Category Archives: Interviews

Rob’s series of creator interviews, usually published each Wednesday.

Interview: Aaron Rosenberg

I’ve been saving this one for a while. You see, not only is Aaron Rosenberg in Keen Edge of Valor (which you can get here:, he’s in the Eldros Legacy.

In fact, he’s got his first Eldros Legacy novel, Deadly Fortune, coming out next Tuesday. It’s a swashbuckling tale of pirates, mystery, and murder and you’re gonna love it.

And he’s pretty awesome too.

Aaron Rosenberg

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.
Aaron Rosenberg
Aaron Rosenberg

Ha, why are any of us here? I got started writing when I was a kid, and got hooked when I won my school writing fair in third grade (beating out the fourth-graders, I might add). I pursued writing in college—I have a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in English Lit—and my friends and I put out our first roleplaying game when I was in grad school, around the same time I started having stories and poems in small literary magazines.

Things snowballed from there—I was mostly doing RPGs for several years, then did short stories for various game-based anthologies, then tie-in novels, then educational books and children’s books, then original novels and short stories.

I’m a huge Mark Twain and Jane Austen fan, both of them were brilliant at characterization, setting, and narrative. For the more recent writers, I favor Roger Zelazny, Tim Powers, F. Paul Wilson, David and Leigh Eddings, Raymond Feist, Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and Richard Kadrey.

I write pretty much everything, and I like to keep things varied, so I’ll do epic fantasy and then switch to mystery and then SF and so on.

The two areas I haven’t cracked yet and would love to do someday are film/TV and comic books—I’ve come close on the latter a few times, but never had one come to completion. But mainly I just love to tell stories that people enjoy.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

I write mostly at home, particularly in the evenings (I have a full-time job). The corner of our basement family room is my office space, partially walled off by a set of bookcases in front of the desk and a redwood slab along the side.

Bones at Rest
Bones at Rest

When lockdown started, though, I wound up having to do my job from there, which meant by 5pm each day I was ready to be well away from the basement! So I switched to writing on my laptop in the living room—I sit on the couch right by the window. Now that my day job is mostly back in the office I’m alternating writing up there and back at my desk again.

I don’t listen to music unless there’s too much noise around for me to concentrate otherwise. If I do, it’s strictly instrumental, lots of soundtracks and strings, so I don’t have to worry about the lyrics distracting me.

I don’t really need much to write, just a comfortable chair, my computer or laptop, and my headphones if it’s loud. I’ve written in hotel rooms plenty of times, in airports, on trains, and even at my table at conventions. That last one’s a little tough for maintaining momentum, though, since I’ll pause whenever someone stops by.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I’m big on worldbuilding, probably because so much of my early work was in creating RPGs. I need to know that a world makes sense—it doesn’t matter that the reader only sees the tip of the iceberg, I have to know the rest of it.

That’s especially true with magic—I’ve designed magic systems before, and for me it’s really important that they are consistent, and that there is an appropriate cost.

I’ve gotten into the habit, over the years, of building both a cast list and a glossary for my books—I’ll have those two documents open while I write, along with the manuscript itself and my notes. That way I can keep track of who everyone is, what they look like, their key traits, and also any unique words, place names, etc.

One of the things I’m good at, because I write very fast and can write almost anything, is pinch-hitting. I’ve been dropped into projects last-minute to salvage them when something has changed and they need extra help. It’s a fun challenge, getting up to speed on something quickly, finding the gaps and weak spots, and figuring out how to fill them. One of my first big RPG projects was like that, and I’ve done several novels and children’s books because an editor needed someone fast and good and knew I could deliver.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.
Focal Point
Focal Point

One of the biggest problems with doing tie-in work is that you’re at the mercy of the IP holder. They could decide to change something last-minute, and you don’t get to argue, you just have to adjust your work to match. I’ve had that happen more than once—it can be an interesting challenge, but it’s also really frustrating, especially if happens late in the process (like when you’ve already finished a book and they suddenly change key details).

We’ve all had failures. I wrote a book once—or started to—with a friend, and we thought it was going to combine the best of both our strengths but wound up being the worst of both our flaws instead. That was quite the learning experience!

And not just on my writing strengths and weaknesses but also on working with others. I also made a huge mistake, early on in my career, by biting off more than I could chew and not owning up to it. Now I’m very conscientious about letting my editor know if I have any issues with a project, as soon as an issue occurs.

That’s one thing I always try to tell beginning writers. There’s nothing wrong with turning down a project, and no one will ever think less of you for saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can do that in the time you need.” What they will hold against you is taking the project and then blowing the deadline, turning in substandard work, etc.

If I could tell my younger self anything about writing? Huh. Probably “Stick with it, tell your editor immediately if you’re going to miss a deadline, and never put off revisions.”

My Kryptonite, though? That’s easy—just ask me to write something but tell me “it can be about whatever you want” and “turn it in whenever you like.” I’ll be paralyzed! Give me a narrow, specific topic and a tight deadline, I’m happy as a clam—leave both wide open and I’m blinded by the possibilities!

Oh, I don’t get writer’s block, though. I don’t really have time for it. I just push through, write that section the best I can, and if I have to go back and toss those pages and rewrite them, so be it—I often realize “d’oh, that’s what needed to happen there!” the next day, but I can’t see that unless I write through it the wrong way first.

Lightning Round
  • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created
    Jack Black as DuckBob Spinowitz—he’s the lead character in my SF comedy series, a regular Joe who gets abducted by aliens and comes back with the head of a duck
  • Favorite Muppet?
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?
    The Weepies
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?
    Fall, definitely
  • Favorite Superhero?
    Still gotta say Spidey
  • Best Game Ever?
    D&D, of course. 3 or 3.5.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show?
    The Six Million Dollar Man!
  • Do You Have Pets? (provide pictures if you want)
    Yep, one cat, Tuppence.

  • Favorite Weird Color?
    I don’t know about weird, but cobalt blue
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received?
    A Bag of Holding, Con-Survival Edition, from ThinkGeek. I use it whenever I travel, and it’s the perfect size to carry my laptop and pretty much everything I need for the day.
  • Favorite Sports Team?
    The New Orleans Saints!
  • What Cartoon Character Are You?
  • Your Wrestler Name?
    The Gryphon Rose
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move?
    Pinning people on their stomachs and pounding on their backs like I’m typing
  • What Do You Secretly Plot?
    My next book, obviously!
  • How Will You Conquer the World?
    Through my stories. Or my snark.
  • Best Thing From the 60s/70s/80s/90s? (pick your preferred decade)
    Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s
  • Favorite Historical Period?
    Edo period Japan
  • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With?
    Mark Twain
  • Steak Temperature?
    Medium to medium-rare
  • Favorite Chip Dip?
    Fresh guacamole
  • Beverage(s) of Choice?
    Unsweetened iced tea—unless I’m down South, in which case it’s sweet tea all the way!
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic?
    Matthew Broderick

What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round?
What can I get you at the bar? [For me, Gin & Tonic or Rum & Coke)

Editor’s Note: I also enjoy gin & tonics. 53 years malaria free! Along with IPAs, of course.

