Thursday, September 24, 2015
Jilly Paddock interview
Hello Jilly, and welcome to Ralph’s Rants does Interviews; how are you tonight?
I’m fine, thanks. Hope you’re well too.
Jilly, how long have you been writing?
I started to write at school, in my early teens. Before that I’d always enjoyed writing essays for English and took great delight in twisting the titles we were given so I could write something fantastical or with a science fiction theme. I had two friends who shared my interest in SF and we all started writing our proto-books. We’d brainstorm plots and critique our work in breaks and lunch hours. All three of us are now published writers.
What are your writing influences as far as authors go?
I read a lot of SF and fantasy, all the usual culprits: Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and Tolkien, plus John Varley, Fritz Leiber and John Sladek. I also like a lot of British writers, including some that your readers may be unfamiliar with, such as Iain Banks, James White, Colin Kapp, Dan Morgan, Mary Stewart*, Louise Cooper, Tanith Lee and Gwyneth Jones. I’d say that the biggest influences on my work are Cordwainer Smith and Peter S. Beagle.
*I just looked up Mary Stewart and it said that she wrote books “featuring smart, adventurous heroines who could hold their own in dangerous situations”–oh, so that’s where my inspiration came from then!
What books or characters have influenced your writing?
I loved James White’s Sector General books, which are about a hospital in space. Both staff and patients come from all kinds of alien species, and the wards are set up for everything from simple water-breathers all the way up to creatures that live on hard radiation, where the doctors have to visit in lead-plated tanks. The hero, Dr Conway, can be a bit too clever and smug, but there are some brilliant supporting characters. I liked O’Mara, the head of Psychology, and Dr Prilicla, the insect-like empath, but I identified with Murchison, the nurse who later worked in the pathology labs, as that was my day job.
One of my favourite short stories is ‘The Game of Rat and Dragon’ by Cordwainer Smith, in which humans are telepathically linked to cats to hunt the monstrous things that haunt the unreal space that FTL spacecraft travel through. I pay homage to that idea in my space opera, Warbird, and in the Zenith-Alpha 4013 books.
I’m greatly influenced by lots of poems and lyrics of folk songs, particularly those with a touch of magic and the supernatural, such as ‘Tam Lin’ and ‘The Two Magicians’.
Tell us all a little about your new novel, what’s it called?
My latest book from Pro Se Press is a short novel called Dead Men Rise Up Never. It’s an SF/murder mystery about a man killed by a unicorn. The case is given to Detective-Inspector A. Afton Lamont and her not quite human partner, Jerome, and their attempt to solve it is complicated by an AI who inhabits various avatar bodies and her master, a privileged aristocrat who leads a bohemian community of artists. Also included is a bonus short story, ‘Five of Humours; one of Melancholy; one of Honey’, in which Afton and Jerome get drunk with their colleagues after an unpleasant case.
Another story in the series will appear soon in Legends of New Pulp Fiction, a benefit anthology for Tommy Hancock, from Airship 27.
What is the setting for it?
Afton and Jerome live in Prosperity City on a human colony planet called Siobhos. It’s a quiet place with a relatively small population, a green and pleasant world. It isn’t at the cutting edge of technology, and we’d find their computers, mobile phones and electric or gas-powered cars very familiar. I guess it would be a very nice place to live.
Is this your first full length novel?
No. I have about a dozen finished novels waiting for publication. Some need a bit of revision and polishing, but some are ready to go.
Is this a one off novel or the start of a new series?
This is the longest Afton and Jerome story, but it isn’t the first. The characters met in The Spook and the Spirit in the Stone which is currently available as a self-published e-book. That edition will be replaced by a new print and ebook edition, which will come with an extra short story from Pro Se later this year. There are also a couple of other short stories, plus several unfinished ones.
Are there any characters in the book inspired by yourself or anyone you are close to?
I don’t think it’s a good idea to base characters on real people.
Okay, I’ll admit that I have written someone who really upset me into a book and killed them off–actually I made them into two different characters and killed both of them off–but I did file off the serial numbers and remove all identifying details, so only I know who they are.
I use fragments of people to enrich my characters; a gesture here or an expression there, and I borrow behaviours and reactions. Sometimes I’ll use an actor as a template, just to help me visualise how a character looks.
What else have you written?
Pro Se published To Die A Stranger in 2014, the first in a series of SF/espionage novels about Anna-Marie Delany and her computer partner, Zenith Alpha 4013. The second is With Amber Tears and is due to come out later this year. There are at least eight more novels in the series, most of them finished.
I’ve written a long space opera, Warbird, which will be produced in two volumes by 18thWall Productions, hopefully later this year.
I have a short story, ‘Mountains of Ice’, in a charity anthology, Blood Type: An Anthology of Vampire SF on the Cutting Edge published by Nightscape Press, in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. I’m in some wonderful company in that book!
I also had a story in Pro Se Presents #19, ‘The Third Worst Thing That Can Happen on Mars’.
I’ve self-published an e-book collection of short stories, The Dragon, Fly and other flights of fancy and a first contact novella, No Earthly Shore. The title story of the collection will be reprinted by 18thWall.
