A Fun Interview with Mercedes Fox

Hello out there.

One of the many enjoyable things about writing is getting to know new people. Here is an April interview with fellow writer and blogger, Mercedes Fox:

Why do you write?  The sheer joy of creating stories and characters. This an outlet for an over active imaginative mind that never stops thinking about endless possibilities.

When did you decide to become a writer?  I thought about it for years, but when I truly decided to write was in 2012 when I came home from the Middle East and realized it was time for a new challenge.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  6-7 months.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  Talking to my wife in the kitchen about writing and she said “Why don’t you start writing? There’s nothing stopping you.” I started that night.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  Best time for me is late Friday and late Saturday night. After I have spent my time with family and everyone is tucked in, I start writing.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I have read hundreds of books for enjoyment in the past. Now, I go back and STUDY them. Meaning, I look HOW someone writes. Tone, foreshadowing, structure, etc.  Alan Moore, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, H.G. Wells are just a few of my teachers.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  I listen to music on my iPod. I enjoy all kinds of music, but for writing the content I have, it is very specific. Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones, Godsmack, 311, Godsmack, Sevendust, CKY, Korn, Papa Roach all put me in a creative state of mind. Go figure.

What have you written?

Tales of the Unexpected

Starry Messenger

Enemy of The Human Race

Know Thy Self

End of All Things

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  Always outline the plots first. Create profiles and detailed histories on the character—even if I do not show the histories to the reader. Once I know the characters inside and out, the dialogue is considerably easier to write.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  Julia Sage is my designer. She is terrific. Detailed, professional, timely, and patient. Oh, and she is a nice person too.

Julia Sage Photography and Talent Promotion   @juliasagephotography

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?  Scheduling book signings with local book store. Great way to interact with the public and actively promote your product.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  Keep writing. Write for yourself. SOMEONE will read it and SOMEONE will like it.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  Quentin is very complex and we can all relate to him. Yes, he is an alien with great power but the reader can see his/herself in him. He is isolated, lonely, and full of doubt. He questions authority and is confused by his own action. He rebels and does the very thing his superiors tell him not to do. I think there is a little of Quentin in all of us.

Where do your ideas come from?  Traveling the world. Reading everything I can. Talking to diverse people and getting their opinions on life itself. Staring up at the sky and just imagining.

What is the hardest thing about writing?  Devoting the proper time to do it and balancing the rest of your life.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?  Coming to the end and saying goodbye to the characters.

What is your favorite movie or TV show?  Favorite movie: LA Confidential.

Which writers inspire you?  Too many to count but I will give you one: Alan Moore.

What is the current book you are promoting?  All four books in the Opportvnvs Adest series are now out. Binge reading at its finest.

  1. Starry Messenger
  2. Enemy of The Human Race.
  3. Know Thy Self
  4. End Of All Things.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?  Quentin, for the reasons I stated earlier.

Who is your least favorite character and why?  Dante Tate. He is a ten-year-old boy who I wish was not such a little pain.

Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school?  Studied creative writing in college.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast?

Quentin: Idris Alba

Regina Tate: Ruth Wilson

Rex Talion: Jason Isaacs

What is your next project?  Opportvnvs Adest series created an entire universe of worlds and characters. I am finishing a encyclopedia ( A-Z) with every character, world, weapon, item, directly, or indirectly related to the stories.

The other project (and the most enjoyable) is a timeline for my alternative universe. This ambitious time line begins 4.6 billion years ago and ends 2020 CE.  It gives you a crash course on the Opportvnvs Adest Earth. Everything from the pyramids to the Kennedy assassination is in there. Unexplained, weird things throughout history are explained.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?  Professor John Robinson from the Lost in Space. He was the perfect blend of brains and brawn. He was brave, heroic, and a family man.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?  Homelessness.

