Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Author Stephen Pollock

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

I’m a child of the enlightenment.  I believe in science, rational thought, and the value of knowledge.  At the same time, I’m fascinated by philosophical questions that stubbornly reside outside the sphere of scientific truth:  the phenomenon of consciousness; the origin of the universe; the nature of time; and the formation of the first living cell.  In my later years, the limitations of logic and reasoning have left me more receptive to the numinous in our world — a novice in the realm of spirituality.  Above all, I strive to perceive beauty wherever it may exist.

I began writing independently of schoolwork when I was nine.  As was true for many children of my generation, I was introduced to the world of poetry through the work of Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.  His book “Yertle the Turtle” was a particularly strong influence (though I had no idea at the time that the story was allegorical, a satire of Adolf Hitler).  Not surprisingly, all of the poems I scribbled on shirt cardboard rhymed.

In my sophomore year of high school, I maintained a poetry notebook as part of the curriculum.  But my interest in poetry really blossomed at Amherst College where, as a biology major on the pre-medical track, I took four rigorous poetry courses.  During the last of these, in what I like to describe as an act of love masquerading as mania, I stopped attending classes, isolated myself from friends, ate and slept reluctantly, and spent five straight weeks writing a metaphysical poem on the theme of subjective versus objective reality.  This represented my first serious attempt to write poetry.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Most of the poems that appear in Exits were written between 2003 and 2021 without a book in mind.  It wasn’t until two years ago that I decided to incorporate what I considered to be my best work into a book entitled Line Drawings.  However,

during the process of reviewing my modest oeuvre, I noticed that a significant number of the poems were related to one or more aspects of mortality.  This led me to curate a more concise, themed collection of poems, and Exits was born.

One might wonder where the focus on life’s transience derives from.  In retrospect, I can identify three sources.  First, I was raised without any religious training, so from a very young age, I was left on my own to ponder the enormity of the universe, time and eternity, and the meaning of existence.  My fear of death was such that I often fought against falling asleep, which to me resembled nothing so much as a rehearsal.  Second, as a physician and neuro-ophthalmologist, I’ve cared for numerous patients with serious and/or life-threatening diseases.  And third, since 1999, I’ve had to deal with the spinal cord variant of multiple sclerosis and the ramifications of that disease for life expectancy.

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

Death is an integral part of life.  It exerts a profound influence on how we think about the limited time granted to us and the meaning we attach to it.

Exits will resonate with different people in different ways.  Some readers will gravitate to the visual imagery and nature metaphors.  Others will enjoy the wordplay.  Still others will find satisfaction in the resurrection of formal elements.

It’s important to keep in mind that we live in a time of great uncertainty.  War, climate disasters, and a recent pandemic have led many to contemplate the prospect of their own demise.  Exits speaks to this anxiety and angst.  It also may provide fresh perspective on mortality, the cycles of life, and the possibility of renewal.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

My mom, now deceased, deserves a great deal of credit in this regard.  A lifelong visual artist, she made it a point to instill in her young son a deep appreciation for

art.  I recall sitting on her lap at age four or five as she paged through artbook after artbook.  As a result, I could distinguish a Monet from a Cezanne before I could read!

Over the course of my life, I’ve written in multiple genres, including: engineering and technology (U.S. Patent 4,477,158); clinical research articles published in medical journals; chapters in neuro-ophthalmology textbooks;  business papers; short fiction; and poetry.

My attraction to poetry is multifaceted:

The thrill of creating art with words

Permission to access the subconscious

The marriage of sound and sense

The fact that anything can appear in a poem

The fact that anything can happen in a poem

The surreal, dreamlike, associative way that poems move the mind

The surprising connections and juxtapositions

Fun with form

The paradoxical precision of poetic ambiguity

Metaphor and the multilayering of meaning

The sonic extravaganza of rhyme, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, meter, and non-metrical rhythms

Non-linear narratives

Emotional intensity

The potential to enlighten

The potential to console

Oblique routes to ineffable truths

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

None!  I’ve never had an account on any social media platform.  The lone survivor of the Jurassic Period, I tend to use long-forgotten methods of communication, mainly face-to-face chats, telephone calls, and handwritten letters.

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

Write poems that represent your unique aesthetic sensibilities.  Try not to be overly influenced by prevailing trends or by contemporary poetic styles.

Edit mercilessly over an extended period.  Satisfying first drafts often begin to show their flaws only after sufficient time has elapsed to afford an objective assessment.

Begin your foray into publication by submitting poems to literary journals.  This will help you determine which of your poems resonate with experienced reviewers.  Before each submission, make sure that your poem is a good fit for the journal.

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

Given my age, history of MS, and undisciplined writing process, I’m doubtful that any additional books are forthcoming.  But you never know…

About the Author

Stephen C. Pollock is a recipient of the Rolfe Humphries Poetry Prize and a former associate professor at Duke University. His poems have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals, including “Blue Unicorn,” “The Road Not Taken,” “Live Canon Anthology,” “Pinesong,” “Coffin Bell,” and “Buddhist Poetry Review.” “Exits” is his first book.

Available on Amazon:


Interview with Author Tim Stobierski

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

• I honestly don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I have distinct memories of myself as a child, maybe five or six, writing stories and poems. I’d carry a notebook around with me everywhere.

• But what’s funny is that I was never much of a reader as a child! I had my favorites. I devoured Harry Potter and other books. But I don’t think that my drive to be a writer came from a love of reading.

