Saturday, March 30, 2013

Quests, Curses, & Vengeance!

Today, I'm pleased to announce a new Martinus Publishing Anthology!

Quests, Curses, & Vengeance will be an exciting collection of short stories compiled by some of the most talented authors I've ever had the pleasure to work with.  Much of the content for this one has already been written, and the rest is being written as we speak.  I'll have more details in the coming weeks, but for now, I thought I'd tease you with a look at the cover art by the talented C. D. Muller:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Author Interview: Martin T. Ingham

Today, I'm interviewing myself, Martin T. Ingham, who contributed The Killing of Yesterday to "The Temporal Element."  What a rare pleasure.  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Mr. Ingham

MTI:  No, please, call me Martin.

MTI:  Okay, Martin, let us begin, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

MTI:  Well, I was born and raised in Downeast Maine, and I've been writing all of my life.  I currently have six published novels, and I recently started a small publishing company.  When I'm not writing, I have a wife and four children who keep me pretty busy, and I've been fiddling with antique cars as of late, though if you'd told me a year ago that I'd be playing around with cars I'd have called you crazy.  It's really a recent development in my life.  There have been a few of those in the last year, actually.

MTI:  Now, getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

MTI:  I can't really say what compelled me to start writing, but I can tell you when I decided to become a writer.  I was 6, and I said "I'm going to be a writer."  Since then, that's all I've ever tried to be, although not in the most conventional of manners.  When it comes to the type of stories I write, Science Fiction and Fantasy have dominated my catalog.  It's what I love to write, so I write it.

MTI:  Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

MTI:  Robert A. Heinlein.  No question; his fiction has had the biggest influence on me.  I remember picking up a copy of Citizen of the Galaxy when I was a teenager, and after that I couldn't get enough of his stuff.  I read virtually everything he ever wrote by the time I was twenty-one, and it would have been sooner if not for my low budget and the limited availability of certain out-of print books.  Orphans of the Sky was the last one I had the pleasure of reading, and it is by far one of his most underrated selections!

MTI:  The Temporal Element is an anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures.  These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you ever believe that humanity will discover a viable way to travel backwards and forwards through time?

MTI:  The science is certainly out there, alluding to the possibility.  Yes, I truly believe we'll someday unlock the secrets of time, but it may be a long way off.  Modern Science has really only scratched the surface of what's out there.  I really wish we'd unlock the mysteries of the space and time in my lifetime, but I fear it could take thousands of years.

MTI:  If you could go back to any point in history, when would you visit?

MTI:  Any point?  How about every point?  Though, for starters, I'd probably go back and visit some points closer to home.  I'd like to explore Colonial America, meet some of the Founding Fathers.  I'd like to go visit the Pilgrims as they're making a life for themselves in the New World.  Then, I'd like to go back to Ancient Egypt and see the pyramids being built.  No doubt, that would prove insightful (and likely heretical to mainstream archeological assumptions about their origin).  After that, there's no limit to the places I'd visit, so long as I could survive it all.

MTI:  Looking forward now, what futuristic piece of technology would you like to own, or have for personal use?

MTI:  A gene-resequencer that could remove this pesky aging gene would be nice.  I'll be 33 in a few weeks, and I'm just starting to understand how much getting old sucks!  It's a genetic flaw that our current understanding of the human genome should have fixed already.  Then again, maybe scientists have discovered the cure for aging, but they don't dare share it.  Over-population would become a deadly problem if we could all live indefinitely... at least, until we have other worlds to export people to.  Still, I wouldn't mind living forever.

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

MTI:  At the moment, I'm working on "Rise of the Rogue Fighters," the sequel to "The Rogue Investigations."  It's a book that has been in the works for years, and I have several fans that have specifically requested a continuation of the Rogue stories, though overall sales have been less than thrilling.  Still, I enjoy the characters, so I'll get this finished and see what happens.

MTI:  Other than The Killing of Yesterday appearing in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

MTI:  The third novel in the West of the Warlock series, "The Man Who Shot Thomas Edison" is written and just waiting to be published, so I expect to release that through Martinus Publishing later this year.  I also have a few short stories I'll probably sneak into Martinus anthologies as more of those come out.  I have a few novels currently on the market, as well.

MTI:  Speaking about Martinus Publishing, what ever made you decide to start up your own publishing company?

MTI:  It's something I'd been considering for years.  The more experience I had, working with other editors, the more I realized it was something I could do.  I've always been very good at catching typos, and revising other people's work comes as second nature.  When Hall Brothers Entertainment (the publisher of West of the Warlock) shut down last November, I found myself at the point of no return.  They'd been planning to release The Curse of Selwood, and had done all of the set-up (editing, cover art), so I was left with this unpublished work just waiting to be released.  In addition to that, they were going to be releasing The Temporal Element, so I already had half the stories for an anthology and no publisher.  Rather than tell the writers involved "sorry, we're closed," I picked up the reigns and pushed forward.  So far, it's turning out to be a good experience, though it's still well into the red financially at this point.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

MTI:  I don't watch too much television these days.  It seems most of my favorite shows have been off the air for years.  I always have reruns of my favorites—Star Trek (TNG, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise), Stargate (SG-1, Atlantis, Universe), Firefly, Farscape, Frasier, other odds and ends here and there.   A few shows I like that are still around are Justified, The Walking Dead, and Castle.  I also like to watch Survivor, but I generally hate all other "reality" tv shows.  Survivor was one of the first, and it has a unique appeal for me which I cannot explain.

