Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Author The Raven’s Doctor

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

– I got into writing because of my fascination with the stories woven by the many animes and fantasy stories I’ve seen throughout my life. That with the added bonus that people said I had a bit of a talent for writing kind of collimated into me trying to throw my hat into the ring. The only thing I will say about my life is that it can all be summed up in one word, and that word is persistence.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

– I sight two light novels and one anime that jump started this little story of mine. The two light novels were The Rising of the Shield Hero and Overlord and the anime that was a major help to me was Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. But the funny thing is that I had six chapters already written before I even watched Fullmetal Alchemist.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

– I have two themes that I want my readers to really take from my book, the first thing is that family is what you make it. The other one was that fate can never bind it, but I’ll put more emphasis on that theme in later books.

 4) What drew you into this particular genre?

– I have a unique love for both horror and isekai (trapped in another world) fantasy stories.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

– I would sit alongside Malcom and ask him how it felt getting his head cut off. I would ask because I always wanted the power to detach and reattach body parts at a whim.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

– I’m going to be honest, I’ve tried a good many writer sites and have found little to no success when it comes to readership.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

– Find the best editor your money can buy, trust me it goes a long way with helping your book.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

– I don’t know what the future may hold. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t look too hopeful but I won’t let that deter me. I will make sure that later in life that more books will be released. And hopefully an anime will come out as well.

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About the Author

The Raven’s Doctor likens himself to a weaver; his computer is the loom, and the words are the threads. Every day, without exception, the Doctor weaves his tale throughout. Additionally, he will examine his work closely to make sure there are no visible nicks or crevices. He aims to make the reader feel as though they are a fly on the wall witnessing the action take place in real time. What more could The Raven’s Doctor want for? He will also weave his book such that it may continue beyond his death for future generations.

Interview with Author Yasmine Maher 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I think I’ve always been a storyteller, even before I learned how to write. My parents used to keep cassette tapes of the six-year-old me narrating stories I made up with imaginary characters and colorful worlds. During middle school, I started experimenting with writing, video creation, and drawing anime mainly because I had so many stories to tell. Though I didn’t create anything serious until much later in life, it all put me on the right track.

Growing up with social anxiety, I had a lot of trouble expressing myself. I have never really been an eloquent speaker, but writing gave me an opportunity to put my thoughts and feelings into words and helped me become more confident.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Honestly, I wrote the first draft of Echo so long ago that I can’t remember how it all started. But I do know that I’ve always been passionate about magic and superheroes. At that time, most female superheroes I knew were “too cool,” if I may. I couldn’t relate to them, and I wanted to write about a hero that was just…ordinary. A clumsy, sometimes naive character who’s always trying to do her best despite her own insecurities. That was how Echo was born. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Everyone has a choice. In the battle against evil, the hardest part is to fight the demons inside. Whether it was Echo, Doyle, Ebba, or any of the characters, it was always up to them to choose redemption, even when it wasn’t the obvious choice and when it wasn’t easy.

There’s evil and good in all of us, and we get to choose which side will win. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve been a fan of witches and witchcraft since I was a child watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch on the Disney channel. So, my first serious book had to be a fantasy. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

If I could, I’d sit down with Vanna, drink tea, and ask her about life in general. What she has learned in her long life and what she has read in her books. Vanna has always been the one who didn’t say much, yet she thought a lot and had surprising opinions about everything.  

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6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

It’s a bit too early to judge that since I’m still starting, and my book isn’t even out yet. Like many authors, social media is a great challenge for me; however, I’m more comfortable using Twitter than FB or Instagram, and many people know me from there.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Keep writing. It’s the only way to get better. Ask for professional feedback if you can (and as soon as you can). And stay strong. Writing is not for the faint of heart, and the path to authorship is full of rewrites, rejections, and redirections. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yes, I’m very excited about moving on to my new books. I’ve already plotted the planned the first two. They’re going to be different from Echo, and I hope they’ll live up to my readers’ expectations.

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About the Author

Yasmine Maher is the author of Echo: The Curse of the Blackwood Witches and Director of Fables and Facts Publishing. As a passionate wordsmith and an active member of the Twitter writing community, Yasmine loves to weave captivating tales that inspire her readers with whimsical adventures, magic, and larger-than-life characters.

https://yasminemaher.com/

Interview with Author Philippa Jabouin 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

This is my first book and my initial intention was to publish in French, which is my first language. However, I stumbled upon a writing contest for micro fiction and French was not one of the languages in which you could submit your work. I ended up submitting 2 stories but I had almost fifty that I was not using. That’s when I decided I would publish them and that’s how my collection ended up being in English. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Short stories have always been my favorite type of fiction. Two of my favorite authors, Françoise Sagan and Chimamanda Adichie, write with so much emotional intensity. I was inspired by their work and wondered, what triggers intense emotional reactions for me? This is what motivated me to write the stories in my book. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope they appreciate the deep inner workings of the human mind. Things are not always what they seem at the surface, and it is almost impossible to read other people’s minds. When you are not in someone else’s shoes, you just never know what is going on for them.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I enjoy novels in general and I think short stories simply give me the impression that I am getting even more out of an author. Great short stories leave you with a sense of awe and wonder because the length leaves you wanting more. I would love to create that feeling in my readers. 

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5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I don’t use much social media. Maybe I should. I use the old fashion social networks, i.e. word of mouth!

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

The author Hala Alyan states that she allotted 30 minutes a day to her creative writing as she was working on her doctoral thesis. I decided to try it out and soon 30 minutes a day became 1 or 2 hours. That is how I got my book written and published in a year. 

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I would like to keep writing and publishing short stories for the moment. I feel I need the practice before I devote time to a full novel. My next collection of short stories will be in French!

