Enricoh Alfonzo Naidu

You can find out more about Enricoh on his website and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

“Kitara and the Wonderful World of Real” – Winter Digest 2018

Enricoh Alfonzo Naidu is a writer, blogger & social media influencer who lives in the Indian suburb of Lenasia South, all the way in South Africa. When he’s not writing, reading or otherwise influencing; he’s snuggled up with his baby girl, Laci Alfonzo. Cuddling into her snowflake soft fur.

“By far my favorite grandkid.”
– Enricoh’s gran gran

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
Fiction. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance. I especially love the ones that mix all of these elements into one book/series. What a treat!

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
Fiction. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance. Though as a writer I feel like my enjoyment is constantly evolving & being experimented with. Especially as a blogger, I’ve written posts outside my comfort zones that have been very memorable for me.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
J.K Rowling. Her books got me absolutely hooked on reading & storytelling. I’ve been devouring books ever since. To me she is the Greatest author ever, period. She makes me believe in more.
Harry Potter & Goblet of Fire is the first book I ever remember distinctly reading for pleasure. It’s my favorite in the series & I’ll always cherish my copy for all the doors into unlocked within my mind.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
“Words are Immortal.” ™

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You can find out more about Steven on his website.  You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  
The Soulweb is on Facebook too!

“In the Under Realm” – Nov/Dec 2018

Raised in NH, Steven M Nedeau excelled in writing and art, acted in plays, and even taught dance. A serious car accident derailed his artistic career during his senior year, delaying his entry to college by several years. Steven eventually studied engineering, working full time and studying part time, earning his Bachelor’s degree at night all while raising a family. His college degree behind him, Steven stepped back into the artistic world by writing his first book, The Soulweb.

Steven is now writing three books, Soulweb Sleeping (the sequel to The Soulweb), Soulweb Shattered (the end of The Soulweb Trilogy), and Phoenix (a science fiction novel). He also has been helping other writers with story formatting, editing, and script consulting.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
This Fantasy author is an avid reader of science fiction. I particularly enjoy stories that delve into the things that make us human, into what defines our consciousness. If the story makes me question my own ideas of who or what I am, it’s going to rank high on my list.

Who are your favorite authors?
Phillip K. Dick, Margaret Weiss, J.R.R Tolkien, JK Rowling, Piers Anthony, and William Gibson.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Braham Stoker’s Dracula was one of the most jarring books I’ve ever read. At first I didn’t like it, but as I continued through the book I could feel the brilliance of the storytelling technique.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
Everyone has doubts and feelings inside that they aren’t as good as they should be. It’s ok to feel those things, but you shouldn’t let them hold you back. You are stronger than you realize. That strong confident guy you looked up to in high-school probably wasn’t any more strong or confident than you.

You can follow Jennifer on Twitter and Facebook.

“The Storyteller” – Halloween 2018

In third grade, Jennifer Nelson wrote a story about a girl who died to save her best friend. When her teacher’s only response was, “But she died!”, she knew she wanted to be an author. Now, she lives in Pennsylvania with two cats that get a little too involved with the writing process. When she’s not overthinking her urban fantasy stories, she plays video games, cross-stitches, listens to metal, studies tarot, and other contradictory activities.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
Colorful characters, magic, people figuring out how to communicate with each other, dreams


What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Robin McKinley and Brian Jacque’s Redwall series were HUGE influences during my formative years. I don’t write about talking mice, but Redwall was the first inkling of my love of great characters. As for McKinley, she takes classic fairy tales and expands them, breathes new life into them and makes them her own. Also, though I only discovered Maggie Stiefvater a few months ago, and she’s already becoming a major influence. She tackles so many things, from pastel art to calligraphy to bagpipes and excels at them all because of, as she says, “infinite patience for practice”, and if that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.


Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
I’ve asked myself that a lot recently. When I write, I’m telling the story my characters are experiencing, without thought to theme or message until it was there all along. But there is one common message throughout – no matter what limitations you think you might have, be it difficulty with words, with hearing, with staying human, there is always someone out there who hears what you have to say, no matter how silently you say it.


