Author Spotlight: Eric Hardenbrook

  • a fan, an author and an artist, usually in that order.

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Eric Hardenbrook.

Image may contain: 1 person

Eric lives in central Pennsylvania with his gorgeous wife and daughter. He writes to get the stories out of his head.

When he’s being a fan he helps run Watch The Skies and assists in the publication of their monthly fanzine. He can be found (at least some of the time) at The Pretend Blog.

When not working on those things, Eric enjoys the occasional video or board game and is an old school role player.

Eric, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Ah… pets. I am not a pet person. I have nothing against pets or animals, I am simply not interested in having or dealing with pets.

I don’t freak out, I’m not allergic nor am I scared of pets – I just don’t want one. Yes, I know they’re “cute” or whatever word you’d like to put in there. Yes, I understand the bond that can grow between pets and owners. Yes, I know that statistically people with pets live longer.

I don’t care. I don’t want one.

No, it doesn’t matter how cute they are in your mind. If you’d like to have a pet, good for you. I’m glad you want to have that relationship. I’ll be fine without, thank you very much. Some consider this a short coming on my part, but most accept it and move on.

Being a non pet person DID lead to one of the best compliments I’ve ever had as a writer. It wasn’t phrased like a compliment and I suspect it wasn’t really meant to be one – but I’ll take it. A story of mine came out in Dogs of War as part of the Defending The Future Series from E-spec Books. The stories in the book are about our animal comrades in arms (military science fiction). I was interested in the opinion of somebody who reads a great deal, so I brought my copy of the book to her. She took a few minutes and read the story while I was there. She grinned at a couple of parts. She read it straight through. The part I considered a compliment arrived at the end. She finished the story and said (paraphrasing) “wow, it’s like you really love dogs…”

Most people wouldn’t take that as a compliment, but I write fiction. I like to tell a good story. If you believe it then I have done my job well. The fact that she knows me, knows the fact that I’m not at all interested in animal companions and still thought the story came off like it was written by a true animal lover is all the compliment I needed.

My life is currently petless. It is simpler, if not as happy or as messy.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I write genre fiction. I know that’s a broad statement, but it covers things I think. My published work all falls under military science fiction and fantasy/humor at this point, but I love old fashioned sword and sorcery. I have also dabbled in urban fantasy, but that hasn’t really worked out.

As for getting started… I don’t really remember. I know there are lots of authors out there who will tell you about novels they wrote while in middle school and how many reams of paper they’ve got stashed away in a trunk. That’s not me. I have always loved telling stories, and somewhere along the way I figured out that you could write all those things down. My first story was published in 2006. I’d say I’ve been bumping around trying to make this work for around 20 years now total. I’m sure to be an ‘overnight success’ any minute now.

I hear ya on genre fiction. Growing up, I barely paid attention to the fat there was anything else. I’m so glad you figured out you could write your stories down, along with the rest of your fans!

What do you like to read?

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” and I was off to the races. If it was fantasy I wanted it. I grabbed it and devoured it. In the many years since then I have grown and my reading tastes have changed. I have learned to identify what I like about the stories I enjoy the most, but that’s more about character and structure than genre. These days I read a little of everything. I’ve got a translated horror novel, a comedy, a fantasy and a non-fiction book all in progress right now.

Fantasy’s home for me, too. But, there’s so much out there.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write what you know

First, uh… stuff I ‘know’ isn’t that exciting. I want to believe it is, but my friends and relatives have convinced me that construction specifications are not exiting at all.

Second, who knows about space flight, sorcerer spell casting or alien biology? It’s not possible for you to ‘know’ that.

Third, and I think most importantly, in writing what you know you run the risk of info dumping your thesis paper into your story. I recently read a story where the author essentially lifted a huge amount of historic research and dropped it into the story with the names filed off and replaced for the fantasy setting. It was not fantastic.

Don’t write what you know, write a crazy amazing story!

So true! You can filter in what you know of people and emotions and logic. But, to make your world work and spell out every step in excrutiating detail? It’s really something that’s better hand-waved.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Read.

It’s vital. It matters. Look at authors you love and ask yourself how they do what they do. Read your favorite genre. Read outside your genre. Read non-fiction… just READ. The more exposure you have to the written word the more your mind will expand, filling your imagination with all sorts of amazing cross sectional material.