MTI:  How about music?

MTI:  Again, my music is what you'd call "out of date."  The Beatles, The Who, Electric Light Orchestra, The Moody Blues, Styx, just to name a few.  The only "modern" artist I really like is Matthew Sweet, and he's been around since the 80's, so I'm not sure how modern he really is.  I also have a sizeable collection of 78RPM records that I've been listening to lately, stuff from the teens through the fifties—eclectic stuff.

MTI:  You've got the attention of potential readers. Do you have any words of wisdom you'd like to share?  Perhaps something to spur their interest in your work?

MTI:  My writing has always been about entertainment, so if you want some captivating stories to keep your attention, try any of my published works.  If you're looking for some artsy experimental writing, or some preachy metaphor seeking to change your mind about some social injustice or other, then my work probably isn't going to satisfy in those regards.  It's pretty straightforward, intelligent literature, much like the old pulp from the golden age of speculative fiction, with some modern and unique concepts incorporated into the mix.  For less than the cost of your average DVD, you can get one of my books and have many hours of entertainment, so go ahead and give it a try!

MTI:  Before we wrap up this interview, do you happen to have a sample you'd like to share with our readers?  They're always eager for free reading.

MTI:  For those who want to sample my wares, they can read the first few chapters of West of the Warlock, The Curse of Selwood, or The Guns of Mars at my website.

MTI:  No, I mean something new, that nobody's ever read before.

MTI:  I have plenty of that.

MTI:  Then why don't you share something to titillate our readers, perhaps to give them greater interest in your other works?  Come on, give me something here.

MTI:  What?  I refuse to be a party to this rampant extortion!  How dare you, sir!

MTI:  Hey, I'm just trying to help you out.  It's free publicity, after all.

MTI:  So, you think everything should be given away for free?  You communist bastard!

MTI:  Hey!  There's no need to hurl such scurrilous insults at me.  You give out free samples all the time. How is this any different?  Don't be a skinflint.

MTI:  That's it!  I'm through here.  Goodbye!  (Storms out of room.)

MTI:  Uh, okay.  Thanks for the interview, Mr. Ingham.  Those who want to read your time travel story, The Killing of Yesterday, can pick up The Temporal Element.

Now, before we go, I suppose I'll just have to share with you something that I wrote recently.  Here's a brief snippet from Rise of the Rogue Fighters.  If you like it, be sure to pick up a copy of The Rogue Investigations as you wait for this sequel to come out:

            There was darkness beyond the light.
            Julie McCain floated around her new surroundings, feeling the thrill of an out-of-body experience.  It was nothing new to her, as her telepathic powers had often allowed her to exist in such a non-corporeal state.  However, this was the first time she found herself displaced from her body against her will.
            Her mind's eye gave her a clear view of her current surroundings from all angles.  It was a large chamber with metal walls, and no apparent light sources.  There were human bodies covering the floor, thousands of them, and they were all unconscious.  She checked a few of them and discovered they were existing in a displaced state similar to her own, only they lacked the mental capacity to think beyond their flesh.  Their minds lurked in slumber when separated from their bodies.
            Julie examined several of the bodies, recognizing a few of them.  Elizabeth Weston and Julia Shaw were among those cluttering the floor, and she recalled a few prominent residents of Freedom Lake as well.  Her telepathic probes discerned their identities, though it was difficult to get more than that from unconscious minds.
            Something stirred in the corner, drawing Julie's attention.  The shifting motion and the active mind summoned her like a lightning rod, and she sent her etherial form to investigate.  In an instant, she was upon the individual who was sitting up against the wall, shaking off the room's paralyzing effects.
            Julie recognized the man instantly, and shook off a feeling of bewilderment.  How was he able to repel the paralyzing effects of this place, when even she was at its mercy?  Whatever the reason, this gruff man was immune, and could prove to be her salvation.
            "John Rage," Julie spoke into his mind.
            "Who's there?" Rage asked, feeling a hangover he hadn't earned.  The groggy euphoria left him searching for the memory of a strong drink, but he couldn't remember the last time he'd had one.
            "It's me, Julie McCain," she whispered, and with her words she sent a flood of information into Rage's head, explaining their current predicament.  She was careful to limit the exchange, so the man wouldn't receive sensory overload.
            "Are you serious?" Rage asked as his mind assimilated the new data.  The story she'd laid on him seemed far fetched, even after everything strange he'd seen in recent months.
            "Dead serious," Julie replied.
            "Right," Rage said, standing up.  He wasn't sure if he should believe her, but couldn't think of anything better to do.
            "You're going to have to trust me," Julie replied to his doubts.  "A lot of people are depending on us.  The entire world, in fact."
            "I've been there before," Rage said, taking a step forward in the dark.  Before he got far, he tripped over one of the unconscious people, and fell atop several others.
            "Hold on," Julie replied as Rage cursed.  "I'll share my mental perceptions with you.
            "Your what?" Rage asked.  A second later, phantasmal images appeared before his eyes, giving him a clear picture of his surroundings.  Rage blinked, trying to clear his vision, but it did nothing for his sight.  The hazy images were not coming from his eyes at all, but from Julie's mind.
            "Head over toward that wall panel there," Julie said, adding a touch of added light onto the rectangular patch sitting on the far wall.
            Rage made his way through the sea of bodies, trying to avoid stepping on them whenever possible.  They were packed so tightly, it was difficult to avoid in some places.  It wasn't long before he reached his destination, and looked at the blank panel. Close up, it was clearly some sort of computer screen, only inactive.
            "Okay, now what?" Rage asked.
            "What do you have to pry with?"
            Rage patted himself down and found that his bowie knife hadn't been removed.  He pulled the large blade from its hip sheath and began poking the tip along the edge of the panel.  "Exactly how do you know this is a good idea?" he asked as the knife found a groove.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Author Interview: Edmund Wells