• In college, I majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. As a part of my studies, I took workshops each semester, and that’s where I finally began to come into my own as a writer — developing my own voice and style instead of just mimicking other writers. I credit my professors at the time — Sharon Bryan, Darcie Dennigan, Penelope Pelizzon, Gina Barreca — with helping me find my voice. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

• To be quite honest, when I sit down to write poetry, it isn’t with a book or some greater collection in mind. All I’m doing is writing a poem. So I can’t really say that anything inspired me to write the book, because in my mind there never was a book — until there was.

• That being said, with a few exceptions, I wrote these poems during the pandemic. The early days of the pandemic were very lonely for me. I was single during the lockdown, and found myself longing for human connection at a time when it was impossible to have. Those feelings of love and longing and loss really permeate the poems that eventually made it into the collection. In that way, writing Dancehall was a way for me to make sense of the world.

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

• More than anything, I want readers to connect with the poems and come away with a sense that love is universal.

• The poems in Dancehall follow the narrative arc of a single relationship from start to finish. I call the book a queer love story, because I myself am queer and I see the book as coming from that perspective. But I also made very conscious stylistic decisions so that the poems would appeal to everyone — gay or straight, single or partnered, male or female or non-binary. 

• You may notice, for example, that except for in two instances the poems don’t make use of pronouns. Instead, the speaker (“I”) is talking directly to the subject (“You”). I did this so that it would be easier for the reader to put themselves in the poem — either as the speaker or the subject — and feel the immediacy of the work. 

• If I, a queer man writing about queer relationships, can write a poem that allows a straight person to feel something about their own relationships, then I think I’ve succeeded in my mission. It’s kind of cliche at this point to say it, but love is love. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

• I think I was drawn to poetry because I myself read poems that triggered an intense emotional response in me, which made me realize that poetry could be powerful. Some of the most powerful poems I’ve ever read were short poems — under 10 words — and yet they had the power to conjure memories and emotions in what is really an awe-inspiring way. Once I experienced that, I knew that I wanted to learn how to do that myself. I wanted to make people feel something, and I personally haven’t found a better way of doing that than through poetry.

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

• I have to admit, I’m terrible with social media. I use it mostly for personal reasons — staying in touch with friends, etc. But I’m starting to get a handle on it as a means of building my reader network! I’ve just begun sharing videos and pictures of my work on Instagram (timstobierski) and TikTok (tendre_croppes) and they’re definitely both powerful tools. I think TikTok has the most potential to get your work in front of millions of people quickly, but it’s also tricky to know what’s going to go viral or do well and what’s going to be a flop. I guess I’m still learning. 

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

• I think the most important bit of advice I have is to not let rejections get to you. If you submit a poem or a story or an entire book to a press and get a rejection, do your best not to take it personally. Brush yourself off, think critically about whether or not there’s a way you can make your submission stronger, and find a new press to submit to. Just because your work isn’t for someone doesn’t mean that it’s for no one.

• When I first pulled together the manuscript for Dancehall, it was very different from what the book now looks like. I was submitting it to contests and presses that wanted books of poetry consisting of 30 poems max, so that’s how I arranged the book. It wasn’t until I got my fourth or fifth rejection that I looked at the collection and thought, “Well, they keep turning me down when I send them what they say they want. I’m going to submit what I want.” I doubled the poems, reorganized the book, and gave the collection a narrative arc that didn’t exist before. And when I sent it out the next time? The book was accepted by not one, but two presses.

• The moral of it all: Rejections are a part of being a writer. So do your best to build up a thick skin.

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

• The way I write poetry is slow. It takes time. I don’t set out to write a collection — they amass over time as I write a poem here or there and realize that a theme has emerged. 

• Recently, I’ve been writing a lot about grief, tied specifically to my father’s death. I think that those poems will eventually form the body of a collection. Likewise, I’ve been writing more explicitly about my experiences coming to terms with my sexuality, and I think that will eventually form a collection

About the Author

Tim Stobierski writes about relationships. His work explores universal themes of love, lust, longing, and loss — presented through the lens of his own experiences as a queer man. His poetry has been published in a number of journals, including the Connecticut River Review, Midwest Quarterly, and Grey Sparrow. His first book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, was published by River Otter Press in 2012. 

To pay the bills, he is a freelance writer and content strategist focused on the world of finance, investing, fintech, insurance, and software. In his professional writing, he prides himself on his ability to help the reader understand complicated subjects easily, a quality that informs his poetry. 

He is also the founder and editor of Student Debt Warriors, a free resource for college students, graduates, and parents who are struggling to make sense of the complex world of student loans.

Blog Tour + Interview with Timoteo Tong, author of Magic, Monsters and Me

1.When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

I was so nervous about being rejected that when I got the email, I made my husband read it watching his face carefully. Well, he has poker face so he kept me on edge until he said, “Wow, they love it and want to offer a contract! I immediately told my brother because he was the one who pushed me to write down the stories I’d dream up with my legos as a kid.

2.Post on how you came up with the plot and/or character(s) and/or worldbuilding:

I grew up on welfare as a kid. And I remember worrying where our next meal would come from and if we’d have enough money to meet rent. I dreamed up the fantastically wealthy Delomary family as a coping mechanism, shrinking myself into their world so I could escape the reality I was living in. For the worldbuilding, I was inspired by the works of L. Frank Baum and Tolkien. I created this fantasy world growing up during the Reagan years and imagined a world that was similar to ours only better, there was no crime or hunger or violence, and especially, free of racism and bigotry. 

3. Have the character share a favorite recipe.

Elijah loves his Mom’s Roast Beef, slow roasted with onions, mushrooms and simmering in red wine (My mom put wine in almost every dish, I think it’s a Sicilian thing) served with mashed potatoes and peas. 