What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
I love things that tickle the imagination, that show me things I’ve never seen or thought of before, that present outlandish ideas and show how they can be real. And now that I’m older, I love seeing what was wondrous as a kid getting all kinds of corrupted and twisted.

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Find out more about Hanson at his website, and folow him on Twitter!

“The Gulch” – Halloween 2018

“Black Hen Witch” – Winter Digest 2018

Hanson Oak has worked in film and television as well as publications such as Fangoria. Born to well-meaning parents in the badlands of New York, his imagination took hold early, leading him on adventures he documents for his stories. He currently resides in the hills of northwestern Connecticut with his wife, two sons and dog.  

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I love an underdog story. A well rounded protagonist constantly in the shadow of a powerful antagonist. The more dangerous and seemingly impossible the odds against him/her the better.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
The draw to writing for me is the idea that I am taking a story that my imagination has crafted and then, through the power of reading, places that story into another person’s imagination but unlike watching a movie/TV, the details of setting and character are created by the reader, therefore making it a unique experience.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Richard Matheson stands on a podium to me. Reading I am Legend and 12 Step to Midnight had a profound effect on my own writing. I’ve been marked by many other authors since then but he left the deepest scar.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
Any good story has elements of many different genres and being restricted into one or two is a noose around the throat of creativity. The SpecFic umbrella allows a free movement between genres in a singular work and separate pieces, allowing for more interesting stories.

Follow Aaron on Twitter.

“Ex Infernalis” – Halloween 2018

Aaron Palmer is a writer of horror and dark fantasy. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky with his wife, dog, and four cats. When not writing, he enjoys reading, working at the library, and listening to heavy metal music.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
Stories where not a lot is explained to the reader, stories with gripping plots, stories with worlds you want to go live in.

Who are your favorite authors?
George R. R. Martin, Glen Cook, J.K. Rowling, H.P. Lovecraft, M.R. James, Jay Kristoff, Pierce Brown, Alex Marshall.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
H.P. Lovecraft. I love his style of writing, and the fact that he rarely, if ever, shows you exactly what is so horrifying. It’s definitely something I try to emulate in my fiction.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
I enjoy spending time in worlds different from our own. I spend so much time in the real world, it’s fun to leave and mentally inhabit a place where impossible things can happen

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You can find more of Thomas’ work with Dark Gatekeeper Gaming at Drive Thru Fiction.
You can also follow him on Twitter, Vampire Freaks, and Twitch.

“The First Adaron” – Winter Digest 2018

Thomas Paschal is a gamer, word-nerd, and endless dispenser of weird ideas that “can’t possibly work”. He is from North Carolina, USA. Creating stories since childhood, he has finally decide to unleash the tempest in his mind on an unsuspecting world. Many have been quick to judge and even quicker to tell him that he will fail. But he is quicker to prove them wrong.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
My favorite stories are ones that can make me feel. Ones that dare to be different. And ones that can make me think. If a story can engage my mind and my emotions, it’s got me.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
I enjoy experimenting with different genres and what defines them. What people expect when they hear, “This is sci-fi. This is fantasy. This is romance.” Taking those expectations and then going a different way with them.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
My influences are in part from the works of others. Mostly fantasy and heroism. The works of Homer, Poe, Sophecles and Naoko Takeuchi; to name a few. But, I also draw a good bit of inspiration from people I know, songs I hear, and experiences I’ve had.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
Fiction of any kind, to me, is about exploring possibilities and asking “What if…?” Exploring how things could be can give insight into how they are, or were, or will be.

You can find out more about Helen at helenpower.ca.
You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

“Dark Reverie” – Halloween 2018

Helen Power is an academic librarian living in Windsor, Canada. In her spare time, she haunts deserted cemeteries, loses her heart to dashing thieves, and cracks tough cases, all from the comfort of her writing nook. She has several short stories published, including ones in Suspense Magazine, Polar Borealis, and a Canada 150 anthology published by Dark Helix Press. She is currently working on her debut novel.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
My favourite stories tend to feature female characters who are strong, yet authentically imperfect. Otherwise I read broadly, like I’m feasting at a buffet. I enjoy sampling the macabre to the cozy, the humorous to the dire, the realistic to the WTF did I just read?