Today I'm interviewing Edmund Wells, the exceptional author who contributed both The Light Fantastic and AMR-17 to "The Temporal Element."  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Mr. Wells.

WELLS: My pleasure.  I’d prefer if, however, you addressed me as Lord Wells.

MTI:  Let's get right down to business, Lord Wells.  Your writing is both entertaining and skillfully crafted, often incorporating elements of humor into the mix.  Tell us a little about your writing process.  What compels you to write the sort of fiction you do, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

WELLS:  Thank you, Martinus.  I like to write stories that are fun to read and humorous, primarily adventure stories that mix elements of sci-fi and fantasy.  Once I’ve dreamed up an interesting premise, I try to conjure a satisfying ending—preferably where something explodes.  Then, after a cold shower, I work at reverse-engineering the ending so it somehow meets back up with the premise, and voila!  A story is born.  This is done partly to keep my plot on course and partly to avoid painting myself into a corner.

MTI:  If you had to pick the one author who has influenced or inspired you the most, who would it be?

WELLS:  Without question, Douglas Adams—the genius who so brilliantly merged comedy with science fiction.  He also has a wonderful way with words.  I’ve re-read The Hitchhiker’s trilogy numerous times, and it never fails to make me snort milk from my nostrils.  And, should a spaceship ever arrive in my vicinity, I have my hitchhiker’s towel handy to flag it down (the same one I use to wipe up the milk).

MTI:  Yes, I'd like to note that Douglas Adams' work on Doctor Who is highly underrated, in my opinion.

As you know, The Temporal Element is an anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures.  These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you believe that humanity will ever discover a viable way to travel backward and forward through time?

WELLS:  If 100 years ago you’d asked whether I believed humans on different continents would one day chat through tiny metal boxes, and about nothing very important, I’d have set my donkey after you.  More advanced brains than mine seem to think time travel is possible, so my donkey and I are cautiously optimistic.

MTI:  Whether probable or not, if you could go back to any point in history, Lord Wells, when would you visit?

WELLS:  History was never my best subject in school.  Was there ever a time when near-sighted, portly men were revered for their ability to lounge about in loose pants and flirt with scantily-clad women?  That point in history.

MTI:  Looking forward, what futuristic piece of technology would you like to own or have for your personal use?

WELLS:  My own personal holodeck, as popularized on Star Trek, TNG.  Or an X-wing fighter.

MTI:  Another vote for the holodeck.  Back to the topic of your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

WELLS:  I’m working on a comedic sci-fi adventure featuring my jewel-thieving Aussie space ranger, Logan Bishop, and his quirky robot pals.  I’ve gotten positive feedback on a few Logan stories, and decided to develop them into a novel.  Reverse engineering, actually, since I know how I want it to end—the rest is just piffling detail.

MTI:  You hold the unique distinction, Lord Wells, of being the only author with two stories in The Temporal Element.  Tell our readers a little bit about their origins, and how they came to be included in the collection.

WELLS:  As silly as my writing often is, I believe in classical themes—irony, tragedy, man’s struggle against fate.  The Light Fantastic is an ironic twist on the tale of Adam and Eve, and in terms of literature nothing is more “classic” than The Bible.  In AMR-17, I wanted to show how, despite our best intentions and struggles to the contrary, one cannot skirt one’s destiny—even with a clever bit of time-shifting and access to a smug weather computer. 

Each of these stories was produced in the span of a week during a grueling writing contest called a “shootout.”  Since you, Martinus, so valiantly hosted these shootouts, indirectly inspiring these two stories, I felt it only fitting they should appear in your first Anthology.  Should your readers dislike them, only you are to blame.

MTI:  What, readers dislike your stories?  Impossible!  Other than the pair of stories that'll be featured in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories planned for publication in the near future?

