The Authors' Words: An Interview with Author Jill Hand



Jill Hand lives in New Jersey. She writes horror, fantasy, science fiction and weird fiction. Her work has appeared in more than thirty publications and in many anthologies, including Test Patterns, Beyond the Stars: New World, New Suns, Stories From the Near-Future, and Miskatonic Dreams.

Her novella, The Blue Horse, from Kellan Publishing, and its prequel, Rosina and the Travel Agency, chronicle the adventures of the employees of a twenty-fourth century time travel business.

Hi Jill!  Thank you so much for doing this interview. I'm so happy we have the chance.
Thank you for inviting me to talk about my writing, J.D. I LOVE talking about my writing! 


Tell us about yourself?
I live in New Jersey, home of Bruce Springsteen and the Jersey Devil. I have never seen the Jersey Devil, nor have I met Springsteen, although I interviewed one of his former band members once.

When did you realize you were a storyteller? 
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Probably when I was around twelve and started to earn money babysitting. Those were more relaxed times and a twelve-year-old was considered old enough to be capable of looking after younger children for pay. I used to tell the kids ghost stories. They were frightening stories, full of horrible things like severed heads that dripped blood and were dead and yet somehow alive, and ghouls who dug up graves. The kids loved them and begged for more, proving that children are more resilient and less easily frightened than adults might think.

Tell us how you come up with your time travel stories?
The idea for The Blue Horse came up by accident, like a lot of good ideas. While reading about cryptids online I found a site that mentioned a blue horse without any hair that was discovered in South Africa in 1860. It was shipped to England where an eccentric aristocrat bought it. He used to ride it to go fox hunting.  That made me suspect there was a good story there, and there was. It's a really bizarre story, especially when time travelers from the twenty-fourth century get involved.


How did you decide to write in this genre?
I like history, and doing research. A lot of odd things happened long ago that aren't common knowledge. Time travel is an intriguing concept. I'm certain it will be possible someday, if it's not already. I'm joking. 

What is your publishing story?
My publisher is Kellan Publishing, a small press from Portland, Oregon.

How much of yourself, if any, is in your characters? 
I'm in all of them, to some extent. 

How long does it usually take you to write one of your stories from your first idea to
 finishing the book?
I write short stories, as well as having written the two time travel books. Short stories go quickly. I can usually bat one out in a week, tailoring them to whatever submission calls are out there. I'm currently working on a Southern Gothic novel about  unscrupulous siblings from south Georgia who are fighting over their father's enormous fortune.  It's dark and (I hope) funny. Since I'm by temperament more of a sprinter than a long-distance runner (by that I mean I'm easily bored) short stories come easier to me than novellas or novels. I've written and published many short stories in several different genres, primarily horror, science fiction and fantasy.

Who gave you help and guidance along the way?
My editors, when I wrote for daily newspapers. A good editor is a treasure. Every writer should be able to accept and learn from constructive criticism, otherwise they're never going to improve. 

Rosina and the Travel Agency

What else do you have published?  Rosina and the Travel Agency. It's about a future business enterprise that conducts tourists to the past and back again. It introduces Rosina Bevan, the Victorian young lady who's the main character of The Blue Horse.

With your life experience, what advice would you give to your younger self about
writing? 
Make as many contacts as you can. Network. Go to writers conferences. Join a writers group that meets regularly to critique each other's work. 


Was there any particular book or author who influenced you and what genres and
authors do you read?
Donna Tartt is the greatest writer alive today, in my opinion. I'm also fond of Edgar Allan Poe, and M.R. James, and Shirley Jackson. My piece on Jackson will be in the upcoming issue of Vastarien: A Literary Journal. 

Where online can people find you and your books? 
I'm on Facebook and Twitter
My books are available from Amazon. 

Thank you so much, Jill.  ~JD



The Authors' Words: Award Winning Author, Marilyn Meredith

The Authors' Words: Award Winning Author, Marilyn Meredith

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over 40 published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest A Cold Death from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novels are all being re-edited and republished by Aakenbaaken & Kent. The first in the series is Final Respects. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and is a presenter at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra, a place quite similar to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area, with her husband and other members of her big family and many animals.

Hi Marilyn! Thank you so much for talking with me for this interview. I'm so happy we have this chance.
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How long have you been writing and how did you start writing?
I’ve been writing all my life in one form or another, stories, books, and plays as a kid—newsletters for PTA and plays for my Camp Fire Girls to perform during my mothering years, and finally got serious when I was a grandmother, and wrote my first published book, an historical family saga based on genealogy.

What was your ambition for your writing career when you started out and have you met it?
I thought I’d be famous, and no, I didn’t ever become famous, but I do have some loyal fans which is most satisfying.

How do you come up with your characters? 
Tempe Crabtree is a combination of three women I met soon after I moved to the foothills of the Sierra: a female resident deputy, a female officer I went on a ride-along with, and a Native American woman who grew up on the nearby reservation. All three are strong women with unique backgrounds.