Indubitably. It’s the rare writer indeed who didn’t start off as a reader. It’s our first love. Many of us write simply to find out how this story in our head ends, since no one else can tell us. When it comes to reading myself, I’ve taken a step back from writing every spare second, and started tackling my massive to-read pile. It’s not just aspirational.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

In fact, I know a cool thing you can read! My latest short story is going to be published in the final edition of The Realm Beyond from Fortress Publishing. I also am thrilled to have a story in In Harm’s Way – more military science fiction from E-spec Books. There are some great stories out there.

If you’re into fan based stuff, you should also check out Watch The Skies. We publish a fanzine (for real – we’re Hugo eligible) every month other than December and we’re always looking for contributors.

Author Spotlight: R.J. Garcia

  • a writer, wallflower, and Hufflepuff, who wants a re-do at the sorting hat. She is a wife and proud mom, too.

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to R.J. Garcia.

R.J. Garcia earned her MSW and worked with foster kids, and the geriatric population. Writing has been her other great love.  Although faced with the challenge of dyslexia, she is publishing her second novel, The Call of Death with The Parliament House.

R.J., thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

In that case, why not go big. An elephant. I loved Rosie from Water from Elephants. I wouldn’t really want to keep a majestic animal like that as a pet, but it would be awesome to have her stop by and hang out and bond with her. They are such loyal and intelligent animals. In real life I collect some elephant figurines.

If I was going to choose a fantasy pet, I’d choose Hedwig, Harry Potter’s lovable snowy owl.

Both are excellent choices! You’re not the first to dream of an elephant. I’m sure you’d have a momma certain it can still curl up in your lap. And an owl-friend/companion would be so lovely.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I had a love/hate relationship with reading because it was a struggle for me as a kid. Yet I loved the covers and longed to escape in books. I remember reading The Outsiders by SE Hinton in the 8th grade. It was the first book that I completely fell into. I started reading all kind of books and loved how the protagonist didn’t quite fit in like me. It was like I found my people. After I was also writing short stories on cheap notebook paper. I have written stories ever since.

Oh wow! You really had to struggle to get into something that so many of us take for granted. Fortunately for all of us, and all your fans (present and future), you knew your passion and persevered despite your challenges!

What do you like to read?

I love to read suspenseful books and coming of age stories. Some horror reads and  YA, too. My Heart and other Black Holes was an incredible story. I also like to dive into some fantasy. I love the Harry Potter series and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I don’t read romance as a genre but need to have a little romance in the books I read, or a strong friendship to fully get into it. I love to discover some great Indie books from small publishers, or self-published reads sometimes. 

That’s a lot of what I enjoy (although, I sometimes do full-on romances), so now I’m adding a book or two to my to read pile.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Outline

A physical outline doesn’t work for me. I like to have a fluid outline in my brain. If it is written down, I feel more pressured.

Ah… so you’re a plantser, like me! A light outline, almost more in my head, and the willingness to ignore it to get the story out. #plantsersForLife

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Use beta-readers.

Beta readers are so important. I need someone to read my stories and always benefit from constructive input. Shout out to my teenage daughter, Sabrina, brother Kevin and fellow writer, Christine Dwivedi who read  everything I write.

Definitely! Having a second set of eyes (or third) to let you know that the story is coming across the way you intended. To ask all the details that you thought you’d put in. All of that is crucial for a writer.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

My debut novel, Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced is available wherever books are sold. I have a short story about The Axeman of New Orleans in a horror anthology titled, Masks from Filles Vertes Publishing. It will be released in time for Mardi Gras. I’m excited to announce that my new novel, The Call of Death hit shelves today.

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Priestly crashes into a terrifying future. She wakes up in her dorm room now knowing the name of an infamous serial killer, Norman Biggs. He will attack her in the future unless she and her three male friends can change fate.

Hannah is a suntanned, obsessive-compulsive California girl dropped off at an English boarding school by her celebrity mother. Hannah has difficulty understanding algebra, let alone her increasingly dark visions. Rory Veer is Hannah’s smart, easy-going and romantically challenged friend and school crush. When Norman Biggs unexpectedly appears in Rory’s reality, terror is set in motion. It is Rory who must acknowledge a past he has denied if the mystery is to be unraveled.

Pick up your copy today:
Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | Apple

Author Spotlight: Mari Tishner

  • Writer * Expat * Pug Owner

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Mari Tishner.

Mari lives in southern Germany with her husband and pug, where she regales others of her adventures as an expat in the Land of Beer and Pretzels on her blog and youtube channel Adventures of La Mari.com. The God Queen is her first novel.

