Tag Archives: Charity Ayres

Interview: Charity Ayres

I have not yet had the pleasure to meet Charity, but anyone who teaches English in high schools definitely has my respect. Especially given the fact I don’t want her to ever wonder just what kind of play-doh is in my chest.

Interview: Charity Ayres
Charity Ayres
Charity Ayres

What is your quest?

I create stories to live in. The settings might not always be a tropical island, but they’re interesting and unlike normal life in some way. The worlds are magical or strange in a way that is intriguing to the sense of being or interesting to explore. I want to build characters that you love, or hate, or want to be around. My goal is always to create villains who are heroic, or heroes that are screwed up because perfection is overrated.

What is your favorite color?

Coffee. Wait! Spiderwebs. No. Is mythology a color? I love taking known ideas or worlds and sticking my hand right into the chest cavity until I can rip the heart out, squish it around like play-doh, and then I put it back. Known entities in magic, history, war…nothing should ever be the same way twice or what’s the point?

When you read one of my stories, I want you to feel like your senses are aware of every movement until you’re inside the story wondering how the F you got there. A reader should look at my settings and think it’s a tiny bit of Deja Vu or something from a dream they almost recall having.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paintbrush?

Writing is hard. No, seriously. That was the most difficult lesson for me to learn. I’ve always loved to write or create something new, but I never understood why it didn’t just happen for me. Why was it that I didn’t want to sit down, every waking moment of every day, and write these masterpieces that everyone would love and rave about? Writing is easy, right?

Anything you love is work. It’s hard. It ticks you off but then it becomes the most beautiful thing in the world when you can drop your bullshit at the door and create. The hardest failure I’ve ever faced is that I couldn’t just simply write without making myself do it. It didn’t come like breathing, it was hard. I didn’t know everything in the beginning and still have a lot to learn.

I’m still waiting to live on a mountain somewhere and write prose that my adoring masses will fawn over and throw money at me for. I’m still wondering why it’s so damn hard to explain stories to someone in a way that makes them see it’s something they’ll love. Why is that hard when I know I can turn around and write out an amazing story to share?

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I evoke laughter to the point that you should not have a mouthful of drink when you’re reading. My characters are funny, realistic, and sometimes annoying but they’re real. One thing that I hear from readers is that my stories have a strong voice and that’s an amazing compliment. They tell me they can hear the characters when they speak. What’s better than that?

I write what makes me laugh. I write a running dialogue for my character. You know the comments that flow through your head when you’re talking to someone that you’d never say because they’d get upset with you? Yeah, my characters don’t care.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Sweetums because of the name and the fluff.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? This puts the peanut butter song in my head. Thanks.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Does Quidditch count?
  • Cake or Pie? Whichever has chocolate? Or pecans. Or both.
  • Lime or Lemon? Green
  • Favorite Chip Dip? I don’t eat chips. My favorite dip is chocolate-peanut butter.
  • Wet or Dry? My deodorant is working fine, thank you.
  • Favorite Musical Performer, We’ve Never Heard Of? Me? You should totally hear my shower compilations or how great I sing with headphones on.
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Is this a trick question? How about, yes, please?
  • Favorite Superhero? Hmm. Can I say my dog? She does some pretty amazing things and can bring joy with a single spastic jump.
  • Steak Temperature? Depends on the day. Today, I prefer it mooing
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? I don’t remember the 70s. I’ll say A-Team or He-Man cartoons
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall, fall, and fall. Can we have endless fall tinged by winter, please?
  • Favorite Pet?  I LOVE ALL THE FURRIES!
  • Best Game Ever? The ones that I win. Probably a MMORPG of some kind. I used to Everquest and there was never another I liked quite as much, but something along that lines.
  • Coffee or Tea? Both. Or any hot drink, preferably with that formerly-mentioned Whiskey? Irish or other.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? I lean into Fantasy. I like the lack of rules and the ability to make anything happen that you want. I read both, write both, watch both…but I still lean a little more into Fantasy but I like them mixed, too. Did you see the new DC’s Legends of Tomorrow? Holy glittery heart-eating unicorns, Batman!

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

Name the first five stories that come to mind. Now rank them. Now identify them by mental color. Next, which one would make the best mixed drink?

Rob’s Answer: Let’s see. Lord of the Rings. Foundation. Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. A Catskill Eagle. Odds Against. That would be Gold (from the One Ring). Black (from the galaxy). Red (from Simon Jester). White (from the cast Spenser wears). And green (from racing turf).

Now to discuss their drink potential. Goldschlager. Hmmm, not my thing. Black porter, definitely my thing. Red IPA. More definitely my thing. Ice cream to make milkshakes. Hmmm, I guess I could use the Goldschlager here. Oh, yeah, and creme de menthe. No, no, no. I don’t drink creme de menthe after an unfortunate incident when I was 3.

