Posts Tagged ‘interview’

I believe every writer  I’ve ever read is a teacher of sorts to me. It’s rare though that any of my flesh-and-blood teachers are already writers. Not only is today’s interview both one of my teachers and a writer, but I’ve read his most recent book Late One Night, and I enjoyed it greatly. And in honor of Late One Night coming out in paperback this coming August, I figured now would be a good time to bring him on the show. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome one of the greatest professors in Ohio State’s English Department (mostly because he survived teaching a class with me in it) and the author of several books, Lee Martin!

RU: Welcome to the show, Lee. Great to have you here. Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.

LM: It seems like I always wrote. As an only child of older parents who lived in a rural setting, I didn’t have many playmates around. I fell in love with make-believe instead. I loved living inside stories, so I suppose it was only natural that I start to tell a few of my own. Then at a certain age I decided to get serious about it, so I went to the University of Arkansas for my MFA, where I found out how much I didn’t know about the craft, but where my real apprenticeship as a writer began—an apprenticeship that continues to this day. There’s always something new to learn and to practice.

RU: I really enjoyed reading Late One Night. Can you tell us what inspired it and your writing process for it?

LM: Late One Night is based on a tragic news event from my home area in Illinois. A tragic house trailer fire on a cold winter night. I started playing the “what-if?” game. What if the husband/father of that family was living outside the home at the time of the fire? What if the fire was suspicious? What if the small town gossip started to swirl around what this man might have done? What if this all happened while he was fighting for custody of his children and trying to prove his innocence. As with most of my books, I started with that premise and then wrote a little each day, pushing the story along. I try to make myself curious, and then I try to satisfy that curiosity while not quite fully satisfying it until the very end of the book. That’s where readers of this novel find out what really happened, late one night.

RU: Your main character Ronnie Black is at times sad and sympathetic, and at other times you just hate him. Did you intend for him to be that way when you wrote him, or did he just turn out that way?

LM: I like to take characters who are put upon by life’s circumstances and their own ill-considered choices. Characters are interesting to me only if they have a balance of rough edges and redeeming qualities. An all good character isn’t interesting. Neither is an all evil one. I write realistic fiction that’s character-based, and the truth is we’re all made up of contradictory qualities. Those contradictions are what make us interesting.

RU: Who is your favorite character in Late  One Night, and why?

LM: I really didn’t have a favorite character. They all appealed to me because they were all human. They all felt great joys and sorrows, and they made mistakes, and they tried to do the right thing, but sometimes their own selfish interests got in the way. Missy Wade badly wanted children. Ronnie Black loved his own even though he was often a man of temper and poor judgment. Captain missed his own mother and yet had a big heart that led him to love indiscriminately and to even idolize Ronnie. Captain’s father, Shooter, wanted to protect his son. Brandi Tate wanted love and a family. All these characters, and others, were precious to me because of their imperfections.

RU: Are you working on anything right now?

LM: I have a couple of novel manuscripts that I’m working on, plus smaller things like short stories and essays. I have a craft book, Telling Stories, coming out in October.

RU: I may have to read that craft book. Speaking of which, can you tell us about your other books?

LM: I suppose my best known book is The Bright Forever, which was fortunate enough to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 2006. It’s the story of the abduction of a young girl in a small Midwestern town in 1972. I suppose some would call it a literary suspense novel. My novel, Break the Skin, would fall into that same category. I like to take true-crime stories from my native southeastern Illinois and let my imagination turn them into novels.  I’ve also published three memoirs, From Our House, Turning Bones, and Such a Life. They deal with family and particularly with the farming accident that cost my father both of his hands and the way that accident came to settle in our family. My other novels are Quakertown and River of Heaven. I also have a story collection, The Least You Need to Know, and another one, The Mutual UFO Network, will be published in 2018.

