Meet the Author: Mud and Glass by Laura Goodin

Today we’re traveling to Melbourne, Australia, by way of Wollongong, to chat with Laura Goodin about how Fafnir, juggling, being a bellringer, getting whupped with birch twigs, fencing, and the Pocono mountains come together as part of Laura’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a born and raised American who has been living in Australia for the past 24 years (the first 19 in a small, gritty city called Wollongong; more recently in Melbourne, a large, eccentric, and very artistic city). While I’ve been writing since I was seven years old, and have always worked in jobs where writing was a key element, I only stared into the abyss and started writing creatively on any serious basis (meaning, I finished what I started and I submitted my work to publishers and agents) in my mid-40s. Since then I’ve published several dozen stories and two novels, and had my plays, libretti, and poetry performed internationally. I also attended the Clarion South Workshop in 2007 and received a PhD in creative writing from the University of Western Australia in 2015. I’m currently working on some academic papers (and serving as co-editor-in-chief of Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research), a novel, a radio play, a stage play, and too many stories.

In which genre do you write?

I mainly, but not exclusively, write fantasy and science fiction.

How many published books do you have?

Two: After the Bloodwood Staff, which is a humorous, genre-disrupting look at Victorian adventure fiction, and Mud and Glass, which is at once a fond satire of academic life and a manifesto of resistance against a nascent totalitarian regime, and is also funny (I’m told).

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

When I get stuck, I can sometimes get unstuck by juggling (albeit badly).

What are you currently reading?

The geekiest book in the world. It’s not a book about Shakespeare – no, no, no! It’s a 600-page book ABOUT books ABOUT Shakespeare.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I’m a bellringer (tower bells, the big ones). I have a pilot’s license (airplane, single-engine, land) and a second-degree black belt (tae kwon do). I once got whupped with birch twigs in a steamy Siberian sauna.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

The list is endless. I earn money with a mix of editing (I run an editing business that specializes in academic editing), coaching fencing, and grading assessments for one of the universities here in Australia. Non-money activities include looking after my geriatric racehorse, ringing bells, running a fencing club for immigrant kids, camping and hiking at highly irregular intervals, and generally trying to be as much like Xena, Warrior Princess as possible. I also occasionally produce plays and other performance events and sing in choirs.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I do write in a journal. I seldom go back and reread it; the object of the game is to integrate the physical act of writing with the mental act of reflective practice. Putting words to what I’m thinking and feeling creates a still pool of understanding and perspective in my otherwise chaotic brain.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What do you do to prepare yourself?

Oddly, I don’t do much. Unlike most writers, I adore public speaking, and the most I’ll do is take a few deep breaths and make sure one last time that all the technology is in order. It’s the same when I teach: I really enjoy going just a bit over the top to make everything energetic and engaging. Moreover, I feel much more authentic when I speak candidly to groups. At one point I had a job that required me to give literally thousands of live-to-air radio and television interviews, and I got quite comfortable with public speaking. Then I started lecturing, and found that the more authentic I was, the more the students were willing to work with me. So I got to really enjoy talking to groups, because they seemed to enjoy listening to me. That’s quite satisfying, and I willingly seek out opportunities to teach, do readings, perform poetry, and just plain talk about things that are important to me.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Absolutely nothing whatsoever. Except maybe the perfect eyesight I enjoyed until I was about seven years old. I sometimes have dreams where my vision is spectacularly clear, and I can only assume it’s based on memories from my early childhood.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I do not believe things happen for a reason, and I feel that saying so cheapens the grief and horror that people legitimately feel at the tragedies and crises in their lives. Sometimes life is just plain bad, and to try to “make it better”, especially by saying that somehow it’s “for the best”, is incredibly disrespectful toward the people who are suffering. I need to state outright here that I’m an ardent Christian, and I still don’t believe “things happen for a reason” in any way that humans can possibly make sense of. It’s almost insulting (particularly to God) to pretend we can understand what such a purpose might be. Honor people’s pain and grief. Don’t try to wish or explain it away.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

My karate teacher, who is a very wise woman, says, “Our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses.” My anxiety has been both for me: sometimes it drives me to accomplish superhuman feats; sometimes it traps me in trembling immobility. I’m still figuring out why one or the other manifests at any given time.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

In the US, there’s a small town on the Pennsylvania side of the northern Delaware River called Milford. It’s not only incredibly beautiful, set within the Pocono mountains and hard on the banks of the river, it’s also incredibly peaceful, and it has an impressive history as a retreat for creative people from all disciplines. In fact, it was one of the hotbeds of American science-fiction and fantasy writing in the 1960s and 1970s. Maybe it’s ley lines or feng shui or something. I can’t explain it. But it’s where I’m happiest.

