Author Interview: Michael Fedison

me2The author I had the pleasure of talking to today is Michael Fedison, who not only has written a young adult sci-fi adventure called The Eye Dancers, but also a popular blog as well. His writing style is very natural and free-flowing. It feels like a peek inside a creative and very collaborative brain. His posts, both on the craft of writing and life in general, are very enjoyable to read. Visiting his blog always makes me realize how much I like being a part of the writing community, where it seems like most people are very open and want to share best practices. Mike is the embodiment of this – both a talented writer and just a cool guy happy to help fellow writers learn what they can from his journey.

The Eye Dancers is written from the perspective of four boys who find themselves in a parallel universe where they are the only ones who can save a missing girl. He does an excellent job giving each of the boys a unique voice. I enjoyed learning about how Mike found inspiration for his novel, and I hope you will too.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am, first and foremost, a dreamer, someone who always has his imagination on overdrive.  I have loved to write creatively since the second grade.  By day, I work as a technical writer for a computer software company—so the creative writing offers an escape.  At the same time, I can be practical when I have to be!

What was your inspiration for your The Eye Dancers?

eye_dancers_lowresFirst and foremost, The Eye-Dancers is a story inspired by my own childhood, the friends I shared growing up, and the conversations we’d have about outer space, life “out there” . . . all sorts of stuff.  Combine that with my desire to write a book about adolescence, growing up, friendship, the very nature of reality, quantum physics and parallel worlds, and the oneness of all things—even things that seem so distant and removed—and you have the inspiration behind The Eye-Dancers!

Tell me about your main character. Was he based on someone you know (or yourself)?

Well, there are really four main characters—Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski.  They are all inspired by friends I knew when I was a kid.  So it was fun to write for these characters.  Mitchell is the character I can relate to the most—when I was his age, I shared many of his characteristics.  Like Mitchell, when I was in junior high, I was very shy around girls, had an overactive imagination, and loved old collectible comic books, especially The Fantastic Four.

Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling blocked?

The Twilight Zone is always a favorite, as is Ray Bradbury.  If I’m in a slump, I can pick up a Bradbury short story, get lost in the language, the imagination, the enthusiasm, and that almost always serves as a tonic when creativity is running low.

What’s the strangest thing that has ever inspired you?

I would have to say the “ghost girl” dream I had when I was a teenager.  I dreamed of a little girl, standing out in the road, beneath the streetlamp.  In the dream, it was late, well past midnight.  I looked out the window, and saw her.  She gestured for me to come outside.  But I felt afraid.  The light from the streetlamp filtered through her, as if she were more ghost than girl.  What did she want?  Why was she there?

I never discovered the answers, as I woke up shortly thereafter.  For weeks, I wanted to include this mysterious girl in a story—but nothing seemed to fit.  Finally, I decided to file her away in a “story vault,” and hope I would be able to write about her someday.

Fast-forward twenty years, and I experienced the same dream, of the same girl!  The difference?  This time, when I woke up, I had the start of a story idea in place.  That story would become The Eye-Dancers.

What are some books in your genre that have inspired you?

Can I skip over the genre part? 🙂  I love to read—all genres, fiction as well as nonfiction.  Truman Capote is one of my favorites—a master wordsmith.  Ray Bradbury is phenomenal—unparalleled imagination and love of writing.  To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace . . .  I could go on and on!

What are some words that you live by?

Reach for the stars.  Recognize your dreams, your calling, and go for it.  Don’t get discouraged when things veer off course, as surely they will.  They do for all of us.  The key is to keep dreaming, keep working, keep perfecting whatever it is you feel passionate about.  There is only one “you.”  Do what you love, find your voice, and share it.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

I would just like to say that I write what I love, I write about the things that resonate for me.  That’s really all any writer can do.  Hopefully, by sharing the things that matter to me in the best way I know how, I can also make those same things matter to you.