4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

I would definitely want to fly. In my books, I feature a lot of characters flying, floating and walking on air. I was inspired by Wu Xia movies from Hong Kong, where the characters can fly while they fight. I think this is so cool!

5: What is your favorite food.

Cheese, hands down,I love it sliced, in cubes or chunks, melted down and dipped with bread, stuffed into lasagna and shells and especially cheese pizza. I can’t get enough of cheese, to the chagrin of my doctor.

Magic, Monsters, and Me - Timoteo Tong

Timoteo Tong has a new MM YA sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal romance out: Magic, Monsters, and Me. And there’s a giveaway.

Sixteen-year-old Elijah Delomary loves the City of Angels. The sunshine, the palm trees, the ocean. He especially enjoys battling the monsters infesting the dark corners of the vast metropolis.

As he starts his junior year at Burbank High School he meets a new friend, Austin who also fights monsters to keep Angelenos safe. As their friendship develops and love blooms, Elijah’s arch nemesis Devlina reappears, threatening to use magic to destroy the world.

Elijah must now juggle pursuing his feelings for Austin, meeting the lofty expectations of his affluent and influential family, and fulfilling his destiny to combat the forces of evil and save his hometown.

Warnings: Bullying, racism, homophobia no HEA cliffhanger

Publisher | Amazon


Timoteo is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Magic, Monsters & Me Meme

Fifteen-year-old Austin Kang Jr., well over six feet tall, lean and lanky with a mop of black hair falling over his eyes, adjusted the thick black glasses on his face. He studied the white stone and glass mansion jutting out over a hillside on North Sunset Canyon Drive. The house appeared to have good feng shui, with a Southern exposure to allow absorption of positive chi, a panoramic view of the Valley below, and a clear path to the front door.

Feng shui was important to Austin and his parents. They believed it helped center their family and keep them grounded and safe. Austin and his parents were descended from a long line of Magicals called Glimmerers who could tap into a glimmer of magic and twist, turn, and manipulate it as if it were hot ore being turned into a sword.

Coaugelus, as they were known in the Old Language, the mother tongue of the Magicals, were a class of warriors. They defended Magicals and Ordinaries, or humans without magic, from dark forces, creatures, and monsters that lived in the dark shadows of Earth—a place called the Gloom.

Coaugelus, Magicals, and Ordinaries lived in the light in our world, also known as the Shimmering. Everywhere that the sun touched was part of the Shimmering. Austin, his parents, even the people driving by in cars, walking their dogs, and watering their lawns shimmered and lived in the light.

Long ago, the Gloom and the Shimmering met face-to-face in a great war that killed and destroyed countless Ordinaries, Magicals, and monsters. The war raged on and reached a crescendo. A Pàcifimenta, a treaty among Ordinaries, Magicals, and the Gloom was signed. The war ended. Peace settled over the Shimmering and the Gloom.

Still, many in the Coven, the collective of monsters in the Gloom, did not agree with the Pàcifimenta. They didn’t like that they had to sacrifice feeding on Ordinaries or haunting, possessing, or simply terrorizing them. Others wanted power to control the Coven, and to defeat the peace created by the Pàcifimenta. Some creatures didn’t like peace as part of their nature. These monsters were fought by Coaugelus like Austin and his family.

Austin loved three things in life: playing soccer (known as football back home in Hong Kong), listening to grunge music like his dad, and fighting the Coven. For Austin, being a Coaugelo gave him a purpose in life and a place where he felt like he belonged. He particularly enjoyed kicking, punching, and using Xem Sen Ou, the ancient martial art from Minerva in Old Earth in the Seventh Dimension where all Magicals came from.

He also fancied his PlasmX, a purple plasma staff that folded into nondescript metal object akin to a lighter that he always carried with him. He had used it only last night while hunting down a group of rather angry werewolves, or Malloupus, that were attacking tourists at the night market in Kowloon. Austin enjoyed watching the pure purple plasma slice through the heads and arms of werewolves that were in the middle of reaping the souls of innocent Ordinaries.

Austin loved saving Ordinaries from monsters.

“What’s our assignment?” Austin asked his parents.

“Trouble is breaking out within the Coven here in Los Angeles,” said Austin Sr.

Austin and his family spoke with posh accents, a holdover from when Hong Kong was a colony of the UK. “We’re here to investigate and report back to XAQ2,” continued Austin Sr.

“Bleedin’ hell,” Austin complained. “XAQ2 are wankers. Full of rules. Can’t we simply report to the Anti-Coven League and be done with it?”

“Xutactiendo Allégansa Qu’elicallen Duzo have moved more operations of the League from the clandestine to the legal,” said Austin Sr.

“What does that mean?” Austin asked.

“The Alliance is strained and weakened. As leaders of the Alliance, the Còngréhassa are trying to placate their counterparts in the Coven and maintain the Pàcifimenta. Part of that entails relying more on formal procedures. The League works in secret, whereas XAQ2 works through formal channels as the official body of the Alliance.”

“Tossers,” Austin said. “XAQ2 can all go to hell as far as I’m concerned.”

Austin glanced at his parents, who were standing beside him holding hands. His parents were madly in love, even all these years later. He wanted to be in love. He was going to find it—here in Burbank where he’d have four passions: soccer, grunge, being a Coaugelo, and being in love with a cute, wonderful, and smart boy. That was Austin’s secret.

Coaugelos shouldn’t kiss other boys, or so some said—at least, the old-timers in the Alliance. He didn’t care what they thought, but he worried what his parents would think. They were his best friends.