Everything seems to be pending–I expect they’ll all turn up at once, like buses!
What is your writing process? Do you plot the entire book out at once or do you wing it with a beginning and an ending in place?
The latter, I think. I usually get the start and a few scenes along the way, and some idea of the ending, then I have to fill up the gaps. Sometimes the whole thing will just drop into my head–with ‘The Dragon, Fly’, I got the whole story out of the aether and wrote it very quickly. ‘Mountains of Ice’ was the same. I got the inspiration a week before the deadline and handed it in with a day to spare.
How long did it take you to write your novel?
I started writing the Afton and Jerome stories in the 1990s, so about twenty-five years! It’s even longer with the Anna and Zenni series, which was begun in 1973. The early manuscript for Warbird was done on an electric typewriter in the 1980s, and I had to scan and OCR it to get it on the computer. The long delay in publication has been beneficial, as they’re all thoroughly edited and polished, and I was able to alter the first books in the series as the plots developed. It’s not that I’m that slow a writer, it’s just that—apart from a brief period in the early 90s, when I actually had an agent—I hadn’t really made much effort to actually get stuff published until the last few years. Real life and work simply got in the way and I hadn’t even thought much about it until I took early retirement from my job and decided it was time to get back to my writing again.
What are your next stories or novels about and how far ahead do you plan?
I’m currently working on the fifth volume in the Zenith-Alpha 4013 series, and there will be a sequel to Warbird and another Afton and Jerome, but those are still in the planning stages. There’s also a half-written fantasy novel, Ladder to the Moon, which I really must finish.
When can we expect to see another release from you?
With Amber Tears should appear in late 2015/early 2016 from Pro Se, and Warbird, volume one should also be out soon.
Thanks for joining us here on Ralph’s Rants, Jilly. Feel free to leave us all some links to your web page or your twitter or facebook accounts as well as your amazon author’s page.
My blog is at https://tabbycat.wordpress.com/
twitter - https://twitter.com/JillyPaddock
Amazon Author page - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jilly-Paddock/e/B006XQQD06/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1(UK)
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about your writing and books?
When my books were only on my hard drive, unpublished and unshared with anyone, I could dip into them and change bits whenever I wanted. Once they get into print, I can’t do that anymore. The hardest thing is to let go and send them out into the world. You just have to hope that people like them, and I have to say that most of the feedback I get from readers is overwhelmingly positive.
Have a great day, Jilly.
Back at you, Ralph, and thanks for hosting this interview.
As always all of my own books are available at http://RLAngeloJr.com or http://tinyurl.com/ralphsamazon
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Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Andrew Salmon interview
Hello Andrew and welcome to Ralphs Rants does interviews, How are you doing?
I'm doing all right! Busy over here with projects coming out of my ears but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Andrew you have a new novel out, tell us a bit about it.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: BLOOD TO THE BONE from Fight Card Books. You can guess from the title who the hero of the story is. In it, Holmes and Watson are helping a woman bare knuckle boxer who is part of a tag-team boxing duo working summer carnivals. Her husband has disappeared, which threatens the contract they have with a local carnival and she's out on the street unless he can be found. The Victorian dynamic duo investigate. When her husband turns up dead, supposedly from an accident at the carnival, the fun begins. Holmes, Watson and the female boxer, Eby Stokes, join together to find answers and those answers threaten the very foundation of the Empire.
This is not the first time you have written this character, correct? How many times does this make?
SHERLOCK HOLMES: BLOOD TO THE BONE is my 8th go-round with the dynamic duo. Seven of which are in print and for Kindle, one is in the can but hasn't been released yet and I'm currently writing my third Holmes tale for FIGHT CARD BOOKS.
Is Sherlock Holmes your favorite character to write?
At the moment he is. After snagging a Best Pulp Short Story award with my very first Holmes tale, it was a no-brainer to write more. That initial acceptance has lead to another award win, multiple nominations and great reviews. Over the years writing Holmes, these milestones have shown me that I'm on the right track with my Holmes and Watson stories. And my Holmes work has received the highest accolade any Sherlockian scribe can ever receive: on more than one occasion, my work has been considered on par with Doyle's by some readers! That floors me every time I think about it. What a tremendous, humbling honor.
Thing is, I enjoy writing the tales. I ADORE the research. Watson's voice is cemented into my consciousness and it's not out of the ordinary for Holmes and Watson to have discussions in my head out of the blue. Then it just falls to me to write down what they say. It's scary sometimes. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky that the tales have been my most rewarding work - both personally with awards and accolades but also financially - and that I love writing them. No plans to stop any time soon.
So ‘Blood to the Bone’ is another ‘Fight Card’ novel, which I believe is the second you’ve written about Sherlock. How is this one different than the first?
The first one, SHERLOCK HOLMES: WORK CAPITOL, was really about creating something that had never been done with Holmes in his illustrious career. Building it from the ground up with in-depth research into bare knuckle boxing in Victorian times. Once steeped in the research, I had to figure out how Watson would describe a boxing match and what technique would Holmes use in the ring. Once the heavy lifting was done, all I needed was an engaging plot to keep things moving. The results were some great reviews, satisfied readers, another award nomination and great sales. Not bad for uncharted territory.