Author Interview: Rebecca Demarest

rebeccademarestToday Rebecca Demarest shares the inspiration behind the very unique voice of her novels, short stories, and blog. I had the pleasure of reading samples of her work, and her style is quick-paced and authentic. She isn’t afraid to tackle tough subjects with sensitivity and realism. After immersing myself in her writing, I was incredibly impressed by how driven she and prolific she is so early in her career.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a mild mannered technical illustrator by day and an author and book designer by night. My writing ranges from literary to speculative fiction, with an emphasis on bridging the gap between those two genres. I have a B.A. in English and Psychology from Willamette University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College.

What was your inspiration for your novels, Undeliverable and Mark of the Storyteller?

CaptureUndeliverable was inspired by a random news story I heard talking about this mysterious Lost Letters Office—now the Mail Recovery Center—in the United States Postal Service. I was intrigued, and started digging into its history and its current operations. That was much harder than it would seem because no one at the Center is actually allowed to speak to civilians about anything and their monthly auctions are actually rather secretive (I was nearly arrested for taking pictures). But once I had a sense of what the Center did on a day-to-day basis, I started contemplating what kind of story could happen there, what kind of people would be drawn to it. After a couple years of research and free-writing, Ben slowly came into focus and his story took shape. A lot of the details of the characters themselves came from myself, my family, and my friends, which helped to make them real to me.

As for Mark of the Storyteller, this was actually inspired by my senior thesis class at Willamette University. It was a fantastic class about Grimm’s Fairy Tales and we were given the opportunity to either do a research paper on the tales or create our own unique re-interpretation of them. I leaped at the chance to do a creative English thesis as I was already weighed down with a research thesis in Psychology, and wrote a short story that eventually became the villain interview section at the beginning of Mark. The basic concept I had wanted to address was ‘What happens when the villain isn’t who we think it is, but is instead the one person we’re supposed to root for? And why do we have those misperceptions?’ Let me tell you, creating the world that all these characters live in and wreaking havoc on the stories and characters we know well was an immense amount of fun.

Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling blocked?

News sites, actually. Articles about bleeding glaciers, people hijacking barrels of maple syrup, or the fact that the ancient Egyptians made jewelry out of meteorites can all give my imagination a boost. Also, turning off your music and actually paying attention to the world around you while you walk, including eavesdropping on your fellow commuters, can provide some outlandish leads.

What’s the strangest thing that has ever inspired you?

The absolute strangest thing was an article about a lithopedion, or stone baby. A lithopedion is the result of an ectopic pregnancy that self terminates after the 14th week and the mother’s body calcifies the fetus to prevent it from causing harm to the mother. I couldn’t help it, the idea just grabbed hold of my brain and I couldn’t shake it, so I’ve got a short story in the works centering around this phenomenon.

Tell us about an inspirational figure in your life.

While I have found many of my writing instructors and friends inspirational, the woman who is the most inspirational would have to be my mother. She has not led the easiest of lives and has dealt with a series of genetic and environmentally induced health problems, many of which required surgery and extensive recoveries. But through all of this, she has never lost her sense of adventure, determination, or love. In fact, she started her first business just a couple years ago as a professional storyteller and has reached her five year goals, four years early. If she can deal with all of the health issues, two kids, and a husband who traveled extensively for work and come out the other side with enough energy to devote to a whole new career, then I can do anything.

What are some books in your genre that have inspired you?

This is a really hard question to answer because I read a lot of books each year. In the literary genre, I find the work of George Saunders, Scott Nadelson, Steve Yarbrough, Tom Perotta, and a handful of others to be greatly inspiring, mostly modern literary authors. In the speculative fiction genre, I draw a lot of inspiration from Tamora Pierce, Robert A. Heinlein, Patricia C. Wrede, Jasper Fforde, and Terry Pratchett.

What are some words that you live by?

Be and not seem. This is one of Emerson’s philosophies, and I’ve had it on my wall as long as I can remember. In my life and in my writing I try to stay true to myself and my ideals. Do not pretend you are a good person, let your work speak for itself. Do not pretend you are competent, actually go out and do the hard work to make it true.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

I’ll be doing an Indiegogo campaign in November to help defray the last editing and marketing costs for Undeliverable, which will be launching in March of 2014. If you’d like to learn more about me or my writing, drop by my website at http://rebeccaademarest.com or follow me on Twitter @RebeccaDemarest.

