INTERVIEWS OF FOAK (FORGING OF A KNIGHT) FRIENDS

There are a lot of amazingly creative people out there, and getting to know them, and their work, has been as much fun as creating Forging of a Knight.  I've been lucky to have had the opportunity to showcase a few on this page, folks I've met through conventions, book signings, and literally from just bumping into them on a grocery trip! I've been humbled by their passion, ideas, and willingness to be interviewed, and hope you enjoy their stories and adventures as much as I! 


An Interview with John Sankitts, Jr!

As usual, I have been lucky enough to connect with some amazing creators out there, and I have to add yet another one to the mix! Say hello to John Sankitts, Jr. – writer, filmmaker, author, and more! 

Hi John - thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed!  Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who John Sankitts is.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

JS: I knew when I was in Film School in 2001 writing my own stories gave me a sense of individuality and protection from ridicule so writing scripts was my initiation into writing.  But in 2008 when I wrote a piece for a magazine as an editorial  submission, they loved the piece I wrote on a artist and offered me a job writing for their Music and Sports magazine named G.O.A.T magazine.

You have written Memoirs of an Island Boy and for G.O.A.T magazine. How did you develop the ideas for your stories? Which are your favorites?

JS:My father always spoke on his time on St. Croix Virgin Island as a small boy, he always recited them, they were funny. I wanted to immortalize his stories forever, so I took all his stories, embellished them a little for a more humorous impact and wrote the book. My favorite story is when he was running from the landlord land he trespassed on.

In addition to being an author you have also done some film work like Letter of Circumstance and now working on Paintings on the Wall.  Which projects were the most fun to develop?

JS: The Painting on the wall TV series is the most fun to develop. 

Which were the most challenging?

JS: Paintings on the Wall, it’s a complicated TV Crime Drama series.

What are your plans long-term for your writing and other projects?

JS: I am currently researching for a comedy film. It’s a full feature 93 pages long. I’m stuck on page 12.

Do you have additional/different works in mind?

JS: Yes, I look to join a few film festivals, have a short film in mind about a Girl auditioning for a talent show but has no way of getting there on time. She finally does auditions in the restroom while a judge is currently using it! Funny sort.

As an author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my books.  What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your works?

JS: I use social media, I use the Airlines to see if they can offer my book on their planes. I also use word of mouth. I use Hootsuite that can post a link to my book on a schedule time every day to all social media platforms. I also join author groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, also Group Me Author groups.

This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into John Sankitts – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work? 

JS: Hi I’m John and I’m your future Boss, welcome to the team.  They will say, “Is that right?” I’ll respond with yes, let me show you why, and Ill quick play my trailer to my TV series…works sometimes…lol…In regards to the book, I always have a copy with me, it takes careful coordination, but if I see my objective going into a elevator , I will hand them the book and tell them, Its for you.

As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit.  Is there anything you would go back and change in your completed works?

JS: Oh God no…once it’s done, it done as per day in a book. A screenplay though, well it has not done till you get an offer.

Where their ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

JS: For a book no. But for a screenplay, it’s had to place an idea because it usually leads to developing the idea and back story, more work, and may change the course of the narrative.

I have an 8 year old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging!  I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to carve out your ideas?

JS: Usually believe it or not Ideas come to me right before I actually about  fall asleep, sometimes I get ideas in my sleep and if I’m somehow able to wake up I jot it down and in the mornings I attend tot it.

Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

JS: When I look at my bank account and it says “you have .45cents available.” That’s when I say, I need to get this writing done. But mostly its spontaneous, especially if ‘m looking at a movie and get an idea.

Find John Sankitts on his linkedin profile! https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnsankittsjr
An interview with Author Dennis Bartizal! 

I had the pleasure of meeting this fellow author at CodCon (College of DuPage Sci-Fi/Fantasy gaming convention and more!) awhile back and was eager to interview him after reading and enjoying one of his works, What on Earth, a political satire. Take it away, Dennis...! 

Hi Dennis - thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Dennis Bartizal is. 

HN: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

DB: The seed was planted during my freshman year in high school. I had good, creative and encouraging English teachers. I was shy and wanted to overcome my shyness, so during my freshman year I joined the staff of our school newspaper. Because of the creativity of the writing projects from my classes I began writing a humor column for The Profile, that was the student newspaper at Proviso West High School. I enjoyed our science classes: Biology and Chemistry. I also took active part in our mathematics classes: Trigonometry and Geometry. Civics and History seemed important to me. How could I overcome my own shyness if I could not understand where other people are coming from and how their background is important. I began rock collecting. I began questioning history. I began reading Franz Kafka. Anyway, six months ago, while I was straightening up a storage area at home, I came across a box I saved from my high school years. In that box were fossils I had collected during those years. I also saved many English papers from my various classes. I dug out several of my newspaper columns which I had cut out from The Profile and rubber cemented on sheets of typing paper. On September 27 of 2020 I retyped those columns and English themes and I published them in my 10th book on Amazon. The title of that book is What I Got Out Of High School. Along with that box of what I had written (stories, poems, and song parodies) during high school, I also excavated notebooks and typewritten pages of some of the creativity I attempted during college. I am currently typing them up as word documents and I hope to publish an anthology from my college years.

HN: you have written several books (What on Earth being my favorite).  How did you develop the ideas for your stories? Which are your favorites?

DB: Several years ago, I retired from my career as a computer programmer. With the free time now available I joined The DuPage Writers Group, with hopes to encourage myself to developing more stories. This writers group meets on a monthly basis. We read what we are currently working on. The group critiques what we had shared. Each year this organization publishes a book of short stories, poems, and art work called our Possibilities Journal. Even before I was a member of the writers group, actually since I graduated college, I would occasionally write something for my own enjoyment. I would also, occasionally, attempt to submit something I had written, to various magazines, to no avail. Since I was getting a few of my stories published in the Possibilities Journal I felt encouraged enough to try self-publishing. I use Amazon. My first book Kafka Can Wait was a Trial, on my part, at self-publishing. (Not sorry about the implication.) Along with his novels and short stories, I have also liked Franz Kafka’s aphorisms. I felt a closeness between my short stories and Kafka’s aphorisms. I also felt a closeness to certain people in my past that this collection emoted to me. My novella Thrown In A New Dimension was inspired by the science-fiction works of Brian Stableford, especially his books that were inspired by The Iliad and The Odyssey. My other novella A Chance Of Mars was inspired by Issac Asimov. Over the years I’ve read a lot of Stableford and Asimov. My novel Sticking Your Neck Out came from my love of nature and my want to write about Man learning from animals. Man learns to communicate. The animals taught him, he did not teach himself. When I was in college, I took a Geology Field Camp. Parts of what I experienced about nature and existence is expressed here. My next novel, What On Earth, is my science-fiction look at current days. Sometimes I call it a political satire. Other times I call it political sarcasm. I enjoyed writing it. I have three other collections of short stories. The Photon And The Dog 2017, 2018, and 2019. I have a blog called “The Photon And The Dog.” I write this blog to try to get people interested in reading what I write. I try to have a new post each week. At the beginning of the year I delete all the posts from the previous year and start each year a new. The last year’s posts get published in a book. I’ve tried something new, for me, recently. This fall I also published a children’s book. It is called Why Did The Turtle Cross The Road. It is about a boy, in grade school, saving a turtle from getting run over by a car. The boy takes the turtle home and they both grow together. This book was inspired by my childhood. From when I was six years old until I was a sophomore in high-school I had twenty-seven turtles. Two box turtles, one tortoise, twenty-three mud turtles, and one snapping turtle. I took care of them. I fed them. I brought them down to our basement over the winters. My turtles never died under my care. School got to be too much for me, so I donated my turtles to the zoo when I was a sophomore in high school.

HN: Which projects were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging? 

DB: My turtle book was the most fun to develop. I took a lot of things that had happened to me and turned them into pieces of fiction. Since this was my first children’s book, I asked my 11 year old nephew to read what I had written many times. Robbie is a good kid and cares about me. I got good advice from him. My anthology of my high school stories was the most challenging. I needed to just type in what I had written years ago and try not to change it (too much). I would correct the grammar, but that’s about all, other than changing people’s names. Several things I said back then I wish I had said or written differently. But, to be honest, I needed to keep the stories the same as when I originally wrote them. 

HN: What are your plans long-term for your writing? Do you have additional/different works in mind?

DB: In the long term I would like to write more novels, especially science-fiction novels. Short stories are fun but novels have more dimensions to them. I would also like to write some more children’s novels. I don’t know what to write about in that line, I will ask my nephew about that. Currently I am three quarters of the way finished with writing a science-fiction novel. Also, since the year is coming to a close, I will be putting together The Photon And The Dog – 2020. As I stated previous, I am typing an anthology of my college writings. I have also been making some notes on a sequel to A Chance Of Mars.

HN: As an author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my books. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your works?

DB: I need to learn more in this area. I have found a couple libraries that have local authors shelf sections. Some of my books are there. Not only do the local library patrons get a chance to read what you write, your books get listed in the Illinois Card Catalog. I met you at the DuPage Comic Con. I have been getting tables at other Comic Cons in order to get my name out there that way. I also take part in local library Local Authors Festivals. I look for Coffee Houses that have Open Mic Nights. I will read my works to live audiences. Since I do write song parodies, I want to look into making sound recordings. I have a computer programming album in mind. My satirical Christmas songs might sound good. Maybe I could sell them on Amazon. 

HN: This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Dennis Bartizal – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?

DB: Look at how advanced our civilization has become. We are cloning sheep. We are flying to other planets. We can build computers that talk, act, and think the way that we do. Did you know that there is another planet of people more advanced than we are? They are here! But they are learning too. Don’t worry! They are not trying to take over our world. They are only trying to live among us so they can understand how to live on another planet. They will not stay here and take over. They did not put one of their people in as our president. They are going to leave soon and they will leave us as we are. Or are they? 

HN: As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your completed works? Were there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include? 

DB: I feel the need to work on my dialogs more. I hope the different people do sound like individuals. I hope they do not sound the same. One of my characters had a friend who died in outer space. I wish he didn’t die. I may bring him back in a sequel after having gone through a white dwarf supernova explosion, instead of his ship and self being destroyed, his electrons echoed the speeds and cycles of that part of the cosmos. Our physicists have found some evidence that electrons in areas of their clouds move back in time instead of forward. If the supernova divided his elements in monopole space he exists now in a different timeline and I can write about their attempts to reunite. At least with science-fiction and fantasy you are not stuck with permanent changes. 

HN: I have an 8 year old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to carve out your ideas? 

DB: I carry a notebook. At least when I am struck by a fleeting idea I might be able to write enough parts of it so I can get my mind to working that way later. When I get to the computer I have a group of folders with many, many documents of ideas or parts of stories or a small chunk of detailed work that I can hope to find the time later to work on or even just string together. I wake up at one or two in the morning, turn on the computer, and type if I am so mentally pushed. There is never enough time. That is life. 

HN: Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind? 

DB: For my blog’s flash fictions I try to get a quick story put together on a Tuesday. I’ll return to that story the rest of the week, reading it, correcting it, making it larger, more dimensional, more characters or more activities. Then, Saturday, I post it in my blog. For books I am working on, I write with a goal to have a good part finished by the time The DuPage Writers Group is going to have its meeting. I bring those last few pages with me and share them with our gang so I can get critiques and suggestions. I like to take walks at the zoo. I always have a notebook with me. I walk and think and write. 

HN: What are you reading right now? 

DB: Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman, The Panda’s Thumb by Stephen Gould, The Year Of The Angry Rabbit by Russell Braddon, Caging Skies by Christine Leunen. 

HN: Where can people go to find out more about Dennis Bartizal? 

DB: https://thephotonandthedog.blogspot.com https://www.amazon.com/author/dennisbartizal http://www.illinoisauthors.org/ 


Thanks Dennis, for sharing some of your time!
An interview with Aaron Fogleman, Content Manager/creative guru behind the awesome As-Tech Multimedia website!

A fellow Gen-Con attendee and friend, I'm pleased to share his brainchild - As-Tech! Read up on it below, and then go check it out!!

