Mind Games: An Interview with Andrew Klavan

Andrew Klavan is quickly becoming a household name for many Christian fiction fans, including me. With books for adults and young adults as well as credits for major blockbuster movies, you’ve probably watched or read something he’s had his hand in. It’s my pleasure to share a look at his latest YA trilogy, MindWar. And if the title isn’t enough to convince you to add the book to your wishlist, I’m sure the following interview will.

Brock: How did you come up with the idea for the MindWar Trilogy?

Andrew: I’m a gamer. I’ve always loved games and puzzles and when video games came along I was swept away. I played Space Invaders so much I developed a swollen wrist! And as the games became more sophisticated, they became so incredibly immersive, it was like actually being in space or in a haunted house or underground.  So I just began to wonder:  what if the border between life and games became permeable, what if you could pass from one into the other and back again? I guess that was the start of the MindWar idea.

Brock: I too was very into video games, defeating Dr. Robotnik (Sonic the Hedgehog) became a daily goal for me. And in college I got into a Navy Seal game called SOCOM. You could actually talk to your team mates via headsets, which brought the game that much more to life. Tell us about the main characters in MindWar?

Andrew: The main character is Rick Dial, a guy who feels he has lost everything that matters to him. He was the quarterback on his high school football team, a real athlete-hero type. Then his car got broadsided by a panel truck and his legs were shattered. He’s on crutches now.  And on top of this, his father has disappeared and may even have run off with another woman.  So Rick has lost his faith: in life, in God, in himself, in everything.  But when he’s sent as an avatar into the MindWar Realm, he has a chance to recover the hero in himself.  It’s just a question of whether he can find it.

Brock: Wow, that sounds pretty awesome. In three sentences what will the MindWar trilogy deliver to the reader?

Andrew: Action, first of all. Because the stories take place both in real life and in the game, there is both the sort of action you get in fantasy novels — sword fights and dragon battles and so on — but also normal thriller action with guns and bad guys and chases and so on. And, of course, you’re going to follow the evolution of this young man Rick as he goes deeper and deeper into this beautiful but essentially evil place.

Brock: Andrew can you share how you have intertwined  biblical themes into the series

Andrew: You know how it says in the King James Genesis that the imagination of man’s heart is evil…  and then Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that it’s not just the crimes we commit that condemn us – the adultery or murder or whatever – it’s the crimes we imagine — the lust and anger in our hearts.  This is a story about a young man who has to confront both:  the perils of the inner world and the outer one.  The MindWar is essentially the war for the imagination.  You have to win that before you can win any other.

Brock: And it seems this is a battle parents are trying to win every day. I hope they’ll be encouraged by Rick’s story. What sort of research did you have to undertake for the book, or was it all straight from your imagination?

Andrew: Well, I could try to keep a straight face while I told you how many video games I had to play before I could really get the hang of the thing!  But the truth is I actually did have to do quite a lot of background research.  For one thing, the computer world of MindWar is actually a weapon to use in the real world.  The villain Kurodar is trying to imagine acts of terrorism into being.  So, without giving too much away, I can say that I had to find out how some of those terrorist acts would be committed.  And I really did need to get some sense of how video games work, and how computers can be hacked and polluted.

Brock: You may very well be on several government watchlists now from your research. And I guess now I could be listed as an accomplice. Oh man, who knew interviewing could be so risky. Can you give us a hint at the second and third book?

Andrew: Not too much, but I’ll just say this:  things get very weird in the second two books because entering the MindWar has some very gnarly effects on the brain and Rick has to start to deal with that.  And there’s a kind of love story you maybe haven’t seen before.  And some cool twists and turns.  And now I’ll shut up before I give something away.

Brock: Thanks for pretty much nothing! But we respect that at Family Fiction, we want to be surprised by the plot turns and twists. You have many great releases already out and I am sure many more planned, are you a full time writer?

Andrew: More than full time!  I’m usually at my desk by 7:30 am and what with phone calls and required reading and so forth, I don’t shut up shop until ten at night.  I used to take weekends off, but that’s so twentieth century!  I’m just glad you have to turn your cell phone off in church!

Brock: You just gave me a very sad chuckle of self-realization. Taking weekends off is so twentieth century has to be one of the truest statements I’ve read in a long time. Then I think about Downton Abbey and how they waited days, weeks, for information. We certainly have increased in ‘productivity’ if that’s what we can call it. Speaking of productivity and efficiency, how long does it usually take you to write a single book in the series?

Andrew: About nine months, although longer for the first one because that’s where you’re developing the characters.

Brock: What were some of the challenges you faced when writing MindWar?

Andrew: Keeping the plot going strong in two realms:  in MindWar and reality, and making the timing work in both.  I had to make it plausible that there could be, say, a car chase in one chapter, and a fight with a gigantic fantasy monster in the next.

Brock: I can only imagine how hard that would be to keep your outline straight. What do you want readers to take away from MindWar?

Andrew: You know, I believe in stories as experiences.  I’m not trying to send a message exactly, I just want readers to live through what Rick lives through:  the search for his lost hero-self, the search for who, in the end, he really is.  I hope that experience will give you something that you can use in your own life, but I think you’ve got to figure out for yourself what exactly that is.

Brock: In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?

Andrew: So many ways. Before I knew God, the problem for me and for my characters was always the problem of Pontius Pilate:  “What is truth?”  My stories were always about lost and endangered people trying to determine what reality is so they could act.  Now though, the problems my characters face are more elemental, more immediate:  How do I do what’s right? How do I keep my courage in the face of suffering?  How do I keep my faith when everything goes wrong?   In my humble opinion, my stories have become a lot stronger because their issues are more grounded.

Brock: You can’t lose when you’re writing for Him and with Him. He’s the creator and when He’s the inspiration and the foundation for our writing it has to get better! So speaking of a creator, what is your favorite color?

Andrew: I read somewhere that little boys like bright colors but when they grow up they like colors that are more subdued. So I’ll say bright red.

Brock: Staying on the personal side of things. What’s your favorite holiday memory?