Author Interview: K.N. Lee

K.N. LeeThe first author in my new interview series is K.N. Lee, a talented up-and-coming young writer who has already self-published a novel, a book of short stories and a book of poetry. Her work, which is both creative and achieves a depth of emotion, is riveting. I’ll also admit that I’m drawn to her newest novel because it stars a strong female heroine who can take care of herself (and kick a little butt when the occasion calls for it, too). Clearly, she knows quite a bit about how to channel her muse.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Chicago, Illinois, raised in Atlanta, and currently live in Charlotte. I discovered my love for writing when I was in the second grade. Obsessed with books, I decided to create my own. I’d write a story, draw the pictures, and then cut up cardboard and wrap it in wall paper to make my book a hard back. It was the only thing I enjoyed. You’d have to force me to play outside. I just wanted to write!

What was your inspiration for your newly released novel, The Chronicles of Koa?

The Chronicles of KoaThe inspiration for Koa came from a nightmare that I had. Not only that, but I love characters that may look small and nonthreatening, but can indeed be the most dangerous person in the room. There are many factors that went into creating The Chronicles of Koa. I grew up an Anne Rice fan, and I fully believe that she has the best vampire lore. So, what did I do? I created my own version of vampire, completely re-imagined. I didn’t stop there. As a high-fantasy fan and writer, I also created my own creatures and classes. Syths, Scayors, War-Breeders, Jems…they add an unexpected element to the story. You’ve never heard of them before, so the intrigue is heightened in my story.

Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling blocked?

Whenever I’m feeling blocked, I do a variety of things. Sometimes I’ll take a nice long walk with my iPod and my dog. Other times, I’ll take a yoga class or play video games (believe it or not, but video games are excellent inspiration!) Above all, I always go back to my desk and simply…write. It may feel forced at times. You may feel like it is a chore, but for me, I usually end up surprised by what I come up with. That blocked feeling has been conquered!

What’s the strangest thing that has ever inspired you?

Umm…OK…here goes. I had an experience with what I feel was a ghost. I was a child, and as I look back at the experience, I am no longer sure what happened. All I know, is that something grabbed my leg when I was trying to fall asleep. That moment, as horrifying, and as quick as it happened, started a traumatizing period in my life. I didn’t tell anyone what happened for years, for fear that whatever had grabbed me might still be watching me, and might try again. So, I took that fear and used it to my advantage. In silence, I instilled that feeling of absolute terror and let my characters use it. Such a real emotion gave my characters life.

Tell us about an inspirational figure in your life.

Tolkien is such an inspiration. He showed us that you don’t have to recycle the same creatures that have been used for centuries, and created his own. I do this myself. I may use elves sometimes, or vampires, but I also create my own creatures. In Koa, you’ll learn about Jems, War-Breeders, etc. In my high-fantasy trilogy, Rise of the Flame, you’ll see Tryans. The power of creation is exactly why I love writing so much.

What are some words that you live by?

If you have to choose between a material good or an experience, always go with the experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop! However, if I have a chance to travel, see a show, or hang out with friends, I’ll always pick the latter.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

I suppose I would like everyone to know that even though I am always cheerful, bubbly, and giggly, there is a darker, more serious, side to me that fuels my stories. I don’t hold back in my writing, and I fear that I truly live through my characters. Who knows, pick up The Chronicles of Koa, Wicked Webs, or Thicker Than Blood on Amazon…I might just surprise you.

Calling All Authors – What Inspires You?

open book2One of the reasons that I started this blog was to learn how other authors and artists find inspiration. I want to hear about your journey to creating your masterpiece – what got you started and what keeps pushing you forward. To that end, I’m inviting any authors who would like to be interviewed on my blog to contact me using the form below.