Tell us about your series, Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series and your Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novels?
The Crabtree series is set in a place much like where I live, and Tempe is the resident deputy. Being an Indian sometimes she uses Native American mythology and ceremonies to help solve crimes—something her pastor husband frowns upon.

Rocky Bluff P.D. is a fictional small department on the Southern California Coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara. The series follows the lives of several officers and their families as crimes are committed and solved. This series was inspired by my son-in-law and his cop stories as well as the beach community I lived in many years ago.

 Tell us a bit about your latest book?
Unresolved:
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Rocky Bluff P.D. is underpaid and understaffed and when two dead bodies turn up, the department is stretched to the limit. The mayor is the first body discovered, the second an older woman whose death is caused in a bizarre manner. Because no one liked the mayor, including his estranged wife and the members of the city council, the suspects are many, but each one has an alibi.

How did it come about that Aakenbaaken & Kent will be republishing your crime novels Rocky Bluff P.D.?
This series has had 4 different publishers: An e-publisher before anyone had an e-reader; a not so honest publisher; one who decided after publishing two books the business wasn’t for her; the latest one had a stroke and couldn’t continue with the business; and the publisher of A & K graciously offered to publish Unresolved and republish the rest of the series.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
Finding enough time to do it.

Who gave you guidance along the way? 
My first agent who gave me many tips though never found a home for my first book; a member of the critique group I still belong to; and my police officer friends who are so willing to share their stories and help.

Do you use friends and family or people you have known as characters in you stories?
Of course there are some folks that I’ve borrowed personality traits from. One of my friends asked to be in a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery so I obliged. I didn’t use her name, but I did use her description and her unique personality. She loved it, and her friends did too.

With your life experience, what advice would you give to your younger self
in general as with as about writing? 
To have more confidence in myself, and to get involved with a critique group much sooner than I did.

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Was there any particular book or author who influenced you? 
I’ve been influenced by many and realized only recently how much Agatha Christie had influenced me in my Crabtree series and Ed McBain, my Rocky Bluff P.D. series. 

What genres and authors do you read? 
Mysteries, of course, and one of my favorite authors is William Kent Krueger, he is a master at describing settings among other things—but I read lots of different authors too, including many of the wonderful female authors.

What are your upcoming projects?
I’m working on a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. This one is set in Tehachapi, California.

Where online can people find you and your books? 
My books are all on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001HPJ440

Thank you so much, Marilyn, for doing this interview with me.  ~JD

 F. M. Meredith's website is: http://fictionforyou.com;
Find Marilyn Meredith on Facebook and on Twitter at: @MarilynMeredith

The Authors' Words: An Interview with S. Evan Townsend


S. Evan Townsend
THE AUTHORS' WORDS
S. Evan Townsend has been called "America's Unique Speculative Fiction Voice" and writes novels that cause thrills and rapid page-turning. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives in central Washington State with his wife and has three grown sons. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel. He currently has ten published fantasy and science fiction novels. 

 Hi Evan! Thank you so much for doing this interview with me. 

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, I returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In my spare time I enjoy reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. I am in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. I live in central Washington State with my wife and have three grown sons. I enjoy science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel. I currently have ten published fantasy and science fiction novels. I'm working on numbers eleven and twelve.

When did you realize you were a storyteller? 
I think I was always a storyteller. I would build worlds with my Legos and then tell stories. At age 12 I started writing them down (after teaching myself to type). I assume what I wrote then was pretty jejune but as I kept writing, I got better, apparently. At least I hope I did.

What genres do you write in and what drew you to it them?
I blame Star Trek. I am old enough that I watched the original series (Kirk, Spock, McCoy) in first run. That's what led me to write science fiction. I've always considered myself a science fiction writer, but I also wrote fantasies because I had this great idea for a world and wanted to explore it. My two-book series became five books, eventually.

What is your publishing story?
I used to collect rejection slips. Then I learned about self-publishing from an article in the Wall Street Journal (I read that newspaper back when I was a businessman). I self-published my first novel. This led me to meet other authors. One, Judith Ann McDowell, told me I should send my novel into her publisher. I thought, "What the heck, what's another rejection slip." So I did. And they accepted it. Since then, they have published seven on my novels. I've self-published three.

How much of yourself, if any, is in your characters? 
Most of my main characters have some of me in them. That's especially true of Peter Branton who is in two of my fantasy novels (Book of Death and Gods of Strife). But I've taken some of my personality traits and put them in almost all of my main characters. Maybe I'm nuts, but I think it's very hard for writers not to put some of themselves in their characters.

Do you use friends and family or people you have known as characters in you stories?
Not normally. In my first novel, Hammer of Thor, there is a character named "Doc." I named him after an Army friend of my who had the nickname "Doc." Not sure why he had that nickname, he wasn't a doctor. But he was very smart. He died of cancer a few years after we left the military.