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

If there’s one book you could go back and time and make yours, what would it be?

Rob’s Answer: I’m not entirely sure how to take this question. I mean, if we’re talking books I’d like to re-write or correct something, I’ve got a bunch of those. Some that come to mind are Cornwell’s Last Kingdom books. As a scholar of that exact time period, there are things in there that make my teeth itch. Also, there are a couple of authors who are fantastic in the first 80% of their book, but routinely don’t have that epic ending their story deserves. I like epic endings and I cannot lie.

And I really wish I could have written the Song of Ice and Fire. One, it’d be done. Two, his worldbuilding is fantastic, but his prose gets bloated and the pacing of the story struggles. I would also have split it into multiple series threads so you could keep track of things better.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I’ve got a website,, but I’m sometimes bad about updating it.

My Wikipedia page is usually more current:

So is my Amazon Authors page:

I’m pretty good at posting about my current projects on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@gryphonrose), and you can find a lot of my books at Crazy 8 Press (  ), Crossroad Press ( ), Falstaff Books ( ), and of course New Mythology Press ( ).

As far as recent projects, I’ve had two new books already out this year, each part of an ongoing series. Focal Point is an occult conspiracy thriller set in Eastern Europe, part of the O.C.L.T. series from Crossroad Press—think The X-Files meets Mission: Impossible with some Supernatural thrown in.

Bones at Rest is the fourth in my five-book Anime-esque epic fantasy series the Relicant Chronicles from Falstaff Books—basically Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Game of Thrones.

And where can we find you?

I’m going to be at Origins Game Fair in early June, Shore Leave in mid-July, and the GenCon Writers Symposium in early August.

Do you have a creator biography?

Aaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob SF comedy series, the Relicant Chronicles epic fantasy series, the Dread Remora space-opera series, and, with David Niall Wilson, the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series. His tie-in work contains novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, World of WarCraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Shadowrun, and Eureka. He has written children’s books (including the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books, and roleplaying games (including the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets). Aaron lives in New York. You can follow him online at, at, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

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

What I’m working on next? That’d be a short story for a pulp anthology, followed by Book Five in the Relicant Chronicles, a Sherlock Holmes novella, and a drawing-room pirate romance-adventure novel. I’m sure other projects will come up, though. J

* * * * *

We are so honored to have Aaron writing at New Mythology Press, and after this interview, I think you can see why. And if that’s not enough, check out his writing.

Interview: Chris Hepler

This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of announcing our winner of FantaSci’s 2022 Short Story Contest, Chris Hepler.

He won with “The Torturer of Camelot,” a story that was so strong it went straight to the top of my list from the moment I read it. It’s not necessarily the happiest of endings, but it is very powerful.

This was, of course, published in Keen Edge of Valor, which was released Friday. You can get Chris’s story, and a bunch of other great ones, here:

Here’s an interview with Chris, so you can get to know this amazing writer.

Chris Hepler

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.

I imprinted on role-playing games at a young age. I’ve probably read more D&D products than I have novels. In high school I branched out into Shadowrun and Vampire and rarely looked back. I ended up reading a lot of RPG fiction that wasn’t very good, but every now and then there’d be something that’d fascinate me – a bit of actual near-future tech creeping into a Nigel Findley novel, or the miniature stories in Legend of the Five Rings sourcebooks.

Then my wife (who was my co-writer for years and years) and I left RPGs behind for a while to try screenwriting, and we watched a crapton of television and analyzed the AFI’s top 100 films to really nail down structure and cinematic dialogue. It was only once I was at Bioware that I was among writers who really drilled down into characterization, voice, and narrative in a systematic way. Other than my wife Jennifer, Bioware writers Daniel Erickson and Chris L’Etoile come to mind as the ones who really changed how I go about writing.

I have an abiding love of hair metal and musical theater. The two rarely go together, one being predominately the music of straight white males from the 80s (makeup or no) and the theater having a wide range of diverse voices.

In graphic novels, I thought the initial runs on The Sandman and Preacher stood out as unique voices that were at times funny, poignant, or insightful, dealing with fantasy but also the greater questions like the problem of evil and the stark fact that even if humans aren’t alone in the universe, we apparently can’t rely on whatever higher beings there are to bail us out.

When I was in high school, I had an English assignment one weekend that I wasn’t all that enthused about. Monday rolled around and I had done a cursory job on the assignment, but I’d also written 25 pages of Shadowrun fan fiction. I thought that had to count for something.

Of course, it didn’t.

A year or two later, and I had a few more stories of similar size ready to go, and I was chatting up a fellow theater geek who had written her own 25-page story. I was most impressed, until I realized hers was double-spaced and mine single-spaced. It was then that I figured someday I’d be writing novels. (It took me much more time to figure out that more words were not necessarily better.)

I’m interested in 1) what exists in the world now, 2) what could exist, and 3) what people thought existed but never did. The first informs the other two, and the older I get, the more I find myself writing about it.

But I’ll always love science fiction and fantasy for what they can say as metaphors for the human condition. Science fiction asks “what would the impact be if we made a change here?” Fantasy asks “what would it be like if the rules were different?” I suppose this is why my vampire novel feels more like science fiction rather than urban fantasy: the change to the world is relatively small, but even that is extremely potent.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

I am far too distractible to work in a public place like a coffee shop, though in recent years I’ve been able to do some work even with my son playing video games in the same room.

But there are tasks that require you to lose yourself in the morass of notes you’ve made and come up with lines of final-draft quality, so I do some of my best work at night while everyone else is asleep. The exception to this is plotting – I find it often needs to be run by another human being to see if it passes the “that’s stupid” test.

I don’t listen to music, really, not while working. Music with lyrics distracts me. I’ve used instrumental music before, but these days when I work, I generally work in silence.

I chew sugarless gum and drink black tea to stay awake. I’m a night person by nature, so it is often a struggle to stay awake in the morning hours.

Caffeine by itself will not keep me awake during the day. The gum is the way to go. The tea is there for hydration. I used to try soda, but I hate the taste of diet soda and a friend told me that the HFCS in the non-diet kind is like injecting fat directly into your veins. I still indulge, but not daily, and not just to wake up.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I really like asking the question “Okay, if all these fantastical things exist, how would things really shake out?”

