Tag Archives: Author Interviews

Wish Man – an interview with Frank Shankwitz

So, Frank, you just finished a movie.
Yeah, we completed filming “Wish Man” in October of last year. [It was] quite the production. We started the whole thing in 2014 and it took that long. It’s a feature motion picture, and the average movie is seven years from inception to release. We’re doing it a little earlier just because of the cooperation with the community and other people.

Let’s back up a bit. Some people may not know who you are. Frank, you started Make-A-Wish.
I was the creator and co-founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. My wife and I started that back in 1980. Through the grace of God and modern medicine, and so many volunteers and people, it has grown from 1980, now to 63 chapters in the United States, 36 international chapters on five continents, and we’ve granted now, over 415,000 wishes worldwide.

And that started with you and one little boy?
Exactly, a little boy. Some [people] may remember “CHiPs,” the television show. I was introduced [to a] little boy, seven years old. Unfortunately, he had terminal leukemia. His mother told us that his heroes were Ponch and Jon from the TV show, “ChiPs,” and when he grew up; he wished he could be a highway patrol motorcycle officer. So, the family contacted our department. The [Arizona] Highway Patrol did everything they could for this little boy. [They] made him the first and only honorary highway patrol officer in the history of the [Arizona] Highway Patrol. The biggest thing was to make him a motorcycle officer- which I did. Unfortunately, he died a couple days later. He’s buried in a little town called Kewanee, Illinois, and my commanders asked if I would go back with another motorcycle officer to give him a full police funeral- which we did. We were joined by Illinois state police, city police, county police. [It was] just this most amazing thing to bury this little boy. He was buried in uniform. He has a grave marker that reads, “Chris Greicius – Arizona Trooper.” Coming home, I just started thinking about how this little boy had a wish, and we made it happen. Why can’t we do that for other children? That’s when the idea was born.

So, a couple of books are out. In fact, last time I had you on, you brought a book that’s called, “Once Upon a Wish.” It was written by Rachelle Sparks.
She was a local newspaper reporter up here for the [Daily] Courier. [She] contacted me one day, and we did an interview. She said, “Let’s write a book about this. About the Wish children and some of their wishes.” So we did that. [We] called it, “Once Upon a Wish.” A few years ago, I released my own book called, “Wish Man.”

And it was “Wish Man” that they contacted you and said, “Let’s do a movie.”?
Yeah. Again, it was in 2014. The publisher had given a rough draft [to] 333 Studios out of San Diego. [They’re] an independent film company, and they had read [Wish Man] and said, “We’re gonna fly over to San Diego.” I said, “Okay, who doesn’t like San Diego?” That went through the owner and also a director and screen writer. They said, “We want to do a movie about your life.”

It’s a period [piece,] from age ten, to when I started the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1980. I thought they were talking a documentary, and I said, “Well, that’s okay,” and they said, “No, a full feature motion picture.” I [was] just kind of hesitant on that, but they talked me into it.
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Six Random Questions With Arwen Paris

I know it’s been a while since I’ve interviewed anyone, and I sometimes wonder if I’ve forgotten how to do it :) Since I reviewed Arwen Paris’ Fate of the Stars last week, and I may have been a little overly-critical about her novel, I asked Arwen a few random questions about her debut novel, and what ever else I thought of to ask her. So read this, go buy her story so that she can keep writing more stories.

What has been the most challenging part of publishing your book?
You know how most authors have that first book they wrote, the really ugly one they lock away someplace dark? Yeah, I just couldn’t bear to do that. What’s worse, is that I actually finished book two for NaNoWriMo before I finished the first book! Getting Fate of the Stars written, rewritten several more times, edited and rewritten again has been a grueling and educational process. Let’s just say, I can’t wait to write a fresh book.

What are you working on now?
Right now I’m getting book two in the Fate of the Stars series, Rival, ready for the first round of edits.

What other books have you written and/or are working on for the future?
Oh my gosh, I have an excel spreadsheet I keep of all the series I want to write. After I finish up the Fate of the Stars series I’m really excited to work on my next project – a YA Fantasy!

What’s your favorite supernatural creature?
I know what you’re thinking. She should choose Elves, her name’s Elvish for the love god! But I have to admit that I’m a dragon lover. That’s probably why I’m switching to fantasy for a bit after this series.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Writing is art, and it grows and matures the more you practice. So never stop writing, and never stop learning to write better.

What’s your favorite quote?
I loved Dune by Frank Herbert when I was a kid. I could read that whole book in less than eight hours. But this quote really struck me to the core: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” It’s a good mantra for writers too.