WELLS:  In a weak moment, I wrote a serious piece titled “Oasis,” set in a futuristic “old west.”  It went on to be one of six stories chosen for publication in Fantasy Faction’s upcoming anthology, alongside a collection of professional writers.  It’s slated to come out sometime in mid-2013, or so they tell me.  Otherwise, I have several shorts that are quietly looking for a home:  One Man’s Hel, A Fistful of Cybernetics, The Riddle of Elders, The Oracle and When the Cow Breaks – each of them a bit silly.

MTI:  Ah, yes, I remember reading all of those.  Good stuff.  As busy as you are, your lordship, it may be hard to find free time.  However, when you have the chance, what sort of TV programs do you enjoy, if any?

WELLS:  I don’t watch much television, but do make time for The Big Bang Theory, Southpark and The Walking Dead, the latter of which is atypical for me.  I prefer to quietly wend my way through old TV series such as the various Star Trek spin-offs, Frasier, Battlestar Galactica (2004), Twilight Zone and Seinfeld, to name a few.

MTI:  A fine selection.  I have all the Star Trek spin-offs and all 11 seasons of Frasier on DVD, just FYI.  So, what sort of music do you prefer?

WELLS:  I’m a big fan of classic rock—Beatles, Zeppelin, Queen, Bowie, Elton—but am also a product of the 80’s, so love artists like Stevie Nicks, Heart, Pat Benatar, Weird Al and Talking Heads.  I also enjoy classical music (Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Bach), which helps me to focus my thoughts.

MTI:  Do you have any words of wisdom to share with your reading audience, perhaps something to spark their interest in your fiction?

WELLS:  Words of wisdom?  From a guy who thinks Weird Al was a genius and “Werewolves of London” the pinnacle of 80’s pop?  In school I was often dubbed a “wise guy,” but not of the Confucius sort.  My fiction tends to include a lot of silly humor, plays on words, extended puns, and surprise endings.  If you enjoy light-hearted fantasy or sci-fi adventures, where things are apt to explode, and uncommonly pretty girls are not uncommon, then you’ll probably like my stories, wise or otherwise.

MTI:  As we bring this interview to a close, is it possible to get a glimpse at something you've written recently?  Lord Wells, our readers would love a free sample!

WELLS:  Happy to.  Here’s an excerpt from “The Light of Venus”:

            Logan clenched his teeth, fighting nausea from the carbon dioxide vapors permeating the ship.  He'd always known Yuri didn't like him—the feeling was mutual—but he never expected the bloke to resort to sabotage.  Or murder. 
“That's not following the plan we'd agreed to, mate.”
            “Oh, but my plan is so much more interesting,” Yuri said, eyes twinkling from behind his energy shield.  He held Logan’s blaster, pointed straight at him.  “I will claim your ship as compensation for the damage done to my ship, with a promise to Vladmira to carry on your legacy of thievery and espionage.”
            This bloke is off his trolley.  Sweat trickled down Logan’s aching back.  “It's not thievery.  It's the redistribution of wealth.  I thought you of all people would appreciate that.”  Had he switched the blaster's settings to fire forward?  Even if he had, the blaster wouldn't breach Yuri's shield.  The gloating bastard had out-maneuvered him this time.
            “Checkmate, eh comrade?”  Logan's vision blurred, his breathing labored from lack of oxygen.  “I never much cared for chess.”
            Yuri shrugged, slipping the gemstone into a pouch.  “The Czarina will soon forget your tragic death in light of my recovery of the gem.  I will, of course, take every opportunity to console her.”  He smiled unpleasantly.
            Logan tried to keep his voice casual.  “Bloody clever of you, Yuri.”  He had only one chance, slim as it was.  “But you're forgetting one important thing.”
            Yuri frowned.  “And what is that?”
            “To smile and say cheese.”  Logan released a flash from his cybernetic lenses and dove for Yuri's legs.  A crackling bolt of blue-green energy lashed from the pistol, singing Logan's hair as his Akubra hat flew off in a fiery arc.
            Damn him!  Yuri went down, cursing.  The blaster clattered across the floor.
            Logan leaped up, struggling to maintain his balance.  He grabbed the pry-bar from his tool pouch.  His cybernetic weapons wouldn't pierce Yuri's shield, but there were other ways to skin a dingo.
            Yuri climbed to his feet, crouched in his pro-wrestler stance, and rushed forward like an enraged bull on steroids.
            Caught off balance, Logan found himself trapped in the Russian's powerful grasp.  Grunting, Yuri half-shoved and half-carried Logan toward the humming trash compactor.
            Bugger!  Logan had picked up a few of his own wrestling moves over the years, mostly in pubs and at family gatherings.  All the best moves, however, involved the use of his arms.
            Yuri slammed Logan against one of the trash compartments, his arms still squeezed to his sides.  In a moment, Yuri would lift Logan, shove him inside, then hit the “on” button and “hoo roo” Logan.  He'd rather suffocate than have his head crushed, though neither option held much appeal.
            Lungs aching, blood rushing in a red haze through his temples, Logan realized he was nearing the end of his tether.  He did something he'd never done before, at least not around the sheilas.
            Logan went limp.
            Yuri's grip slackened; in that moment, Logan whipped around and snapped his head forward, smashing his forehead into the Russian's nose with a satisfying crunch.
            Yuri cried out, staggering backward.
            Beauty!  Moving with the grace of an enraged drunk, Logan lunged, stabbing his pry-bar into the silver nodule on Yuri's belt—the power source for his shield.  A sizzle jolted Logan's hand, and the pry-bar clattered to the floor.
            Logan's vision swirled in a dream-like state.  He raised his eyes to Yuri and fired a laser blast from his lenses ... but nothing happened.  He tried again ... nothing.  Bloody battery!  Heart racing, Logan reached for his blaster—.
            “What the...?”  Logan blinked, carbon dioxide burning his throat and lungs.
            Yuri stood a few paces back, pointing Logan's blaster at him.  Blood ran from Yuri's nose, staining his fancy coat.
            “Mate ... maaaate.”  Logan wiped a hand down his sweat-drenched face.  His breathing came in painful gasps.  Had he changed the gun’s setting to fire forward?  He usually did once he had possession of the weapon, but with the C02 clouding his mind, he wasn’t sure.
“Why don't we ... call it a day, Yuri?  I'll buy us ... a slab of longnecks, and we can thumb wrestle instead.  What do you say?”  Logan peered over his lenses.  It was hard to kill a bloke in cold blood, especially staring him in the eyes.
            Yuri, colder than a Siberian Popsicle at Yuletide, just sneered.  “I think I will rename your ship Yuri's Revenge.  What do you think?”
            Logan sighed.  Well, he’d given it his best.  It was in fate's hands now.  “I knew you couldn't beat me ... in a fair fight, you ... ratbag.  Bugger off.”  Logan grinned.
            Yuri raised an eyebrow.  “Goodbye, Mr. Bishop.”
            A bolt of blue-green energy erupted from Logan's blaster, tearing a neat hole through Yuri's chest.  The Russian fell over, extremely dead.
That blaster was the best purchase he'd ever made.
            “Goodbye, wanker.”