Andrew: Oh, man, I’ve had some great, great holidays. Last year, I went to Israel for the first time and walked along the Sea of Galilee. And once, on safari in Africa, I was standing up through the roof port in one of those safari busses and two separate prides of lions walked criss-cross around the bus simultaneously:  nothing but lions everywhere.  It was like some kind of wild dream.  In Hawaii, I once walked over the hardened lava of an erupting volcano, hopping over the burning parts… I could answer this question forever.

Brock: Those are some pretty awesome experiences to have had.  Do you have a favorite pasta dish?

Andrew: Now you’re getting really personal.  Pumpkin ravioli.

Brock: Sounds quite tasty, and not what I might have expected. Do you listen to music while you write? If so what are some examples?

Andrew: Never. It’s the one thing that disturbs me. When I was a radio news writer, I used to write on two minute deadlines with three televisions blaring, teletypes clattering and the radio playing…  so I’m not easily distracted.  But I love music and it messes with my rhythms so I have to leave it alone.

Brock: Amazing how our brains can be trained to operate in different ways based on our tastes and likes. And lastly, but often the most fun thing to share. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Andrew: Several, sure.  But the one that always leaps to mind is: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” That’s smoking stuff. It never fails to move me.

Brock: Andrew thanks for giving us a look at your latest release as well as a little more into who you are. We’ll look forward to checking with you when the next book releases.

UPDATE: Next book Hostage Run releases March 2015.

Andrew Klavan is a best-selling, award-winning thriller novelist whose books have been made into major motion pictures. He broke into the YA scene with the bestselling Homelanders series, starting with The Last Thing I Remember.He is also a screenwriter and scripted the innovative movie-in-an-app Haunting Melissa. Twitter: @andrewklavan Facebook: aklavan

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Get 40% off Taken, Risk, and Unleash

Today through Saturday you can order Taken, Risk, and Unleash at 40% off using code MD8871. Plus get free shipping to your local Mardel store.

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After you have the first three books it’s time to pre-order Tangle in my author store at the limited time low-price.

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A Storm of Reading is in Your Forecast: An Interview with Mary Weber

Storm Siren is an exciting tale set in a fantastic world that Mary Weber brings to life in a way few authors are able to do. Romance and action combine to create a page turning tale set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

Brock:  Mary thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions about this exciting new series.

Mary: Brock, THANK YOU for letting me!!! What an absolute thrill!!!

Brock: I always like to start at the beginning, how did you come up with the concept for Storm Siren and the world of Faelen?

Mary: I was researching Joan of Arc one day (because she’s totally awesome!) and came across the old, hauntingly beautiful poem, “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.” In one of its stanzas, Patrick is basically calling forth the elements to shield him, and I thought, “How cool would it be to incorporate those into a fantasy world?” That’s where the concept and setting came from. And then, of course, I spent days hashing it over with my sister (who’s brilliant at fantasy and plots) and my husband (who’s like this encyclopedia on all things superhero) until it came together.

As far as the heart of the story – that developed from the teen girls I work with as a youth pastor. I wanted to create a story they’d not only (hopefully) love, but would be empowered by. There’s so much in our culture throwing mixed messages at them about what strength and beauty are.  On one hand teen girls are encouraged to just “be themselves” but then they’re quickly heaped with a host of shallow expectations. In that way, Storm Siren is my shout out to them and the fact that each of them – that each of us – is born with unique value and destiny. And when we embrace that? We’re powerful. Beautiful. Unstoppable.

Brock: Mary what a great inspiration to write a story. I always feel like when I write for a reason and for an audience I care specifically for (in your case your youth group girls), the story really takes hold and God provides the inspiration. And when mentioning St. Patrick’s breastplate, I actually wrote the outline for Challenge on the Hill of Fire (Imagination Station #10) and was very intrigued by that part of St. Patrick’s story like you were. God can do some pretty amazing miracles when we fully trust in Him. Okay a creative challenge here, give us five individual words to describe the book?

Mary: For. People. Who. Like. Fun.

Brock: My kind of book then. Tell us about Nym and her unique ability, without giving away any spoilers of course.

Mary: Nym is an Elemental, born with the ability to summon storms and manipulate the weather. Technically, she’s not supposed to even exist since her kind have always been born male and automatically killed at birth (due to their level of power and a disturbing treaty her kingdom made long ago). Sadly, having never been taught to control her power, Nym believes she’s a curse rather than born for goodness.

Brock: And as our readers read the book, I think they’ll find confidence in their own purpose from Nym’s story. Would you please use five words to describe Nym?

Mary: Broken. Hungry-for-redemption. Powerful. Sarcastic-but-loyal. Tenderhearted.

Brock: Nym sounds like a character many of us could relate too very easily; perhaps aside from the powers to control the elements. Expound on the spiritual themes inlaid within the book.

Mary: Okay, so I honestly think all good stories have what I call the “thread of redemption” in them. And it’s something you’ll definitely find in Storm Siren. Other themes close to my heart are: Laying down one’s life for a friend, heart surrender, valuing life at every level, racial and social justice (including caring about the underprivileged and those with special needs), and embracing our God-designed destinies.

Brock: Powerful messages that fit so perfectly into our time. What do you want readers to take away from Storm Siren?

Mary: To quote John Eldredge in his book “Waking the Dead”: “You are not what you think you are. There is a glory to your life that your Enemy fears.”

Brock: Share with us the story of how you were published.

Mary: Short version: It took a village! (Thank you to my critique group, mentors, parents, sister, and husband!)

Long version: Before Storm Siren, I’d been writing a number of years and had recently shopped around an adult paranormal manuscript that racked up eighty-seven agent rejections and four rewrites. When a dear friend paid my way to the Mount Hermon Writers’ Conference, I was able to submit part of that paranormal MS (in brown ink because my printer broke – so classy I know) to the conference ahead of time. While there, Allen Arnold, the then-publisher for Thomas Nelson HarperCollins approached me and invited me to chat. He’d read my submission as well as my blog, and he broached the idea of writing YA. Shortly after, he introduced me to one of TN’s editors whom I began corresponding with. Over the course of six months I pitched two stories. They eventually bought the second, and I screamed like an excited, rabid banshee. :0)

Brock: Like you my first books were published without an agent and direct to the publisher. It’s an exciting experience but a lot of work. I have grown to appreciate what the agent is able to take off your plate. (You’re awesome Amanda L.) What does it feel like to see your book in print and know that your story is being shared with so many?

