Tag Archives: Robert E. Howard

Interview: Bill Webb

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.

This week’s interview is with Bill Webb, whose story “Island of Bones” is good old-fashioned pulp fantasy. Heroes, ancient evils, horrifying monsters. All the good stuff.

Interview: Bill Webb

Why are you here?

  • What are your influences? I’m heavily influenced by history, even in my fiction. At the end of the day stories are about characters, and most of my characters are humans. Since human nature is unchanging, and it is, the fun part becomes using those personality types in a new setting.For example, at its heart my series The Last Brigade is about the power of the individual to affect great events. This theme carries through in other stories like The Sting of Fate and The Moles of Vienna.
  • Who are some favorite other creators? That’s a very long list. Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, Robert A. Heinlein, Karl Edward Wagner, all writers in the Four Horsemen Universe, John Babb, Fritz Leiber, Michael Connelly, Randy Wayne White…the list is nearly endless.
  • What made you a creator in the first place? It was probably the desire to emulate what I liked. I still have a ‘comic book’ that I started one day during High School Spanish class. I had colored pencils and everything, and drew it on ruled paper. My earliest known fiction story grew as a direct result of reading Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser’ tales.But the actual compulsion to create came from somewhere out in the ether. I’m probably the worst person to guess what that means, because I have no idea why I first felt the need to share stories. Maybe I’m an insecure showoff who needs the validation of others to feel good about myself, or maybe I just like the idea of creating something new. If either one of those is true, I’m not the one to tell you which it is, because I don’t know.
  • Why did you choose to create what you create? I’ve always thought the things I create chose me, but I guess there are lots of my creations jumping around and waving for my attention like children. And by writing a particular story, I’m choosing which one to pay attention to…okay then.It’s all very random. As a diehard pantser I always only start with a vague idea, and it’s always whatever seems appropriate at the moment. Oddly enough I do plan out which books I’m going to write when, so in that regard planning is important to me. But the actual creative process is about as haphazard as it gets.My rewrites almost always add substantial words to my first draft, so the choice of what to include and what not to lasts far beyond the point it does for most writers. In my experience, most writers pare down their first draft instead of expanding it.
  • What would you like to create someday? An alternate WW2 history series is one thing I want to create, which is actually coming later this year. I also would love to create an alternate Civil War series, Punic War series…and a space novel that I would really like to fit into the Four Horsemen Universe, but so far haven’t been able to make that work.

Describe your great Lab of Creation?

  • Where do you work? Home? Coffee Shop? Home. I can work elsewhere, but I’m usually not as good at producing things. My office is a disaster, there’s paper everywhere, books, the usual detritus of a writer, and my desk has coffee stains everywhere. One limiting factor for me is that laptop keywords are too small for my hands, so I keep hitting the wrong keys.
  • Do you listen to music? Yes, 99% of the time it’s hard rock, and 95% of that time it’s my favorite band, Status Quo, or bands that grew out of Status Quo’s example, such as Piledriver or Predatür.
  • What other things exist in your productive environment? A TV. When not listening to music, the TV is on. I get some of my best dialogue from Jerry Springer. (Truth)
  • What things have you tried that haven’t worked? Outlining. If it works for other writers, God bless ‘em, but it sure doesn’t work for me.

What are your superpowers?

  • What kinds of things do you like in your creations? Everything I write has some element of the power of the individual to affect events far beyond the scope of what one person can generally be thought to influence. I also love to play around with the role that Fate plays in great historical events. The Sting of Fate, for example, posits the difference that one wasp could have played on the history of the world, had it used its stinger at a critical moment.
  • What are specific techniques you do well? Some would argue, there are none. But I think I do a good job of putting my readers into the moment. I am often told by readers they can picture what I’m describing perfectly, despite the fact that I live by Roger Zelazny’s dictum of never using more than two descriptors. I’ve also become pretty adept at tell a scene, battles in particular, from various POVs.
  • What are some favorite successes you’ve achieved, especially things you had to struggle to overcome? The way I was taught to write was my biggest obstacle, the one that took decades to purge. Being more or less a Creative Writing major in college, I learned how to write literary fiction. My teachers wanted me to emulate Faulkner, or James Joyce, and the word ‘genre’ might earn you an ‘F.’ I did learn to write beautiful sentences, but they went nowhere because the prose was the point, not the story. Out of sheer frustration I quit writing fiction in 1996 and didn’t try it again until 2014. By then I had gotten out of the habit of ignoring story and was able to write prose that people actually enjoyed.

