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An interview with Australian author Carol Hone

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Today, I’m interviewing Carol Hone about her debut book, Edge of Humanity

1) Can you give us a brief bio?

I’m a veterinarian who has an absorbing passion for writing. My family get my attention in between the manic phases of writing that I go through. I even pat them sometimes. Luckily they don’t seem to mind eating takeaway food and dodging the rolling balls of hair and feathers that accumulate in our house due to the sixteen or so pets we own.

2) Briefly, tell us about your books.

My first book, a novella called Edge of Humanity, came out on October 18th from Lyrical Press. It’s a fantasyEdge_of_Humanity300dpiwith elements of steam punk but also with a nod towards some science fictional ideas. My main aim in creating the milieu for this book was to use some of the almost-sciences that abound in our world and insert them into a magical world.

So herbology, acupuncture and the manipulation of the body’s aura all get a look-in. As does a made-up profession that you might call bio-mechanical magic.

Kara is the female protagonist of Edge of Humanity. She narrates the story through the filter of her own perceptions and memories and proves to be an unreliable narrator. After escaping from an airship she goes on a journey to find her parents, having been separated from them while a child. From the start, she has suspicions that her masters on the airship have done something dreadful to her and she is never quite sure that anything she remembers is true.

The story unfolds as a mystery and writing it taught me a lot about how to seed clues and hints throughout a story so that by the end, the reader should have an, ‘ah-hah!’ moment. If you don’t have one of those, I’m hoping for at least an, ‘Oh-h-h, I see,’ moment. Though it is listed as a fantasy romance, don’t expect the usual HEA or happily ever after ending.

3 ) How do you develop characters?  Settings? Plots?

I tend to grow such things organically. If I feel the need to write a story, I pay closer attention to everything around me. Radio, TV, books, what people talk about. Everything. Eventually something will grab me, and then one or two other aspects of life will sit up and beg for attention also. I subscribe to the idea that to make a good story you need to combine things in a way no one else has yet done. So it’s as if there is a critical mass of ideas.

4) Do you have specific technique to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Before I start a story I like to have clear in my head some of the pivotal plot points, who the main characters are, what the setting is, and a visual idea of the ending or a major scene near it. If I can see the action playing itself out in my head and get excited about it I know I’m heading the right way.

Whenever I get bogged down while writing I ruminate about the plot and I often set down on paper almost a synopsis of what should be happening. Though I don’t call it a synopsis because those things give me the heebie jeebies – which is a technical term for going insane.

5) What are your current projects?

At the moment I’m planning my steam punk-ish novel as well as thinking about rewriting a novel called Magience, which is set in the world of Edge of Humanity. Another novel, Needle Rain, that’s also set in this milieu, is going through the beta reading stages. In that story I used the Needle Masters who are acupuncture mages, as the pivotal profession. My three main characters commit terrible wrongs and then spend the rest of the story repairing the damage they’ve done.

6) Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website: http://carolhone.com/

And also my site at my publisher, Lyrical Press: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=authors&authors_id=150

14)What type of writing do you do?

I write dark fantasy mostly though I am trying to expand my genres. Steam punk with a dash of the excitement of urban fantasy is one of my near-future goals.

Photo on 2010-10-17 at 15.08 #27) What is the best thing about writing?

That you can do anything. Want to fly? In a novel you can. You can give your characters any ability you want to and then send them across continents and universes to retrieve the Sword of the Abyss that can command demons from the fiery depths of hell, or you can send them on a journey to the corner store for a cup of sugar. No one will want to read the latter, but you can write it.

8) Is there a specific time of day that you write?

Any time I get a chance to sit down without being interrupted. I do find I work best when the house is empty of other sentient beings, and that includes children.

9) Any parting words of advice for writers?

Doing some writing always helps. Thinking about it is only good if you’re sitting down and applying fingers to keyboards more than you’re thinking. Though I don’t believe in the write at all costs method, because that often produces drivel if you’ve not considered where you’re going with a story.

Don’t give in if you love what you’re doing.

