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Posts Tagged ‘James Thurber’

Elaine Isaac Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak). E. C. Ambrose wrote adventure-based historical fantasy series The Dark Apostle, about medieval surgery, from DAW Books, which began with Elisha Barber, and concluded with volume 5, Elisha Daemon in 2018. Her most recent release was international thriller novel, Bone Guard One: The Mongol’s Coffin. As Elaine Isaak, she also wrote The Singer’s Crown Series. In the process of researching her books, Elaine learned how to hunt with a falcon, clear a building of possible assailants, and pull traction on a broken limb. The author is a graduate of and an instructor for the Odyssey Writing Workshop. In addition to writing, Elaine works as a guide, teaching rock climbing and leading outdoor adventure camps.

E. C. Ambrose’s latest book, Elisha Daemon is a novel history and dark fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—1348: Europe has become a bottomless well of terror and death, from which the necromancers drink deep as the citizens sink into despair. If there is to be any chance of survival, Elisha must root out the truth of the pestilence at its unexpected source: the great medical school at Salerno.

But as he does, his former mentor, the beautiful witch Brigit, lays her own plans. For there may be one thing upon the face of the planet more deadly than the plague: the unfiltered power of Death within Elisha himself. Europe’s darkest hour awaits Elisha Daemon!

A starred review in Library Journal described the first book in the series, Elisha Barber (now available in paperback) as “Painfully elegant, beautifully told,” while D. B. Jackson, author of The Thieftaker Series, said, “Elisha Barber is at once dark, powerful, redemptive, and ultimately deeply satisfying. Highly recommended!”

Elisha Daemon front cover_elaine i Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Elisha Daemon?

This is the final volume in The Dark Apostle Series, about medieval surgery. I got inspired to write the books while I was researching the history of medicine for another novel. I dove deep into the rabbit hole for that one—and when I emerged again, I had the concept for the books: a barber-surgeon discovers he has an unnatural affinity with Death.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Elisha, the protagonist, is the only narrator for the series. He begins as arrogant about his skill, only to find that the world is much larger and more dangerous than even he knew. Compassion is his tragic flaw—he just can’t stop himself from investing in others, even when it hurts.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

The series is from DAW (an affiliate of Penguin Random House), so traditional. I loved working with the team at DAW, from the editor who helped me make the books so much better, to the artist who created the fantastic covers, to the publicists who helped me arrange bookstore visits and other promotional opportunities. I also appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to wear all of those hats! The main disadvantage is that everything happens on their schedule: waiting for edits, then having to hurry to make changes, books being delayed even though I turned them in. That part is frustrating, but sharing the responsibilities of the process with experts made the trade-off worth it for me.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

These books transformed me from a gardener to an architect—does that make me a landscape designer? The editors loved the concept, but thought my original series arc was too small. I developed many of my current techniques for brainstorming and outlining while expanding the concept into the series I eventually wrote.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber. This wonderful fairytale works within the tropes of fantasy to express some rich and beautiful things. As the Golux (the only Golux in the world, and not a Mere Device) says in the book, “I can feel a thing I cannot touch, and touch a thing I cannot feel. The first is sad and sorry, and the second is, your heart.” And that, after all, is what a writer longs for: to touch the hearts of others.

What writing project are you currently working on?

At any given time, I have several projects cooking. I am currently revising a young adult science fiction novel, A Wreck of Dragons, about teens partnered with giant robots to find a new home for mankind among the stars. I’ve begun drafting the sequel to an international thriller novel, book two in The Bone Guard Series, and I have the ghost of a mythic fantasy novel haunting the back of my mind…

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

“Don’t hide your light under a bushel,” Mrs. Tribe, seventh grade English teacher. If you have something to say, something wonderful and amazing you want to share, put it out there. Be fearless in expressing your heart.

Want to learn more about E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak) and Elisha Daemon? Check out her: Facebook pageTwitterE.C. Ambrose Amazon Authors PageElaine Isaak Amazon Authors Page – and for sample chapters, historical research, and some nifty extras, visit her website.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Elisha Daemon.

Thanks to author E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak) for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Denise Timpko on February 26, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Version 3 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, K.G. Anderson. K.G. Anderson writes short fiction—urban fantasy, space opera, alternate history, Weird West tales, near-future science fiction, poetry, and mystery. Her stories appear in more than a dozen magazines and anthologies, as well on online at sites including Every Day Fiction and the podcast Far Fetched Fables. She’s done narration for Star Ship Sofa.

She has degrees in psychology and journalism, and attended the Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox writing workshops. Her career as a journalist, arts reviewer and technology writer includes six years at Apple, where she worked on the launch of the iTunes Music Store.

Born in Washington, D.C., she has lived in Northern Virginia, Southern Connecticut, and Genoa, Italy. She currently makes her home in Seattle with her partner, Tom Whitmore, and slightly more than the local limit of cats.

terra tara terror cover kg anderson K.G. Anderson’s latest published story, “Captain Carthy’s Bride,” appears in Terra! Tara! Terror! edited by Juliana Rew (Third Flatiron, 2018). A quick summary for my readers:
“Captain Carthy’s Bride” opens on a rocky shore where Sheila O’Farrell lies naked, a selkie’s coat spread on the rocks nearby. Will Carthy, a World War I war hero and now the captain of a merchant ship, is vacationing at the hotel where Sheila works. Her plan is to have him mistake her for a selkie and take her as his bride to the big city. At first, the plan succeeds. As Carthy’s selkie bride (he renames her Moira), she acquires a loving husband, a large home, and two healthy children. But after the children grow up and leave home, trouble appears and Sheila realizes she must pay a terrible price for the selkie’s coat.