Canned questions with Aaron Frale

I read and reviewed Atmospheric Pressure, by Aaron Frale, and he consented to an interview. He writes sci-fi and a little bit of absurdist humor. Check out his stuff with the links below!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I wrote a story about skeletons chasing a dude in elementary school. My friends kept requesting the story at sleepovers.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I usually try to inject comedy in just about everything I write. I really appreciate it when Sci Fi and Fantasy writers don’t take themselves too seriously, and it shows up in the writing. Though there are some stories where the comedy doesn’t quite fit, so it depends on the story.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
That’s a good question. I’ve sacrificed a lot of my free time in order to write. However, I do like nerd games. Recently, I’ve been playing the X-Wing Miniatures game.

In one sentence, tell us all about Atmospheric Pressure.
A dystopian novel about greed, cronyism, and the dangers of climate change run amok.

What inspired you to write the book?
I worked in downtown Minneapolis, and it intrigued me that you could walk from one end of the downtown to the other without ever going outside. I thought to myself, “What if you could never leave the skyways?”

Is there a sequel on the horizon?
It’s at the editor right now.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the book. It took me over a year to write the sequel to Atmospheric Pressure. Whereas this other book took me a little over a month from conception to the stage where I’m at now with the sequel to Atmospheric Pressure. Sometimes, it clicks and my fingers can’t type fast enough. Other times, I have to let it stew for a while.

What have you learned about writing now that you have several stories out?
So many things! But here are few bullet points. 1. Do your research, 2. Pay for ads, 3. Pay for an editor, and 4. Writing is a long-term game. Very few have their first works become break away hits. Stephen King had a giant nail on his wall full of rejection. I’m lucky that I came from a theatre/film back ground, so I got to learn about character development, plot, dialogue and all those craft things before I even attempted my first novel. For me, the marketing and business end of writing has been a steep learning curve. Just focus on improving one aspect at a time.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do get emails and messages on social media. Probably the most were from Time Burrito. People love to show their appreciation when you can make them laugh. Most others are usually asking about sequels. I love hearing from them, because it keeps me going.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Atmospheric Pressure?
Yeah, I’d probably tone down social commentary and increase the pace of the book. I think there were some passages in there than went on to long focusing on the injustices of their society. I also think I’ve gotten more crisp with my sentence structure

Tell us about future writing projects.
Atmospheric Pressure 2 will be out later this year or early next year. I also got a YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi coming out. They are both with different editors right now. It depends on which one gets back to be first as to which one will come out first. If you want to be the first know, sign up for my mailing list at aaronfrale.com. I’ll give you some free short stories just for joining.

Aaron’s first novel is Playlist of the Ancient Dead. He also co-wrote a no-budget comedy flick called Hamlet the Vampire Slayer. The University of New Mexico gave him an MFA in Dramatic Writing. Screaming and playing guitar for the prog/metal band is one of his pastimes. He lives with his wife Felicia, two cats, and a small dog who thinks he’s a large dog.


An Interview with Carey Lewis

I asked zombie aficionado, Carey Lewis, to talk about himself, and he obliged.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
One of the defining moments was when I was in grade five and having a hard time adjusting to my new school and my parents divorce, even if I didn’t know it at the time. My school took me out for one class a couple times a week for a guidance session, where she told me to write. I ended up writing this story about a boy that had a pet alien he named ‘Frick’ that was always getting the boy in trouble.

I was too naïve at the time to realize it was a roundabout way of swearing. But I enjoyed doing it, and it was something I was proud of. I’m sure everyone got relief from those times because I was off in my own world, not causing trouble. I ended up looking forward to those times where I got to escape into something I was creating.

The definitive moment happened when I saw Pulp Fiction when I was sixteen. It was the moment in the film where Bruce Willis runs over Ving Rhames. Ving Rhames ends up shooting the woman helping Bruce Willis with his smashed nose. I couldn’t help but laugh for awhile at that, but I couldn’t understand why it was so funny. It was at that moment I realized what an effect a writer played.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if I have a quirk that stands out as far as my writing process goes. I’m sure it’s pretty standard. But I think within my work, I have a certain voice, a style that a reader can pick up on. I like to have snappy dialogue with smart characters, or at least real characters. Put some humor in there because I don’t think everyone’s always serious. I think there’s humor in life so I try to have those moments. I like to say I write bad guys that are cooler than I’ll ever be.

I’ve been told my stuff reads like a movie, which is more than likely my filmmaking background making itself evident.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to bitch and moan about opinions on the Internet but never get involved in them like a crusty old man. I used to drink a lot, but I’m told that can’t lead anywhere healthy. No one buys my Hemingway excuse. Until I find a new hobby, I guess I’ll keep writing.