In Australia, it’s the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, especially if you include the Wollemi National Park. Amazing, deep, uncanny scenery for as far as you care to hike.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

This is the perfect solo date I used to take myself on when I lived in Washington, DC: I’d ride my bike down to the Mall in the morning and spend all day hanging out in museums. The best weather for this was either spring or fall, because in the summer, DC gets disgustingly hot, and I’d get all sweaty riding to the museums, and then I’d get chilled to the bone once I went into the air conditioning. Then I’d ride my bike back home, and get a pizza at the neighborhood pizza place (Vace’s Italian Deli, in case you’re wondering), and spend the night alternatively eating pizza, reading, looking for interesting stations to listen to on my shortwave radio, and dancing to Springsteen records as night fell. Solitude holds no terrors for me.

What are you currently working on?

The sequel to Mud and Glass – more highjinks in academe!

Tell us about your most recent book.

I wrote Mud and Glass as a love letter to university life – the kind of university life that is rapidly being destroyed by a focus on profitability and the idea that students are, at once, customers of the university (or what’s left of it) and products to be marketed to corporations. I wrote the book as a humorous – in fact, satirical – adventure fantasy set in a second world because I wanted the freedom to exaggerate in unexpected ways (including lots of literal cliffhangers and other acts of derring-do), and thus draw attention to what we’re losing in this world with the commodification of education. I’m pretty sure I was successful: one colleage, an academic whom I asked to give a blurb for the book, read the book and promptly refused to be associated with it because it cut too close to the bone. However, another academic colleague said, “I’ve not read comedy this clever since Jasper Fforde,” a compliment that I have clutched to myself ever since. (I LOVE Jasper Fforde’s writing.)

It was wonderful incredibly interesting learning about you and your books, Laura! Thanks for being a part of MTA! Here’s to all the fun it sounds like you’ll have writing the sequel! And, I like the trailers you created! –Camilla

Where to find the book.

Anyone who loves learning and loves universities, and also loves to laugh, can find Mud and Glass on all the big online retailers.

Book Trailer:

Trailer Mud and Glass by Laura E. Goodin from Laura E. Goodin on Vimeo.

For anyone who then becomes insatiably curious about my other novel, After the Bloodwood Staff, the trailer:

After the Bloodwood Staff trailer from Laura E. Goodin on Vimeo.

I wrote, filmed, composed the scores, narrated, and edited them myself, and I’m desperate for approval.

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Meet the Author: Divine Intervention by Spencer Stoner

Today we welcome Spencer Stoner as we travel to Reno, Nevada USA and learn how doughnuts, Stan Lee, humor, and He-Man inform the game of Spencer’s writing life. Pour the hot chocolate and have a seat ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Spencer Stoner. I live in Reno, Nevada, USA. I was born and raised here, although I did live in Idaho for a few years. I still found my way back here.

I’m forty years old. I love reading novels, comic books, RPG video games, whatever I can get my hands on!

As a writer, the most egregious thing about me, I hope, is that I don’t drink coffee. That seems to be an almost defining trait in the community! But, still, where I lack in caffeine consumption, I make up for in sugar with a love of hot chocolate and doughnuts.

In which genre do you write?

I don’t think that authors should be only allowed to write in only one genre. That being said, most of my published work is fantasy. Although my first published work was a horror short story. Also, I am working on my first science fiction novel.

How many published books do you have?

I have a grand total of five, currently. That is, if you count the anthology novel that my first published short story, On the Way Home, was in (the book is In Creeps the Night, if you’re curious). Three are my Ophelia Legacy fantasy adventure series. In August, my first graphic novel releases, a spin-off of the Ophelia Legacy called Divine Intervention. 1+3+1= equals five, right. I don’t want a chandelier to get shot off the ceiling or something because I am lazy at math! (Anyone who gets the movie reference receives the coveted No-Prize, as made famous by the legendary Stan Lee!)