Who inspires your writing?  Alan Moore. Richard Matheson. Ernest Hemmingway. Henry James. Ray Bradbury. Ian Fleming. Phillip K. Dick. Lewis Carroll. Virginia Woolf, H.G. Wells. Mary Shelly. John Wyndham. Isaac Asimov. Stan Lee.

Where do you come up with your stories?  By studying history. I tried to explain the unexplained by putting a science fiction/fantasy twist on it.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?  Casino Royale. Ian Fleming created one of the most iconic, most imitated, characters in the last one hundred years. And it turned into a billion-dollar movie franchise. Not bad.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?  Save your work in several places! Including on a pin drive. Listen to your editor. I started out with Latin titles for my books. I did a live interview and host and audience could not pronounce the names.

Do have a favorite car or truck model?  BMW 325i.

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes?  No. It is a natural instinct in all creatures on Earth. Whenever I write a scene like that, I make sure it fits the story and not just gratuitous smut.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  The Martian Chronicles. Frankenstein. Old Man & The Sea. Portrait of a Lady. The Iliad. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A Tale of Two Cities. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The Day of the Triffids. War of The Worlds. I, Robot. Rabbit Run. Lord of the Flies. Just great reads.

Are you currently reading a book or just finished one?  The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel. This fine piece of literature catalogs fantasy lands from literature around the world.

What do your readers mean to you?  They keep me in line. They deserve a good story and no shortcuts. Ever.

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And there you have it.

Thank you, Mercedes for an enjoyable interview. I encourage all indie writers out to do these. Not only are they fun, but the extra expose cannot hurt. Heck, if it gets one more person to read your book, then it is a win.

See you next time.

Peace.

EH

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David Gallie Indie Author Interview

A special thanks to David Gallie for allowing me to speak on such enjoyable topics.

Next up to take their place on the interview chair is indie author Ethan Howard. Read on to find out what makes him write:
Why do you write?
It is truly a passion. A great way to express myself and release that inner child. From the very first time I started putting words on the screen, I discovered how much I truly enjoy it. It always allows me to challenge myself mentally in ways I never thought possible. I have no plans of ever stopping.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I had come home from a tour in the Middle East. It was 2009 and I caught up on Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and reread short stories from the great Richard Matheson lying on the beach in San Diego. I wanted to try to be at least a fraction of the literary artist these men were/are.
What genre are your books?
Science fiction and fantasy.
What draws you to this genre?
There is a certain freedom with this genre. True escapism. You can explore several different concepts and get away with bending laws of physics and reality.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
It was my wife. She told me that it was time to stop talking and start doing. She said I had always been a man of action and decisiveness, so why hadn’t I done anything. I told her of some of my story concepts and she said, “Great. I cannot wait to read them.”
 