Who are your favorite authors?
Tess Gerritsen, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Sarah J. Maas, Richard Mattheson, Julie Garwood, Edgar Allan Poe, Sophie Kinsella, Vicki Pettersson… (Like I said, I read broadly!)

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
I enjoy writing in all genres—from cozy mystery to weird fiction. All my stories have flawed, yet (hopefully) relatable characters who are tossed into impossible and peculiar situations.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
Speculative fiction provides the unique opportunity to escape into a world that’s similar to ours, yet different. Or a world that’s different from ours, yet similar. I love exploring speculative fiction that can be enjoyed both by skimming the surface level and by delving deep into the metaphors that represent real-life challenges and themes.

michaelprihoda

You can find out more about Michael at his website, and more about After the Pause here.

“Numbers in the Dust” – Winter Digest 2018

Michael Prihoda lives in central Indiana. He is the editor of After the Pause, an experimental literary magazine and small press. His work has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology and he is the author of eight poetry collections.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
I seem to be drawn most to writing stories that don’t easily fit into a certain genre or that don’t easily take a certain literary stance. Writing, in its endless possibilities, is like a strange, dangerous playground. I hope to capture a childlike schizophrenia in my writing.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Jeff Vandermeer, and China Mieville. Each of them produces wildly inventive fiction in short and long form. Their stories can sway from realistic to speculative to just plain weird in the blink of a sentence, all the while holding an enchantment over the reader.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
The world is often more confusing and illusory than we’d like to admit. Instead of hiding from that truth, I want my work to embrace it, to tackle it head-on, though in a much zanier way than traditional literary fiction might.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
Speculative fiction is a genre that has yet to be overrun with triteness and boredom. It is a space where things can be opaque and strange and somehow hauntingly reminiscent of the world we inhabit. I love how speculative work can bend itself into myriad genres while retaining an essence of the real.

“The Thing Inside” – Sep/Oct 2018
“3 Morton Place” – Halloween 2018

Enkelli Arn Robertson is a speculative fiction author who tells the truth by writing lies.  He enjoys spending time in his own worlds, which he sometimes invites others to visit. He is an avid student of military history; which often informs his writing. He is also a tabletop gamer with interest in numerous role playing games and miniature war games.

 

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
Hardboiled detective stories, fantasy, military sci-fi, horror, and historical.

Who are your favorite authors?
H.P Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
I love writing crime fiction. Something about building a mystery and allowing a character to solve it is very satisfying.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
Exploring new worlds and visiting places that I couldn’t visit otherwise.

Follow A.A. Rubin’s writing on the
Movie (P)Review Show

and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

He is also on Deviant Art!

“Darkness My Old Friend” – Sep/Oct 2018

A. A. Rubin’s fiction has appeared in publication such as Pif Magazine, Serious Flash Fiction, and Scriveners Pen. He was named a Fiction War Finalist for his story The Substance in The Shadow. His graphic novel, Night Prowler: In The Crosshairs is scheduled for released next year. Rubin holds a BA in Writing/Literature from Columbia University and an MA in Teaching of English from Teachers College Columbia University. A mild-mannered writer by day, he wanders the streets at night as a vigilante crime-fighter. He lurks in the shadows, behind the curtain of night, waiting for the proper moment to strike.