RU: Note to self, put The Bright Forever on my reading list. Sounds like my sort of story. Now you have a number of students who have continued writing and publishing after college and have kept in contact with you (including yours truly), and have kept in contact. What’s it like seeing that happen?

LM: It’s always gratifying to see students do well. It makes me feel that I may have had a small part in that success.

RU: Do you think the role of literature in society is changing, especially as we become more reliant on technology and our attention spans seem to shorten?

LM: I think there will always be not only room for, but a necessity for, narrative.  The forms of that narrative may change, but the importance of it in our culture won’t. We understand ourselves, others, and the world around us via stories. Such has always been the case, and I don’t see that changing.

RU: If you could give advice to any writer, no matter background, genre or level of experience, what would you say?

LM: Don’t be in a hurry. Study and practice your craft without thought of publishing. Fall in love with the process and the journey will take you where you’re meant to go. Read the way a writer must—with an eye toward how something is made.

RU: And finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for a while and could only take three books with you, which would you take?

LM: Richard Ford’s Rock Springs, Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and (I’d cheat and sneak in a fourth) Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

RU: You’re a university professor! You know the consequences for cheating! Anyway, thanks for joining us today, Lee. We wish you luck with the paperback edition of Late One Night.

If you would like to learn more about Lee Martin and his works, you can check out his website, Facebook, and Twitter. Or you can enroll yourself as an English major in Ohio State’s undergraduate or graduate program and work with him directly by taking classes with him (though that option has both pros and cons).

And if you’re an author who would like to be interviewed, check out my Interviews page and leave a comment. Who knows? Perhaps we can work some magic.

That’s all for now. Have a great day, my Followers of Fear.

One of the nice things about being a writer that doesn’t often get talked about is that when a friend/colleague of yours has an achievement, you get to be part of the celebration. Which is why I’m very excited to invite my friend and fellow novelist, the wonderful Dellani Oakes, back to the blog for another interview. She’s got a new book out, Maker, Book 3 of the Lone Wolf series, and I’m looking forward to asking her some questions about it.

RU: Welcome back, Dellani. Now, you’re coming out with Maker, the third book in the Lone Wolf series. Tell us a bit about the series in general.

DO: It’s set in the distant future in the year 3032, and begins on a small mining ship in deep space. Marc and Matilda are working there when something goes horribly wrong. Someone has brought a load of Trimagnite on board. This is a semi-liquid ore which is highly toxic and extended exposure will cause madness and death. Enter the Lone Wolf, Wil VanLipsig. He’s sent to collect the ore, but finds himself highly attracted to Matilda Dulac, who proceeds to aim a pistol at his head because he’s lying to her. Who can resist a woman like that?

Unfortunately, Commandant John Riley of the Mining Guild is determined, not only to discredit Wil, but do as much damage to the Mining Guild as he can. It’s up to Wil, Matilda and Marc to stop him before he brings his plans to fruition.

RU: What about your series would attract readers to the characters and story of the Lone Wolf universe?

DO: Lone Wolf isn’t a Star Wars or Star Trek type universe. It’s unique, I feel, because the characters make it so. There are insectoid characters, giant mercenary cats, sentient ships and AI’s housed in special rings. The main character, Wil VanLipsig, is an 86 year old Colonel in the Galactic Marine’s black ops. Funny thing, though, he looks like he’s in his mid-twenties. The Marine doctors played genetic games with him and a few other select people, stopping their aging process. That doesn’t begin to describe what else was done to them.

RU: What can we expect from your new book, Maker?

DO: The Maker brings in a variety of new characters, as well as following the original ones from books 1 & 2. They discovered in Shakazhan – Book 2, that their planet, Shakazhan, is an artificial construct. What they don’t know is that there is an entity buried deep within the planet, who has many secrets and he’s loathe to part with them.

RU: Ooh, an entity. How HP Lovecraft! Next question: you normally write straight-up romances. Did you find it challenging to change to a sci-fi setting?