Listen to those who criticise if they balance the good comments with the bad.

Always leave yourself open to learning but remember that some of those who comment on your writing may have no real knowledge of what they’re talking about. How to tell the useful comments from the ones that should be trashed? Ah, that is something you have to learn through experience, meditation, and repeatedly banging your head on your desk.

Ipad & E-reader Apps

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

A funny thing happened after I bought an Ipad; I started buying books again.  I usually check out books from the library, several a week.  I routinely visit three libraries in the area to find books I want to read.  I generally don’t order books on-line because they are expensive and don’t get delivered for a week or so.

Once I got my Ipad, things changed.  First I downloaded the Amazon kindle app and the Barnes and Noble app.  With the built-in Istore app, I now had three on-line bookstores to peruse.  To my surprise, I began finding books by my favorite authors that the libraries didn’t have.  I love Tom Holt books but the libraries don’t have many of this British author’s books, so I downloaded some of them, and started reading immediately.  I also downloaded books I read and enjoyed many years ago, but can’t find in libraries.

So what’s the impact the Ipad had on my life? It’s costing me money, but I’m enjoying a number of books I otherwise wouldn’t read. I love the bookmark ability.  Say I come across one of Terry Pratchett’s great bon mots, I can bookmark the place and go back it later.

All this is good news for ebook publishers, but not for traditional print publishers.  Already, in only two months, my Ipad has a sizable inventory of books stashed on it.I

Wastelander Author Interview

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Manda Bensen, a British author, talks about her latest book, Wastelander.

How did this story come about?  Did a newspaper or TV story trigger the process?

When I was a kid I was remember watching the binmen through the window. They came every9780956608000 week and emptied all the mess I’d made out of my parents’ dustbin, squished it flat in a machine, and took it away in a process that to me seemed almost magical. The bin lorry (I think it’s called a garbage truck or something else in America) always had ‘Dennis’ written on its front grille. I didn’t understand at the time that Dennis was the name of the company that manufactured them — I thought it was the name the binmen had given their lorry. The place the bin lorry went was the Rubbish Tip, or so my parents told me.

So, as an adult I wondered if writing a story about where our rubbish goes would interest children. I had the idea of a clan of Viking warriors living in the rubbish tip amongst all the mucky things we discarded, and it occurred to me that these people would probably find what we would call worthless and disgusting valuable and delicious.

Who did the drawings?

I did. Those familiar with my other work may see a resemblance between these and my HyperGolf illustrations.

Are there any lessons for children to get from the book?

It’s meant to be just a fun coming-of-age adventure story about a boy who gets lost and has to find his way back to his people through the trials and strangeness of our own world. On its simplest level, I’d just like people to enjoy reading it for its silliness. On the other hand, it would be nice if it could get kids thinking about what happens to our rubbish and to be a bit more careful not to waste stuff. I also hope Lenny’s story of survival and self-reliance encourages children.

Is there a moral to the story?

Lenny succeeds through courage and perseverance plus a little help from friends, but other than that, not really. I think it’s more important to tell a funny story that will entertain children and encourage them to read, rather than bother with stuff like this.

What’s next?

MandaThe next story I’ll be publishing through Tangentrine Ltd is also for children and it’s called ‘The Weatherman’s Niece’. It’s a sort of humorous antifairytale about climate change. It’s not out until the 10th of October but you can preorder it from Amazon UK or read more about it at http://tangentrine.com/weathermansniece


Uncle Sidney’s Tailor Shop

Sunday, August 15th, 2010
Afterburn SF published this short story of mine.  You can read it at this location
Let me know what you think of it.
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Summer Sale!

Thursday, July 15th, 2010
Fool’s Gold and Tunnel Vision are now on sale at the eTreasures website.  The prices are much better than on any other website.  This is a great
Fool's Gold Cover
Fool’s Gold Cover
opportunity to pick up two great books to read this summer.  Hot weather and laughter just seem to go together somehow.  Take advantage of this deal.  You don’t know how long the sale will last.