 

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
Most of my writing is either really funny or really dark. In addition to SFF, I also write literary fiction and comics. My first graphic novel is scheduled to be released by Golden Bell Studios later this year.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Tennyson wrote, “I am a part of all who I have met.” All authors, I believe, are influenced by “all who they have read.” My influences include Terry Pratchett, Charles Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut, JRR Tolkien, Frank Miller, Bruce Springsteen, all of the Romantics, Neil Gaiman, Shakespeare, and Franz Kafka.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
Most people face a choice between love and security. Modern society pushes us toward choosing security, to choose the rational over the emotional. My work advocates for the opposite, for the choice of love and the acceptance of truths beyond what we can prove rationally.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
There is a magic in the speculative that allows us to access truths we cannot consider in a purely rational setting. Shakespeare knew this, as did Homer, Emily Bronte, and even Dickens. There is something about SFF that lends itself to the bigger philosophical and moral questions.

You can find out more about Max at maxshephard.com.
You can also find him on Twitter and Reddit.

“There are Strange Things Afoot on Locust Street” – Halloween 2018

Max Shephard is an author, entrepreneur, part-time philosopher, and attorney who’s recently come to the conclusion that anger is an evolutionary mistake and that Zach Morris was a total asshole. When he’s not lawyering, writing, or spending time with his wife and three kids, he’s usually walking the thin line between incredulity at almost everything he reads in the news and ignoring it all completely to tend his own garden.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
Stories that have that familiar ring of truth to them, the kind you remember in the dark as you’re trying to shut your brain off for the night and you wonder if something like that could really happen, and if it did, how you would handle it.


Who are your favorite authors?
William Faulkner, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman,

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
Creepy stuff. Figurines coming to life to murder their owners, bodies that just won’t stay dead, and serial killers that leave manic, rhyming notes. The hidden horror in the basement and the secret that small, salt-of-the-earth town is hiding.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
I like being challenged, surprised, and scared, and speculative fiction delivers those things.

stafford

You can find out more about Jabe on his website.
You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

“Other Side of the Line” – Jan/Feb 2019

Jabe Stafford’s wanderings have taken him to the UW-Madison Writer’s Institute and the Write-By-The-Lake Retreat. He writes with the Middleton Creative Writers, where stories about house pet ghostbusters and drunk demons abound. The storytellers and artists he’s worked with are fantastic and deserve the best, over and over again. He’s earned a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from UW-Madison, a Teaching Certification from Edgewood College, and worked as a martial arts instructor with a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
Stories that entertain and teach new things at the same time. Urban fantasy, sci-fi, YA, epic fantasy, and anything with mythological figures or sarcastic animals = the best brain food. Novels by Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne bring lots of laughter, and the world needs more of that.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
Bees, police procedure, and alchemist serial killers. Guest blogs about lovable villains are a blast to write. Urban fantasy/contemporary fantasy, demons and angels at the Down South Lounge, and martial arts woven with science fiction round out my writing addictions.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Stardust by Neil Gaiman and the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling enchanted me in college. After adventuring in their worlds, I told myself, “I want to write stories that sweep people off their feet like that.”

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
Find the best way you know to help others, then do that. Banish apathy. Learn. Improve. Self-care matters, and so does being open and willing to change. Balance those and keep writing.

Follow Matthew on Twitter and Facebook.
Access exclusive content from Matthew on Patreon!

“Prisoner Zero” – Sep/Oct 2018
“Squish” – Halloween 2018

Matthew Standiford is a Retired Army Veteran who enjoys writing when he’s not being the Ringmaster to his three children circus. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English and has also been published in Shotgun Strange Stories. He is also finally working on a novel.

 

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I like to read horror, thrillers, and science fiction. I honestly enjoy all genres but these are the three that will make me interested in a book right away.

Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Thomas Harris, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
S
tephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” is my all-time favorite book and I like how the town and the Marsten House are characters themselves. I read that book in 6th grade and by time I finished it I knew writing was what I wanted to do.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
I like making things up. Anything goes in speculative fiction. You can use the real world or a new made up world as an empty sandbox, and throw whatever you want into it.

You can find Michael on Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads.

“Hide and Seek” – Halloween 2018

Michael Subjack was born in a small town in Western New York. He enjoys good cigars and going on hikes with his dog Rosie.

Michael currently lives in Los Angeles.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
Anything that catches my interest when I’m scrolling through the Kindle Store.