You can mine an immense amount of details out of that one question. That’s how I ended up with Emily Wong liveblogging the apocalypse in Mass Effect 3, the reductionist anti-vampire chants on the National Mall in Civil Blood, and the horror of the VITAS plague in Shadowrun.

I create a lot of fake news. It’s such a big part of modern life that it helps the fantastical parts go down more easily. Humans are terrible at keeping secrets even when they’re motivated to.

Video is going to be around in some form in the future, and it’s ubiquitous now, so if someone got hold of a vampire that sparkles, it would take about a hot second before that crap would be all over the cable channels and that vampire would end up hounded by fans and soldiers and scientists.

Civil Blood is the straight-faced Big Dramatic Book that I meant to write for 11 years or more. In the end, I finally buckled down and finished it rather than letting it sit on my hard drive for eternity. So that was an enormous weight off my mind. It was me showing what I could do with no co-author input, though I leveraged every lawyer, doctor, and beta reader friend I had to make sure its quality was what I wanted.

On the other end of the spectrum was a one-off humorous short story I wrote for an anthology called Unidentified Funny Objects, volume 8. It doesn’t sound like much, but the series has had entries by Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, and of course regular appearances by Esther Friesner, whom I consider the gold standard of fantasy short story humor because she’s written so freaking much of it.

And not only did I get into the anthology, but my story is the first one in the book. I took the idea of “superhero registration” from such Big Dramatic Pieces like Captain America: Civil War and spoofed it. I mean, really, superhero registration is going to be like the DMV, except the waiting room is going to be goofier than that cantina in Star Wars. And I figured they’d have some kind of place to test the limits of your superpowers, which for a regenerating hero, would be agonizingly, humorously painful.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.

I think the most annoying thing about writing is that it doesn’t get easier. Even if you’ve got a list of accomplishments, if your work isn’t scintillating on the page, no one is going to accept it. And only rarely will someone know what’s wrong with it. Most of the time, how to turn that “no” into a “yes” is a guess.

The creative failure that taught me something which comes to mind was when I was writing a Star Wars: The Old Republic quest on Balmorra and was handed an outline that said “you meet a wounded Sith unable to destroy the Republic’s battle droid factory and you go do the job for him.”

I tried a first draft and it sucked. That’s when the lead writer, Daniel Erickson, asked me to think about the quest giver’s character more.

“What’s he like?” Daniel asked.

I said, “Uh, okay, he’s wounded and wants you to finish what he started.”

“Wounded,” he said, “is not a character trait. Anybody can be wounded. It’s how you react to a situation that makes you into a character.”

So I thought about it and made the guy the poster boy for Sith determination. He’s got his ankle blown off, but he’s bent on never giving up, and he tells the player all about his plan to pick off one droid at a time, circle back, hide away, and continue this guerilla campaign he’s worked out in his head to whittle down like forty droids over the course of the next two days before he runs out of food or infection sets in.

And the player’s natural response is “Dude, just let me do it, I still have both ankles.” Which neatly solved the problem of winning the player’s sympathy and characterizing the quest giver with a unique spin at the same time.

My co-writer at Seasun had the opinion that writer’s block was a sign, not a state. It was telling you that you either A) don’t know enough about your characters, or B) don’t know enough about the world they inhabit. Because if you are really in tune with what your characters’ problems are, you will be ready to tell the audience all about them. I’ve found that sitting down and just making shit up about the world and about the characters keeps me busy until I’m ready to go back to the problem at hand.

The big mistake I’d warn writers about is that I’ve been burned a few times by collaborating. Making most anything is a team effort, and often when you become part of a team that you click with and they seem competent, you assume that things will turn out all right. But as the Quality Assurance teams in video games know, anything that has not been tested must be assumed to be broken.

I edited an indie paper-and-pencil roleplaying game in a marathon session, only to have the creator take the final draft to the printer. This was back in the days of physical disks, which he handed over to the printer… with more than one file on the disk. Murphy’s Law being what it was, the printer didn’t use the most recent file, so the first printing of the game was filled with all the errors I had spent three days correcting. Just the sort of thing you want your name on, right?

If you’re working on something inspired by the public domain, but that nobody else has done yet, do it fast. I wrote a screenplay about Achilles that I poured my heart and soul into, but nobody wanted to touch it because Troy beat me to production by a month or two.

I used a Shakespearian phrase from Romeo and Juliet for a vampire novel, and lo and behold, a month after I published, there was another vampire novel with the same title competing in the search engine results. So, if you have an idea, don’t faff around with it, because there can really be such a thing as being too late to press.

Lightning Round
  • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created

The image of Infinity DeStard in my head is pretty close to Krysten Ritter on Jessica Jones. She was a very convincing survivor with pragmatic morals and a “screw-it-the-plan-is-now-shot” attitude.

  • Favorite Muppet?

Statler and Waldorf. Some of their lines are simplistic, but they also get some of the best.

(“Help me out here.” “Okay, which way did you come in?”)

  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?

The band Apotheosis, who did a techno version of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in the 1990s but promptly got sued for it.

  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?

I like winter, even when I lived in Alberta and it was nine months long.

  • Favorite Superhero?

I’ve made a few, but it’s kind of gauche to self-promote, so I’ll say Spider-Man. Why? Because he’s small-scale (“friendly neighborhood”) and is a total amateur, a kid trying to do the right thing. By sheer coincidence, his superpowers/inventions are specifically suited to tying up large numbers of enemies (without even punching them half the time) and leaving them for the cops. The guy was made to be a hero. And it’s really hard to make a character that’s like him that isn’t him exactly. Batman, for example, is a costumed vigilante with some toys, which describes a lot of superheroes – Nite Owl and Ozymandias from Watchmen, the Phantom, Black Widow, they’re all sort of in that same pool of natural heroes with training and a little tech. There’s shrinking guys and rubber guys and lots of flying tough super strong guys. But when you make a wall-crawling web-slinger, it’s 100% certain who the original one is.

  • Best Game Ever?

There’s only one game in which I can make a time-manipulating wolf-headed pirate that summons ninjas and no one bats an eye. That’s City of Heroes/City of Villains. It’s back from the dead and completely fan-run now, and they eliminated all the inconveniences of subscription MMOs. It used to be that the character creator was better than the game, but over the years, the game consistently improved in gameplay, story quality, player choice, quality of life, and player-created content. I made it my mission to see every new piece of content when I started replaying. Out of 1581 available badge achievements, I have 1580 and the last one is associated with a known bug. Fortunately for my writing career, I’m taking a break from it for a little while.

  • Favorite 1970s TV show?

Saturday Night Live. I saw most of its reruns on Nick at Nite years later, and from the absurd commercial parodies to the Weekend Update, it filled me in on a time where I was too young to pay attention to politics and pop culture… and it did it with a smile.