How long does it usually take you to write one of your stories from your first idea to
 finished the book?
There's no set time. One novel I started writing in 1988 and finished it just a few years ago (Treasure of the Black Hole). I've done NaNoWriMo so I've done novel first drafts in a month. I'd say typically it's three months to get out the first draft and then a few months of editing and proofreading before it's ready.

Who gave you help and guidance along the way? 
Author Judith Ann McDowell has helped a lot. Also my writers' group. I have a friend who has proofread most of my novels and my wife helps by proofreading and by reading my novels to me out loud. Doing that I hear things (such as word repetitions) that miss while just reading.

 Tell us a bit about your latest book? 

Treasure of the Rogue Moon . . . what fools these mortal be!
Jil Handaughter and Rick Bailey are living in hiding, hoping the Core Empire or the Interstellar Militia and Police won't find them. Hiding is safe, but boring. When a strange creature offers them the chance to find an ancient artifact on a "rogue moon" that can do "something wondrous," they jump at the opportunity.

Pursued by Core Empire operatives who want to take Bailey back to Earth for execution and the authorities who want to put Jil back in prison, they race across the galaxy looking for clues to the artifact. But the mysteries add up: what does the archaic race of the Agrocrageenans have to do with it, and what does that strange being that appears to have telepathic powers want?

Will Rick and Jil find the rogue moon before the authorities or the Core Empire catches up to them? Is it worth risking their lives for the treasure of the rouge moon?

This is the third book in the Treasures of Space series.

Tell us about your other books.
Hammer of Thor (fantasy/Adept Series): When Hitler steals the Hammer of Thor, American Francis Kader is reluctantly drawn into the effort to recover it. That will bring him face to face with Thor himself. Can a mere human defeat an immortal god?
Agent of Artifice (fantasy/Adept Series): Michael Vaughan is sent by the CIA to assassinate Castro after the Cuban Revolution. Vaughan has special powers to help him. But Castro knows he's coming, and he has a surprise waiting for Vaughan. Can Vaughan escape the island nation before Castro's minions catch up with him?
Book of Death (fantasy/Adept Series): The CIA sends Peter Branton to Romania to investigate a ball bearing plant. But what he finds is a cabal of vampires searching for fresh human blood. Can Branton stop their evil plans and learn the secrets of the Book of Death?
Gods of Strife (fantasy/Adept Series): While Peter Branton is searching for a beautiful assassin, he comes across an ancient evil with a plot to destroy the world. Teaming up with the assassin and a mysterious warrior, can he stop the Gods of Strife?
The Terror of Tombstone (fantasy/western/Adept Series): Abel Lewis is a city slicker and a dandy and completely out of his element in 1881 Arizona. But he hides a power men fear, and he'll need all of this skills to find and stop the Terror of Tombstone.
Rock Killer (science fiction): Literally millions of miles from help with no weapons, Alexander Chun and his international crew of asteroid miners, must stop the terrorists who are trying to kill them all.
Force: (science fiction): Olly Johnson is humanity's first interstellar space pirate. But now he has found an alien threat to all humans. Can the plucky humans stop the evil aliens? Don't count on it.
Treasure of the Black Hole (science fiction/Treasure of Space series): When the exotically beautiful and outrageously wealthy Princes Nora hires private detective Rick Bailey to find her lost royal jewels, he thinks this case will be easy money. Until someone tries to kill him. What's in the Treasure of the Black Hole worth killing for?
Treasure of the Pirate Planet (science fiction/Treasure of Space series): When an alien seeking revenge kidnaps his lover, Jil, Rick Baily must find a treasure to ransom her. But it's located on a planet overrun with cannibalistic pirates. Can he find the treasure without becoming the main course?

Was there any particular book or author who influenced you?  
Robert Heinlein was a huge influence on me, not just in writing. Also early Larry Niven and any Poul Andersen. Niven's Ringworld was the first science fiction book I ever read. That's what got me reading (and writing) science fiction.

What genres and authors do you read? 
I read science fiction, a little fantasy. I'm not picky about authors, as long as the book is good. I also read some political nonfiction.

What are your upcoming projects?
I'm working on Titus Chumba of the Intelligence Corps: The Smugglers a Mars. It's a prequel to the Treasures of Space series. It's currently in edits. I'm working on a second book in that same series tentatively titles The Roach Incursion. I think it needs a better name.

Where online can people find you and your books? 

Best place to start is at my website: sevantownsend.com


Enjoy interviewing you, Evan! Thank you so much!  ~JD

You can buy S. Evan Townsend's books at these links:
Treasure of the Black Hole

Treasure of the Pirate Planet

Treasure of the Rogue Moon



You can find S. Evan Townsend and all his books 

not only on his website: http://seventownsend.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SEvanTownsend @SEvanTownsend

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