawn to are much the same. Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment

Christopher Woods at his booth
Christopher Woods at his booth

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

I would say the speed depends on how frustrated you become. Sometimes it can reach deadly speeds. I’ve never been quite that frustrated in my quest to be an author. Perhaps in other things. What is the average speed of a thrown hammer? It will chip concrete floors.

I guess the most frustration I have felt as an author has been trying to get fans to follow me into another series. I wrote Soulguard, Soullord, and Bloodlord, then tried to get the fans to follow into a new series that just didn’t happen. Round two with that series is in the works and going to be published by Chris Kennedy. I never built the online presence to truly push my work out there. The Soulguard series did what it did on its own. We’ll see how Fallen World does through a publishing company that has a talent for putting the work in front of the right people.

I think my next highest frustration point was something similar. After I wrote the first four Soulguard books, I wrote a fifth about another character. His storyline is three books long and already plotted out to some degree. Once again, I just didn’t get the follow from Soulguard fans. I understand this one, I’ve been guilty of doing the same thing. When I read The Magic of Recluce, I did the same thing. When Modesitt wrote the next book about another character, it took me some time before I read it. Same with his Corean Chronicles, I think the name was. What I found out was that the second part was as good as the first, if not better. The Freedom’s Prophet story line, in my own opinion, is better written than the first ones. The following two books are still happening. It wasn’t a flop, by any means, but it made about a third of the amount of money as any of the first four. I think it will change when they see it is going to be three books. Another of those things we’ll just have to wait and see.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Dialogue is probably my greatest strength in writing. The banter between characters gives them life. They could be the fellow next to you in line at the store. They develop as people you can care for.

I’ve been told that my prose is too simple by some but that’s what I like to read. I don’t want to have to think too hard about what I’m reading. I read to relax and escape. Some call it a weakness but I consider it to be a strength.

If you want flowery language, there are many other authors out there. We aren’t competing. How many people do you see that read only one author? I feel that an author’s competition is television and video games. I try to make it as easy to read a book as it is to watch a show or play a game. That’s my theory, anyway.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Is Cookie Monster a Muppet? Cause I sure love cookies.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy
  • Favorite Sports Team? I don’t do sports but I do live in Tennessee so I might get killed if I don’t say Vols
  • Cake or Pie? Pie, of course. What sort of silly question is that? (Rob’s Note: *MY* kind of silly question, thank you very much)
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime, Key lime pie, just sayin’.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Salsa with…you guessed it…lime.
  • Wet or Dry? Hair or cement? Those would be totally different answers.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Leo Moracchioli, I think that’s how to spell it.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Why not both?
  • Favorite Superhero? Wolverine.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium rare. Not sure what temp that is.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Probably The Dukes of Hazzard. Don’t laugh.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall. Summer is the fat man’s bane and winter is the old man’s bane. I love the Fall colors. (Rob’s Note: Boy, do I understand this)
  • Favorite Pet? We used to have this huge black horse named Jack. He’d chase me around the field for a while. Then I would chase him for a while. I really liked that horse. Unfortunately I have no pictures.
  • Best Game Ever? Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Been playing it for five or six years and still enjoy it.
  • Coffee or Tea?  Tea for me. But I am developing a taste for coffee. If I put enough cream and sweetener in it.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? I can’t even discuss this one. My first work is a mix of both. I lean toward Sci-Fi at times and Fantasy at others. I love them both.

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

What sort of History degree do you specialize in? I’m sure I’ve heard it at one of the Cons, but for the life of me, I can’t remember.

Rob’s Answer: I am ABD in Medieval History with an MA in the field along the way. My dissertation focused on 10th-century Mercia during the time of Aethelflaed. I sought to answer whether the law codes she wrote specifying certain numbers of troops in various places were plausible or mere hopeful goals.

My answer, by the way, is that it looks like they did have the population to support those troop strengths *if* they could pull troops from more populous areas to fill gaps in lesser populated areas like what would become Cheshire. It seems likely they could, given a couple of hints that I found, but it is not confirmed.

More importantly in this context, it changed my writing plan. I decided to write fantasy over space opera / military SF initially because I wanted to use what I had learned. That focus, along with my experience in the SCA, also prompted me to use real-world cultures in my world. I feel I can write deeper cultures that way, and it’s not like Tolkien didn’t do much the same thing.

Christopher with a stray cat. Really.
Christopher with a stray cat. Really.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

  • SphinxCon, Atlanta, GA, Nov 2-4
  • FantaSci Durham, NC March 22-24

Do you have a creator biography?

Christopher Woods, writer of fiction, teller of tales, professional liar, and holder of the original BS degree was born in 1970 and has spent most of his life with a book in hand. Soulguard is his debut novel. It is followed by several sequels; Soullord, Bloodlord, Rash’Tor’Ri, and Freedom’s Prophet, with more to come. With other projects in Post-Apocalyptic and Military Sci-Fi in the works there should be something for everyone. He lives in Woodbury, TN with his wife, Wendy. As a former carpenter of 25 years, he spends his time between various building projects and writing new books.


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: Jamie Ibson

Greetings all

I am continuing Four Horsetober with Jamie Ibson. Most of you will know him as the boss of 4HU – The Merc Guild Facebook group, but he’s also a writer and will be in Luck Is Not a Factor, the second Lyon’s Den Anthology in the Four Horsemen Universe. Take a look at another writer that Chris Kennedy has fostered.

Interview: Jamie Ibson
Jamie Ibson
Jamie Ibson

What is your quest?