In one sentence, tell us all about the Generation Z series.
An excuse to write a story about race relations in today’s society.

In one sentence, tell us all about the Gutter Dogs series.
A fun, enjoyable ride with lowlifes at the wheel.

What inspired you to write these series?
Racial tensions have become more prevalent now I feel, than any other time I’ve been aware of while I’ve been on the planet. Since I’ve written Generation Z, I’ve only seen the divide grow. Looking back at Romero’s work, with Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, they weren’t just scary Zombie flicks, they actually said something. They were a mirror up to our culture designed to make us take a look at ourselves. Zombies have always been a great metaphor for our culture and society, whether it be consumerism, racism, vanity, or egotism. I wanted to go back to those roots, show what we’re going through currently in a different way. The way we’re communicating now just isn’t working. No one wants to listen. Everyone acknowledges that there’s a problem. That’s not the problem. Solving that problem and developing steps is where we’re tripping up. That’s where all the shades of gray lie that we’re having a hard time navigating through. We’re getting hung up arguing about who’s more wrong, thinking that makes one argument right, when that part doesn’t matter. What matters is what we’re going to do about it, how we go forward. We can all agree it’s bad and wrong. Let’s get past that part so we can figure out how to fix this.
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A few Questions for April Daniels


I reviewed April Daniels upcoming #LGBT superhero novel on Tuesday, and I asked her to follow up with a little Q&A…

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I went to college. I wanted to make video games, but the part of gaming that I really was interested in was the story, and after looking at some game company websites for game writer job postings, it seemed like the easiest way to do that kind of work was to get published as an author a few times. At the time, getting a novel published seemed like it would be no sweat, just a matter of a year or two. This is not the case.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I really wouldn’t know. I write how I write, and try not to think too much about signature styles or anything. Style is something that happens naturally for most, and while you can develop it with intention, that’s an advanced level skill that I’m only now beginning to come to grips with.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I still play a lot of video games, but I’m getting old, so while I used to be able to play twitch-shooters, I’m now mostly into support classes on Overwatch and grognardy strategy games.

What does your family think of your writing?
Mom’s pretty stoked.

Describe your protagonist, Danny.
Plucky. She’s got miles and miles of pluck.

How long did it take you to write Dreadnought?
About six weeks to rough it out in late 2013. After that, there have been a total of several months work of intensive work, spaced out in fits and starts as I worked on other projects and battled various intrusions from real life and my day job.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing Dreadnought?
I don’t really learn things while writing books. Researching, sure, but once I start writing it’s because I know where I’m going.

Danny’s experiences touch on larger issues, such as the nature of choice, the ramifications of how society sees us, and the pursuit of revenge. What’s your take on some of these issues?
My answer to this will go on sale January 24th on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

What was your grand plan when you first set out to write this novel?
To write the book I wish I’d had when I was 15. There wasn’t anything at that time that showed trans people in a good light. Hell there wasn’t even anything that told stories from our perspectives.

What other fiction influences your work?
I’ve been reading sci-fi and fantasy my whole life. Superhero fiction is great because it’s basically both at once. It’s hard to pick out specific features I took from other work for that reason, though believe it or not, The Black Company by Glenn Cook is probably the strongest influence.
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An interview with Felix R. Savage


Felix R. Savage is a sci-fi writer with a demented imagination who specializes in creating worlds so compelling, you’ll never want to leave!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It’s not a question of wanting or not wanting. I’ve BEEN a writer since scribbling my first stories in blue marker in a little notebook with a padded gold brocade cover at the age of five! I’m still writing like a demented thing after all these years and planning to keep it up for a long time to come!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write the books I want to read, which no one else has written yet. Fortunately I have fairly mainstream tastes, so it turns out other people want to read them, too!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When not writing I am extremely boring. I work full-time at a large company which shall remain nameless. I’m married with a small daughter. I have no hobbies.

In one sentence, tell us all about the Interstellar Railroad series.
An Irishman of rather low character tries to get rich by seeking alien technological relics on unexplored planets, but his efforts are hampered by pirates, sheer bad luck, and his hapless friends.

What inspired you to write the series?

How long does it take you to write a book?
Usually about a month to a month and a half, depending on length.

What have you learned about writing now that you have fourteen books out?
There’s so much more to learn with every book! That’s the amazing part! It’s so much fun, I never get tired of improving and taking feedback on board and responding. It delights me to think about how much there is still to learn, because that means I’ll never get bored.
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An Interview with Zen DiPietro


Recently, I’ve reviewed Translucid and Fragments, by Zen DiPietro. I asked her for a brief interview, and she was kind enough to acquiesce to my request…

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
The first time I said it was when I was a kid–just a few years old. I developed an early and rabid love for books. But when I was old enough to understand how getting paid works for authors, I decided to go with a college major that involved a regular paycheck.