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’d say it was when I was twelve years old. Several things hit all at once. I had just moved to Idaho and had zero friends in the same time zone. So, I made a kind of oasis in the school library. I discovered the Xanth series of novels by Piers Anthony, which taught me that fantasy didn’t have to always be formal and noble (not to disparage the Lord of the Rings but, for me, it was a bit of a slog because of that). Not to mention that the injection of humor really helped me in those days! For good or ill, I still think puns are the pinnacle of humor.

But what really, figuratively, revved my engine to want to become a writer was when I started reading comics. I fell in love with the work of Chris Claremont, who was writing X-Men at the time. Then I discovered Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series and I was hopelessly hooked to the idea of writing. In fact, I wanted to write comics before I actually wrote my first novel!

Back then the internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, so I had no idea how to write a “script”, nor any way I was aware of then to find out. So I started writing short stories. Then I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends that came into my life as it moved along. We ended up almost ignoring the source books because we had ended up creating our entire world to adventure in.

Finally, I decided to find out if I could actually write a whole novel. The result of that was Ophelia and Lyan are Dead Meat. I found that I not only had a novel in me, but many, many stories I wanted to tell!

What are you currently reading?

In addition to my monthly rotation of comics, which currently includes titles like Monstress, Unnatural, and Sunstone (as well as Superman and Saga), I recently finished Neil Gaiman’s retelling of norse mythology. Gaiman is always worth reading. I also picked up the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Now, I always thought I had a robust vocabulary but with reading Lovecraft, which never fails to illicit the feeling of existential horror, I’ve come to realize how many words have fallen out of general use in the relatively short time since he was alive! I’ve had to look up more than I care to admit but it is truly an adventure amidst the insanity.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

Thankfully, whenever I’ve had to speak in public, at a convention or other venue, I’ve often had friends and/or family to keep me relaxed before heading out on stage or in front of large group. On those rare occasions where I am alone, I’ll pick some music that never fails to give me goosebumps and pump me up. It can be anything from a movie score like The Anvil of Crom, from Conan the Barbarian by Basil Poledouris, or from a video game like the Sephiroth Choir from Final Fantasy VII by Nobuo Uematsu, or a piece of classic music like Night on Bald Mountain or just about anything by AC/DC.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

When I was really young, I loved the cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (in fact, Teela was one of my first crushes but that is a different story). I think I would like to live there, the mix of magic and sci-fi technology was always interesting to me. Not to mention all the potential for adventure!

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

He’s probably looking for my sister, Kalani. Her obsession with penguins is well known. I would probably be their designated driver when the penguin takes her out for tequila shots!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my first science fiction novel, entitled Dimensional Schism. It is an eclectic mix of the movie Alien Nation, shadow governments, the Mandela Effect, and Harlequin Romance. Anyone who has read any of my stories knows that romance doesn’t come up very often.

Also, I am working on the sequel to my most recent release, which just happens to be the next question so…

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

My first graphic novel, called Divine Intervention, is written by me but drawn by a very talented artist named Stephanie Haigney. It is set in Honua (the same world as the Ophelia Legacy novel series) and follows the story of a young cleric woman named Appelonia. She is recruited by another woman called Narasumas to find a murderer before the turn of the seasons in two days. If they fail, a spiritual force will descend upon the city and destroy everything and everyone (innocent or guilty) until the criminal is punished!

Thank you Spencer for joining us on MTA! Spencer and I met at my daughter, Lillian Darnell’s, Barnes & Noble book signing this past June. It was great fun having him as a neighbor and Lillian enjoyed borrowing from his huge collection of colored sharpies to use for signing books. Take care Spencer and we’ll see you around! –Camilla

BLURB FOR DIVINE INTERVENTION

Narasumas is hunting down a murderer and needs the best tracker in the region. That would be Appelonia—a godless young elf formerly of the Order of Kuan Yin with the uncanny ability to find those who try to hide. She’s familiar with the barren fields in the Land of the Long-toothed Rabbit and knows how to survive.

There’s only one complication. The notorious mercenary Ophelia has already contracted Appelonia to help her search the frozen landscape for an exiled barbarian—and she doesn’t like to share.

But divine intervention won’t wait. And with it comes the destruction of the town and all the innocents living within.