DO: I really don’t find it challenging switching genres. There are elements of romance in the sci-fi series, though they are minimal. My original idea was to write futuristic romance, which I suppose the first book could loosely be labeled, but the romantic elements fade out and the action takes over. I love constructing a whole new look at the universe and those in it. An author can do so much with sci-fi that can’t be done with more conventional genres. I had a great time thinking up new planets and races, giving them names and characteristics. Sci-fi is a blast.

RU: It most certainly is. And since it is a blast, here’s a question: how long do you see the Lone Wolf series going for?

DO: There are 6 in the series – plus 1 finished sequel, though at least 2 others are in the works. There is also a companion book, Lone Wolf Tales – A Lone Wolf Companion, which is a collection of 9 short stories and novellas associated with the series. I used them to explore various characters and incidents from the series.

RU: Sounds like a very involved sort of universe. And speaking of universes, what were your biggest influences in writing this series and crating this universe?

DO: Years ago, when I was newly married, we played a role playing game called Traveler. This was rather like Dungeons and Dragons, only sci-fi based. Friends of ours, and I, participated in a game my husband led and the characters of Wil, Matilda and Marc were created. I was going to chronicle their adventures, but it soon became apparent that the characters didn’t want that. They took off running in another direction and I just hung on for dear life. Aside from the character names, nothing remains the same.

RU: I notice characters do that. It’s very hard working with them sometimes. So, you’ve written romance, sci-fi, historical romance, and even some YA. What genres are you planning on diving into next?

DO: I’m not sure where I might venture next. I’ve been challenged to write a murder mystery, which I did (with a heavy romantic tone—what can I say, I love romance!) There are so many genres out there, permutations of one another, it’s hard to pick. One thing I’m fairly certain of, I won’t write horror. I scare easily and I usually write late at night and go to bed after everyone else. I don’t need to see ghoulies and ghosties in the dark!

RU: There goes that collaboration I was going to ask you about, LOL. Now Dellani, you release chapters of your books on your blog. How has your readership reacted to that?

DO: People don’t comment, for the most part, but I am finding more folks following and liking my stories. That seems positive to me. I wish people would comment and let me know what they like (or don’t) but I’m pleased to see new avatars on the page. I hope they enjoy reading the stories as much as I enjoy writing them.

RU: Yeah, the commenting thing affects everyone. Final question: what’s next for you and for your writing.

DO: I have a lot of unfinished novels, and I’ve set myself a goal of finishing one a month. I’ve been doing that for the last 2 ½ years, and am pleased with my progress. My goal is to get more of them published, but getting covers, paying copyrights, and all the other fees associated with self-publishing books, adds up quickly. I plan to send another book in to Tirgearr Publishing, who has already released four of my books. I’m working on getting a good, clean edit before sending it in. I have also begun preliminary edits on The Kahlea – book 4. There’s been action up to now, but this book takes the reader and knocks their socks off. More new characters, action, battles, and a little romance. I finished reading through it recently, and it left me breathless. I’m hoping it will do so to the readers as well.

RU: So do I, Dellani. Thank you for joining us.

If you’d like more from Dellani, please check out her interview here. Also check her out on her blog, on Amazon, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

And if you’d like to be interviewed on my blog, check out my Interviews page, and we’ll see what magic we can work.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time!

getpart

It’s been a while, but I’ve got a great interview for you guys. Today’s guest is all the way from the land down under. And no, it’s not Mad Max. This one’s way more interesting. No, she’s a fantasy writer originally from New Jersey who’s been writing since college, and making up stories well before then. Her current series is the critically acclaimed Shadow Stalker series, with three books out currently. She’s also a friend to other writers, helping them showcase and advertise their work on her websites. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Renee Scattergood!

RU: Welcome Renee. First question: tell us how you got into writing, and what draws you to your current genre.