HN: Hi Aaron - thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Aaron Fogleman is and what fueled the concept behind As-Tech!

AF: Ya know…I really hate the ask, “Tell us more about yourself,” hahahaha. But basically, I’m a dreamer. I have big ideas, big visions, and I have finally decided to try to see As-Tech Multimedia through to the end, whatever end that might be.

As-Tech Multimedia, put simply, is a platform for showcasing independent creators and content.

HN: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

AF: I don’t know that I ever decided I wanted to be a writer, it just sort of happened. It morphed as an extension of being a storyteller. I have been a GM for table top RPG games for a while, and I started to run a fantasy (D&D) game in a world I created, and as the adventures grew and gained more scope, starting to write about the world to tell the ongoing story, that isn’t part of the players main adventure path, just started. Like I said, it just kind of happened.

HN: How did you develop the concept/idea for As-Tech?

AF: Long story shortened; Years ago, I tried to start a little business, not much more than a side hustle, really. I would go and do things related to computers for people. I had just gotten out of the Air Force, and was taking some classes at the local university, started talking with another student and we get on the subject of computers since his wasn’t really powerful enough to help with his projects in his graphing design class. I told him; I could build him one that might last the rest of his program. I asked him what his budget was, and that was that. I started doing little computer service jobs around campus and in the community, Assembling of Technology (As-Tech) was born, and As-Tech, the name as brand, has pretty much stuck with me ever since. Years later, after I started writing and got serious about possibly publishing my stuff, I was going to self-publish, and found a couple of other people who were thinking about the same thing, I decided I wanted to build a space to help first time authors, no matter the genre or medium the write in, get their work out as well, now it has muted in to an idea for a multimedia platform for independent creators who want to expand their audience and not get caught up in the clutter of YouTube or Apple, Google, Stitcher, I-Heart Radio or whatever service and for people who may want to write…to start a blog very easily without having to build their own site or slug through other blogging platforms such as Tumblr.

HN: Which aspects were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging?

AF: Content! Creating content and figuring out what type of content we want on the site, at launch, is by far the most fun. Developing the concept. The most challenging, getting it to look the way we want it to. I’m not the person actually building the As-Tech Multimedia site, the person doing it is a programmer, working with the code in the back end, so he has to write the code, we see how it looks, I give him the go/no-go and we try move on from there. The site has actually been in development for almost a year, now and we will continue to make changes not only in appearance, but presentation throughout the site.

HN: What are your plans long-term for the website? Do you have additional/different works in mind?

AF: The first thing we are going to introduce to the site is a membership to As-Tech Multimedia. We want to put our own social media community tab to allow visitors to the site to keep in touch with either a specific piece of content, i.e. Our Own Little Corner of the Geekdom since there is not only the podcast but a companion blog, if one were to “follow” that, they would receive updates whenever new content was posted, or a specific creator, Sildark, for instance, is one of the hosts of the Geekdom podcast, and hopes to be writing posts for the blog, as well as starting his own unique blog (and videos, when that page is fully up and running.)

We aren’t stopping there, either. We are going to start an actual internet radio station, with regular programing and everything…as soon as we learn how all that is done. We have started a pseudo-radio show with As-Tech Multimedia Live! on Spreaker, but it’s not exactly what the endgame is for us. We are also going to be introducing an actual journalistic news outlet as part of the overall multimedia experience, and of course begin publishing books or comic/graphic novels or periodicals completing what began the transition of the idea of As-Tech from it’s roots to where it is now. I’m looking at building a mobile app (which is very different from building a website) and eventually, we want to do our own hosting for some of the content, even.

HN: As an author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my books. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for As-Tech?

AF: Right now, just word of mouth, and social media, really. As we generate revenue from the website and expand our operations over there, we will bring in other advertising stream, increasing our online presence and appeal, hopefully. As-Tech Multimedia will always be looking to increase the number of creators we support as well as including our own social media community to the site which will help increase our ability to get our creators out there. It’s a process, that is really just getting started. We are excited to see where things go in the future.

HN: This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Aaron Fogleman – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?

AF: Elevator pitch:

“Hey, how are ya? I’m Aaron, the Creator and Content Manager for As-Tech Multimedia. We are interested in promoting smaller or new creators and their content. Head over to http://astechmultimedia.com/ see what we’re all about. We have a lot of great content and always looking for new creators to join the team.”

HN: As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your completed works? Where there ideas you had in mind for the website and then decided NOT to include?

AF: Oh, definitely! I have been working on a script for a graphic novel for years. I’ve finished it scrapped it, in it’s entirety, re-written it, scrapped that, and started on it again and changed the format, so much stuff, for me It’s never right. It happens less with podcasts and short form blog posts, though, but those feelings linger.

Sometimes, I’ll go back and listen to an old episode of a show and think, “…yeah, maybe I should have cut that,” or “Oh, dang it, they never finished that point,” or event the occasional, “Whoops, there used to be something there, I wonder if I should have cut that…” but it’s trial and error sometime. Ultimately, you make the decision and you do it.

As far as the website goes, I had plenty of plans, that got taken out. They weren’t completely dismissed though, and we are planning to put all of those into the site moving forward. They just were feasible in these early iterations. As I’ve said, As-Tech Multimedia has some growing left to do.

HN: I have an 8 year old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to carve out your ideas?

AF: Luckily, my ideas are my work, right now. I’m dedicated full time to running the site and creating content for the site.

Provided life doesn’t get in the way.

HN: Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

AF: No, and I probably should develop one, haha. It would probably help me be more productive. I write when the inspiration hits me. I might see or hear something, and it spurs a idea for a scene, and that’s when I get to work writing my fiction, when it come to my articles, it’s all about reaction to outside stimuli.

HN: What are you reading right now?

AF: Right now, I’m doing a re-read of Aqua from Tracy Korn before I start on the rest of her Elements Series books. I just finished Hal Elrod’s, The Miracle Morning. Then I plan on moving to the rest of your series, Forging of a Knight.

AN: Where can people go to find out more about Aaron/As-Tech?

Go to the website, http://astechmultimedia.com/ to see the latest post available are. If you have an idea or something you’d like to share with us and become part of the Team, send us an email to astechmultimedia@gmail.com
You can also check us our on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/As-Tech-Multimedia-357091791816187
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AsTechMultiNet

You can find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/afogleman/) Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/geekynerdbowler/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/A_M_Fogleman)
An interview with Jessica Minor, Author of Goblin's Hollow!

Goblin Trolls. Elven Trolls. Gorgolites, Dark Shifters, and more! These are the rather unique takes on various fantasy spawned creatures found in Goblin's Hollow - stories "based on a land of mystery and magic located in one of the other thirteen realms of existence; a community of crossbred magical beings."

Written by Jessica Minor, she has developed quite the menagerie in her Goblin tales - found (currently) only on Wattpad. Wattpad, for those who haven't yet experienced it, is a site for people of all ages to share written tales and poetry in a community of both amateur and established writers. I'm a member, and I had the opportunity to read some of Jessica's works, and meet her at a Peoria Con where she stopped by my booth to sample my own books and talk fantasy. 
 
Her stories were so interesting to me I just had to reach out and get her to talk a little on her series. 
 
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
JM: Wanted to be a writer when I was 4. My mother read Stephen King to me and that was it. 
 
How did you develop the ideas for your stories?
JM: My ideas come in the middle of the night... Meditation helps. 
 
Which projects were the most fun to develop?
JM: The goblins hollow series. 
 
What are your plans long-term for your writing?
JM: Different work may be a goblins hollow prequel. 
 
This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Jessica Minor – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?
JM: Magical youth friendly universe of cross bred creatures. 
 
As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your completed works?
JM: Time to write is hard I tend to devote a few late nights to it. 
 
Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?
JM: I listen to Irish rock when I write. 
 
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
JM: Wanted to be a writer when I was 4. My mother read Stephen King to me and that was it. 
 
How did you develop the ideas for your stories?
JM: My ideas come in the middle of the night... Meditation helps 
 
Which projects were the most fun to develop?
JM: The goblins hollow series. 
 
What are your plans long-term for your writing?
JM: Different work may be a goblins hollow prequel 
 
This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Jessica Minor – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?
JM: Magical youth friendly universe of cross bred creatures. 
 
As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your completed works? 
 JM: Time to write is hard I tend to devote a few late nights to it. 
 
Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?
JM: I listen to Irish rock when I write. 
 
What are you reading right now?
JM: I'm reading the gunslinger by Stephen King. 
 
Where can people go to find out more about Jessica Minor?
JM: To find me I'm on Wattpad and Facebook.

Thanks again, Jessica - if you are on Wattpad, look for Goblin's Hollow!  
An interview with Director and Screenwriter Jeremy Silva!

Who is Jeremy Silva? Well, here is a quick "mini-bio" from IMDB.com: 
 
"Born just outside the "Chocolate City" of Hershey, Pennsylvania, this Chicago transplant has been making headway in the Midwest since 2010. With focuses in directing and screenwriting, Jeremy Silva dove into the independent scene as a freelance cinematographer and writer. A humanitarian and community leader, Silva has shot video segments for a variety of non-for-profits, including the Humane Society, Immerman's Angels, and Blessings in a Backpack. Jeremy has written and directed several short films. His latest effort, Watermelon Eyes, was an official selection at the Blow-Up Chicago Arthouse Film Festival. His first feature, The Rake, was produced by Unified Pictures and is planning its 2017 festival run." 
 
Sometimes it's amazing to me how you can encounter some wonderfully creative people by the purest of chance. I was with my wife at a local Fruitful Yield health food store, and literally bumped into Jeremy. I was wearing a Gen Con t-shirt, Jeremy pointed that out, and a conversation ensued on both my book writing and his screen writing. Afterwards, I was excited to reach out for an interview, and even more excited when I received his response! Read on, and enjoy...! 
 
HVN: Hi Jeremy - thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Jeremy Silva is.

JS: Thanks for having me, Hugo! When you pose the question that way, it’s really hard not to answer like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho: There is an idea of a Jeremy Silva; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory.  All jokes aside, I’m just a storyteller using filmmaking as a vehicle to open hearts, minds and eyes. I aim to tell raw, entrancing narratives that give you no choice but to deconstruct your preconceptions about life—even yourself. 
 
HVN: When did you know that you wanted to be a director/writer?

JS: It’s kind of crazy, you know. Though I come from a family of film fanatics and was baptized by the classics at a young age, I never truly embraced the craft of filmmaking until I was in college. I’ve been a storyteller since childhood. I was the friend weaving terrifying tales by the light of our Cub Scout campfire; the one who convinced his neighbor that a dragon skeleton lie buried underneath the hill behind his house. I was the kid recording “puppet shows” on my dad’s handy cam, starring an eclectic cast of stuffed animals and action figures. 
 
In high school, writing became my ally, an emotional outlet, and an avenue of self-expression. When tears ceased to find release after the untimely death of my mother, ink flowed steadily in their stead. However, like most artists, you succumb to the pressure of finding that “bread and butter” major in college. It wasn’t until I was halfway through a Speech Pathology program that I realized I was throwing in the towel without ever trying. 
 
The following year, I moved to Chicago and enrolled in several film classes at the local community college. After one semester I was crazed with passion. I never knew I wanted to direct until I was required to do it for a grade. Many people are infatuated with the idea of being a director, but often lack the diligence or resilience to do it. There is nothing quite like creating an entire living and breathing world. Very similar I’m sure, to what many authors must experience, correct? 
 
HVN: You have directed several films, such as the horror movie, The Rake, and Watermelon Eyes, which was the official selection at the Blow-Up Chicago Arthouse Film Festival. You have also worked as a writer for High on the Hog, an action drama, and Skeletons in the Closet, a horror anthology. How did you develop the ideas for your stories?

JS: I always tell people that I don’t associate with one genre. What matters most to me is telling a compelling and original story. If you look at my credits, you’ll see I’m all over the place—psychological thrillers, creature-features, dark dramas and even a grindhouse film! 
 