MTI:  That was certainly a tempting sample!  Thank you for that.  Those who wish to read more of Edmund's work can pick up a copy of The Temporal Element.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Author Interview: Lauren A. Forry

Today, I'm interviewing Lauren A. Forry, the fabulous writer who contributed Application of the Novikov Self-Consistency Conjecture to the Daily Commute of One David Jensen to "The Temporal Element."  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Lauren.

Let us start with some introductory material.  Tell our readers a little bit about yourself, if you don't mind.

FORRY:  I’ve been writing stories ever since my parents bought our first computer when I was in second grade, but I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until college. I watched too much M*A*S*H in high school and convinced myself I should be a doctor, so I started at NYU on the pre-med track. I had a free space in my second semester, so I took an open screenwriting course and was hooked. No one was surprised when I told them I changed majors. It seemed everyone knew before I did that I was a writer.

After graduating, I worked freelance in the film production industry for a few years before returning to school to get my Master’s in Creative Writing. I spent the last two and a half years living in London and just recently returned the US, but I hope to relocate there permanently at some point in the future. I miss good tea.

MTI:  What compelled you to start writing fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

FORRY:  I was an avid reader as kid, and there are only so many Goosebumps books you can read before you decide you can write one yourself. I grew up in the woods and always found ghost stories and scary stories fascinating because it felt like they could be happening right outside my door. Then my dad had me watching The X-Files at the age of eight, so loving horror and sci-fi was ingrained in me at an early age. They’re still my favorites to read and write.

MTI:  If you were to name the author who has most influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

FORRY:  Well, my favorite author tends to be the person I’ve read most recently, and right now I’ve been reading a lot of Daphne du Maurier. We have different styles, but I admire how she builds the suspense in her stories, even in seemingly ordinary moments. Having a cinema studies background, my writing is also inspired just as much by what I watch as what I read, and I’m loving the work being done by Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss on BBC’s Sherlock right now. Incredibly clever and tightly plotted.

MTI:  Yes, Steven Moffat's work is absolutely brilliant.  Sherlock is great, and I especially love his work on Doctor Who.  I just hope he keeps Matt Smith around for a few more years.

The Temporal Element is a Martinus Publishing anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures.  These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you ever believe that humanity will discover a viable way to travel backwards and forwards through time?

FORRY:  Ever? Maybe, if humanity is around long enough. People couldn’t conceive of iPads a thousand years ago, so who knows what technology could be possible in the future. Should we? Now that’s a different question. Doctor Who presents some good reasons both for and against.

MTI:  If you were given the chance to visit any point in history, when would you visit?

FORRY:  I’d love to go to the Cretaceous Period so I could see what the T-Rex and, my favorite, the Velociraptor actually looked like, but knowing my luck I’d either a) see neither or b) get eaten.

MTI:  Another vote for dinosaurs.  Steven Gepp's Extinction should have a lot of fans.  Thinking forward, what piece of futuristic technology would you like to own, or have for your personal use?

FORRY:  I love traveling, so any type of teleportation that could move me around the world quickly would be fantastic. Airports are fantastic places to gather character ideas, but avoiding long haul flights and jetlag would be even better.