RS: That’s an interesting story. I’ve always loved making up and telling stories for as long as I can remember, but it never occurred to me to write them down. Probably because I was terrible in English and thought you had to be good in English to be a writer. It wasn’t until I was in college, and my English instructor told me I should consider getting some of my work published that I started considering writing as a viable career. Still, it took me several years to build up the courage to do it.

As far as my draw to fantasy: well, as a kid I loved fantasy because it was an escape from the real world. What kid isn’t drawn in by magic and the possibility of the existence of fantastical creatures and worlds? As a writer, I love being able to create those worlds and allow my characters to explore in them. It’s a great outlet for my very overactive imagination.

RU: The Shadow Stalker series is about a girl who is destined to enslave the people of her world. How did you come up with that story idea?

RS: I wanted to do something different and write a story about someone who was a “good guy”, but had the potential to become the bad guy. This was long before I came up with the idea for Shadow Stalker. When I started developing the story for Shadow Stalker, the idea just popped into my head. Most prophecies are about a hero that will save the world. What if there was one about someone who was meant to destroy it? How would that person try to prevent that from happening…and is it possible?

RU: You have this main character named Auren. Tell us a bit about her?

RS: Hmmm… what can I say about her without giving too much away? She is very stubborn and determined. She is a free-spirit and doesn’t like to be contained. But she is in a position where these traits could lead her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Her determination makes her strong, though.

shadow-stalker-part-1-resized-large-72-dpi

RU: Where do you see the Shadow Stalker series going? How long do you think it’ll be in the end?

RS: Well, I don’t want to give away the ending. That would just ruin it for everyone. I can tell you the entire serial is a total of 24 episodes that are about the length of a short story. It’s further broken down into four parts of six episodes. I’m currently writing Part 4, which is episodes 19 through 24.

RU: If you’re lucky enough to be read hundreds of years from now, what would you like people to take away from the Shadow Stalker series?

RS: That no matter what, each one of us carves our own paths in life and choose our own fates. Even if we’re meant to do something, even if it’s something we don’t really want to do, we can choose how we do it and how we will affect the world around us.

RU: Tell us how you approach writing. Do you have a routine or any ritual you follow to write?

RS: I have a daughter with ASD and ADHD, so routines as far as writing are non-existent. I essentially write when I have time to do it. I try to write every day, even if it’s just a paragraph.

RU: Who would you say your influences are?

RS: This is always a hard question for me to answer because I’m influenced in some way by every author I read. As far as my biggest influence, I guess you can say George Lucas is the one who sparked my imagination and love for storytelling when I was eight. After seeing Star Wars for the first time, I was hooked on the idea of creating my own worlds and characters.

RU: What do you enjoy reading when you’re not writing?

RS: I read mainly fantasy, and in the last couple of years I’ve read mostly self-published books. I’ve found that I have an easier time finding a good book written by an indie author than something that is traditionally published.

RU: What is some advice you would give to other writers, regardless of experience or background?

RS: No matter what happens, don’t give up. The only way you can fail as a writer (or at anything in life) is if you stop trying. If you have a bad experience, learn from it and move on. You can only get better, and eventually you will succeed.

RU: Finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for a while and could only bring three books with you, which would you take?

RS: Wow, that would be hard. I love so many books. Maybe the first three books in the Emperor’s Edge series by Lindsay Buroker. I can read those again and again and never get sick of them.

RU: Well, thanks for stopping by, Renee. Great to have you here.

If you would like to check out Renee’s stuff, you can head over to her website at www.reneescattergood.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.  And if you would like to be interviewed, head to my Interviews page and leave a comment. I’m normally very happy to interview any author with a book or two out there.

RC cover

So my friend and colleague Ruth Ann Nordin (check out her blog here) emailed me at some point last night, saying that she had read Reborn City and had posted a review on Amazon. Obviously, this got me excited, as I love getting feedback from readers, and I especially like hearing it from authors I respect and admire (which reminds me: Ruth, thanks for reading RC! I hope you enjoy Video Rage when you get to it!). So I was eager to see what she posted online. As I hoped, the review had only nice things to say.

