Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas Surprise!

There is quite a lot going on currently. I even have a special holiday surprise for everyone toward the end of this post.

Firstly, the newly recorded audiobook of A Life of Death is approaching completion. Ed Miller, the narrator and audio guru, has been doing a bang-up job with it, and I'm very impressed. I will keep you posted on the actual release date of it in the near future.

In addition, as many of you already know, on December 15th, the sequel to A Life of Death was released in e-book, titled The Golden Bulls. As with all new e-books, readers often base whether they are going to buy or read a book based on the reviews of fellow readers . . . so please do me a favor. If you read it, jump on Amazon.com and/or Goodreads.com and leave an honest review. Really, most authors would love to hear what you think, as would other readers, so let them know after you finish a book when you have a couple minutes. It only takes a sentence or two.

Along with the new release, I'm doing a giveaway of e-books and signed copies of The Golden Bulls, so if you'd like a chance to win, stop by Katy Sozaeva's blog. It's only going on until this Sunday, so hurry and enter for your chance to win.

Now, the surprise I mentioned is an interview with an up-and-coming author. I recently got a chance to read The New Death by James Hutchings. It's a collection of short stories written in the style of H.P. Lovecraft. Some are witty, while others are quite thought provoking and say a lot about society like the play "Everyman". My personal favorites were the witty spoofs like "Everlasting Fire". One particular term he used in the story that still makes me chuckle was "flaming hobo sexuals". To understand the context, you've gotta read it for yourself, so grab a copy. The e-book's free to download right now, but I'm not sure how long the giveaway will last.

James contacted me a while back, quite a while unfortunately, but life got in the way until recently. I finally got the chance to read the copy James sent me and he consented to do a little interview. So, enjoy meeting our guest, James Hutchings:

WK: Now, James, I know you've been busy writing, but try and put yourself in the mindset of a reader. We all love a good book, as I'm sure you do too. What would you say is the first book you remember reading?

JH: The first writer I was a fan of was Enid Blyton. When I was young in Australia her books were pretty much everywhere, over ten years after they came out. She wrote books about idealised upper-class British children who either solve mysteries (the Famous Five and Secret Seven series) or have fantastical adventures (The Faraway Tree series). Actually she also wrote the Noddy books, about a little gnome of the same name, but I don't remember reading them.

WK: I've heard of the Noddy books (not to be confused with naughty), but never read them. I'll have to see where I can pick them up some time . . . probably amazon, lol. So how about now? Who is your favorite author?

JH: At the moment it's probably Jack Vance. I'm reading through his 'Planet of Adventure' series.

WK: Very cool. I hear that's a great series too. Now, I've always wondered, and maybe some day I'll have Jack Vance on to ask this question too, but I've wondered what makes other writers tick and how they began on such a solitary road as writing. How did you get your start?

JH: I did a Bachelor of Arts majoring in creative writing and media, but I didn't do anything with it after graduating. Years later I created a fantasy city called Teleleli or Telelee as a background for role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Once I finished I realised there wasn't any demand for it. My ex suggested I use it as a setting for stories instead, and that's how I got started. Along the way I realised that my poems were better received, so I'm concentrating on them now.

WK: I remember some mentions of Teleleli or Telelee in The New Death. It was quite creative and even morbid in the stories I read. Pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I've always been an Edgar Allen Poe fan, and some of your stories reminded me settings like he creates. Now, something I get asked fairly often, as I'm sure you do, is what is your inspiration for writing? So how about it; care to give us the lowdown?

JH: Some ideas just pop into my head, without me knowing where the idea comes from. An example of that is a recent poem I wrote, called 'Angel Square', about a square where angels take the place of pigeons. Other ideas come from experiences in my life. For example a while ago I found three injured birds in the space of a few weeks. I took all of them to the local vet. As I was carrying one of them, I thought that the woman at reception might wonder where I was finding all these injured birds, and that was the inspiration for my story 'Lost, Feral or Stray'.
I've written a lot about cats, based on having been a cat owner. But I'm a lot more cynical about them than some cat-lovers. One reviewer said he couldn't work out whether I loved cats or hated them.