What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you?

  • What are some of the challenges you have faced that frustrated you? Trying to get an agent. The whole process is backward and ridiculous. Fortunately, I figured out that the whole concept of an agent is no longer important to me, or any writer that’s paying attention.
  • Do you have any creative failures which taught you something? What were those lessons? Boy do I. Whole filing cabinets full of them. I have one novel in which I combined hard SF with sword and sorcery. The concept isn’t impossible to pull off, some have done so, but it’s hard. I took this novel to a small press, this was in the 1980s, and they agreed to publish it, even naming an amount for an advance. But editor wanted me to expand a 70k word book to 120k. Keep in mind, this was before computers, so everything was written on a typewriter.I did it. It took two years, but I did it. However, I had not insisted on a contract, and when I finished the editor told me they weren’t publishing fiction anymore. He couldn’t pick up an phone and call me, even though we lived in the same city, he let me work for two years first.Needless to say, the bloated book read like a bloated book. I have since reused parts of it, but there are literally thousands of edited pages of that book still in my possession.
  • How do you overcome normal slow points like writer’s block?I have two methods. First, I don’t believe in writer’s block, I think that’s an excuse. It is for me, anyway. So if I get stuck at point, I either write another sentence no matter how bad it might be, and keep writing until the story starts flowing again, or I jump to a different scene and write that.If neither one of those works, I go to something different. It’s not unusual for me to work on 3 or 4 different projects in the same day.
  • Which mistake would you try to keep other creators from making? Wasting time trying to get an agent so you can publish traditionally. The whole thing has become a farce. There are agents who actually charge for you to pitch to them at a conference. That’s indefensible.
  • If you could go back and tell yourself anything about writing, what would it be? Listen to your own instincts. Attend writing classes, conferences, conventions and seminars, but write the way you like to read.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Miss Piggy.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Status Quo.
  • Favorite Superhero? Ben Grimm.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? The first season of MASH. Marcia Strassman was hot.
  • Favorite Weird Color? Teal.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Memphis Tigers.
  • Best Game Ever? Chess.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? It’s X-rated.
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Johnny Quest.
  • Your Wrestler Name? Wham-wham William.
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move? Pulling a Colt 1911.
  • What Do You Secretly Plot? To buy Jamaica.
  • How Will You Conquer the World? In my dreams.
  • Best Thing From the 80s? My kids.
  • Favorite Historical Period? World War Two.
  • Most Interesting Person In History? Winston Churchill.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium well.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  French onion.
  • Favorite Cereal? Raisin Bran.
  • What Do You Eat For Your Last Meal? Bacon cheeseburger with fries and chocolate shake.
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Unleaded: Diet Pepsi. Leaded: mojito.
  • Do You Have Pets? Yes, seven dogs.
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? If we was younger, Donald Sutherland. I once got a free meal by pretending to be his brother.
  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round? What book have you re-read the most?

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

What’s the best answer you’ve gotten to one of these interview questions?

Rob’s Answer: Probably Quincy Allen’s “Don’t let the naysayers win.” This isn’t an easy job, especially since it tests one’s confidence daily and we all deal with imposter syndrome. That’s the serious answer, but I’ll admit there’s been some fantastic Lightning Round answers. Those are often my favorites in a given interview.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • www.thelastbrigade.com
  • https://www.facebook.com/keepyouupallnightbooks
  • Currently on sale for .99, the Darrell-Award winning Sharp Steel. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0785PKZDF/
    And also in audiobook, read by the great Simon Vance.
  • Standing In Righteious Rage, The Last Brigade Book 5, is scheduled for release in early May. High Mountain Hunters, a planned book in the 4HU, should be delivered by mid-May. Also, I have agreed to a World War Two alternate history trilogy with Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press, titled A World Afire. It’s a great year for me to be stoked!

And where can we find you?