TV-cover

Khepera Rising by Nerine Dorman

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Just when the wickedest man in Africa thought the nightmare was over…

Still recovering from the trauma of his encounter with the Christo-militants who tried to kill him, Jamie only wants to get his life back on track. This is easier said than done when he’s essentially blackmailed into helping solve a case involving alleged cult activity.kheperarising333x500

To complicate matters further, the media gets involved and Jamie has to tread carefully.

However, soon the hunter becomes the hunted and Jamie faces some difficult choices. Will his uneasy symbiosis with The Burning One save him or will he be tempted to grasp for more power than he can possibly hold?

Content warning: Occult, demonic entities and some graphic sex with descriptions of gore

and violence.

Bitten By Books reviewed it and said in part:

Jamie is the anti-hero: he’s rude, crude, obnoxious and yet the whole time I was reading this story I was cheering for this guy because for every nasty act he committed, he would demonstrate some kindly deed, sometimes for people he knew well but more often for others he either hardly knew or despised. The story doesn’t end the way you expect, but there is a lot to be learned here from Jamie’s tale: do not conduct 19757_281013592026_623122026_3844910_3070104_nceremonies you don’t understand or make-up, shadows sneaking up on you may not be shadows, and other equally horrific nifty lessons.

Overall, this novel is a superb light horror.

In what country does the action take place?  If you know the answer, send Nerine an email at nerinedorman@gmail.com. She’ll give a free ebook version to the first person with the correct answer.

Learn more and buy the book at this site.

My Grandson and Bad Guys

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

My two-year-old grandson Sean Kelly is always on the lookout for bad guys thatIMG_3895 need vanquishing.  If he can’t find any, he settles for a girl cousin.

IMG_3899

Tales for the Troops

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

This collection of ten short stories has been available only to military personnel since it became available in late 2007.  It now is available to everyone in a number of ebook formats.  For more information check out the  website page on this collection.

TT CVR

Self-Publishing Checklist

Monday, May 10th, 2010

While doodling with a mind map program, I developed this chart that can be used as a checklist for self-publishing a book.  I’m sure it isn’t complete but it covers many of the issues and problems that must be addressed.  If you can’t download it, contact me and I’ll attach it to a email.