So, I think the winner is the Red IPA.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

I have two new releases on the horizon: Winter Born which is book 2 of the Ice Burns trilogy, and another unnamed steampunk Pirate novel that I might be publishing through an amazing independent publisher I’ve worked with before. Shhh.

And where can we find you?

The only scheduled con so far this year is LibertyCon. I can’t wait!

Do you have a creator biography?

Charity Ayres is a Navy Veteran, teacher, mother, and wife in Virginia. Her novel-length works currently include Loki Bound, Loki: Hellbound, Secret in the Wings, and Ice Burns. She has also been published in the Wylde Times anthology, a Four Horseman Universe anthology: A Fistful of Credits, and has won awards from Writer’s Digest and the L.Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest for her short works. Upcoming works include the second and third novels for Ice Burns and a surprise new series.

Thanks to Charity 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: https://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

LibertyCon AAR

I started this on July 4th, a perfect time to celebrate LibertyCon XXX. And celebrate we must. LibertyCon is the best-run science fiction and fantasy convention out there and I had a great time.

I arrived at the Chattanooga Choo Choo fairly early on Thursday, having broken the trip up in multiple sections thanks to friends who have offered me crash space. I knew I was going to push myself pretty hard during the weekend, so I did my best to ensure I was as fresh as possible after the drive.

The big event of the weekend for me was on Saturday, where I had a joint release party for Where Now the Rider and For a Few Credits More, the new Four Horsemen Universe Anthology. Thursday evening I did some pre-planning and moving of stuff around to figure out the best arrangement of beverages and food.

After I got pretty much all I could do done,  I went to ConSuite, which was not technically open but was still the gathering place. There I hung out with a few people and listened to Sarah Hoyt do a reading from a book that shall remain nameless. They say that traumatic events can cause selective amnesia. It was awful. All I can say is that it wasn’t written by anyone at the con. Oh, I can say one other thing. We laughed a lot.

Most of Friday was spent organizing stuff. I decided on the layout in the room and arranged things as best I could. I also went to the Opening Ceremonies and got reacquainted with old friends. I didn’t have panels on Friday, so mostly I lounged around during the afternoon.

My main thing on Friday was my stint on Author’s Alley from 8pm to 11pm. Basically, I moved all my books and set up in front of the rooms where panels were being held. I sold a few, while meeting a number of potential readers. It’s a lot of work, but it needs to be done, and in the long run it’s worth it.

After that I was tired but had enough energy to enjoy some room parties and hang out with some friends. I especially enjoyed hanging out by the pool with Aaron Mays, Jonny Minion, and a couple of others.

As I was getting a beer from my cooler, I ran into Sarah, Dan, and Robert Hoyt. It turns out that Roberts around the world like IPAs, so I got him one and we stood around chatting. It was my first time actually having a chance to chat with Sarah. Her at LibertyCon is like me at Pennsic, only with a much smaller site and a correspondingly higher chance to find another conversation.

Saturday was a really long day. At 11am I was part of a panel discussing various ways to get your plot unstuck and overcoming writer’s block. There are a ton of possible ways to do this, but it all boils down to finding what works for you. Whether it’s changing the environment, taking a shower, driving around, or something else, it’s the kind of thing that varies for everyone.

At 2pm was a panel I was very much excited to join: The Middle Ages as Inspiration for Epic and High Fantasy. Thanks to my grad school work, I anticipated I’d have lots to say, and I did. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and hope to do it again. I could have gone on for a while.

I then had several hours before my reading with Dave Schroeder at 6pm. There were a couple of very interesting panels to attend, but I chose wisely and took a bit of a nap, arranged my books and display for the party, and got as much prep done as possible.

I did not have time to create a 20-minute long reading from Where Now the Rider, so my reading at 6pm on Saturday was one from I Am a Wondrous Thing that I have done before. It’s a scene where Irina is convinced to give up the title of Velikomat and the immediate aftermath of her stepping down. It’s an emotional one for me, and I always cry when I read it. It’s a powerful section, and I get a pretty good response from those that listen. Dave read a bit from his new fantasy series, the Congruent Apprentice, which sounds interesting but which I’ve not yet read, and a small bit from his Xenotech Rising series, which I have read some of and really like.

The Four Horsemen Universe is a series of stories about humans discovering that interstellar mercenaries are their best export good. It’s a large sandbox created by Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey and many fantastic mil-sf authors are joining in. I am looking forward to reading these stories, just as much as I’ve enjoyed the novels in the universe. Oh, and I just might be working on a short story for the next anthology.

However, this party was to celebrate the release of their first anthology, as well as my newest book. The writers of the anthology brought all the food and I brought nearly all the beverages. As usual, I am coming home with about the same amount as I took out, but at least we didn’t run out of alcohol. Many thanks to Kacey Ezell, one of the contributors to the anthology, who also contributed her cooler to help organize the drinks.