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I write part-time. After spending time with my family, I use late Saturday nights as my time to write.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I have discovered that I am far better at night writing than the day. The later the better.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I talk to other writers. I read their stories. I review them. By doing so, I have become better. I use the wisdom of others to better myself. There is so much good stuff out there, I feel I improve each time I read someone else’s work.
What have you written?
Tales of the Unexpected (an anthology of short horror stories) Published 2013.
Sidereus Nuncius (Book One of the Opportvnvs Adest series) Published October 2015.
Hostis Humani Generis (Book Two of the Opportvnvs Adest series) due out March 20, 2016.
Temet Nosce (Book Three of the Opportvnvs Adest series) due out April 20th 2016.
Finis Omnium Reum (Book Four of the Opportvnvs Adest series) due out May 20, 2016.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?
I always work with an outline first. I have hand written notes with names and personalities of the characters. I also do research on any particular area of the world or subject I am writing on. I outline the chapters almost like scenes in a movie. I do this before I even start writing. I find it makes things much easier for me.
How do you market your books?
Social Media.
Book signings at local bookstores.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
I had a book launch party at a friend’s house. My wife is an excellent cook so she made the food and it was a smashing success.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future?
Absolutely. I feel that I should have done a better job on social media as I was crafting my first story.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Never, ever stop writing. Do not do it for money because it may not ever come. Do it because you love it. Be willing to accept criticism. Learn from it and do not let it deflate you.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?
At the heart of the Opportvnvs Adest story is a man called Quentin. In Sidereus Nuncius you learn he is from the stars with a mission to save the planet Earth. He is noble, thoughtful, and a warrior with restraint. It all sounds simple enough until things unfold and we see there is much more to this being than even HE imagined. Throughout the story, he is on a journey of self-discovery that will take him to dark places. The question to be answered is, can this powerful being return from the abyss and complete the task given to him?
Where do your ideas come from? 
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Greek/Roman/Norse Mythology
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Twilight Zone
Outer Limits
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Stopping and going to bed.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Patience. I know exactly where it is all going so I have to use patience getting there. Sometimes I just wanted to skip parts and get right to the revelations. There are many twists and turns to the story so it is important to leave the proper foreshadowing (or breadcrumbs) so the reader does not feel cheated.
Which writers inspire you?
Alan Moore
Richard Matheson
Ernest Hemmingway
Stan Lee
H.G. Wells
Ray Bradbury
Washington Irving
Henry James
I guess I should stop there.
What do you do to get book reviews?
I beg. Seriously, I ask on various media forums.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
It has brought fair results. Folks who have gone to my books have put a few on Amazon and Goodreads. The sales far exceed the reviews. I am still searching for a better way.
What is the current book you are promoting? 
Sidereus Nuncius. Even though I want to say Hostis Humani Generis is due out in a few weeks.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Quentin. I can relate to him on the level of having gone on missions for the military. I found myself questioning the purpose of it all but still loyal to the cause. Like Quentin, I did a lot of soul searching.
Who is your least favorite character and why? 
Rex Talion. He is pure evil and he just might be the worst bastard in the history of literature!
If your book were made into a movie, who would you cast? 
Quentin: Idris Elba
Regina Tate: Rachel Weisz
Rex Talion: Billy Zane
Dante Tate: Take your pick of a 12 year old (African American) male actor
What is your next project? 
The Anti-Life Manifesto. It is an 8-page story that leads directly to Hostis Humani Generis (Book Two of the Opportvnvs Adest series), which focuses on the rise of Rex Talion, the villain of the series. The Manifesto gives you a snapshot into the motivations of Rex Talion. It is written from Talion’s perspective and gives you a glimpse into the mind of this madman.
I just finished it up and have sent it out to people for free. The reaction I have gotten so far has been: “Holy crap! You weren’t kidding about Rex Talion! What a bastard!” It even shocked my wife.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why?
Heracles from Greek Mythology. He was fearless in the face of danger. He had a sense of honor and was uncompromising when it came to completing a task.
What one person from history would you like to meet and why? 
John F. Kennedy. He made such an impact on the world in a short time.
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?
Homelessness. Everyone should have a safe haven to go to at the end of the day.
Who inspires your writing? 
The little boy in me.
Where do you come up with your stories? 
The wonderment of what is beyond Earth. I try to make sense of all the questions I have had since I was child.
Who is your favorite author? 
There are just too many to name. If am forced to give one, I will say Alan Moore.
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?
It is grind. If you want eyes on your book you have to hustle and even then there is no guarantee to getting a positive or negative response.
Tell us something unique about you
I listen to alternative and nu metal to write. Smashing Pumpkins, Godsmack, Deftones, Crossfade, CKY, Sevendust are just a few. Good stuff. Something about the music brings out the odd, creative side to me.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Come to my blog or email me directly. I enjoy dialogue on a variety of subjects.
Email: ethan@ethanhowardauthor.com
Thank you for allowing me to share this with all of you. See you back here soon when I release the Anti-Life Manifesto for all to read.
Peace.

Q & A with a Writer

Hello there.