Austin fought and traveled all over the world with his parents. He was worried that if he told them his secret, they wouldn’t understand or accept him anymore. Losing the closeness with, and love of, his parents would hurt more than the bite of a Qu’muqa, a monster with green scales and ten mouths on two heads.

His parents worked as agents for the Anti-Coven League. When they got a new assignment from the League, they took on new day jobs for cover.

“What jobs are you supposed to be doing?” asked Austin.

“This time around, I manage a highly profitable import-export business specializing in Chinese antiquities,” responded his mother.

“Jolly right you are,” Austin quipped. “How many bloomin’ vases do we have?”

Austin Sr. frowned. “Too many,” he observed.

“What about you, Dad?”

“I run a gas station somewhere called Van Nuys,” Austin Sr. said.

Austin glanced at his mom and dad. “Looks like you got the shit job this time, eh Dad?” he said.

They all laughed.

“I ran a nail salon in Bangkok last time for six months,” Austin’s mother said. “I hate salons.”

“Yeah,” his father said. “I had to collect garbage in Berlin for a year. Remember?”

“How could I forget the smell? I had to be a maid in Buenos Aires.”

Austin tuned them out. This was one of his parents’ games: try to top each other in who had the worst fake job while they were out in the field fighting monsters for the League.

Austin caught sight of his cousin Barnhard “Barn” Wong strutting up the street toward him and his family.

Barn was Austin’s best mate. His father was Austin’s uncle. Austin was an only child, as was Barn. When they were together, they acted like brothers.

Barn waved, jumping up and down. Barn was always full of life and energy. Austin loved being around him. Life was better around his cousin.

“Oi, Kangs!” Barn shouted in Cantonese.

Austin noticed a red-haired boy with brown eyes and a band of freckles on his nose walking next to Barn.

Austin’s heart melted. He was the most beautiful boy Austin had ever seen—from Mumbai to London to New York and Tokyo and Sydney. He felt the universe shift inside him. He could feel the boy pulling him in as if Austin were a satellite circling the Earth.

Austin liked that feeling. His parents orbited each other, and like them, he wanted to circle this boy—forever.

Barn and the red-haired boy parted ways. Austin watched the boy walk across the street under the canopy of jacaranda trees, disappearing into a four-story white stucco Spanish colonial mansion.

“What’s my assignment?” Austin asked as Barn arrived, pausing to hug his uncle, aunt, and Austin.

Barn was affectionate and loved hugs and kisses, or smooches, as he called them. “Reconnaissance with my mate here? Hunting down Àzmadus? Orgmas?” Austin continued.

Barn high-fived Austin. “Let’s destroy monsters!” Barn exclaimed.

Barn was a Coaugelo like Austin. Barn’s extended family owned the Wong Aero-Magicals Corporation that made the PlasmX in factories in Chicago, Tokyo, and Bangkok as well as other equipment used by the Alliance to fight the Coven.

“You’re just a high school junior,” Austin’s mother said. “You need a break from hunting and fighting. You need to have fun!”

“You need to be a boy,” his father echoed.

“Killing monsters is fun,” Austin responded.

“Really fun, Auntie!” Barn added. “Austin can train at the Dáu Xhà, the dojo with Dáumo Máurso, the sensei.”

“Who?” asked Austin.

“He’s an Immortal—Mars, the God of War. He runs the best Dáu Xhà in the world. You’ll learn the most powerful Xem Sen Ou with him,” explained Barn.

“Oi,” Austin said, “training with an Immortal. That’s amazing.”

He’s amazing,” Barn said. “He’s nearly ten feet tall, a knot of muscle, and his voice makes the earth tremble.”

“Sounds a tad frightening,” Austin admitted.

“He’s the God of War, mate,” Barn explained, nudging Austin in the side with his elbow.

“Fair enough,” Austin replied.

“He likes cats—he has a dozen at his home. He also likes hot dogs—a lot—and slushies,” Barn said.

“Yuck,” Austin said, rolling his eyes. “I hate slushies.”

“Let’s go to the Dáu Xhà after you drop your stuff off,” Barn said, “So I can introduce you to Máurso.”

Austin glanced expectantly at the moving truck, the boxes on the sidewalk, and his parents.

“Go,” his mother said in Cantonese. “Have fun, boys! And no killing monsters!”

“Oi,” Barn said, already ignoring his aunt. “There’s a poltergeist at Dirk Delomary’s department store in the mall—third floor, women’s hosiery. We can destroy it after we get hot dogs and hang with Máurso,” he said. “And I know a cute girl at Chicken on a Stick who’s an Encantreina. She can turn satay into powerful silver daggers that will kill any monster.”

Austin grinned. He loved Burbank already.

Author Bio

Timoteo Tong grew up on a quiet street in Burbank, a suburb of Los Angeles located in the San Fernando Valley. He dreamed of one day living in a Victorian mansion with many rooms filled with antiques and artwork. He imagined himself fighting monsters.Timoteo grew up and began writing stories of a family of fighters battling monsters to save humanity.

Timoteo currently lives with his husband and a plethora of houseplants in San Francisco. He enjoys reading, writing, drawing, naps and binge watching TV. He loves cheese pizza, Pepsi and Vans.

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Interview with Author Dean Alexandrou 

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

I first became interested in language as an art form in school, after being prompted to read the book Gormenghast by a temporary English teacher who was covering for our main teacher. (Sadly I cannot even remember his name to thank him!) Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake, uses words like daubs of paint, to create imagery that is more than just the rendering of a scene or story. After reading it I had a new appreciation for words and the way they could be used to add character to something as simple as walking along a corridor. Conversely, at the opposing end of the artistic spectrum I have also always been in awe of particle physicist Richard Feynman. His ability to explain extremely difficult principles of physics to a casual reader through perfectly selected, but simple words, phrases, and analogies, is another use of language that I love to emulate.