MTI:  Indeed, just watch out for the unforeseen side effects of bio-digital cloning (a little shameless Guns of Mars plug there).  Let's get back to your writing.  Can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

FORRY:  I’ve just started my second novel, The Elsewhere Men, which is a sci-fi horror set in 1955 Surbiton, England, and I’m working on two TV pilots with my screenwriting partner, Jannicke de Lange—Sunshine & Shadow, a supernatural buddy cop drama and The Ward, a dramedy set in a mental institution.

MTI:  I should consult with you on my own screenwriting aspirations sometime.  Other than the appearance of ...One David Jensen in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories slated for publication in the near future?

FORRY:  Not at the moment. I’m focusing on getting my first novel published—Mr. Brownawell’s Collection, a gothic horror set in 1947 Great Britain—but I’m revising some short stories at the moment and hoping to have them out soon.

MTI:  You say you recently moved back to the States from the UK.  How'd you enjoy your time across the pond?

FORRY:  London is fantastic. It’s a wonderful place for a writer because you can absorb so much history just by walking down the street. Plus, there are so many museums. If you need to do research on anything, guaranteed they have a museum about it and entry will be either free or inexpensive. And the cafes are excellent. I highly recommend The Watch House in Rotherhithe, if you’re ever over there. And the National Theatre and the BFI and I’ll stop because I could go on forever and bore you to death.  

MTI:  I'll definitely have to check out the sights if I ever have the opportunity to visit London.  On the lighter side, what sort of television programs do you watch these days, if any?

FORRY:  This is another list that could go on forever. The top choices right now are Sherlock, Ripper Street, American Horror Story, Doctor Who, Community, and Life on Mars (UK). I can, and will, rewatch Life on Mars any day, any time.

MTI:  What sort of music do you prefer?  Any bands we should know about?

FORRY:  I’m notorious amongst my friends for not knowing the world’s most famous songs. The majority of things on my iPod are musicals and movie soundtracks, so I’m probably not the best person to ask, but I’ve been listening to a good deal of folk-rock lately like The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons. No idea why, but I like it.

MTI:  We're getting near the end of the interview, so is there anything special you'd like to say to your fellow writers, or to potential readers?

FORRY:  Watch the originals first, then the remakes. Sometimes the movie can be better than the book, but check out both so you can decide for yourself. Introductions to books should never be skipped; there is good information there. Be wary of US remakes of British television show (for every The Office there are five failed Spaced pilots). And get everything in writing; you don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of Judge Judy.

MTI:  Very poignant advice. I, myself, have been avoiding the Game of Thrones tv series, so I can read the novels first.  Oh, and don't get me started on the absolute travesty that was the Starship Troopers movie(s).  Heinlein would likely be disappointed.

I'm sure everyone is eager to check out your work at this point.  Before we go, do you have a few paragraphs of a story you'd like to share, maybe something new that nobody else has seen before?

FORRY:  Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Brownawell’s Collection:

A single lantern hanging towards the front of the carriage was all the light they had. Eliza searched around them for something to keep warm and eventually found an old wool blanket under their seats. She tucked it around herself and Rebecca. There was nothing to see in the dark. Eliza began humming to keep her nerves steady. She didn’t realize what song it was until she reached the refrain – “I’ll Be Seeing You”. She kept humming it as they drove further down the gravel road.

The biting wind prevented her from falling asleep. She focused on finding signs of life in the unfamiliar landscape. A house, a shop, a stray dog, anything. All she could see was the road they travelled on and the grass either side.

Despite her efforts, Eliza didn’t notice the stone and iron gates until they were passing through them. She turned round to try and get a better look, but they had already disappeared into the darkness. Facing forward, she saw a speck of light in the near distance, growing stronger with each pull of the carriage.

From the light emerged the outline of a manor house. Like Carroll’s Cheshire cat, it came into being piece by piece – there a window, there a chimney, there a hedge. The carriage drew closer. There appeared a door and by that door, a thin, unmoving figure.

Mr. Drewry pulled the carriage to a stop in front of the house. The still figure remained in the doorway. It was a woman – Eliza could see now – her hair pulled back in a loose bun, dark dress swaying in the night-time breeze. Eliza and Rebecca waited to approach the house until Mr. Drewry did so. The woman stepped aside, allowing them entry, then approached the girls, a lantern held above their heads as she inspected them. The shadows from the flame fell on her face, exaggerating the wrinkles around her mouth and eyes. Grey stained her dark brown hair, and her serious manner reminded Eliza of their long-dead grandmother. When she spoke to Mr. Drewry, her voice sounded much younger.
“Why,” she asked, “are there two of them?”

MTI:  Well, that's certainly something!  Thank you, Lauren, for this captivating interview.  Those who want to read more of her work can pick up a copy of The Temporal Element.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Author Interview: Chris Allinotte

Today, I'm interviewing Chris Allinotte, the excellent author who contributed the short story There's an App for That to "The Temporal Element."  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Chris.