  • Do You Have Pets? (provide pictures if you want)

Yes, a corn snake, a skinny ginger cat, and a tubby white cat. I’m pretty sure if we left them all alone for a week, we would come back and there would only be the tubby white cat.

  • Favorite Weird Color?

Like octarine or something? I’ll go with the bluish-lavender shade of B-Ko’s hair in Project A-Ko.

  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received?

When my daughter was five or so, she gave me a piece of art she’d made in school. It was black construction paper with planets glued to it. She said she knew Daddy worked on Mass Effect and made Galaxy Maps. So she made her own, and I put it on my desk at work.

  • Favorite Sports Team?

I’m not into most local sports teams, but I try to catch the Olympics when they’re on. Of those teams, I think the Jamaican bobsleigh team from 1988 had the most heart and even made snotty little-kid Chris root for them.

  • What Cartoon Character Are You?

Probably Candace from Phineas and Ferb. I was a snitch as a kid and lousy at impressing the objects of my affection.

  • Your Wrestler Name?

Hep C. Or possibly that’s my hip-hop name.

  • Your Signature Wrestling Move?

The leg guillotine. You get the opponent bent over, wrap one leg around their neck, then drop all the way to the mat, crushing their neck and battering their head in the fall. That’s what I thought would be cool when I was 12. I’m not sure it’d be safe to perform in practice, since neck trauma can lead to paralysis if you do it wrong.

  • What Do You Secretly Plot?

My next novel?

  • How Will You Conquer the World?

I doubt I can, but while I was on the CIA show The Agency I developed a reasonable plan to take over a nuclear reactor and make it go critical. Didn’t really want to put it on the air, though.

  • Best Thing From the 60s/70s/80s/90s? (pick your preferred decade)

The best thing from the ‘80s was the end of the Cold War. There was a feeling of hope and reconciliation. Rock bands played at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some political theorists questioned if we were “at the end of history.” Yeah… not so much.

  • Favorite Historical Period?

Ancient Greece. They figured out a lot given the crappy tools and brutal societies they had to work with.

  • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With?

Assuming I could get a translator, a librarian from the Library of Alexandria. They would be able to talk about so many lost works.

  • Steak Temperature?

Medium well. I used to be into medium rare, but it just makes it rubbery. Texture matters to me.

  • Favorite Chip Dip?

Mild red salsa.

  • Beverage(s) of Choice?

Black tea or Dr. Pepper. I like my cough syrup with sugar, thanks.

  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round?

Best time you displayed valor in your own life, of course! I once saved a kid in a pool who couldn’t swim and was going under. His dad also noticed, so he might have been okay even without me, but I was a little faster.

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

Best time YOU displayed valor!

Agh. Good question. Maybe it would be the time I was driving in snow and ice and went off the road but brought it back again. The passenger was doing play-by-play because he was on the phone with his sweetie.

At least, he thought he was. The phone call dropped in the middle of me bringing it back out of the ditch.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • Add cool upcoming projects.
    • My day job is working on a game for Mattel163, the mobile games division of the toy company. I can’t talk about my project just yet, though.
    • I am in the outline stage of Civil Blood’s sequel, but it will be years before I finish the book.
    • I am trying to sell several short stories… maybe one will land soon.

And where can we find you?

I have not convention plans any time soon.

Do you have a creator biography?

Chris Hepler got his start writing roleplaying games when he was in college, working for such titles as Shadowrun, Earthdawn, and Legend of the Five Rings before pursuing screenwriting. After a stint on CBS Television’s drama The Agency and a Top Cow comic called M.I.T.H., he began work for the Bioware Corp. on such video games as Star Wars: The Old Republic and the Mass Effect trilogy.

There, he cemented his position as “that writer who actually cares about the science,” creating much of Mass Effect’s Codex, Galaxy Map, and Daily News. His launch-day Twitter event for Mass Effect 3, “Emily Wong Reports Live from UCLA,” made #solcomms the top-trending worldwide hashtag of the day, and yes, that means you can blame him for killing off several beloved characters.

Today, Chris works for various game companies, most recently for Mattel’s video game division, Mattel163. He enjoys dragon boating, herpetology, and as many martial arts as he can get his hands on. He lives in the U.S. with his wife, Jennifer Brandes Hepler, and their two loud children.

* * * * *

Wow, what an amazing collection of experiences. No wonder he gave us a great story!

Interview: Mel Todd

We continue with our interviews of authors in Keen Edge of Valor, coming out one week from today at FantaSci, with Mel Todd.

Mel and I see each other at a number of cons, but it was only this past LibertyCon we had a real chance to chat. She’s got a great sense of humor, as you’ll see in her story “Of Claws and Men,” the second short story in her Small Magics universe.

Interview: Mel Todd
Mel Todd
Mel Todd

What is your quest?

To tell the stories I can’t find. To show people ways reality can twist, and how the ordinary person can prove themselves extraordinary.

What is your favorite color?

Purple!  Lol – one of the things I love to do is set my desktop wallpaper to random and load different themes.  For a while it was Hubble Telescope pictures, then walls of covers from multiple genres, right now it is all “You should be writing” meme’s.  I will say Tom Hiddleston’s Loki might have one or two in there.

Cover of No Choice
Cover of No Choice

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

Oh, number one – don’t join a romance group and let them read your non-romance sci-fi.  You will walk away thinking you are the worst writer ever.  Asking for help is great, but make sure they LIKE the genre you are writing in.  Hmmm… life.  Life is hard sometimes.  Finding time to write is even harder.  Make it a priority, but be nice to yourself and accept you can only do so much.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Wait you get a holy hand grenade?  No fair. AT all.  All I have is a Cat of Superciliousness. So on those days I just can’t – the want to suck the thumb and crawl into a ball – those days?  5 minute timer.  You only have to write for 5 minutes – nonstop, 5 minutes.  Most of the time I’ll decide I can do another 5 minutes.  You’d be amazed how much you can get if you just do it for 5, 10, 15 minutes.  Otherwise creatively?  I talk to myself – a lot.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet?   Miss Piggy!  Sexy, confident, and has a tail.  How can you not love her?
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy.  I want my nuts to have substance.
  • Favorite Sports Team? ….. Ravenclaws?
  • Cake or Pie? Pie.  With ice cream or cheddar cheese if apple.
  • Lime or Lemon?  Yes
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  … salsa – especially good with cream cheese.
  • Wet or Dry? I didn’t realize this was an X-Rated interview.  I’d have to make sure all your readers are over 18 to answer that.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Ohh… I don’t know if I am that obsure of a music person – relatively common Sisters of Mercy and Johnny Horton.
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Yes
  • Favorite Superhero? She-Hulk.  Sorry I LOVE Jennifer Walters.  She is so awesome. No angst, rolled with it, and rocked it.
  • Steak Temperature?  Blood should be dripping.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? I don’t recall telling you how ancient I am – but Bionic Woman.  Jamie Summers is my idol.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?  Fall, dear goddess Fall.  I want my apple cider, my fireplace, my smores!
  • Favorite Pet?  Oh my pussy – ha, told you, no X-rated answers.  I have 3 cats who all feel like I serve them.  So, yeah.  I’m owned.  I admit it.
  • Best Game Ever?  …. You hate me don’t you.  How do you expect me to choose?  So… Colossal Cave Adventure all the way up to Planescape Torment to WoW…. And lots in between.  Then there is Munchkin and Solitare and Gems of War and LARP and White Wolf and D&D (I’m agnostic sorry) so Best Game Ever – the one I am playing at this moment.  Which happens to be called My Creative Brain Hates me.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the mornings, iced tea in the summer evenings, and hot tea with spirits in the winter evenings.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  Yes.  What?  I like to try different flavors.  I’m equal opportunity.  ~Wiggles eyesbrows~
Cover of Rage
Cover of Rage