Who are your favorite authors?
Within the last year, I’ve been reading a lot of Joe Hill’s work, as well as Karin Slaughter’s.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Stephen King, Richard Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Michael McDowell, and Rod Serling.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
Life is hard but if you’re one of my protagonists, it’s only going to get worse. Much, much worse.

Find out more about Charlie’s literary competition at Rejectedmanuscripts.org and on Twitter.

“The Social Web” – Sep/Oct 2018

Charlie Taylor is a Canadian who teaches English at universities and high schools in Taiwan, where he lives with his wife, Vicky, and two small children, Jamie and James. He holds Bachelor of Journalism and Master of Education degrees. In his free time he runs a literary competition for previously-rejected manuscripts. He has traveled to almost 60 countries, has hitched over 10,000 rides with strangers, and he once ran for mayor of Ottawa.

 

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I do not have a favorite genre. As a flawed human, I like stories that reinforce my personal worldview. The editor in me likes stories that are spelled correctly and punctuated well. As a father, I cannot read any stories where bad things happen to little children.

Who are your favorite authors?
There are far too many to list here. I just finished reading a translation of a really gripping book called Elegy of Sweet Potatoes by Tehpen Tsai. Some other writers I admire are Tom Robbins, George Orwell, Roald Dahl, Mordecai Richler, Ben Elton, Hunter Thompson, and Stan and Jan Berenstain.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
Ninety percent of what I write is academic non-fiction, so writing fiction is like eating dessert. I enjoy anything that does not require end-notes and citations. I particularly like recording whatever my subconscious has worked up during the night and delivered, more or less fully formed, to my conscious mind.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
I do not have one particular message. Hopefully readers can take something meaningful to themselves from different stories. I hope to entertain first and foremost, and if something I wrote gets somebody to re-examine reality from a new and slightly unconventional perspective, then that is great.

Find out more about Céline at celineterranova.com.
You can also follow Céline on Twitter and Facebook.

“Sealed Bid” – Sep/Oct 2018

Céline Terranova is a Belgian writer living in London, UK. Always an avid reader, she wrote her first story when she was 11. She honed her writing skills with fanfictions published successfully online. Since then, she has worked on short stories, screenplays, non-fiction books and novellas in both French and English. She is now finishing her first YA dystopian novel, Healers.

 

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
Dystopian worlds are what interest me the most. I’m finishing a novel in a dystopian London riddled with disease. I also write non fiction books, and I enjoy writing for other media: I’ve recently finished the script of a short film and my next project is a fiction podcast.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Like many people, J.K. Rowling was a huge influence. Philip Pullman, Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, and before that Pierre Bordage and Alexandre Astier (both French) have all impacted me. Recently, I’ve discovered Pierce Brown and it’s been quite an influence too.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
What. I’m trying to pass on is a message of hope. You’re not alone, you’re not broken or a freak, things can be grim now but they’ll work out, don’t trust easily but trust fully when you do.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
Speculative fiction gives me a freedom that you don’t usually have with other genres. I find that it’s easier to talk about difficult subjects if I write then in a science fiction setting, because it’s not as direct and doesn’t trigger the reader’s inner censor.

Find out more about Alexander at alexanderwrites.com.
You can also follow Alexander on Twitter and Facebook.

“Madness at Miracle Mile” – Sep/Oct 2018

Alexander Thomas is an author, game designer, dog lover, karaoke enthusiast, and all around nerd. You may know him from his work on roleplaying games including Mutants & Masterminds for Green Ronin and New Millennium Games, as well as Quantum Black. Madness at Miracle Mile is a fantasy noir short story set within the same universe of his debut novel The Magician’s Sin.