Sitting down to write the second one, I realized I could pull it off now that the groundwork had been laid with the first one, but, really, a straight boxing tale would, ultimately, just be more of the same. And that's never good.
Digging around in my research files, I found a small chunk of stuff on women's Victorian boxing I had tucked away. Right on the heels of this, the floodgates opened and I stumbled into a vast wealth of information about the fighters of the time - everything I needed to know, including the first batch of these women being inducted into the Bare Knuckle Boxing Museum's Hall of Fame at the same time I was fleshing out this idea. Being unaware there even were female fighters at that time, it occurred to me that I wasn't alone in my ignorance of these great championesses as they were called back then. Thus BLOOD TO THE BONE was born. Here was a chance to do another Holmes boxing tale yet keep it fresh, new and interesting to readers of the first while shining a light on a forgotten chapter of history.
What is your favorite aspect of writing a ‘Fight Card’ novel?
As I've only written Holmes tales for Fight Card as yet, I'd have to say the research. I so love digging into the past for nuggets of interest, I can't get enough of it. Also, with WORK CAPITOL, it was a chance to do something no one had ever done with Holmes before, something fresh that still read like Doyle. Working with Fight Card's editor, Paul Bishop, has also been a lot of fun. He's a great guy and his enthusiasm for pulp and writing in general is palpable. And I'm looking forward to working with him on more Fight Card projects in the near future.
Andrew, let’s talk about you for a little bit. What is your writing background? How long have you been writing?
I began writing the day I came out of the theater after seeing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan back in June of 1982. That movie changed my life. I went into the theater a reader. I came out a writer. With no reading background outside of comics back then, I've been wallowing in words ever since. I earned a BA in Creative Writing at university, moved out here to Vancouver twenty years ago to get serious, then bounced around collecting rejection slips until finding Airship 27 on the eve of the e-publishing revolution. Still honing my craft, working hard, but my efforts over the decades are paying off. Earning money, winning awards, hearing from satisfied readers, things are great these days after years of struggle. Still a long way to go but at least I'm on my way now. The train isn't sitting in the station anymore.
How many books do you have out?
Lumping everything together, novels, anthologies and e-shorts, I've published or been part of 26 books to date, most of which are still available in print and for Kindle. And there are more coming. I'm just getting warmed up here.
What is your favorite genre to write?
Historical stuff! I've written numerous genres - sci-fi, sword and sorcery, mystery, hero yarns, horror, hard boiled, I've got a western tale coming out later this year - but, to be specific, it's got to be any of the historical genres. Anything that involves research and shining a light on the world of yesterday gets my juices flowing.
What is the one thing you hate about writing?
Promotion. Don't get me wrong, I love doing it, it's just the results that can sometimes be frustrating. You whip a tale into shape, get a great cover, great back cover blurb, price it reasonably, hit all the promotional places you can and... nothing! There are no guarantees and readers can seem so arbitrary sometimes, it's frustrating. But you've got to keep plugging away in search of that magic formula. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
What is the one thing you love? (Notice I wrote the hate question first?)
Everything! Getting the idea, fleshing it out, research, first draft, revisions, seeing that cover art for the first time, putting the whole thing together or watching the publisher do it, then seeing the book get thrown out into the world to sink or swim. Best job in the world! Wouldn't trade it for anything!
How many books do you put out in a year?
One - three though I'm going to increase that starting next year. These last three years I've been doing the Holmes books for Fight Card and those are time consuming. Fun, but time consuming. As a result other projects I've been cooking up have slowed down and I'd like to get to them sooner rather than later.
What is next for you?
Well, this December will see the release of my last Fight Card Sherlock Holmes book. Not because I'm not having a blast writing them, but, at present, I simply don't have an idea for another one. As I mentioned earlier, I don't want to do just more of the same and the three books will cover every aspect of Victorian boxing I see. The first dealt with the men. The second dealt with women and the third will be something of a free for all covering all of the physical abilities Holmes can bring to bear on a problem. That said, if a killer idea comes to me, I'll be back at Baker Street ready to rumble.
I'm not done with Fight Card however. I've got two projects I'm going to work on for them that are not Holmes related. I'm also putting together an omnibus of my shorter Holmes tales from Airship 27. I've just released a Black Bat e-story and want to do more of that. I've been working on a novel now for almost 5 years and plan to finish that up next year as well. I'd like to write more Moon Man stories. Of course, more traditional Holmes tales. I'm also putting together a series with an adventure team I've created. And I want to write a James Bond novella now that the character is public domain here in Canada. I'm always on the lookout for projects from publishers so if anyone out there thinks I'd be a good fit for something they are putting together, please get in touch with me.
Andrew it was great having you here on Ralph’s Rants, feel free to leave links to your website, your twitter feed, your Facebook page and whatever else you may have.
Amazon : http://www.amazon.com/AndrewSalmon/e/B002NS5KR0/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_2
Thank you for joining us, Andrew, it was a real pleasure, best of luck and until next time take care!
Thanks for inviting me! I very much appreciate it! Best of luck to you in all your endeavors. And, hey, readers out there, keep those pages flipping!