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About the Author

Philippa c. Jabouin has authored many articles and short stories under her name and as a ghostwriter. As a recovering ex-lawyer, she now spends her time writing as a freelance journalist, editor, and consultant. This is her first published collection of short stories. She lives in the Ottawa/Gatineau region of Canada.

https://a.co/cp41DxM

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/short-shorts-on-family-and-other-issues-philippa-c-jabouin/1140828868

Interview with Author Joseph Schiller 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I first fell in love with prose in a creative writing elective class in the 7th grade.  The teacher (wish I could remember her name so I could give a proper shout-out) really helped me develop my literary voice and confidence. I’ve been writing fiction ever since.  Earlier on I tended more toward short stories.  This novel is my first attempt at long-format.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve always been fascinated by the mythologies of early cultures and the way in which these cultures personified their beliefs and spirituality.  Angels of Death of caught my imagination for a while. For this particular story, I actually began with the imagery of a specific scene of an angel of death observing the passing of a mortal, which became Chapter 2 of the book. From that point, the rest of the story developed out.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I don’t have a specific message or theme I want readers to take away.  It would mean more to me that they simply enjoyed the story.  Sometimes that is enough, to just enjoy a book.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Everyone has their own unique inner creative voice.  Mine just happens to gravitate toward the imaginary.  This is the case both with my prose and my art.  I’ve always been “in the clouds”.  There’s already enough reality in my life.  I’d much rather dream.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I really only have one main character in my story, Azrael. My other characters play more minor roles. I wouldn’t want to ask him anything so much as I would like to “see” or experience things from his perspective as an angel of death.  Sometimes I feel that our physical frames are so limiting.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I haven’t found much help from social media.  This doesn’t mean that I do not use social media platforms.  It just means that I have not seen a direct correlation between social media, and why people are buying my books. Most of my witnessable success in getting books into people’s hands has come from hitting the pavement, or, in other words, getting out into the community with book signings.  I’ve been busy at comicons, farmer’s markets, bookstores, comic books stores, and breweries doing signings.  I also spent weeks contacting a couple of thousand indie bookstores worldwide directly by email. Now I’m in 17 bookstores.  One thing I’ve picked up on social media is that it is saturated, so I chose to get old school.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write for yourself first and foremost.  You are the only person that needs to be satisfied by your story.  That same perspective should, therefore, also guide you when working with an editor. Use a freelance work site such as Upwork or Fiverr to find an editor, graphic designer, and some to do your book layout.  There are plenty of highly qualified people that can help you for a fraction of what the traditional companies will charge.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am currently working on another fiction novel based on the ancient Greek mathematician and esoteric figure, Pythagoras.  I’m still conceptually working out the plotline, so much too early to provide more, but what I can say is the premise will be connected with some of the mystery surrounding Pythagoras.

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About the Author

Joseph A. Schiller is a high school social studies teacher in Houston, TX, where he lives with his wife and three sons.  Upon the Arrival of Dawn is his debut novel.

FB: facebook.com/UpontheArrivalofDawn

URL: josephschiller.weebly.com/authorship

Interview with Author Steve Malik Swayne 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get into writing?

I am Steve Malik Swayne. I was born in Ogden, Utah and raised in Salt Lake City, UT and Las Vegas, NV. I became fascinated with words in elementary school, where I began writing short stories and poems. This eventually led to me writing music and fictional novels.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Traitor was inspired by actual events. Traitor gave me the chance to express how I felt during my first few years of incarceration on a poetically creative level. The story was a release for me – the transformation of darkness into light, if you will.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

In this specific piece, I would like for the reader to recognize the in-depth expression of what can dwell inside of each one of us when driven or pushed by betrayal. Secondly, I would like the reader to be dazzled by poetry and comparison to life and recognize we all have some kind of monster inside of us, rather it be negative or positive. Finally, I would like the readers to enjoy the various plots, twists, and craftiness of mental perception that Traitor delivers.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I am a complex thinker. Psychology was one of my favorite classes in college, not to mention, I am a major fan of thriller and suspense. I honestly put myself to the test with this one; I wanted to see if I truly had an understanding of what it is to create suspenseful dissimulation in the context of an urban thriller.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

This is a difficult one, I mean, I am essentially the creator of their thoughts. So, there isn’t an answer they’d provide that I wouldn’t know. I guess if anyone, I would sit down with Xavier. Many times throughout the book, Xavier vowed he would never go back to prison. I would ask Xavier if he was nervous, worried, or concerned he could possibly be found connected to the downfall of his former friend, Tyson, causing him to go back to prison.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I would have to say Facebook thus far, although we have barely begun adventuring into our social media campaigns.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Just let the ideas flow. What begins as a simple thought may very well snowball into something monumental. As long as you believe in yourself, there is nothing you can’t accomplish, for creativity has no bounds.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have three new projects that I have recently finished, all in different genres written from an urban perspective, delivering a unique message within each of them. I believe it’s invaluable to be able to deliver a relevant message through artful composure while still entertaining people. My ultimate goal is to bring my works to life on the big screen so that I may furnish people with entertainment on a broader platform.

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About the Author 

What’s up everybody! I am Steve Malik Swayne. I was born in Ogden, Utah and raised in Salt Lake City / Las Vegas, NV. I became fascinated with words in elementary school where I began writing short stories and poems which eventually led to me writing music. After years of pursing a music career, I began running the streets, headed down the wrong path eventually leading to my incarceration. While incarcerated, (a father of three) I decided I wouldn’t become a statistic. I enrolled in college classes where I obtained two associate degrees, one in Liberal Arts and the other in General Business Administration. Still passionate about writing, I began writing fictional novels, calling home to my wife, where she would record my writings, then take the hours of recordings and type them into her laptop. From there, we pursued publication and now those publications are being introduced to the world.