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

Well, Rob….. oh.. x-rated.. right.  So – dang it all my questions are business related and probably REALLY boring to anyone not trying to make a living at this, so Dragoncon yes?

Rob’s Answer: Well, since this is well after DragonCon I can reliably inform you I’m unlikely to go in 2018. Actually, I did not have a great time at DragonCon last year. It was fun, but not the amount of fun I paid for.

A big part of why is that I love my job. I enjoy being on panels. I like interacting with writers and readers. The bigger a con is the more difficult that becomes, especially since I’m not yet a big enough name for DragonCon to approve me as an attending professional.

Also, I recently moved and frankly needed a fall with few long trips. I go to Pennsic every year where I make money and people know me. It’s only a few weeks before DragonCon and I just didn’t have enough spoons to push to go.

Will I go in 2019? I don’t know. It’ll depend on where my career is to an extent. Ask me at LibertyCon.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

OOOH… Self Promo!!! we has books, we has blogs and we will be at LibertyCon in 2019 and Dragoncon always.  What can I say, I’m addicted.

And where can we find you?

Oh… umm.. I wrote the above before I read this.. um…  Moonlight and Magnolias in 2018 and 20booksto50kVegas in 2018.  Hmm… otherwise, beg me to come (oops x-rated again) and I’ll think about it.

Do you have a creator biography?

And low the heavens opened and then slammed shut again, leaving Mel standing in the wet dreary California farmland.  What shall become of our waif? Tune in to find out.

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

Hmmm.. name/species/orientaion might have been a good start. Mel Todd – human (maybe), vertical most of the time, except when I’m horizontal.

Thanks to Mel Todd 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.

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here:

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

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 and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.


Interview: Mark Wandrey

Today’s interview is with the innovative Mark Wandrey, creator of the Four Horsemen universe. He’s branching out now with a new fantasy series called the Traveling Gods.

It includes a picture from way back when you could see his chin.

Interview Questions
Mark Wandrey
Mark Wandrey

What is your quest?

I strive to be at the top of my genre, military science fiction. I want fans in my cosplay. Lots of them.

What is your favorite color?

I want my stories full of scenes people talk about, characters people hate, and mysteries people want answered..

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

My biggest challenge has been finding time to write in quantity. I learned by quitting the day job as soon as I made enough. Jump in with both feet, take the plunge. If not now, when? If not late, why?

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

My worldbuilding abilities are apparently among the best in the business. I credit that to decades wasted playing role playing games. Wait, maybe they weren’t wasted after all?

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Depends if she’s blonde or redhead.
  • Favorite Sports Team? All Blacks
  • Cake or Pie? Yes please.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Jalapeno queso
  • Wet or Dry? Always use lube
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Meat Loaf
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Neither, rum
  • Favorite Superhero? Rogue (comic book, not the crap from the movies)
  • Steak Temperature? (slightly above room temp)
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Favorite Pet? (provide pictures if you want) Valiente
  • Best Game Ever? KOTOR
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea. Earl Grey, hot.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci-fi

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

What’s the drunkest you’ve ever been, and what did you do when you were in that state you are embarrassed about?

Rob’s Answer: Well, let’s get straight to the embarrassing part. The drunkest I’ve ever been was at a Pennsic. I actually didn’t drink that much, only seven IPAs in a several hour period, but there were complicating factors. It might have helped if I had actually eaten in the 26 hours previous to the beers. 

And what did I do? Well, I said some things in public I should not have. It could have been worse, but I still regret it.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

Do you have a creator biography?

Bestselling author of military sci-fi and zombie apocalypse, Mark Wandrey has been creating new worlds since he was old enough to hold a pen. Author of 14 novels, he has many more coming just this year!

Located in rural Tennessee, Mark Wandrey has been writing science fiction since he was in grade school. He launched his professional career in 2004 with the release of Earth Song – Overture. Now, 12 years later, he has more than 10 books out, including an unbroken chain of 6 best sellers.

Sign up for his mailing list at or check out his Patreon page for free stuff at

Thanks to Mark 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: If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at

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 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

Next on our authors from Keen Edge of Valor is D.J. Butler. Butler’s story Tales of Indrajit and Fix remind me of Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser.

His story in Keen Edge is “The End of the Story.” It’s titled that because it’s the third of a trilogy of shorts, with one each in Talons & Talismans I and Talons & Talismans II.

And since I know you’ll want more of his two main characters, Indrajit and Fix, I can happily inform you they also star in a full-length novel, In the Palace of Shadow and Joy, as well as short stories in When Valor Must Hold and Songs of Valor.

And speaking of fun characters, wait until you get a load Dave himself.

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: If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at

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 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: Nathan Balyeat

We continue our interviews from Keen Edge of Valor with the FNG, Nathan Balyeat. He was one of our four finalists for the FantaSci contest, so clearly I really enjoyed his story, especially the twist at the end.

This is, by the way, his first published story, and it better darn well not be his last.

Nathan Balyeat

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but in a classic act of self-sabotage over many years, I have been my own worst enemy. I’ve had a legitimate hesitancy to put words on a page because there’s no way that it would ever be as good as the authors that I love.

But over the years, I’ve spent time with the authors that I love, and they’ve been nothing but encouraging about doing it. Their consistent advice?  Just do it.

So, I did. Special thanks to Chuck Gannon, Kevin Ikenberry, Jason Cordova, Mike Massa and you, Rob, for the encouragement.