I’m right at the beginning of what may eventually become a career, so getting published is my main story quest. I have a non-sci-fi story out with Supervisive, my 4HU story “The Human Inside”, and a story in next year’s Freehold anthology called “Cry Havoc” about the FMF leopard handlers.

Influences include all the usual Baeniacs, Mad Mike, The ILOH, Oh John Ringo No, David Weber, David Drake, books I found on my dad’s bookshelf like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Joe Haldeman, Spider Robinson, Gordon R Dickson, as well as the next generation of up-and-coming authors like Kacey Ezell, Jason Cordova, Chris Smith and Mike Massa. My horizons were broadly expanded when I discovered the Four Horsemen series at LibertyCon 30. They say if you want to write you need to read. I read a lot.

What is your favorite color?

I like stories that get you out of the normal human perspective. Some of my favorite 4HU stories are the ones where the aliens are front and center. (Kacey does alien Very Very Well) so in my leopard story, I have parts where the narrative shifts from 3rd person limited to 1st person present and the cat tells the story. My current project, I’m doing full-conversion cyborgs and I try to imagine how alien it would be to have your entire interaction with the world be done through artificial/constructed means.

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

I write too much dialogue and have to find ways to show action rather than rely on conversation.

I have a fantasy short meant to be an intro to a setting I put together but it has not been accepted yet for publication. The last response I got was that there was too much slang (I didn’t think I used hardly any slang), and that it tried to squish too much world into too short a story, which was the opposite of what I’d been told elsewhere. But I recall that one of my favorite Freehold stories, The Humans Call It Duty, was rejected multiple times before it was finally published, so maybe it’s just not the right time.

That, perhaps, is the biggest lesson I’ve learned in writing, is being patient. Things take time. (Rob’s Note: So true!)

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? 

Somewhere along the way, a certain retired Navy SEAL declared that I was the Loremaster with regards to several of my favorite series and I’m rather honored to be called that. I think when writing in someone else’s universe it is vital to get the details and fiddly bits consistent. When I first talked to Mad Mike about what eventually became Cry Havoc, I made a point to review as much as I could on what Freehold had to say about the leopards and the handler program. Somewhere along the way I ended up writing a series bible for Mike which we’ve made available for everyone else writing in the anthology. I’ve been approached by others to give their universe a similar treatment so it can be opened up to a broader writing crowd, or I’ve been asked how I do what I do. (Notes, painstaking notes and multiple rereads!) So when I write in someone else’s universe, I try to keep a very clear idea on “What is canon” vs “Where can I expand” and ensure nothing I write conflicts with established lore. You only have to look at what happens to a series that becomes a show or movie to see whether it is accepted or rejected by fandom, based on how closely it remains true to the original. (I’m looking at you, Starship Troopers).

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Pepe
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy
  • Favorite Sports Team? Olympic Hockey Team Canada. I pretty much ignore everything else. (Rob’s Note: This is where I get to make a gratuitous note about watching the 1980 Miracle on Ice on a 12-inch black-and-white TV)
  • Cake or Pie? Cookie dough ice cream cake
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  7 layer but no olives
  • Wet or Dry? Umm
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? If you’ve seen my 4HU music playlist you will have seen Leo Morrachiolli. Norwegian metal cover god. Sultans of Swing and Feel Good Inc are always good, and then there’s 230+ more tunes to pick from. Seriously, the dude’s a machine. (Rob’s Note: And he makes the most amazing facial expressions)
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Please.
  • Favorite Superhero? Canadian ones, obviously, that may not be as well known as the Avengers, like Wolverine and Deadpool, for example.
  • Steak Temperature? I’m going to be a heretic and admit I prefer burgers over steak. But if steak is what is being served, medium rare.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Heh, sweet, it counts. Dukes of Hazzard started in 1979 so… yep.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring
  • Favorite Pet? I love all my cats, past and present, but Naomi is our house panther who has declared me chief of staff.
  • Best Game Ever? Fantasy: The Witcher III. Sci Fi, Horizon Zero Dawn.
  • Coffee or Tea? Razzleberry Iced Tea.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci fi.

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

Best place to learn to write/code wikis?

Rob’s Answer: Honestly, they’re not difficult. The most difficult thing to learn is the CSS coding to set up the main stuff. Wiki coding is mostly set up to use toolbars, and there are plenty of references.

They are like much else, though in that they become easier and quicker with practice. It takes time to think about what the most effective way to organize it, like what categories you’ll have and such.

Two things I suggest, though. First, download Editpad Lite. It’s my favorite text editor and you need a good one. If you already have one you know well, stay with it, but if not, Editpad is great. Second, as you’re editing create yourself a set of snippets. My philosophy of wiki editing is that it is better if you can standardize as much as possible. Similar things should be displayed in similar fashion as it will help the reader. Unlike writing prose, where you want to vary your word choice, consistency is useful in this context. Snippets help.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

  • My forthcoming 4HU story will be in Luck Is Not A Factor.
  • “Cry Havoc” due 2019 sometime.
  • Priorities via Superversive Press in To Be Men.

And where can we find you?

I’m north of the PNW so look for me at LibertyCon once a year (until I convince America to let me immigrate).

Do you have a creator biography?

Hey, I’m Jamie. Thanks for checking out my page. I’m Canadian, born and raised in Ontario and now on the left coast. Spent some time in the CF reserves and went on a peacekeeping mission when I finished highschool. Now I’m in law enforcement and write in my spare time. I’m married to the lovely Michelle, and we have cats.


Thanks to Jamie Ibson 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