Narasumas must find the criminal she seeks before her promise causes every unwary man, woman, and child unlucky enough to be around her to be torn to pieces…

Divine Intervention is available for pre-order online now but will be available at any bookstore and comic shop (online and physical) officially on tomorrow, August 3rd. I hope you give it a look and want to see more of “Apple” and her friends!

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LSKkyO

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Mu3PgQ

WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Spencer’s website: www.authorspencerstoner.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AuthorStoner
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sjcloudxiii
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sjcloudxiii

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

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Meet the Author: Seacity Rising by Elika Ansari

Today we welcome Elika Ansari to Meeting the Authors as we travel to Dubai, and ten other countries, and learn what a turtle, yoga, Masters Degrees, and Dexter’s Laboratory have to do with Elika’s writing journey. Grab your yoga mat and get comfy ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a writer, social scientist, and humanitarian professional. Other than writing my book, I have spent the past few years working in refugee camps across Greece, trying my best to lend a hand in bringing some semblance of normality to people whose lives have been turned upside down by international policies and politics. I love education and learning, and therefore have a small ‘collection’ of Masters degrees in the fields of International Relations, Anthropology, Development Studies and Cultural Narrative Studies from 4 different universities in Europe, and will soon be wanting to pursue my Ph.D. studies.

As to where I am from: I am of Iranian origin, born in Dubai, grew up in Europe, namely in Spain and the UK. I have lived in over 10 countries worldwide (so take your pick!), which is cool but at the same time perhaps a little overwhelming. At this point in time, I am spending the summer vacation with my family in Dubai.

My first book, Seacity Rising, was published by Black Rose Writing on June 6th, 2019 and is being distributed worldwide.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

A turtle, because they are such calm and spiritual creatures. I feel zen just by looking at one resting on a rock. But at the same time, I think they have a dimension of adventure that I feel only comes out when they are not being watched.

What are you currently reading?

‘Tuesdays at the Castle’ by Jessica Day George. It is an uplifting fantasy story about a castle that changes itself sporadically and three royal siblings trying to protect their kingdom from invaders. Enjoyable for both kids and adults alike.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I’ve been doing humanitarian work in refugee camps across Greece for the past two years. At the moment though, I am on a break, dedicating more time to writing, studying, and just being with my family.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I have lived in over 10 countries worldwide.
Yoga gives me peace of mind.
I sing sometimes.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Tahereh Mafi, author of the Shatter Me series. I don’t really have any questions in mind, I just wanted a chance to tell her how inspiring and unrestrained I found her writing style to be. It’s commonplace to fall in love with a story, but falling in love with a style; that for me, is rare.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Summers, where my creativity was unleashed. I would create comic books, write up stories on my typewriter (yes, I had a typewriter XD), draw designs of theme parks, come up with songs and poems, ‘invent’ cleaning products, you name it. Every summer, I would undertake a different creative project, which made going back to school in September all the harder.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Dexter’s Laboratory, because I immensely enjoyed both Dexter’s and Didi’s worlds. Dexter was always working on nifty inventions which I would have loved to witness from up close, and Didi (whenever she was not messing with Dexter), was in her pink haven, playing on her own or with her friends and just being Didi.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?

I would want to be Lo the turtle because it would be so cool to be the princess of Seacity Pond for the day. As Princess of Seacity I would mark an Earth Day, where all Seacitians would be instructed to volunteer to help clean Dark End, the part of Seacity pond where garbage keeps piling up and everyone except for Babak the frog seems to avoid.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

“Ms. Elika Ansari? Author of Seacity Rising?”
“Yes?”
“I came as fast as I could. The glaciers are melting, and the penguins are all drowning. The animals in your book were right. The black smog is consuming our world; it is real and it is happening right now. We need to do something. Can you help?”

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘Seacity Rising: A Tale of Unwatery Adventures’ is the first in a trilogy series, which touches on themes of friendship, self-development, trust, diversity, displacement, and climate change, as well as other important ideas that children (and adults!) should be familiar with.

Imagine your world is so incredibly small and sheltered, that you can only begin to fathom murmurs of adventures abroad in storybooks and legends of old. It may be a dull life, but it is certainly a familiar and comfortable one, and one that does not easily invite danger. That is, of course, until danger appears at your doorstep, and you are forced to leave your home behind searching for answers on how to save it.