  • I’m a Special Guest at Tupelocon, the first weekend in March
  • Midsouthcon March 20-22
  • Libertycon in June
  • I’m also doing a signing at Fort Knox in July.

Do you have a creator biography?

Born and raised by a family of nomadic badgers in West Tennessee, Bill Webb wrote his first stories in grade school, terrifying all who knew him, and that was before he found comic books and science fiction.  (He is still angry at having a copy of X-Men #53 ripped out of his hands during 11th grade Spanish class.)

The release in 2016 of his Last Brigade series changed his career path by actually giving him a career path. The Time Wars and Sharp Steel and High Adventure series’ soon followed.

By age 25 he’d read all of the classics…Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Robert Heinlein, Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny. Later influences include Larry Niven, Jerry Pournell and Larry Corriea. Indulging himself in a double concentration at the University of Memphis of Creative Writing and History, college felt more like a long party than school.

After multiple careers in various industries, he much prefers writing books and stories to any sort of actual work. His idea of punching a clock these days is a coffee maker that finishes brewing its magic five minutes before he gets up in the morning.

Snippet from Bill’s new fantasy story, titled Beyond the Dead River.

The crocodile wanted to submerge, but she pulled back on the reins and kept the tired reptile swimming. The thrusts of its powerful tail had slowed, as had its paddling feet, but her stance astride its back allowed direct use of the spurs on her bootheels to keep it moving forward. At last it reached the river’s far shore and hauled the entire enormity of its bulk onto the mud flat. Rolling out the tethering chain, she looped it around the bole of a giant tree and scanned both ways for potential predators.

The dense jungle didn’t intimidate her. Vines with thorns and thick, oval leaves hung from trees taller than a castle’s keep, while a nearby stream emptied into the muddy river. Despite her knowledge of the rain forest, the dense undergrowth and deepening twilight left her dreading the need to travel in darkness deeper than the perpetual shadows of the rain forest. Her nostrils flared as she sniffed a light breeze for the scent of any nearby predators, and one eye twitched at a musky smell she knew belonged to a python. She would have to be very careful.

She had the lean, muscular physique of a warrior. Her limbs didn’t have the soft curves of a city born woman, but instead had muscles that appeared roughly cut from stone. Yet no one could mistake her for being a man. She had chosen her raiment specifically for travel through in the jungle. She had tucked loose trousers of well-worked animal leather into calf-high boots of snake-skin, with a leather shirt stretched tight across her chest. Two longs knives hung from a simple belt around her waist. Thick, curly black hair fell past her shoulders, held in place by a rawhide thong. A stained, short-brimmed hat protected her head from the countless overhead threats that inhabited the country through which she had to pass to achieve her mission.


Thanks to Bill 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: 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: William Joseph Roberts

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.

The first interview is with one of the first people I thought of when I got permission to create an anthology. The moment you meet this guy, you can envision him with a giant greatsword standing next to Conan or some other great hero of legend. And then afterwords, he’ll be the one drinking mead until the gods get tired.

I interviewed William Joseph Roberts not too long ago. You can find that interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1845. However, this is a new set of questions freshened up for 2020, and he was generous enough to fill out the new version as well.

His story in the anthology is entitled “Dust in the Mouth” and it’s as if Lovecraft wrote a Conan story. Or Howard wrote a Cthulhu story. No surprise, given his influences.

Interview: William Joseph Roberts

William Joseph Roberts
William Joseph Roberts

Why are you here?

  • What are your influences? Without questions, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Jordan, Douglas Adams to name a few.
  • Who are some favorite other creators? That depends on the type of creation you’re talking about. I mean, you’ve got Irish Mike making these massive swords and stuff to classic cover artists and such. That’s a wide spectrum to start naming names.
  • What made you a creator in the first place? The love of invoking an emotional or physical response in someone. There is nothing like seeing something that you puked out of your brainpan cause a response in someone else.
  • Why did you choose to create what you create? Just the way that the muse strikes me and what the evil brain squirrels tell me to do.
  • Feel free to add things you would someday like to create. Hehe…  um… that’s a freaking big list. Um.  How about a world so iconic that it is more or less a household name and lasts into the next century in similar fashion to the works of Howard and Lovecraft.