Because horror is so big in the Midwest, I found a lot of beginner opportunities there. Loosely based on a Creepypasta entry (the horror fan-site that spawned the iconic Slenderman), The Rake is an urban legend that is equal parts horror and supernatural thriller. To me, real fear is generated in the mind—and more specifically—things we don’t understand. I wanted to root this story in a complex narrative driven by these psychological and metaphysical elements so our piece didn’t become the usual regurgitated industry fodder. That worked for the most part—until LA took control of the editing room. Watermelon Eyes, on the other hand, is on the opposite side of the spectrum. This is a dark surreal drama based on a dear friend Neal’s relapse into alcoholism. What made this entire experience so visceral (on set and on camera) was that Neal was our lead actor. We succeeded in a riveting film that also brought a sense of closure to that turbulent chapter of his life. I believe I am drawn to stories that dissect brutal reality, but are artistically unbound by reality. I am also drawn to occultism and spirituality and use them often in my films. 
 
HVN: Which projects were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging?

JS: As I said before, Watermelon Eyes was a privilege to be a part of because it was bigger than just making a film. Declines with Regret, my follow-up project, was made in a similar vein, using real experiences as the base of the narrative. Stories like these are challenging because you want to do the source material justice, but you want to write the most compelling tale you can. Finding the balance can be tricky.
The Rake was an incredible experience until the late stages of production. Our script had attracted attention in LA and soon money was being thrown our way. We made a few rookie mistakes and the overall shape of the film did not reflect the original vision the Director and I had created. To put it lightly, it was an eye-opening experience. 
 
High on the Hog and Skeletons in the Closet were unique in the respect that I was being brought on the project after the films were shot. This provided an interesting challenge, because I had to craft narrative pieces to fit an already existing framework. In HOTH’s case, I actually wrote an entirely new character to balance the tone and help the audience digest the aggressive amount of exposition. 
 
HVN: What are your plans long-term for your writing/directing? Do you have additional/different works in mind?

JS: I’m watering the seeds of big dreams. I feel like something big is going to happen soon. I’m currently working on three screenplays at the moment. Two out of three are suspense dramas. I’m hoping one will be my directorial debut. 
 
HVN: As an author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my books. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your works?

JS: I once cold-called Haley Joel Osment’s agent to pitch a film I was writing in college. Everyone thought I was mad until his agent responded—and with interest! We had everything ready, down to his per diems, but that same week he was picked up on a new ABC pilot. It turned out for the best. The year after, I bought tickets to a 30 Seconds to Mars concert and found a way to throw my screenplay on stage, hoping then Academy-hopeful Jared Leto would read it and fall in love. I’ve taken a lot of crazy chances, and in doing so have peaked a lot of interest. I’m sure I’ll brave hot coals and shark infested waters before I’m done. 
 
HVN: This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Jeremy Silva – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?

JS: Reading/watching Jeremy Silva is like a conduit becoming possessed. He grips you with painstakingly researched detail, outlandishly layered characters and stories that’ll shake you to life.
Too much? 
 
HVN: As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your completed works? Where there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

JS: As a creative, it’s only too easy to fall into the self-flagellating purgatory of “if only”. I do my best to avoid unpacking there and instead, choose to look at the lessons learned. With filmmaking being a collaborative medium, you really rely on an army of others to bring your “baby” into the world. There have been times I have employed known “names” in the industry rather than hungry up-and-comers. Sometimes the negatives outweighed the positives. It’s always interesting to think about how projects would have been different with another cook in the kitchen. 
 
HVN: I have a 6 year old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to carve out your ideas?

JS: I am a big scheduler. I have three calendars to keep myself on track. I also like to vary my work environment. Many times, I find it hard to work from home, so I’ll go to the library, a coffee shop, the woods—anywhere I can connect to the muses. It’s hard for many to understand, but pursuing a creative endeavor is like having a second job. You clock in 40+ hours at the office and come home to a dozen reasons why you “should take the night off.” Everyone has different goals and their own idea of success. I think it’s important to know what that looks like and to create a timeline. 
 
HVN: Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

JS: Music is usually a must. I have a few film scores I listen to in order to tap into a project. Usually I listen to the soundtrack of a film that has influenced my idea in some fashion. Also, I try to never write when I’m over-tired. You know the difference; you can push yourself with caffeine and will alone when you’re tired, but when you’re falling asleep at the keys, you gotta live to fight another day. 
 
HVN: What are you reading right now?

JS: Currently I’m reading “True Indie” by Don Coscarelli and “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holliday. 
 
HVN: Where can people go to find out more about Jeremy Silva?

JS: People can check me out on IMDB or Facebook. Early next year I’ll have my website revamped! Also, please check out The Rake and Skeletons in the Closet, now on iTunes, Amazon and Hulu! Keep an eye out for High on the Hog in the beginning of 2019!
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4606833/ 
 
HVN: Thanks Jeremy, for sharing some of your time!
JS: Thank you for the opportunity, Hugo! 
An interview with Author Jak Lore!

So as a follow-up to the amazing time at CODCON, I interviewed Jak Lore, a fellow author at the 'Con. His book is called The Last Demon Hunter, so ready your holy symbols and Angelic lore...!
 
Hi Jak - thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Jak Lore is. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
 
A. High school. I always wrote just as an escape from my boredom. When I was done with my homework, or test, or whatever the task was, I broke out my notebook and started to write. I had a separate notebook to write in. I never really thought anything about it as I had always done that, but when I entered into, probably the 8th grade, a few people were interested in what I was always doing. I let them read it, thinking they’d get bored after a few pages, but they didn’t. They kept reading, even after I wanted the book back. They wanted to be kept up with what was happening with the story. After a while, I thought about writing something a bit more serious. Maybe try to actually publish something. I wrote something completely separate from my original work and there was interest in it. I decided to keep pushing it. 
 
How did you develop the idea for The Last Demon Hunter?
 
A. After deciding to write something seriously, I wanted to write something different. I wrote sci-fi at the time and wanted to try something a little more serious and maybe darker. I was a fan of the Jason and Freddy movies so decided to write a horror story. It was meant to be a simple slasher story with nothing supernatural in it, but I found some boredom in that. While I wanted to keep it mostly “realistic” I started adding a little supernatural stuff. It started with the killer being a Satanist instead of the generic nut job. He had some supernatural abilities, which I realized would be hard for the police to counter. He needed opposition, hence Angel was born. He had no powers per se, but knew how to deal with the situation. It just grew from there as I developed those two characters.
 
Which characters were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging?
 
A. That’s a little harder to answer. I’m not sure there was a character I had the most fun developing, but there was a relationship I enjoyed a lot. I enjoyed writing the interaction between Rebecca and Úna. The most challenging was probably Michael. He had a different personality before the story even started, which I had to understand so his actions and thoughts made sense. Getting that across is also a big challenge.
 
What are your plans long-term for your writing? Do you have additional/different works in mind?
 
A. Continue writing as long as I can. I would like to devote more time to it, but right now that’s just not feasible. I have so many other ideas I want to put down on paper, and so much research that needs to go into it. I have the next two or three books in the series planned out, just not outlined yet. Beyond that, I have a lot of ideas of where I want to go and for how long. There are some short stories I want to write, as well as different genre’s I want to work on.
 
As a fellow author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my works. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your books?
 
A. Facebook hasn’t been as great of an avenue as I thought it would be, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on it. Conventions, until recently, have been my biggest exposure. Amazon Ads has helped some and recently I took to Twitter and that seems to be expanding my reach more.
 
This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Jak Lore – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?
 
A. The Four Horsemen are a neutral entity. They don’t care which side actually wins. Ever wonder what would happen if they were forced to pick a side? In this series, that’s exactly what happens and showcases how all sides deal with this decision.
 
As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your stories? Where there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?
 
A. I’d honestly be afraid to touch it at this point. If anything I would have changed the POV of the first book. It’s in 3rd person where the preceding ones are a mixture of 1st and 3rd. I think it tells the story much better this way, switching between the two POVs with interludes.
 
I have a 5 year old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to write your stories?
 
A. That must be nerve wrecking. I have a slightly different problem. I work overnight, so energy becomes my biggest enemy. I want to write but find I have a hard time getting the energy to focus. The key I find is to get adequate sleep. There are mainly two times I get to work, that’s in the evening when I wake up and on my lunch break. If I’m not well rested, there’s nothing getting done on my lunch break. In the evening, coffee is my friend. It helps make me alert enough to sit and focus on writing for an hour or two before I head off to work. That’s how the first book was written and most of the second.
 
Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?
 
A. I’ll write anywhere, but prefer a quiet, clean place. Music helps a lot. I listen to a lot of Within Temptation, Evanescence, and Nightwish. I have a few playlists on Youtube that I listen to depending if I’m writing, plotting, or doing combat.
 
What are you reading right now?
 
A. Currently, I’m trying to finish Atlas Shrugged. That thing is huge. I want to read the Art of War after that.
Where can readers go to find out more about Jak Lore?
 
A. There’s a couple places you can go. I can be found on Facebook/Jak.Lore.Author where you’ll find updates about events I’m attending and uploads of pictures I’ve taken at those events. I’m also on Twitter @authorjaklore and have an author page on Amazon and Goodreads.
 
Thanks Jak, for sharing some of your time! 



An interview with Author Terence Gunn!

As readers of these updates know, I'm a big fan of Grenadier Models, Inc., - a company that produced miniature led figures for role playing games from the 70's to the 90's. In 1996 the company officially closed its doors, although many of their molds and sculpts were purchased by other companies and are still in production today.
 
The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier is a book that follows the history of the company, written by an even bigger Grenadier fan Terence Gunn. I was lucky enough to find this book, and even luckier to connect with its author!

H.N. I was a big fan of Grenadier Models, Inc., especially their AD&D, Call of Cthulhu, and Masterpiece Editions miniature lines from back in the day. How did you develop the idea for The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier?

T.G. Well, first off, I should mention that I started playing role-playing games and book case games in 1978, when I was twelve years old. This was the year I started purchasing fantasy gaming miniatures, too – my first being the Grenadier Models Wizzards & Warriors boxed set Monsters. In 1983 I stopped purchasing miniatures, but continued role-playing up to the early 1990s – though less frequently and with less enthusiasm than when I was younger. I should mention also that I did not keep any of the games and miniatures I had as a youth – save for a couple book case games.

In the year 2000 (the year I started to become familiar with computers and the Internet), I had a fairly well paying job, good credit, and enough spare time and money to get into the hobby again. But what I was interested in most, were the games and miniatures from my youth. When I became familiar with eBay, my nostalgia really kicked in!

I went a bit crazy and not only bought every game and miniature I once owned, but bought many of the games and miniatures I always wanted or was curious about, and some I never knew about. For miniatures, Grenadier Models was at the top of the list. I never did get back into gaming, but I did start painting miniatures again, learning different techniques, and honing my painting skills. I soon amassed quite a collection of miniatures, with Grenadier Models being predominant. Aside from the hobby aspect of seeking out, buying, collecting, and painting, I was getting also quite the history lesson of Grenadier Models and its products. I had no idea how long this company was in business, or how extensive its catalogue of miniatures and other products were; nor did I realize the tremendous impact Grenadier Models had on/in the gaming miniatures industry.

At the time, there was only one fairly comprehensive source of compiled information indexing Grenadier Models’ line of products – and that was on Thomas Pope’s website, The Stuff of Legends. Although a useful resource, I began noticing how many gaps there were in the product listings, and that certain lines were not listed at all, nor mentioned. There was also very little information about the company itself, the founders, and other people involved. Grenadier Models – one of the most innovative, prominent, influential, and pioneering gaming miniatures manufacturer in the history of gaming miniatures, and there was very little known about this company and its vast line of products. I was fascinated by this company and its products, and wanted to learn more. When I did, I decided to write a book on the subject.