I could list a dozen favorite authors and have a different reason for why they are my favorite, but I’m honestly over the moon to be in the same anthology as one of them, Glen Cook

Right now, I’m focusing most of my writing efforts on a science fiction novel and series inspired by the life of William Marshal.  I do plan on continuing to do short stories set in the Five Kingdoms and the world of the Fellblade as well.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

The biggest challenge to productivity for me if finding somewhere to write that isn’t my desk at home. I have an amazing setup, but I find there’s too many things demanding my attention and that I’m not able to easily switch my mental state from those things to the world in my head.

My best productivity is done with a cup of coffee and noise canceling headphones running a random playlist. There’s a handful of songs I have reserved for writing certain scenes, but telling you what they are might spoil a future surprise.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I’m not sure that I’ve leveled up enough as a writer yet to have a specific style or something that I can claim that I do well.

I have spent my life studying history and got my degree in it, so I’d like to hope that I’m able to bring some of that to life without subjecting my readers to infodumps and walls of text.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.

As I mentioned before, I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to writing. There’s always this little voice that says “it’s too much work,” or “you’ll never be good enough.”

There’s an epic saga I’d like to tell at some point, and I’ve spent decades convincing myself that I’m not skilled enough to tell that story. I’m convinced that I’m right on that front.

So, I compromised with myself and am writing a another saga that’s not quite as epic first. I have a brute force approach to productivity right now where it’s a matter of just sitting down to do it.

Lightning Round
    • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created: Charlie Cox would make a fantastic protagonist… might be taking some inspiration from him for another project.
    • Favorite Muppet? In my (very small) World of Tanks clan, I’m Sam the Eagle for being so serious. Really though, it’s Gonzo’s chickens.  Poor birds…
    • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Jain. She’s a French singer/performer, singing in heavily accented English, who spent a lot of time living in Africa.  She has a unique style, with catchy beats and upbeat lyrics and themes.
    • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? There’s a few weeks in the fall in the Midwest that are just about perfect.  You can keep the winters though.
    • Favorite Superhero? It has been Daredevil since I was a little kid.
    • Best Game Ever? The one that you’re playing with your friends.
    • Favorite 1970s TV show? M*A*S*H
    • Nathan's Support Squad
      Nathan’s Support Squad

      Do You Have Pets? (provide pictures if you want) I have three, large, healthy weight cats.  Hannibal (Grey and almost 20lbs), his littermate Murdock (orange and fluffy at 15lbs), and the new kid, Peanut that I rescued at 8 weeks old from a diner parking lot last year after two weeks of trying.  He’s trending to be around 18lbs, but is still growing.

    • Favorite Weird Color? French Blue
    • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A set of carbon steel skillets.
    • Favorite Sports Team? Sadly, I’m a masochist here and continue to cheer for the Detroit Lions.
    • What Cartoon Character Are You? I identify the most with Frye from Futurama.
    • Your Wrestler Name? Bad Grammar
    • Your Signature Wrestling Move? The Plot Twist
    • What Do You Secretly Plot? The same thing we do every night, Pinky, to try and take over the world.
    • How Will You Conquer the World? By accident.
    • Best Thing From the 60s/70s/80s/90s? (pick your preferred decade) mp3s from the late 90s started making a lot of music that was out of print available again.  Those cassette tapes that I lost as a kid could be found once more online.  Now I can fit more songs than I can listen to in a year on a drive that fits in the palm of my hand.
    • Favorite Historical Period? Principate Rome, but I’m using 12th century England as an inspiration for my current project.
    • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With? William Marshal.  Coincidentally, from 12th century England.
    • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare
    • Favorite Chip Dip?  I don’t always dip my chips, but when I do they are corn chips and it is guacamole.
    • Beverage(s) of Choice? Coffee is kind of a requirement to stay functional and creative anymore, but for relaxation a well made rye old fashioned does the trick.
    • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? Nobody should be subjected to that script.
    • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round?  Favorite Dad Joke… mine is: “Why do seagulls fly over the sea?” Answer: “Because if they flew over the bay, they’d be bagels.”

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • Keen Edge of Valor is my first published work. I have a very small, and temporary, blog at
  • You can also find me on the new Mythology Press Discord.

And where can we find you?

My 2022 convention plans include attending FantaSci in March and LibertyCon in June.  Let me know if there’s a good convention elsewhere I should attend.

Do you have a creator biography?

Nathan is a US Marine Corps veteran who is currently a project manager by day, historian by education, and writer because the voices in his head have become too loud to keep locked up anymore.  He currently lives in Michigan where he is working on more stories to share, including a science fiction series inspired by the life of William Marshal.

* * * * *

Just so there’s no confusion, if Nathan doesn’t come through with a fantasy adaptation of William the Marshal’s life, I’m gonna…

Well, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. Can’t kick him in the shins, he’s meaner and tougher than I am. Can’t insult him online, he’s my Pathfinder Gamemaster and I like my character. Can’t not offer him beverages, not in my nature, and besides, he’s actually a skilled mixologist so that wouldn’t be much of a hit.

But still, I wants it…


Interview: Jamie Ibson

Greetings all

In honor of the upcoming release of Keen Edge of Valor, I thought I’d provide some interviews of the authors in the anthology throughout March. Today, we start with Jamie Ibson, who actually is one of the reasons I got started with New Mythology Press.

Jamie asked Chris to do an anthology involving altered humanity. That was We Dare, and I have a fun story in there (And a fun story about that fun story). Anyway, others had asked as well, including James Young and his magnificent Phases of Mars series of alternate military history, of which I have the honor to be in all three.

But these other anthologies prompted me to ask Chris, may I do an anthology of fantasy stories? That became When Valor Must Hold, and from that I have ended up here with New Mythology.

OK, enough about that, on to the interview.

Jamie Ibson

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.
Jamie ibson
Jamie ibson

Kevin Ikenberry and Michael Z Williamson have taught me more, directly, about the craft of storytelling than anyone I can think of.

More generally I grew up reading D&D fantasy like the Forgotten Realms books, SF off my Dad’s bookshelf like Robert Heinlein, Gordon R Dickson, Spider Robinson, and Joe Haldeman.

These days I often find little aspects of gaming I find intriguing – for example, using crystals to power magical effects in the Westlocke stories (ed. note: You can find the first two in Songs of Valor and Keen Edge of Valor) comes directly from a Fridge Horror moment playing Skyrim where I was slaying wolves left and right, charging up my soul gems, and went “wait… doesn’t this make me the Fantasy equivalent of the machines from the Matrix?”

“Creators” is a great non-specific term and some of my favorite YouTube videos are of self-made musicians like Leo Moracchioli, who is an absolute maniac in Norway pumping out a new heavy metal cover song, with video, every Friday. His music often accompanies me as I write. He plays a bajillion instruments, sings, growls, records, produces, edits video, and generally is only not a one-man show when it comes to bringing in guests or going on tour.