I enjoyed writing over the years, but stopped when I had kids. Eventually the ideas knocking around in my head got too big and really needed to come out. Eventually, I told my husband, “I’m going to write a book.” And that man didn’t even bat an eye. He ordered me a laptop and off we went. I became a full-time writer and five books later, we’re still all-in.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My heart pounds when I write the big action scenes. I really buy into it, and feel what my characters feel. That probably comes from my experience as a role-playing gamer.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read and binge-watch sci-fi. I play with my cats, play games with the kids, and work out whenever possible. I also like making things—sewing, 3D printing, graphic design, whatever. There never seems to be enough time in the day.

In one sentence, tell us all about the Dragonfire Station series.
Wow, one sentence! Okay. I won’t even cheat with a major run-on with multiple clauses.

Dragonfire Station is The Bourne Identity meets Firefly and Star Trek.

Yeah. That doesn’t seem to say a lot, but when you think about those elements, it really does.

What inspired you to write the series?
I love the excitement and mystery of a thriller, and the limitless possibilities of the universe. It made perfect sense to me to put them together. I write the stories I want to read, and there’s nothing I love more than a page-turner filled with characters who feel like people I know and care about.

How long does it take you to write a book?
A first draft takes about two months. Then I put it aside for a while and work on something else. When I come back to it to revise, I’ve gotten some perspective. I keep putting it away and coming back to it until it goes to the editor. All told, it takes about six months, but it’s not the only thing I’m working on during that time.

What did you learn about writing and publishing between Translucid and Fragments?
Well, writing my first series was a huge learning process, and I’ve had the benefit of those lessons in writing the Dragonfire Station series. But I actually wrote Translucid and Fragments simultaneously. I wrote the first book, then went straight into the second. From there, I toggled back and forth between them when doing revisions and edits. It was a huge undertaking
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An Interview and a Raffle With Ed Kurst

Today, we’re interviewing the author, to get to Know a little more about his writing process, and what it’s like publishing your first book! Read on for some great conversation with Ed Kurst.

The Know-Preservation

What was your experience like publishing The Know: Preservation? Did you self-publish, use a small house publisher, or try to pitch a big publishing house?
I read several books and a lot of articles about the various publishing choices. After all that research, I couldn’t decide but was fortunate to have a family friend who was a content editor. She then recommended a firm to do the copy-editing, and they recommended a website designer, and the book cover artist worked there as well. Lo and behold they also specialized in providing publicity for books, so I self-published.

The cover of your book is unique, and lets the reader’s imagination begin to bubble. Who did you work with to create the cover, and what was that experience like?
Creating the cover was a collaborative process with the cover artist, Mallory Rock. She requested answers to a long list of questions. My wife and I also did a lot of on-line research to locate images we believed depicted Traveling as I described it in the book.

Mallory took all this information and produced a couple of covers. They weren’t what I had in mind so I provided some more specific input about the theme and color palette I was looking for plus how I would prefer the title to be oriented.

The final cover didn’t depict the actual act of Traveling, but I did feel it evoked the feeling of time travel. I love it and am tickled you liked it as well!

Now that your book is out, what are your next steps as an author – can we expect more books in the near future?
The Know: Preservation is the first book in a trilogy. The second is The Know: Evolution, and the third will be The Know: Salvation. These should be published over the next few years. John Preston will remain the lead character, and there will be both old and new villains and supporting cast. John and the world are in for a rocky ride to salvation!

I also have about fifty pages and an outline completed for a book called The Fae. It will be filled with magical creatures, both good and evil, that live in the current day world but are known by only a few.

Time for a few questions about your first book! The Know: Preservation uses the real names and places of some leaders in our world,  for example, Putin and the ‘Family America’. Would you say that your book presents a possible alternate history for the world we live in today, albeit with a number of science fiction elements like The Know, ELAC and CACH? Continue reading