No one had written a book about a gaming miniatures company before, so there was no template example for me to go by. I did not have much writing experience, had only a little amateur experience in dealing with image and text layout, and knew only a little about the do’s and don’ts of the publishing industry. Despite these shortcomings, I decided to chance my arm and go ahead with the project, which took over a year to finish. The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier was completed in late 2003 (hence the copyright date), but the book was not available until sometime in 2004. I sought out a publisher, but as the book was considered of interest to a niche market only, I realized soon that this was a dead end, so decided to publish the book myself.

The next step was to find a quality printer with a good reputation and reasonable charges. After some searching and comparing costs, etc., I decided on one. The book had a lot of colour images so I wanted the book to be printed on heavy weight glossy paper. Even the black and white images looked better on such. But such was expensive, and I could not afford all of the upfront printing costs. I contacted Aaron Leeder of Noble Knight Games and he agreed to a pre-order of 20 books, which helped considerably, given the fact that the first print run was only 40 books. Also, I listed on eBay 10 books for pre-order. I announced the book on a miniatures website, had a simple one page website for the book, and, after the book was printed, sent out a number of complimentary copies to certain people. Other than that, there was very little marketing. Most of the marketing was word of mouth, so to say.

The book was 60 pages long and featured an insightful chronological narrative, glossy colour images of products (mainly box cover art and blister packs), interviews with some of Grenadier’s sculptors and employees, and displayed the most comprehensive Grenadier Models product listings available. The book was also a good source of reference to many of the creations and trends in the gaming and gaming miniatures industry in the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s.

For a variety of reasons, the book was not intended to be a photo compendium of Grenadier’s remarkably vast line of miniatures. But, at the same time, I was aware that the book did fall short of displaying a significant enough amount of miniatures to satisfy the reader’s curiosity and desire for visual reference, so I put together and included with each book, a supplemental CD with a PDF containing 43 pages of images from Grenadier’s miniature lines and products. This was an efficient way to keep the printing cost down, as well as was beneficial in that one could zoom in on the images to see greater detail of the miniatures featured. But such wasn’t as enjoyable as having all these images included in the physical book, which one could reference and access more easily.

The first print run of the book had a number of typos and grammatical errors (I know – I should have used a proofreader or two, but I was in total do-it-myself mode), as well as some product date and other informational errors. Before going ahead with a second print run (which was another 40 copies, which I sold on eBay in blocks), I revised certain errors I was aware of, but there were errors still – errors I would become aware of years later when I began working on the new (2016) edition of the book.
After the first two print runs ran out in a number of months, I offered the book for a while as a PDF on disc, which included the supplement. For those who had missed out on the print runs, the eBook was the only option. I sold about 50 copies of the eBook, then dropped off the radar, and focused on other things in my life.

A number of years later, my interest in the book returned, and I began working on a new edition of the book. The new edition would be an extended and revised edition of the first book, and would feature loads of images of miniatures. At least, that was the plan. However, and for a variety of reasons, work on the new edition was short-lived, and was put on the back burner.

Fast forward to November 2015. I injured my left knee at the job I had at the time, and filed for worker’s compensation. A major part of my convalescence was to stay off my feet, and to not stand or walk, unless absolutely necessary; and as my job was physically demanding, I was not able to perform my duties. I was looking at months of sitting round at home, and, potentially, knee surgery, so what would I do to occupy my time in the interim? Work on the new edition of The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier, of course! And I did. Admittedly, at first there wasn’t a great deal of inspiration; but after a few days of working on the project, inspiration really kicked in!

One of the problems I faced when working on the new edition years prior 2016, was getting images of miniatures I wanted to include in the book – particularly, miniatures from Grenadier’s 1970s lines. But not just any images; I had certain specifications in mind. I had put the word out, but to no avail. In 2016 I put the word out again, and this time, a number of collectors came forward. I am really grateful to these people, and for the time and effort they took to photograph the figures they had and email them to me. The book certainly would not have been as rich without their contributions.

In the spring of 2016, I announced on a couple of miniatures/gaming websites that I was working on a new edition of The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier. I was still in the process of recovering from my job-related injury, but was now also unemployed – my previous job position had been eliminated at the end of January, due to, so I was informed, budget cuts. I really wanted the book to be in print form, but unless I found an interested publisher or financial backer, an eBook seemed to be the only option. Circumstances were different this time round, and the book was going to be a larger volume of work, which would mean higher printing costs, should I find the financial means to go in that direction. Kickstarter – which I knew nothing about – was mentioned to me, and I looked into it. Kickstarter offered a number of advantages over the do-it-yourself pre-order method, so I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did! Not only was the financial goal met, it was exceeded! But there was a period when pledges slowed down, and it did not look like the financial goal was going to be met. And although a couple of backers (I think it was only two) backed out before the financial goal was met, this did not affect the outcome.

H.N. What was the most challenging aspect of this project? What was the most fun?

T.G. Between the research, obtaining material, scanning material, acquiring images of material I did not have but wanted to include; cutting and pasting; editing text and images; doing the layout; doing the writing; fact checking over and over again, to make sure dates and details were as accurate as possible; etc. – all aspects of this project were equally challenging. There was also the challenge of dealing with the limitations and idiosyncrasies of the software programme I used to put all this together – which was, at times, very frustrating to deal with. And the data size of the book was so large, I had to split it into four sections, in order to add to, edit, and save what I added and edited. When each section was finished, I then had to convert each to a PDF, and then merge the four together.
As for what was the most fun, it was the process of creating something I was passionate about.

H.N. How difficult was it to search out former employees, sculptors, and owners of Grenadier?

T.G. The Internet made the search easier in tracking down certain people, but only those who had their own websites and/or social media sites, were active members of an online forum, or were affiliated with a company, etc. that had a website. Sculptor William Watt did not, and still does not, have a computer, and it was Andrew Chernak who put me in contact with him. Of course, not all of the people I tracked down and contacted wanted to talk to me or do an interview.

H.N. As a self-published author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my works. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your work?

T.G. As with the first edition, I knew that the most efficacious way of promoting the work would be to announce the work on miniatures sites, etc., to those who would be potentially most interested. From there word would spread; but I had to remain active, letting people know of my progress on the book, posing questions, answering questions, letting people know what I added, etc. A number of people who had their own blog sites, mentioned on their blog sites the book and the Kickstarter campaign, and I am grateful to them for doing this. Allan Grohe (aka grodog) was particularly helpful in spreading the word.

H.N. This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Terence Gunn – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?

T.G. I don’t really have a pitch per se, other than stating the facts of what the book is about and what the book features.

H.N. As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change? Were there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

T.G. Yes, there are a few things I would go back and change, but such are minor. There were a couple ideas I had in mind to integrate into the book, but did not. And, of course, there were numerous images I wanted to include, but did not. Regarding the latter two, the book has a certain flow to it, and I did not want to disturb the flow too much.

H.N. I have a five year old son and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to research and write?

T.G. Being in the state of singleness without children certainly helps!

H.N. Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

T.G. It depends on what subject I am writing about. But usually when I write and do research, I prefer a quiet surrounding with no distractions. When my mind gets too busy and noisy, I will turn on some light classical music in the background to pacify it.
As for a room, for the most part, I write in the upstairs lounge of my rental house – where my computer is – using the computer’s keyboard as my writing implement and the internal word processor software as my editorial assistant. And, of course, when doing research, having the Internet at hand is very useful, and is a quick go-to resource; but one has to be discerning when one comes across any information – be such on the Internet, or in any other form or way.

H.N. What are you reading right now?

T.G. Book-wise, I am not reading anything currently. But the last book I read was The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm (aka the brothers Grimm), translated by Lore Segal with illustrations by Maurice Sendak. I read a number of tales from Grimm in my youth, and wanted to revisit them as an adult. There are a lot metaphors, morals, and alchemy present in these tales, which I find very intriguing. 
On a side note, and although they are variations of the stories on which they were based, I really like what Jim Henson and crew did with a number of these tales in the wonderfully brilliant late 1980s TV series The Storyteller.

H.N. Do you have additional works in mind? What’s your next upcoming project?

T.G. The project I am working on currently is a supplement to The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier. Page-wise, the supplement will be a larger volume than The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier, and will be more of a photo compendium, featuring images of miniatures and other things that were not included in the new edition of the book. Initially I was planning for the supplement to be a PDF download only, but the more I work on the supplement, the more I am leaning towards the supplement being in print form, as well. This would, of course, require starting up another Kickstarter campaign, and the financial goal would have to be met, in order for a print version to materialise, but I am optimistic. We’ll see! It is too early to start up another KS campaign, as I have no idea how large or what all the contents of the supplement will be. But I am very pleased with what I have put together thus far, as are a number of other people who are interested in seeing this go to print, and willing to back it.

H.N. Where can readers go to find out more about Terence Gunn, The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier, and the up coming supplement?

T.G. Presently I do not have a website, but for more information, one can go to The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier Kickstarter project page at:
https://www.kickstarter.com/.../the-fantastic.../description
One can click the Updates section, scroll down to the beginning, and then proceed upwards, to see sample pages of The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier.
For those who are interested in purchasing the book, they can go to the Noble Knight Games website. The book is listed as Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier, The (Extended Edition). Here is a link:
https://www.nobleknight.com/ViewProducts.asp_Q...
Regarding the supplement, the sample pages I have posted on the Kickstarter page are viewable currently only by backers of the KS campaign for The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier. For those who have purchased the new edition but were not backers of the campaign, and who are interested in the supplement, I suggest following me on Kickstarter. When the supplement is finished, I will post on the KS page an update viewable to the public. And, of course, should I start up another KS campaign to raise funds for a print version of the supplement, this will be viewable also to the public.

H.N. Thanks Terence, for sharing some of your time!

T.G. My pleasure, Hugo! Thank you for your interest. And all the best with your next installment in The Forging of a Knight series!


An interview with Author Edward Russell!

The interview beat continues while Book Six in the Forging of a Knight series gets a final polish from Erin my editor. Updates to that will be coming soon. In the meantime, I've had some great opportunities to speak with some great creative talents...witness Ron Shirtz' interview prior - and here is another!
 
HN: Hi Edward – thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Edward Russell is.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

ER: Oh at an early age, grade school. I would see or hear something and think I could change it to make it better. Which really meant more entertaining to me. When I was growing up there was no internet and only 3 channels on the television so there was less distraction and I would write really bad adventures.

HN: You’ve written in some different genres, from horror (The Dead Infested) to fantasy (Dungeon Crawlers), to compiling anthologies (Stone Tails) – I will also add here your specific story in that anthology, Garden War, focusing on a gargoyle statue and some garden gnome sculptures, was my favorite! How did you develop your ideas for these books?

ER: For me it generally starts with a conflict. In the story you referenced I found a massive gargoyle for free on craigslist and the first thing my wife asked me was where I thought I would put it. Well to get it at the front of our house we had to move some garden gnomes and the story just grew from there.

HN: Which of your works is your favorite? What characters were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging?

ER: I do not really have a favorite, I love all of my stories. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses but they are all special to me. As far as characters go I have the most fun with the villains. Heroes typically have a set of rules they live by but villains can do anything they want and how they want. I enjoy trying to come up with a reason for why they do what they do. Now without question the choose your own adventure books are the most difficult to write because the narrative has to be very brief and putting everything together to maintain a coherent journey requires more organization than I naturally possess.

HN: What are your plans long-term for your writing? Do you have additional/different works in mind?

ER: I have taken a few years off from writing (fell in love and go married) but I am starting to get back into horror. Now it is darker than my previous books. I am nine chapters into a story that is by far the most violent thing I have ever written.

HN: As a self-published author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my works. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your books?

ER: I started with social media but I really hate just shouting “buy my book” so I have moved away from that. I like going to conventions and just meeting people and letting them know what my books are about if they show some interest. The downside to that is that most people really prefer to get their books electronically, and I understand that I’m the same way, but its nearly impossible to make enough kindle sales to cover the cost of a table and hotel at a convention.

HN: This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Edward Russell – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?

ER: I wish I had a decent answer to that. When pitching I try to find out what a person likes and see how that matches up with what I have written.