Mari, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Hands down a raccoon. I have wanted one ever since I saw Pocahontas when it came out (I was about 9 at the time). Meeko was the coolest! Although I do own a pug, after falling in love with Percy from the same movie. But my inner nine-year-old still wants a raccoon. They are not native to Germany so you don’t see them often so I have had to resort to following Pumpkin the Raccoon on Instagram

Awww! What a cute choice. I hope they’re as snuggly in person as they are in your dreams.

What do you write and how did you get started?

At the moment, I write sci fi – but I do have plans for a contemporary story based on my experiences as an American living in Germany, which I would like to probably have traditionally published.

I got started very young. I love stories. I have notebooks that I filled with scribbles even before I really knew how to write because I always loved the ideas of having a book filled with my words. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher would bring in 4th graders once a week to help us with writing. It was my favorite thing to do because I had all these stories in my head but I didn’t know how to write it out! I have always had an overactive imagination and being able to write helps me bring these stories and worlds to life. 

While I was still honing my debut novel, I kept my writing up by maintaining my expat blog. It was also a way for my family to keep with up my adventures in Germany, but also forced me to keep a schedule, even if I wasn’t working on my novel – I was always writing!

It seems a lot of writers have been dreaming about it since they were young. It’s great to see your dream coming true! I know from experience that keeping a blog and finishing a novel can be a real struggle. Congrats!

What do you like to read?

Fantasy and Sci Fi all the way! I love one with a good (and healthy) romance. I will literally read anything by Sarah J. Maas and Tamora Pierce. Books that I have reread so many times that I have lost count: A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Song of the Lioness Quartet and Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce, The Symphony of Ages of Elizabeth Haydon, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, and the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.

Oooh! You’re listing a lot of writers on my list, ones that I’d use as near-comps for my own work-in-progress. I’m taking that as an indication that your novel is going to be Right Up My Alley! What a great selection.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write what you know.

I write sci fi and while I do have a science background (biology degree + 9 years as a microbiologist), I can’t tell you the exact reason why faster-than-light is impossible – but I know there are ways around it that can be explained to a non-scientifically inclined person. I don’t what it’s like to fly in a ship and I was never in the military so I am also a bit at a loss when writing about it. So I have to research – thank goodness for the internet!

While I do use this advice where I can, I know it can’t apply to everything. If I did write what I know, I would only write about being Peruvian American living in Germany with her pug….wait I already do that!

So true! Especially for science-fiction and fantasy, we have to think outside the box to write. Luckily, we do know people — we know ourselves. And, I think, the most important part is to have our humanity bleed through into our writing.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Keep writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time.

Keep writing. Don’t stop. Don’t worry about it being perfect the first time, it won’t be. In the words of Stephen King: “Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.

Indeed. Persistence is the name of the game, more than anything else in the writing world. And you’ve done it!

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

My debut novel, The God Queen, was released on October 22!

The return of the God Queen is not what everyone hoped…

The God Queen (Rebirth Book 1) by [Tishner, M. L.]

Humans have long since spread their numbers among the stars. Now far, far into the future, war has torn the Tyre Star Cluster into two major political factions. The militant Dominion have gained the upper hand in the last decade when their champion murdered the hope of the progressive Federation: Niklaryn Ettowa. Some considered the war to be almost won.

Yet there are those who claim the war will not be ended by mortals…but by the rebirth of the gods.

Rei lived most of her life bartending on one Earth’s backwater towns. She daydreams of something more, traveling the stars, and destroying the man who murdered her brother Niklaryn. Her dream is within her grasp only if she accepts her fate as the God Queen.

Bronx is disillusioned with being a reincarnated god, let alone a reaper. He pays his penance by keeping people at a distance and taking up the mantle of a combat medic. When the sister of his old mentor Niklaryn storms in to join the cause will he find something worth fighting for?

Together with others, they must help the Federation tip the scales in their favor, but everyone seems to have their own plans for what the gods should do.

Jupiter Ascending meets X-Men in this epic New Adult space opera bursting with star-crossed romance, elemental magic, and an adventure across the star cluster, perfect for fans of A Spark of White Fire.

Here’s a sneak peek!

If you want to read more about TGQ, check out my website: http://mltishner.com

If you want to read about my adventures in Germany, check out: http//adventuresoflamari.com

Author Spotlight: D. W. Welsh

  • a veteran journalist, research editor, writer of both fiction and non-fiction

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to D. W. Welsh.