Where did the idea come from for your latest published story, “Captain Carthy’s Bride”?

I’m a reactionary writer — I often read a story or a novel and I think “no! no! no!” and write my own, contrarian, view of how the story should have gone. “Captain Carthy’s Bride” was written in reaction to two other stories. The first was yet another re-telling of the classic selkie tale: the selkie is captured by the fisherman who, by hiding her coat from her, is able to keep her captive, leading to much unhappiness and tragedy all around. I was frustrated because I saw nothing new in the story. The second story was Manny Frishberg’s “The Fisherman’s Wife,” published in Triangulation: Beneath the Surface. Manny cleverly flipped the classic story by giving the selkie a choice. While the first story had frustrated me, Manny’s story inspired me to break the selkie trope even further. This resulted in “Captain Carthy’s Bride,” a story in which an ambitious hotel chambermaid pretends to be a selkie in order to attract a wealthy sea captain who will “capture” her.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

The chambermaid’s mother, Mrs. O’Farrell. For many years, the Widow O’Farrell believes that her daughter Sheila drowned in the sea. She’s initially pleased when Sheila reappears, now the wife of an affluent man, but her approval turns to horror as she realizes the price her daughter will pay for stealing a selkie’s coat. The Widow O’Farrell is my favorite character because she’s the one most attuned to the dreadful power of the sea and the selkies.

How do you find your markets—what factors make you choose one market over another?

I could go one for hours on the topic of markets! I teach a seminar called “Strategies for Submitting Short Fiction” that explores the many, many factors that you have to balance when submitting fiction.

Every successful short story author I know uses a definite strategy, and that strategy is likely to change as their career evolves. The important thing is to create a strategy and to stick with it. I find that using a tool like the Submission Grinder makes it easy to track whatever factors are important to you, such as a publication’s payment level, speed of response, and the percentage of submissions a publication accepts.

The two most important factors for me are these:
–The market must pay (even if it’s only a token payment).
–The editor must be reputable (experienced is good, too, but reputable is essential). When I was first submitting stories, I had one accepted somewhere that I later discovered was not well regarded. I was crushed. The story didn’t look good, and the magazine didn’t look good, and I didn’t want to show the publication to anyone. Fortunately, that story later saw the light of day as a reprint.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m a trancer. I get an idea, usually in the morning, and I sit down at the computer and the first few pages of the story appear as if by magic. Initially this was a problem for me because I’d return to the story a few days later and have no idea where it was going. Some of those stories just died on the page. Now I have learned to force myself, even before I sit down at the computer to write, to envision an ending for the story. It might not be the eventual ending, but having an ending in mind turned out to be crucial to my ability to finish the story — to push the project from “great idea” to “great story.” So, in that sense, I’m a big-picture planner.

I don’t outline, but, as a visual thinker, I often have a sketch of the story’s shape. The sketch is much like a graph, with lines showing where exposition, and plot, and energy rise and fall. This enables me to see if the story has flat spots and to infuse those with more conflict or suspense.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Either The Thurber Carnival (short stories by James Thurber) or E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. Both Thurber and White were frequently in The New Yorker, my dad’s favorite magazine, so it was natural that my parents bought me those books. I loved the humorous situations, the descriptive language, and the eccentric characters. I’ll never forget the worrywart aunt in Charlotte’s Web, who shouted after the children dumb advice like, “Don’t cross the race track when the horses are coming.” Or Thurber’s Aunt Sarah Shoaf. She was convinced that burglars entered her house every night and that the only reason she never lost anything was because she threw shoes at them. “Some nights she threw them all, some nights only a couple of pair.” I wanted to write lines like that, and write scenes that would etch themselves in the reader’s mind.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I’ve recently joined a small critique group, and that is helping me focus on bringing stories from draft form to finished, submittable form. I have a story about cyberpets—inspired by an Orycon panel—that is finished, but which I feel needs quite a bit of tightening. My goal is to be able to send that out to a market in early January.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Dr. Debra Doyle critiqued my work at the Viable Paradise workshop and told me “Your writing is professional but not very engaging.” So I asked what I could do to make it more engaging. Her advice was, “You need to take your corset off.” I understood immediately—she meant that my years a journalist and a book reviewer had trained me to stand at a distance from my writing. I was telling stories, but they were cold and superficial.

I took her advice to heart, and at the end of the workshop I wrote a story about a grief counselor trying to help a distraught alien ambassador whose symbiotic partner—the only other alien on Earth—had suddenly died. That story was my first sale, to the Canadian anthology Second Contacts—a book that won the Aurora Award.

Want to learn more about K.G. Anderson and her short fiction, including “Captain Carthy’s Bride”? Check out her: Website & Blog, Twitter, and Amazon page.Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Terra! Tara! Terror!

Thanks to author K.G. Anderson for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author MJ Gardner on January 19, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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