Brock: I’m not going to lie…I’ve been squealing a lot. And also a little terrified.

Brock: Yeah, I’ve got several selfies of my books and me, as well as a few pictures my wife snuck while I slept with my books cradled in my arms at night. How many books are planned for this series?

Mary: Three!!

Brock: So your husband should be ready for a bit more squealing, I’d say. Can you give us the tiniest of peeks into the next book?

Mary: Sure! We’re going to see Nym continue her internal journey of discovering who she is and what she was born for. We’re also going to see her face some very real challenges – including those involving her ability, Lord Myles, and Princess Rasha. Oh, and we get to travel to the Bron kingdom! There might be wraiths. Ahem.

Brock: Oh, well now I’m intrigued. I’ll need an ARC asap please. Which book are you working on?

Mary: I recently turned in book 2 and now I’m plotting out book 3. There may or may not be kissing.

Brock: Do you have a favorite drink and/or snack that you drink/eat while writing?

Mary: Okay, so I have this $40 espresso machine from Walmart that seriously makes THE BEST lattes. Before heading to my writing desk, I whip one of those babies up. I also keep a bag of almonds on hand because I tend to forget to eat while writing. Well…unless I’m stuck on a plot point. In which case all bets are off and I’m raiding the fridge like there’s no tomorrow. I’m not exactly proud of that.

Brock: The Latte thing I totally get, I make a mean Caramel Latte to start my sessions. And yes the forgetting to eat can seriously become an issue. You have a rather unique bio, can you explain a bit more about the unicorns you feed?

Mary: *laughs* The unicorns are rather pesky things – always interrupting with nonsense. Someone really should tame them.

Brock: Perhaps you could include a chapter on this in an upcoming book, or a blog post. Another intriguing question raised by your bio, how might one go about taking over a make-believe world?

Mary: I’m going to be honest – it takes time and a good theme song (preferably sung by a boy band). Oh, and a rockin’ 80’s costume.

Brock: So many questions to save for our next interview. What is your favorite thing to do at the ocean? Do you ever write while you are there?

Mary: Aww, I love this question! Okay so my favorite thing to do at the ocean is watch my kids play. They’re so carefree, jumping in the ocean spray and trying to force-feed poor, unsuspecting anemones.

Although as far as writing at the beach, I can’t. Mainly because I’m the most distractible person I know. I’m the girl who’s like, “Ooh look, a snow cone machine!” And “Oh-my-gosh – what if that surfer gets eaten by a SHARK?” That said, the ocean is most definitely my “walk-on-the-pier-with-my-husband-and-hash-out-plot-points” place. Books one and two would not exist if it weren’t for those dates. Or for my husband.

Brock: Mary thanks for sharing the great insight into the book and your life, our readers really appreciate it.

Mary: Thanks so much for the fun, Brock!! Loved doing this with you!

Brock: Check out Storm Siren at your local Christian retailer or wherever books are sold. You can find link at Mary’s website here.

 

Storm Siren:

“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

 

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth—meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

Siren’s Fury:

I thrust my hand toward the sky as my voice begs the Elemental inside me to waken and rise. But it’s no use. The curse I’ve spent my entire life abhorring—the thing I trained so hard to control—no longer exists.

Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed, may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along?

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BlizzardSage & Tangle

af9c7-02blizzardcvrMany of you have inquired about when BlizzardSage will release.

If you participated in the Sages of Darkness KickStarter you should be getting your copy at the end of March or beginning of April along with any bonus items included in your reward. CrimsonSage is expected to release end of this year.

If you did not participate in the KickStarter you can pre-order a signed copy that will be mailed in May, but you must pre-order from my website between now and the end of March. You can pre-order the hardback and paperback from the author store.

You can wait for the book to release to the general market in July of 2015. It will be available in hardback, paperback, and e-book.

If you read the original HowlSage you will want to read the newly revised version. HowlSage was rewritten (first person present tense) and expanded (new scenes, character modifications, more demons.) It’s a stronger more action packed book and you won’t be disappointed. You can pre-order the updated version in paperback or hardback at the author store from now until the end of March. Pre-orders will be delivered in May.

The new HowlSage will release to the general market in June or July of 2015.

CrimsonSage will release at the end of this year.

Thanks again for your support of the Sages of Darkness series.


 

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Tangle is expected to release end of Summer 2015. If you’ve pre-ordered the book you’ll get it a couple weeks ahead of everyone else and will also receive several extras as a thanks for your patience. Plus it will be signed to you.
Tangle has been the largest installment in the Quest for Truth yet. I’m thankful for all the support you’ve given me while I wrote this installment in the series. I look forward to finishing the Wikk family’s quest with Hope.

As always you can order signed copies of all my books from my author store and pre-order Tangle now.

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A Bright Outlook for Speculative Fiction: An Interview with Steve Laube Owner of Enclave Publishing

Do you enjoy Sci-Fi as much as I do? Or how about speculative and fantasy fiction? You may not have heard of the recent acquisition of Marcher Lord Press by Steve Laube, and you may be wondering why it matters to you. Well, Marcher Lord Press has produced many award winning books over the years and even launched several authors specifically in the genres I mentioned above. Genres, I love, genres I write about. So I wondered why Steve, who also has a literary agency, found Marcher Lord Press such a prize to be had. What did he see in these genres that made him feel this was good investment of his resources? This question gave me hope. He must know that these genres are often overlooked by the industry; from his experience of placing his authors in contracts. So I asked, “Why did you (Steve) acquire Marcher Lord Press?”

Steve: Jeff Gerke, who I have known for many years, had asked me for some advice about his company. In the course of the conversation I wondered if he had considered selling Marcher Lord Press. That led to a series of questions and my interest was piqued.

I’ve long been an advocate of the Speculative genre. So the idea of taking over Marcher Lord Press felt like a God-directed opportunity. My passion for this genre has never wavered. It has been a privilege over the years to work as an editor and as an agent with some of the best this genre has had to offer in Karen Hancock, Kathy Tyers, Chuck Black, Patrick Carr, Randy Ingermanson & John Olson, Lisa Bergren, Donita K. Paul, Carla Laureano, Tosca Lee, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Jared Wilson, and others. My hope is to continue those efforts as a publisher and build upon what Jeff Gerke created these past few years.