I’m also heavily into mashup songs, where an artist will take, say, the Ghostbusters theme song and overlay the Gangnam Style lyrics to it and it’s genius.

Book-wise, falling in with the CKP crowd has been tremendous. With all the foolishness going on in the world, having a regular Saturday night video call with friends literally all over the globe, with conversations that sometimes last 6, 7, 8 hours has been a boon to my mental health.

I became a creator in the first place at LibertyCon 30, when I learned it wasn’t nearly as impossible as I believed it to be. I chose to create because  I found my people. Science fiction and fantasy nerds are best nerds.

Fingers crossed, I would like someday, perhaps someday soon, to narrate one of my own works.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

I work at home. Used to be in the attic, now it’s in a room on the 2nd floor of the house. I’ve got two scratching posts to my right, my bar fridge to my left, my RPG gamebooks over my left shoulder and my RPG figures/miniatures in a cabinet over my right shoulder.

I was originally in the attic, but the floor up there is uneven and I found the ergonomics was putting me in for massage and chiropractic more often than I’d like. The floor literally dropped 4” over 15’. (That’s bad.) The floor in here is much more even.

Gizmo Helping
Gizmo Helping (Jamie needs all the help he can get)

As I mentioned above… Leo Moracchioli, Holocene, and First to Eleven for covers. DJ Schmolli, DJ Cummerbund, William Maranci, Bill McClintock all do mashups. When I’m feeling nostalgic I might listen to Soundgarden, Perturbator, Foo Fighters (especially their live stuff, especially Monkey Wrench featuring Kiss Guy), or electroswing like Caravan Palace.

Cats exist in my working environment – Naomi the ninja, Miss Belle, Floofiest Of Her Name, and Gizmo, the new kitten.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I like lots of different cultures in my writing. I currently plan to put each of the four (five?) Myrmidons books on a different planet with a different… Terran Ancestry, if you will. Urbicide was set on Montoya, in La Republica Del Escobar, which gave everything a distinctive South American Spanish tilt. Disavowed will be in & around the hive city of New Athens, in the Hellenic Cluster, so it’ll be Space Greek. Other destinations will include Space Russia, Space Japan, and probably Space Canada.

I think I do my combat scenes well. I’m 40, and since the age of 17 I’ve only had 1 year where I wasn’t wearing an infantryman’s uniform or a redcoat (ed. note: he’s Canadian, so by redcoat he means the RCMP).

I’ve been in fistfights, I’ve trained for firefights, I’m a good scrapper and good with a firearm. I try to keep my fight scenes tight and chaotic but accurate.

We Dares 1, 2, and 3
We Dares 1, 2, and 3

I’m very proud of the We Dare anthologies. Number Four is in the closing stages right now, and the feedback from them has been great, both from readers and from my contributors.

We Dare 1 was the first book with my name on the cover, and I had no idea what I was doing. Between them and last year’s And Then It Got Weird, I’ve edited more than 70 short stories, have generally had very good feedback from my contributors, and I think we’ve released a really great series of anthos featuring some really great authors.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.

Hah, I am my own Lex Luthor. I struggle with self-doubt, anxiety, impostor syndrome, and have trouble focusing. So I’m not as productive, word-count wise, as I’d like to be.

Gizmo Gaming
Speaking of cats…

Sometimes, some very rare times, I can focus like a laser and I can bang off 4000+ words in a night. Others I’m like a cat chasing a disco-ball’s worth of little red laser lights and I’m so scattered as to be useless.

I wouldn’t say failures, so much as sticking points where I’ve gotten jammed up. And in those cases, I have some pretty great friends I can go to with a problem and say “So… how about this?” and they’ll say “Oh, do that” and boom, they can see to the heart of the issue pretty much immediately. I have really smart friends.

I overcome slow points a number of ways. Grind through, sprint, dictate, change the subject… curse Lex Luthor and his inability to focus…


I’d tell new writers, when getting going, find something you want to create for yourself and focus on it like a laser.

To date, I’ve written one 4HU novel co-written with Jason Cordova, another with Casey Moores, one in Christopher Woods’ Fallen World, and Myrmidons Inc: Urbicide. Getting going as a noob is difficult and I likely would have enjoyed greater sales and success if I had, say, written three Myrmidons books first before branching off in some other direction.

Lightning Round
  • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created: Brendan Fraser to voice Bellerophon. He’s brilliant in Doom Patrol and I love him to pieces
  • Favorite Muppet? Pepe
  • Belle

    Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Bill McClintock. (Check out his “Slipshack” mashup of Slipknot and the B-52s, it’s wild)

  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer, because we live in the Maritimes now and I have a 9’ pile of snow in my back yard.
  • Favorite Superhero? Wolverine
  • Best Game Ever? Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Lol, I dunno man I was born in 81 and the cartoons I grew up on were pretty great…
  • Do You Have Pets? Naomi, Miss Belle, and Gizmo.Favorite Weird Color? Michelle has a gorgeous Victorian gown made out of a… I think it’s called taffeta, where it shimmers between brown and green. The effect is amazing.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? Michelle gave me a pen as I embarked on my writing journey that simply says “Believe” on it. (See Lex Luthor weaknesses above for why that’s relevant)
  • Favorite Sports Team? Team Canada Hockey at the winter olympics
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Optimus Prime
  • Your Wrestler Name? The Frozen Hoser
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move? The Avalanche
  • Naomi

    What Do You Secretly Plot? [Redacted]

  • How Will You Conquer the World? [Still Redacted but nice try]
  • Best Thing From the 80s? Weird Al Yankovic, and/or Saturday Morning Cartoons
  • Favorite Historical Period? The Renaissance. People had style.
  • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With? Robert Heinlein
  • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare, I guess? I’m not really a steak guy, I prefer BBQ and burgers and pulled pork carnitas and tacos.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Ranch
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Homemade Nuka Cola with Baron Samedi spiced rum
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? Bruce Willis from like, 30 years ago
  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round? Rock, Paper, or Scissors? (ed. note: Me like rock!)

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

Of all the stories you’ve published, which one is your personal favorite and why?

Rob’s Answer: So. I gotta pick between my babies? Yeeesh.

My favorite might be either the first or the third of the stories I gave James Young for the Phases of Mars.

More Gizmo, because who doesn’t want more kitten pictures?

The first story is the only time the Muse hit me over the head with a Clue-by-4. I literally can tell you only that it was set in 1908 and nothing else, or it gives the story away. The key to that is the final word, which I used only once in the story, though James quite rightly initially pushed for me to use it throughout as editor.

The third was the only story I’ve written in the time period I’ve actually studied, Anglo-Saxon England. It was a retelling of the Battle of Maldon, with some reconsideration of Byhrtnoth’s “ofermod” and the strategic challenges he faced. Oh, and there’s a plausible way the English could have won.

