Tag Archives: H.P. Lovecraft

Interview: D.J. Butler

For the first quarter of 2020, my Wednesday interviews will be with authors who are part of When Valor Must Hold, the upcoming anthology of fantasy stories published by Chris Kennedy Publishing.

You might notice this is coming out on Thursday. I seem to have misplaced Tuesday. Anyone know where I put it?

Anyway, this week is one of the cover authors from When Valor Must Hold, D.J. Butler. Butler’s story “No Trade for Nice Guys” reminded me so much of Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser I’m re-reading those stories. Which of course reminds me of the original TSR Deities and Demigods, which I also re-read.

Let’s just say you’ll want more of his two main characters, Indrajit and Fix. Fortunately, they star in a full-length novel coming out in July, In the Palace of Shadow and Joy.

Interview: D.J. Butler
D.J. Butler
D.J. Butler

Why are you here?

What made you a creator in the first place? My parents gave me a copy of the silver jubilee 25th anniversary edition of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was seven or eight. I stayed in bed for a week reading them back to back to back, and I have been attempting to recapture that experience ever since. Tolkien has influenced what I write on every level, from the genres I choose to write in to the themes and subject matter to my obsession with including music as music in my novels.

What are other major influences on you? Other hugely important novelists to me are Mervyn Peake, Patrick O’Brien, and Dorothy Dunnett. My favorite current novelists in speculative fiction would have to be Tim Powers (I love his playful use of history) and Neal Stephenson (I love the fact that he tackles big ideas within rollicking yarns). There are also songwriters who have had an enormous impact on what I write and how I write it; chief among those would have to be Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave.

Are there lesser-known creators you favor? I love to buy art, including writing, by people I know. Some of the lesser-known writers who are my favorites include: L.J. Hachmeister, who writes young adult space opera adventure, including the Triorion Universe books; David J. West (also writing as James Alderdice), who writes terrific pulp fiction influenced by sources ranging from spaghetti westerns to H.P. Lovecraft to Conan to The Book of Mormon (!!!); Thad Diaz, whose Lunatic City launches a terrific noir cop series set on the moon; and Michaelbrent Collings, who writes principally horror, but has also written a delightful middle grade series called the Billy Saga and a reimagined mashup of Twilight and Peter Pan.

Describe your great Lab of Creation?

The Cunning Man cover
The Cunning Man cover

Where do you work? Home? Coffee Shop? Yes. Also: airports, airplanes, restaurants, trains, hotels, convention center floors, friends’ parlors, and the shotgun seats of moving cars. I still work for a living (as a corporate trainer and consultant), so I have to write when I can. For a time, I was a full-time writer, and I was very good at systematically writing twelve pages every day, six days a week, but that is unfortunately not my situation now. Now, I will go without writing for a month, and then spend a month trying to write 20 pages a day, however and whenever and wherever I can.

What helps you be productive? Deadlines and contracts. Close association with other writers, who are themselves being productive, inspires me. Reader communication is great—it’s very hard to write sequels if you have no idea whether anyone is reading book one. 

What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you?

In the Palace of Shadow and Joy cover
In the Palace of Shadow and Joy cover

What are some of the challenges you have faced that frustrated you? I’m not as productive as I’d like to be. I have long periods in which I do things in my life that are important and good, but are not writing. I have not been as successful as I want to be at writing every day, no mater what.

Which mistake would you try to keep other creators from making? Never forget that, as a writer, you are an entrepreneur. You are shareholder, CEO, business development VP, head of manufacturing, salesman, and customer service, all at once. You are not an employee of your publisher or of your agent. Be actively engaged in growing your business at all time.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Dr. Teeth
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Bonnie Prince Billy
  • Favorite Superhero? Luke Cage
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Kolchak: The Night Stalker
  • Favorite Weird Color? Magenta
  • Best Game Ever? RuneQuest
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Your Wrestler Name? El Bigote
  • Steak Temperature? Hot. Medium rare.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  French onion
  • Favorite Cereal? Bacon
  • What Do You Eat For Your Last Meal? Bacon
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Diet Mountain Dew
  • Do You Have Pets? No

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

  1. LibertyCon in Tennessee
  2. Dragon Con in Georgia

Do you have a creator biography?