Describe your great Lab of Creation?

  • Where do you work? Home? Coffee Shop? All of the above
  • Do you listen to music? If so, give some examples. Absolutely! Basically from any genre. It just depends on what the mind squirrels demand.  Here’s a good example.  In the last week alone with the different stories that I have been working on, I have swung from Megadeth to Postmodern Jukebox to Moonshine Bandits and back to Nahko and Medicine for the people. I’m all over the place when it comes to music.
  • What other things exist in your productive environment? Side projects, just little things around the house that I can be creative with to give the squirrels a break and do something different.
  • What things have you tried that haven’t worked? Critique groups. I spun my wheels for years in critique groups that went nowhere. One part of the problem is that they focused on literary fiction, not pulp fiction.

What are your superpowers?

  • What kinds of things do you like in your creations? I like reality and the average joe over super powers and seemingly immortal characters.
  • What are specific techniques you do well? I’m not entirely sure. I’ve been told that I pull on raw emotion at times and paint pictures well.
  • What are some favorite successes you’ve achieved, especially things you had to struggle to overcome? I published my first novel, fLUX Runners on my own after a lot of hard work and a whole hell of a lot of fighting with those demons in the back of my head. Then I turned around and finished my second novel in 2 months.  :-/  Go figure.

fLUX Runners CoverWhat will Lex Luthor use to defeat you?

  • What are some of the challenges you have faced that frustrated you? Distractions, self-doubt, lack of knowledge. Top of the list would probably be the lack of knowledge being shared in part of the writing community.  If the knowledge that LibertyCon existed had been spoken about, I could have learned about it years ago. The group I was with knew about it, they just didn’t like to talk about “those” authors.
  • Do you have any creative failures which taught you something? What were those lessons? Yes, my old podcast. We had a blast and we helped to spread the word to a lot of people about different artists and their works, but it was a failure in that I lost my focus. Instead of being a platform to promote myself and my work, I focused on making a better podcast.  Now the upside to all of this hard work was the knowledge gained on networking, promotion, and collaboration.
  • How do you overcome normal slow points like writer’s block? Jump to another story or project. The squirrels get bored if they are stuck on the same thing for too long.
  • Which mistake would you try to keep other creators from making? From spinning their wheels doing something that will never pay off. (Critique groups!) While they may be great for some people, they did nothing for me.
  • If you could go back and tell yourself anything about writing, what would it be? TO WRITE! See, way back at the start of my podcast, I had the privilege of interviewing author Ben Bova. Now the one thing that he kept saying over and over again was, that if you want to be a writer, then write. Don’t make excuses, just sit down and write. Choose a set time that is your writing time and that’s when you write, without question. Everyone else is to leave you alone during this period unless it is an absolute emergency.  Well at the time, with the distractions of the podcast and three small babies, it didn’t sink in.  It finally did after a while. I now get up at 0400 every morning if not earlier and write till at least 0600 before getting ready for work. Add in my hour of lunch and any other time that I can squeeze in, I’m finally doing it.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Tiny Tim
  • Favorite Superhero? Lobo
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? BJ McKay and his best friend Bear
  • Favorite Weird Color? Der… intestinal pink?  … hell I don’t know
  • Favorite Sports Team? What if you don’t watch sports?
  • Best Game Ever? Starflight
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A framed picture of my Grandkids
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Hell if I know. The kids just said I’d be the Mask
  • Your Wrestler Name? Bubba Joe Bob
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move? Spine Splitter
  • What Do You Secretly Plot? The fall of the mosquito empire! Those bloodsuckers will pay for generations of attacks upon our people!
  • How Will You Conquer the World? Everyone loves brownies.
  • Best Thing From the 80s? Mullets, music and muscle cars!
  • Favorite Historical Period? 1600’s and the colonization of the Americas
  • Most Interesting Person In History? Shakespeare
  • Steak Temperature? Mooing
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Guac
  • Favorite Cereal? Cocoa pebbles
  • What Do You Eat For Your Last Meal? Pot of crawdads with a side of soup beans, cornbread, fried okra and fried green tomatoes.
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Coffee
  • Do You Have Pets? Yes, two pups.. do kids count?
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? Der… that guy that played Ron Weasley just cause he’s a redhead?
  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round? The most embarrassing moment you’re willing to share.

fLUX Runners CoverTell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

Upcoming events and conventions you plan to attend. Chattacon (Jan), Anachracon (Feb), FantiSci (March), Conglomeration (April), Metrotham (May), LibertyCon (June), Next Chapter Con (Sept)

Do you have a creator biography?