Which is a good thing because we were packed. It was a great party and I sold a goodly number of books, as well as added to my mailing list. Basically, we went four solid hours with guests.

Around 12:30, the crowd dissipated, and with the help of Aaron and a few others we transported the leftovers over to the ConSuite and shut the party down. I was toast. So toast that it took a while for me to relax enough to get to sleep.

I was still tired Sunday, but I had expected that. I started the day at the Kaffeeklatsch. I had a great conversation with the Science Guest of Honor, Dr. Elisa Quintana and Dr. Tom Barclay, who is also a scientist. They study exoplanets and we discussed the most efficient ways we can get humans in space. Well, I asked questions and they taught me stuff, which was wonderful from my perspective.

Immediately after that was my turn at the signature table, where I joined Gray Rinehart and Charity Ayres. The signature table can be packed if a David Weber, David Drake, or John Ringo is sitting there, but for us was fairly quiet. I think we all sold a book or two, with signatures, but mostly the three of us had a great conversation.

One of the joys of LibertyCon is comparing notes with other professionals, because there is such a high percentage of professionals to fans. LibertyCon caps its attendance at 750, and over 150 attendees are professional writers, artists, scientists, or something else relevant. Also, I would bet that a large number of the remainder are people like me at my first LibertyCon, those who want to become professionals. It’s a great chance for us all to learn, and over the years I’ve learned a ton.

Anyway, my last panel of the weekend was Cooking Out of this World. This panel went off the rails. At least we were funny, but we were all a little tired and we strayed from the topic early and often. Todd McCaffrey did ask one interesting question that we talked about a bit but not enough, and that’s what are the environmental factors that will affect the way things taste in space? Obviously, things taste differently on airplanes, which is something airlines are already dealing with, but will be an issue for interplanetary and interstellar travel.

The last session of LibertyCon is the Bitch at Brandy session. Brandy Spraker is the chairman of the con, and she does a fantastic job. The closing ceremonies each year are a chance for people to suggest things that could be improved. Once everyone has had their chance to make comments, good and bad, about the con, she officially closes the con. They take these suggestions seriously, too, and I have seen some implemented in the four years I’ve gone.

Much of the rest of Sunday involved me finishing cleaning up after the party and doing most of my packing. I have learned that I want to stay  overnight on Sunday and leave Monday morning, but I basically pack everything but Monday’s clothes and shower stuff.

I got that done in time to join about 35 of us at a Brazilian steakhouse. I had the fortune of sitting next to a few people I knew, but had never really talked with, including Miriam Ringo, the wife of one of the best mil-sf writers around, John Ringo. What a fun and generous person she is. She had a bracelet on that I admired and thought Giulia would also like. Miriam immediately removed it and handed to me as a gift. By this point were about 3 minutes into our conversation. I was stunned by her generosity then, and still find it amazing and admirable now. Then we had a long and wonderful conversation.

Actually, everyone at dinner had a great time. It has been decided that this will be a LibertyCon Sunday evening tradition.

Following dinner was something that is already a LibertyCon tradition, the Dead Dog party. Basically, those who stay on Sunday evening eat drink as much of the leftovers as possible and play games or hang out.

Again, I had some incredible good fortune. Steve Jackson, of Steve Jackson Games, the inventor of Munchkin and a bunch of other great games, was playtesting some games and I got to join in. Steve is a wonderful and fun guy, and the rest of us had a blast tossing out ideas and picking them apart.

Getting to toss out suggestions on games, even bad ones, to a legend like Steve Jackson is definitely a highlight for me.

Around 12:30, we called it a night, and therefore the end of the con. I went to bed and left for a fairly smooth drive back. The only real excitement was seeing a collision about a half-mile ahead of me in the oncoming lane. The truck driver did a great job and controlled his 18-wheeler in the median so our lane never had to worry.

As I’ve mentioned, LibertyCon is a different beast from other cons. I will be going back there every year, though there’s some question as to when and where the next one will be.

For the four years I’ve attended, it has been at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, but the hotel has sold off about 80% of its rooms to make apartments / condos. Basically, while the convention space is fine, there are only rooms for about 20% of the con goers. This means many are off in the Marriott, which is not far but still puts a crimp in the con experience. Part of the fun of cons is going to room parties which are elsewhere in the hotel. Have fun, drink a few beverages, and then trundle to your room. No travel logistics to speak of. Even free shuttle buses are not a great solution, though of course those were provided.

In short, the Choo Choo simply cannot work anymore. Unfortunately, convention sites are notoriously difficult to find at times, and Brandy and her folks are casting about for a solution. I heard a rumor that a new convention hotel is getting built in Chattanooga, but will not be fully ready by summer 2018. I’m not sure if that’s true, but while they aren’t at all sure of time and place next year, or even if they might take a year off, they all seemed confident that things would be fine by 2019.

Whatever they come up with, I’ll be back.