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.

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Interview with Author and Editor Adam D. Jones

September 27, 2019 at 8:31 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Adam D. Jones is a high fantasy author and editor recently responsible for publishing The Lost Legends anthology. Longtime writer, historian, and musician, Lost Legends is his first book.

Who did the cover art? How did you find them?
The very talented Ryan Swindoll handled that. You can reach him at ryan.t.swindoll@gmail.com if you ever need a cover designed. He also took care of designing the insides, the font, the cool little decals, and everything makes it fun to hold a book. Talented guy. Having a great cover is half of the work.

As a writer, what made you decide to pursue editing an anthology for your publishing debut?
At various conferences and writing groups I’ve met talented fantasy writers and always thought it was a shame they weren’t published. I also needed a project to learn how self-publishing works before launching my own novels. It turned out to be a good move. I’ve learned the ropes, but also got some really good stories into the hands of readers.


You have two short stories included in Lost Legends, do you find short stories to be easier or more difficult to write than longer fictions?
Are you kidding? I spent more than years working on Idna’s Journals and it’s only three pages! I completed two novels in that time.

Lost Legends is a fantasy anthology, what draws you to read and write fantasy? What is your favorite aspect of the genre?
It’s fun. I could go on about the mythopoetic origins of the grown-up fairy tale, the foundational works like Phantasties, and how fantasy helps us understand the abstract truths by taking place in another world, but the best part is that it’s just more fun than any other genre. I want to read about monsters and magic. Who doesn’t?

Did you always love fantasy? What were your favorite books as a child?
The Gunslinger by Stephen King is incredible, and I read it every year. I read all of the books every year until the last one finally came out, and I was up until 4 a.m. finishing that one. I read these books when I was…a little too young for them.
I also devoured the Dragonlance stories and always wanted to write something as big and exciting as those.

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?
Stephen King’s The Wastelands is a perfect study in “how to write a fantasy book with multiple characters.” Rachel Neumieier’s The Floating Islands has great descriptions throughout, and I often open it to the beginning where she explains scenery and somehow it makes for an incredible opening. And many scenes in David Coe’s Children of Amarid are dogeared so I can remember his neat tricks for making things work.

You’re in a writing group. What does that look like? (What do your meetings consist of?) How has this helped you as a writer?
The Milford Method, a critique approach pioneered by Virgina Kidd, is used every meeting. I can’t recommend it enough.

It’s helpful that the group includes science writers, fiction writers, and songwriters, so we all learn a lot from each other.

Of your stories in the anthology, are there any you anticipate seeing spin off into other work?
I’ve been asked to write more about Idna’s Journals, but I prefer to keep it self-contained, leaving the audience to wonder. When I write short works, I try very hard to avoid the temptation of sequels and spurring on further works, because that often leads writers toward bad work. If you’ve only got a few pages, there’s no room for breadcrumbs and easter eggs that lead to the next story.

But there is a place for that sort of thing. Sarah Bale’s evocative story, Thundermoon Bride, will tie into other works she has coming, and I think that’s a good example of using a short story to hint at something bigger.

If The Lost Legends were to become a Netflix Original or Amazon Prime series, who would your ideal cast be for The Candlemaker?
Interesting story. The protagonist was female in the first draft of The Candlemaker. A real dainty woman who looked as threatening as a sofa cushion, making it easier for people to underestimate her. I pictured someone like Emilie de Ravin’s role in Once Upon a Time. I switched the character to a man because my other story in this collection already had a female protagonist, and it was more fun to write about an awkward guy trying to be cool around a woman who obviously knows more than him. Grant Gustin could pull it off.

Jones has another book coming out in November 2019, called Marshall Law, the first in a fantasy/steampunk series, where the discovery of old magic empowers a few survivors to take on the wicked machines of their oppressors. This new voice in fantasy is here to stay.

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The Most Biased Book Review Ever

August 27, 2019 at 2:16 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Title: The Lost Legends

Editor: Adam D. Jones

Today is the day you can buy a physical copy of a book (to be two-day delivered via Amazon to your home) in which the woman I call “the other half of my brain” has written a short-story.

Once upon a time, in college, I had a roommate. I actually had several roommates over the years, but this one is THE Roommate. We shared a dorm. We co-existed. We got a townhouse together, and co-existed some more. We co-existed so well, that fifteen years later, married and with children living in separate cities, we still call each other for morning coffee almost every day. We homeschool our children “together,” planning out the best curriculums and deciphering educational theory by phone. We manage a homeschool Facebook page together, previously referred to as Klemm University, but renamed for our mutual interests as Lovelace Classical Academy (if Facebook will ever allow us to update it, that would be wonderful). But I digress… the point is: She is the other half of my brain. And since we first met, we both knew we wanted to be writers. More than that, we both knew we were writers who simply hadn’t been published yet.

She has lamented and rejoiced with me through every major life event… and now, it’s my turn:

E. S. MURILLO IS A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!

as a contributor to The Lost Legends anthology, edited by Adam D. Jones and Renea McKenzie (more college friends of mine).

This anthology is fun for any fantasy reader, I honestly believe that. The stories are well crafted, edited properly (a huge feat in the indie-publishing world for debut work), and fun. Obviously, An Inconsequential Miscalculation is my favorite, as – by sharing a brain – I was able to see the story as it was meant to be told from its very first incarnation and have had the pleasure of reading it in most of its versions. Reading it in its completed form brings me sheer joy.

Mostly high fantasy, there are a few writers in the mix who are downright funny, the future Terry Pratchetts to the future J.R.R. Tolkiens (My favorite stories are the funny ones)… the anthology has a wide variety of tales, but flows seamlessly as an anthology, which is generally hard to do.

I am exceptionally proud of my friends and would love if all of my fantasy reading followers checked this book out for themselves – you will not be disappointed in it.

Click to order:

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