My personal journey into writing did not start until years after leaving school, and has really only just begun. Through my exposure to the entertainment industry I have gradually found myself as the writer of several short screenplays and scripts, increasing in length, until taking on a novel was the next logical step. The rules and restrictions of writing in screenplay format have always felt extremely limiting in expressing complex ideas that do not take place through dialogue. And, since most of the concepts I am interested in exist within a kind of internal, cerebral space, writing a novel was the only way I could explore them freely.

I have spent most of my adult life freelancing between different disciplines, some in the world of entertainment – film making, working at media agencies, occasionally on-screen – and some working in tech – coding, consulting, R&D at software companies. There are so many weird and wonderful things that I have encountered that I would love to spend the time writing about, either as elements of a story, or in isolation in their own right. Hopefully I will get the time. There is so much I would like to share.


2) What inspired you to write your book?

Initially, SYMUTAL was an idea for a film – or rather the seeds of an idea. With the onset of Covid lockdowns in 2020 there seemed a perfect opportunity to flesh this idea out in much greater detail than I had ever intended. I dived headlong into writing it as a novel, then fully rewriting it… then fully rewriting the full rewrite… and again, over several iterations during the next few years. In addition to the story elements of the book, there are many ideas of computing and science that I felt have never been articulated particularly well outside of reference manuals or non-fiction. I wanted the reader to be exposed to some of the beauty that I feel is inherent in a scientific view of the world. Algorithms are beautiful, and they are everywhere.

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

Firstly and foremost, I want the reader to have fun through the characters and their journeys. But beyond that I guess I would like people to understand the world around them as something that is in constant flux, composed of a continual conflict of ideas – every object being the expression of an underlying principle of science.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I don’t really see myself as having chosen a genre to write in, per-se – I don’t think I could write in any other genre. It just feels like I am expressing my inner self through characters and story.

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

I would sit down with the meta-character The Hoshoku-Sha Corporation, and ask them to what end their progress was intended.

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

I have no idea to be honest. I think that contacting real readers, such as yourself, and reaching out to them is likely to be more fruitful than any number of broader social media approaches. I am still gathering data.

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

Since writing SYMUTAL, a few other people have asked me what my process was – people similar to myself who feel they have an idea to express but are not trained in writing, or are not experienced in writing long form content. I would say this:

Once you decide to write something, do it. Pin a sheet of paper to your wall and every night at midnight write down the number of words you have written that day. Never lie. Never cheat. Write the number. Your word count. Pin it somewhere so that you can always see it. If you don’t feel like writing that day, do it anyway. If the words feel like they are not coming out creatively that day, or you don’t have your “muse” with you, write anyway. Write something. Move the story forwards. Do it until you reach the end. No matter what. Every day. Until it’s done. Even if it is only one paragraph that day. Do it.

The reason I think people should adopt such a cold-mannered, relentless, Terminator-like approach, is that once they have finished the story they will want to rewrite it *anyway*. Guaranteed. No matter how good the first draft is, they will want to improve it. Nobody will be happy with their first draft…. Therefore, do not spend 12 months procrastinating on writing a single sentence because you want it to be perfect. It won’t be perfect the first time. So just write it, regardless of mood. Refine it on the next pass.

It is much easier to refine something that already exists (your first draft) into something you are happy with (your second, third, draft), than to create it perfectly all in one go. So you will save more time writing two drafts, fast, than you will by waiting for your first draft to come out perfectly.

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

I am gradually making the book SYMUTAL into an independent movie. I am trying to honour the integrity of the book’s key principles, and shoot as much as possible in the style of the writing, rather than condense it down to a traditional script.

Once I have completed that I will start writing my next book. I find it difficult to overlap creative ideas and give each one my full attention.

I have attached some photos. Not sure which ones match the interview questions. Use any you think fit.

Chilling in the hammock may well be the right vibe! 🙂


About the Author 

I was born in Dubai UAE, moved to England when I was 5, and grew up in London. Currently I live in Bangkok Thailand with my girlfriend. My background has been a mix of different careers and locations, with a lot of technology roles (I have spent a lot of time as a programmer, and digital nomad), and have also had a few forays into the entertainment industry. Suffice to say I find it difficult to completely categorise myself in any normal, sensible way!

Much of this contrasting medley of places manifests itself through my writing, and will be apparent in the book Symutal, whose story is interwoven between Earth, the Moon, and virtual reality, but with a strong interlinking storyline. It is speculative, dystopian fiction, but with occasional scenes borrowed from my own experiences.

Feature + Interview with Matthew Miller of the Orlando Informer

We all remember the first time we stepped into a theme park. Whether it was a local park native to your state or a significant park like Disneyland or Universal, our memories and heartfelt experiences in the park were childhood memories we won’t soon forget. The smell of fresh popcorn or the excited screams of parkgoers on a nearby roller coaster are staples of any park. Yet the new technology that has come forward in recent years has elevated the park-going experience to all new heights. From the recently released Super Mario Land to Halloween Horror Nights and Avengers Campus, the worlds we fell in love with on the big screen and beyond are something we can all walk into and experience ourselves.