Social Media:

Instagram @stevemalikswayne_theauthor

Facebook @SteveMalikeSwayne

Twitter @Malik_theAuthor

Website traitorthenovel.com

Available on Amazon & Barnes&Noble

Interview with Author Park and Barbara Lien-Cooper

1)      Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Barb’s answer: I’m Barb Lien-Cooper.  My writing partner is my husband, Park Cooper, an English professor. 

As for how I got into writing: as a child I was always daydreaming, writing stories in my head.  Later, for a while, I was a singer-songwriter in Minneapolis, but just as I was starting to get somewhere, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so that dream died a sad, lonely little death.  Then I got into comics and graphic novels.  There was one comic I loved more than any other, named Hellblazer.  I read that series and said “I want to write that character so badly…”  There I was, just some punk gal, thinking I would be allowed to write a major character like John Constantine!  In retrospect, what was I thinking?  But, that desire led me into writing for a women-in-comics site that I co-founded that they named Sequential Tart.  

I had nibbles here and there concerning writing comics, but not a lot panned out.  After a while, I said “I don’t really want to write someone else’s characters, I want to write my own characters,” so I wrote a webcomic called Gun Street Girl with artist Ryan Howe.  I also did a graphic novel called Half Dead with my husband and artist, Jimmy Bott.  I did a one-year stint as the managing editor of the award-winning magazine Comic Book Artist (one of the awards was for the time I was working there), and then I got a job in manga as a manga adapter for Tokyopop and Viz.  After the manga boom went bust, I started writing prose, which eventually led to writing novels. 

Park’s answer: I wrote a thing in 9th grade about how I’d like to be a writer– a science-fiction writer, specifically, as I recall. I wrote things now and then, just a little, in high school and especially college, small things, just because it was something I felt I had to do now and then, but I didn’t really take it seriously as something I should do until I met Barb. Even then, I started just editing her stuff– if she needed a monster described, or a fight scene, I’d write that for the artist… and I slowly started doing more and more until finally, by the time she was writing prose stories, I was basically co-writing stuff with her, and then I started writing some projects myself, too, like my cyberpunk comic Swipe and some prose novels.

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2)      What inspired you to write your book?

Barb’s answer: Well, I have loved world mythology since I was around eight years old.  I also developed an interest in comparative religions around that time.  I was a weird kid, let me tell you.  A little later, I developed an interest in supernatural literature, which led to a love for the horror genre, particularly quiet horror, and folk horror.  I have a great fondness for horror films, especially foreign horror such as Asian horror films like R-Point and A Tale of Two Sisters, horror from Mexico such as Carlos Enrique Taboada’s films, and Giallo films such as Deep Red, Lisa and the Devil, and The Psychic.  From those films, I realized that horror and urban fantasy could be the most imaginative genres because anything could happen in them.

When my webcomic Gun Street Girl couldn’t find a publisher, it distressed me quite a bit. I was told that it was “excellent” but publishers just “couldn’t take a risk” (possibly because the lead character was a lesbian??). So, when Ryan and I started pursuing separate career paths, I had a ton of excellent GSG stories just sitting there.  Since I couldn’t in good conscience ask my artist to continue on with the series, I thought that maybe some of the plots might work better as prose. I mulled over the stories a lot, then said: “Hey, what if I had a supernatural investigator go to a psychiatrist about his problems, and have his therapy sessions be his caseload and his past cases?”

From there, I had to really think about my world-building, who my characters would be, etc.  After I got into the groove, I realized that I had a lot more story ideas than just my old GSG scripts, so I kept writing until I had a series of books.

3)      What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Barb’s answer: I am not a writer with any kind of agenda except entertaining my readership.  Having said that, I guess there are two themes in my book that I hope readers will pick up on:

1/  World mythology is wonderful.  It’s always entertained me.  I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

2/  Writers don’t have to use the same genre tropes over and over again.  We can make new tropes.  We can subvert the cliches of the genre.  We live in a postmodern age.  We can do anything now, as long as we use our imaginations to entertain our readership.

Park’s answer: Since The Talking Cure is a novel of magic and psychiatry, I will add, actually, that there is a message that I hope readers take away from reading it, which is that mental illness isn’t anything to be ashamed of– that sometimes people have emotional problems or other kinds of problems, and that it’s good to talk to professionals about it and seek help from other people. Sometimes these problems have a medical basis involving brain chemistry, and sometimes they don’t, but it doesn’t matter– there’s an old stigma about reaching out for help, and since the world is creating more and more situations to give us emotional problems, it’s past time to get rid of the stigma.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Barb’s answer: Well, as I said, I’ve loved horror and dark/urban fantasy all of my life.  But as for being attracted to writing in these genres, it comes down to the freedom I find in writing supernatural literature.  Unlike in other genres like mystery and science fiction, I am not bound by sciences like physics or forensics.  I make the rules of my world building. I always say that if a writer writes characters that the readers care about, in fantasy, you can take the characters anywhere and have them do anything, and the audience will be there with the characters…as long as they act in character. A lot of viewers hated the end of Game of Thrones because a certain character had to act out of character to move the plot forward, for instance. I always say that if a character has to act out of character to advance a plot, change the plot, not the character. 