 

Who are your favorite authors?
Charles Dickens, Jim Butcher, George R.R. Martin, Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, H.P. Lovecraft, Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith, J.R.R. Tolkien, Alan Moore, Homer, Jack Kirby, Bill Finger.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
I am constantly writing super hero fiction but also products for super hero and horror roleplaying games. I design villains, I create adventures, and I am a prolific convention and home Game Master. I love to write noir, fantasy, science fiction, and horror when I can.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
A Tale of Two Cities really showcases the sort of protagonist I identify with in my writing and reading: the Byronic hero. I love deeply sardonic, broken men who learn how to be something better during the story. The Hobbit is my favorite adventure story and Superman comics/graphic novels are my super hero inspiration.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
The main message I seek to convey through my work is the role of power in society and the responsibilities of those who possess it. My current work in progress: The Magician’s Sin, also starring Anson, has a number of characters who each have different opinions on this subject. I also want to showcase men with different types of masculinity, rather than just the toxic, macho version we see so often.

Watt, Kim cropped

You can find out more about Kim at her website; and you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
She also moderates her own Facebook Group!

“Coffee, Cake, and Ghoulettes”
Winter Digest 2018

Kim Watt writes funny, magical books that leave you smiling. They’re about tea-drinking, mystery-solving dragons, and ladies of a certain age joining the Apocalypse on their Vespas. They’re about friendship and loyalty and lifting each other up, but most of all they’re about how very wonderful life and people (of all descriptions) can be.

Originally from New Zealand, Kim currently lives in France with a very understanding SO and the Little Furry Muse, who inspires the ruder cats in her stories. She reads a lot, writes a lot, and consumes far too much tea and cake to be healthy.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I adore anything that mixes today’s world with a little magic. I’m also a big fan of hapless heroes, snarky magical beasts, and anything with a good sense of humour.

Who are your favorite authors?
Terry Pratchett for smart, funny social commentary disguised as fantasy; Neil Gaiman for captivating writing; Christopher Moore for outright bonkers stories, and Diana Wynne Jones for clever, funny, feel-good stories for any age.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
Once upon a time I used to write straight horror, but these days my monsters tend to be misunderstood and my vampires very unimpressive (or cats. Really). I also dabble in a little very non-technical sci-fi, such as rubber duck apocalypses and the rise of the cyber-cats.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
That the world is not as bad as it seems, because most people are, at their hearts, exceptionally wonderful and capable of amazing things. That friendship matters, and so do tea and cake. And that one should always expect magic.

werby, olga

You can find out more about Olga on her website, and you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
You can also find more of her work on Amazon.

“The Soil of My Ancestors”
Winter Digest 2018

Olga Werby has a Doctorate from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on designing online learning experiences. She has a Master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Math, Science, and Technology. She has been creating computer-based projects since 1981 with organizations such as NASA (where she worked on the Pioneer Venus project), Addison-Wesley, and the Princeton Review. Olga has a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Astrophysics from Columbia University. She became an accidental science fiction indie writer about a decade ago, with her first book, “Suddenly Paris,” which made the long list of 2016 James Tiptree Jr. Award.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
What if? That’s the question that drives speculative fiction. Writers try to understand and explain the world by pushing limits: the limits of social justice, the limits of human heart, the limits of scientific progress. Fiction lives within the walls of reality. Science and speculative fiction leaves reality behind.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I particularly enjoy hard science fiction or fiction based on relatable human emotions. I like books that make me think, that I will remember for many years to come, that evoke strong emotions. I like books that make me look at an everyday occurrence in a new light, from a different perspective. I cry at sad stories, and I want my tears to be earned.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Orson Scott Card and Brandon Sanderson in particular have taught me how to structure a story to make it addictive; how to conjure up characters that delight or terrify; how to weave words together to make them easy of the tongue and fun on the mind. These are all very difficult to learn. So I read, I think, and slowly or so slowly, I get better.

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
Science fiction allows the reader to experience the world through the eyes of another. The saying “we live a thousand lives when we read” goes to the heart of empathy. We walk in the shoes of the story’s heroes. That’s enormously powerful. That’s the way to master compassion. It’s also a way to teach difficult scientific concepts. After all, human brains evolved to remember stories.