I could say the story I sent to Jamie for We Dare, but that’s mostly because of the story about the story, which he and I still tell. Just give us a beverage…

There’s the story I gave to Kevin Steverson for his Salvage Title Universe that was totally written to be quirky and fun. Putting in 227 band name and song name references in a short story was a great challenge.

The Ravening of Wolves, frankly the whole Foresters series, proved to me I could do this job.

I’ve skipped over a bunch, and each of them has a particular reason for being precious to me.

I think, though, I have to say A Lake Most Deep. Yes, it’s my first book and it’s flawed for many of the common first book reasons. But I wrote it in a really down place in my life, and I’m not entirely sure where I’d be or even if I’d be if I hadn’t written it.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

Conventions are on hold until we can cross into the USA without needing to invest in covid tests. Generally speaking, I go to LibertyCon, went to FactoryCon last October, and hope to attend FantaScis, Superstars, and maybe LTUEs going forward? We’ll see, that’s a lot of travel from the frigid north.

Do you have a creator biography?

Jamie Ibson is from the frozen wastelands of Canuckistan, where moose, bears, and geese battle for domination among the hockey rinks, igloos, and Tim Hortons. After joining the Canadian army reserves in high school, he spent half of 2001 in Bosnia as a peacekeeper and came home shortly after 9/11 with a deep sense of foreboding. After graduating college, he landed a job in law enforcement and was posted to the left coast from 2007 to 2021. He retired from law enforcement in early 2021 and moved clear across the country to write full time in the Maritimes. He is married to the lovely Michelle, and they have cats.

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

What are you doing now, that much-younger-you never would have guessed you’d love?

(Me, cooking/turning into a foodie)

Rob’s Answer: Oooh, great question. For me, it might actually be writing itself. I started this job at 46, having never really written anything other than academic stuff, having never really done anything creative. I didn’t think I could.

Name two of your most-favorite niche genres, whether that’s within SF or Fantasy or Other…

(Examples: Cyberpunk SF, noir mystery, First Contact SF, military fantasy)

Rob’s Answer: Noir/hard-boiled mystery is probably the genre that fits into everything I write, no matter the other genre.

* * * * *

What a fun interview. Many thanks for Jamie fighting through the helpful assistance of his cats and providing me this to share.

Interview: Christopher Nuttall

When Valor Must Hold comes out in 2 days! I’m very excited. Today’s interview is with Christopher Nuttall. His story is “The Game’s Afoot” and it sort of a fantasy Guns of Navarone. I think you’ll all like it, and I’m honored that he participated.

Interview: Christopher Nuttall

What is your quest?

Christopher Nuttall
Christopher Nuttall

I try to write the sort of books I like to read – action and adventure, mainly; almost all science-fiction and fantasy.

What is your favorite color?

Too many things to count, really.  I like decaying empires and how they can -sometimes – flourish into something new.  I like exploring the use and abuse of magic, and how politics can interact with science to change the world.

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

I’d like to do a really big story – something akin to the Night’s Dawn or Game of Thrones books – but I find them a little annoying.  In my view, each novel should be at least partly a novel of its own – that’s what I’ve tried to do with the Schooled in Magic books – but that’s difficult to maintain. I have these ideas that are basically AMERICAN CIVIL WAR WITH MAGIC or GREAT WAR IN SPACE that would be huge, but force me to write in a format I don’t like or narrow the story too far.  No room for character development if the stories are small, you see <grin>.  The only person who did that in a single book was Tom Clancy – Red Storm Rising – and only a handful of his characters were truly 3D.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

The series I like the most, I think, is Schooled in Magic.  It draws on so many of my hobbies – history, alternate history, etc – and lets me have fun.  Ark Royal was an astonishing success, in so many ways – I’m proud I got so much out of it.

How do I write?  I come up with the plot, I sort it out and then I start writing.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? [Insert politician’s name here.]
  • Favorite Weird Color? Black.  You can’t go wrong with black.
  • What Cartoon Character Are You?  I like to think Bugs Bunny.  More likely … Millhouse.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A stack of books …
  • What Do You Secretly Plot?  I have ideas for stories that will probably never be written.
  • Favorite Sports Team? None.
  • Cake or Pie? Cake.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Brown Sauce.
  • Favorite Cereal? Corn Pops.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? The McCalmans-
  • Whisky or Whiskey? I don’t drink.
  • Favorite Superhero? Green Lantern (Kyle Reyner)
  • Steak Temperature? Medium-well.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
  • Best Thing From the 80s? Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring.
  • Best Game Ever? Chess.
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea.  I go 3000 words to the pint.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Both.
  • Brought to you by the letter ___?  Q.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

And where can we find you?

Right now, I’m not due to attend any conventions.  My health is a constant issue right now – and I have kids!

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: If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at

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 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

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?

  • Currently on sale for .99, the Darrell-Award winning Sharp Steel.
    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: If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at

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 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: Over the Top

Week 8 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been a strange week where I know I got lots done but I don’t really have a great way to show it. My 4HU short story is about 1000 words larger, but that’s the only word count I can point to. If that were it, I’d be frustrated about this week.

Fortunately, it’s not it. I spent the week clearing up a variety of details on this and that, including finalizing my taxes.

One of the best things I can report is the advanced copies of When Valor Must Hold went out to readers this week. Each one of these steps makes it that much more real. That much less vaporware. The authors are excited, the publisher is excited, the readers are excited, so guess what? I’m excited too.

While I only show 1000 more words in the 4HU story, I edited out a couple of thousand and cleaned up what I got. I’m now at the point where I see the whole pattern and it’ll be done on time and it’ll be good.

This weekend, I’m going to an SCA event and then the first home game of the St. Louis Battlehawks. More excitement. Going to be a great weekend.

What I’m Listening To

Various big band jazz songs at Shameless Grounds, a coffee shop owned by a couple of friends in St. Louis.

Quote of the Week

Today is the 104th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Verdun. More people think of Gandalf when they think of this phrase today, but here’s General Petain at Verdun.

I might have mentioned this before, but my grandfather enlisted at the age of 14 to fight in WW1. He never got to the trenches because they knew he was too young, so they had him cut trees and that sort of thing, but he saw more than a 14-year-old should. I still have my copy of Arthur Guy Empey’s Over the Top which he gave me.

“Ils ne passeront pas!” – ‘They shall not pass!’”
– Henri-Philippe Petain, during the Battle of Verdun, 1916

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (108,716)
  • CB (8,418)
  • FSS (6,808)
  • RQS (1,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events


This week’s spotlight is on Jon Osborne, whose is one of the cover authors in When Valor Must Hold.

Today’s Weight: On the road, didn’t check today

Updated Word Count: On the road, didn’t check today

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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