Brock: What is your outlook for the genres Marcher Lord Press will serve?

Steve: The Speculative category has three umbrella genres that MLP will serve. Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and Supernatural (or what some call paranormal). Each of those umbrella genres have a multitude of different stories within them. For example within science fiction we have time travel, space opera, first contact, military, space exploration, and more. If you go to a general market bookstore and look at that section you will find the wide spectrum of genres available.

Brock: Any new releases planned or on the horizon?

Steve: New releases will start late Summer or early Fall. As of this interview there are 4 or 5 new releases planned for that season.

Brock: Are you currently seeking new projects for Marcher Lord Press?

Steve: Absolutely. And always will be looking for the very best writers with the very best stories.

Brock: Will you keep the name intact?

Steve: Yes. Jeff Gerke built Marcher Lord Press into a strong brand. It is common for MLP titles to be a finalist or win a number of prestigious awards. You can see the nearly 40 titles we have already and sign up for a monthly newsletter @ www.marcherlordpress.com.

Brock: How will Marcher Lord Press fit into your agency?

Steve: Marcher Lord Press is a separate company from the agency. As such it is run in a way that all authors and agents, including those with The Steve Laube Agency, must submit proposals to MLP for consideration.

Brock: What advantages do you see to having an agency and a publishing house?

Steve: An excellent question. There is much about the publishing business that goes on behind the scenes and can be somewhat mysterious or difficult to get specific answers; questions concerning sales channels, metadata issues, piracy, managing print and distribution costs, etc. All of it is usually proprietary information and is not readily shared. By entering the publishing side of the equation it will provide insight into what works and what doesn’t in marketing, work-flow efficiencies, acquisitions, and a host of other things.

Brock: I want to thank Steve for taking the time to answer my questions. As a reader and author of Speculative Fiction, I am encouraged by his outlook and excitement for the genre. Be sure to stay tuned for many great things from MLP.

Quick Bio: Steve Laube is a literary agent and president of The Steve Laube Agency (www.stevelaube.com). Steve has been in the book industry for over 33 years, first as a bookstore manager where he was awarded the National Store of the Year by CBA. He then spent over a decade with Bethany House Publishers and was named the Editor of the Year. He later became an agent where he has represented nearly 1,000 new books and was named Agent of the Year by ACFW. He was also inducted into the Grand Canyon University Hall-of-Fame by their College of Theology. In addition, he is the president and owner of Marcher Lord Press (marcherlordpress.com). His office is in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

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A New Series From the Dragon Lady: An Interview with Donita K. Paul

One Realm Beyond, book 1 in Donita K. Paul’s new series Realm Walkers

I am honored to have interviewed Donita K. Paul about her new book series Realm Walkers. Donita is known for being a pioneer in Speculative Christian Fiction and she brought dragons to life in a phenomenal and God honoring way with her best-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles. Now she brings us an exciting new series. I hope you’ll enjoy this brief look into her sure-to-be-best-selling series. Now onto the interview.

Brock: What inspired you to create Realm Walkers?

Donita: One day I was thinking about Christopher Columbus. Then I thought about all the people who thought the world was flat. And I wondered what would happen if your world was flat? How would you get from one pancake world to the others? Is there a federation to demand your allegiance? Are there dragons? Of course there are dragons!

Brock: Yes dragons! Can we expect any new kinds of dragons in this series?

Donita: The dragons we come across in this fantasy realm are mor dragons. They are shapeshifters. Most mor dragons can manage 4 forms. Their dragon form, a fighting form, a flight form, and a camouflage form.

Brock: Sounds complex. 4 forms? Do you sketch out what the dragons look like in each of these forms? Could we see a sketch or two if you have one?

Donita: I can’t send you pictures. It would have to be a picture of a haystack or a cow or a boulder or a warhorse or . . . When a dragon shifts, the purpose it so look like the object or person or animal. However, on one of my Pinterest boards, I have some rabbits who look like shapeshifters to me.  http://www.pinterest.com/donitakpaul/i-write/

Brock: How did you come up with the name Cantor D’Ahma?

Donita: A cantor is the chief singer of the liturgy in a church. He is also a religious official. In One Realm Beyond, our hero is destined to be a realm walker, who will serve the people as a representative of the God-figure, Primen. Primen is pronounced in two syllables, the first one like mathematical prime, a prime number. D’Ahma indicates that he was trained by someone named Ahma.

Brock: Tell us about the main characters.

Donita: Cantor was given into the care of a very old, retired realm walker, Ahma. He’s an average, healthy young man, eager to fulfill his destiny. He’s been brought up to be a realm walker. Now all he has to do is attend the last of his training, polishing his skills under the watchful eye of the Realm Walker Guild. Oh, and on the way he has to acquire his lifelong partner, a sidekick, called a constant. And this constant will be chosen from the shapeshifting dragons on another plane.

Brock: Please tell us more about this Realm Walker Guild?

Donita: The guild is made up of men who are not realm walkers. Initially, they gathered information and sent the realm walkers to ease the difficulties in a certain area. The realm walkers might teach natives to plow, sow, and harvest. They might build a bridge. They could bring to justice a criminal faction. Over the years, corrupt men gained power within the guild. There are 99 guildmen, and only three are said to be trustworthy, but no one knows which three. Their existence is only seen in hidden ballots when the three vote for righteous acts.

Brock: So what is a Realm Walker?

Donita: All around us, portals are opening and closing. We don’t see them, but realm walkers are born with the ability to see and use the portals. These gateways lead to other planes. This planeary (not misspelled) system includes worlds that are not round, but flat. They resemble pancakes in a roughly formed stack with great spaces between them. There is no space travel.

Brock: Wow, very interesting. Care to tell us how you travel between them? And what makes up the space between the planes. Is it a breathable atmosphere.

Donita: No breathable air. It is the realm walkers who travel through portals to the different planets, or as they are called here, planes.

Brock: How many books can we expect in the Realm Walkers series?

Donita: Three!

Brock: That’s sad, because we always want more from your creative imagination. Infinite is really the only satisfying answer you could have given me. But we’ll be honored to have these three. Will they be larger (page count) then The DragonKeeper Chronichles?