For a warm-up, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

ALLINOTTE:  Well, I’m Canadian, for one, and I’ve recently seen a lot more of the country as we picked up and moved about 1,300 miles west.  I went through school and university with the intent of becoming an actor—and I was, for about 2-3 years in Toronto, before meeting my wife and starting a family (which was way more fun than waiting tables and starving).  Since then, I’ve been a professional marketer by day / writer by night and weekend.

MTI:  Speaking about your writing, tell me, what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

ALLINOTTE:  I’ve always been a storyteller. Even when I thought I was going to be an actor, it was always the writing part that I liked best. Throughout high school, my favourite subjects were English and Creative Writing. Basically any time I had the chance to tell a story “out of my own head” I was happy. I think I knew it was serious when I wrote my first story that wasn’t for a class assignment or anything—a werewolf story called “Howl.”  My favourite stories to write are the ones that surprise me. By that, I mean that sometimes I willsit down with the intention of writing a story with this flavour, or that kind of scenario, just to see if I can do it. Sometimes it works, like my first piece of “Noir” fiction that I ever wrote (The Sins of the Past, that was published at Thrillers, Killers n’ Chillers.) Other times, it’s fallen completely to pieces, like my first-ever NaNoWriMo novel. Either way, I’m learning something, and it’s fun.  If the writer is having fun when he’s writing the story, I think it shows to the reader.

MTI:  Yes, quite so.  Now, if you had to pick the one author who has influenced or inspired you the most, who would it be?

ALLINOTTE:  It will sound a little cliché, but my biggest influence, bar none, is Stephen King. I started reading his books when I was 12, and they had a huge impact on me. His nonfiction too—I share his view that whatever form you write, people had better be getting a damned good story when they pick it up, or you’ve wasted their time.  For the past few years, as I’ve tried to get more “craft” in my writer’s craft, and more tools formy kit, I’ve broadened my reading as much as possible. Right now, I’m really enjoying some classics—masters of the craft who I never managed to get around to before. Algernon Blackwood, in particular, has a style that I really enjoy. His ghost stories are some of the best I’ve ever read; he knew how to ratchet up tension. Also, I’m reading a Rudyard Kipling collection right now. All I can say is that “Damn. He’s good.” Honestly, I’ve never been transported so quickly into a fictional world as when I’m reading Kipling. 

MTI:  The Temporal Element is an anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures.  These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you ever believe that humanity will discover a viable way to travel backwards and forwards through time?

ALLINOTTE:  It’s funny, because just this past year there was that incident in Italy where some scientists had, at least for a month or so, thought they’d broken the speed of light—which is to many a scientist and sci-fi fan, the main hurdle one must cross to attain time travel. If nothing else, it got everyone thinking about it for awhile!  But personally, I don’t think humanity will ever travel in time. My main reasoning is that it won’t happen, because it hasn’t happened yet. If we eventually discover the mechanism to travel back in time, chances are someone would have gone back before now already. And if they did that, then the world would be in an ever-changing state of chaos, as history is constantly being rewritten. Wait a minute...

MTI:  Whether probable or not, if you could go back to any point in history, when would you visit?

ALLINOTTE:  That was one of the best parts of writing “There’s an App for That.” I got to explore what it would have been like at all these different times for the intrepid time traveller. Based on where my thoughts took me in that story, I am no longer interested in seeing dinosaurs. I’d probably like to visit our recent past—the early 1900’s. That’s when some really cool things were taking off. Cars were a new thing, human powered flight was starting to leave the realm of fantasy. I think it would be tremendously exciting.  Oh—and I would also really like to go drinking with William Shakespeare.

MTI:  Looking forward, what futuristic piece of technology would you like to own or have for personal use?

ALLINOTTE:  I’m old enough to remember when a TV was a massive piece of furniture, about the size of a loveseat, and when a home computer required you to “press play on tape” if you wanted to run a program—so I’m already living in the future. My cell phone, which is already three generations behind, is still more amazing than anything I’ve had access to in the past thirty years.  But—if I’m shooting the moon—I’d love to have a machine that I can dictate my stories into, and have it appear onscreen 100% correct, AND have it already formatted and ready to go. It would also immediately highlight adverbs, and clichés.  That or some kind of invisibility cloak/jet pack combination. Either way.

MTI:  Turning back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

ALLINOTTE:  My current work in progress is a sci-fi/horror story that actually began early last year as a much shorter, completed piece. I’ve since come back to it, and wanted to add more to the story, as reading it over, I noticed that there’s not enough time to care what happens to the protagonist—and that’s vital. If I needed to paint a very broad idea of the plot, it’s something like the videogame Silent Hill, set in the post apocalypse world of Terminator.

MTI:  Tell our readers a little about your short story collection, Gathering Darkness.  That's been available for a while now, hasn't it?