I wanted to share the interview I had with a San Diego Neighborhood Book Signing.David Russell, Oracle Project Manager spearheaded the event and this an excerpt from the question & answer session.

Thank you, David.

Ethan Howard Q & A:

Q1. Ethan can you tell us what character is most like yourself?

Q1. Without a doubt it would be Quentin. He is a man who questions his duty and purpose throughout the series. He is sent on a mission and conflicted if he should actually be doing the things he is asked to do.  As a member of the Armed Forces, I have had those same thoughts creep into my head from time to time during assignments.

Q2. Who has inspired you the most to be a writer?

Q2. There are too many to list but since you asked  for just one, I will say Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen finally pushed me to sit down at my computer and start writing. In addition to being a an excellent writer, Moore is also a student of literature and history. I was amazed at how much detail he puts into his work. I have learned a lot about what it takes to be a writer by reading his work and the work of his sometime annotator, Jess Nevins.  

Q3. Do you really believe in Aliens or are you just a guy with an overactive imagination?

Q3. My wife would absolutely say I have an overactive imagination and I would agree with her. I do believe there is life on other planets. The notion is not so outlandish when you consider that just over five centuries ago, we thought the world was flat and if you sailed too far, your ship would drop off the planet. We laugh at the notion now but I suspect future generations will scoff at us thinking we are the only sentient beings in the universe.

Q4. There are a lot of strong female characters in your story. Why is that?

Q4. I believe women are as capable as men in all aspects of life. I did not consciously make an effort to show this, but I am glad you noticed.

Q5. Do you think readers of Sci-Fi will be turned off by the retelling of Christianity, to put it mildly?

Q5. I hope not. I respect all beliefs. My story does not in any way dismiss the notion of God or Christianity.   What I do is challenge how people interpret what they have read and been taught. We see it in our lives now where often the smallest piece of information passed from one person to the next is inaccurate. Now take that notion and apply it to vast amounts of information/stories circulating for thousands of years. How accurate is it going to be? Things are bound to be confused and twisted because we are human, and to be human is to be flawed.  Stay with the series and you will see this play out in a big way.

Q6. Do think Sci-Fi/Fantasy readers are receptive to the idea of a Black Man/White Woman relationship?

Q6. I have found Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans to be the most open-minded people on the planet. Quentin being black is not some cheap stunt to draw controversy or some political statement. There is reason why his skin color happens to be dark and the tale behind it is essential to the character. The reader will learn this in Book Three and it will make sense. 

Q7. Is there an overall theme to your work that you would like to share with us?

Q7. The Opportvnvs Adest series is a science fiction take on the Great War that is prevalent in every religion . Along the way, I explain the origins behind legends, myths, fairytales, and folklore throughout the world. I venture into why the planet is littered with so many fantastic unexplained things like the Pyramids, Stonehenge, UFOs, etc. The theme of the series deep dives into these things along with the bible. I challenge many of the things we have been taught in a big way.

Q8. Finally, give us a peek into what is going to happen with the rest of the Opportvnvs Adest series. What can fans look for from you in the next few years?

Q8. Sidereus Nuncius is only the introduction to the alternate universe I have created for Earth and the rest of the universe. The other books will be released one after another so readers can enjoy binge reading and not wait. Hostis Humani Generis (Book Two) will explore the origins behind Rex Talion and how he allied himself with the Degans. Temet Nosce (Book Three) will show Earth on the precipice of Armageddon and how the main characters react to the state of affairs. Finis Omnium Reum (Book Four) All hell breaks loose. Literally.

Once the complete series is out there, I will release The Encyclopedia of Opportvnvs Adest. This is a 100 page book that goes into detail about the characters, worlds, weapons you meet. It will go into those only mentioned, and backstories of others in the universe not encountered in the series.