Donita: My books are usually between 90,000 and 110,000 words and these are hitting that same range.

Brock: Is the world anyway tied to our beloved DragonKeeper Chronicles?

Donita: No, this is a fresh new world populated with serious folk and a sprinkling of zany individuals.

Brock: How has it been getting behind the keyboard again and diving into a new world?

Donita: It’s been difficult. I had a stroke in March, and when I started the second book, I couldn’t remember what happened in the first. Also, I had to be patient while my brain retrained to function with one damaged eye. Things are much better now, but I tire easily and I connect with God frequently to get His wonderful power to persevere. Fortunately, the characters are engaging, and they pull me in and let me get carried away!

Brock: Thank you so much for bringing us this wonderful look at your new series. Readers be ready for this exciting new adventure. I’m not sure I have ever told Ms. Paul, but her DragonKeeper Chronicles were the first Christian fiction books I’d read as an adult and they hooked me. In fact they inspired me to take my own work out of the box and get published. So thank you Ms. Paul!

You can join her for Monday night chats, and keep up to date with the latest information on this new series or learn about being an author, visit: www.donitakpaul.com. Meet her in the chat room at 7:00 pm Mountain time.

One Realm Beyond (Book 1): Cantor D’Ahma has waited his whole life for this day. Born with a gift, the young Realm Walker is finally ready to leave his elderly mentor and accept his role as protector and defender of the realms. But mere hours after he first steps through a portal, Cantor discovers that his job will be more dangerous and difficult than he ever imagined. The realms are not as safe as they once were, and members of the Realm Walkers Guild have become corrupt and can no longer be trusted. To make matters worse, his first assignment—finding a dragon to assist him on his quest—has led him to one who is clearly inept. With the help of his new friends Bixby and Dukmee, Cantor must uncover the secrets of the corrupt Guild before they become too powerful to be stopped. But can his skills progress in time? And will Cantor remember where his true allegiance lies?

 

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Risk and Unleash each $5.99 with special code (TODAY ONLY)

Shop Mardel.com today only and get Risk or Unleash for $5.99.

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What is Speculative Fiction: An Article on Your New Favorite Genre

Speculative fiction doesn’t exist on its own; instead it burrows itself within genres such as fantasy, sci-fi, and horror like a mutant-slime trying to take over the ‘body’ of the story. All that’s required is a single story component levitating right outside of our reality, then you’ll find yourself reading a tale of speculative fiction. It’s often an unexpected twist of the impossible, a creepy troll, a man with multiple lives, a cat transfiguring into a child. If written well the twist seems quite possible. The story might make you check the shifting shadows under your bed for glowing eyes, hesitate taking a dip in a murky lake because of that bumpy log, or search the night sky for an unworldly flash of light. At the same time the story could take you far outside the realm of the possible with elements so spectacular that you can’t imagine it ever happening, legions of axe wielding dwarves or blood sucking interstellar arachnids invading your very neighborhood or a far off realm.

Take my short story, Wasted Wood, rooted in this unique category. The story focuses on a group of friends who go camping and are subsequently dared to trek through an allegedly ‘haunted’ forest. This in itself just makes it a creepy fiction story, not speculative fiction. Camping near a creepy forest and a dare amongst the characters are both conceivable features to the story, living well in the realm of our reality. It’s what the reader encounters at the end of Wasted Wood that makes the novella speculative fiction. In fact my sister (not a speculative fiction fan) read the book and said, “I really loved it until …” Sorry no spoilers here, you’ll have to read it. I chuckled at her statement, because it proved the twist I’d written into the story was indeed unexpected. The boys’ story appears firmly based in our world until the moment when I flip a switch and take the reader, my sister, out of the comfortable world she is used to.

Rebecca LuElla Miller an expert on speculative fiction and contributor to SpeculativeFaith.com agrees with my explanation of the genre. She adds a summarization of Orson Scott Card’s perspective, “The genre can be summed up as the category of stories which violate known reality at some point: stories set in the future; set in the historical past that contradict known facts; set in other worlds; set on earth before recorded history and/or contradicting the known archaeological record; that contradict laws of nature.” Rebecca explains the genre’s fruitful growth, “With the increase in the number of independent publishers and the ease of self-publishing, speculative fiction, and Christian speculative fiction in particular, is available in increasing numbers. From what I’ve read in the past ten years, Christian speculative fiction, which has steadily improved in quality, now has titles that can hold their own against general market speculative stories.” That’s encouraging, because I love reading stories that delve just outside of reality. Visit SpeculativeFaith.com and to find articles and book recommendations to satisfy your growing hunger for speculative fiction, because let’s face it, its scrumptious. It’s like eating your favorite milk chocolate covered alien worm, you just can’t get enough–another example of speculative fiction.

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Our Future Home on the Moon: An Interview with Homer Hickam

It’s no secret that sci-fi books own a very special place on my shelf and in my heart, especially novels that deal with space exploration and space travel. Afterall I write a sci-fi series about a family hyper jumping all throughout space. When I first heard that Homer Hickam (author of Rocket Boys) was writing a Young Adult series about a space mining colony I was over-the-moon, okay that was a terrible joke. But I really did go out and get the first book, followed by the second. You might be surprised that the technology concepts Hickam writes about in the series are soon to pass from science fiction to reality, check out this article from National Geographic.

So this month we celebrate, and I do mean celebrate the third book in this captivating look at our very near future. What happens when the moon becomes the next battleground? The book titled; Crater TrueBlood and the Lunar Rescue Company, gives us a look at a possible scenario.

Who better to write a book about space exploration and a  moon colony, than a guy who worked for NASA and wrote the best-selling memoir Rocket Boys. You might not have read the book, but you probably saw the movie adaption October Sky. As someone whose very interested in space exploration, followed the building of the International Space Station, the upcoming Chinese missions into space, and watched October Sky until his VHS tape went bad, it’s not a surprise that I was over-the-moon to have the chance to interview Home Hickam. Alright the joke didn’t work there either.

Brock: How did you come up with the idea for the Helium-3 novels?