Thank you Elika for joining us on MTA. It was incredibly interesting learning about your journey thus far. May our paths cross again at some point! –Camilla

Book Blurb:

When the underwater creatures of Seacity pond learn that their home is in danger, they decide to investigate further by doing something no one has ever done before – go up to land to seek the answers they need. An unlikely team of two royal turtles, a genius goldfish and a timorous frog are then assembled to embark on a series of adventures. Whether they are racing the fastest tortoise on earth, falling in love with native mice theatre, or bringing peace to warring ant colonies, each unique experience is taking the group
of friends closer to the heart of what is really going on. But will they make it back in time to save Seacity before the Winter’s Slumber?

Where to find the book:

Seacity Rising is available on Amazon, Waterstones, Blackwells, Foyles, Barnes and Noble, Thrift Books, and others!

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2lnRpvt

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2jShBy3

Website / Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.elikaansari.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/elikaansari/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19226072.Elika_Ansari

Instagram page: @elikaansari

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryam-elika-ansari-56b5685b/

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Saints and Curses by Alexis Lantgen

Today we welcome Alexis Lantgen and travel to the state of Texas in the United States. Here we’ll learn how Renaissance Faires, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Redwood National Forest and Captain Marvel come together to create the symphony of Alexis Lantgen. Grab your cape and let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a writer, teacher, and classical musician (I play violin and viola in a local symphony orchestra). I love Renaissance Faires and all things science fiction and fantasy.

My short stories have appeared in the Gallery of Curiosities, Phantaxis, Red Sun Magazine, and Swords and Sorcery Magazine, and I have one coming out in the May 2019 issue of Kzine as well. I’ve also written nonfiction articles for Renaissance Magazine.

I’m married and I have two children, a beautiful and spirited five-year-old daughter and a toddler son. I live in the United States, inTexas.

How many published books do you have?

I have two published books right now. My first book, Sapience, is a collection of science fiction short stories. It’s pretty dark in tone, something you might enjoy if you like Black Mirror or EdgarAllen Poe.

My second book, Saints and Curses, is a collection of fantasy short stories. While some of these stories are pretty dark, there are a few that are much more lighthearted and funny. Think elves and magic coffee

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the pastor present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would meet Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and I’d ask him to improvise at the piano. Or ask if he could finally finish his Requiem Mass!

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings?If so, how?

Yes, although I don’t write in it everyday. I think it helps to jot down ideas as often as they come to me, even if I’m not sure I’ll ever develop it into anything. I also think it can help me vent–I write in my journals when I’m angry or sad sometimes, and I don’t want to take it out on anyone else. It’s very cathartic, because just writing down my feelings or my problems can help me see solutions or ideas I didn’t have before. It clears my mind.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

The last movie I watched was Captain Marvel. I took my daughter to see it so we could spend some time together, just the two of us. I loved the movie! I thought it was a powerful story, and I enjoyed all the little twists and watching Carol Danvers discover who she really is. Also, the kitty!

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Probably my stubborn determination. I’m not someone that stops once I’ve got something I want to achieve, at least not until I’ve beaten myself bloody trying to see it through. I’ll admit it can be a problematic trait sometimes–I think I have a touch of the martyr in me, so I probably hold on to things long after I should have let it go. But I think it also means I tend to succeed where lots of other people would have given up (though those people may very well be happier and more sane than me).

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

My family went on an incredible trip to the Redwoods National Park in California. Seeing the redwood forest–they’re the tallest trees on Earth, and it’s impossible to convey their majesty. It was the most magical place I’ve ever been, and I loved it. I want to go back again someday, and show the redwoods to my children.

Blurb for my newest book, Saints and Curses:

Explore worlds of light and dark, where magical whimsy and grim tidings alike are painted across the tapestry of human experience.Indulge in tales of the fantastical where enchantments are bought and sold at the local corner store,your morning latte gives you special abilities, and you might just adopt a murderous, vampiric cat. Your child might be stolen away in the night and replaced with an ancient, evil creature of the fae, waves of plague-ridden vermin consume everything, and only a saint could hope to turn the tide. These stories and more await you, if you dare to turn the page…

Thank you Alexis Lantgen for stopping by Meeting the Authors. It was great fun to learn about a portion of the symphony of your life.

Find out more about Alexis and her books:

US Kindle: https://amzn.to/2EzNIcF

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2HWoaaP

Website: https://www.lunarianpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/alexislantgen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alexislantgenauthor/

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!