SELFPUBLISHINGCHECKLIST

Interview with Nerine Dorman

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
1) Can you give us a brief bio?
Born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa, I’m currently employed as a sub-editor at a large newspaper publisher and have been working on a travel supplement for one of the weeklies for the past few years. I regularly write travel and lifestyle-orientated editorial, which is published nationally. It keeps me sane when the day-to-day grind of deadlines wears me down. For the past three years I’ve been running a writers’ group in my home town specifically geared toward F/SF/H writers, and 19757_281013592026_623122026_3844910_3070104_n I’m proud to say a number of members have gone on to making their first pro sales. My true love lies with editing and writing genre fiction. When I’m not busy polishing other authors’ manuscripts I find time to work on my own fiction. I do, however, find my fiction editing to be immensely rewarding, especially when my authors get rave reviews, which I’m proud to say they do.
2) When did the writing bug bite and in what genre(s)?
School was horrendously boring when I was in my early teens. I filled many exercise books with stories that petered off into nothing after the first ten or so pages. I don’t think I finished anything but back then it was mostly science fiction and some fantasy settings.
3) When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish?  Is there a message you wanted readers to grasp?
When I started writing I had absolutely no idea where I could take these stories. Back then we didn’t have the internet (yes, I’m that old) so I had no contact with any writers’ resources or critique groups. And people kept saying it was a waste of my time and talents to write genre fiction. After all, none of the South African publishers would (and still don’t) touch genre fiction from locals with the soggy end of a barge pole. I stopped writing for about five or so years from age nineteen until about 2003, when I could no longer deny the need to tell the stories spinning about in my head.
4) Briefly, tell us about your books
My first novel, Khepera Rising, was published by Lyrical Press late 2009. It’s horror, but has a twist of mystery, murder and dark fantasy, and is set in Capekheperarising333x500Town, South Africa. I’m also happy to announce it will be released in print in June. The sequel, Khepera Redeemed, is releasing (also through Lyrical Press) the same month. Yes, I know the name is a mouthful and even now I’m not sure what possessed me to expect English speakers wrap their tongues around Middle Egyptian but hey… It sort of stuck as a title.
5) What’s the hook for these books?
Both novels focus on the exploits of a black magician who runs into all manner of misadventure. Gritty and dark, it’s not going to appeal to everyone, but if you’re into Neil Gaiman and Storm Constantine, I’m confident you’ll enjoy these tales.
6) How do you develop characters?  Settings?
The ideas for my characters usually occur when I enter into dialogue with my subconscious. Sometimes these will be vivid images I retrieve from dreams. Other times I daydream, and my characters jump out at me, usually the product of several trains of thought I’d have been mulling over a number of days. I can never force concepts and am blessed (or cursed) with an overactive imagination constantly spewing out “what ifs”.
The settings follow once I know what sort of character I’ve brought into being. Mostly, I try to write what I know, so many of my stories are set in my stomping ground, Cape Town, or other parts of South Africa. Being a travel writer definitely helps when communicating my settings. Sometimes, however, I do wander off the beaten track into the realms of pure fantasy, allowing the milieu to grow naturally. I do find it helps deciding what level of technology I’m dealing with before I put pen to paper, and I spend considerable time on my world-building.
7) What’s the most unusual/most likable character?
kheperaredeemed333x500One character who is very powerful for me at the moment is my black magician, James Edward Guillaume. He is deliciously flawed, and from his skewed point of view, has a lot to say about contemporary South Africa, especially with regard to alternative spiritualities and subcultures. Highly irreverent, he purposefully sets out to shock people, landing himself in a lot of trouble. Added to this is his narcissism, although he does redeem himself somewhat in the second novel.
I’ve a strong character waiting in the wings who is another dark hero. But I’m not going to say much about him except that I woke a few weeks ago after a dream that had me feeling emotionally charged the entire day, so I absolutely had to sketch an outline. All I’ll say is it’s a post-apocalyptic setting, again in South Africa.
8 ) Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Recently I’ve started using a partial snowflake method to plot, so I can record the major twists and conclusion. I find it helps to know where I’m going with a story. Also, when elaborating on essential themes, I sometimes find surprising elements I’d not previously considered. I used to outline a story in bullet points but found I’d get patches where not much happens, so by looking for the three big disasters and their resolution, I can maintain an even pace. I do not use this method slavishly, however, because I still feel the process of writing must be organic, so if a great idea occurs while I’m writing, I’ll make amendments to the chapter breakdown.
9) Do you have a specific writing style?  Preferred POV?
I’m one of those annoying authors who write first person, present tense effectively. I love the sense of immediacy and offering readers an unreliable narrator. That being said, I also don’t want to limit my writing by sticking to what I know. Although I do prefer first-person narrative, I’ve recently written a young adult urban fantasy in third person, past tense, which I’m glad to say, has made the top thousand entries in the Amazon Abna Breakthrough Novel Awards for the young adult fiction category. I’ll find out on March 23 whether I’ve made the next round.