HN: As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your stories? Where there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

ER: Yes I agree in some ways a project never feels fully finished. Every time you go back through it you find places to improve and places where you wonder just what you were thinking before. As for ideas or thoughts I ended up not making the page, yeah that happens. As you know once you really get into a project it takes on its own rhythm, characters move in directions you never expected. Sometimes there is a part of the plot or a scene that you thought would be critical but turns out to be little more than a distraction. Those are the kinds of things I try to leave out.

HN: I have a 5 year old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to write your stories?

ER: At my “real job” I get two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch, that is when I write the bulk of a story. It is a true escape for me to get away from the day for just those few minutes and go into my own world. I get a lot done in that hour. Now I get up at an obscene hour each morning and spend 30 minutes on the treadmill and another 60 weight training. During that time I think about what I am going to write that day and most of the time when I sit down to type it flows pretty well.

HN: Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

ER: If I write at home I turn on instrumental music. I cannot do radio because lyrics get stuck in my head. When I write at work I am generally able to tune out the other noise and focus on my project.

HN: What are you reading right now?
Right now I am reading All gain no pain by Bill Hartman. It is a guide to getting fit for people over the age of 40.

ER: Where can readers go to find out more about Edward Russell?
Probably my amazon author page
https://www.amazon.com/Edward-J-Russell/e/B0112EEL48

HN: Thanks Ed, for sharing some of your time!

ER: Thank you for having me! It was a lot of fun 



An interview with Former Grenadier Bulletin/TSR Polyhedron and Dragon Magazine Illustrator/Writer Ron Shirtz!

This is an awesome interview with a very talented illustrator/writer! From his work as shown in the Grenadier Bulletin, the Polyhedron, and Dragon Magazine, sit back and enjoy! 

HN: Hi Ron – thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Ron Shirtz is. How did you get into cartooning/illustration?
 
RS: Drawing runs in my family. My Dad showed some talent in his doodling. My older brother drew a lot, and I was inspired by his cartoons, though not as talented. I began doing cartoons of my Boy Scout troop, Church activities, and went on to draw a monthly strip, “Original Grin” for my High school newspaper. I enjoyed making people laugh.

HN: You’ve illustrated various cartoon strips, shown in both the old Grenadier Model’s Grenadier Bulletin and TSR’s fan mag the Polyhedron, among others. Some examples include The Knight Error, Croink, and Pennsylvania Smith. In addition, you have been involved in some RPG projects and created your RPG Tiles, which were famously shown in Dragon magazine. How did you develop your ideas for these?




























RS:A little background history... I've always admired the graphic components of the many RPG and wargames I’ve bought over the years. In fact, I'm usually sold on the graphic presentation of a game rather than the game system itself. I find the visual display of painted miniatures on colorful map sheets and game boards the coolest part of the gaming experience. When I bought a copy of the Milton Bradley game HeroQuest, and later Space Crusade, in 1998, I would not play either until I had all the miniatures painted!

In September of the same year I came across Dewayne Agin's HeroQuest website. On his site was a page devoted to downloadable game tiles for HeroQuest. Seeing this page sparked the desire to try my hand at making game board tiles. My first tiles were terrible, and thankfully forever digitally deleted. In the next two and a half years, I mastered the art of making tiles and eventually contributed over 100 full color game tiles to Dewayne's site.

Dewayne was very supportive in zipping the files and making new pages for the thumbnails to be posted. Many times I sent him a second or third version of a tile to replace the previous one that I discovered had minor errors. He cheerfully uploaded it to keep my sensitive artist ego happy. In 1999, at the suggestion of a HQ fan, I decided to try to market my tiles by offering a printing service for my tiles. Encouraged by the response, I created Working Stiff Productions. 

Feeling confined with the standard 8" x 10" size format, I began making custom-sized 11" x 17" tiles. My next big break came when in October of 2000, the art director of Dragon magazine, Peter Whitley, reviewed a portfolio I had sent. He contracted me to do a series of five full color tile posters for five issues in the Dragon. Four posters tiles have been published in the issues 280-283. The last poster was to my knowledge never published. Perhaps it may yet appear in some future issue of the Dragon. Working for Dragon magazine helped me set higher standards for my tiles. Peter Whitley was very kind and helpful getting my work to fir a published format.

My work drew the attention of Mark H. Walker, of Shrapnel games. He commissioned me to do a set of game maps for his groundbreaking game, Forgotten Heroes: Vietnam. The 2003 August issue of PC Gamer gave Richard Caravan and I high marks (88%) for our artwork for the game. Richard designed the superb counters, and I did five full color maps. It was a great honor to hear the National Vietnam Veteran's Art museum had inducted the game into its art collection.































HN: What program do you use? 

RS:Adobe Photoshop is my program of choice. I can’t speak on the merits of other image paint programs like Corel Draw or Canvas, but Photoshop has everything a 2D digital artist could ask for. Layers, special effects filters, dozens of art tools, and color adjusting features. I also used a plug in program called Alien Skin to create extra texture effects such as bevels, glows, wood textures, glass, fire, and many others. Back in the late 1990’s Photoshop was a ravenous pig that tapped all of the computer's resources. It would take all the RAM, hard drive space, and CPU speed you can give it, and still ask for more! Not that it freezes or crashes-- it is a very stable program. But when you are working on an 11” x 17” tile at 250 DPI, it will slow to crawl when applying a filter effect or performing a simple cut and paste.
Graphic images that physically large, at such high resolution, really tax a computer. When I first designed tiles for Dewayne's site, I was obliged to set them in 72 dpi resolution for easy file downloading. I slowly increased the resolution up to 100, to 125, to presently 250 dpi. The higher dpi gives beautifully detailed images, but at the cost of humongously large file sizes. Your printed piece will not be as sharp as compared to a 250 DPI one, but still look pretty good for gaming.



























HN: How long does it take?

RS: Depending on the complexity of the tile, whether it’s just a dungeon floor or a decorated room, anywhere from 1-5 hours for an 8”x 10” size tile. High-tech tiles take more time as they required lots of nuts, bolts, buttons, etc. Larger (11” x 17”) tiles are ten times longer to make. It took 40 plus hours to create the Space Freighter tile set, “Brandy’s Lament”. I was pretty burned out after making that one. It was several weeks before I would even consider making another tile!

HN: How do you achieve such realistic effects?

RS: Using a combination of design techniques and clip art photos I can achieve a near photo-realistic effect with many of my tiles. Clip art saves me considerable time from having to design sub-components for many tiles. But using clip art effectively is more than just cut and paste---much of the clip art I use has to be resized, cropped, trimmed, flipped, rotated, distorted, and otherwise modified to fit the scale and colors of a tile. I spend a lot of time researching hundreds of clip art files to find one to suit my purpose. But while I make use of stock photo clip art, the majority of my tiles are created ex nihilo in Photoshop. The real key in making realistic tiles is the use of lighting. Highlights and shadows give depth and drama to artwork. Using Photoshop’s layers, blur filters, dodge and burn tools I can create lighting effects to make the tile more dramatic. Adding texture overlays also enhances the finished product. These texture overlays can be imported and blended in at different levels of transparency to really set off a stone floor and other tile elements. Keeping the tiles to 25mm scale can be tricky--I keep a 25mm miniature next to my computer compare against the tile on the monitor to help keep the tiles in reasonably close to scale. Even so, I often fudge with the scale to make items on the tiles bigger than life for dramatic effect--- I used the excuse of artistic license more than once to justify my errors in keeping scale!

HN: Where do you get your ideas for tiles?

RS: Mostly movies & comics. I take a cinematic approach to my work. Among my favorite artists are N.C. Wyeth, M.C. Escher, the Brothers Hildebrandt, and Jack "King" Kirby. A lot of the old adventure movies from the 1960's give me inspiration for themes to make tiles. The idea for the "Crocodile pit" tile was from an old Tarzan movie I saw as a kid. Nowadays when I watch a movie I spend more time watching the scenery and the sets than the actors! Sometimes I get ideas from studying photos of historical buildings and structures from the past. The tricky part is making the idea translate into a top-down perspective on a tile. I often approach the design of a tile as if I am building a stage for the action to take place. I often add obstacles, pathways, different elevations, and other features to make a tile unique, and to give challenges for a party of adventurers to overcome. My goal is always to make a tile evoke mystery or drama. I like to think that my tiles often tell a story by themselves, giving the GM ideas for running an adventure.

A final bit of advice: Don't be too discouraged if your first attempts don't come out very well the first time. (Then again, you may be a natural born artist and whip out masterpieces on the first try--I've seen it happen!) If anyone saw my first tiles I did three years ago, you would have thought they were pretty pathetic. It wasn't till my second year I started to turn out some decent ones, and by the third year I was finally good enough to get Dragon Magazine's attention to publish my work. Even then, it wasn't until my last two tiles in the poster series that I begin to hit my stride. You must decide if you are going for masterpieces, or just some nice, useful tiles for gaming-- It can be a toss up to decide which would you rather do ----gaming or making tiles! Live with your choice and don't compare your work with others unless you are going for masterpieces. I make tiles because I enjoy it, (or getting decent bucks to do it!) The minute making a tile seems like work is when I wrap it up and call it a night. It's gotta be fun to be worth doing.
















HN: Which of your works is your favorite? What characters were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging?

RS: I would say all have been my favorite. Each one engaged my imagination in a new way. One thing I learned is that there is always another story or picture to be made. So whenever I’m asked, which my best work is, I say “The next one”.

As far as the most challenging, I would say the map boards for Forgotten Heroes, Vietnam. Lots of detail, and I had to make sure all the geomorphic maps would align with one another regardless of their orientation. Every hex had to be given a reference number.



















HN: What are your plans long-term? Do you have additional/different works in mind?

RS: None really. I pick up the odd job here and there. I’ve shifted gears and now concentrating on writing my first book, a sci-fi adventure titled: The Last voyage of the Brandy’s Lament.

HN: As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change from your creations? Where there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

RS: Oh yes. I rarely had a project that I did not wish I could revise after it was published. Can’t tell you the number of times that the day after I submit a project that the muse pays me a tardy visit and THEN tells me what I should have done instead! But when up against a deadline, one seldom has the luxury to mess about multiple versions. It’s often “Gotta get ‘er done!” “Publish or Perish!”

Often I wished I had added some more features here or there, or emphasized some of the elements. Composition is the key. I like to design my layouts asymmetrically to create dynamic angles and poses, while ensuing it is balanced and not ready to fall over.

HN: I have a 5 year old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to develop your projects?

RS: Heh. Usually forging sleep, and working in the wee hours. Or getting up early. Makes for being a zombie for the rest of the day, but one must suffer for one’s art.
I’m paranoid about backing up my work. One time I invested 40 hours designing some HeroQuest RPG floor tiles, and blew off backing them up. Of course Murphy ’s Law kicked in, as my computer decided to pick up a virus and I lost everything. Oh, the pain! Never again. I vowed.

HN: Do you have a certain method you use – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right creative frame of mind?

RS: Not really. Sometime I do listen to music. But usually ideas come to me when I waiting somewhere, or attending a boring, purposeless meeting. My co-workers will see me scribbling furiously, thinking I am dutifully taking notes, when instead I’m doing thumbnail sketches of future projects.

HN: What are you working on right now?

RS: Nothing at the moment. I’m currently working on my first novel, a sci-fi adventure titled: The Last Voyage of the Brandy’s Lament. Boy, do I now have a greater appreciation of authors! The book is currently in its 17 month of gestation, and I have at least another 4-6 weeks to go to finish revising the original draft.
The rest of my time is spent on my favorite hobby, painting miniatures and creating tabletop scenery. I find it very therapeutic, if nothing else. I’m a terrible gamer as far as strategy and tactics go. I seldom ever win. But I do love the visual pageantry of miniatures displayed on a scenic game board.

HN: Where can readers go to find out more about Ron Shirtz?

RS: Well, I do have a Facebook page, but I am very shy to share much about myself. But Google Dwayne Agin’s Hero Quest page, or my name, and examples of my early RPG tiles can be found and available free for downloading.

HN: Thanks, Ron, for sharing some of your time!
 




Interview with SPELLFURY director Travis Gordon! 