Park’s answer: I started reading at a ridiculously young age, and found it more engaging than the real world, so I guess it’s just what I grew up with, in books, comic books, and television and movies– when I was a kid someone gave me a video tape with three movies on it: Tron, Time Bandits, and Disney’s original Alice in Wonderland. This was before there was a Blockbuster in our town, so I watched those over and over… and then when you could rent movies, I went for more sci-fi and fantasy…

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Barb’s answer: Fitzgerald once said that he wrote because he wanted to know what he felt about this subject or that. Well, I write to find out what my characters think, feel, and do. My stories are me sitting down with my characters and asking them questions, really. Oh, I’d love to sit down with my supernatural investigator, Zach Cutter, and just let him talk about his caseload. But I can’t do that– another story would pop up instead, and then I’d have to write it.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Barb’s answer: We’ll see once the work gets out there.  Promoting our work is a whole new world for me.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Barb’s answer: John Cage said, “Begin Anywhere.” To me, that means, don’t wait until you have the time to write a thousand words a day, every day.  It means, write when you can and however you can, then build from there.

I will tell those just starting out: please don’t despair if your first story isn’t very good. Writing is a skill. It takes time to learn. That first story of yours is no indication of who you may become as a writer. The truth is that most writers’ early stories are mediocre at best. You’ll get better at it if you keep going.

Park’s answer: Barb has thought about this question far more over the years than have I, so I feel there’s nothing I can add as far as “just starting” authors. But for “aspiring” authors– people who want to start writing, but know they’re not there yet– my advice is to practice writing by writing down what happens to you every day. Specifically, don’t just write down what happened to you every day, or it’ll get like “ate, worked, ate, slept, ate, worked, ate, watched TV, slept.” Instead, write down how you FEEL about what happened that day, and why. Use complete sentences and paragraphs. That’ll start getting you practice that you need.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Barb’s answer: I don’t know what the future holds for me personally, but there are other volumes in the Cutter and Mann series that will come out in the months and years to come. I also have some comic book projects that I hope come to life in terms of publishing. Finally, I have a paranormal novel called Song to the Siren that we plan to get out there before the end of the year.

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About the Authors

Barb is originally from Minnesota. She was a radio DJ for a while in college, and then she grew up to become a guitarist/singer-songwriter and got an album put out on the Imp label. However, she also had health issues: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia and extreme environmental sensitivities and allergies. (She also has Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to issues involving her family of origin.)

For a while, brain fog from the CFS and the fibro made it harder for her to read long and involved works of fiction… So (since she’d always loved them in her childhood) she got into reading comics and graphic novels, particularly the comparatively avant-garde work coming out at that time from DC Comics.

Now we pop over to Park, in central Texas. Like Barb, Park also read comics (and a LOT of books) in his youth as well (a lot more sci-fi and fantasy books than Barb, and a lot more Marvel comics than Barb). Then he started college and said “I need an extra hobby or something. Maybe I’ll get back into comics again.” He started doing so, including reading the comparatively avant-garde work coming out at that time from DC Comics…

Then someone in the letter columns of the comic Sandman announced that they were doing a fanzine for readers of that comic. Barb and Park both wrote in.

Barb and Park became aware of one another… Park liked the writing Barb submitted to the fanzine, and he wrote to Barb, and they began writing to each other. Then they started talking on the phone… they fell in love… they started visiting one another…

Reader, they got married (to each other).

Barb wrote for the award-winning website Sequential Tart, made by women about comics and other popular culture things, and Barb wrote a lot of reviews and articles (especially articles)

Park and Barb had a column online for a now-defunct website entitled The Park and Barb show (about the same sorts of things) for 12 years…

A little after they started those things, Barb started writing her comic Gun Street Girl…

A little after that, they started adapting and editing manga for major American publishers importing manga (and sometimes their South Korean and Chinese counterparts) from the far side of the Pacific. Honestly, there were too many to keep track of… lots and lots of titles. Near the end of this, Barb and Park wrote the manga pitch The Hidden for TokyoPop, perfectly timed to appear the week that that company fell apart.

Then Barb and Park wrote the sci-fi vampire graphic novel Half Dead.

Somewhere around this time, Park successfully completed his Ph.D. in literature, and then Barb and Park wrote the vampire prose novel Something More Than Blood.

Eventually Park started writing his cyberpunk comic Swipe for Angry Viking Press.

(You can read more about all of the above projects elsewhere on this website!)

There were also other various short stories (and a novel, in one case) and non-manga-related editing jobs, too many to bother counting here…

These days, Barb and Park live happily together in Austin, Texas.

https://parkgsg.wixsite.com/wickermanstudios/home

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057705847859

Interview with Author Dana Hammer

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m not sure how I got into writing. I’ve always written. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Drugs, haha. Basically, I wanted to write a satire about the way we treat addicts in our society. On the one hand, we treat them as criminals for something that pretty much everyone agrees is a disease, and that’s messed up.  On the other hand, addicts often do horrible things because of their addictions, and we can’t ignore that, and act like it’s not a problem. To my way of thinking, the solution to addiction isn’t to punish addicts. The solution is to come up with a cure for addiction. I’m not a scientist, so I can’t do that. But I can write a book about it. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

This book has a lot of themes in it, and I’m reluctant to tell people what to take away from it. I just hope that something resonates with them. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I love horror comedy and dystopian fiction. Both genres are always asking the question “what if?” And I think that’s the basis of all really good storytelling.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’d like to hang out with Esteban Zappa, of course! I want him to take me out to a fancy restaurant and introduce me to exotic dishes and I’d ask him to tell me stories about his globetrotting adventures.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

The only social media site I really use is Facebook. I technically have an Instagram account, but I hate taking pictures, so it’s not really for me. Twitter seems like it’s just people being really mean, really fast. Maybe I’ll try TikTok someday. I don’t know.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Marry someone who will support you financially so you have the time and space to write. Alternately, be independently wealthy. I’m mostly kidding, but not entirely.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yesterday I finished a new draft of my first middle-grade novel, My Best Friend Athena. It’s about an eleven-year-old girl whose best friend is the reincarnation of the Greek goddess, Athena. When Athena accidentally turns the school bully into a cockroach, the girls have to work together to find him and turn him back into a boy. 

