Interview with Author Kristen Bickerstaff

October 25, 2019 at 9:15 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , )

Who is Kristen Bickerstaff?

Writing since she could pick up a pen, Kristen has always loved exploring the worlds and characters that live in her head. She loves writing (and reading) all forms of speculative fiction, from hard SF to urban fantasy. As a member of DFW Writer’s Workshop and Writer’s League of Texas, she’s a firm believer in taking part in her local writing community. Kristen also works with Rooted in Writing as an editor and marketing coach, and she loves helping other authors turn their writing dream into a reality.

I had the pleasure of reading Bickerstaff’s work in The Lost Legends anthology earlier this year and am excited to share an interview I had the opportunity to conduct via Facebook.

Prior to The Lost Legends anthology, what projects had you worked on or completed?

 Lost Legends is the first anthology I’ve been a part of, but I also have another anthology coming out in early 2020 around pirate stories that I’m very excited about, called X Marks the Spot. Other than that, I’ve been working on my fantasy novels Embers on the Wind, which is about elemental magic workers called crafters, and Howl to the Stars, which I usually playfully call my “werewolves in space” book. 

Lost Legends is a fantasy anthology and you’re known for writing speculative fiction, what draws you to read and write this genre? What is your favorite aspect of it?

I’ve always been one of those people that looks at something mundane as a subway or an overpass and asked “what would happen if someone with magic encountered this?” So that’s how I tend to see the world. Most of my story inspiration comes from odd things I see in real life. A door in someone’s front yard, a glowing necklace, a harvest moon. And I usually just take that a step further: what if the door opens to a place beyond our realm? What if only one person can see the door? Those are the questions I love to ask. 

Ray Bradbury once said, “You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices.” What do you think about this statement?

I agree and don’t agree with that statement. I feel like I learned some great things about craft, about the  historical landscape before us, through my college writing classes. Honestly the plethora of genres and authors I read during college were so impactful for my formative years. But I was often looked down on for writing fantasy or encouraged to write something more… “literary.” I hope that’s changed since I’ve been at school (and as fantasy has become more mainstream). But I did feel stifled in school for sure, in terms of creativity. 

What were your educational experiences like? Do you think these experiences have influenced the kind of writer you have become?

One of the best memories I have of my educational experience is my unfettered access to the library. So many books that I considered touchstones in my literary development, I read because a librarian looked at the book I was returning and then said “you might like this.” Beyond that, I had a couple teachers that really encouraged creative exploration as a child. My third grade teacher loved Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl, and I remember her encouraging us to try writing in their styles to see how that felt. To this day, she’s still one of my favorite teachers. She encouraged us to think, to daydream, to wonder. I loved that. 

Stephen King wrote in On Writing that writers should read a lot to keep their technical and creative tool box full. What are your favorite “tool box” books?

My favorite craft book right now is probably The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maas. When I went to the Superstars Writing Seminars this spring, he taught a hands-on workshop based on the book, and it really did change the way I write. 

What have you read for sheer pleasure recently?  What did you enjoy most about it?

 I’ve been re-reading Anne Bishop’s The Others series recently, and it’s still such a fun read. It’s a really cool spin on the urban fantasy genre, where non-humans are the dominant species in the world, versus where they’re usually in hiding or downtrodden. I love the characterization throughout the series and the suspense she builds throughout. 

What other means do you use to explore fictional worlds? Do you participate in larping, cosplay, pen and paper RPGs, or role playing video games?

 No, I don’t participate in the above activities but I’m always really interested in different explorations of fictional worlds. 

If you could interview any author (alive or dead) and pick their brain, who would it be? Did that particular author influence your work in any way?

Tough question. I’d love to ask Brandon Sanderson about how he developed the Cosmere universe, because I love the detail of his magic system. I’m doing a re-read of his works this year and it’s just so impressive. I’m a person who always asks “but how does this work” for fantasy elements, and he always has an answer. 

Any conventions or events in your near future? Where can fans find you to have copies of their books signed?