Homer: I’m best known for writing memoirs and adventure tales but one day I started thinking about a mining town much like the one I grew up in except it was on the moon. After that, it was a matter of imagining what life would be like in such a town, especially who would live there. Then I started to think about an orphan brought up in a tough place where there are no child labor laws and decided to follow his adventures over a trilogy that became known as the Helium-3 series. Most of my books are suffused with my own special brand of humor and this series is, too. Crater is a conservative, honest, and straightforward young man often surrounded by thieves and maybe a few murderers who don’t always have his best interests at heart. There’s a lot of room for humor in such a situation. In the first book titled Crater, Crater is sent off by his boss on what he thinks is just another job when it is, in fact, a suicide mission. In the sequel, titled Crescent, Crater’s a little older and wiser but he’s still surprised when people are dishonest. Every hero has to have an advantage and Crater’s is his gillie, a prescient clump of slime mold that can hack any computer ever built. It’s also more than a little snarky and sneaky and Crater has to rein it in at times. In Crater Trueblood and The Lunar Rescue Company, Crater is faced with his toughest challenge, rescuing not only his girlfriend but, incidentally, the world!

Brock: How has your own story, influenced writing the Helium-3 novels?

Homer: Moontown, Crater’s home town, is modeled after Coalwood, West Virginia, the town where I grew up. Like Moontown, Coalwood was a rough place filled with interesting people, most of them kindly but a few very dangerous.

Brock: What was the most exciting project you took part on while working with NASA?

Homer: I was privileged to work on such key projects as the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission and training the first Japanese astronauts. It was very exciting to work underwater (which simulated space) in the EMU (space) suit to figure out how to repair the Hubble. It was also exciting to live in Japan and be part of a great new space program. Before I left the agency in 1998, I traveled to Russia and established the plan for training the astronauts on the International Space Station. I wrote about my NASA career in a short memoir titled Paco: The Cat Who Meowed in Space. 

Brock: You’ve been a busy guy. Tell us about the main character Crater Trueblood?

Homer: Crater is trustworthy, honest, resilient, super-intelligent, studious, patient, reverent, loyal, kind, and brave. In other words, he is a true lunar boy scout nerd but as the trilogy goes along, we notice he is becoming a little more “worldly,” although that term might not work for a fellow who’s lived on the moon his entire life. Another thing about Crater is that he is in love with a girl who isn’t sure she loves him back. That kind of thing does strange things to a boy’s head.

Brock: Besides both being male, are you and Crater similar in anyway?

Homer: We both believe that if we work hard enough, we can do anything. Otherwise, Crater has the mindset of an engineer and looks at everything in precise terms and solves problems according to his understanding of physics, thermodynamics, chemistry, and so forth. That’s not the way my mind works at all. When confronted with a problem, I usually head for the outer edge of the universe and work my way back to solve it. In other words, Crater is pretty uptight and I’m kind of flexible. That’s what makes it fun to write about Crater. He’s always so serious and forthright and linear while all around him, there’s chaos that he can’t quite understand. Thank goodness he has his gillie who is more than willing to break laws and do other sneaky things in Crater’s behalf.

Brock: In three sentences what is this book about?

Homer: The story is ultimately about the courage it sometimes takes to stay loyal to friends and family. In the initial chapters, Crater insists on rescuing Maria, his erstwhile girlfriend, after she’s kidnapped by her estranged father and genetically-tweaked creatures and carried off to the far reaches of space. Even though they know they have a good chance of getting killed, his friends and colleagues go along with Crater out of loyalty, only to discover they have to not only save Maria but also the world!

Brock: It’s clear space is a passion for you, but why did you choose the moon?

Homer: I’ve always had a particular fascination with the moon because I believe it is the obvious place to start a space-based civilization. Since its mass was probably created by a chunk of the Earth, it is, in a way, our eighth continent and therefore deserving of settlement. It’s also relatively close and is filled with resources such as Helium-3, the isotope the series is named after. Helium-3 covers the moon and will be the perfect fuel for fusion reactors after that technology matures. As recounted in my memoir Rocket Boys, I also famously suggested to Presidential-candidate Senator John F. Kennedy that the USA should go to the moon. His reply to the crowd of coal miners around him was if he got elected, he might just do that. Sometimes, it’s kind of fun to claim credit for what ultimately became the Apollo lunar landing program so naturally, I love the moon!

Brock: That’s really cool. The technologies that you included in the books so far, are any of them real? In prototype form? Proposed?

Homer: Fusion reactors utilizing Helium-3 are in the design and testing stages. An interesting aspect of these novels was that I had to figure out how to mine Helium-3 on the moon. To my knowledge, no one had ever done that. With my mining background, I set about to make the machines that Crater and the other miners use as realistic as possible. The orbital Cyclers, the lunar elevator, the jumpcars (essentially moon taxis), and scramjets I write about in the novels all use technologies already developed. The fusers, which are fusion-driven rocketships capable of tremendous velocities, are feasible but not yet on the drawing boards. The technology of genetically tweaking human beings, probably the most important technology written about in these novels, is coming at us with astonishing speed and the stories about them are something of a warning about that. Crater first meets the Umlaps, people born to do heavy labor who are somewhat comical with their sour outlook on life and reverse facial expressions (e.g. they smile when they’re sad). Next, he meets the Crowhoppers who are fearsome, ugly warriors born to kill. Finally, he comes across the Helpers, low IQ people born to be slaves. Umlaps, Crowhoppers, and Helpers are feasible and when such humans are brought to life (notice I don’t say “if”), humanity will be faced with tremendous ethical and moral dilemmas. Crescent the crowhopper is an example of this. After she’s captured by Crater, she discovers she has a soul and is as human as anyone. Still, her outward appearance is frightening and she has to struggle for acceptance, not always successfully. Crescent is one of the most tragic characters I’ve ever written about but she is also very brave and an inspiration to anyone who has trouble being accepted by society.

Brock: The depth of characters and devlopment of those characters, has been a strong point of the series. Do you believe there will eventually be a permanent settlement on the moon? And if so, how far in the future?

Homer: Yes, I do. It is inevitable. We need the resources there and it is also the perfect place to build a telescope to see to the far reaches of the universe. How far in the future depends on how smart our leaders are. We could do it in a few years or decades from now. Civilizations have fallen when they’ve ignored such opportunities. We shall see.

Brock: I sure hope it’s in my lifetime. What do you hope kids take away from the series?