We will see if I can get it published. 

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About the Author

Dana Hammer is a novelist, short story writer, playwright, and screenwriter living in Anaheim, California.

https://www.danahammer.com/

https://a.co/3x08ftf

Interview with Author Karen Moe

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I am a feminist activist, visual artist, performance artist, art critic, essayist, and author. Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor is my debut book. Since I started writing again in 2014, it is as though all of the writing I have done has been in preparation for the writing of this book. 

Like a lot of writers, I started writing as a child. However, I haven’t been writing and honing my skills consistently since then except for in school with creative compositions and essays. In my early adulthood, except for some journaling, I wrote essays at university and became particularly skilled at the formal aspect of essay writing. It was as though, like a painter who begins with figurative drawing, I was learning the rules of essay structure and grammar so that I could break them—which is exactly what I have done and, as I write and think about it now, this breaking of rules has happened in tandem with my development as a revolutionary. My writing now, as with all of my art, is about revolution: being a contributing voice to an ideological revolution—which is the only way we are going to have lasting change in the West (which, tragically, because of globalization, pretty much means the world). I often joke that I write the same thing, over and over again, in different contexts. After all, that’s what the other side has done for millennia! Repeat and convince. Repeat and maintain. We have a lot of repeating to do until everyone hears and believes us, the same way the majority of society believes the dogma they are fed daily that is lived as unbroachable reality. 

I started writing again for real in 2014. One evening, I was at a Graham Gilmore exhibition at a big gallery in Vancouver Canada. At that time, I was immersed in my visual art and, like most (or all) visual artists who have yet to get the coveted representation from a commercial gallery, I had an ulterior motive to go to Graham’s (amazing) exhibition: I wanted to talk with the gallery director and give him my card so that (just maybe) he would be interested enough to check out my work and (please god-of-the-almost-impossible, succeed as an artist in my lifetime) represent me. 

I wandered around the gallery innocently checking out Graham’s paintings; I came up with a clever question about gender; I spied the gallery director; I told him I have a question about one of the paintings; we walked over to it together; I asked him my clever question holding my card strategically in the hand where he couldn’t see it yet.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “Graham will love that question! I must introduce you to him.” My desperate undiscovered artist’s heart fell. I was escorted over to the famous artist wreathed with his admirers. The gallery director ushered me through the eager mass, all vying for Graham’s attention. Yes, Graham loved my question. He asked for my card. I reluctantly gave him the one I had poised opportunistically in my hand for the gallery director. We chatted a bit. Other admirers jabbed the circle for his attention. I went home, elated by experiencing his exquisitely wrought and culturally important paintings, but with a heavy heart about yet another failed attempt of even getting the slightest interest in my own work.

The next day I received an email from Graham. 

“I want you to write a comprehensive article on my oeuvre. Do you want money? Art? Both?”

“But I’m not an art critic. I’m a visual artist like you.”

“I don’t care,” he responded as the delightful eccentric he is. “I want something different.”

So, I did. I wrote my first piece of art criticism. It’s called: “Excavations: A Feminist Resistance Artist Dialogues with Graham Gilmores Love Sic.” The article was published in Border Crossings, the most important art magazine in Canada. I was even paid over $1000. 

“Oh, I guess I can still write,” I said to myself. Since then, I have written many articles of art criticism and revolution. You can find the links to some of them on my website under essays.

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What inspired you to tell your story? What message do you hope readers will take away from your book? What is one message or piece of advice you’d give to anyone who is struggling with experiences similar to or like the ones you share in your book?

As stated above (here is an opportunity for strategic repetition): contributing to the revolution of a culture built with exploitation inspired me to tell my story as it does everything I create. However, the narrative thread of Victim was also inspired by (or one could say based on) the real-life experiences of sexual violence that I have personally been victimized by and survived. It was also inspired by the revolutionary knowledge—embodied knowledge—that I gained by having been victimized by and survived that violence. This can be seen as ironic because typically one thinks of living through sexual violence as a negative, traumatizing, experience. And, of course, it is. And yet, as I write in Victim:

“One of the main effects of my personal victimization has been an acute awareness of injustice, especially regarding sexual assault. Whenever I watch or see or read or hear about rape, prostitution, or pornography, I feel like I am being raped all over again. But, the interesting thing is, it’s not personal anymore; it’s not just about me. And, it may sound strange: it’s not all bad. It is as though, through an experience that is perceived as—and is—horrifying, there is more to it than that. Instead of being weak, passive, and defeated, my experience as a victim kicked me in the ass. It made me start doing something about it.

Don’t get me wrong: I certainly wouldn’t wish my particular form of initiation into the realm of righteous anger on anyone else, but this is good anger, healthy anger, an anger that motivates. I mean, shouldn’t we all be angry about the sexual exploitation of women and children? Shouldn’t we all be angry when more than half of the people on earth are under siege?” (Victim 144-145)

One of the main messages of the book—and the reason that I chose the controversial term ‘victim’ for the title—is because I turn the concept and reality of ‘victimhood’ on its head. When a person lives through extreme violence, you change. It affects you. There is no going back. Victimization has long-term effects because the system that victimizes has not gone away. As Andrea Dworkin said: “Victim is a true word. If you were raped, you were victimized. You damn well were. You were a victim … And if it happens to you systematically because you were born a woman, it means that you live in a political system that uses pain and humiliation to control and hurt you.” I write in the book: “It’s from then on always after.” And, in response to Dworkin’s connection of victimization and the system that does it, this awareness and acknowledgment of the victim being an inescapable result of rape means that the acknowledgment is the source of transforming the system that creates a victim—and the victim not only knows this, they feel it.