ALLINOTTE:  Gathering Darkness has been out since June of last year. It took me a long time to come up with that title, but it’s an appropriate one. The book collects my favourite stories from the beginning of my current "writing career"—being the moment I decided to start sharing my stories with publications, to the present. It’s a sort of Yearbook that I can look back on and say “so that’s what I was writing then. ”At the same time, I was pretty ruthless in my selection process. Out of about 60 possibles, I pared it down to the 28 that are in it now. I wanted the book to reflect my voice as a writer—which seems to have worked. A lot of the reviews I’ve had on the book refer to the stories as being similar to the Twilight Zone, or Tales from the Crypt.  I get that. I grew up on A Nightmare on Elm St. and Evil Dead. I collected monster trading cards, and comic books. For me, horror needs to have a little fun. Why else are people subjecting themselves to such grotesque, awful things, except as a bit of entertainment—I say you might as well get a little laughter along with your screaming for your money. That’s what Gathering Darkness is all about.  On another note, I’ve just made the e-book exclusive to Kindle, so I can run a few more promotions with Amazon than I could before.  I’ve got new stuff coming, but I don’t want to forget about this one either.

MTI:  Other than There's an App for That, appearing in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories planned for publication in the near future?

ALLINOTTE:  I’ve got one flash piece that will probably be up at Thrillers, Killers n’ Chillers in the near future, but otherwise, I’ve still got three or four other pieces that are in various stages of completion.  I’m slowing my pace down a little these days.  Part of it is less writing time, but the other is a desire to be a little more meticulous with my craft.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

ALLINOTTE:  American Horror Story. I have wanted to see a show like that on TV forever and that they’ve just finished a second season is awesome. This is some of the coolest storytelling I’ve ever seen on TV, and the cast is amazing. Jessica Lange needs to win everything for her work in this show.

MTI:  What sort of music do you enjoy?

ALLINOTTE:  I listen to pretty much everything, but when I’m writing, I tend to gravitate towards the same few artists—Tool, Within Temptation, Apocalyptica, and Alice Cooper. Especially Alice Cooper.  He is the horror-author’s musician.

MTI:  You have the attention of some prospective readers.  Do you have any words of wisdom to share with them?

ALLINOTTE:  This has been said before, and most likely more eloquently:  If you’re a fellow writer—keep writing. Do it. Make yourself do a page a day if you need to, but do it.  Also—be a reader, too. See next point.  If you’re a reader—read EVERYTHING. Read the authors you like. Read some authors you don’t like. Read comic books. Read classics. (Pro tip: they are called classics because they are great stories. Not just because they are old. Usually.)

MTI:  And, as we wrap up this great interview, would you like to share a few paragraphs of fresh material with us? 

ALLINOTTE:  First, thanks very much for the interview, Martin! It’s a real honour to be part of the Temporal Element Anthology.  Secondly, here is something that’s still in progress, but I like this particular passage. The working title is “Summerfriend.”

"Hey. Come look at this."

Michael started to reply, but Karen cut him off with a finger to her lips, "Be quiet. You'll scare it."

Following her gaze, Michael saw the snake. It was about three feet long, charcoal black, and had a grotesque bulge just behind its head.  The snake's tongue flicked out around the tip of mouse tail that was still poking out of its mouth. Michael was transfixed.  "Cool," he said.

"Think we can get him to spit it out?" the girl whispered.

"What?" Michael looked at her. He must not have heard her right.

"Come on," she said, "I bet if you pick it up by the tail and smack it on the tree, the mouse will fly out."

"I'm not doing that."

"What, are you chicken?" she was still whispering, but her tone and expression were mocking again.

"I'm not chicken," said Michael. "I don't want to."

The girl gave a disgusted chuckle and said, "You baby. Watch this."

Without another word, her hand darted out and seized the snake by the tail. It slung itself up in a tight arc, trying to bite her, but its mouth was too full to do anything.  She stepped back, and swung the animal hard by its tail, directly into the first of the birch trees.  Michael winced at the sound, which was like the breaking open of an apple. The snake now lay ruined on the ground. Around its neck, the skin had split and burst open.

Michael had to turn away when he saw a tiny pink paw poking out one of these new slits.

"Ew," the girl said, "It's still alive."

Turning back, Michael saw the snake still working its jaws pathetically. Revulsion tried to overcome him, but he had the idea that he should put the thing out of its misery.  Raising one muddy shoe, he stamped down hard on the dying reptile's head, and ground it into the dirt.

Something in his chest hitched. This was so wrong.

"Cool, look at the blood," said the girl. "And those are its brains."

"Shut up," said Michael. "Just shut up."

Looking away from the mess at his feet, he saw that his words had had an effect. The girl's expression had grown sullen, and her lower lip was stuck out. She was probably going to cry.

Good, thought Michael, she should cry. This was a really bad thing to do.

"I'm sorry," said the girl.

"You should be," replied Michael.

"I am," she said, and looked back over her shoulder to the woods. "Look, um, I have to go.  Can I play with you tomorrow?"

At that moment, Michael didn't see any of the cruelty that he'd witnessed just moments ago. He saw a lonely kid his own age.  "Yeah," he said. "No more killing stuff though, okay?"


Thank you, Chris, for that great interview and the intriguing sample.  Those who want to check out his story, There's an App for That, along with 20 other fascinating time-travel tales, can order The Temporal Element.