Homer: I hope they take the books and hand them to their parents and teachers and say “Read this, I think you’ll like it, too!” I also hope they take away an understanding that when faced with tough situations, it’s best to be like Crater and his friends and not ever give up.

Brock: That’s a great lesson for anyone, and I agree adults and kids alike will love this series. Is there any biblical background or basis for the series?

Homer: Crater believes there is a great deal of power in prayer as do the people of Moontown. They pray before they work on the Helium-3 scrapes and afterward, too. They recognize that there is a Creator and that they are part of His great plan. In a way, the people on the moon are similar to the Israelites who’ve escaped Egypt and are trying to make their way in a new “promised land.” However, Egypt (in this case the Earth), just won’t leave them alone.

Brock: Did you outline the entire series, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?

Homer: A little of both. I usually know where I’m going without an outline but when I get stuck, I’ll outline so I really /do/ know where I’m going. Characters can, it’s true, get a little unruly sometimes. I’ll give them some slack if they’re going to an interesting place but if I discover they’ve carried me off into the proverbial swamp, I’ll drain it and start over.

Brock: A good tip, I can’t tell you often my characters take me deep into muck, and I spend hours and thousands of words trying to get back out. My editor really loves these scenarios. What’s a normal writing day like for you?

Homer: Fresh new writing is done from 8 AM to noon every day except Sundays and sometimes then if a deadline looms. I rewrite in the afternoons. I’m pretty disciplined about my writing. Without it, I’m not certain what I would do except probably get into all kinds of trouble. Everybody needs a passion in their lives, something that keeps them going, and writing is mine.

Brock: I thought October Sky was an amazing movie, do you feel it reflected your memoir Rocket Boys accurately?

Homer: I agree that Rocket Boys, the book October Sky the movie is based on, is indeed amazing which is, of course, what you probably meant to say. So many folks have wondered about how I came to write that book and how the movie got made that I’ve written a short memoir about it titled From Rocket Boys to October Sky which was published last year. As you will read, I was very much involved with the making of the film although I had my disagreements with parts of it. In the end, I was happy the way it all turned out. My biggest problem now is I have to go around apologizing for not actually being Jake Gyllenhaal! Also, people who have only seen the movie and not read any of my books perceive I’m a rocket scientist, rather than a writer. For the record, I started writing in the third grade and it has always been my greatest passion. I like to say I wanted to be an engineer but I had to be a writer. October Sky, by the way, is an anagram of Rocket Boys. Why and how that name change came about is a story I tell in the short memoir and is terribly amusing to everyone but me.

Brock: Ha, ha, oh marketing. I also write Sci-Fi novels set in space, why do you think this genre is important or fun to write about?

Homer: My approach to Sci-Fi is like all my books and that’s to first create interesting characters because, no matter what the setting or era, I think people are most interested in other people. The reader can also be pretty confident that I know what I’m writing about and that’s especially important if the book is set in space. Space is a terribly unforgiving and harsh place and the writer has to understand what makes it so dangerous before the story can really work. Readers may not know all of the physics involved but they can sense when it all seems too easy. In the Helium-3 series, nothing is ever easy which is part of the fun. I’m glad you’re writing in the genre. It is indeed a great one for writers and readers where anything can happen!

Brock: Are there any other books after Crater Trueblood planned?

Homer: I never say never but I wanted to write a science fiction trilogy and this is the third novel. Without giving anything away, let’s just say there is room for more Crater Trueblood adventures although it would probably take place far, far, (did I mention far?) from the moon. Of course, ultimately the marketplace rules. The more people who read the series, the more likely there will be more novels.

Brock: So if you’re reading this article, do myself and all the kids who have read the series a favor, go get yourself the full trilogy! Thanks again Mr. Hickam for the opportunity and for the great books. Oh an thanks too for getting our Space Program going with your suggestion to the future president.

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In Some Things it’s Good to be Old Fashioned: An Interview with Rene Gutteridge and Rik Swartzwelder

Ashley: I had the opportunity to sit down and interview Rene Gutteridge and Rik Swartzwelder about their new story Old Fashioned. Rik wrote the screenplay for the movie that releases nationwide this month and Rene wrote the movie novelization which is also available. Rik in three sentences what is this book about?

Rik: On the surface, it’s about the struggle to honor God in our romantic lives in a world that doesn’t always encourage that effort.  But, beneath that, it’s a story about the need for both grace and law in our lives and the recognition that the ability to forgive (even ourselves) is one of the truest tests of spiritual maturity.  Perhaps most of all, it’s about acknowledging the best of our past in regard to the noble ideals of respect, integrity, and virtue.

Ashley: This sounds like the type of story/movie my husband and I would enjoy watching. Rik, what makes the characters in this story unique?

Rik: Clay is a guy that’s so good at being righteous, he’s actually drifting away from God.  His inability to deal with guilt from his past and his deep, driving need to be good is actually isolating him from genuine community and the kind of life God created him for.

Amber is a girl that “follows the warm and fuzzies.”  She is full of life and spark and energy, but she refuses to put down roots anywhere because, deep down, she doesn’t trust in the idea of “home” or that anything ever really lasts.

Ashley: And can you share a fact about the characters that no one else knows?

Rik: Something about Clay… he was actually abused as a child. Something about Amber… she loves Dr. Seuss and, at one time, owned every available Disney movie on VHS.

Ashley: Rik what sort of Biblical background did you weave into the movie?

Rik: The principle that marriage is something sacred and that we shouldn’t take lightly the responsibility to guard our own hearts, and the hearts of others, before we are ready and prepared to pursue romance with intention and purpose.

Ashley: Rene how is writing a novelization of a movie script different from writing a story from scratch?

Rene:  Typically when I write a novel, I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer.  I wake up in the morning and see where the characters take me that day.  But in a novelization, I enjoy the benefit of working from what is essentially a very detailed outline.  In this case, Rik’s script served that purpose.  He’s developed the characters, the plot, and much of the dialogue.  To take it to novel form, I use what he has in place and fill in interior monologue, extra dialogue and additional scenes.  Working on a novelization is a lot of fun for me because I feel like I get to play more freely instead of concentrating so hard on getting everybody to the end.  I already know the end so now I get to find out who they are to me and what they want me to know about them.