Like many other victims, since I became fully conscious of the violence I have experienced and the aftermath of PTSD I still negotiate daily, the politically correct term ‘survivor’ has always felt like it doesn’t tell the full story. Yes, of course, I survived. And, yes, time passes. But what happens during that time, the life passing in what our culture construes as an ever-forward moving trajectory, shouldn’t promote the shedding of experiences, an eradication of life. There is no moving on from a life-altering experience, getting over what will always be a part of our lives. For me, this is not healthy, nor is it realistic. As I say in Victim: “I need to learn to honor my scars. So that they won’t happen again.” Scars are a source of wisdom and empowerment and not inflictions of debilitation and defeat. 

Acknowledging and deriving power from our victimhood also debunks the patriarchal ideology of linearity, constantly moving forward, not looking back (which is the ideological infrastructure of neo-liberalism where no acknowledgment or responsibility is given to what has been plundered through in order to fill the bottomless glut of individualism and greed, that which exploits in order to exist and that which rapes not only women and children, but everything). Linear thinking negates any possibility of sensitivity and awareness; we rush past without noticing what came before, what exists on the margins of our individualist prerogatives to get ahead. Victim was intentionally written as a non-linear narrative not only to overwhelm constrictions, but also for me as the writer to experience the writing process as it happened, as it was remembered. Each part, each memory, each process of remembering, each connection of remembering through the act of writing—what phrase, what word, what rhythm arose—bred the next part of the manuscript. However, remembering is not only a backward trajectory, the inversion of the forward: what memories, what parts of our lived lives have been pushed aside and return with their connection to another memory residing in a word that can re-surface what has been buried. And then we are greeted by the narrative of how we have forgotten this, what caused us to push this aside? And the remembering, the excavating, through writing, continues as a cycle, never a line.

For me, this process of remembering (and being) is how writing happens; it is how being simultaneously conscious and unconscious with all of the obfuscations and clarities in between. You have a topic, what you are going to write about, and maybe you even have a general idea of where you’re are going; however, for me, there is the necessary alchemy of the first sentence that arrives as a miracle from my subconscious and is filtered through a love affair with language. From that first sentence, the work is born and, as I write, I come upon experiences, ideas, and observations that I had no idea were even there, even though they were. Writing, when one opens oneself to it, surprises, teaches and gives the writer a more acute relationship with reality. As the now tall grasses, with their tips of reaching seeds, draw tender cycles, in the ever-moving air.

Men cannot be left out of the discussion of sexual violence, both as perpetrators and as victims. Men cannot be left out of feminism as a movement that is fighting for justice for all and for a culture without violence. In Victim, I write about my very difficult but, in the end, very beautiful, relationship with my father. As women, our relationships with our first sexed and gendered male are absolutely formative in how we negotiate a system of male supremacy and the female oppression that guarantees. While writing Victim and telling all (even to the extent of my own self-condemnation, my own imperfections, my own humanness), I was very interested in the genesis of the victim. However, I was also very interested in (and still am) how a perpetrator is constructed in a violent culture and how men are also victims. Breaking the cycle of abuse is critical. In patriarchy, male victims are conditioned to harden as opposed to opening to the fact that we are all vulnerable and that victimization affects us. In patriarchy, men are not permitted vulnerability. It is an acknowledgment of and living lives as vulnerable creatures that make active empathy possible. Conditioned to be strong and emotionless, those socialized as men have a much more difficult time with this. As Robert Jensen says in his book The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men: “I was socialized in patriarchy into a toxic masculinity that not only subordinates women but also crippled my own capacity to be fully human.” This inability to feel fully inevitably contributes to the creation of the perpetrator—and, most often, his victims. 

It is very significant and special to me that Victim has had wonderful responses from men, including, of course, you Anthony. One male reader said: “This is the most honest book I have ever read (and I have read a lot of books).” Another, as Daniel Gawthrop writes in his article for The British Columbia Review: “Victim is a rich and soulful testament to the power of human resilience that redefines the meaning of victimhood itself.” And your final verdict, Anthony: “While the subject matter of her own life was tragic, her strength and ability to turn her trauma into empowerment gives hope to many for the future and helps shape the blueprints to help build a better society that values compassion, equality, and justice.” Thank you!

I have known for decades that the story of the abduction, how the serial rapist tricked me, what happened psychologically while he had me, and how I got away and ended up being instrumental to his life sentence is a darn interesting story. However, as an artist, I am able to detach from my own personal life and to exist beyond myself in order to create. I have often joked: even my own trauma is interesting and, in a section of the book where I am delving into what happened to me psychologically in order to survive and ultimately over-power the serial rapist, I wrote: “the time has come to perform an autopsy on my twenty-eight-year-old psyche.”(Victim: 39). That said, because the story—however personally terrifying—is so interesting, I’ve often thought that the narrative of the story would make an amazing screenplay. Others have said this now too after reading it, so maybe it will be one someday.

However, beyond my personal narrative, Daniel Gawthrop observes how: “Now fifty-five, Moe says she was emotionally incapable of writing this memoir until now. And that’s a good thing, for Victim is a much better and wiser book than it would have been had she published it within a short time of her terrifying abduction.” It was through the years of activism, research, and scholarship between the writing of the book and the experiences of sexual violence that not only serve to extend the book far beyond the memoirist and into the system that raped her, but also by building a manifesto and a call to arms for both women and men. 