Dragons, Half-Elves, Thieves, heroism, villainy, comedy, fell creatures, and a tavern that hosts the most bizarre menagerie this side of a certain sci-fi movie…

Spellfury started in 2008. A live-action fantasy web series with drama, adventure, and definitely tongue-in-cheek humor. Official Selection Hollyweb Festival 2013 and Official Selection by Gen Con Film Festival 2013, Season One comprised 12 episodes, with Season Two currently ongoing. Searchable on YouTube, Spellfury is a comedic treat that cannot be missed. Travis Gordon is the writer/director of the series, and being a fan I had the great opportunity to interview him!

 
Hi Travis - thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Travis Gordon is. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer/director?

TG: I’ve been making films since I was 14 but halfway through my 2 year Theater Arts Course in College I realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life writing and directing.

How did you develop the idea for Spellfury?

TG: I love the Fantasy genre, I wanted to make a show that I would watch. Spellfury is my crazy experiment to play around with fantasy ideas that excite me.

Which characters were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging?

TG: The villains are fun to create, Davinica (Played by Lisa Forrester) was brought in season 2 just to make it tougher for Druinia to achieve her goals. Fan reaction was telling me that they thought Kruskull was a little too goofy, I needed to bring in a villain who was no nonsense. The characters are very easy to write, the structure of the plot for future seasons has been challenging at times.

What are your plans long-term for Spellfury? Do you have additional/different works in mind?

TG: I took a break from Spellfury for a while but now I’m back on the project. I want to see how far I can take the show, I knew I would come back to it one day. I would also like to do a SciFi project in the future.

As an author, I have the challenge of getting the word out on my books. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your works?

TG: Promoting your own work can be difficult. It’s a job in itself, I find you really have to toot your own horn and never give up. Although it’s entertainment you’re still building a business so you have to treat it like that.

As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your concepts for Spellfury? Where there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

TG: I was in a rush to create season one of Spellfury, I had a contract with Koldcast.tv (They’re not around anymore) to deliver an episode every month, it would have been nice to take more time with the episodes back then. Because it’s a web series I have more freedom story wise to try things out and see if they stick. The fans let me know if something is working or not. Ultimately it’s my decision if something stays or goes though.

I have a 5 year old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to balance your many writing/directing projects?

TG: Great question, balance between family and work can be tough, I think everyone struggles with that.

Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

TG: Spellfury is the easiest project to write that I’ve ever worked on. Working on all the green screen shots and compositing is the toughest stage for me. I just have to drink a lot of coffee and work my butt off to get through it.

What are you working on right now?

TG: I always have a few projects on the go. I just wrapped a TV Pilot called Detective Bros. that we’re shopping around to networks here in Canada. I also have a documentary and 2 shorts in the pipeline. Although the next episode of Spellfury is what I’m working on right now, it’s already been shot.

Where can readers go to find out more about Travis Gordon and Spellfury?

TG: We have info about the show and all the episodes at www.spellfury.com

Thanks Travis, for sharing some of your time!

TG: Thanks Hugo, I really appreciate it!





Interview with Author J. Wolf Scott! 
 
Yet another amazing author that I had the privilege to booth alongside at Gen Con - J. Wolf Scott. The Children of Auberon series, First Wish, and a favorite of my son's, The Dread Welsh Dragon. In describing her walks through Oakhurst Gardens, Julie's author page states, "My mission is to share that magic with the world....", and she is definitely doing that!

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

J.W.S.: I came to the game later than most. I worked for a church as a Christian Education Director and began almost immediately to write for our church’s newsletter under “other duties as assigned.” It wasn’t until I started to hear back from church members how my words had impacted them that I embraced the task and began to thoroughly enjoy the craft.

How did you develop the idea for The Children of Auberon?

J.W.S.: The Guardian of Oakhurst began as a short little faerie tale based on a local legend about a little girl who lived in our area a hundred years ago and believed that there were faeries living in her back yard. I picked it up and ran with it, never for a moment imagining that the fae folk would respond in kind. They quickly took the driver’s seat, dictating the tale to me, resulting in the first five novels of The Children of Auberon Series over the course of two and a half years.

Which characters were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging?

J.W.S.: I have thoroughly enjoyed how Arn has grown throughout the series. He is the brother I’d always wished for, and interacts with the heroine as thus (for the most part). Probably the most fun I’ve had with him is when he flirts with another character the only way he knows how – in combat. He’s a wise-acre and has a sharp tongue sometimes, but always speaks the truth no matter how brutal it may be.
The most challenging were definitely Arak and Drea because of their relationship. I knew where it had to go, and I knew what had to transpire, but I dreaded it like the plague. I’ll take choreographing a sword fight to writing romance any day. Like Arn, I am not always good at that part and I struggled with The Sodality immensely because of it. The fact that I try to write for all ages and not delve into the “Fifty Shades of Fae” arena caused me to struggle for months. I was a week and a half from publishing Sodality and truly hated that book. But once I got that portion figured out, it turned, becoming my favorite book in the series.

What is your plan long-term for the series? How many more stories do you have in mind?

J.W.S.: If there is one thing I’ve learned it is to never decide to call an epic complete when it is not. I have been working for nearly two years on Queen of the Flame, the seventh book of the series, and as I wrestled with this one I was almost certain it would be the last. “Not yet!” say the fae folk, so who am I to argue with them? In just the last week I’ve had two new stories present themselves and I am humble enough to know that these tales come from a higher power than me, and I would be foolish not to pursue them down whatever road they might lead.

You have written other books, such as The Dread Welsh Dragon – do you have additional/different works in mind?

J.W.S.: My daughter and I collaborated on The Dread Welsh Dragon and had a blast! However, she keeps busy with a full-time job and freelance work so another illustrated book might be further down the road. That does not mean that there are not a lot of other things on the list!

I have a book that will likely be my next that is a total departure from the fantasy genre. It’s been running around in the back of my head for about a year and a half and I feel that I need to get it finished before diving back into the fae realm. However, it deals completely with humans, and that can be even more of a challenge than working with magic and mystical beings! And by finally allowing myself to make it an even shorter book than most of my previous works if that is what it is to be has been quite freeing. The story will be what it will be.

As for the series, there are two books starting to bubble along the back of my brain. So I’ve gone back to schlepping my favorite notebooks with me should inspiration strike. What will be difficult is when the voices for these projects become more insistent for my attention than the piece I’m working on. Fae folk are not the most patient of beings, and can be most demanding of my time when they choose to be. Never a dull moment in the realm of writing!

As a self-published author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my works. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your books?

J.W.S.: My first year of Gen Con (2014) was the biggest boost for my work. I’d always done well at small, local events, but figured that was due to the fact that the tale had roots in our city. Gen Con literally brought the world to my doorstep – I’ve sold books to people who live in Russia, Canada, Germany, Australia, Kuwait, and Ireland as well as numerous states within the US. While marketing tactics are hit and miss for most of us, I believe that the best way is word of mouth. There is no greater endorsement for an author’s work than one friend recommending a book to another. Our readers have invited us into their lives so that we might share our tale with them. Their recommendation to another is truly a high compliment to our work.

This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Julie Wolf Scott – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?

J.W.S.: I’d probably have to say, Think of it as throwing the works of Tolkien, Lewis, and Roddenberry into a blender then anchoring the resulting tale (but by no means limiting it to) modern-day middle-America.

As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your stories? Where there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

J.W.S.: Actually, it’s just the opposite. In past works I’ve written sections – well thought out sections that I have no idea where they’ve come from or why I’ve written them – that just don’t fit in the story. So I’ve had to set them aside. The uncanny part of it is that later on, those same pieces fit perfectly into the gaps in the next book.

There are a few inconsistencies that while I could go back and revise them, I am content with the work as it stands for the simple fact that for as OCD as I am, they don’t bother me. No one has complained thus far so I’ll let sleeping dogs lie for the time being. However, that is probably the best part of self-publishing – I can go back and make changes and have the book republished within a matter of days.

I have a soon to be five year old son (actually he's five now at the time of this posting), and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to write your stories?

J.W.S.: It’s crazy but when I was working 40 hours a week in a retail setting I was also blogging every day in addition to writing from 4-6 am and raising two children with my husband. I have since switched jobs and work from home, and my children are grown, so you’d think it would be easier. The fact of the matter is that the job I’ve been in the past two years takes a lot of creative collateral, to the point where it has been difficult to find the energy to write. And while it’s been tough to reconcile on a personal level I feel that I am coming out of the woods on that one and getting back into that groove. It is definitely encouraging, and most refreshing.

Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

J.W.S.: Because I work at home I have set up a corner of my office that is still within reach of the workstation. That way when I have a short break I can do jots, editing, or formatting. I am conditioning myself to allow for breaks in the day where I tag out and write. Most days I listen to either jazz, classical, or movie soundtracks. My favorites are The Definitive Vince Guaraldi, the works of Beethoven, and the entire collection of soundtracks from Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

What are you reading right now?

J.W.S.: I got an advance copy of Recreant by Jay Erickson and have really enjoyed it. I am a lousy reader for several reasons, the first of which being that I have the attention span of a gnat. If I am not reeled in quickly, it is a lost cause. The primary reason I don’t read while I’m writing is that it sometimes takes me a long time to get my head back into my own work. I read Catching Fire and it took me two weeks before I could write again. Fortunately I had a week’s break between finishing Queen of the Flame and getting my first round of proofs to begin the editing process, so the timing is good.

What’s your next upcoming project?

J.W.S.: Once I get Queen of the Flame buttoned up it looks like it’ll be time to concentrate on prepping for a couple of speaking engagements. I would love to delve into converting my books into audio books and look into other marketing options. With any luck I can juggle all this and get back to writing!

Where can readers go to find out more about Julie Wolf Scott?

J.W.S.: www.jwolfscott.com or I can be found on Facebook as well under J. Wolf Scott.

Thanks Julie, for sharing some of your time!

J.W.S.: Thank you, Hugo! See you at Gen Con 50!

Interview with Author Steven Helsel!

Steven Helsel, author of the Black Opal, is going to be a new author appearing at this year’s Gen Con in downtown Indy. His lair will be amongst those of the other scribes of fantasy and fiction (including myself) that will be lurking within the Author’s Avenue, and I was lucky enough to connect with him for a quick interview. 

Here is an excerpt of what awaits within his novel…

“A tale of deep shadows and flickering light await within Black Opal, with struggles between good and evil, man and monster, sword and spell, decadence and poverty by brave warriors, faithful knights, noble ladies, wizards that command splendid magic, and rogues that live by their wits. Black Opal is a journey of hatred and vice, redemption and honor, and a vision of blood and snow.”

Hi Steven - thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Steven Helsel is.

Steven: I am 38 years old and have 8 kids at home and another on the way. Yes, they are all mine. I have been married for 14 years. I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and have been in Indiana for 12 years.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

Steven: I always knew I loved to write but did not know I wanted to be a writer until I was about 25. I was always good with my words but more so with the written word.

How did you develop the idea for Black Opal?

Steven: I have been running role playing games for 25 years. Running those games is very much an exercise in storytelling. The essence of the geography and many of the characters are derived from these games. They are all composites of varies creations of mine over the course of time.

Which characters were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging?

Steven: The rogue trio was the most fun. I grew up poor in an urban environment so their sarcasm and emotion came naturally to me. Everybody loves Jynx. The most challenging was Treant since he is teetering on the line between good and evil throughout the book and I do not want it to be obvious how he ends up. Is it just bad luck and timing with him or is their great darkness within?

What are your plans long-term for your writing? Do you have additional/different works in mind?

Steven: I am writing a follow-up to Black Opal since I left some things wide open. I would like to focus more on other characters as well. I am also writing a novel publicly on my blog that is a compliment to Black Opal with totally different characters. I am writing a world guide and last, but not least, I am writing a contemporary comedy that is hilarious.

As a fellow author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my works. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your books?