In a previous lifetime, William Joseph Roberts was once an F-15 mechanic and Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force. He has traveled the world and experienced many things in his few years.

During his tenure in this lifetime, he has been called a Jack of all trades, a Renaissance man and insane squirrel wrangler by his peers. Since his enlistment he has perused careers as an industrial and architectural designer, design engineer, and now, eclectic writer.

William Joseph Roberts currently resides in the quaint southern town of Chickamauga, Georgia with his loving wife, three freaky smart nerd children, and small pack of fur babies.

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

Most folks at some point usually ask WTF is wrong with me.  I generally just smile, then maybe give them a face lick. 😊


Thanks to William 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: Bill Webb

Greetings all

It’s release week. Friday, Trouble in the Wind blows right into the Amazon store of your choice. Here’s another author from that anthology, Bill Webb.

Interview: Bill Webb
Bill Webb
Bill Webb

What is your quest?

Let’s start with influences. In Science Fiction it all starts, like it does for so many others, with Robert A. Heinlein. By the mid 1960s he had created more classics than most people do in a lifetime, and to this day I’m stunned nobody has ever made a movie out of Tunnel in the Sky. Heinlein knew how to tell a story in the most direct way possible, although as time passed that, too, ebbed. The last book I truly loved was Time Enough For Love. But that about the time, the mid 70s, when I discovered Roger Zelazny, so to me there no dropoff in the quality of what I read, particularly with the Amber series and my all-time favorite, A Night in the Lonesome October, although one could argue those were all fantasies. But hey, even RAH wrote a fantasy novel, Glory Road. (I’ve heard from Rufo!)

But there were also many, many more in addition to those two giants, including Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Jack Williamson, David Weber, David Drake and especially John Ringo.

Fantasy influences are very clear in my mind. The godfather of them all is Robert E. Howard, of course. I write sword and sorcery and he invented the genre. Also high on the list are Michael Moorcock, Kar6 Edward Wagner and especially Fritz Leiber. As much as I love Tolkien, I’ve read LOTR at least 35 times, I consciously try NOT to emulate his writing style. Ursula K. Leguin advised against trying to out-Tolkien Tolkien, because it can’t be done.

What is your favorite color?

Blue. All shades of blue.

I am the last person to explain why my writing style works, or how it evolved, because I have no idea. But I’ve always remembered some advice given by Zelazny, that he never mentions more than two attributes of a person. One thing I rarely do is to write a description of a room, ship, character or locale. Many authors do so, and do it well, but I don’t.

What works for me, and that I might pass on to others, is to use an accurate term to describe something and then pick out one or two details that make it unique. For example, and making something up just for this interview…”The throne room was smaller than he’d imagined it would be, and oval. A simple chair of heavy and highly polished wood served as the king’s throne. Afternoon light poured through a leaded glass window.”

That style evolved over nearly 50 years of writing. Majoring in creative writing taught me how to construct sentences and how to think of scenes, but it had little relation to building a genre story. Literary fiction generally doesn’t lend itself well to a genre setting, so there was quite a bit to unlearn.

The only exception to the two-descriptors rule is when something complex needs an extensive blueprint for the reader to understand. The composition of a Roman legion, for instance, or a suit of powered armor, might require a more complete description. But even then I make it as short as possible. And it’s not because I write short books, either. The last three books I’ve had published are 133k, 137k and 300k words. But they read fast because I don’t get bogged down in details, and I am consistently told how readers can visualize everything in their minds. That’s because I let them fill in the big picture on their own.

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

I was held back for many years trying to remember all the rules I’d been taught about writing. Instead of just sitting down and telling a story, I thought and thought about the next sentence trying to keep all of my lessons in mind. Show don’t tell, don’t use adverbs, don’t overuse ‘that’, don’t do, don’t do, don’t do…the truth is, what writers need to do is to write. That’s the only way you can learn.