One of the things people don’t always consider in these parks is the people who create them. The people who make the technology and the people who implement and build it into what we see today. One such man is Matthew Miller of the Orlando Informer, who recently had his name added to IMDB. He is currently the senior director of technology & business development at Orlando Informer, and formerly was a theme park technologist who had a hand in helping to develop some of the most brilliant and beloved experiences for both Disney and Universal. His accolades include numerous awards and a patent for his research and technology development for wearable technology. Having traveled the world, from Orlando to Osaka, one of the leaders in theme park technology has taken the time to speak with us today to learn a little bit about the man himself, his inspiration, and the world of theme park technology development.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into the world of theme park technologists?

I grew up in the extraordinary small town of Wewahitchka, FL. It’s an incredible place and where I became very interested in math, science, and theme parks. I would later move to Orlando, FL. to attend the University of Central Florida. While trying to get my foot in the door at a major theme park, I landed an internship with a small design firm that produced special effects for the parks. This allowed me to work on my first big projects for the big players as a third-party vendor, and then I used this experience to land an internship at Universal. While at Universal, I secured a full-time job as a theme park technologist working on incredible theme park experiences.

2) What inspired you to work in this industry?

I’ve known that I wanted to be a roller coaster designer ever since the 1st grade. My family took a week-long trip down to Orlando, Fl, and visited several parks. I can still vividly remember that trip and the feelings I had walking through the theme parks with my family. I knew then what I wanted to do that for the rest of my life.

3) What has been one of the most complex yet rewarding pieces of technology enjoyed by parkgoers at a particular theme park?

The level of recent in-park interactives is absolutely incredible. From Super Nintendo World to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the wearables and interactive merchandise really have helped place the guests in the middle of the action. It’s amazing to walk into these stunning lands and then get to play a dynamic role in the story via these interactives. It makes every visit to the parks completely unique.

4) What are some of the most popular attractions you’ve been a part of?

I’ve been very fortunate to work on incredible attractions all around the globe. Some of my favorites have been Despicable Me Minion Mayhem,

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge.

5) If you could have a hand in any particular theme park’s creative properties, what project would you love to work on?

Shanghai Disneyland is currently working towards the opening of the City of Zootopia. I’ve always loved the sights, stories, and music of that property – I’m really excited to see the new land open in a few years. That project would have been a lot of fun to be on!

6) What social media site do you enjoy using the most, and has it helped bring attention to your given field?

I’d say the absolute best in the entire industry is Orlando Informer, but of course, I’m completely biased. 😃 I feel very fortunate to work with our team and our social media division works around the clock to showcase the most updated information on the web.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting theme park technologists out there?

Never give up. There are days when the dream will seem impossible and there will be people who tell you to stop dreaming so big. However, if you know in your heart this is what you were born to do, then literally anything is possible with enough passion, imagination, and grit. Don’t be afraid to start where you are and always look for small projects to help build your resume when you are first beginning.

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

I’m extremely grateful to be working with Orlando Informer and I hope to be here for a long time. I feel so incredibly lucky to be part of the theme park industry and I hope to continue on this path for many more decades! I’m also very passionate about helping others land their dream jobs, and I will continue to do that on the side too.

Thanks to Matthew for speaking with us today. Be sure to check out his page on IMDB and support his incredible work.

Interview with Author Caleb Brabham

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

I’ve always enjoyed stories. As a child I enjoyed drawing pictures or my own comic books but I didn’t particularly enjoy writing – it felt like work. 

In high school I had the fateful assignment to write a combined ten short stories in a single week for two separate classes. I freaked out and cheated – I recruited someone to help me write the lion’s share of the stories. One of my teachers called me up to see him. He did worse than catch me. He complimented me. I will always remember his burning commendation. 

“You are light years ahead of the rest of the people in this class.”

 That summer I wrote my first short story for fun. It was pretty bad. But I kept tweaking it. Then I wrote another. And another. Trying to be worthy of those words until I was doing it for the joy of writing and creating. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

A sentence, really. What if a man woke up in hell and didn’t know how he got there. That starting conceit is a long way from where I ended up, but it’s still there. 

It took me ten years and well-over ten drafts to complete the book. In fact, it wasn’t until I discovered Azrael Abaddon and made him my protagonist that the book really started rolling. His voice perfectly matched the story I was telling and eventually, discovering more about him led me to the startling revelations found at the end of the book. 

Sometimes all it takes is the right main character.

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

Messages of forgiveness are important to me. It’s critical for us as people to understand as long as we’re willing to change, we are never too far gone. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The trappings of noir were attractive to me even at a young age – even before I really understood its meaning. What kid doesn’t enjoy the idea of putting on a fedora? But noir kept interesting me at different stages in life – showcasing itself as a valid expression for life’s ineffable mysteries and moral struggles.

Noir is less about the mystery than the morality. While there is still truth to uncover, the mystery never outweighs the melodrama. It became natural in my mind to tie it to the afterlife and even traditional Western theology to see what the result would be. One is obsessed with damnation, the other salvation. There had to be a story that answered both.

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

I’d like to think I have the good sense to stay away from most of the characters in ‘Godthread.’ Azrael, Morningstar and Bethesda would get me in trouble in a hurry and I don’t think I could bring myself to look Krysis in his many eyes. 

The Almighty, perhaps. Though I don’t know what it is I’d ask Him. I think it would be peaceful just to sit with Him. I think we could have a good conversation without saying anything at all.

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

I’m not as active on social media as I’d like to be. Still, I have had some success with Instagram.

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

Write the book. Write it and rewrite it. Don’t ever be afraid to start over from scratch.

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

Lately I’ve been working on a murder mystery set in Victorian London. 

About the Author

Caleb Brabham is an editor, journalist and photographer currently living in New Orleans. His first book, Apocalypse of Bob, was published in 2010 by Charisma Media.