Steven: Ouch. I feel your pain. I have done the obvious with social media. I am developing email lists. I have set up a series of events, the biggest of which is Gen Con 50. I look forward to seeing you there. I have a website and have spent much time on it. It is a whole new world and I am still learning the ropes. I think many people focus too much on author pages in fb. While I am grateful, even humbled by the support of family and friends it is my goal to market my book to fantasy diehards. That is why I am looking at a long game, to bring people into my world.

This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Steven Helsel – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?

Steven: So, I am probably the only person that does not have one. For agents and publishers, I can put something together but I am writing to people that I already share a bond with over the fantasy genre. I love talking about it. No pitch necessary, I just have the kind of conversation I have had a million times and at some point mention my work.

As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your stories? Where there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

Steven: LOL. No, it is finished. I knew it was finished when my wife threatened me if I revised it one more time. There are some things that didn’t make the cut for me. I would have liked it to be longer but I was already pushing the industry standard on word counts for new authors. But it worked out well. I had a clear goal for the end of the first book.

I have a 5 year old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to write your stories?

Steven: See question one, lol. I have so many children that it is a miracle. I have been interrupted too many times to count. I do most of my writing in my head, usually before I go to sleep. It is very malleable. When I have it, I pour it out on my laptop. I have deleted many things and lost entire chapters before.

Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

Steven: To block out noise I will listen to head phones and play instrumental music on you tube. I prefer to write at the desk in my room. As far as mood goes it is usually the writing that steers my mood. If I write something sad, it makes me sad. If I write about malice it makes me angry. It is a rollercoaster.

What are you reading right now?

Steven: I have a huge reading list and just finished my associates degree at Ivy Tech so I am taking a break from reading to concentrate on my writing and marketing. I will be reading again soon however.

Where can readers go to find out more about Steven Helsel?

Steven: My website at www.blackopalhiddencity.com I have links to my blog and my authors central page. Also, Goodreads is a great place. People can always contact me directly. I love feedback and suggestions. I look forward to my blog novel receiving inspiration from the readers.

Thanks Steven, for sharing some of your time!

Steven: No, thank you Hugo. It was fun, good luck to you sir.




Interview with Erin Potter, Editor Extraordinaire!

By Urgsh's hairy elbows, I've been waiting for this one! Awhile back I posted an interview I did with my cover illustrator Lora Lee - well, here is the other arm to Forging of a Knight - my editor, Erin Potter. She's the one that reviews the text, formats the paragraphs, critiques, comments, edits, proofs, and otherwise helps me polish the stories to what they should be. 

So take it away, Erin...!

Hi Erin, to start out, how about sharing some of your background with us?

I am a Canadian editor living in Vancouver, BC. I have been interested in writing since I was a kid, and at the age of 15, I had my own monthly column in my town's community newspaper. I was sure I'd pursue a journalism career after high school graduation, but instead I took Communications (Public Relations and Publishing) in college, and then later completed another program called Print Futures: Professional Writing.
It was during that time of study that I developed my interest in editing. I loved writing but I loved being 'behind the scenes' even more. I especially enjoyed the challenge of editing to fit a space in a document without it being obvious what had been changed. After working in corporate and non-profit communications for a decade [I produced more newsletters, brochures, and annual reports than I'd ever dreamed possible], I decided to leave my full-time career after I had my youngest child. I had ideas for starting a freelance business, but I hadn’t taken the step yet when, in early 2009, my editing business actually found me! A writer I'd met asked me to proof his work, and then his friend also asked about hiring me. The idea for my business was born.

Was it difficult setting up your own business?

Not really. I started researching potential editing opportunities in the relatively new world of online publishing. I got involved with an online writers' network and placed a little ad on the group's website and from that I received four editing clients. Those first clients turned into a few more, and through trial and error with each new project, I learned how to go through the one-on-one editing process, something I hadn’t done much before. I set up a website and posted the valuable testimonials I'd received, and my business grew.

What do you enjoy the most about your work? What do you enjoy the least?

By far, the best thing for me is 'meeting' the writers. I get excited with them about their books; I admire their perseverance in accomplishing their publishing goals, and even if the project itself is not a subject or genre in which I’d normally be interested, I find something fascinating and valuable from my relationship with each author and project. I also love the fact that I essentially get to read for a living, and I've been introduced to some extremely talented authors and fascinating stories I might not otherwise have sought out. Now I work almost exclusively with repeat clients. The editing process is so much more comfortable and positive for me -- and for the author, I suspect -- when we are familiar with each other's work and styles, etc. What do I enjoy the least? I don't enjoy being critical when I worry that I'll crush the author's confidence.

Give us a day in the life - what steps do you usually follow when taking on a new assignment?

I like to read through a new manuscript before I start editing, to gather my impressions from a reader's perspective. I go back to the beginning then and start the on-screen editing process using the track changes function in Word. When I was in school I learned how to do markup with pen to paper using the various editing marks, which can be so time consuming for the editor and author. I am so glad to be working in this time of online editing! After I've made my edits and comments on the manuscript, I review my work and run through the manuscript again until I'm confident I've given it my best attention. And I always work with a cup of chai tea nearby.

What are your goals moving forward?

I started out taking any and every editing project I could and that quickly burned me out. Then I focused on fiction projects only, and got burned out again by scheduling projects back to back for a couple of years without a suitable break in between. During this time, I did not pick up a single book for pleasure reading, and that signaled to me that something needed to change. I now accept projects primarily from regular clients (and sometimes referrals) and that allows me to work on the projects I'm interested in with the authors I admire, while also giving me balance so I can enjoy other interests. I hope to continue this way and I've been fortunate in that I have a lovely, talented group of prolific authors who choose to work with me regularly. I have also been preparing to take an exam for my accreditation from the Editors' Association of Canada and I have my eye on a few other editing and writing courses to keep my skills sharp.

Favorite music, movies, places to travel to?

I have a huge music collection but find myself listening mostly to songs of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Whenever I can, I enjoy watching comedies, thrillers, and documentaries, and have a special fondness for the original John Carpenter Halloween movies. I have traveled to Hawaii, Mexico, Cuba, and various places in the US, but have yet to do much traveling in my own country. Born in Saskatchewan, I have lived most of my life on the west coast of BC. One of my favorite places to visit here is Parksville, on Vancouver Island, for its amazing beaches and beautiful scenery.

What sort of skills do you think are essential for someone interested in getting into the field?

Good writers do not necessarily make good editors, but good editors must have solid writing skills. Beyond that, fiction editors need to be detail people, not just for typos and spelling mistakes but for continuity, consistency, logic, and a host of other issues. They need to be able to see a project as a whole but also get into the finer details of the pieces that put the project together such as character development, voice, pacing, etc. An editor should be well-read and adept with a variety of research tools, and should be able to give constructive feedback to help polish the project, being careful not to put their own voice in the proposed edits. An editor needs to love words!

For anyone interested in having you work on their projects, what’s the best way for them to reach you:

I can be reached at shamrockediting@gmail.com. I plan to have my new website up in early 2016.

Thanks again, Erin!! 






Interview with Douglas Rudder from RudderHaven!

I met Doug at last year’s Gen Con where I had the pleasure of boothing next door to his table. I was impressed by his engaging personality, RudderHaven’s (a budding publishing company focusing on fiction and non-fiction) stable of work, AND the creative costumes Doug and his wife wore each day at the convention!

With a break in the Forging of a Knight action while ‘Prison Planet gets its final polish, I was able to reach out to Doug. He graciously accepted my offer to interview. So, without further ado…

HN: Hi, Douglas – thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Douglas Rudder is, as well as the inside scoop on RudderHaven Publications.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

DR: I’ve enjoyed writing since childhood. I grew up on books like The Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Jr., Robert Heinlein, and J. R. R. Tolkien. Our parents encouraged reading and nurturing our imaginations. I still have handwritten copies of stories I wrote as a child and teenager. Science fiction and fantasy have long been my favorite genres.

HN: How did you develop the idea for RudderHaven?

DR: My brother actually started it in 2000 as Athor Productions. He published his first fantasy novel, Sharamitaro, and it kind of took off from there. I joined him as publisher and general partner a few years ago and we morphed into RudderHaven. I’ve always been involved from an editorial standpoint, with a focus on monitoring story flow, continuity, and character consistency.

HN: In developing RudderHaven Publications, what was the most fun to develop? What was the most challenging?

DR: The characters, stories, worlds, and concepts top the list of fun stuff. Learning how to develop and compose books in InDesign and do graphic design in Photoshop has been both challenging and rewarding. The biggest challenge, of course, is figuring out how to make yourself known to potential readers.

HN: What is your plan long-term for RudderHaven?

DR: To be a source of fiction and non-fiction for the whole family. We want anyone to be able to read and enjoy the books we publish and want to offer publishing services to other authors who feel the same way. When Jonathan’s fifth novel is released, we will have thirteen titles available in print, with four of those also on Kindle.

HN: Your brother, Jonathan Rudder, has recently completed his Milhavior Chronicles series, and you have some other great works in your stable, including Tolkien: Roncevaux, Ethandune, and Middle-Earth that you authored. Can you talk a little bit about these projects?

DR: Jonathan’s final novel in the Milhavior Chronicles series, The Flame and the Shadow, is slated to be released in time for Gen Con in Indianapolis – just two weeks away. We recently released a new anthology spearheaded by C. K. Deatherage called Tales with a Twist, which is a collection of short stories and poems of various genres, all of which have a plot twist. We also just published the RudderHaven Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology II, which was particularly fun to work on this year since my daughter (age 14) has published her first story in it. Watching her grow as a writer is an amazing experience – and may result in a blog post soon.

HN: As a self-published author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my works. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for RudderHaven?

DR: Conventions like Gen Con, websites (including the new RudderHaven page on Facebook), and a lot of word-of-mouth – beginning with family and friends – have been the staple thus far. I also have a little side outlet, because my office (at my day job) lets me put up a display in the lunch room on occasion. A couple of the authors in our anthologies have also been published in other works and now their readers are being introduced to RudderHaven, providing another avenue for reaching new readers.
HN: This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Douglas Rudder – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work or that of RudderHaven?

DR: I don’t really have a pitch. I’ve never liked in-your-face salesmanship; it’s a quick turn-off for me as a customer, so I don’t use it as an author. Mostly I rely on enthusiasm for the work. It’s more personal. My friends and coworkers know when something new is in the pipes because I’ll bring around concept cover art or proof copies, and they are often amused at my excitement. That’s okay; I AM excited.

HN: As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. In your works, is there anything you would go back and change? Were there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

DR: It is incredibly hard to hit that upload button to send a book to the printer. No matter how many editorial passes it’s been through, there is always the worry that something got missed, that something could have been done better. There are often times in revision when ideas are modified or even discarded. For example, in my short story, “The Observer,” there was some discussion dialogue that I removed when I realized it didn’t fit pacing of the story. There was another piece of dialogue that was pushed to a later scene because of the press of events. It no longer worked where it was in the original concept.

HN: Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

DR: Usually, the only light I have on is the desk lamp near the computer. It’s almost like creating a tunnel from me to the screen and helps keep me immersed in what I’m doing. I don’t have music going, because, well, I find myself listening to the music. I can write anywhere, but I prefer my “bat cave” approach because it’s easier to stay focused.

HN: What are you reading right now?

DR: Jonathan Rudder’s The Milhavior Chronicles and Timothy Zahn’s Night Train to Rigel.

HN: What are RudderHaven’s next upcoming projects?

DR: After the push to get our science fiction and fantasy books out in time for Gen Con, we have a manuscript for a Bible study book from my Dad, who is a semi-retired minister (he’ll never really be retired; I expect he’ll drop in the saddle someday). I’m also working on a science fiction novel, with bits and pieces of two more sci-fi and two fantasy novels floating around in my head.

HN: Where can readers go to find out more about Douglas Rudder and RudderHaven?

DR: Well, there’s my author bio in the back of my books (wait, was that a sales pitch?). My wife and I, along with C. K. Deatherage, will be manning the RudderHaven booth at Gen Con in Indianapolis, August 14-17. You can also go to the RudderHaven facebook page or company site (www.RudderHaven.com) for further information.

HN: Thanks, Doug, for sharing some of your time!