Next conference I’m at is Superstars 2020. Then if everything works out, I’ll be going to DFWCon and Dragon Con later in the year. 

[Note from Anakalian Whims to readers: If you haven’t been to Dragon Con, GO! I loved my experience in 2016. If you don’t know what Superstars is, visit this site: https://superstarswriting.com. I’ve been wanting to go for years and the timing just hasn’t been right. It’s on my list of to-dos.]

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m focusing on drafting Howl to the Stars and I’ve been really enjoying all the research behind it. 

Follow Kristen on Goodreads and Twitter and stay tuned for her future ventures.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Meet Felix Gomez…

September 19, 2016 at 2:47 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

1150191._UY200_.jpgTitle: Nymphos of Rocky Flats

Author: Mario Acevdeo

Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Mystery

Meet Felix Gomez, Iraqi-vet Vampire P.I. who has been called to Denver to investigate an outbreak of Nymphomania.  It sounds silly because it is. But it’s equally adventurous and well written.  It’s a slightly older title, but the series is still fresh with a current addition that came out in April (Rescue from Planet Pleasure).

IMG_1311.JPG

Mario and Me at Dragon Con 2016

At Dragon Con people would walk up to the WordFire Press booth and ask, “Do they come with pictures?” To which Acevedo would, without skipping a beat, reply, “No, only scratch and sniff.”

I laughed every time.  It just didn’t stop being funny to me.

I think that’s how Felix Gomez will be as I continue to read the series.  I’ve never been so amused as while reading Nymphos of Rocky Flats.  It has all the excitement of the X-Files with the plot development silliness of Eureka.  Just as I had settled into the pace of the book and thought, “Ok, I’m ready for all this to wrap itself up,” he’d toss something else at me and I’d giggle, “Maybe not…”

I enjoyed having a vampire story-line with a more realistic life story being dropped into an absurd universe (Iraqi War Vet meets Vampirism, Werevolvishness, and Aliens) – as opposed to the typical unrealistic life stories being dropped into a more familiar world (Two-hundred year old man falls in love with high school teen in the mundane school cafeteria; I’ll take aliens over high school again).

What I didn’t expect were the author’s deep thoughts on life to make subtle waves in some of his writing. Hints at politics and undertones on what might be Acevedo’s worldview were made but never formulated completely.  Having met the man, I know he is intelligent, well-read, and has a lot of wisdom regarding the world. As much as I enjoy his humorous banter, in both real life and his books, I’m interested to hear or read what his deep thoughts on life are.

Aside from deep thoughts, this book is all guy all the time but one girls can enjoy too.  It sells in mass market paperback form at the bookstore to middle-aged men like hotcakes all the time, but I plan to start pushing it toward more ladies.  The trade paperbacks have a longer shelf life, but honestly, I think it’s just because of where they are located. I’m already mentally planning a place to feature them for Halloween as I type.

A previous reviewer referred to the Felix Gomez series as Dude-lit. “When Girls Go Wild… Call in the Undead” the tagline of the book says.  If this doesn’t place it in that fabulous sub-genre of Dude-lit, I don’t know what would.  The fact that the book is the first vampire novel ever to be declassified by the U.S. government is another tell-tale sign.

Ironically, scantily clad women in hooker boots is not sub-genre specific, merely a hint that it’s urban fiction as it’s something that women expect to see on their chick-lit as well.  It is a consumer behavior impulse I will never quite understand – like how magazines for men and women alike feature half naked women on the fronts…  And despite the book being classic dude-lit, I’m a chick and I loved it. Then again, as a character in Rocky Flats points out: “Earth women are surprisingly complicated…”

Felix Gomez 1 - 4.jpg

 

Side Note on Content & Ratings: I was pleasantly pleased that with all the hinting and perverted jokes, the book isn’t actually raunchy.  The movie version would probably still be rated R for nudity, but there’s a reason the books are not classified as erotica, and for that I was grateful. If it had been, I’m not sure I could look the author in the eye again – and I really like him, he’s fun.  There’s more porn in the Outlander series than in Rocky Flats.

Permalink 3 Comments