Now if you don’t know what Reborn City is, it’s the first book in a science fiction trilogy I started writing in high school. It follows the trials of a street gang called the Hydras living in the titular city, the leaders of which have strange powers. The story has a lot of themes that are relevant to today’s world, including Islamaphobia, racism, drug addiction, gang violence, and, perhaps most importantly, overcoming what you think of yourself and what others think of you. Reborn City‘s sequel, Video Rage, was released this past June, and I hope to start on the final book, Full Circle, later this year.

Now back to Ruth’s review. I was very happy to see that she gave RC a five-star review (bringing the book’s total rating to a 4.8 out of 5), and titled her review Read like a movie. Here’s what she had to say on the book (and I’m warning you now, her review does have a couple of spoilers! So be aware before proceeding):

I decided to read this book because I know the author and have enjoyed his other works. I’m not a fan of books about gangs, so I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this story, to be honest. But I felt an immediate connection to the main characters right away, and this compelled me to keep reading.

SPOILER ALERT: This book took an unexpected turn. About halfway into it, it became apparent that the main gang members were special, and it was the unusual interest a shady government operation was showing in them that really pulled me in. There is an awesome genetic engineering component that I love in books and movies. The gang’s backstory was one of the best I’d ever read. This is a book that didn’t disappoint the sci-fi thriller lover in me. In my opinion, this would make a great movie.

As a warning, there is a lot of cussing. The violence wasn’t all that bad (maybe a PG-13).

Funnily enough, I usually write my books like a movie in my head, so the movie comparison is pretty on the spot. Not only that, but I think a Reborn City movie would be pretty awesome. Especially if we get Tyler Posey from Teen Wolf to play male lead Rip and Samuel L. Jackson from to play main antagonist Jason Price.

If anyone here knows those guys and can get them to read the book, please do so! I’d love for them to read it, and maybe like it enough to help produce a movie version. Let’s make that happen, okay?!

Anyway, this review matches what a lot of other people have said about RC in their reviews:

This is an extremely commendable effort by a new young writer, whom I believe we will see much more of in the years ahead. Rami Ungar’s vision of a frightening dystopian future is peppered with those elements that make us all human. There are quite a few surprises in the book, and I am anxious for the next volume in the series to be released.

Marc M. Neiwirth

This is not a genre I typically delve into, but I took this book on vacation and couldn’t put it down. The plot had me turning pages at quite the clip. The characters were unique and interesting and the imagery had me creating my own visual of what Rami’s interpretation of the future looked like. For first time novelist, Rami Ungar, this was an outstanding showing of talent and commitment to his passion of writing. Looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next!

Michele Kurland

Gangland violence, superhero-like enhancements, a futuristic setting, and social commentary that stems from a semi-post-apocalyptic theme. And then there’s a story where people come together as a family to deal with mutual loss and tragedy. What’s not to like?

Matthew Williams, author of Whiskey Delta and Papa Zulu

VR CS front cover

If any of this has made you want to check out Reborn City, I’ll provide the links below, as well as for its sequel, Video Rage. And if you do end up reading the book(s), I hope you’ll let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love and appreciate getting feedback from readers, and it makes me a better writer when you folks tell me what works and what doesn’t.

Well, tomorrow’s Friday, so you know what that means. While I prepare for that, I’m also posting the link to an interview with Awesome Book Promotions that came out yesterday. So check that out, if you so desire. It’s pretty awesome, as the title suggests.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

Reborn City: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & NobleiBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage: Amazon, Kindle, CreatespaceBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo

Hey Followers of Fear. I actually have some bad news to dispense today. Yeah, I know, bad news. That’s not something I usually put out on this blog. I prefer to keep things upbeat and kind of funny here, because I’m a naturally upbeat and kind of funny guy. But occasionally I have to dispense with some bad news, and this is one of those times.