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I was born in 1966, as you will learn when you read the opening pages of my book. As such, I frequently joke that I am half-luddite. I do my best with social media. I have Facebook and Instagram. I can’t stomach the argumentative nature of Twitter, although I know “I should.” I am working towards starting up TikTok. Because I published with a very small Indie Press (Vigilance Press who are great but don’t have the capacity to book the ambitious tours I have been undertaking), I have to do virtually everything myself. That includes organizing and booking these tours. I just completed my US Trauma & Triumph Tour for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2022. I am currently organizing my Cross Canada one for September. I hope once it’s set up, I can begin TikTok. As you may have noticed, I have a lot to say. I have started the account —and now I have to figure out how to do it! This is a lengthy process for we Gen Xers and we have to psychologically prepare ourselves for researching YouTube how-tos and make the process as stress-free as possible. My name is “Logical Feminist.” Stay tuned! It will happen! And now it has to because I told you it will. Eeek. 

About the part of the question as to which site has been the most helpful. Maybe Facebook because I have more friends on Facebook (and I know that to a lot of people of younger generations, FB is so passé). Although, more people on Instagram (percentage-wise) seem to be interested in my more revolutionary posts and there have been some feminists within the K’s amount of followers who are noticing me and my revolutionary posts. They haven’t followed me yet. But I seem to be on their radar (if that means anything!). I have DMed them. But, as of yet, no response. We’ll see! If anyone has any social media tips let me know and feel free to follow me and the press. Vigilance Press is an imprint of Vigilance Magazine:

@karenmoeart

@vigilancemagazine

However, for me, I just want to write my next book. And I have started, even though I haven’t finished touring my first. I have heard that the best way to sell your first book is to write you next one asap. That’s not a problem for me as I have two next ones eager to be born. Ideally, social media will take care of itself (I know! A Gen-X-get-someone-to -just-do-this-for-me-already thing to say 😉 Virginie Despentes has someone doing her social media. And she does what she is supposed to do: write. Alone. No one bothers her. Her mind is clear to create. She has space in all senses of the word to say something, to make something, important. #damrightmetoo. 

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Start. And, with writing, always be on the lookout for the opening sentence. The first sentence is the magic. I say to my students, when you have your first sentence, it is in many ways as though the piece of writing is written. The first sentence of Victim that I wrote in November 2016 is “I have lost the mustard yellow suede jacket from that time.” From that sentence, the book poured out of me. 

Also, with writing as with all art, there is no going halfway. Art is a vocation, not a dabble. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people and politically correct artist-run centres say that anyone can be an artist and spend thousands of dollars of culture grants attempting to prove what isn’t true. And, not only is it not true, it’s an insult to all of us who have committed our lives to honing our skills through, most often, personal sacrifice. Everything I do is bent upon creating because, if I don’t, I don’t feel well. Not everyone has to create in order to not feel bad. And, I know that not everyone could live the life on the edge that I, and the majority of other artists, writers, and composers now and throughout history, have lived. You either want to create or you don’t. Wanting to write a book is not based on “Oh, I would love to write a book someday.” For one: there is no someday. And: there is no want. It has to be an all-encompassing need. An obsession to say something. (As an aside, I would like to add that not everyone can be an artist, but everyone can be a revolutionary and contribute to the movement in some way. For example, I could never be a lawyer and we need revolutionary lawyers to give justice to so many rape victims who are never given any and retraumatized by being brave enough to report being raped, not to mention save other women by getting another rapist out of circulation).

However, even though it’s very difficult and discipline is required, for me anyway, the writing is the fun part. It is the getting the agent, the getting the publisher, the literal making of the book that is the hard part. When I first started submitting my book in 2019, I googled how to go about doing just that and the first website I came upon said: “Oh, so you think writing your book was hard!” That statement pretty much sums up what comes next after you’ve triumphantly finished writing your book. Especially your first one. 

What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have had my next book planned for the last couple of years. It came out of the research that I did for Victim. During the time that I was held captive by the serial rapist, he confided: “There’s nothing like a good whore.” Because of that statement, I had to research and write a section on the sex industry. Part of that research ended up being about child sex slavery. Lydia Cacho’s Slavery Inc: The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking and Julie Bindel’s The Pimping of Prostitution: Ending the Sex Work Myth were both invaluable resources for not only my first book but for planning my next which will be called Inconceivable Reality. For me, there is no greater proof that the culture we live in is wrong and needs to be revolutionized than the fact that child sex slavery even exists. Of course, all sex slavery is despicable and all human trafficking unforgivable, but child sex slavery takes the proverbial cake in despicability. The fact that typically so-called first-world men will go to the third (and the third world as a geographical and economic site of exploitation also exists in the first) and pay to violate and destroy a child’s life is inconceivable to me and it has to be exposed because child sex slavery, violating a tiny and innocent body and being, has to no longer be true. 

However, recently, another book has appeared on my horizon. It is a book I conceived of last fall during my participation as a forest defender at the Fairy Creek Blockades in British Columbia, Canada. The Fairy Creek Blockades are the largest act of civil disobedience in Canada. Some of the last remaining temperate rainforests is being clear-cut. Of course, it’s the same old story of soullessness and greed—the reason why I write revolution in different contexts, is to resist the non-stop repetition of ‘progress’ and ‘individual gain’ along with throwing up our hands and saying there is nothing we can do about it. Yes, we can. We in the first world still have a semblance of human rights. At the very least, we can tell the world that we don’t agree, that this is wrong, and that what we are asking for, preserving the tiny portion of what is left of pristine ecosystems, is absolutely logical. Unlike countries like Honduras and in the Amazon where land defenders are assassinated, in Canada, the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand we can still protest and we can still win. The forest defenders at Fairy Creek were and are miraculous people and show the good that can be activated in all of us. You can access the articles through my website that I wrote last summer which strive to tell the whole story—as opposed to what is not told by the mainstream media and these gaps, what is left out, become lies in themselves.