A few Questions for Adam Aresty

adam-arestyI reviewed Adam Aresty’s novella, The Communication Room on Thursday, and he agreed to take time out of his hectic schedule to answer a few questions.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint when exactly I made the choice to pursue writing — but I will say this, I’ve always been a storyteller from a very young age. I can remember staying up till dawn all through elementary school and high school (and today…) to finish whatever story I was working on. While a lot of other kids my age were focused on sports or some kind of extracurricular activity, I was more excited to get home to my pile of books.What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a sort of decompression that I employ before writing. First, I enjoy the ritual of making an excellent cup of coffee. Then, my writing process is centered around music, so I usually pick a different genre or a specific band depending on the project (for The Communication Room I listened to a lot of Pink Floyd, especially the “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals” albums, but “The Wall” inevitably crept in there as well…) I employ “writing sprints” where I set a timer for one hour and keep my head down, silence my phone, try to keep the noise out. I used to set my watch, but I got a really nice hourglass for Christmas last year so lately I turn that over and dive right in. Once the hour’s up, I step away, take my dog Ace for a walk or have a snack, and return to do the same. I usually get in about 4 or 5 sprints a day.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I live in Los Angeles, which is a city practically built on distractions for writers. I like fitness, hiking, and especially eating my way through the city (said fitness is only to offset all the cheeseburgers). If you check out my Instagram that’s usually what I’m snapping photos of. LA is such an interesting place with many nooks and crannies — you could get lost among the taco trucks alone. I like to hit up some music shows as well, as we have some really world-class venues like The Hollywood Bowl. During the summer, the outdoor movie screenings are a dime a dozen, but there’s one in particular that my wife Holly and I love to go to at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Tarantino’s movie theater, The New Beverly, shows really interesting double features which can be a lot of fun.

In one sentence, tell us what your novel is all about.
The Communication Room is about a body-snatcher type alien invasion told from the point of view of the last human left alive.

What inspired you to write The Communication Room?
I usually get inspiration from images or a question I find myself asking… in this case it was both. There’s a great thrift market in Hollywood on the weekends that I was perusing last year. A man was selling antique telephones from many different decades. Rotary phones, touch tone, even old cell phones. They were spread out across this great big table, and it was such an odd image… I found myself wondering what would happen if they started ringing. Who would be on the other end? And the story just kind of spun out from there.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing The Communication Room?
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A conversation with the Ultimate Ending authors

I reviewed the first six CYOA-style books from the Ultimate Ending series, by Danny McAleese & David Kristoph. I asked them both to answer a few questions I had about their writing processes, creating a CYOA-style story, and whatever else happened to cross my mind.

Tell me about your earliest recollection of reading CYOA-style books?
David Kristoph: My first experience with CYOA books was with the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” series when I was about 12. I loved the regular Goosebumps series, and was always checking the bookstore for new additions. That’s when I stumbled across CYOA. Although I enjoyed them, they weren’t very deep stories: each page only had a few sentences, and the choices were often nonsensical with random outcomes. I remember wishing they had more depth to the decision-making, with more compelling endings.
Danny McAleese: It was the early 1980’s, and my cousin just got me hooked on Dungeons and Dragons.  I was looking for adventure modules when I saw one of the Endless Quest books, Mountain of Mirrors.  It had a dragon and a frost giant on it!  I couldn’t get it off the shelf fast enough.

What is your favorite CYOA-style story not in the Ultimate Ending series?
McAleese: I’m tempted to say the Cave of Time, because the original was just so awesome.  It covered so many endings, and all of them were fantastic.  Edward Packard really took his time with it.  You could tell it wasn’t rushed, which unfortunately started happening with some of the later titles in the CYOA series.
Kristoph: One of my author buddies (JS Morin) wrote a CYOA book for his Twinborne series called Murder in Marker’s Point. I thought it was really cool to have a CYOA book as sort of an offshoot of a normal series.

Which of the first six Ultimate Ending books is your favorite?
Kristoph: As a writer, I had the most fun making The Strange Physics of the Heidelberg Laboratory (book 6), especially the reactor shutdown mechanism the reader has to find. But as an objective reader, I think Treasures of the Forgotten City is my favorite in the series. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan, and the book really captures the feeling of exploring a rediscovered city for the first time.
McAleese: I love The Secret of the Aurora Hotel.  Running around a haunted hotel after midnight with your two cousins… It just feels fun.  It has a mood to it too.  The ghosts, the story, the raging blizzard outside, plus all the different theme rooms throughout the Aurora made telling that story very enjoyable.

What is your favorite non-CYOA-style collaborative work other than Ultimate Ending?
Kristoph: I’ve only worked on one other collaborative project in my career: a space disaster series you may have heard of called Days Until Home. In terms of other peoples’ work, I recently started reading Leviathan Wakes and absolutely love it. I think it’s really cool that “James S.A. Corey” is a pseudonym for two separate authors collaborating on one project, and that they do it so seamlessly.
McAleese: My biggest non-CYOA collaborative influence would have to be the Dragonlance Saga.  I always marveled at how Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weiss so seamlessly put together that incredible world, and I can only imagine them fighting over who got to write the Raistlin parts.
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