The fact of the matter is (this is not the bad news. That comes later), I’m writing slower than I used to. And I mean much slower: I started working on the third draft of Rose back in June. It’s August, and I’m still working through Chapter Five! Usually at this point of a draft I should be finishing up the edits, but I’m still in the early stages!

What’s to cause this slow-down of work? Well, the main reason is that I’m working a full-time job now, and that’s pretty time-consuming in itself. And unlike other jobs I’ve held in the past, there aren’t as many moments where there’s not a lot to do and I can sit back and write. Even Germany had more than a few of those moments. But in my current position, there’s always plenty to do, so I don’t exactly have that many moments to get out the laptop and work on a manuscript.

And when I get home, I don’t exactly have that much time either. I have to eat dinner, take a shower, make my lunch for tomorrow, and go to sleep at an earlier time so that I can get up early and be at work on time. That leaves only a few hours to write in the evening. Sometimes less, if I have errands to run after work.

With that in mind, I’m cutting a few things out of my life to make more time for writing. I’m cutting out the number of shows I watch so that when the fall television season starts, I’m not spending hours and hours streaming what I missed (I don’t have a TV or Cable yet). I’m also cutting back on the amount of time I spend on YouTube, because as fun as those videos can be, some of them can be pretty time-consuming (especially those videos of gamers playing horror games that I like so much). And–and here’s where the bad news really comes in–starting in September, I’m cutting myself back to two blog posts a month.

Now, I’m sure one or two of you are saying, “But Rami, we like seeing at least two blog posts a week from you!” Well, I like blogging around 2-3 times a week as well. But blogging also takes up time. Depending on the post, it can take quite a bit of time to write. Time I could spend getting through whatever story I happen to be writing or editing. I’m taking up time just writing this post! And because of that, I feel that I need to spend less time on this blog and more on the stories that I love writing and I love people reading.

So, unless something special comes up–a new review or interview, an important update on the projects I’m doing, or I’m pissed off at a recent tragedy in the world and need to vent my frustrations–you’ll be seeing much fewer posts here than before. This also means that I’ll stop doing #FirstLineFriday after August 26th. Not permanently, I may do one or two on occasion for an upcoming book or some other special occasion. But I won’t be doing one week after week. It’s just too time-consuming. I may try to come up with some other tag or meme where I do something similar to #FirstLineFriday (I know a lot of you enjoy those posts, and I do too), but at the moment I really can’t afford to keep doing this week in and week out if I want to get more writing and editing done.

On the bright side, I’ll have the opportunity to do more Reflections posts about the writing craft or about my own work. I used to do those quite a lot, and people really enjoyed them. However, I don’t do those much anymore, mostly because they’re the most time-consuming of blog posts. Now though, with hopefully a bit more time, I can write at least one a month and share my thoughts or have interesting discussions on writing and daily life.

I hope no one decides to stop following me because of this (I know some people stop following YouTubers if they don’t constantly put out new videos, so I assume the same can apply for blogs), or that they leave me because #FirstLineFriday was their favorite thing ever. It’s not because of you guys, it’s just hat I need to write, and if I don’t write, nothing gets done, and I get angry at myself. And that’s not something anyone wants.

Have you ever reduced the amount of blogging you do so you could focus on other things? What were the results of that?

One of those interviews I’ve promised has come out.

Same DiNamics Books, a blog that does book reviews and interviews authors, has been kind enough to spread the word about me and my writing a little. I answer questions about writing, about the books I have available, and what sort of stories I like to write. Check them out if you have the time.

I’ll post again soon, my Followers of Fear. After all, tomorrow’s Friday. So you know what that means!

I just got an interview published on BookGoodies.com. I got the chance to talk to them about the usual stuff, though I did enjoy that they took my author photo and put it horizontal. Definitely check it out.

Also, I’ve had eight ideas for stories today, starting with a dream I had this morning. Talk about a creative day.

See you Friday!