D.J. (Dave) Butler has been a lawyer, a consultant, an editor, and a corporate trainer. His novels include Witchy Eye, Witchy Winter, and Witchy Kingdom from Baen Books, as well as The Cunning Man, co-written with Aaron Michael Ritchey, and the forthcoming pseudofantasy thriller, In the Palace of Shadow and Joy. He also writes for children: the steampunk fantasy adventure tales The Kidnap Plot, The Giant’s Seat, and The Library Machine are published by Knopf. Other novels include City of the Saints from WordFire Press.

Dave also organizes writing retreats and anarcho-libertarian writers’ events, and travels the country to sell books. He plays guitar and banjo whenever he can, and likes to hang out in Utah with his children.


Thanks to D.J. 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: Aaron Hollingsworth

Greetings all

This week’s interview subject is Aaron Hollingsworth. He’s not only a good writer, but he’s a guy who writes role-playing game content, something I’d like to do one of these days. Plus, he’s a Kevin Smith fan.

Interview: Aaron Hollingsworth

What is your quest?

My primary goal is completing the Four Winds-One Storm saga, a series of science fantasy novels. I have 5 planned.

In a broader sense, my quest is to write fiction that will inspire readers in unexpected ways. I strive to amuse while planting seeds, hoping for a fruitful yield without knowing exactly what will come from the planting. I have no particular agenda when composing stories. I just want to stimulate minds. My influences are: Garth Ennis, Kozou Koike, Kevin Smith, Jim Butcher, Shakespeare, Quentin Tarentino, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith, to name a few.

What is your favorite color?

I grew up thinking blood red was the coolest color, but mustard yellow or brown suits me best. When it comes to employing creativity, I find it best to see how the ideas I want to use relate to one another. Assembling ideas is a puzzle process based on free-associative thought. The number 7 may be lucky, but 3 is more helpful. Writing a story is sort of like a math problem. First Act + Second Act = Third Act, or Setting/Characters + Problem = Outcome.

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

An unladen paint brush would have no paint. It would not get used. Therefore, the answer is 0 mph (or 0 kph if you use the metric system.) My biggest challenge has always been my own comprehension. I’m a bit of a ditz in that I can only learn things I am passionate about. So, when it comes to learning technical things I tend to struggle. I’m more clever than smart.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Thanks to some of the influences listed above, I feel I have a good grasp on writing dialogue. Thanks to some martial arts training, I can narrate combat scenarios. I can’t fight that well in real life, but I can write a fight okay. My proudest successes are getting most of my books turned into audiobooks and working with amazing narrator/producers from both coasts, as well as Australia.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Hard to say, but The Muppet Christmas Carol breaks heart every time without fail.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy is dreamy.
  • Favorite Sports Team? I’m not a sports enthusiast, sorry.
  • Cake or Pie? Gooseberry pie, please. Rob’s Note: Good answer!!!
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon juice on papercuts.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Anything without Cilantro. It tastes like soap to me.
  • Wet or Dry? Smooth.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Modern listeners need to research the amazing work of Crash Test Dummies.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? WhisKEY has a better ring to it.
  • Favorite Superhero? Evil Ernie
  • Steak Temperature? I prefer hamburgers. Well done.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Saturday Night Live
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Forever Autumn (it is the name of a good song)
  • Favorite Pet?  We moved around a lot as a kid. I never really bonded with a animal, unfortunately. I prefer cats over dogs.
  • Best Game Ever? Video Game: Balder’s Gate: Dark Alliance. Table Top: Pathfinder
  • Coffee or Tea? Espresso. Lots of it.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? My favorite fantasy series is the Codex: Alera by Jim Butcher, but my favorite fantasy writer is Clark Ashton Smith. His Averoigne and Zothique cycles are wondrous!

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

How would you describe your desk/work station? Use only adverbs.

Rob’s Answer: Surely, literally, totally well enough

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

And where can we find you?

  • I will be working tables at Planet ComiCon and ConQuest 50, both in Kansas City. Rob’s Note: I’ll be at ComiCon too.

Do you have a creator biography?

Aaron Hollingsworth is an anomalous mass of molecules conspiring to describe the impossible in the best way possible. His weird fiction works include The Bone Brick City, The Geohex of Wraith County, The Broken Bards of Paris, and The Apothecary of Mantua. He also develops RPG content compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. He lives in Kansas City.

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

You should have asked what advice I would give aspiring writers?

If your story is important to you, get it done as best you can, get it published as best you can, and promote it as best you can. No matter what results from these three endeavors, be satisfied that you did your best.


Thanks to Aaron 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