Of course other fiction is a big inspiration. In some cases it's obvious. I've done poems directly based on stories by HP Lovecraft and other writers for example. In other cases it's more subtle: for example the city of Teleleli or Telelee is partly based on Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar, partly on Terry Pratchett's Ankh-Morpork, and partly on Port Blacksand in the Fighting Fantasy series. The dialogue in Lord of the Rings had a big influence on how my characters talk.

WK: It's hard to resist having at least one character shout out in a book, "You cannot pass!" So, I certainly can understand the draw to Tolkien. Sometimes it's hard not to pull from favorite characters in other authors' books or movies. I sometimes draw from characteristics of people I know or meet, especially the quirky ones you can never seem to forget, even if it was so bad you wished you hadn't met them in the first place. Ironically, sometimes those are the best characters to watch and draw ideas from. Does your inspiration ever come from people you know?

JH: Not really. I usually start with an idea for a plot, rather than for a character.

WK: You mentioned movies earlier. Which movie or drama series do you love the most?

JH: 'Titanic', followed by 'Land and Freedom'.

WK: Titanic, now that's one I'm sure a lot of people could agree with you on. I can't remember how many girls swooned over Leo when that came out. Heck, I even remember hearing my girlfriend at the time and her mother both chattering and swooning over him in that movie at one point. While not writing or watching Titanic, what do you enjoy doing?

JH: My other main hobby is coding online games. I spent several years writing an online game called Age of Fable (www.ageoffable.net). I don't have any plans to do more on it, but it's still online, and you can play it for free. I've also done a few smaller projects. For example I did an online version of the computer game Oregon Trail.

WK: Oh wonderful. I love video games, but could never quite grasp coding myself. I remember a bit of C++, but if someone hired me to do any coding I'd basically give them a ton of FOR loops interconnecting all over the place, but never really accomplishing anything. Just a little over my head. Writing and editing are more my speed. Do you have a favorite game, cologne, or anything that you just can’t live without?

JH: I could live without it, but there are a couple of computer games that I play at least once a day: 'Chessrogue' and 'Sorcerer's Cave'. Both of them are free to download, and quite 'retro' in their graphics (Chessrogue actually uses only text). But they're very addictive.

WK: Addiction . . . that's a hard one to overcome. I played World of Warcraft for a few years when it first came out. Talk about an addiction. It took venturing into novel writing and finding my love and passion for sci-fi and dark fantasy to kick the WOW habit. The result was my first book, Invisible Dawn. Fortunately, I'm happy to have discovered my passion. I always loved writing, but never thought I could write a novel until I just got it in my head to do so at one point. Thankfully, I enjoy it and hope my readers do too. If you had to choose one of your books, which would you say is your favorite?

JH: 'The New Death and others' is the only full-length book I've put out, so it's my favorite by default.

WK: Earlier I was talking about reviews and what people say about our books on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com. People probably don't realize it, but we authors read them. We thrive off them a lot of times. They give us insight into things we never realized about ourselves and our writing - at least they do for me. What was the best review or comment on any of your books?

JH: This isn't the best, but it's the one I remember most clearly. "There were several amusing parts in this poem, but it’s not consistently funny throughout, which is what I’d be looking for in a humour poem. I think the problem (as I see it) is that you’re often vague or allusive; specific details tend to be funniest." It would have been a lot more encouraging if the poem was meant to be funny.

WK: Wow! That's exactly what I'm talking about. That review probably helped you to become a better writer and told you something about yourself. I want to thank you for joining us this holiday, James. I appreciate it and hope the viewers and readers find themselves enjoying The New Death or your most recent publication, Two-fisted Tweets, both of which are free in e-book right now.

As I mentioned before, please give these books a read and feel free to pick up my newest paranormal mystery, The Golden Bulls. And remember, the best gift you can give for another reader and the author is to leave a comment. During this holiday, give a two-minute gift by saying what you thought. It would be appreciated by all. To read my review of The New Death, visit Goodreads.com.

Thanks for joining James Hutchings and myself this Christmas. Have a great New Years!

Weston Kincade ~ Author of Invisible Dawn, the A Life of Death series, and Strange Circumstances