You can find out more about Keith at www.keithwillisauthor.com.
You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

“Have a Nice Trip” – Halloween 2018

Keith W. Willis managed to sneak out of Berry College with an English degree. He resides in upstate NY with his wife Patty, who graciously proofreads his stories even though she doesn’t like fantasy. Keith’s interests include reading, camping, and cutthroat games of Scrabble. He began writing seriously in 2008, when the voices in his head got too annoying to ignore. He also manages a group of database content editors at a global information technology firm to support his writing habit. His published books include TRAITOR KNIGHT and DESPERATE KNIGHT. His work-in-progress, ENCHANTED KNIGHT, is projected for publication in 2019.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I’m a pretty eclectic reader. I consume a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, but I also love classic and cozy mysteries (Stout, Taylor), some romance (Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series is a particular favorite), and quite a bit of YA (Brenda Drake, K.L. Young). Plus British humour (P.G. Wodehouse!!!).

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about?
My primary genre is swashbuckling fantasy/romance. I love having a bit of fun with classic fantasy tropes. For example, the only reason my hero gets out of the first chapter of Traitor Knight alive is that the dragon he must fight comes down with a case of hiccups.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
P.G. Wodehouse, Terry Pratchett, and Michael J. Sullivan. And of course the fabulous S. Morgenstern. If you must ask who the latter is, you’re not my friend…
[Editorial Note:  I agree.  -B.K.]

Do you have an overall message you wish to convey with your work?
Not really. My stories are written with no message in mind, but primarily are designed to entertain. Most of my work features main characters who don’t themselves particularly seriously; a lot of light-hearted adventure; a dash of witty banter and romance; and a dragon with a case of hiccups.

Follow Cassondra on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
You can find her books on Amazon, with links in her bio to the right.

“A Sympathetic Relationship” – Sep/Oct 2018

Cassondra Windwalker’s poetry, short stories, and essays have been published in numerous literary and art books. Her novel Parable of Pronouns is available now, and Bury The Lead will be released September 2018. She writes from the coast of Alaska with the help of a tolerant husband, a scaredy-dog, and a ghost cat.

 

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read? My favorite stories combine elements of the fantastic – which I consider far more real than plastic life – with serious philosophical questions. I delight in the absurdity of truth and the pedantry of magic.

Other than what we see here, what else do you enjoy writing about? Poetry is my first and primary art form, and of course likewise the most penurious and unpublishable. Other than that, anything with an angry edge and a sense of humor.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences? Oh, gosh. So many…Poe, Hemingway, Pyle, Stewart, Heaney, L’Amour, Tolkien, Chadwick, Lang, Shakespeare, Heinlein, Lawhead…and most everything else in the library.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest? Speculative fiction often addresses head-on the questions that other fiction dances around. It goes straight to the heart of the human condition and breaks down the reality of the soul, whether that soul is housed in a dragon, a computer chip, or what the rest of the world considers a person.

You can find out more about Cecily at Cecilywinter.com.
You can also follow her on Twitter.

“Serial Chill” – Halloween 2018

Cecily Winter lives in Massachusetts with a husband and assorted dependents. She earned a PhD in literature and a couple of MAs and taught college English for some years. Secretly, she longed to be a writer. So far, she has published a body of academic work and three short stories—romantic, geeky, and ghostly. Under submission now are GIRL IN THE CHEVROLET, a romantic suspense novel, and THE TRIBUTE, a sprawling historical fantasy. WIPs include a YA utopian fantasy and a spoofy noir romp. What she needs most are more time and a sharper brain.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I devour of kinds of stories, from literary fiction to crime fiction to high fantasy.

Who are your favorite authors?
My current faves include Tana French, Laini Taylor, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, David Mitchell, Nick Harkaway, Paulo Bacigalupi, and Lou Berney. I’ve also steeped myself in the prose and poetry of Faulkner, Shakespeare, Ariosto, Spenser, Marquez, and Christie.

What books and/or authors would you count among your primary influences?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez who inveigled me into a PhD program and Edmund Spenser, an amazing wordsmith.

What is it about speculative fiction that draws your interest?
The possibility that justice exists.

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