D. W. Welsh/David W. Wooddell is a veteran journalist, retired from National Geographic magazine in 2009 as a Research Editor. Since that time, he has self published a few non-fiction history books, and two novellas. David served as editor & publisher of his wife’s book about the cleanup in Ellicott City, MD after the 2018 flood, called EC Stories. Under the pen name of D. W. Welsh, he has begun publishing novellas.

David, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

I think the genetically engineered living fur pet that appears in one of Lois Bujold’s novels would be lovely. Don’t have to feed it except with cuddles, don’t have to clean up after it, and it is always glad to see you.

My sheltie dogs are like that, and so is my hound named Baby Bel, but of course, I do have to feed and water them, and take them out to do their business, and clean up after them. I love them, but sometimes it would be great to have a less burdensome pet.

The perfect choice to curl up on the couch with — with a good book!

What do you write and how did you get started?

I write a little of everything. I love history, so I wrote a history of a Civil War regiment that was 30 years in research. I was trying to answer my grandfather’s question of what happened to his grandfather in the war – because Warwick Wooddell was mortally wounded on May 19, 1864 while a private in the 31 st Virginia Infantry, and my grandfather never had a chance to meet him.

Coming out of university, I wanted to be a novelist. I was a very bad writer, the stuff was crap on paper. But many of the plots, characters, and settings worked well. I seem to do better at the story aspects, and less well at the actual writing, so I’ve had to work hard on learning to write better. I’ve tried my hand at that a dozen times, but this past summer I finally produced two novellas I felt were good enough to publish.

Wow! What a wide variety. And a great reminder that we’re often our own greatest critiques.

What issues are important to you in your writing?

Human rights and the dignity of all humans is the most important theme for me. For instance, in my novella Argonaut, the main character named Angel is concerned with the disparity of wealth and poverty, and immigrants to America were influenced by poverty in 1897. In the yet-to be named sequel, in 1898, she travels to Jamaica where she encounters the situation of the “coolies” who were the migrant, indentured laborers brought to the Caribbean from India and other parts of Asia to replace the slaves.

Definitely some heavy stuff. It’s easy to tell where your real-world concerns show through in your writing.

What do you like to read?

I love good historical fiction, including Alan Furst’s very atmospheric novels about the resistance and spies in Europe during WW2. I also love science fiction. I’ve read and listened to many audio books, but have almost memorized the Vorkosigan novels of Lois M. Bujold. The Expanse books of James S. A. Carey are absorbing. Jacqueline Carey’s work is a major favorite, I love the novels she writes, and listen often to the audio books of her work. I think her Starless is one of the best fantasies out there.

For suspense and mystery, the Virgil Flower novels of John Sandford; the work of Louise Penny, Jusi Adler-Olsen, and surprising to me, Robert Galbraith’s wonderful detective novels (written, of course by J. K. Rowling under her pen name.) I love the character she created of the one-legged private detective Cormoran Strike. I’m also a great fan of Sarah Waters, and her novel Tipping the Velvet.

You’re taking the advise to be widely read to heart, clearly! What a great selection.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Conflict is necessary on every page.

All of them, apparently! I’m not a natural writer, so I have to work hard at writing a legible sentence. I’m not a stylist – I have stacks of books by famous authors on how to improve style. Bah! I place them near the head of my bed so the advice will sink in, but it never does. I was an English major in college – but didn’t graduate because my grades were so bad and I just couldn’t bother to attend classes often enough. I’ve had six years of undergrad and still no degree.

But on a more specific note – the idea that conflict is necessary on every page is vastly overdone.

The theories were the product of the writer’s rooms of television sitcoms. Yes. There must be some sense of tension, but life is not conflict at every turn. Television shows need conflict, but most of us don’t write for TV, nor do we write for half-hour shows that only get 18 minutes of actual screen time because of commercials. I don’t watch TV news, I read the news online from the NY Times, Washington Post, and many other quality journalism organizations.

TV news is so absorbed in reporting conflict that I wonder if their reporters and anchors ever experience long form journalism. Or get out of the studio and experience life. I don’t believe in or agree with the idea that we should be putting a conflict on ever page.

I believe interesting characters and situations make stories worthwhile to read. When I read stories by European writers, in translation, I find a totally different feel of characters, places, and the plots are not all based on bang bang bang, conflict conflict conflict.

I also think too many writers think violence is the centerpiece of conflict. I’ve been trying to write non- violent stories in which interesting things happen. There are conflicts, but there are also mediators, and people who help resolve conflict, or who look for alternative ways around the conflicts. For instance, when violence happens in Argonaut, it is a surprise to the reader, just as most often violence occurs as a surprise in real life.