DR: Thanks for asking me. It’s been a pleasure. 



Interview with Author Brian Beam!

“With nothing to go on but a vague dream which may or may not be memory, Korinalis Karell has spent the last three years searching Amirand for his birth parents. With a Contract to fund his journey and a magic talking wizard cat named Max to keep him company, Korin has tenaciously traveled from one kingdom to the next with no success to speak of. However, after being hired by Count Galius Firmon to retrieve a stolen gem, Korin finds himself faced with revelations about his past that not only flip his world upside down, but throw him into a fight for his very survival. With the aid of a mediocre wizard on a dragon hunt, a chatterbox Kolarin thief, and Max, Korin sets out to discover the truth of his past so that he may live to see his future. Join Korin in this fantasy adventure as he faces a ruthless count, evil wizards, a furious dragon, godsforsaken creatures of death, and even worse, a sarcastic cat.”

…Thus reads the premise for The Dragon Gem (Korin’s Journal) (Volume 1)

I first came across Brian over at www.indiesunlimited.com, a great site for indie authors (and for readers too!) to showcase and share their works. Since then, I’ve wanted to learn more about his writing and his wonderful series Korin’s Journal, and with my taking a breath from a final go-around with Forging of a Knight Book Three, Prison Planet of the Mah-Lahkt, I finally had a chance!

Hi Brian – thanks again for taking the time to be interviewed! Let’s begin with telling us a little bit more about who Brian Beam is.

HN: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

BB: I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little kid of 8 or 9 years old. My parents had these friends who had written books, and something about that gave me the inspiration to write my first real story—The Scary Halloween. Once I sat down to write it, I remember how amazing it felt to write a story outside of the context of school and how proud I was of it when I finished. Obviously, if I still had a copy of that story, it’d be an international bestseller. Unfortunately, the sequel, The Spooky Easter was never completed.

HN: How did you develop the idea for Korin’s Journal?

BB: Starting in 2011, I was a stay-at-home dad for about 18 months. Sometime in the first few months, I decided to secretly write a book during my son’s naps to surprise my wife with. The plan was to write a novella that would be the first in a series (if I decided to continue the story, that is), and find a decent on-demand printer to give my wife and family a copy of it at Christmas. After the first couple chapters, my original concept began to expand in my head. Most of my ideas come to me when jogging, and I was doing a lot more of it then than now, and that caused the story to evolve a lot as well. Before I knew it, I had a 140,000 word novel that would be the first of an epic trilogy.

HN: Which characters were the most fun to develop? Which were the most challenging?

BB: Max is by far the most fun character of the Korin’s Journal series for many reasons. He’s sarcastic and pretentious, yet one of the most loving and caring characters in the series. My main reason for making him a cat was that his personality fits perfectly with a cat’s (if you’ve ever had a cat, you’ll know what I mean). He’s been endlessly fun to develop because there’s a lot of secrets associated with his past that are slowly revealed throughout the books. Well, in the case of book 2, The Forgotten King, a lot of his past is put out there for the reader. As for the most challenging, I’d have to say . . . Max. Yeah, I know, I just used him for the first question. Even so, the challenge is part of the fun with him. He’s a complex character. Most of Max’s actions are based on motivations that Korin knows nothing about, something I found difficult to write with the story being told in first person through Korin’s eyes. There was always the question of how much Korin would accept from Max before finally just losing it and choking his secrets out of him. It’s a bit of thin line when writing Max’s scenes.

HN: What is your plan long-term for the series? How many more stories do you have in mind for Korin and Max?

BB: Korin’s Journal will be a trilogy. There’s a definitive story in my head, and I’m not going to draw it out for the sake of lengthening out the series. I love my characters, and I’ll hate to say goodbye to them after the third book, but it’s what my story calls for. The entire story will be wrapped up completely with book 3. I won’t completely rule out going back to Korin’s world later. If I did, though, it would likely be in novella or short story form. I promise that I won’t pull a “hey, there’s actually a more dangerous threat” or a “the bad guy wasn’t actually defeated” sequel to the trilogy.

HN: You have written other books, such as Alinor’s Shard – do you have additional/different works in mind?

BB: I have several ideas rattling around in my head at the moment. When It comes to writing, I’m pretty much only interested in fantasy. Part of my love of writing involves building worlds along with the characters, something I feel is best fitted to sci-fi/fantasy. That said, all my ideas are fantasy related. Among my ideas are a Dr. Who inspired stand-alone epic, a young adult series, a potential novelette/novella series(the first is written and just needs a heavy edit and maybe some additional scenes at some point in time), as well as a novella I’ve started that is currently shelved until I’ve finished Korin’s Journal.

HN: As a self-published author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my works. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your books?

BB: Honestly, I really don’t do much marketing. All of my books are currently exclusive to Amazon, so I do some free ebook days(which I’ve had a lot of success with) for one. I submit my books to as many book bloggers as I can to be considered for reviews, participate in giveaways, do a little Facebook advertising, and try to connect with readers through sites such as Goodreads. I always reply to anyone who offers me any feedback(both good and bad) about my books. I know there’s a lot of resources out there I could use to do more, even some that I’m decently familiar with. Even so, I strive to meet the balance between work, family, and writing time in my life.

HN: This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Brian Beam – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?

BB: “Hey, wanna read a book about dragons, magic cats, and monsters?”
Kidding, of course. In all honesty, I’m horrible with elevator pitches and taglines, so I’m going to just steal this from my own blurb – After being hired to recover a stolen gem, Korin finds himself faced with revelations about his past that not only flip his world upside down, but throw him into a fight for his very survival. Join Korin in this exciting fantasy adventure as he deals with a ruthless count, evil wizards, a furious dragon, godsforsaken creatures of death, and even worse, a sarcastic cat

HN: As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change in your stories? Were there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?

BB: There’s nothing I would change about the stories when it comes to the plot or characters, but I’d make some minor editing tweaks if I could make a few more passes over them. There have been loads of ideas that have ended up on the cutting floor with the Korin’s Journal series, but I couldn’t tell you one of them. I have this strange ability to keep stories in my mind(I never plot on paper or outline), but the moment I decide I don’t like something, it leaves my brain and never comes back. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing . . .

HN: I have a 21 month old son, and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to write your stories?

BB: By not sleeping. I’m 99% not joking. Really. *yawn*

HN: Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?

BB: Music helps me a lot. And really, just any band I like. The only exceptions are action scenes. I do better with them when listening to fast-paced, heavy-ish music.

HN: What are you reading right now?

BB: Funny you should ask. Forging of a Knight: Rise of the Slavekeepers by, well, you, and Tales of the Bodhisattva by Justin Dockins. I’m about to pick up Words of Radiance, the second in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series. The first one was amazing. Finding time to read another 300K+ word book right now, however . . .

HN: What’s your next upcoming project?

BB: Book 3 of Korin’s Journal (there’s an actual title, but it’s going to be secret a while longer). After that, either finishing my novella, cleaning up my next novelette, or the stand-alone epic. I’ve mostly been finding my mind going to the latter of these choices recently, so probably that. Hmm . . . with my second son due in a couple weeks, I can probably just say he’s going to be my upcoming project .

HN: Where can readers go to find out more about Brian Beam?

BB:
www.facebook.com/brianbeamauthor, brian-beam.blogspot.com, www.twitter.com/brianbeam2, and www.amazon.com/author/brianbeam

HN: Thanks Brian, for sharing some of your time! 






Interview with Forging of a Knight Cover Artist Lora Lee!

December already - who would have thought it? Participating in Gen Con back in August, Book Two of the Forging of a Knight series completed, a couple of draft runs done for Book Three (more on that next time!), and I feel like it can't possibly be this close to 2014 (and being the holiday nut that I am, the Christmas tree is up and STAYING up until warm weather returns, which means around May or so around here in IL...). 

As it stands, I wanted to make sure I had a chance to introduce some of the people who have helped me make Forging of a Knight a success, starting out with Lora Lee, my cover illustrator. 

I'm grateful that the quality of my stories has matched the quality of her cover art. So without further delay, let's get right to it! 

HN: Hi Lora – to start out, how about sharing some of your background with us? 

LL: Sure! I’ve been working as an artist and designer for 6 years now. I specialize in 2D & 3D Illustration, animation and graphic design and I’m the proud owner of Lora Lee Art&Design. I have a BFA in Animation and an MFA in Illustration, and I’m also an Adjunct Professor working at Hartford Art School, University of Hartford. 

HN: How did you develop an interest in illustration/design? 

LL: When I was a little girl I loved drawing pretty cartoon characters and the other kids would use their snack money to buy my drawings. I had so much fun and snacks doing art and I guess that happiness and passion grew and last till this day! 

HN: At what point did you realize this was something you had a passion for with regards to pursuing as a career? 

LL: I guess I always knew this is where my passion lies and my career will be. It all seemed very natural - I went to an art high school, then followed by an art collage, then my MFA degree. I started my professional career early on when I was still a sophomore by doing a lot of freelance jobs and working in a few design/animation companies. 

HN: Was it difficult setting up your own design business? 

LL: I would say marketing - getting your name out there and get clients when you’re starting out is the hardest part. I did go through a difficult time at first when I was feeling a little disappointed and hopeless. But I think that this is a natural process that happens to everybody. I believe that if you put all your heart and effort in it to get through the hard time, you’ll be rewarded. 

HN: What do you enjoy most about your work? What do you enjoy the least? 

LL: The most enjoyable thing is that I get paid for doing the things I love! Also I have a very flexible schedule and a lot of other benefits - I can wake up at 11 a.m., wear pajamas while I’m working, listening to music and streaming movies on Netflix without worrying about being caught by my boss, etc. The only downside is that in this freelance business it is - to use the clinical term - “feast or famine”. You could work for days on end with no sleep to meet 5 deadlines in a week, then having no jobs at all for a month. It’s really unpredictable but also full of excitement, which works for me. 

HN: What have been some of your most challenging projects, and why? 

LL: The most challenging projects are making video games and apps. Because it is more about teamwork and collaboration, which requires more time and effort. The production phase is also relatively long and requires continued strength and passion. 

HN: Give us a “day in the life” – what steps do you usually follow when you take on a new assignment? 

LL: I work on a variety of projects so every time it’s a little different. But my general workflow will be: Getting to know about the new project and client - Doing research - Discussion with the client about the art direction - Start the production process with periodical discussions and revisions - Deliver final product. 

HN: What are your goals for Lora Lee Art & Design moving forward? 

LL: I plan to expand my business and maybe turn it into a studio with a few employees that offers more quality services such as Web Design, UI Design and App Design. It is every exciting to think about it, and I’m determined to get there one step at a time! 

HN: If you hadn’t chosen to work in concept art/illustration, what do you think you would have been doing? 

LL: I think I would want to be a microbiologist doing researches in a pharmaceutical company - it must be fun and rewarding to enter a brand new world of tiny organisms and develop cures for diseases! 

HN: When you are not busy with client work, what do you like to do? 

LL: I like to go hiking, taking pictures of the beautiful nature and then come back and do oil paintings. This is the most relaxing and enjoyable thing for me. 

HN: Favorite music? Movies? Places to travel to? 

LL: I love listening to Dance Pop when I’m working. The beats and rhythms keep me passionate, efficient and fired up! Also I watch a lot of thrillers because they make me feel happy and content compared to those poor people who are being chopped up in the movies! I love traveling and I really want to visit Spain and France - just to breath the artistic air and romance. 

HN: What sort of skills do you think are essential for someone interested in getting into the field? 

LL: First of all you have to love what you do. Otherwise you won’t be able to be fully committed and create good art. Then you have to keep moving and practicing your fundamental skills and try to achieve excellence in the field. And most importantly, you will have to be a responsible artist. You have to ensure the quality of your art and respect the needs of your clients. The trust you build up will go a long way. 

HN: For anyone interested in having you work on their projects, what’s the best way for them to reach you? 

LL: Welcome to visit my website at www.loraart.com and check out my portfolio! Drop me a line at lora@loraart.com or reach me at (860) 593 8035. 

HN: Thanks for your time, Lora!