Ashley: The seat-of-the-pants writing, that’s my husband hands down. How did you capture the essence of Rik’s script when writing the details of the novelization?

Rene:  In this case, I relied heavily on Rik for location information.  In a script, he might say:

INT. BAR  –  NIGHT

Because he knew the locations in Ohio so well, I would ask him detailed questions about what everything looked like, from the feel of the town, to the exterior of the apartment the main character lives in.  When I saw the stills from the film, I knew I really wanted to capture that in the book.  It was a place Rik was very familiar with and had a strong affection for, so I was able to tap him as a resource for those types of things.

Ashley: Let’s talk a bit about you as authors. What is your favorite genre to write for?

Rik: Character-driven, slice of life dramas.

Rene: I’m sort of a multi-genre writer.  I love to follow a good story, whatever genre it may lead me to.

Ashley: Where do you like to write?

Rik: If I’m on a deadline, I often like to write in a hotel room in an area where no one knows me and sort of unplug from my life and dive into the world of the story with as few distractions as possible.

Rene: I wish I could do what Rik does.  It’s the ideal way to write.  Every once in awhile I’ll drive out to my parents’ house, but my mom wants to constantly feed me so then I have to exercise.  So I mostly write at home, in the corner of my bedroom where my desk is, as unglamorous as that sounds.  Every once in awhile I’ll venture out to Starbucks and dive into coffee and iced lemon bread for a few hours.  I stay at home a lot because I have an ergo keyboard.  The small keyboard on my laptop causes my hands to hurt, so I can’t write for hours on it.

Ashley: A Cup of coffee is always handy when writing, and that iced lemon bread is hard to top. Based on your answers i sounds like you are both full time writers, is that true?

Rik: Combined with directing and producing, yes.

Rene:  I am, though it’s perilous.  There are years when I have too much work, years when I have too little, and few times when the balance is just right.

Ashley: How long does it usually take you to write a single book.

Rene:  Writers live and die by the deadline, so it really depends on when it is due.  My sweet spot is six to nine months, but I’ve written an entire novel in 10 weeks before. (Not recommended)

Ashley: I can understand why you’d not suggest a ten week deadline. Wow that mutst have been an impressive feat. Do you plot or outline the entire series before you begin writing, or do your books take on lives of their own? Or is there a combination?

Rik: It depends on the story, but generally it is a combination of a loose outline and letting things evolve as you go.  I like to think of it as a road trip with a specific destination in mind but a willingness to take detours along the way and embracing the joy of randomness.

Rene: I write very much like Rik described.  The publisher has to know what I’m doing and where I am going, but I’m willing to detour and I do it quite frequently.  Sometimes I detour so drastically (for instance, I decide to kill a main character) that I have to let the publisher know where I’m planning on taking it, just to make sure it’s okay.

Ashley: Rik, what was your inspiration for writing this story?

Rik: So many things… my own life, a story I’d heard years before about a man who made a promise to never be alone with any woman that wasn’t his wife, the absence of any movie that reflected the lives of Christian singles I knew…

More than anything, though… it was a deep desire to try and find a way to make virtue heroic.  I have known a lot of broken and damaged hearts who’ve bought into cultural lies when it came to dating and it left them wanting.  The wreckage was real and lasting.  I really wanted to craft a story that, beyond being entertaining, might offer a little hope and healing to those shackled by regret or the fear that love (or even God) has passed them by.

Ashley: Now for some fun lightning round questions. Coke or Pepsi?

Rik: Diet Coke.

Rene:  Had to give them up, but occasionally, Dr. Pepper

Ashley: Soft shell or Hard Shell tacos?

Rik: Soft shell.  Hot sauce is the real priority, however.

Rene: Hard shell, but had to give that up last year when I learned I was allergic to corn.  So now soft…sigh…

Ashley: Favorite place to vacation?

Rik: Anywhere with mountains.

Rene: Any place with a movie theater.

Ashley: Favorite season?

Rik: Autumn.

Rene:  Autumn.

Ashley: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like coco, raspberry tea, animal crackers?

Rik: Cheap black coffee.

Rene:   Expensive doctored up coffee.

Ashley: Favorite color?

Rik: Dark brown.

Rene:  I don’t have a favorite, but I have a deep aversion to teal that cannot be explained to this day.

Ashley: What’s your favorite holiday memory?

Rik: Easter at grandma’s.

Rene:  Every Christmas with my kids. It’s still fun even though they’re teenagers.

Ashley: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Rik: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Rene:   “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.  In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

Ashley: Favorite pasta dish?

Rik: Angel hair with meat sauce.

Rene:  Pasta. All pasta. Any form. All day long for every meal.

Ashley: Do you listen to music while you write? If so what are some examples?

Rik: I often write to music… usually a mellow mix of stuff I know very well so it’s there and motivating me, but not distracting.  All over the map, really… U2, Andrew Peterson, Natalie Merchant, Garth Brooks, Jars of Clay, Rich Mullins, Counting Crows, Simon & Garfunkel, The Flaming Lips, The Psychedelic Furs, and… to my shame, even a little Journey.

Rene:  I can’t listen to music while I write, but when I’m thinking over a story, I have certain songs that I assign to a book and I listen to that one song over and over and over.  I’m talking over a hundred times.  Then it plays in the back of my mind when I write.  My family thinks I’m so weird.  I’ll own that.  Sometimes I have only six songs on my playlist.  I only listen to music that is assigned to a book.  Otherwise I’d rather drive around in silence.  When I’m watching a movie or a commercial or anything at all, maybe I’m in a department store, I’ll hear a piece of music that will suddenly move me, and I will spend hours hunting it down.  Rik mentioned The Flaming Lips.  I, in fact, have a Flaming Lips song on my playlist right now (Peace Sword), assigned to a story. When Rik and I began working on the novel, I sent him the name of the song that I’d assigned to Old Fashioned.   It sounds weird, maybe a bit superstitious, but I can’t begin to write without this song, and amazingly, the song always finds me. I don’t go looking.  It just finds its way to me, and once I find it, then I can leave the thinking process and move into the writing process.

Ashley: Thanks Rik and Rene for taking the time to tell us about Old Fashioned. Old Fashioned releases as a movie this month, but you can find the novelization now.

Categories: Author Interviews, Authors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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