Interview with Author Mike Robinson

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

As I often—maybe crassly—put it, writing was my brain’s way of going to the bathroom. I had the fortune of being read to at a very early age, which gave me an appreciation of storytelling and the written word. Soon, the ol’ (or, young) creative bladder was full of ideas that had to come out. There were some detours—for much of my adolescence, I routed my creative energy into screenwriting and designing video games—but I returned to prose for its refreshingly solitary nature. With fiction, I’m not producing a blueprint. I’m making the thing, and it’s all on me if it doesn’t get done. So I began selling short stories when I was about 19, and wrote a novel a year till I sold one—Skunk Ape Semester—to a small press when I was 27.


What inspired you to write your book?

Like a lot of my books, it came from the intersection of different interests: physics, cosmology, mythology (from ancient Egypt to Celtic), paranormal phenomena, spirituality, and more. All these swirled together like cosmic debris for a while, before my subconscious eventually coalesced them into workable galaxy of an idea, which became Walking the Dusk. My books tend to be strange marriages. Dreamshores: Monster Island mixes stop-motion B-movie monsters with pantheism and the nature of consciousness.

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

Mostly to meditate on the vastness of not only the universe out there, but the universe within you and other people. Altogether, we inhabit, share and exist as one great mystery, and the book fancifully explores the possibilities of that mystery based on what crumbs we’ve been able to sweep together, as well as the limits of what a human brain can know.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always been drawn to speculative fiction—meaning any shade of fantasy, science fiction and horror. Particularly what’s now called “curio fiction”, which takes our world gives it an offbeat, mystical or fantastical edge. I think it’s a perfect vehicle to combine what I see as the more attractive qualities of a “literary” story—psychology, philosophy, culture, intellectual insight—with the broader imaginative probing of the supernatural, the nature of existence, God, consciousness, otherworldly realms, etc. The ideal is to fulfill the best that both “literary” and “genre” have to offer.

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

I would ask Megan Barry, the protagonist’s sister, how she reconciles in her head the bizarre things she witnessed as a child, and what worldview grew out of that that compelled her as an adult to seek whatever it was she sought. Did she know exactly what she was seeking? Does she now? She sort of represents a fear of mine: bright, creative, and restless, with no outlet, and no real direction.


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

If any, it would be Facebook, my only one. I’m taking a stand against all our time with social media. I think it’s been a net drain on society, honestly. And the years I tried building a platform on Twitter yielded little more than a sea of bots and people rudely and nakedly out for themselves. Sorry to sound like a downer. I just think we could all benefit from scaling back. Way back.

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

Keep the balance between hubris and humility. Hubris keeps you doing, from idea to idea, rejection to acceptance. It affirms you have a contribution to make. Humility allows you the self-awareness to make that contribution shine, to know when to check your worst impulses, or when your editor is right, and to ultimately grow your craft and career. Go to conferences, too. Meet people—in real life. Listen to what others have to say and develop a fine enough radar to know when it applies to you, and when it doesn’t. It’s unhealthy to always accept or always reject a piece of advice.

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

I have a dark urban fantasy coming out February 29th, 2024, Ancient Tides Ashore, which takes place on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and explores a psychic connection between a modern woman, an ancient Polynesian, and a mysterious elemental spirit in the local waters. I also have stories coming out in the anthologies December Tales II (Curious Blue Press) and Tangle & Fen (Crone Girls Press).


About the Author

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mike Robinson is the award-winning author of multiple speculative fiction novels and dozens of short stories which have appeared in the likes of 2019’s American Gothic Fantasy anthology, Storyteller Magazine, A Woman Unbecoming, Underland Arcana and more. He has received honors from Writers of the Future, Publishers Weekly’s BookLife Contest, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Maxy Awards and others, and is also the editor of J.P. Barnett’s popular, award-winning “Lorestalker” series.

In between, he hikes (often with his two dogs), swims, draws, tries to learn the didgeridoo and, yes, has even been known to actually write a screenplay or two, some of which have received their own notices.

Interview with Author Jennifer Renson

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

Writing has been my passion since childhood. It has been my dream since then to be a writer as a long-term career. 

Aside from writing I love cross stitching,  photography and crafting. I’ve been writing for Fansided for years, more specifically Show Snob where I cover television show recaps and news for several shows including The Walking Dead and Bridgerton. 


2) What inspired you to write your book?

I have had a deep love, passion and interest in Ancient Egypt since I’ve been about 12 years old. 

I wanted to write a book that could transport readers to that time, with the focus being the story of a strong but vulnerable young woman. I wanted her story to appeal to readers, get them invested and want to follow her journey through several books.

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

Firstly I hope readers will learn a lot about Ancient Egypt, with the possibility of loving the time period as much as I do. It is a very rich and plentiful time period that we constantly discover and learn more about. 

Secondly, my hope is for readers to connect with Aoh, almost to the point where they believe she once existed. Although she is fictional, she’s inspirational in the sense she’s brave, loyal, and stays true to herself and her beliefs.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Honestly, I wasn’t drawn to the genre. When I get inspiration for a story, I let the idea run wild. If the story winds up becoming scary, then it will fit into the horror genre. If it takes a more whimsical, magical and eerie route, like my other book Carousel, then it will fit into the fantasy genre. Admittedly, writing a historical fiction/young adult book has been a lot of fun as I got to apply my love for Ancient Egypt and turn into a tale that I hoped readers would find to be refreshing, new and compelling. 