The politics of colonialism in Canada, as in every other colonized and colonizing nation, is very complicated. Because the logging of the Fairy Creek Watershed is also an Indigenous land claim issue, the politics are far from limited to capitalism and its acceleration into neo-liberalism: they are firmly entrenched in the ongoing colonial state of Canada. Elder Bill Jones is an ancestral elder of the Pacheedaht Nation. He is the First Nations ancestral elder who invited the settler (non-indigenous peoples) forest defenders to Fairy Creek to help him and the rest of the ancestral Pacheedaht save the old-growth forest and its ecosystem. I will be writing a book (yes, another manifesto) that will center on the life story of Elder Bill Jones, now in his 80s. The book will be called Re-Indigenize: The Revolution of Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones. 

I am, technically, in terms of labeling, a ‘radical’ feminist; however, during the writing of Victim I thought: “Why is logic radical?” So-called radical feminists look at feminism as eradicating patriarchal hierarchy, as a political movement to change the sexed and gendered distribution of power, eradicate hierarchy and the ideology of taking, and undermine the infrastructure of a masculine system that guarantees exploitation. Hierarchy, violence, and exploitation affect everything: women, gender, race, the environment, animals and yes, of course, men. Everything is connected. 

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About the Author

Karen Moe is an art critic, visual and performance artist, author and feminist activist. Her work focuses on systemic violence in patriarchy: be it gender, race, the environment or speciesism. Her art criticism has been published internationally in magazines, anthologies and artist catalogues in English and Spanish and she has exhibited and performed across Canada, in the US and in Mexico. Karen is the recipient of the “Ellie Liston Hero of the Year Award” 2022 for being instrumental in putting the serial rapist, who raped and brutalized herself and countless other women, away for life in 1996. She lives in Mexico City and British Columbia, Canada. Published by Vigilance Press on April 2nd, 2022, Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor is her debut book.

Karen has just returned from her US Trauma & Triumph Tour for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, will be having a variety of events throughout the summer, and will be embarking upon her Cross-Canada Tour in September 2022.

https://www.vigilancemagazine.com/vigilance-press

Interview with Author Terry Tierney 

1)      Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My writing journey began soon after my early love of reading blossomed. When I was eleven I began writing a sci-fi novel about traveling to Mars, but I didn’t get past the first page where my character spies the planet through his spaceship’s porthole. Always a dreamer. Throughout school and college I wrote for campus newspapers and envisioned a career in journalism, beginning as a sportswriter and eventually launching into poetry and fiction. But my sparce finances and the draft intervened. I fell into many other jobs along the way, particularly in tech, but I tried to maintain my literary trajectory.

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2)      What inspired you to write your book?

While I was working full time and going to school, I only had enough brain share for poetry and short fiction. But during those smoky evenings when I sat around the stereo trading stories with my friends, they seemed to enjoy my hitchhiking experiences. At some point I had a Kerouac moment and decided to record my oral history and forge it into a novel.

3)      What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

In many ways, the Vietnam Era portrayed in Lucky Ride mirrors our current emotional and political landscape, especially how people feel alienated from the establishment and from one another. Returning home from the military, Flash the narrator feels like an outsider who must build a new life. In his case, an unraveling marriage creates further complications, but he retains a sense of humor and hope based on his closest friendships. If we asked him, his message would be to find a relationship you trust and build from there.

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

I wanted to write a story readers would enjoy, and I was drawn to the structure of a road novel because of its continuous adventure and opportunity for humor. Each ride presents its own challenges, but Flash also draws ever closer to reconciling his marriage and his military experience with his desires for the future. His trip begins with a goal of escape and evolves into much more.

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5)      If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

In the novel we see the character of Flash’s wife Ronnie though his eyes in his role as first person narrator, although he gathers some perspective from other characters. Because of the pain of her apparent betrayal, Flash is not really an objective observer. It would be interesting to hear more of her side of the story.

6)      What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have learned a lot from studying authors I admire and how they use social media, and I have read several excellent books and attended many courses and workshops. The authority I return to most often is Jane Friedman, who has advice on everything from building a website to preparing a manuscript and querying an agent: https://www.janefriedman.com/

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Enjoy the process of writing. The thrill of composing a new poem or story and bringing it into the world is all the reason you need to write. This includes successive editing passes to perfect your words once you have an initial draft. Don’t measure yourself by your number of publications, book sales, or other external factors you can’t control because you’re sure to be disappointed. Just bask in the creative experience.

8)      What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

With Lucky Ride and my poetry collection, The Poet’s Garage, I feel like I’m living a dream, and I never want the moment to end. My second novel, The Bridge on Beer River, will be published by Unsolicited Press in July 2023, and they will publish my second poetry collection in 2024. In addition to writing new poems and stories, I’m editing the rough draft of another novel.  

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About the Author

Terry was born in South Dakota and raised in Minneapolis and Cleveland. After serving in the Seabees, he received a BA and MA in English from Binghamton University and a PhD in Victorian Literature from Emory University. He taught college composition and creative writing, and he later survived several Silicon Valley startups as a software engineering manager. His stories and poems have appeared in over forty literary magazines, and his novel Lucky Ride, an irreverent Vietnam era road novel, will be published by Unsolicited Press in 2022. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, a Librarian from the University of California, their son, and their goofy Golden Retriever. Terry’s website is http://terrytierney.com.

Purchase Links

https://www.unsolicitedpress.com/store/p285/luckyride.html

https://bookshop.org/books/lucky-ride-9781950730933

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lucky-ride-terry-tierney/1139820900

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1122846

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/poetsgarage/