10) Share the best review or a portion that you’ve ever had
Best-selling South African fantasy author Greg Hamerton had this to say about Khepera Rising: “The author displays an accomplished style that gives me confidence to follow her into the dark. The protagonist, Jamie, offers a distinctive shock-rocker view of the world with a unique perspective on our so-ordinary lives. The story is an introduction to a ragged slice of Goth culture in Cape Town. The detailing is convincing―references to esoteric texts, drug culture and rituals that speak of experience or such good research that it is indistinguishable from it. But the book comes with a warning: M/M and M/F sexual content, occult, violence, gore. You’d best avoid it if you find smears of prejudice, graphic violence and conversations peppered with vile expletives offensive. I’d never have expected a woman to have written this…but I suspect that she is more fire and demon, with an undeniable knack for finding soft places with her claws.”
11) What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
The most unexpected occurrence I’ve had, relating directly to my writing was the day a complete stranger walked up to me and asked me if I was into Aleister Crowley. Dumbstruck I replied in the affirmative, whereupon he gave me a whole pile of Crowley’s works, many of which I did not have in my collection, as well as the tarot deck I still use during my meditations. It was truly one of those WTF moments. His reason for giving me the books was that he was no longer following this path and that he’d received a message to give them me. I felt a bit “erm, okay…” after this experience and it’s possibly one of the most peculiar I’ve ever had. I grabbed the books and ran, hardly daring to believe someone had given me almost $200 worth of literature.
12) What are your current projects?
My current projects include a novella, which I’ve just submitted to my publisher for consideration. Sick and tired of this whole Twilight melodrama, I’ve gone about writing a story that says it like it is: vampires are bad for your health. I’m also tentatively taking stabs at my post-apocalyptic setting, but until I can sit back and say, “the end” I’m not going to discuss it in depth. Also on the boil is an epic fantasy with a conscious nod toward Jacqueline Carey’s ability to tell a great tale with considerable erotic content, based on an old Scandinavian fairy tale. And…a steampunk fantasy is also mouldering on my hard drive. I’m busy with first-round edits, so it will be a long while before it sees the subbing mill.
13) Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
You’ll find a Facebook group that I run by following this link:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=49386633567&ref=ts
I send out a monthly update and post links of my little successes there, as well as notifications of any events.
I blog. A lot. My Livejournal page is one I update most regularly about my day-to-day tribulations of living in South Africa and assorted writing endeavours. See: http://nerinedorman.livejournal.com
And, for my available projects, drop by Lyrical Press at:
http://www.lyricalpress.com/nerine_dorman
http://www.lyricalpress.com/khepera_rising
http://www.lyricalpress.com/khepera_redeemed
14) What type of writing do you do?
To describe my writing, I’d say I skate on the literary edge of genre fiction. I don’t tie myself to any specific genre, although my love for the occult and supernatural does tend toward guiding me to add fantasy elements to my tales.
15) What is the best thing about writing?
What I love the most about my writing is it allows me to escape from the hum-drum of mundania, where I’m the one who decides what happens to characters and how they are transformed by their experiences. It’s an outlet and a way for me to explore issues that bother me, or just embark on a rollicking good adventure, writing the kinds of stories I love to read.
16) Is there a specific time of day that you write?
I write. All the time. Every free minute I have I write. Now that I have my own mini laptop, it’s even easier to indulge in my addiction. Mornings are best but I get my second wind late at night. I’m trying to find out how to get by on about five hours or less sleep a day.
Coffee is my friend.
17) What is the most interesting book you ever read?
The most fascinating story I’ve ever read is Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novels. That series changed my life, and if I can bring just a small portion of magic, mystery and wonder into people’s lives, I consider my work a success.
18) Favorite authors?
My favourite authors include Neil Gaiman, Storm Constantine, Jacqueline Carey and Poppy Z Brite. They all write rich, evocative prose, sometimes with a very dark spin.
19) Any parting words of advice for writers?
My advice to writers, get your bum on a chair and write. Don’t listen to anyone who says “Ah, you’ll never get published” or “Who’s going to read that story?” Chances are good, if you’re writing the kind of story you like to read, someone out there will share your view. Also, if you do manage to find fellow writers as critique buddies, don’t take criticism of your writing personally. You’re going to get far worse from your editor or agent, so start developing that thick skin early in your career. I totally recommend checking out www.critique.org, a site that has helped me form a network of writing buddies, as well as provide me with a good start.
Lastly, I am actively on the look-out for genre fiction manuscripts to recommend to my publisher, Lyrical Press, as I am under contract there as a content editor. If you write dark fantasy, horror or just plain “out there and strange” stories, drop me an email at nerinedorman@gmail.com and chat to me about your project. See: http://www.lyricalpress.com/submissions