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

It’s hard to choose just one but probably the Pharaoh’s mother Aneski. Admittedly she was not a planned character upon my first draft of Aoh but she’s become one of my favorite characters overall. She’s quick witted, honest but sassy as well. I’d probably ask her about all of the palace gossip, since she seems to know and observe a lot. She’d probably deny knowing anything though. 


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

That is a tough question as I believe social media is very tricky in general. It’s always changing and social media platforms seem to shift in relevance constantly. But I will say Facebook has been the most helpful. I created my Facebook page: Books and Poetry by Jennifer Renson some years ago and since then I’ve learned how to use it effectively. 

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

If you want to write, do it. Go for it. Don’t be afraid to try. You don’t have to start with a full blown novel. You can start small and grow from there. Remember there is no apology for passion.

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

I’m currently writing a new book that is separate from Carousel and Aoh. Don’t worry there is a Aoh sequel coming. Aoh’s story isn’t over yet.

I am in the process of planning several book talk and signing events for later this year.

My hope is that as I work hard in promoting my books and passion more opportunities will arise. 

I’d love to be able to attend conventions and events where I can meet my readers, dive into Aoh’s story, and see my book on top selling charts.


About the Author

Jennifer Renson-Chiappetta’s passion for writing began in childhood. Her writing career spanned from articles in Lost Treasure Magazine to her self-published poetry books; Delightfully Dark: A Collection of Poems and Tales, Eo: Go, walk, ride, sail, pass, travel and Uncharted. She is the author of the modern-day fairy tale novel Carousel. Presently she is a mother and wife; she enjoys spending her time with her family and friends, writing, crafting, specifically cross stitching and reveling in Victorian Era ambiances while living in New Jersey. 

Social media links:

Instagram  @jenny.renson Jennifer Renson-Chiappetta (@jenny.renson) | Instagram

Facebook Book and Poetry by Jennifer Renson Facebook

Goodreads  Aoh by Jennifer Renson | Goodreads

Purchase links:  Aoh: Renson, Jennifer: 9798397459280: Books

Barnes & Noble: Aoh by Jennifer Renson, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (

Interview with Author Oscar Fernandez 

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

Ever since I was a teenager I took an interest in writing. Since then, I have been keeping a journal where I document my life, travels, experiences, and mostly my thoughts about my current affairs, the way I view myself the world, and how I need to proceed to accomplish the life I want to live. One thing I noticed while writing though, was the ease by which words kept on flowing from my hand into the paper… So I kept on writing! On this note, I love to write on paper with a fountain pen; it feels smooth and somehow intellectual. I do this mostly for my personal writing on my journal, but for business writing I most definitely use my laptop.


2) What inspired you to write your book?

What inspire me to write my book was a genuine desire to demystify cybersecurity for non-technical individuals who may be entrepreneurs of business owners. Another reason to write the book came from the fact that I am an authorized distributor of a cybersecurity software, and based on the intricacies of the software, I realized how important it was to break down -even further- how cybersecurity works; in particular for entrepreneurs, and small to midsize businesses (small business: 1-99 employees; mid-size businesses 100-1000 employees). In a way, it is a venue to saying: here is cybersecurity for the rest of us!

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

The theme I would love for my readers to take with them is to realize that cybersecurity is not complicated as it may seem, and that it is more affordable than ever. Not only that, but base on a simple analysis of the current technologies use by a business, one can determine what are the technologies needed to protect them. So while the reader is going through the handbook, they can literally pick and choose what is best for them based on what areas of the business they need to protect. For instance, is it the WIFI? Their VPN? Or protecting the business from phishing attacks? Etc. etc.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I have been working in technology for the past fifteen years, and throughout this time, cybersecurity kept on taking a bigger and bigger role for companies and individuals alike. For the most part, I have worked as a consultant -a one man operation,-  so one day I asked myself, how can I grow my practice to create a bigger impact while helping clients protect themselves? So cybersecurity came to mind as a topic that it is extremely important -besides their day-to-day operations.- Not only that, but I didn’t want to become just another business providing cybersecurity solutions; I wanted to differentiate myself through the demystification of cybersecurity. 

Another aspect that drew me to write this book, is the realization of how vulnerable all of us are to cybersecurity attacks. We are note safe, at all! From identity theft to ransomware attacks, and everything in between, we are a moving target. So I wanted to become part of the solution. 

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

I am a brand new author, and this is my very first book. So I haven’t have enough exposure in social media to know which one can work. So far, the book is published in Amazon both in the Kindle and paperback versions. And hopefully soon on an audible version as well.

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

The advice I would give to aspiring authors is to not wo worry too much about the format itself; just start writing. As one moves along with the writing process, one can begin structuring it. Eventually, all will come into place as you read what you wrote while providing flow, and structure. For publishing, there are companies out there that will format the file for you, so no worries there.

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

My mind is always on the go -for better or for worse,- but I would love to continue writing and make it be my living. To start, I would love to create a series of the book I just wrote, and eventually move to another genre, for instance, social and cultural affairs and even a personal biography. I feel there is so much material in my head waiting to be written!


About the Author

Oscar is an avid technologist with over fifteen years in the IT industry. He has worked and consulted with IBM, Apple, Anthem, Genentech (Roche), small to mid-size businesses, non-profits, city government, and most recently with TC Energy.

His ability to understand business processes, network security and find IT solutions to fulfill business needs is unparalleled.

Oscar holds a master’s degree in Global Management from Georgetown University and ESADE School of Business. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Notre Dame de Namur University, and he also obtained an Entrepreneurial Management Certification from UCLA Anderson School of Business.

Oscar is Cronus Cybersecurity’s CEO, and through his networking abilities and international experience, he has led the company to new highs. 



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