Now, I write a story or novel as I think it should be written, clean it up with a rewrite and/or edit, then send it to the editor.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

When I write in 3rd person it’s always 3rd person limited. That helps cut down on telling instead of showing, and it also allows for shorter scenes told through multiple points of view. It’s a way to speed up the action and keep things interesting. When you’re inside the mind of the antagonist, for example, 3rd person limited let’s you show the reader how he or she views things, and a really good villain is someone the reader can identify with, at least to some degree.

If I’m writing first person there has to be a good reason. My original series Hit World, for example, is first person in a noir style reminiscent of Raymond Chandler or Dashiel Hammett. The protagonist has the world-weary, jaded voice of an old-school private eye who’s seen it all, except he’s an assassin. Understanding him would be much harder in 3rd person limited. So if you’re going to write 1st person, make sure you have a reason for doing it, and that the character has a unique voice.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Miss Piggie.
  • Best Thing From the 80s? My kids.
  • Your Wrestler Name? The Sluggish Lion.
  • And Signature Wrestling Move? The plop.
  • Favorite Weird Color? Coral.
  • How Will You Conquer the World? From a beach chair.
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Snoopy.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A chess table when I was 13.
  • What Do You Secretly Plot? To live on a beach in the Caribbean.
  • Brought to you by the letter ___? Z.
  • Favorite Sports Team? University of Memphis Tigers.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Cheese.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Status Quo.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Beer.
  • Favorite Superhero? Iron Man.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium well.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Soap.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer, all year round.
  • Favorite Pet? All of them.
  • Best Game Ever? Diplomacy.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Both.

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

What’s the best answer you’ve gotten to a question?

Rob’s Answer: Oh, man, I don’t know that I can answer that correctly. There’ve been a bunch of great answers. So, I’m going to be a mealy-mouthed answerer and pick my favorite answer from your interview.

Yeah, I’m lazy.

But part of the reason is that many of the answers have blurred together as part of the melange that has become my own writing philosophy. I don’t entirely know at this point what I started with and what the answers that all these interviews have taught me. What I can say is that doing these interviews have taught and improved my own writing. I started it as a fun exercise that would help get us all a little publicity. What happened is that it gave me great insights into other people’s processes, many of which I’ve incorporated as I try to get better.

But your best answer? Your answer about limiting yourself to two descriptive words most of the time is a good one. It’s a rule I follow as well. I am too easily seduced by the great descriptive skills of Raymond Chandler, so I consciously try to avoid his long and brilliant style because I know I’m not as brilliant.

Still, my favorite answer of yours is from the Lightning Round. Yeah, I can see “The Plop” dominating WWE for years to come!!!!

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

  • I’m tempted to say ‘at a bar’, except that wouldn’t be true. So maybe my website is a better bet: http://thelastbrigade.com/

Do you have a creator biography?

Yes.

Oh, you want it here?

Born, raised and warped in West Tennessee, Bill Webb wrote his first stories in grade school, scaring his parents, teachers and friends. And that was before he found comic books and science ficition.  The release in 2016 of his Last Brigade series changed his career path by actually giving him a career path. The Time Wars and Sharp Steel and High Adventure soon followed.

By age 25 he’d read all of the classics…Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Harold Lamb, Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny. Indulging himself in a double concentration at the University of Memphis of Creative Writing and History, college felt more like a long party than school.

With multiple awards and nominations to his credit, and active membership in the Science Fiction Writers of America, he reached into a long-sealed bag of literary tricks for the nascent idea for the new Hit World series. No telling what else dwells at the bottom of that bag.

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

You should have asked me what one story/novel of mine should someone read to understand me as a writer? In my case, it would be the Darrell Award winning novella A Night at the Quay.

Rob’s Note: This is a great question, and I might very well add it to my interview. I’m not sure how I’d answer that myself. Each has been a good view into the state of my soul at the time. Of them all, probably A Lake Most Deep is the most soul-baring because at the time I was in a bad place. Writing it kept me going and let me become something stronger.


Thanks to Bill 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

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