Expect the unexpected and expect to be entertained. Many other characters will be introduced and their motivations may or may not be clear to you. There will be plenty of bread crumbs for the reader to devour along the way so he/she is not cheated each time there is a revelation.  The more you learn, the more questions you will have as the story unravels. Nothing is what it appears to be.

The Opportvnvs Adest Timeline will be follow Book Four.

This was without a doubt my favorite and most ambitious part of crafting the series. Here I will give readers the history of my alternate Earth from 4.6 billion years ago to 2020. I thoroughly enjoyed mixing and matching real historic events with my twisted take on the world. You want to know heavily debated topics like why the pyramids were built, did Atlantis exist, or who really killed Kennedy. I have your answers those questions and many more. 

Remember this is the world of Opportvnvs Adest. What you believe is false. What you know is untrue. So where lies the truth? Decide for your yourself.
I really enjoyed meeting with fellow readers and writers and talking shop. There is so much creativity out there, my only regret is not having time to read all. But it will not stop  me from trying.

Until next time.

Be well.

EH

 

 

 

 

Alan Moore & Jess Nevins : Their Impact on a Writer.

Greetings.

Last time I wrote about Crisis on Infinite Earths and how it helped me crafting a story.

This time I want to say a few words about the legendary comic scribe, Alan Moore and another talented man by the name of Jess Nevins.

Mr. Moore certainly needs no introduction from me, but what the hell. I am going to give him one anyway.

If you read comics, there is little doubt you know who this man is. If you don’t, I am sure you have seen his works on the big screen. Mr. Moore is responsible for Batman: The Killing Joke, V for Vendetta, From Hell, various Swamp Thing stories, the last pre-crisis Superman story, Watchmen, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (LOEG). That is just to name a few.

It is the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen  I want to touch on.

Forget what you saw in the theaters, LOEG is one amazing piece of work in its singular form and its totality. Moore takes starts out with an assembly of Victorian characters and weaves a mystery story. It gets even better with his other volumes. In other words, Moore created an alternate universe using pre-established and recognizable characters from Sherlock Holmes, the Invisible Man, to James Bond, and later Harry Potter. Moore even created an Almanac for all of the references.

Absolutely brilliant!

When I finally sat down and began typing out the Sidereus Nuncius, it was only going to be a short story with an ambiguous ending. Then it struck me that I should  borrow from the master storyteller.

The lead character in Sidereus is an alien who calls himself Quentin who comes to Earth with a message to the human race of an impending disaster . In the original draft, he falls in love with a human woman and decides to remain on Earth and face the doom with the humans.

Standard fare, I thought as a love story. Thanks to Moore, I started giving Quentin a backstory. Who are his masters and why do they even care about Earth? Are there other protectors/messengers out there? If there are benevolent aliens, then there has to be bad ones, right? Maybe aliens have been coming to our planet all along, helping or hurting us.

These races who lived on other planets needed names.

Suddenly I had a growing universe.

I invented a number of characters from scratch but I also took many from previous legends, myths, fairy tales, and works from well known authors and gave them a new spin. Why reinvent the wheel when there is so much rich literature to draw from?

Opportvnvs Adest is like peeling back an onion. The further along you get, the more characters and worlds you discover. So many that I created an encyclopedia (A-Z) for the all the events, worlds, weapons, and characters. I also put together an Earth time that begins 4.6 billion years ago and culminates in 2020. It took a great deal of research mixing and changing real life events over the centuries to fit my alternate universe, but I have to tell you it was quite enjoyable.

I believe you will feel the same after reading them.

Jess Nevins is an award nominated author and a librarian. He is responsible for annotating LOEG various volumes. This man has successfully identified every character, every building, every veiled reference in the stories. After reading his exhaustive work on Moore, I was completely  sold on the creative talent of both men.

In some ways, the Opportvnvs Adest series is a way of saying thank you to them for unlocking whatever creativity I attempt to claim.

Thanks for checking in.

Have fun because in 2020 Earth will….whoops can’t say that yet!

Until next time.