With your background as a journalist, it’s not surprising that this issue is so heart felt. And I agree, there are plenty of ways to build tension and get the readers emotionally invested without outright conflict. So many writers think that conflict needs to be physical, or the readers will miss it. Readers are more intelligent than some give them credit for.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Write every day.

Set aside a time that works for you, and stick to it. Write your journal, if nothing else, even if you were boring and did nothing, you should make it sound like something. When in doubt, describe the room, the art on the walls, the glimpses of nature through the window. Write. Write. Write. And practice interviewing people without them realizing that is what you are doing. Record patterns of speech, and make notes of conversations.

That’s one I have to pass on (unless you count social media), unless I’m actively creating a rough draft. But I do do my best to make sure I’m sitting down several times a week to work on my writing..

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Under my non-de-plume of D. W. Welsh:

Argonaut: An Angel and Gabri Adventure is a historical novella that brings the reader into the high-tension end of 1897 and the belle époque.

Angel and Gabri must put on a brave front in the face of danger and intrigue to succeed and survive in the high-stakes game of international arms. From Paris to New York and Baltimore, two young French researchers move through privileged berths to gritty shipyards in search of the prized submarine secrets of the Argonaut.

But who is really paying them? Are they the natural children of the famous author Monsieur V, or the dupes of secret services across Europe?

Jars is a relatively gentle comedy of manners.

Following a massive population crash, Lem, Jane, and their children, like so many others, turned to farming.

But now, civilization is returning and with progress comes choices. Families can be created in many ways, and so can children. Everyone wants to live happily ever after, including gay curmudgeon farmer ‘Jars’ Wilson, who builds his family of choice with lesbians Liz and Sylvia.

Set largely in rural America, it shines a warm and humorous light on our right to live as we choose.

My stories often have people of alternate sexuality or gender in them. I have many friends who are gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or some mixture of all or none of above. I don’t look to exploit such themes, but rather include them as I do in real life, as part of the multi-faceted real world.

For my non-fiction:

If you read archives of the National Geographic magazine, you may spot me referenced in the footnotes on many articles, credited as a researcher under David W. Wooddell.

And Books

Hoffman’s Army: The Thirty First Virginia Infantry : A book that has been described as “one of the best narratives of the war fought by the soldiers themselves.”

Steam Locomotives: Nineteenth Century Engineering is a visual catalogue of historic illustrations of steam engines, from the origin of such inventions to the 1870. It’s a book for railroad enthusiasts.

Author Spotlight: Robert E. Waters

  • game designer, game publisher, and writer!

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Robert E. Waters.

Robert E Waters is a game designer/producer by day, and moonlights as an author on nights and weekends. He’s been in the gaming industry since 1994 and currently works for BreakAway Games in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Since 2003, he’s been a published author of over 60 stories seen in print and online magazines and anthologies. He is also a frequent contributor to Eric Flint’s alternate history series, 1632/Ring of Fire, and had just wrapped up a novel (1636: Calabar’s War) set in that universe with Charles E Gannon.

Robert, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

The jaguar. Pound for pound, it has the strongest bite of any big cat in the world, and its role in Mayan culture makes it a powerful mythological symbol. For the Maya, the jaguar was the ruler of the Underworld, and a symbol of the night sun. It represents power, aggressiveness. The jaguar gives us the power to face our fears, to confront our enemies. Plus, it has a damn beautiful coat of fur. The jaguar also plays prominently in many stories of one of my favorite science fiction authors: Lucius Shepard (may he rest in peace). I can’t think of a better pet/companion than the Night Sun.

Beautiful and powerful choice!

What do you write and how did you get started?

I write science fiction and fantasy mostly, though I have been known to dabble a bit in straight fiction (“Mekong Ghosts”) and poetry (“The Cassini 500”). To date, I have roughly 60 stories published in various online and print magazines and anthologies. I have more stories published than novels, but I’m working to bring better balance to the Force with at least two novels published later this year (see below). 

I’ve always been interested in writing stories. From the time I was 3-4 years old at least. But I guess the first legitimate try at writing something substantial came in Middle School, after reading The Lord of the Rings. You know you’ve stumbled on something great and rare when you begin to cry at the end, not wanting it to stop. LotRs was a big early influence, and so too the fiction of Robert Sheckley, Robert Silverberg, Clifford Simak, Alfred Bester, and the writers at the time publishing in Asimov’s and Analog Science Fiction magazines. I had subscriptions to both, and to this day, maintain my Asimov’s subscription. 

My first legit try at writing was a horrendously bad pastiche of LoTRs. Between seventh and eighth grade, I banged out 50 or so pages (front and pack, single-spaced) of an adventure that, thank the gods, I don’t remember at all today. About ten years ago I stumbled upon my old box of early writings, and that manuscript was still in there. But, praise Jesus, all the ink had faded away, leaving clean, blank pages that I could have used again. The words today would be much better. Small miracles…

My first real publication came in Weird Tales, 2003, with a story about an assassin facing retirement. A few years later, I published another, and then another, and in 2009, I hit the motherlode with three publications. It kind of steamrolled at that point and now I’m writing novels.

Congrats! What a great path, and I’m glad you made it.

What do you like to read?

Pretty much everything. Fiction mostly, though in my research for stories/novels, I read a lot of non-fiction. Most recently, I was reading Ravensbrück by Sarah Helm, which was an all-female concentration camp run by the Nazi’s north of Berlin during WWII. Not a fun read, but necessary for a story I’m considering writing. I’ve also been researching North Vietnamese fighter aces for an alternate history story that I finished recently. So, by virtue of the job, a writer winds up reading everything. I’ve learned more about the world and the human condition being a writer than I ever did in school.

Oh wow. What a powerful story to be working on. It’s always best when you can tell that the writers did their research, and bring their hearts to the subject.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write what you know.

It works for some; not for me. At least not yet. I’ve never been interested in writing mundane stories about my mundane life. Well, perhaps my life isn’t always so mundane, but I don’t need to write that story. I’ll let others write those stories. I need to write stories about people whose lives I want to emulate, even if they are living hundreds of years in the future, or are throwing fireballs at oncoming hordes in epic fantasy battles. Those are the stories I like to read. Those are the one I like to write

Especially in science-fiction and fantasy (and hopefully horror) writing, this is probably the most ignored advice. Of course, filtering it through a lens of your learned experiences gives it a level of realism.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Go for the visceral

I ’m not sure I’ve ever heard it pitched as a piece of advice, but I always go for the visceral, as defined “relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect.” I like to think that my work has some intelligence about it, but I want you to feel something when you read my stories, good or bad. Sometimes, I’ve succeeded; sometimes, I’ve failed. But I always try.

That’s the ephemeral dream for me, when I write. To make the reader feel what I want them to: nostalgia, fear, excitement — whatever makes the connect and makes the story resonate long after they’ve put down the book.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

On November 1, I have a full collection of my Devil Dancers stories coming from e-Spec Books, DEVIL DANCERS.

I Am the Lightning Flashing and Streaking!

Beneath the stars or flying up among them, the Ga’an dance a deadly dance. Apache Devil Dancers take to the skies to defeat the ruthless Gulo, an alien race bent on the destruction of humanity. Led by Captain Victorio “Tomorrow’s Wind” Nantan, the 3rd Sol fighter Wing follows a long tradition, adapting the dance to make them an ace squadron, but will it be enough?

It is hard to hold faith in the face of a never-ending foe, when life and limb are sacrificed with no end anyone wants to see in sight. But Captain Victory comes from a long line of fierce warriors and he is more than ready to take the fight to the enemy.

Devil Dancers is a collection of seven action-packed tales, the culmination of 10 years of stories. I’m quite excited about this release. Love the cover!


So far this year, I’ve had a story (“Extraction”) published in Charles E Gannon’s LOST SIGNALS anthology, which is set in his very successful Tales of the Terran Republic series.


I’ve also had a story (“Medicine Man”) recently published in IN HARM’S WAY, Book 8 Mike and Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s mil-sf series, Defending the Future

And a little later this year, my story “The Cud Brigade,” will appear in NOT FAR FROM ROSWELL.

I have a couple novels to be released later this year, as well.

First up, THE LAST HURRAH, which is a media tie-in novel set in Mantic Games’ Dreadball Universe. It follows the attempted comeback of a famous Dreadball player who’s fallen on hard times, and the men and women he has to coach to glory… or defeat. It’s currently scheduled for a late September release. 

And finally, book 2 in my City of the Gods trilogy, THE SWORDS OF EL CID, scheduled for a late November release. This novel follows the adventures of Catherine of Aragon and her companion, Fymurip Azat, as they seek El Cid’s famous/infamous swords, Tizona and Colada.

Check him out at http://roberternestwaters.com/